Monday, April 28, 2008

How Much Is Your Commute Saving You and the Earth?

Biking to work is all sorts of fun, but occasionally you get that smartass who doesn't believe you're saving all that much money or making much of a difference in your riding. Well, thanks to the folks at the Bay Area Bike Coalition, you can find out almost exactly what you're doing for yourself, your wallet, and the environment each day.

Check out this link. Its results for me:
You have burned 286.20000000000005 calories.
You have saved $3.38 by not driving.
You have saved the earth 6.5 lbs of toxic emissions.

Multiply that times the number of days I bike to work, and that's not too shabby. Now, it's not perfect - the amount of money I save doesn't include how much I'd pay for parking at OSU for work, but it's close.

People, not speed.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Newark Advocate Gives Cyclist Advice, But Falls Short

And it's not just the Advocate, of course. They obviously have the best intentions in this article, talking about how bike/car accidents are calling for more cyclist caution. But naturally, there's no mention that motorists need to be more careful and observant as well.

It would really be nice to see more journalists take the attitude that both motorists and cyclists need to operate alertly and intelligently on the road, especially as more people begin cycling instead of driving.

People, not speed.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Recycling Obama Supporter Needs Your Help!

I received this request today from Barack Obama supporter Nick Thompson, who's looking for people to help him bike relay... well, I'll let him do the talking!

In an effort to reuse plastic lawn signs, I am thinking the time is right for a quick ride from my town, Pittsburgh, towards Indiana, carrying as many signs as I can. For lack of personal time I am hoping to organize this 300+mile journey as a relay with fellow riders in Ohio and/or Indiana picking up the load. Not to mention my mom thinks I am too old to go it alone. No gas, no fumes, you get the idea.

See below for an example recycling program and where I got the idea;
www.obamacycle.com

Slow but ready. Thanks.

--
Nick Thompson
412-720-6425 (cell)


I've often lamented upon the wastefulness of elections as regards yard signs and the like... now someone is doing something about it!

People, not speed.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bike To Work Week 2008 Website Released by Consider Biking

Consider Biking has put out their new website for Bike to Work Week 2008, go on and check it out!

They've organized a lot of great events for that week, and with the price of fuel as high as it is, this could be the biggest Bike to Work Week EVER!

People, not speed.

Parks and Recreation Announces Bike Path Work for the Summer

From Columbus Parks and Recreation:

Greetings cyclists!!

Recreation and Parks is busy getting our trail network tuned up for a big year. Each spring, we work hard to get the trails cleaned up and ready for a busy season.

And each year we try to provide some substantial safety improvements for users. We never seem to be able to hit all of them, especially as we add new miles to the system. However, I want to forward a list of the '08 improvements, many of which we received from you:

Olentangy Trail

*Repair a flood prone section @ mile 9, just south of Bethel/Antrim area.
*Re-stripe the centerline of the path, along faded sections, from Antrim to downtown.
*Continue adding new directional/regulatory signage along the path. Add new COG trailhead map kiosks.
Re-do the Northmoor path entry. Remove bollards and hazards, etc.
*Repair a serious riverbank erosion slip just south of Antrim, threatening to take out the trail
*Henderson Road bridge: This is a big project, involving the entire season. The path will remain open, through an orangebarrel work-around on the south side. This improvement will construct a new 10' wide path on the bridge deck, completely replacing the dangerous narrow walk there now.


Scioto Trail

*Clear brush and debris back from the path from the Confluence to the Utilities Complex @ 910 Dublin Road


Alum Creek Trail

*Repair the Broad St. underpass railing
*Re-do the path entry steps @ Watt Rd., Strawberry Farms Park
*Finish trail signage project, including directional/regulatory and trail head maps.



670 Path
This path is a real challenge for this department. We vow to continue trying to get this one up to safe standards. We want more of you to use it, and we understand there are problems. For this year:

*Fix the Leonard Ave./670 bridge situation--install new ramps, fix the hazardous bridge joint gaps, remove obstacles and fix hazards near the Nelson Rd. overpass. (This will at least address the hazardous conditions. We will have to phase in improvements, this path will be a section of the Ohio-to-Erie, and a major east/west route, and we need to put it into good shape. Please bear with us.)

With all of this comes path interruptions, as you are aware. We need to access these sites to fix problems, and that means trucks and equipment during work hours. So far, you have been very patient and we appreciate your willingness to detour, go around, or find alternate short term routes. We try to minimize the down time. We also, however, have to respond to numerous interruptions from outside sources--mostly utility projects as they continue work on the Olentangy trunk sewer. These projects will last over the next several summers, and we will do our utmost to keep the paths open and flowing. Hats off to our contractors as well, they have been very receptive to keeping things open, and it is extremely challenging. We urge you to obey the signs, keep back, and don't do anything risky.

Much is happening on the future trail development fronts, we have lots of support from Mayor Coleman, Director McKnight, and City Council. Stay tuned.

Be safe, ride a lot, and feel free to contact us.

Brad Westall
Greenways Planner


People, not speed.

Bike-car Tensions Increasing As More Cyclists Take To The Roads

The combination of high gas prices and beautiful spring weather are bringing more and more cyclists out of hibernation and onto the streets (and sidewalks, unfortunately). And apparently that's creating more tension on the streets, as today's Dispatch reports.

As usual, most of the article is pretty car-centric.

Lt. Edward Devennish, who is quoted in the article, does take the proper attitude in that cars need to treat cyclists with the knowledge that they can KILL or INJURE us with their behavior. Somehow I don't think that would have helped much in this case, as the miscreants jumped out of the car to injure Mr. Krohn.

I take enormous exception with the Dispatch's posting of the "Proper Pedaling" list without a similar list for automobiles. It implies that only cyclists have responsibilities on the road. Obviously, this isn't true.

But here's another problem: the list isn't complete. It mentions nothing about cycling on the sidewalk, which is illegal. The article mentions it below... in the details that most people just skim over after reading the first couple of paragraphs.

And the final detail I'm going to harp on: in the mention of the study that MORPC did about the fault in bike/car crashes, they failed to mention that they worked from police reports. And it's already been proven that the police, in many cases, wrongly assign blame in the case of such accidents. It's not MORPC's fault, obviously - unless they were to go out to every one of these reports and research them independently (which would take forever), they have nothing else to go on other than the biased reports of the police. But citing that report leads the public to believe that cyclists really ARE to blame more often than cars. And I really find that hard to believe.

Here's the article, see for yourself.
Injury accents bike-car tensions
Wednesday, April 23, 2008 3:21 AM
By Aaron Beck and Tim Doulin
The Columbus Dispatch

Proper pedaling

  • Bicyclists must follow the same traffic rules as those driving motorized vehicles, including stopping at stop signs and red lights and observing the speed limit.

  • Bicyclists must ride in the direction of traffic; they cannot ride against traffic.

  • Bicyclists must ride as near to the right curb as is practical and safe.

  • Bicycles must be equipped with a white headlight and a red rear reflector and red light when used at night.

  • No more than two cyclists can ride abreast in a lane, but they must move to the right if they are slowing traffic.

  • Bicyclists can move out of the curb lane to turn left after signaling.

  • Bicycles are not allowed on freeways.

  • It is illegal for someone to ride on the handlebars or anywhere other than a seat on a bicycle.

  • Bicyclists must signal a turn, unless they are in a turn-only lane. For a left turn, extend the left hand and arm horizontally. For a right turn, extend the left arm with the forearm and hand turned upward, or extend the right arm and hand horizontally.

  • Bicyclists can pass slower-moving vehicles such as horse-drawn buggies and farm vehicles.
Sources: Ohio Revised Code, Columbus City Code

David Krohn was stopped on his bicycle in traffic on N. High Street in the Ohio State University campus area Friday night when a car behind him started honking.

He pulled over to let the metallic-blue convertible pass. As it did, the four college-age men inside hurled obscenities at Krohn. Then he did something that apparently infuriated the men: He touched the car to steady himself on his bike.
One of the men bounced a plastic bottle off Krohn's chest and, now on foot, chased him as he pedaled down an alley off Frambes Avenue.

"The next thing I remember is waking up in the ambulance," said the 64-year-old Krohn, who had suffered a broken jaw and gash on his head.

The attack is an extreme example of the tension that exists between cyclists and motorists, and confrontations could escalate as the weather warms.

Some cyclists complain drivers are unwilling to share the road. Drivers say cyclists don't follow the law when riding in the street.

"They are both right," Columbus Police Lt. Edward Devennish said.

"I see motor-vehicle operators who treat bicyclists without any respect, and I have seen bicyclists do stupid things and violate the rules of the road."

Drivers must realize bicycles and motorcycles are "extremely vulnerable and they have as much right to the roadway as you do in your car," Devennish said.

Bicyclists have a right to an entire lane of travel on a road, he said.

"But be considerate of the other drivers who are going to be able to go faster than you. You don't gain anything from slowing them down."

Krohn was attacked as he was on his way home after performing with Columbus Dance Theatre at its Downtown location.

He said witnesses told him that he was hit from behind in the alley, probably with a beer bottle.

An avid cyclist, Krohn said he was assaulted about four years ago. He was riding down Cleveland Avenue in a recumbent bicycle, in which the rider pedals in a reclined position, when a pedestrian, a young boy, punched him.

"What seems to offend people in cars is that we're on the road," Krohn said. "They think we're supposed to be on the sidewalk. It seems that in the Midwest there's a car thing. A car is an extension of the personality, and any infringement on that is like a slap in the face."

Cyclists are not without blame. Two years ago the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission analyzed crashes between bicycles and vehicles in central Ohio over a five-year period. It found that in 29 percent, the most common contributors were bicyclists who improperly crossed or failed to yield to the vehicle. Motorists failed to yield in 14 percent of the crashes.

Bicyclists often don't follow the traffic rules, cutting through red lights and dodging in and out of traffic, said John DeFrank, a Whitehall resident who works Downtown.

"I just almost saw one right here," said DeFrank, 51, motioning to the intersection of Broad and High streets.

"The light turned red, but the guy on the bike went through the light and somebody almost hit him. In the last few weeks, with the way gas is going, the number of bikes you see on the road is just increasing every day."

Matt Young, 34, commutes by bicycle on W. 5th Avenue from his Upper Arlington home to work at Battelle. His biggest concern is traffic suddenly pulling out from a business or side street.

Young tries to make himself visible by wearing a reflective vest and blinking lights on his helmet. His bike is equipped with lights.

"I pretty much try to follow the law and hope that I gain some credibility for cycling in general," he said.

Columbus Dance Theatre has started a fundraiser to help Krohn pay his medical bills.

"We're getting responses from all over the country because people hear the story and go, 'Oh my God!' " Artistic Director Tim Veach said. "It's ridiculous. Who would beat up a 64-year-old mime? That's about as low as you can get."

abeck@dispatch.com

tdoulin@dispatch.com

Here's Rick Logue's take on this at My Two Mile Challenge!

People, not speed.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day Musings

It's Earth Day today, a day to take some time and think about what we're getting from as well as doing to the earth.

When I first started cycling to work, it wasn't because I was a huge cycling fan, or because I rode my bike recreationally all the time and wanted to get in extra training. I'd never been the type of guy to get all googly about the latest bike technology, or to be up in arms about cyclists' rights on the road, or to be worried about congestion on the streets, or anything like that.

Believe it or not, I just hated cars. I hate having to own one. I hate having to maintain one. I hate having to pay for gas. I hate sitting in traffic. And I haven't actually owned a car for myself since mid-2004. I've only owned two cars in my life - a cheapo basic transportation (1987 Mercury Lynx wagon, bought in 1993) car when I got out of my Army training; and then a program car (1993 - I think - Mercury Mystique, bought in 1996) that had heat, as the girl I was dating fairly seriously at the time was tired of being frozen in the Lynx (it didn't have a working heater, not that that sort of thing has ever really bothered me).

The Lynx was (as cars go) a good buy. I put probably 30,000 miles on it, and it only cost me $2000 plus some maintenance of probably $700. The Mystique had problems out the wazoo - the coil springs broke (all four of them), the head gasket broke, etc. I spent WAY too much on that car. And I was tired of having to sit in traffic on 270/670 all the time.

When I first got my position at Ohio State University (first as a consultant), I was still driving to work. Then the Mystique had to go into the shop, so I was looking around for an alternative. I didn't want to rent a car as my insurance wasn't great and wouldn't pay for it, and my then- girlfriend/now my wife suggested the bus. I got online, found the route to work via COTA, and voila... I was a bus commuter.

And I was hooked! Even after I got my car back, I started using the bus more and more often. At this time, I was living out on Stelzer Road near Easton, and I took the #14 route and picked up the #7 in front of Nationwide Insurance to campus. It was about a 40-minute trip, and I loved the idea of someone doing the driving for me. I saw lots of parts of the city I wouldn't have normally seen; I had time to read, listen to music, etc.; and I felt more connected to the communities I passed through.

After we got married, we moved to Clintonville, and lived less than a block off of High Street. That was pretty much the last time I drove that car. I took the bus daily, occasionally combining COTA use with CABS use (CABS is the Ohio State U. bus system).

I'd started mentioning that I wanted to start biking. I've always been an active person, and biking to work would release me from the strictures of bus ridership (one of my routes only ran once every 54 minutes, so if I missed it I was SOL). So for my birthday in 2006, my wife got bikes and a trailer for her, me, and our then-two-year-old. Later that month I started biking, and I haven't looked back.

For me, biking is primarily about not supporting an industry that I feel has been detrimental to our environment and lifestyle: the auto industry. Car usage has made us lazy, antisocial, and irresponsible.
  • Lazy, in that we can't bring ourselves to walk distances of less than a mile.
  • Antisocial, in that we think nothing of behavior on the road that we wouldn't think of if we were walking down the street.
  • Irresponsible, in that we take risks with the lives of those around us in the name of convenience and speed.
There are plenty of other negatives in regard to car usage, but we'll leave it at that for now. There have been entire books written on these topics and there's no need for me to go into it more.

I've always been environmentally motivated in my life, and the idea of riding my bike appealed greatly as a way to practice what I preach. And after a couple months of riding regularly, I discovered something else:

This was FUN!

Since becoming a bike commuter, I've started reading more about cycling, transportation history, urban congestion, bike advocacy, and the like. I've started writing my own thoughts about cycling, commuting, and the like as well (as you probably know) and sharing them with people. And I've discovered a whole community of folks out there who feel the same as me. Some got into this via recreational cycling, some never stopped cycling when they got out of school, some just picked up a bike again recently. But all are agreed...cycling is fun! And the benefits of cycling to work regularly far outweigh any perceived convenience that automobile usage and ownership have.

So that's my random, stream of consciousness about cycling and commuting that this Earth Day has brought me. I'm proud of myself for being part of the solution. I'm proud of myself for being something of an evangelist for cycling, not by my words but by my actions. I'm most proud that so many of you have cited my blog and others like it as part of what got them back on a bicycle and becoming your own part of the solution.

Few things have changed my outlook like cycling has. Now I look forward to passing this love of bikes on to my son and daughter, as my dad (a former bike commuter himself!) did for me.

People, not speed.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Consider Biking's Upcoming Events

The great folks at Consider Biking have released their list of upcoming biking events for one and all. Come enjoy this time with some of Columbus's most dedicated pedal-pushers!
1) Columbus's first Bike to Work Week (B2WW) May 12-16 is packed with city-wide events, a Commuter Challenge, and a Monday morning launch with the Mayor on the Statehouse lawn. Visit b2ww.considerbiking.org to learn more and get involved!

2) B2WW closes on Saturday with Bike+Art=Show, an arts and crafts show to celebrate the bicycle and the bicyling lifestyle. To participate, register online at bikeart.considerbiking.org!

3) Bicycling Magazine's BIKETOWN is officially coming to Columbus! BIKETOWN provides free bikes to people who don't have one, and tracks the recipients for a year to see how their lives have changed. Anyone who would like to apply for a free bike can enter the essay contest at http://www.bicycling.com/biketown/essay.html. The Mayor will award the bikes to their recipients on May 22.

4) A Consider Biking Membership Meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, May 27 @ 7pm. Come out to meet the board, socialize with friends, and provide input into what you'd like to see from our organization going forward! Location TBD.

As always, you can learn about these events and more at http://www.considerbiking.org. Please let me know if you've forgotten your login information; don't let that be an excuse not to contribute to the conversation!

See you around,
~Meredith
Come on out and join in one (or ALL) of these events!

People, not speed.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Carectomy: Eight Ways to Overcome Excuses and Start Cycling

Carectomy is one of my favorite sites. Not just a cycling site, it's all about removing cars from our lives all together. How beautiful is that! Transit, walking, cycling, it's all in there!

Check out today's post on Carectomy: it's just what I (and many other folks) have been saying all along, but put into one post. And with less hammering on the lack of traffic enforcement (That's right, even if other sites are less wordy than me, you'll always have my soapbox!).

People, not speed.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Yehuda Moon is Living the Dream

Check out today's Yehuda Moon comic from Cleveland's Rick Smith. Who hasn't wanted to do this at one time or another?

People, not speed.

Try Out The Bike Blog Quiz

For those of you (like me) who read lots of bike blogs and such, try out the Bike Blog Quiz, as called to my attention by Fritz at Cyclelicious. The quiz is at Carlton Reid's Quickrelease.tv site.

You will not beat me. I got 100%!




View this quiz on Quibblo
More quizzes on Quibblo
Quibblo


People, not speed.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Another Use of the "I Didn't See Her" Defense

When is law enforcement in this country going to figure out that "I didn't see him/her" isn't a defense for poor operation of a vehicle?

In non-biking but very related news, Hilliard crossing guard Dianna L. Sharp was struck and killed yesterday when a dump truck sped through a school zone and nearly hit 8-year-old Christian Engle. Sharp through her body between Engle and the truck and was mortally wounded. Engle is in intensive care but is expected to recover.

The driver made the now-famous "I didn't see her" defense, of course.

Now I know some people are going to think that I'm being extraordinarily harsh on this poor driver. Perhaps I am. But this is just about the best example I've ever seen of how the driver of a vehicle needs to be aware of absolutely EVERYTHING around them while they are operating it. Here's a driver of a huge truck, operating in a well-marked school zone, while children are crossing the street. That driver needs to be on alert for absolutely ANYTHING at all times, but especially in such a situation. Kids run out into the street, or fall into the street, or aren't paying attention as they cross, etc.

And if the driver can't see everything around him or can't operate his vehicle safely, then he needs not to be driving it. It's as simple as that. Safety and human life absolutely HAVE to come first on our roads, not speed.

People, not speed.