Monday, December 31, 2007

Bike for Beer!

Since I'm the last bike blog not to post this wonderful commercial, I wanted to do it before the New Year. So here it is.

I'm enough of a beer snob (I'm a Guinness drinker, meself) that I don't much care for the product they're hawking, but you know... if I'm stuck with cheap beer and have to choose, I'm going to go for the High Life just to support this ad and the folks who put it out.



People, not speed.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Bicycle!


I mentioned in a previous post how Jenn and I got Duncan a bike for Christmas. He's only three, and lest you think I'm trying to push him onto a bike early (which I am), he's really big for his age - his knees hit the handlebars on all the tricycles we could find. So we took him down to BikeSource in Clintonville, our LBS, to "try on" some bikes.

The fellow working there, whose name escapes me, helped us find one that fit him nicely. When he pulled it out, we thought "Good Lord, that thing is WAY too big!" But when Duncan sat on it, we saw that it was just about perfect. They ordered a new one for him that would fit him perfectly, and the seat is all the way to the bottom of the stem which means plenty of growing room. They really did a great job of fitting him.

The bike is a Specialized Hotrock, and it looks cool and seems to ride nicely. Duncan's having a little trouble with the mechanics of riding - he holds his foot down on the pedals at the nadir of the rotation and therefore he doesn't go too far... but he'll get it. He loves riding it, as you can see from the picture, and he's excited to try it more!

People, not speed.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

OSU to FINALLY Fix Olentangy Trail

There is joy in Mudville today, folks. Ohio State has "Found the money" to fix its section of the Olentangy Trail, the most utilized multi-use path in the state.

Here's the article from the Dispatch:

OSU says it now has the cash to fix trail
Wednesday, December 26, 2007 3:11 AM
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Paul Lehman was glad to hear Ohio State University announce that it would finally upgrade the stretch of the Olentangy Trail that runs through the campus.

The Upper Arlington man pedals home from his job Downtown on the trail, carefully avoiding the potholes, narrow paths and blind spots along the university's portion.

"One wrong bump and you're over the edge," said Lehman, 60, who's been commuting by bicycle almost every workday for 15 years.

William Shkurti, OSU senior vice president for business and finance, said last week that the university has set aside $1.7 million for the three-phase project. He said he and university President E. Gordon Gee recently met with a group of bicyclists to discuss the future of the project.

"Over the last couple of weeks, we have been looking for funding sources, and I told them we now had identified the sources to move ahead with all three phases of the plan," Shkurti said.

The trail stretches about 14 miles between Worthington Hills and Downtown and is considered the busiest in the state, according to Columbus officials. It is popular with bicyclists, joggers, walkers and skaters.

Columbus, Worthington and Ohio State are responsible for maintaining the portions of the trail on their turfs.

Lehman said the cities generally have done a good job of maintenance. It's on the 1 1/2 miles through Ohio State where most of the problems arise, he said.

The university released the three-phase plan for improvements on the trail in 2005. It said at the time the first phase could be completed this past summer.

Instead, the university shut down the trail for about three months to upgrade an electrical substation, which services the Medical Center and the rest of campus.

Lehman wasn't surprised by the delay. Take a look at the new buildings and other recent construction at Ohio State and, he said, "It's obvious the bicycle trails are not the highest priority."

In late August, the university said it would begin the $420,000 first phase next spring. But university officials had acknowledged that they still did not have money for the rest of the project.

"I get these arguments all the time: 'How can a $4 billion institution not find money for this?' " Shkurti said. "And one of the things both I and Gordon explained to the bike group is we are supportive of this, but we also have unmet maintenance needs in our classrooms and our laboratories, so it is not just like we have money that grows on trees."

The first phase will connect the trail on the south side of Woody Hayes Drive to the elevated levee path that runs south to Drake Union. The levee path also will be repaved.

In addition, a new portion of trail will be extended south along the river from Woody Hayes to an incline that connects with the levee path near Drake.

That phase could be completed by fall, said Stephen Volkmann, OSU landscape architect.

Volkmann said the third phase, from John H. Herrick Drive to just south of the substation, probably will be done in 2009. The second phase, in the middle from Drake to Herrick, also might be done at the same time, Shkurti said.

It's the portion in the second phase that is the worst, Lehman said.

"We want to find out what the design costs are for Phase 3 and see if that leaves enough money to do Phase 2," Shkurti said.

Lehman said he hopes there is enough money for Phase 2, which he called the worst portion of the trail because of blind spots and the narrow path, which is too close to a cyclone fence around the substation.

tdoulin@dispatch.com

As predicted, OSU's attitude about fixing this frustrates me a bit. They obviously don't see this as a responsibility to the community around them, and rather as the complaint of a student group.

But it's going to get fixed. At least, it seems it will be. We'll see. I'm not holding my breath, to be honest.

People, not speed.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bicyclist's Killer Finally Indicted

The killer of Michael Sonney, the bicyclist who was the victim of a hit and run killing on Snouffer Road in July, has finally been indicted. Here's the article from the Dispatch:
Suspect in fatal hit-skip has drunken-driving conviction
Wednesday, December 19, 2007 11:05 PM
By Lindsey Seavert

The suspect in a hit-skip crash that killed a bicycling commuter on the Northwest Side in July has a prior drunken-driving conviction.

A Franklin County grand jury this week issued a four-count indictment against Spencer Andrews, 25, in connection with the July 25 death of Michael T. Sonney, Common Pleas Court records show.

Andrews, of 6834 Maxwelton Court, is charged with two felony counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, one count of felony hit-and-run and one count of drunken driving, a misdemeanor.

He is scheduled to appear in Common Pleas Court on Dec. 31. Calls to his home weren't returned tonight.

Andrews is accused of hitting Sonney, who was riding his bicycle home from work at 4 a.m. near Snouffer Road and Asheville Park Drive, then leaving. Investigators followed a mile-long trail of fluid from a leaky radiator until it led to a heavily-damage truck at Andrews' home.

Sonney's mother, Traci Sonney, told WBNS-TV (Channel 10) that Christmas will be five months to the day that her son was killed.

"I just miss Mike. … I just want him back, especially for Christmas," Sonney said. "What I hope about Spencer is that he is enough of a human being that he is sorry for what happened.

"I don't want revenge. I hope he cares. I have never met him or talked to him or his family," she said. "If he is any kind of a person, he is going to have to get up and look in the mirror every day and know he killed my son, and I hope that fact makes a difference in his life and makes changes in the way he does things."

In 2005, Andrews entered a guilty plea to drunken driving in Franklin County Municipal Court, computer records show. That case stemmed from a Sept. 22, 2005 arrest by Perry Township police after Andrews hit two mailboxes and drove onto a lawn on Clubview Boulevard before leaving the scene at about 3:40 a.m.

After officers caught him at a nearby pharmacy, Andrews' blood-alcohol level tested at .233 percent, nearly three times the 0.08 percent at which a person is considered to be driving drunk in Ohio, archives from ThisWeek newspapers show.
It's about time. Good to see those aggravated vehicular homicide charges as it was obviously the driver's fault.

But how disturbing is it that it took so long to figure this out? If we had a law like the fifth motorist's directive in the EU, we wouldn't have such a wait - the motorist would rightly be at fault in all pedestrian or bicyclist/motorist accidents from the start.

Still, it's nice that the law finally got one right.

People, not speed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How I Know I'm Doing The Right Thing

Lots of people need feedback of sorts when they take on an issue, challenge, what have you. I'm no different. In fact, one of the reasons I blog is to get feedback on the things I do on the road, on my bike. It's nice to know that you're not alone and that what you're doing is helping someone, especially if you're helping them improve their lives.

And in one particular case, I absolutely get feedback - whenever my three-year old son Duncan sees me on my bike. He loves a bike ride with daddy - loves his trailer, loves to hop on daddy's bike to "ride" it into the garage when I get home from work and he's there, plays with my helmet, and points out bicycles wherever he goes.

This is how it should work - take an action, be a positive role model for someone, and impact the future. My dad rode his bike to work when I was a kid, and now I'm doing the same. And seeing how happy Duncan gets around bicycles is great feedback - both informationally and emotionally.

I can't WAIT till he sees his Christmas present this year... pictures will follow, I promise!

People, not speed.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Cost of Cars and Oil

In watching local news this morning, they were of course talking about lagging sales for the Christmas season. They blamed such things as rising food prices as a culprit, citing the increase in costs for corn and soybeans.

Of course, they totally missed the story behind the story, in that the auto and oil industries and the nation's addiction to the automobile are responsible for all of this.

Why are food costs rising? Transportation costs are one overwhelming reason. There are two factors behind this:
  1. The price of oil is driving up the amount of money it takes to harvest crops (unless people are still using bull and plow systems, which I pretty much doubt) and get their produce to market.

  2. The current "eco-friendly" fad of using ethanol and biodiesel for fuel are diverting crops away from human and animal consumption and toward fueling vehicles, driving the cost of corn and soybeans and other crops used for these fuels increasingly higher.
So, what to do? Ride your bikes more!

From a strictly economic standpoint, creating less demand for oil will push the oil companies to charge less, to try to draw people back to driving. They're charging more now because they can, so let's make them unable to charge more!

Also, lessening the amount of fuel used will drive down the need for ethanol and biodiesel, which will encourage more use of food crops for actual food instead of fuel.

It's all amazingly connected... yet amazingly ignored by the media.

People, not speed.

Bike Maintenance

Not that I normally do "New Year's Resolutions" per se... I find the negative aspect of most of them ("I'll stop smoking," "I'll work out more," etc.) bad. I prefer to create "New Year's Goals" in which I give myself a challenge to work toward - goal-setting is a better way to succeed, in my opinion.

Anyway, one goal I have for this year is to become able to work on my own bike. Not that I have anything against my LBS, they do a great job. But I like techy stuff to a certain extent, and what better and more productive way to manifest that than to learn to work on a bicycle (as a cyclist, naturally).

My question to all of you who are more versed in this than I: what's the best book for learning this stuff? I've heard good things about the Lennard Zinn books, is there one of them that might be best for me? I ride a Specialized Expedition Sport, if that helps.

Thanks in advance for your input!

People, not speed.

Monday, December 17, 2007

My First Bike-ku (Bike Haiku)

Cagers drive poorly.
I edge out into traffic.
They all think I'm nuts.

People, not speed.

Cold Weather Gear Product Reviews A Go-Go

Today was my first real cold day of commuting - 17°F, and I got to really try out my newer cold weather gear! Specifically, I'm talking about my two new Pearl Izumi items: the Amfib Lobster Gloves and the Vagabond II Jacket.

I'll start with the gloves, since this was the first time I've worn them, period. Two enthusiastic thumbs up on this one. These things are warm and still dextrous enough to do anything you might need to do while riding. Also, they're simple enough to get on and off that you can do things like re-adjust balaclavas, etc. at stop lights and still not hold up any traffic. Their reflective surfaces help greatly with signaling for turns and the like, especially in this time of limited daylight and dark-sky riding. The key thing is that they are WARM! No issues whatsoever.

The jacket is a slightly different story, but just from the standpoint of a wearer who isn't a recreational cyclist with all the special skintight gear. It's not an item that has a lot of room underneath it for wearing layers of normal clothing, which makes it slightly problematic for commuters who don't want to change clothes completely upon arrival at work. I was able to get a non-cycling-oriented fleece pullover under it with my work shirt and sweater on, but it was tight. Once I got going, though, it wasn't an issue, it just felt a bit tight upon donning the item.

On the plus side, it does a great job of insulating while keeping the wearer just cool enough. The vents do their job in the proper places, so I wasn't too sweaty on arrival at work and wasn't cold during the ride. And the color (mine is the screaming yellow) continues to be fantastic for visibility. I have none of the issues with being seen that many cyclists complain about.

So 1 1/2 thumbs up for the jacket, 2 for the gloves. I'd like to see more high-visibility items for commuters - a baggier Vagabond jacket, for example. But it does the important thing - keeps me visible and comfortable, and that's all that counts.

People, not speed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

City, ODOT Looking for Pothole Help

Just a quick note this morning - the city and ODOT are looking for help in finding potholes, as usual. I figured, who's going to see potholes and be more affected by them than cyclists on their way to work?

The phone numbers to call are:

City: 645-3111
ODOT: 799-9297

Or you can email the city at streetsofcolumbus@columbus.gov.

I can think of a couple just off the top of my head that need patching, particularly the one on the west side of the Olentangy/Dodridge intersection that forces me to either hug the curb uncomfortably closely or shoot out into the front of traffic.

People, not speed.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I'm Back...

I am still alive, folks. I took three weeks off for paternity leave, to spend some time with my baby girl, Moira, and obviously I wasn't cycling or blogging during that time. I'm back now, and I'm ready to go!

Sorry for not notifying all of you on my way out, but I was ready to take some time off work!

People, not speed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cyclist's Death May Be Leading to Improvement on City Streets

Many of you may remember the death of Michael Sonney, killed by a hit and run driver while riding on Snouffer Road. His death and an increase in crashes of all types on Snouffer has led Joe Macomber, a 20 year resident of the area in question, to ask for a reduction in the speed limit on Snouffer.

More on this from NBC 4's website:
Residents Ask For Changes Along Dangerous Road
Tuesday, Nov 13, 2007 - 09:35 AM Updated: 09:55 AM
By Denise Yost

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A teenager was hit and killed while walking along a local road last week. But a hit-and-run crash in north Columbus has another neighborhood asking for something different on their street.

Michael Sonney, 19, was killed in July on Snouffer Road while riding his bicycle, NBC 4's Mike Jackson reported.

Residents in the area of Snouffer Road, marked with apartments and single-family homes, said the traffic regulations of the area have not kept pace with the population growth.

Records show several accidents reported in recent years along the road.

Joe Macomber has lived near Snouffer Road for nearly 20 years and said he has seen multiple crashes. But he is bringing the issue to city officials, asking for a change that hardly costs anything.

"I've mentioned again on several occasions that all I was asking for is a reduction in the posted speed limit to make it safer for myself and my neighbors as we're working in our backyards to make sure we continue to stay safe," Macomber said.

The speed limit east of the railroad tracks is 35 mph. West of the railroad tracks, the posted speed limit is 45 mph.

As a member of the Far Northwest Coalition, Macomber has gathered a stack of correspondence with city officials. Each time, he has been told his request has been passed on to the transportation department.

Macomber said he knows that sidewalks are expensive, but they would be a welcomed change as well.

Operation Sidewalk is a city program that is spending $50 million to install sidewalks -- mostly near schools.

Some nice ideas. Reducing the speed limit on Snouffer, in fact, almost ALL roads in Columbus, would be a welcome change.

A couple of notes I'd like to make, and one of them will probably make you roll your eyes a bit.

First, the eye roller: reducing the speed limit on Snouffer or any road makes no difference if the police aren't going to enforce it. As we see all over town, that's not a priority.

Second, putting sidewalks up is a great idea - for pedestrians. And I'm not trying to reduce the importance of pedestrian safety, obviously. But it's not going to help cyclists in the least, since the city traffic code rightly says it's illegal for cyclists to operate on the sidewalk! A bike lane would be good, but the key thing is actual enforcement of the existing law. To combine this with a reduction in the speed limit would be good, too.

I used to live on Schrock Road, near Westerville, and I used to take Snouffer across to Dublin where I worked when the construction was underway on I-270 (in my pre-bicycle days). That road is frequently used by folks who wish to avoid the expressway, and therefore gets a lot of speedy commuter traffic. There's going to have to be more controls put on that road to make it safe for everyone.

But still, major kudos to Mr. Macomber for trying to get the city to address the problem here.

People, not speed.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

OSU Section of Olentangy River Trail Out of Commission Thursday, Nov. 8

From OSU's "OSUToday" email newsletter:

OSU OLENTANGY BIKE TRAIL CLOSED THURSDAY

The Ohio State portion of the Olentangy bike path will be closed between Herrick Drive and King Avenue on Thursday (11/8). Though the path will be reopened on Friday (11/9), bicyclists and pedestrians are urged to exercise extreme caution. The path is closed for tree and foliage removal to prepare the site for the substation upgrade. The area will be an extreme safety hazard because of heavy machinery and falling limbs. Contact: Libby Eckhardt, 292-1477 or eckhardt.12@osu.edu

People, not speed.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Gettin' It Where and When I Can

Once again, I've thrown off the internally-combusted shackles of the slave-mobile to ride free... on the way to... um... work.

Well, so much for the anti-slavery imagery.

But the fact remains that I got to ride in to work today. And... I stopped to VOTE on the way.

For those of you not in Columbus, it was cold here today for the first time this fall. Cold and clear, and if not for the wind it'd be perfect biking weather. And I got to wear my new Pearl Izumi Vagabond Jacket, which my folks got me for my birthday. It's a bit tight as I think it was built for people wearing regular cycling gear, but the "Screaming Yellow" color and its great wind resistance made it the perfect jacket for riding today.

I got some looks and a couple of "awful cold to be riding your bike" comments at the voting location today, but I just responded with "it's not cold once you get moving." Hopefully that'll get those folks thinking about their sedentary lives.

People, not speed.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Blame The Cyclist?

There's a disturbing trend that goes on with regards to the way that car/cyclist accidents are reported. I don't know if this is a nationwide thing, but it's certainly par for the course in Columbus.

Here's a report on a cycling accident south of Columbus:

Wilmington Bicyclist struck, killed by Columbus woman

A Clinton County man died early yesterday after a Columbus woman struck his bicycle on the highway.

State troopers said Brian Newland, 36, of Sabina in southwestern Ohio, was riding a bicycle with no lights or reflectors about 6 a.m. along Rt. 72 near the northern tip of Highland County. Newland also wasn't wearing any reflective clothing, troopers said.

Amber Carpenter, 28, of Columbus, was driving south in a Pontiac Grand Am when she hit Newland's bike. He died at the scene.

No one from the state patrol's Wilmington post was available yesterday to say whether they knew why Newland was riding his bike on the road in the dark. The post also could not provide a more specific address for Carpenter.

Carpenter was not injured in the crash, which occurred about 50 miles southwest of Columbus.

Note that every attempt is made to put the blame on the cyclist. And yes, he should have been wearing reflective clothing and sporting some lights. No doubt about that. That's just common sense.

But there's no mention of how fast the driver was going, whether she was on a cell phone, etc. Obviously that can't be proven since there seem to have been no witnesses. But shouldn't a driver at night be driving slowly enough to be safe?

Again, we see the need for a motorist responsibility law: no driver should EVER be driving so fast that they can't be safe.

People, not speed.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Back in the Saddle

After the birth of our second child last month, my wife has been staying home with her and I've been DRIVING our son to day care. His day care center is in Dublin, up near my wife's office. So, as you've picked up from a couple of my "Prisoner of the Slave-Mobile" posts, I've been car bound. And it truly is a cage.

But no more! I rode my bike in today because my wife wanted to see how it was going to work bringing both kids into day care, and with my brother-in-law visiting after his tour in Iraq (welcome home, Andrew!) he was more than happy to support her while she tried to get this done. So I got to ride.

It was dark and rainy and is going to be all day, but I was happy as a clam in my rain cape as I made my way to the office.

My Cygolite Nite Rover headlight was the big surprise. I haven't had to use it in quite a while (and hadn't been keeping up with keeping it charged), but the charge in the battery was still good after probably three months of sitting dormant! More props to this item.

People, not speed.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Rainy Riding from the SFBC

The good folks at the San Francisco Bike Coalition have a new video out (you may remember their training video for the police regarding bike matters) about riding in the rain and at night. Again, it's well done; plus it has "Riders on the Storm" by the Doors, one of my favorite songs, as the background music.


A note on the video:

While San Francisco requires a white front light and rear red reflector for riding at night, Columbus requires a front white light, a rear red light, AND a rear red reflector (keep in mind that most of your rear red lights will also function as reflectors).

People, not speed.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day: Air Pollution

A blog like this one is about the environment anyway, in its own way. By not driving and not using gasoline, cyclists don't put out any greenhouse gases or pollution. So instead of talking about cycling, per se, I'm going to talk about pollution. In particular, I'm going to talk about air pollution.

Cyclists have to put up with a lot of stuff on their rides each day. Traffic, poorly-kept roads and shoulders, people who think they belong on the sidewalk, cell-phone-using drivers who don't pay attention to the road, etc. But the part of the equation that isn't considered nearly enough is the effect of auto exhaust on the cyclists' health.

Here's an old article about air pollution as the cause of diminished lung capacity in children.

Here's one about air pollution as a major cause of lung cancer.

Here's one about the various pollutants that can be found in auto exhaust.

And here's one about diesel exhaust as linked to cancer, asthma, and other ailments.

It constantly amazes me that the auto industry is given free rein to pollute all over us, make our health deteriorate, and throw global warming-causing pollution into the air, yet no one seems willing to do anything about it. Oh, sure, they build hybrid cars and widen roads and the like to try to relieve it, but these steps don't work.

People simply drive hybrid cars more because they think they can, and the amount of matter poured into the air by these vehicles isn't lessened at all. And widening roads, far from supposely decreasing air pollution by decreasing the amount of time cars are on the road, actually encourages more cars to be on the road, making the problems worse (and not only for pollution: congestion becomes worse due to this failed solution).

The figure of 43,000 deaths per year on our road system is only for accidents. There's no count for the number of deaths due to extended exposure to this toxic mess we encounter each day. And it's getting worse all over the world.

Not every one "believes" in global warming. But the same tactics used to combat global warming (and I mean REALLY combat it, not just control its growth via things like carbon taxes and pollution credits trading) will help to clean up the air so that we can all breathe more freely and healthily. So it really doesn't matter if you're trying to fight global warming or not - you're still making the world a better place by getting out of your car, onto a bike, and pedaling instead of driving.

So get rid of your car. Get a good bike. Ride it. See how your life improves. And know that you're doing your part to improve life for everyone around you.
People, not speed.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I find it very frustrating...

I find it very frustrating to see other bicycles doing things that are dangerous.

At the corner of North Broadway and Calumet today in the rain, in the dark, I saw a cyclist who was wearing nothing but black and had no lights on his bike. I had to drive our car this morning since our baby was fussing and Jenn wanted me to take Duncan to day care. I was turning left, he was coming straight toward me and he is lucky I saw him.

Powered by Jott

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Battery Free Reelight

One of the common headaches with bike lights is battery life. Some lights run off of AAs or whatever, but then you need to get new ones when they expire. Others are rechargeable, but you need to do the recharging, naturally. Imagine if there was a bike light that didn't require batteries!

There is! And it's not one of those hefty dynamo driven lights that make it harder to pedal (though ever-so-slightly), it's the Reelight. It uses a pair of magnets that are screwed onto the spokes of your bike to power the tiny dynamo within the light, therefore effortlessly providing power to the lights as you ride.

Pretty neat - and anything that makes safety on your bike easier is a good thing.

Edit: Fellow blogger and frequent commenter on this blog Fritz posted a review of the Reelight at Commute By Bike. Check it out!

People, not speed.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Getting Ready For Bad Weather: Your Clothes

Not that you'd notice it over the past week in Columbus, but Fall is here. And it looks like the coming week is going to be pretty indicative of what Fall is supposed to be. Well, maybe it'll be a tad warmer. But it signals the beginning of the cool-to-cold weather riding season.

And that means it's time to get your bike and your self ready for the snow, ice, etc. that winter will bring.

Last winter was my first winter of commuting by bike. I started commuting in mid-November and until recently (with my baby-induced bike fast) I hadn't been forced to change a thing. I experimented with a few different ways to keep myself warm and dry, and here's what I came up with. Keep in mind that Columbus gets very cold at times (well, not Alaska-cold, but a few below 0 Fahrenheit days) but doesn't get a lot of snow.

Before we start, though, keep in mind the following: though you're probably worried about being too cold during your ride, you're actually probably going to be too warm and sweaty during it after you get going. You should be a little bit chilly when you're first starting out on your ride. That's good, it means that once you get going and your body temperature heats up you'll be fine. Don't overdo it with the warm clothes or you could end up TOO warm, especially on a really long commute.

1. Head: get a balaclava of some kind. I have one from Pearl Izumi that works nicely.

The one thing I may add for the head this winter is a helmet cover. This isn't so much to keep my head dry, as that wasn't really ever an issue, but more to keep the freezing wind from going through my helmet and cooling it down a bit too much. On the really cold days, my head got pretty cold at times.

2. Hands: good gloves are key. I had a pair of Cannondale winter riding gloves that did pretty well throughout the winter, until it got SUPER cold out. Then I was probably flirting with frostbite, which is obviously bad.

So this winter I'm going to look for some good mittens. For those of you who don't do a lot of outdoor sports, mittens do a better job than gloves of keeping your hands warm because it allows the fingers to insulate and heat each other. With your fingers separated in gloves you don't get that benefit.

I'm thinking about something like these for the coming winter. They're commonly referred to as "Lobster Claw" mittens, as they are sort of a combination of gloves and mittens. Two fingers go into each section of the mitten (and one for the thumb) so you get the warming benefit of mittens and the dexterity of gloves.

Another option for people in REALLY cold climates is the use of Pogies. Pogies are basically cycling mittens that attach right to your handlebars and they are super warm. My only question with them is how easy or hard they'd be to attach/remove - as I wouldn't necessarily want to keep them on my bike when I'm not with it.

Hence my intention of using mittens instead.

3. Feet: Hiking Boots. I don't use clipless pedals so I was able to use nice thick wool socks and a pair of hiking boots.

4. Legs: I experimented more with my legs than anything else last winter. Sometimes I just wore my khakis (and during the winter I usually wear L.L. Bean flannel-lined khakis to work anyway) with rain pants over them, and sometimes I used a pair of Cannondale winter bike tights. Wearing the khakis and rain pants was nice, as I wasn't exactly working up too much of a sweat on my short commute and didn't have to worry about soaking my pants on the way to work. I'll probably do that again this year, but perhaps with a different pair of pants. On the really cold days, I wore silk long underwear bottoms with it all.

I am looking, however, at a new pair of rain/wind pants as the old cheapo Columbia rain suit is dying a slow and hideous death. Icebike.com suggests these pants and I'm going to try them out this year: Foxwear Rain Pants.

5. Torso: I found that just wearing my work shirt (either a polo shirt and undershirt or sweater and undershirt, usually) and a fleece pullover under a rain coat did just fine. The rain coat acted as a nice windbreaker and the fleece kept me warm. If I wore a sweater, the fleece generally stayed in my backpack, just in case I needed more layers. On really cold days, I wore a silk long underwear shirt underneath it all. I never had a problem with my torso being cold.

This year, I'm looking at one of those lime-green rain jackets that Pearl Izumi puts out for my top layer, for visibility's sake.

6. Eyes: Make sure you get some glasses of some kind. I have a pair that I wear year-round. They're Tifosi Slip T-V130 glasses, which I'm not sure they make any more but you can find some that are similar. Mine are polarized lenses - allowing for the best visibility and light-sensitive shading possible. They were a bit expensive but I found that, especially during the winter, my eyes tended to tear up when riding a LOT. The glasses cut that down to nearly nothing.

I've also heard of people who wear ski goggles to ride. That would certainly work, and actually might even keep your face warmer, too. Hmmm... I have ski goggles...

So, does anyone else have anything they can't live without for winter riding? I'd love to hear it! Please comment if you do.

People, not speed.

Monday, October 8, 2007

My Letter to the Dispatch

I wrote a letter to the Columbus Dispatch to respond to their article about linking the local bike trails together. Of course, I got paired with two other letters that were anti-bike, as is the Dispatch's way. But here's my letter. The Dispatch gave it the headline it did... but it's not bad.
Bicycles don't receive enough support here
Sunday, October 7, 2007 3:54 AM
I respond to the Sept. 26 Dispatch article, regarding central Ohio cities' attempts and wishes to link the various bicycle path networks. The first paragraph implied that bicycle paths are for recreation, and this isn't the whole story.

Bicycles are, first and foremost, for transportation. Bicycle use is one major answer to the congestion problems that Columbus is increasingly experiencing. They are the most efficient form of transportation known to man. They use less energy to build than cars; they don't support a traffic system that results in more than 40,000 deaths per year; they promote exercise; they emit no pollution; and they don't require oil, ethanol or any other fuel once they've been built.

But our city is poorly set up to encourage their use: Our bicycle path system is set up strictly for recreation, and the bike lanes are not in places that actually allow for proper bicycle transit. And our legal system coddles dangerous drivers whose actions and distractions make the streets unsafe for cycling.

City traffic code rightly requires that bicycles operate in the street, yet our police don't enforce traffic codes that would ensure safe streets for all users, not only cyclists. The article was factually correct but failed on the very reason that these changes are needed.

JAMIE FELLRATH

Columbus

People, not speed.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Trick Your Bike With the Down Low Glow

Normally, I'm against putting flashy stuff onto your bike, car, etc. in an attempt to grab attention. But this little item is not only flashy, it'll increase your safety on the bike:

Check out the Down Low Glow! It uses a rechargeable battery, throws a halo of light around your bike for 10 feet, and comes in six colors!

I don't think it'd be possible to miss someone with this on their bike at night! So much for the "I just didn't see him" excuse from motorists!

I'm currently checking with the Columbus Police to see if there are any sorts of restrictions on such lights (colors, etc.).

People, not speed.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Separated Bike Lanes On New York Streets!

New York City gets it!



People, not speed.

Clif Bar 2 Mile Challenge!

The good folks at Clif Bar just got gooder, and my 10th grade English teacher is spit-taking at her copy of MacBeth.

The Clif Bar 2 Mile Challenge is a challenge for you, the dear reader, to use your bike for any and all trips of 2 miles or less. Based on the fact that 40% of U.S. urban travel is for distances of two miles or less, they say "BIKE IT!" And of course, I agree.

And while you're at it, try out one of their peanut butter pretzel Mojo bars. I'd not seen this flavor before, but dang, is it good. :)

People, not speed.

Rear Vision Activity Mirror

On a less contentious note (maybe my lack of riding the past couple weeks has my Irish up, who knows), Bike Commuters.com is reporting on a neat new cyclist rear view mirror that doesn't attach your glasses, helmet, or handlebars. The Rear Vision Activity Mirror attaches to your arm, hand, or wrist! It's an interesting idea that's worth a shot! I wonder if there's a way to get one for folks who weren't at Interbike...

People, not speed.

New Vehicular Homicide Law in Oregon Needs Nationwide Adoption

In listening to the KBOO Bike Show podcast today, Portland, Oregon-area bike lawyer Ray Thomas was a guest and spoke about the new Oregon "Vulnerable Roadway Users" protection law.

Based on European safety concepts (I assume that they're referring to the 5th Motorist Directive from the EU), the law states (and I quote from Mr. Thomas on the show)
"if you hurt or kill a vulnerable user, and are guilty of careless driving, there's an enhanced penalty that (and it's more than punishment) that allows you to to have a reconciliation and atonement by going through a community service program, by going through a driver improvement program, so that you're less likely to be a hazard out there. And if you decide that you don't want to participate in this sort of alternative sentence, you get hit with a mandatory one-year license suspension, and a fine."
I like the sound of this law, obviously, but I can see one major problem with it: proving that the driver is guilty of careless driving. We've all heard stories of cyclists or pedestrians being hit, and the driver gets away with it because "I just didn't see them."

It'd take some education of the police force, that's for sure.

Thomas also brought up a point that I found very poignant in the discussion of cyclists who don't obey traffic codes:
"For those of us who are bicyclists, I'll tell you: you can do something that I do. And that is every time I'm tempted to run a stop sign or go through a red light, I think about what is going to go through the mind of all of those motorists who are watching me. And what do they think about me as a bicyclist? And then what happens if one of my friends or clients is in a court of law in front of a jury comprised of folks who have watched us do that? What do those people think about bicyclists and are they going to be able to be fair to us? Because when I talk to people on juries, what they tell me is 'You know, I think the bicyclists are fine, and they're nice, and everything, but why don't they follow the same laws as the rest of us?'"
People, not speed.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Dispatch Reports on Bicycling Danger Zones on City Streets

The Dispatch is reporting on the most dangerous portions of our city's streets for bike/car accidents today, and it's probably no surprise that the most dangerous street is High Street.
Car-bike crash study
Danger zones lurk for cyclists
Wednesday, October 3, 2007 3:48 AM
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Annie Hollis says she feels safe as she makes the daily trek down N. High Street from her home in the University District to her job Downtown, even though the route is part of a stretch with the highest number of bicycle-vehicle crashes in the city.

But Hollis, a 21-year-old Ohio State University student who works at the domestic-violence shelter CHOICES, says bicyclists need to be alert.

She is familiar with some of the trouble spots on the route, identified in a recent study by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.

Recently, a car ran a red light and almost struck Hollis as she turned from Lane Avenue onto High Street.

High Street near the South Campus Gateway, which has several restaurants, an ice cream shop and a movie theater, is another area where you need to be mindful.

"I see people on bikes with iPod headphones on," Hollis said, shaking her head.

"I would never do that because you really have to pay attention."

The roughly 7-mile stretch of High Street from Downtown to Morse Road had the most bicycle-vehicle crashes, 105, in central Ohio over a five-year period beginning in 2000, according to the MORPC report.

The agency's 2006 Regional Bicycle Transportation Facilities Plan identifies 10 areas with the most crashes and crashes per mile. Between 2000 and 2004, there were more than 1,500 bike-vehicle crashes in Franklin and Delaware counties.

The remaining nine streets and the number of crashes included stretches of: Cleveland (39), Sullivant (35), Livingston (30), Parsons (29), Champion (15), and 5th (14) avenues, along with W. Broad (67), E. Main (49) and W. Mound (12) streets. The worst spots were intersections near destinations such as schools, parks, restaurants, shopping and libraries.

According to the state Department of Public Safety, bicycle crashes have fluctuated between 270 and about 300 each year from 2002 to 2006. Four bicyclists have been killed during that period; a fifth, Michael T. Sonney, was killed in July as he commuted home from work on his new bicycle.

A national firm is developing a bikeways plan -- a draft is expected next month and the final plan next year -- for the city of Columbus that will include recommendations on making the area more bike-friendly.

"We are not even there yet," said Steve Tweed, a transportation planner for the city, when asked about possible solutions to some of the high-crash streets.

"That is one of the things that is going to go into the formulation of this master plan for the city of Columbus. What comes about and what to do about it. We are still waiting for recommendations coming from the draft plan."

A combination of wider streets or bike lanes could go a long way to helping bicyclists and motorists coexist.

"It all boils down to room," said Bernice Cage, MORPC transportation planner.

"You talk to any cyclist who rides on the streets and they say 'We just need enough room.' "

Another thing that is needed is education, and not only for drivers.

The data show a leading contributor to bike-vehicle crashes was bicyclists who improperly crossed a street or failed to yield to a car. That occurred in 29 percent of the crashes.

Motorists failing to yield to bikes contributed to 14 percent of the crashes.

"We need cyclists, especially young ones, to be taught how to ride properly in traffic," Cage said. "Instead of weaving all over the road, there is a certain way we ride in traffic that makes it safe."

Rachael Jones, the mother of two teens and an 8-year-old, until recently lived on the South Side, not far from Parsons Avenue, a street that made the Top 10 list.

She sees bicyclists and motorists who often are distracted.

"A lot of kids on bikes in this area have their iPods, MP3 players and headphones on," she said. "And you have drivers on their cell phones not paying attention."

Jones moved to the West Side about three weeks ago. But when she lived on Cline Street, just a few blocks from Parsons, she allowed her children to ride their bikes in the street only in front of her house or around the block.

"I don't let them ride through the busy intersection," she said pointing to Parsons and Whittier Street. "It is too much traffic and too many things can happen. A motorist not paying attention or the kids get distracted."

I personally question the statistics of who is at risk here. Our police have been shown in the past not to know the city traffic code as it pertains to bicycle use so I'm personally disinclined to trust the statistic that places cyclists at fault. At the same time, though, there are plenty of people who have simply no clue how to ride in traffic.

But the point is true that education is needed for both sides. Every time I hear a driver yell "get on the sidewalk" that point is driven home (no pun intended).

I will continue to say, though, that if the police would simply ticket people for disobeying the traffic code on ALL counts we'd see much less of this. And I mean this for both cyclists and motorists.

People, not speed.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Two Dispatch Articles Worth Noting Today

The Dispatch has had two articles recently that were anti-car without being particularly overt about it.

First, Sunday we saw a discussion of the inability of judges in Ohio to sentence speeders who exceed 100 mph to jail time.

Then, today we got to read about the high number of smog alert days in Central Ohio - 18, up from 6 last year and the most since 2002.

Both these articles bring up great points in the fight against the autocracy:

First, any changes or additions to the Columbus transportation infrastructure to accommodate bikes are going to be a bit useless without serious changes to the state traffic code. If a person can't be sent to jail for reckless endangerment in a vehicle, then the problem of drivers getting away with hitting cyclists or pedestrians isn't going to get any better either.

Until we can adopt a Drivers' Responsibility law in Ohio we're going to keep having the same problems.

Second, over 40,000 deaths were recorded in America last year from traffic accidents alone... but this doesn't take into account the sickness and death that smog from vehicles caused. I continue to be amazed that vehicles that take away people's right to live healthily are allowed on the roads... it's truly one of the great mysteries of our legal system for me.

People, not speed.

Prisoner of the Slave-Mobile, Day Two

Okay, it's not actually Day Two... more like Day Four. But I didn't come up with anything new that sucked about driving (notice I didn't say "anything at all") so I waited till today to point out the new stuff.

I got in a couple of rides over the weekend so I haven't been off the bike totally, which is good. And next week I get to get back on it for most of the time. So that will be very nice. Still, I was tired after the ride on Saturday, which was the long ride. We took the Olentangy Trail from Clintonville up to Antrim Park, where Duncan and I parked and ran around the Antrim Lake Trail for a while.

Today, though, we were back in the car. And I actually got to witness the aftermath of what may have been a bike/car accident. At the corner of Godown and Bethel, I saw some EMTs pushing a wrapped up victim on a backboard into the ambulance, and there was also a bike lying on the curb there. I don't know for sure if it was a cyclist accident but it got me upset. (See the previous post for the reason, as if you need to know why).

I am constantly amazed at how little regard drivers have for other people, to the point of being unsafe. I watched a car with no turn-signal on sit and wait for me to drive straight at a light after it turned green, then turn left right behind me. No use of signal at all.

I watched a car waiting to pull out of Dale Drive in Dublin onto Dublin-Granville Road, not even coming close to stopping behind the stop line. No, this monkey was pulled almost past the crosswalk in the left turn lane, forcing traffic turning left onto Dale to swerve around him. No idea of backing up to stay in the lane.

But my consternation this morning wasn't only for the drivers. No, I saw lots of cyclists today. That in itself was heartening, but most of them were doing it really dangerously. A couple of them were riding on the left side, many more on the sidewalk, and way too many doing the sidewalk/road hybrid.

It's frustrating as hell to advocate for safe cycling everywhere in town and then see so many people not following the rules of the road. This does two things for cycling in Columbus:

1. It perpetuates the myth that "those damn cyclists just do what they want anyway, so why improve things for them?"

2. It removes cyclists as a group of regular traffic-users. The feeling of safety in numbers that could go along with such riding and the benefits of groups of cyclists riding legally is completely lost.

These people who can't be bothered to follow the rules of the road and the guidelines of safe cycling are basically ruining our future for us before it's begun.

People, not speed.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

People, Not Speed

You may have noticed that recently I've added the tag line "People, not speed" at the bottom of my posts.

I've been an active cyclist for almost a year now, and by active I mean I've been corresponding with other cyclists all over the country (and the world, on occasion), and taking part in (or trying to take part, if COBAC would ever return my requests to join them) as many advocacy efforts as I can. This blog is a big part of that for me - I've gotten to meet a few of my readers and I have to say it's a pleasure to have done so.

But being an active cyclist has also shown me the dark side of traffic policy in this city and country. Not only is traffic policy overwhelmingly in favor of automobiles and their use, but it's to the point where cyclists are seen as road hazards (as indicated by LA Metro Supervisor Mike Dunn in this article from the LAist).

The latest example of this that I've read is from Great Britain's Velorution, where the story of Emma Foa' serves to illustrate two things:

1. Motorists place much more emphasis on being able to drive unimpeded and without restrictions than they do on driving safely and without harming others.

2. In many cases, the law supports such claims.

I am in favor of the Dutch system of law, where if a driver hits a bicycle or pedestrian, then the driver is assumed guilty unless it can be proven that the cyclist or pedestrian acted in a way that the driver was unable to avoid them.

This law would totally remove the famous excuse of drivers who have hit cyclists: "I didn't see him." You know what? No one cares. It's your responsibility as the driver of a larger and more potentially damaging vehicle to drive carefully and to see the entire street before moving.

Does this mean you shouldn't be able to drive while talking on the phone, or drinking coffee, or putting on makeup, or shaving, or reading a map? Yes, it means exactly that. If you are doing any of these things while driving, you are impairing yourself from taking the whole road and all its operators into consideration and you are jeopardizing the safety of those around you. You have rights, but as soon as your rights infringe upon the life or limb of those around you, those rights vanish.

Now it's just up to the law to catch up with this thinking.

People, not speed.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Request For Help!

Columbus commuters will hopefully remember that tonight is the Columbus Bicentennial Bikeways Master Plan meeting at North Bank Park Pavilion. Here are the details:
From John Gideon at COBAC:

Friends of bicycling,

Just a quick reminder that this evening from 5:00 to 8:00 pm there will be a public meeting/open house at North Bank Park Pavilion (where Neil Avenue ends at Spring/Long Sts.) on the Columbus Bicentennial Bikeways Master Plan.

All of the consultants on the bike plan will be there including Jeff Olsen of Alta Planning + Design, Bernice Cage of MORPC, and Brian Moore of Burgess & Niple.

They plan to unveil the first rough draft of parts of the bike plan.

And they want to hear from YOU! about where you want the bike lanes, bike trails, bike parking, and what education, encouragement, and enforcement. They will have large maps of the Columbus area on which you can draw the streets and other places where you want to see bikeways or bike stations.

If you aren’t able to attend tonight’s public meeting/open house keep your eyes and ears open for future public meetings. The consultants are planning additional future public meetings around town in the not-too-distant future. Check in occasionally on the dedicated website of the Columbus Bicentennial Bikeways Master Plan here: http://www.altaplanning.com/columbus/

John Gideon
President
Central Ohio Bicycle Advocacy Coalition
P.O. Box 2003
Columbus, Ohio 43216-2003
Phone: (614) 844-3954
Email: jgideon@cobac.org
Website: www.cobac.org
If one of you, my dear readers, is able to make it to this meeting, then I would be ever so grateful if you'd take some notes and then write up a summary for me to post here - you'll get full by-line credit and a special surprise (something tangible, folks).

I really want to be at this meeting but I can't. My wife told me so in no uncertain terms after the last meeting I went to, leaving her with our son for the evening while she was eight months pregnant. And now we have TWO kids... you get the point.

If you're interested, let me know and I'll let you know if you're the one who gets the assignment. First come, first served, and all. You can contact me here.

People, not speed.

Prisoner of the Slave-Mobile, Day one

I had to leave home at 7:10 this morning to get my boy up to daycare and be able to get back to campus on time for work. For me, this involves going up 315 in Columbus, getting off on 161 and going into Dublin to Dale Road. It's a fairly busy area, but leaving that early in the morning it wasn't too bad. Duncan and I sat in the car and listened to the Wiggles (his favorite music)

It wasn't till I'd dropped him off and had to get back onto 315 to get to OSU (my wife actually works near his daycare, not me) that the trials began.

1. Stop and go traffic to get onto 315. Ugh...

2. I stopped at the bank to deposit a check on the way in. I pulled into the bank parking lot (well, I don't want to call it a bank, really, the one I was at is more of an ATM vestibule with more parking than is needed) and signed the check, filled out the deposit envelope, etc. As I was doing this, some motorhead in a big white pickup and a trailer pulls in behind me and then parks straight in - blocking nearly all my access to pull back out and actually GET to the ATM.

On a bike it wouldn't have been an issue, I'd just have hopped around him. But with the car I had to drive on the grass because motorhead wasn't moving.

3. I had to drop $29.50 for a monthly parking pass for the car - this on top of having to buy more gas since we'll be traveling more miles with me going back and forth to Dublin twice a day.

As I was driving around trying to find a place to park at Bevis Hall (OSU's Transportation and Parking office is there) I wistfully noted the many cyclists who were around, and the very nice bike racks under a canopy at Rightmire Hall, next to Bevis.

4. I feel listless and not particularly energetic today. This is only partly because of the new baby keeping us up last night... and if I'd gotten the chance to have some exercise, I'd feel much better.

Sigh... to quote my brother: "When will this hell end?"
People, not speed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Back to the Car for a Few Days...

Some of you may know that my wife gave birth to our second child over the weekend... I'll send you here for more on that.

But...

Because my wife has been told that she's not allowed to drive a car for two weeks following her surgery (she had a c-section), and because Duncan's day care is near HER office but we want him to keep going as much as possible to keep his routine going, I'm going to have to drive him to day care next week after my mom goes home (after a week helping us out).

So I'm going to have to drive. A car. In traffic.

In order to keep my sanity about not having my daily ride, I'm going to keep a journal for the week of how I'm feeling and compare it to how I have felt on days when I can ride my bike. We'll see how this goes.

So I'm off to call OSU Transportation and Parking to see what I need to do to get a parking pass for the week. Crap... and so it begins.

People, not speed.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How to Stop Bike Thieves


Strong Bad from Homestar Runner has all the answers, my bromide.



People, not speed.

Happy Birthday Lance

This is obviously not a racing blog (unless it's about racing against traffic), but I wanted to send out some birthday greetings to the greatest American cyclist in history, Lance Armstrong.

Lance has done so much for cyclists AND cancer patients in this country, I couldn't let the day pass without saying Happy Birthday!

People, not speed.

World Car-Free Day

Put away the keys and get out your bikes, folks: World Car Free Day is this Saturday, September 22!

No commentary on the actual event is needed, but I did find an interesting story from Yahoo News about China's adoption of the day:
BEIJING, (AFP) - China will initiate its first-ever nationwide "no car day" this weekend in an effort to promote environmental health and alleviate increasingly gridlocked urban roads, state press said Monday.

Residents in 108 cities will be urged to take public transport, ride bikes or walk on the nation's first "no car day" on Saturday, the China Daily reported.

"The move is an attempt to raise residents' awareness on energy saving and environmental protection because the country's cities are plagued by traffic congestion and pollution," the paper said.

It did not say why the Ministry of Construction, the sponsor of the activity, chose a Saturday to hold the event.

Government officials and state-run enterprise employees in some cities would be encouraged not to drive, while other urban centres would ban government-owned cars from taking to the roads altogether, it added.

A week-long campaign to publicise the government's goal of getting 50 percent of the nation's urban residents to use public transport instead of private cars would also be initiated, it said.

China's auto industry has been a key component of the nation's booming economy with vehicle production rising by 32.7 percent in July compared to the same period last year.
Interesting from two standpoints. First, China's finding out quickly that trying to be like the west isn't the greatest thing in the world.

Second... the article writer decided that actual research wasn't necessary (as seen above in the red text).

People, not speed.

Monday, September 17, 2007

No Helmet? Must Be the Cyclist's Fault!

I've noticed a disturbing trend in local articles about car-bike accidents today, one that never really occurred to me before. Inevitably, the author of the article feels the need to mention whether the cyclist in question was wearing a helmet. A recent example is here, in an article from Newark:
Bicyclist struck by car near Johnstown

JOHNSTOWN -- For the second time in two days, the Monroe Township Fire Department responded to a person being struck by a car.

On Thursday, the person struck was a bicyclist who was wearing a helmet, Fire Chief Dudley Wright said. The crash occurred at about 8:30 a.m. on Sportsman Club Road.

Additional information was unavailable late Thursday.
What is the point of telling everyone whether the cyclist was wearing a helmet? It feels like the intent here is to say "well, this person wasn't wearing a helmet, so they deserve to have been hit."

There's no mention of the details of the accident other than that - whether there was alcohol involved, who was at fault, how the victim was found, etc. Only an implication that the cyclist was at fault because he/she wasn't helmeted.

I know I'm preaching to the choir, but the presence of a helmet on the head of a cyclist doesn't make them more or less at fault in an accident. The fact is that the driver was going too fast around a cyclist to be safe. If he hadn't been going too fast, the cyclist wouldn't have been hit.

People, not speed.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

BCIC Reader Featured in UA Newspaper Article

Andrew Miller, of the blog Elephants on Bicycles, was featured in an article in This Week: Upper Arlington about how the city of UA is losing population and revenue due to its inability to create an infrastructure that supports all forms of transportation.

The article was good, though I thought it seemed to imply that bikes were toys, a long-standing problem of perception about bicycles and cycling in general. All the talk about citizens wanting to keep fit and such doesn't really address the other reasons for cycling, and I think that tends to marginalize cycling and the need for better infrastructure for us.

Still, congratulations to Andrew. Keep up with Andrew's struggles to drag UA into the 21st Century at his blog.

People, not speed.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Consider Biking Hosts OSU Bike Commuter Pit Stop, Sept. 21.

My friends over at Consider Biking, along with the fledgling Ohio State University Commuter Cycling Club, are sponsoring a "Pit Stop" on September 21st at the main gateway to campus at 15th and High. Sadly, I won't be able to be there since my wife and I are going to be at another OSU location that morning (the maternity ward).

Here's the word from CB and the OSU Club:
Subject: OSU's Back-to-School Commuter Cyclists' Pit Stop

Hello!

You're invited to join OSU's **new Commuter Cycling Club** and Consider Biking on Sept 21, 10a-6p @ 15th & High for the campus's first-ever event celebrating commuter cyclists! The purpose of the event is to 1) advocate for and instruct students about safe cycling and 2) introduce students to the wider cycling community in Columbus.

The Pit Stop will feature free tune-ups, urban riding & maintenance lessons, legal advice, bike registration, info, music & art, sales, and fun!

Other local groups on hand for the Pit Stop include:

-OSU Cycling Club
-B1 Bicycles
-Third Hand Bicycle Co-op
-Restoration Bicycle
-City of Columbus
-MORPC
-COBAC / Pedal Instead
-Tim Boone, Bicycle Accident Attorney
-OSU Police Bug-a-Bike
-COTA Bike 'n Bus
-The Piano Peddler
-Seagull Messenger Bags
-More

Please contact Meredith Joy (meredith.a.joy@gmail.com) or Austin Kocher (ackocher@gmail.com) if you'd like to participate (we're especially on the lookout for bike-themed arts & crafts, exhibits, oddities, etc), or just come out for a good time. See you there!
People, not speed.

Dublin Mayor Says It All

Jason Stover from Consider Biking (and his own blog) passes on a message he received from Dublin's mayor, Marilee Chinnici-Zuercher.
Jason,

I am in full agreement with you regarding the need for bike racks at shopping centers. I will work with the staff to be sure we include them in our code and as a requirement for shopping areas. It is strange that we encourage walking, biking etc. through our terrific bikepath system yet don't have available the racks once people get to their destination.

Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

Marilee
People, not speed.

Another Columbus Bicyclist Death

It's happened again. Andres Gonzales, husband and father of an 18-month old son, was struck and killed by a cowardly hit and run driver last Sunday. He was possibly hit by more than one car.

Gonzales worked at Paul's Restaurant in Whitehall, where he'd been a cook for eight years. He died on the street, surrounded by strangers, after being hit on his way home from work.

I can't even tell you how sick this makes me feel. Whoever did this needs to be dragged out in the street and have the same thing happen to him or her.

And WHEN is our society going to put more impetus on people and their lives and well-being than on sucking off the auto industry's teat?

The time for complete streets is now! How is there any sort of argument about this?

More from Andy's fellow employees at Paul's, from the Columbus Messenger.

People, not speed.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Am I Attracting Morons, Now?

I've been posting on this blog since February, and commuting by bike since last November... and I've been pretty fortunate about the number of clueless motorists I've come across. But with last week's impatient honker incident and today, I'm beginning to feel like someone buried a gris-gris under my stoop.

The story: I had just crossed the intersection of Olentangy and Ackerman and was riding west on Ackerman. There is one lane that crosses from East to West on Ackerman and obviously I was in it. Once you get across Olentangy, a right-turn-only lane from Olentangy opens up to your right. I always try to get right over to that lane to 1) abide by the law and 2) be safe. Here's a diagram:

I'm the red arrow. You can see how that right-turn lane from Olentangy works. Usually, there's no one turning right from Olentangy to Ackerman and I can get right over, but today there was a car that turned and was to my right as I wanted to get over. So no big deal... I figure he'll retain his speed and pass me and then I'd get over.

Nope. He decides to drive RIGHT NEXT TO ME, actually slowing down to do so. I signal, hoping he'll speed up or slow down so I can get over. No... he stays right there. I give him a wave forward, trying to beckon him to go past me. No... he sits right there. Finally, I look over at him with my "WTF" look. He starts waving at me like I'm the problem.

If he'd slowed down and gotten behind me, then I'd know he wanted me to pull in front of him, obviously. If he'd sped up, I could have gotten behind him and into the right lane. But no, he sat right next to me.

Is there some sort of paralysis that takes over in the minds of drivers when they encounter bikes?

There's a High Rate of Exercise-Induced Asthma, Says Study. Jamie Says "Why?"

Note: Cross-posted from Bangers and Mishmash but I thought it was appropriate here, given our efforts to encourage exercise via bicycling.

The results of a study was released recently by OSU's sports medicine department recently that speaks to the high rate of exercise-induced asthma in college varsity athletes. The department used a "eucapnic voluntary hyperpnea testing" procedure, where basically people hyperventilate themselves and then their lung function is measured. 42 of 107 athletes were diagnosed with the condition as a result. 39 of them had never had asthma diagnosed in them before.

Interesting study. It goes on to say that the rate of exercise-induced asthma (I'm just going to say asthma from now on, assume I mean this specific form of the condition) is probably higher than originally thought due to this test never having been used before.

But I think that what this test is failing to consider is that maybe the rate of asthma has actually increased, instead of just lying undiagnosed for all this time. This study could be a benchmark for a study of air quality in our city. All the athletes diagnosed were from OSU, and therefore are breathing Columbus air (which isn't the best in the world, by a long shot).

If they'd never been diagnosed before, it's possible that they come from a cleaner environment than Columbus and they didn't develop it until they got to OSU...

I'd like to see this study become a larger study - it really could be a great example of just how bad things are with air quality in the city (and around the country).

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Dublin Kroger Doesn't Allow Bike Racks?

One of the users on the Consider Biking forums was telling everyone about how he went to the Kroger on Bridge Street in Dublin to pick up a couple of things, and there were no bike racks. When he asked the store manager whether they could put some in, the manager apparently told him that Dublin would not allow them to put any in!

Does anyone know of this law and why it might exist?

UPDATE - 4:20 pm: Jason, the user in question on Consider Biking, gave everyone an update here. PLEASE read the comments for the full story! Jason's doing a great job of updating us on this situation.:
James, an update that I posted over at considerbiking.org as well:

Update No. 2

Greg Jones, Code Enforcement Supervisor from the City of Dublin called me back. He stated that there was nothing in the city ordinances prohibiting businesses from installing bike racks. Greg went on to say that the Planning Committee is very proud of the bike path network in Dublin and actually encourages businesses to install bike racks. Greg also mentioned that he and a few other city employees were going back through all of the text in the articles to see if something may have been misconstrued in them. He said that someone else had called in about the same issue at the Hard Rd Kroger. Greg offered for me to give his number to Kroger to discuss this further with him.

The light bulb started to come on at this point. I called Kroger back and asked to speak with Betty the manager as that was how she was presented to me the last time we spoke. I reminded her of our last conversation and she said the no bike racks came straight from her manager. I apologized to Betty and told her that I was led to believe she was the manager. Betty said, "Oh Heavens no. When you asked the lady that answered the phone to speak to a manager, she just put me on."

At this point I asked who the manager was, and it is Michael King. I spoke with Michael and outlined the situation to him. Michael stated that Kroger Corporate told them the City prohibited bike racks. (The light bulb is at full power now) I asked him if the City prohibited it or Kroger Corporate. Michael reiterated that this was a pass through from Kroger Corporate as to Dublin Regs. I asked Michael in the interim prior to racks being installed what his suggestion would be for cyclists to properly secure their bikes at his location. Michael stated for us to bring our bikes into either the inside cart corral, or secure them in the entry breezeway.

Ok, so Kudos to the City of Dublin and Greg Jones and also to Michael King at Kroger Bridge Street. The jury is still out on Kroger Corporate and "manager" Betty.
A much better response, but disturbing from the angle that the company may be trying to push this off on the city!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

"The Spokesmen" Discuss Cyclist Taxes, Rights

I was listening to the Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable Podcast today, and they were chatting about round-table-member Carlton Reid's recent trip to the Netherlands. He naturally gushed about how great it was to cycle somewhere that has a proper cycling infrastructure set up, and how could he not.

David Bernstein, the moderator and producer of the show, asked Carlton if he knew how the infrastructure was funded, and Carlton said it was just part of the normal tax structure - there was nothing special or extra for cyclists because everyone benefits from having fewer cars on the roads and the like (all the stuff we talk about every day).

And they (and their fellow spokesman, Interbike's Rich Kelly) had a great discussion about taxation of cyclists and why it wasn't justified.

One great thing I heard was the existence of the European Union's Fifth Motor Directive (PDF File), which states that in the case of a motorist/cyclist or motorist/pedestrian accident, the motorist is ALWAYS considered to be at fault due to their responsibility as the operator of a much larger and more dangerous vehicle. Here's the text of the law:
Personal injuries and damage to property suffered by pedestrians, cyclists and other non-motorised users of the road, who are usually the weakest party in an accident, should be covered by the compulsory insurance of the vehicle involved in the accident where they are entitled to compensation under national civil law. This provision does not prejudge the civil liability or the level of awards for damages in a specific accident, under national legislation.
I like it. Not sure how it'd work over here in our much more litigious society, but I like the idea a lot.

I recommend listening to this podcast - it's about an hour long, and there's a lot of industry talk at the beginning, but it's well worth the wait to hear the discussion from the point of view from the USA and also Great Britain via Carlton Reid.

Check it out: the Spokesmen.

Police Release Sketch of Olentangy Trail Attacker

Columbus Police have released a sketch of the individual who has attacked three women along the Olentangy River Trail. This individual has frightened two women and attempted to kidnap a third at knifepoint. He's described by the victims and police as:
5 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighing about 140 to 155 pounds. The suspect was wearing a blue shirt with red sleeves and seen carrying a red backpack, police said.

Police believe the man is 20 to 30 years old, with a thin build.

If you see the individual in question, call 911 immediately. He can probably be considered armed and dangerous if he's already used a knife once.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Faulty Columbus Infrastructure Creates Questionable Situation

On the way home today, I stopped at a couple of stores to pick up groceries and dog food. After I was done, I pulled out onto Kelso Road to cross High Street and ride up to my home.

For those of you not familiar with the area, Kelso (going from West to East) across High Street is one of those streets that is about a lane and a half wide, making you wonder whether you're supposed to be lining up two abreast or one abreast. I've always assumed one - since there's no line to delineate separate lanes. Also, the light sensor is smack dab in the middle of the lane. So, I took my spot about 12" from the right side of the sensor, where city engineers have told me is the best place for a bike to try to trip the sensor and force a light change on High Street. It's also a good example of taking the lane - making sure that other cars can't try to pass you and turn right in front of you illegally. Here's a picture:


A car pulls up behind me (as per usual, not close enough that it might trip the sensor itself). After a few seconds, it honks at me. As is my habit, I ignored it. I wait for the light to change (and as usual, it takes a while). The car honks again, more insistently. I glance behind me, throw up my arms in a "What?" gesture. I don't take kindly to being honked at, as I'm sure most cyclists don't. I believe very strongly in following the rules of the road, and also my right to be there.

Finally, the guy pulls up next to me (on my left) and starts yelling at me. Now, I have the headphones for my cell phone on because my wife is 17-days-from-her-due-date pregnant and I want to be able to take the call immediately if she rings me up. I pull one of the ear buds out and say "excuse me?"

The guy yells "you jackass! I'm trying to take my baby to the doctor! Get the hell over!" And while I'm yelling "What do you want me to do about that?" and before I can get out "it can't be too important since you stopped to yell at me instead of just going around me!" he pulls in front of me and turns right on red (after threatening to kick my ass).

Obviously, this is not time to explain to him about how the Columbus infrastructure is inadequate, nor an explanation of the rights of cyclists. And I think I was right to hold my own - if I had been a car, he couldn't have yelled at me. And I daresay he probably wouldn't have thought about honking me because I couldn't have done anything different than I did on my bike.

But I'm curious - how would you have handled this situation? Comments?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Join the League of American Bicyclists!

If you're serious about bike advocacy, and by the fact that you're here reading this stuff, I assume you are, then you should consider joining the League of American Bicyclists. They're running a membership drive right now, and they sent me an email asking for my help.

Here's the list of reasons they have for joining:
Why Join the League?

1. We Protect the Rights of Cyclists
The League has been protecting your rights to safe and enjoyable cycling since 1880. What started as a movement by "Wheelmen" on high wheel bikes to get roads paved continues today with our Share the Road campaign to make sure cyclists are welcomed and respected out on the road.

2. We provide valuable education programs
Through our bike education program - BikeEd - we teach cyclists and motorist life-saving skills. Our national network of League Cycling Instructors set the standard in bicycle education and safety for children and adults.

3. We create better cycling environments
As the leading voice for cyclists in Washington, DC we advocate for more bicycle-friendly environments. Working with state and local bike advocacy organizations through events such as the National Bike Summit we education Congress on the benefits cycling and the needs of cyclists.

4. We promote cycling as the commuter option of choice
We introduce cycling to countless Americans each year, especially during National Bike Month and on Bike-to-Work Day. We believe sharing our passion for cycling with others is one of the best ways to create a bicycle-friendly America.

5. You can create bicycle friendly communities
When you join you'll have the good feeling of knowing that you're playing a crucial role in creating bicycle friendly communities. Town by town and city by city we are transforming how America moves.

6. You will receive all the benefits of membership
As an added bonus of joining, you'll receive great benefits such as 11 issues of Bicycling Magazine and six issues of our magazine, American Bicyclist. League members also get discounts on bike shipping, roadside assistance, bike tours and more!

7. We provide a charitable deduction
The League of American Bicyclists is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Membership dues are fully tax-deductible less $3 for American Bicyclist and $7 for Bicycling magazine.

8. We will use your donation wisely
We understand the trust you are putting in us when you support us with your membership dues. We strive to maximize the amount of your dues that fund our programs. According to our most recent financial audit (2004) we spend 80% of our revenue on programs and only 20% on fundraising, management and general expenses.
One other thing I like about the League is that they have an "action" group. Many of you may already belong to groups like MoveOn.org, etc., where they send out email notices of bills in Congress that affect us... the League does this but of course it's the bills that are bicycling-based! So you don't have to try to keep track of the crazy amount of weird bills going through Congress to let your Reps and Senators know how you feel about them... they'll let you know when action is best taken!

So please, consider joining the League of American Bicyclists.

The Big Meeting Is Tonight!

Simply Living's Peak Oil study group is hosting the consultants from Alta Planning tonight for a discussion of the bike plan for Columbus. Alta Planning is the company that has been taking all the surveys that I've been touting and is doing the study of our infrastructure to see how best to implement bike-friendly changes to it.

The place: Whetstone Library (Google Map)
The time: 7:00 - 9:00 pm

Come ready to discuss and learn - it should be a good meeting!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Struggles in Upper Arlington

Andrew Miller of Upper Arlington commented on the previous post, and he also had a link to his site, Elephants on Bicycles. He's working in Upper Arlington to do what we're trying to do in Columbus - make the city safer for cyclists by adding infrastructure to aid cyclists in getting from A to B.

He's probably up against it even more than we are, given the greater affluence of UA's population and the general impression of cycling had by folks of a higher tax bracket. Interestingly, I think that some of those people are the ones who could benefit the most by getting out of their cars, and not only from the standpoint of getting more exercise.

I've added his blog to the Columbus cycling blog list to the right. Keep up the great work, Andrew!

The Good, the Bad, and the Good and the Bad

Interesting commute this morning. I got to witness good and bad in two ways.

Situation One: On my way down Dodridge Road and passing by the OSU Wetlands Research Station, I had a driver slow down to turn into it. And stop completely. I stopped behind her, wondering what the hell was going on, naturally. She (I think it was a lady) then waved me to go past her.

The good: she was obviously trying to be bike-friendly.

The bad: huh? Folks, if you really want to be bike friendly, just turn. I wasn't so close behind her that I was going to ram her or anything. Also, if you interrupt the normal flow of traffic to accommodate bikes, you create dangerous situations where other drivers, including the cyclists you're trying to help, don't know what to do or why you're acting a certain way. And you can also create situations where you upset other drivers by trying to be TOO nice to bikes.

Situation Two: I got to work, and pulled up to where I'm normally the only bike in residence. SURPRISE! I was totally unable to park my bike in the rack because it was full!

The good: more people are biking to work!

The bad: I had to lock my bike to a post. Luckily it was still under cover.

Time to send off an email to facilities and see if we can't get a second rack out there!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Green Transportation Hierarchies

A while ago I wrote about my personal traffic philosophy, in which all transportation infrastructure decisions and planning should follow this hierarchy: pedestrians, bicycles, mass transit, motorcycles and scooters, and automobiles. It was just something I'd come up with after observing traffic for several years and from the vantage point of several different modes of transportation over long periods of time.

It seems that the New York City group Transportation Alternatives has come up with a similar hierarchy to mine, and even put it into a nifty graphic for us:

Look familiar? At least the first two and the last one are the same as mine, basically. There's a short article that goes along with it, please read it! Comments?