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.