Thursday, May 31, 2007

How to paint a bike and other useful tips

"Zoom" by Nesha. Used with permission.
Panda Face shows us how to strip, mask and paint a bike with unique designs over at

This Parents' Bicycle Safety Pamphlet (PDF) is outstanding. Download and print it right now. Even cooler: You can include your artwork and text to have a custom-created PDF just for your bike organization. Best of all, it's all FREE courtesy the Active Living Resource Center.

Orange County Register columnist Gordon Dillow tells cyclists to get off the road for our own good. "Regardless of who is at fault in a car vs. bike collision, it's the bicyclist who's going to suffer, physically at least. No 25-pound bike is ever going to win in a collision with a 4,000-pound car – and yet we persist in trying to mix heavy, high-speed motor vehicles with light, low-speed bikes on high-volume, relatively high-speed roads."

Speaking of non-cyclists giving cycling advice, fashion experts invited to the "Gladiator Cycle Chic Event" in Manhattan created bike-to-work outfits that were practical and professional. They had some cool ideas -- one outfit featured a clear tote bag for the sneaker-wearing cyclist to put her high heels in, for example. See photos and more info here.

Here's something that's been on my to-do list for years: The Activist's Toolkit. Thank you to the Michigan Land Use Institute for saving me the effort and for doing a wonderful job! If you're interesting in cycling advocacy, read this toolkit.

A few things to think about:
  • "For every dollar a family thinks it saves in monthly housing costs by moving to the far outer suburbs, it spends nearly a dollar more in transportation costs." Mode Shift.
  • "Researchers found that men who lived in more walkable neighborhoods tended to show fewer depression symptoms than men from less walker-friendly areas." MSNBC.
  • There's lazy, and then there's Las Vegas lazy. "It was all the walking," 27-year-old Simon Lezama said on his rented electric wheelchair. Lezama, a trim and fit-looking restaurant manager from Odessa, Texas, rented it on day three of his five-day vacation, "and now I can drink and drive, be responsible and save my feet." Found via Two Thirds.

Bicycle Colorado jerseys

Order the Bicycle Colorado Jersey and show your support for bicycling in Colorado. $49 for Bicycle Colorado members, $55 for non-members. Jerseys will be shipped beginning in July. Order from Bicycle Colorado.

Remember, June is Colorado Bike Month; Bike To Work Day is Wednesday, June 27, 2007.

Kinks in the road

This photo reminded me of the math professor who built a square-wheeled bicycle and the road that goes with it. "A square wheel can roll smoothly, keeping the axle moving in a straight line and at a constant velocity, if it travels over evenly spaced bumps of just the right shape. This special shape is called an inverted catenary." You just can't turn that bike: If you turn the square wheels too much, they get out of sync with the inverted catenaries.

My old riding buddy Dreamboy writes about his encounter with a rude motorist between Lyons and Estes Park, Colorado in "Revenge is a dish best served by police officer."

Watch a kinky bike fantasy video from Skittles.

See the incredible mutant offpring aftermath of kinky tree + bike love.

Al Gore visited the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, CA. last week. 2000 foes of Global Warming showed up in their SUVs to listen to Gore and get his autograph. To be fair, I don't expect everybody who shows up at church on Sunday morning to be a saint.

No Impact Man got hit by a car. I love the part where he's getting in the ambulance and the police officer threatens to arrest the victim because he's not carrying any ID.

Read about celebrities and their folding bikes.

What do you think of this gallery of bike lane violations?

Broke bike chain breaks teeth

Human teeth, that is, not the teeth on the ring or cog. Tim Kelton of Wichita Falls, Texas, was commuting on his singlespeed bicycle when his chain snapped and sent him over the bars. See the gruesome aftermath here. "However expensive that derailleur and a few gears would have been, " Kelton writes, "this is more."

The only time I've snapped a chain is with a dérailleur-equipped bike. It beat my rear dérailleur into little bits before spooling around the rear cog and locking up my rear wheel in heavy traffic, but I managed to stay upright and avoided injury to my teeth or the rest of my face.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A history of doping in cycling

Catching up after the long weekend: Dave Moulton started racing bicycles in 1952. He gives us an excellent first person recollection of doping in competitive cycling.
The drug used was Benzedrine, a brand name for a mixture of amphetamines that had been used by the military since the early 1900s.

It was generally accepted that the pros used it, especially in the Tour and other big stage races. We didn’t look on it as cheating, the entire Tour de France field was on dope, it only becomes cheating if a substance is banned and only a few do it.

My guess is that doping by professional cyclists can be traced back to the beginning of pro racing in the early 1900s; amphetamines became available about the same time. Six Day Track Racing became immensely popular back then, a sport crying out for a “stay-awake” drug.
In related news, the International Olympic Committee opened an investigation for possible doping violations in Olympic cycling today in the aftermath of doping confessions by Bjarne Riis, Erik Zabel, Rolf Aldag and Christian Henn, as well as admissions from doctors that they supplied EPO to Team Telekom cyclists. "The IOC finds the revelations in recent days disappointing ... and is therefore determined to look into the matter and any possible impact it might have had on the Olympic Games," the IOC said.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bicycles and defective traffic signals

It's a common problem for cyclists: You pull up to a controlled intersection with a traditional loop detector, but the loop will not detect your bicycle to trigger the traffic signal. What do you do to get through the intersection?

The canonical answer among cyclists is to wait an appropriate amount of time (or not), wait for cross traffic to clear, and run the light. Supposedly, the light is considered defective; hence, running this light is considered by bicyclists to be perfectly legal.

Is running "defective lights legal, though? In the United States, is anybody aware of any provision in state vehicles codes or the Uniform Vehicle Code stating what is commonly considered fact among bicyclists?

Warren in Kansas went to the trouble of asking the local police what is legal. The police officer responded: "Bike riders are required to obey all traffic laws. I see your problem but I must tell you what the ordinances state."

I realize, of course, that police officers are not lawyers, but fighting a traffic ticket in a local court based on what many local judges consider a legal technicality is often a losing proposition.

What do the vehicle codes state about this situation? Do the ordinances address "defective" traffic lights that do not detect bicycles or motorcycles?

Zombie Mob vs. Critical Mass

Zombie Mob vs. Critical Mass
Originally uploaded by chasingfun

Weekend Update

I normally try to give an online hats off in memory of those who died in service to the United States of America on Memorial Day, but I was very far away from Internet access for the weekend.

Thank you to CycleDog for the guest rant over the holiday.

Doc Logan doesn't report the Zombie + Critical Mass San Francisco Mashup, but you can read the reports and view the photos at quite a few spots in the blogosphere: View Courier Championship slideshow here. Stevearrazi posted a nice photoset from NACCC 2007 here. And Fixpert posted here photos to Flickr.

There's more, but I have real work to catch up on too, not to mention the miles I want to ride on my bike!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Pardon me while I rant a moment...

Fritz is gone for the weekend, so I'll take advantage to that to post a few words.

He wrote this:

"Cycling knickers, though, or "manpris" like some of my friends like to call them, seem a little out of place even in the progressive San Francisco Bay Area. I feel a little weird wearing them."

Well, you oughta feel a little weird wearing them. You oughta feel a whole lot weird! No man over the age of five should be caught wearing short pants like that. It ain't natural.

Now, I know you're in San Francisco and all - the urban cycling uber-fashion cutting edge that all the rest of us are supposed to emulate. Sure, I get the whole fixed gear thing, but then again, I got it about 30 years ago. It's hardly something new.

I'll try to make allowances for youthful indiscretions, and maybe I'll even stretch the upper age limit for short pants wearin' up to about 25 or 30 - after a couple of drinks, maybe - but any middle aged men trying to look hip and stylish in up-to-the-minute fashions really just come across as making a pathetic grasp for their lost youth. Stop it! Embrace your middle-aged-ness.

Just remember to get a few photos of the stylin' dudes. Hold onto them for 10 years or so, then trot them out to show the dude's kids. I promise you it will be highly amusing.


Commute by Segway

this baby says...
Originally uploaded by faster panda kill kill
And drop your child off at the daycare on the way! Seen at CrunchTimes. Found by Megan.

More cycling new

EPO, EPO, Ullrich, Floyd, LeMond, Lance and good excuses.

Why do we commute by bike?

The Price is Right and it always will be.

Another bike blog: Self Righteous Biker. Via Gwadzilla.

Is bicycling healthy or not? The answer: a definite maybe.

Berlin Critical Mass.

CafePress and violence toward cyclists. See the violence here.

Enjoy the weekend, all. I will be in the Great Outdoors, very far away from computers and the Internet. Thanks for your thoughts on Manpris and product suggestions. I think of myself as somebody who values function over style, but I'm contemplating Sue's note that my clothing is a reflection of myself. And since Fossil Fish mentioned it, it seems like Style Man had something to say about Manpris. I'll try to look it up.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Big HUGE MONSTROUS bicycle weekend in San Francisco

Just in case you're looking for something to do, there will be lots of fun stuff in San Francisco this Memorial Day weekend: SFist recommends, "Wear a helmet." A camera might be kind of cool, too. I'll be camping in the Sierra mountains with my family so I get to miss all of this action.

More: Read Paul Dorn's comments on Forester's presentation at Google. And don't forget -- Should Real Men wear manpris?

Google maps: Avoid highways

Last March I compared the route finding capabilities of and MapQuest, both of which provide an "avoid highways" option on their map sites.

Like the similar services from Ask and MapQuest, Google Maps is unaware of pedestrian and cyclist facilities like bridges and paths, but unlike the Ask map service, Google is unaware of where pedestrians are banned from. For example, walkers are prohibited from stretches of the San Tomas Expressway in Santa Clara County, California, but Google will happily route you along that expressway for your drive from Campbell to Santa Clara.

Visit Google maps if you want to play with this option.

Please don't forget to let me know what you think of "manpris". I appreciate the comments thus far!

London police ban Critical Mass

From the London Cyclists Touring Club:
The Metropolitan Police has had a decision overturned in
the Appeal Court that effectively makes it illegal to
organise Critical Mass, an event that’s taken place on
the last Friday of the month for 13 years, without the
organisers providing a route to the police. Jenny Jones, a
Green Party member of the London Assembly, said: "This
decision is bad news for everyone, as it will end up with
the police wasting time arresting innocent cyclists like
me, rather than arresting real criminals. Arresting
cyclists at Critical Mass will be like arresting a group of
passengers for gathering at Westminster tube station during
the rush hour." Jenny is urging as many people as possible
to join her on the ride this Friday (25th May), which sets
off at 6.30 from under Waterloo Bridge, by the National
Film Theatre.
More commentary:
  • Manic Street Preacher: [The decision] centred around the definition of what could be called a "customary procession". Two of the judges ruled that since every ride took a different route it could not be called customary.
  • Ellis Sharp: A child dies on London’s roads every fortnight. The Met couldn’t give a toss. London’s roads are choked with drivers chatting into handheld mobile phones. Again, the Met couldn’t give a toss. London’s residential areas are full of speeding morons. The Met couldn’t give a toss. But a couple of hundred cyclists riding around central London: the full resources of London’s police will be marshalled against them.
  • London Critical Mass website: We're not blocking traffic; we are traffic.

Manpris and style

I got some urban-style cycling knickers from Swrve not long ago. These are absolutely the most comfortable pants I've ever worn for cycling.

I'll post more specifics in a real review in the future, but first a question about style. As a cyclist, I can pretty much get away with wearing anything around the San Francisco Bay Area -- you're not looked down on if you're not in full lycra kit or wearing the right urban hipster gear. I even saw a dude in a dress yesterday and just kind of shrugged. Actually, it looked like some sort of hippy interpretation of an Indian mystics outfit, but you get the drift.

Cycling knickers, though, or "manpris" like some of my friends like to call them, seem a little out of place even in the progressive San Francisco Bay Area. I feel a little weird wearing them.

So, like I wrote, the fit and feel of these "manpris" is simply amazing. The style, though, isn't really me. Should I choose function over form? What do you all think?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Easy bicycle care guide

The folks at Sun & Ski Sports have created a handy Bicycle Care Guide with a checklist of regular maintenance for your bicycle. While I'd quibble with a couple of things (e.g. my chain is always dry on the outside) it's not a bad checklist. Via Biking Bis, also mentioned by Blue Collar.

More bicycle blog news

Over 700 bicycle commuters representing 77 bicycle manufacturers, retailers and industry affiliates participated in the bike industry Commuter Cup Challenge last Thursday. Masiguy participated with a whopping 80 mile round-trip commute! Read more about the Commuter Cup Challenge.

Washington D.C. area cycling skills classes.

The Bike Sharing blog looks interesting. Via.

Read the Dr Gridlock letter we'd like to see.

Recycle and reuse: Make an iPod case from an old bicycle inner tube.

Carey the Raleigh chick has a cool "I was hit by a car and lived to blog about it" story.

Streetsblog: What does a Bike Friendly City look like?

Velochimp: Be the bike.

Velorution: (sort of) Stylish reflective safety vest.

Floyd testimony coverage.

Streetfilms video: Sasquatch loves traffic calming.

Nanotech and energy research

One of my old high school friends, Suzanne, is an engineer for the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. She is in town for Nanotech 2007, so we got together to catch up on old times.

Her department's interest in nanotech is twofold: There's research in using nanotechnology for hazardous waste cleanup, and the nanotech industry itself has its own hazardous materials issues.

More interesting to my friend, however, is the tremendous interest at the conference on using nanotech for energy issues. The keynote speaker at this conference is Shell Oil President John Hofmeister. A great many vendors are apparently investigating nanotech for use in oil extraction, "clean energy", hydrogen manufacture and storage, fuel cells, and gassification.

Suzanne also talked about the multiple detrimental effects of replacing MTBE as an oxygenator with ethanol. I'll post more later, but she touched on the net carbon footprint of using ethanol for energy as well as the effects of using ethanol in gasoline on groundwater pollution.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

John Forester speaks at Google

John Forester gave a talk on bicycle transportation on Bike To Work Day at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Forester started with a brief history on how transportation effects city size, shape, and design.

Then Forester gives his somewhat snarky take on the history of bike lanes in California. Given that he got involved in bicyclist activism when he was arrested for disobeying a mandatory sidewalk riding law in Palo Alto in the 60s, his attitude is understandable. In the Q&A, somebody asks about the bike facilities in the Netherlands, San Francisco and Davis, CA; stop signs for traffic calming; the effectiveness of bike lanes in informing motorists of cyclists;. Watch the entire one-hour-long video on Google Video.

In related news, many folks have been following the case of David Prokop in Los Angeles, in which Forester acted as an expert witness for Prokop. Prokop was riding on a Los Angeles bike trail when he bumped into a fence, lost control, and was injured. He filed suit, contending that poor design by the city led to the crash. The state Court of Appeals ruled on the appeal yesterday, deciding that the City of Los Angeles is not liable for damages, ruling that California Class I Bikeways are not subject to state standards for street safety.

Finally, Los Angeles cyclist Will Campbell doesn't think much of bike lanes. Several others have already mentioned this one, but since we're talking Forester and bike facilities, I figure it's appropriate for another mention.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Caltrain bicycle survey

Caltrain -- the commuter rail service between San Francisco and San Jose, California -- is working on a new Bicycle Master Plan. Caltrain has posted a survey and asks commuting cyclists who take the train, as well as past bike+train users and potential bike+train commuters, to take the survey. Caltrain is evaluating their options and wants to gauge the response to potential changes. Among some of the possibilities mentioned in the survey:
  • Charging extra for bike car access.
  • Additional bike parking at busy stations.
  • Moving the bike car to the southernmost train.

Over the past two years, Caltrain usage has exploded to the point where commute-time trains are at capacity. Caltrain seems to want to encourage bike commuters to park their bikes at the train stations in order to relieve some of the crowding that's now occuring on the bike cars.

Show courage. Wear Spandex.

The owner of this truck lives on the Georgia/Alabama border according to the IMBA staff blog. Dave also editorializes about wearing his lycra cycling gear.

Thanks for dropping by Cyclelicious.

North Korea bicycle paths

North Korea is a land of vast motorways, some with as many as 10 lanes. But they are always empty. Very few people own cars. Pedestrians and cyclists zig-zag across them as they are so unused to traffic.

read more | digg story

Cyclist tips from a car driver

Natasha now has her driver’s licence, so that pretty much makes her an expert. Watch the video for important safety tips for cyclists from a car driver. Natasha tells us why we should avoid opening doors ("I've had to replace mine three times!"), why motorists throw insults and objects at cyclists, and complains about bearded guys on those "lie-down" bikes.

Tips For Cyclists - video powered by Metacafe

The video comes from the ingenious folks at Bicycle Forest, via Treadly and Me and CycleDog.

Friday, May 18, 2007

San Francisco: More bicycles than cars on Bike To Work Day

0085 Kate and tribe
Originally uploaded by sfbike.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency reported that traffic counts showed more bicycles than cars on Bike To Work Day yesterday. Bicyclists made up 54% of the traffic on eastbound Market Street at Van Ness, compared to 42% for personal automobiles. The 647 cyclists counted at this location represents at 27% increase over last year. This is also double the normal number of cyclists at this location. Read more at the San Francisco Bike Coaltion.

Even Mayor Gavin Newson borrowed a bike from the local rental outfit and rode his bike for a photo op. "You should see the potholes in this town," the mayor said.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bike to Work Day photos

I've posted Bike To Work Day photos from my 50 mile (round trip) bike commute today. The photo set features all types of cyclists with all types of bikes visiting the various Energizer Stations throughout Santa Clara County in California.

$100,000 hybrid: Lexus LS 600h

Toyota introduced the Lexus LS 600H hybrid in Japan today and plans to begin selling it in the United States in a couple of months. This *ahem* "green" car features a five liter V8 that's "as powerful as [its] V-12 rivals while providing V-8 fuel economy" of 20 mpg/city and 27 mpg/highway.

To its credit, this automobile is a Super Low Emissions vehicle, producing 20% of the emissions of a convential 5 liter V8. It also has the first LED front headlights (!) of any production vehicle.

When designing the safety features of this Lexus, Toyota engineers even thought about those who are outside the cage by programming pedestrians into the anti-collision system. The system has cameras that detect objects in the cars path. Another camera in the steering wheel determines if the driver is watching where he's going. The system alerts the driver; if the driver doesn't respond the system will even apply the brakes on its own. It might be fun to swerve in front of one of these on a bicycle just to see what happens.

I love this quote from the Edmunds review: "As an automotive isolation chamber, the LS 600h is among the world's best."

Read more:

Useless ride stats

My muse today is Fixed Gear Cycling, who titles most of his posts "Useless Ride Stats" and then writes about interesting parts of his ride.

Today was Bike to Work Day in the San Francisco Bay Area and I did not keep close track of the statistics of my morning bicycle commute. In round figures, though:
  • Miles: 25, give or take. In metric that's 40 km.
  • Time: 2 hours, more or less. That's about 8.2 in metric "centidays."
  • Breakfast stations visited: 7.
    • City officials met: 3. One in Sunnyvale and two in Palo Alto.
    • Coffee cake consumed: 3 pieces.
  • Cyclists seen: Well into the hundreds. Perhaps even 1000.
    • Extracycles: 2.
    • Bike Fridays: 2.
    • Ordinaries / Boneshakers / Highwheelers: 1.
    • Art Bikes: 1.
  • Cheapest gas price I saw: $3.49 for regular unleaded.

Photos will be posted later tonight, I hope. I bought a new camera and it takes some micro-USB connector that I don't have handy.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bay Area Bike To Work Day

Bike To Work Day in the San Francisco Bay Area is on Thursday, May 17, where we expect 100,000 cyclists to stop at Energizer Stations throughout the Bay Area, with 20,000 of them in Santa Clara County, where I will ride.

I plan to visit several of the "Energizer Stations" in Santa Clara County along the Caltrain line. I'll start at San Jose Diridon Station, work my way to El Camino Real & Lincoln in Santa Clara, stop at El Camino Real & Wolfe and the Sunnyvale Caltrain Station in Sunnyvale. After that i'll drop in at the Mountain View Caltrain Station and hang out there for a while before crossing over the Palo Alto to visit the Energizer Stations at the California Avenue Caltrain Station, Palo Alto City Hall, and the University Avenue Bikestation.

Look for me on a gray Specialized Roubaix with a large black messenger bag with the "Seven Cycles" logo on it. I'll take plenty of photos.

If you elect to use public transportation, you can get a free VTA day pass by using the free bike valet parking services offered at the Mountain View Transit Center, San Jose Diridon Station, or Milpitas Great Mall.

Check out this excellent article about biking to work in the Mercury News. The writer -- who is himself a cycling commuter -- highlights executives of high tech and immigrant cooks who ride their bikes to work.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dangers of Bike Lanes

I read an article today from the Madison Capital Times titled "Bike helmet crushed, but head fine." In brief, a cyclist was proceeding through an intersection in a bicycle lane when a truck suddenly made a right turn in front of him. He attempted to stop, but ended up being thrown off the bike and under the wheels of the truck. The truck ran over his head as it rounded the corner. Miraculously, thanks to his helmet, the cyclist was fine.

This is the exact kind of accident that bicycle lanes cause.

A bicycle lane creates the impression, particularly in the inexperienced and/or poorly educated cyclist's mind, that "this is where bicycles belong, not in the travel lanes with the motorists." Further, many non-cyclists think that the presence of a bicycle lane makes it illegal for the cyclist to use the regular travel lanes or, for that matter, for the motorist to use the bicycle lanes.

None of these beliefs are true.

The cyclist in the above article obviously intended to proceed straight through the intersection. If that was the case, his proper position was in the center of the through lane, not at the extreme right. If a cyclist stays too far right when proceeding straight at an intersection, they invite motorists to squeeze by and turn right into their path, and that's just what happened. This error is so common, it even has a name: a "right hook."

Further, a cyclist making a left turn at an intersection must shoulder check, signal and merge into the left turn lane or, on a two lane street, merge to the left side of the lane near the center line, in preparation for a left turn regardless of the presence of a bike lane. Again, inexperienced cyclists and non-cyclists don't tend to realize this, either.

That's the problem with cycle lanes. They are usually painted at the extreme right. This tends to guide the inexperienced cyclist to stay right all the time, even when it's not appropriate to do so. For that matter, if a cycle lane is somehow damaged, filled with debris or is situated in the "door zone" along parked cars, a cyclist does have the right to choose to ignore the bike lane altogether and use the main travel lanes for their safety.

"Why should cyclists be allowed in our lanes?" many motorists would argue. "We're not allowed in their lanes."

Surprisingly, that isn't true, either...

A motorist intending to make a right turn at an intersection with a bike lane is required to merge into the bike lane in preparation for the turn, just as they would if the cycle lane was an ordinary right turn lane. By doing so, the motorist signals clearly to any cyclist approaching from behind that he or she intends to turn right, thus preventing the cyclist from riding up alongside them and getting right hooked.

So, not only are cyclists not supposed to stay in the bike lane all the time, neither do motorists have to stay out of it all the time. Choice of lane, particularly at intersections, is all about your destination, not the vehicle you're driving.

Accidents like the one above are among the many reasons why I think cycle lanes are useless, and can be downright dangerous if people aren't properly educated in how to use them. Under certain conditions, there are rules that allow motorists to share the cyclists' lane and the cyclists to share the motorists' lanes. If you just paint the cycle lanes without providing education on how to use them safely, accidents like the above are inevitable.

This is also why I feel that cycle lanes only complicate matters, adding additional rules that motorists and cyclists must learn that really aren't necessary. A road with ordinary travel lanes is already an elegant means for all vehicles to share the road, provided everyone follows the rules and is patient with the varying operating characteristics of the wide variety of vehicles out there.

This was obviously an inexperienced cyclist traveling too fast for his experience level. The fact that he flipped himself over the handlebars suggests he didn't know how to modulate his front brake in an emergency stop and, if he was unable to stop in time, he should have executed a quick turn with the truck to avoid the collision instead of trying to stop, anyway. The cycle lane only made things worse by encouraging him to stay too far to the right.

I maintain, and I will always maintain, that there is only one way to increase the safety of cyclists on North America's roads: education. Cyclists and motorists alike must be made to understand the cyclists are vehicle operators with the same rights and responsibilities as any user of the road.

If we can get that message out, we won't need any special lanes for cyclists.

Road encounters of the wrong kind

High school student Ethan Stone was cycling north of Urbana, Illinois last week when a loser in a red Dodge Ram truck started harassing him. Ethan ignored the driver when he was hit in the head with a baseball bat by the homicidal road raging maniac. Read more in the Uni High Gargoyle.

I used to live in Champaign County, and North Lincoln Avenue is a two lane country road with no traffic.

A guest-writer relates another encounter at the Fat Cyclist: "I focused on keeping my cool and trying to move on. Until Tex reached down and lifted up his jacket to grab something from his belt. I had no idea what he was reaching for and thought “hit him now or it could get ugly.” A powerful right cross to the chin put him on the ground, and before he could say “Campagnolo,” my left cleat was pressed into his windpipe."

Some more Critical Mass ugliness made the news again over the weekend. This time, the victims or perpetrators -- depending on who you ask -- are an elderly couple on their way to care for their disabled daughter. While some bike pirates vocalize self-defense and vigilantism, I recommend taking the high road.

And if the high road is too difficult, you can always follow the example of Spike Bike.

Bike to work

I've posted some links to information about Bike To Work Week in the header of Cyclelicious, but I neglected to post details about my own home. Monterey Bay Area Spring Bike Week site has information for the counties of Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Santa Cruz: Wireless internet possible on the Highway 17 Express

Santa Cruz Metro, which operates the Highway 17 Express commuter bus service between Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, and San Jose, is considering offering wireless Internet access to passengers. A survey on the bus will ask riders what they would like in WiFi service for the commute across the Santa Cruz Mountains into Silicon Valley.

The Great Gas Boycott of 2007

We've all heard about the great gas boycott that will occur tomorrow, May 15. I expect many of the True Believers are filling up today in anticipation of this "boycott;" others will delay their purchase until Wednesday.

As many of us realize, delaying gas purchases for only a day does nothing to impact the price of gasoline or the profits of the large producers and distributers. Station operators -- who make pennies on each fillup -- will feel the pinch, as will the hourly wage earners who won't be scheduled to work that day because of the anticipated slow business.

The way to lower the price of a limited commodity -- like gasoline -- is to reduce demand. You reduce demand of gas by using less of it. You can use less gas by driving less -- combining trips, driving a little more conservatively and walking, biking, or using public transportation for some of your trips.

Remember, this week is Bike To Work Week across the United States. If you want to send a message to Big Oil, the best way to do so is to limit your purchase of their product permanently. Human-powered transportation is a great way to do that for many people.

For those who feel they cannot give up their cars, please remember that more people bicycling means there's more gas for you to burn.

Car brain

Somewhat related is this neat essay from Down Under:
I suffer from "car brain" every time I am handed car keys. I lose all sense of logic. Somewhere deep in the reptilian core of my brain, lizard-thinking takes over. When car brain rules, any vague feeling of goodwill I have towards the environment evaporates. I enter a persistent vegetative state where I avoid walking and public transport at all costs.

We need to accept humans are cheap and lazy, and adopt transport policies that reflect this.
Read more in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Also don't miss 6 ways to lower gas prices in CNN Money. Both articles via the Drumbeat.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Landis: Dick Pound must go

"Floydinator" by Eric Reagan.
Floyd Landis's much-anticipated ten day hearing to appeal his positive drug test results begins tomorrow in Malibu, California. While preparing for his appeal, Landis also continues his aggressive campaign against World Anti Doping Agency chair Dick Pound by asking the International Olympic Committee to strip Pound of his members and remove him from his duties as chief of the WADA, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The complaint charges that Pound violated the basic principles of the Olympic Charter by making derogatory remarks about Landis in the media; and that Pound has threatened to interfere in Landis's appeal hearing.

Pound remarked once on Landis's 11 to 1 testosterone to epitestosterone level by saying, "You'd think he'd be violating every virgin within 100 miles. How does he even get on his bicycle?" The International Olympic Committee ethics commission rebuked Pound, telling Pound he had "the obligation to exercise greater prudence consistent with the Olympic spirit when making public pronouncements that may affect the reputation of others."

Read more in the Mercury News.

Also briefly mentioned at Trust but verify.

See also "Landis accuses US Anti-Doping Agency of dealing to 'out' Armstrong."

Friday, May 11, 2007

San Francisco bicycle sharing

This video demonstrates how Muni's proposed bicycle sharing system might work.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Toronto cyclist assault: It was a cop

Remember that road rage incident that was caught on video? The assailant, Darius Tierman, was identified and arrested. It turns out Constable Darius Tierman is a 21-year veteran on the Toronto Police Force. He's been charged with assault causing bodily harm and has been released on $5000 bail, along with an order to -- get this -- continue psychiatric care.

The cyclist, Andre Sokol, seems pretty mellow about the whole thing: "Tell [Tierman] this from my heart. I'm telling you this from my heart. I feel sorry for him and ... tell him I said God bless him.

You've noticed by now a couple of posts from my long-time friend John Ardelli. We've known each other in the online realm for a few years now, mostly through the ICEBIKE mailing list. John lives, works, and cycles in Sydney, Nova Scotia. He's very enthusiastic and positive about everything he's involved in. He actually filled in for me a few times on Cyclelicious previously, and I'm glad to see him back. John also blogs at The Pedaling Prince.

Why "The Pedaling Prince?" The name originated with an article for The Atlantic Pedaler. They profiled John as "Commuter of the Month" for March/April 2006. They called him "The Pedaling Prince of Sydney." Shortly after, Rides Captain Jaques Cote of Velo Cape Breton started calling him that. The name stuck. :)

Studded Tires

You know what drives me crazy? Drivers who put studded tires on their cars in the winter then keep them on until the last... possible... second...

Nova Scotia's Studded Tires Regulations allow studded tires on motor vehicles only, "between the 15th day of October in any year and the 30th day of April in the next year following." Now, I can't see any reason why anyone would want to put studded tires on their car as early as October 15th. As crazy as Cape Breton weather is, I've never seen conditions that would justify studded tires that early, and most people do tend to wait until late November, early December.

The people I have an issue with are those who leave them on until April 30th, long after every trace of ice and snow is long gone from the roads. There are even a few who don't bother to take them off until several days after April 30th. Even now, a full nine days after the deadline, I still occasionally hear the telltale crunching of studs on the tires of the vehicle pulling up behind me at a red light...

Why does this bug me so much?

In the winter, studs don't harm the roads much. The pavement is cold. It's therefore hard and unyielding. Studs have little effect on it. In any event, the roads are covered with ice and/or snow half the time, anyway, so the studs rarely even make contact with the pavement.

However, once the air starts to warm up, two things happen. First, the ice and snow melt away, so the studs make full contact with the pavement all the time. The bigger problem, however, is that the rising temperatures also soften the asphalt. As the asphalt gets softer, studs start to dig in to the road. Over time, this creates a "pebbling" effect. The digging in of all those studs effectively "roughens" the surface of the pavement.

When Kings Road was first reconstructed about a year ago, it was a joy to ride on. It was like rolling over glass, it was so smooth. Now, I feel like I'm rolling over a thousand marbles. Particularly in the right lane, no matter where I ride in the lane, the vibration is constant, and it's brutal in the left and right thirds of the lane where the tires of cars roll most often.

I don't have anything against the use of studded tires when necessary. My problem is with those who are irresponsible with them. I mean, winter is over! Take them off for crying out loud! Heck, studded tires have more rolling resistance, anyway, so they're murder on fuel efficiency! At today's gas prices, why would any driver want to keep them on?

Besides, they're damaging the roads that we all have to share.

Come on. Let's get those studded tires off, OK?

eBay auction of the day

Used Basso blood doping bags (empty and clean for re-use).
Direct to you from Madrid by way of Italy, Germany, etc!! These slightly used, completely “clean” and still perfect blood bags can hold your supplies of hemoglobin-rich, EPO-infused, blood transfusions for your mid-season training “boost” (especially if you are competing in the NCNCA Masters races). These are the very same Dr. Fuentes approved PROFESSIONAL QUALITY blood bags you’ve read so much about and were previously used just to store, and never, never, EVER, actually make available, blood doping supplies to their owners.

Keep an eye out for upcoming auctions and collect the whole Madrid series! We’ve got Ivan Basso, Jorg Jaksche, Oskar Sevilla (All except Ullrich’s, of course, that one sold already!) But we’ll soon have Valverde, Hamilton, and [several] unheard of Spanish guys, (they’ll go cheap, those poor devils). Use “Buy-It–Now” and I’ll include several famous rider’s signatures that will be just as authentic as their recent Giro d’Italia and Tour de France and other Pro Tour race wins.
Big props to Bike Hugger for this find.

Toronto: Assault on cyclist caught on tape

Cyclist Andre Sokol in Toronto stopped at a yellow light. The motorist behind Sokol was so enraged at this cyclist's safe riding that he got out of his car, knocked Sokol off of the bike and pummeled him, knocking a tooth out.

Some high school students across the street on a class project had their camcorders running, caught the whole thing on tape and called police. They provided the motorist's license plate number and turned the video over to the police as evidence.

CityNews (video and text): Students catch cyclist assault on tape.

Raw video here.

Found via Bike Pirates.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Encounter with a Motorist

I had a surprising experience this past Saturday on my way to the Velo Cape Breton Season Opening Banquet.

I was heading north on Keltic Drive approaching the train trestle just before the bridge. For those who don't know the area, as you pass the lights at the entrance to the Cape Breton Shopping Plaza, the road "pinches" down from three lanes to one just prior to the trestle. To prevent motorists from trying to squeeze past me, I generally "take the lane" here. There simply isn't room to share once you're under that trestle.

Anyway, as I pass under the trestle, a pickup truck brushes by me within centimeters of my elbow. Startled and incensed, I yell out, "Hey!"

He heard me...

Just beyond the trestle is a wide gravel shoulder. He pulls over, looking back at me as I approach. Now I evaluate my options. There are no buildings there whatsoever. There are no people around save the cars passing. I figure getting into a confrontation with this guy there, where there is no possibility of help should I get into trouble, would be unwise. So, I stand out of my saddle and sprint past him, hoping that would be the end of it.

After getting past the bridge and preparing to make my turn onto Westmount Road, I look back and, to my astonishment, the guy is still there, following me. I'm a pretty fast cyclist, but not that fast, particularly since that whole route going north is uphill. There was no way this guy would still be behind me if he wasn't deliberately following me...

Getting nervous now, I make my turn onto Westmount and, sure enough, the guy makes the same turn right behind me. I look around again. This time, I'm in an area where there are several houses and there's a couple of people getting out of a car in front of a house. Good. I've got help if I need it, and I'd rather pull over and confront this guy face to face than confront him while he's still behind the wheel of 5000 kilograms of steel...

So, I pull over. He passes me and pulls over about 20 meters ahead. He gets out of his truck and heads right for me. OK, so I wasn't imagining things. He was following me. I tense as he approaches, ready to defend myself in case this gets ugly...

He walks up to me and says: "Sorry about that, bud. I thought you were going to stay in the other lane."

Whoa. Hold on. Back up. Rewind...

This guy went to all that trouble, pacing me, following me for a good minute only to pull over and apologize...?


I was so impressed with this guy that I stepped out of my saddle and reached out to shake his hand. I couldn't believe it. I still can't believe it. That was, bar none, the classiest interaction I've ever had with a fellow road user, cyclist or motorist.

Velo Cape Breton's educational efforts appear to be paying off. Motorists are finally starting to understand: cyclists are vehicle operators with the same rights as any other road user.

I only wish I had had time to find out who that guy was. He deserves to be recognized for his courtesy.

Wilder and his Schwinn

It's not about the bike

This morning I rode to work on my high tech, lightweight carbon fiber road bike. My kit alone with high-tech wicking fabrics and computer-designed 'body geometry' fit is probably worth around $500.

I turned onto Rengstorff from Central Expressway in Mountain View, California and that's when I first saw Wilder and his Schwinn. I breezed by him at better than 25 mph, exuding arrogant roadie cool. I confidently maneuvered across three lanes of traffic to position myself in the left turn lane to Middlefield Road. A moment later, I hear a faint jangle of a bicyle bell behind me as Wilder smoothly pulls up alongside me in the left turn lane.

I scope Wilder out. He's wears baggy shorts, a polo shirt, and thong-style flip flops and rides an ancient, rusted, singlespeed Schwinn cruiser with balloon tires and ashtabula cranks. He sits slouched on the wide saddle, which is so low his knees almost touch his chest as he pedals. That bell clangs every time he hits a bump. Wilder tells me that he's been commuting by bike for two months, traveling 10 miles to his job in Menlo Park, California. "That's great," I tell Wilder.

The light changes and we take off. I pull off in front, of course, but then I relax and slow to 17 mph. Ding ding ding goes the bell, and next thing I know the heavy Schwinn passes me! Traffic is heavy on Middlefield so I joke about drafting Wilder.

I manage to pass him a couple of times, but Wilder manages to keep up and even pass me at times. The sloucher on a singlespeed cruiser pedals like mad in his flip-flops, but he actually hits 25 mph. I can't believe it! All the while his little bell keeps ringing, ding ding ding.

Before long it's a mad dash from light to light. I'm drafting trucks to keep up while he weaves onto the sidewalk when the road narrows. We're caught up in our own little race, passing other bike commuters and two pelotons of cyclists in matching team kit on their morning training rides. Sweat pours from me as I labor, while Wilder remains slouched and relaxed on his fat tire Schwinn. I can't believe it!

When I finally turn off at Willow Road, Wilder is actually ahead of me by half a block, his little bell still dinging. Curse you, Red Baron!

I'll try to post a photo of Wilder later tonight at my Flickr account.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Ivan Basso confesses to doping

VeloChimp: Basso Fesses Up to Operation Puerto Involvement.

TdFBlog: Basso admits Puerto involvement in face of DNA test.

Spinopsys: Crisis of confidence.

VeloNews: Basso admits involvement in Puerto scandal.

Road Magazine Blog: Discovery Team reaction.

Pez: Basso confesses: "Let's hope that Basso comes completely clean and pulls out his whistle and starts pointing at everyone involved."

Bicycle to JavaOne

I'm a little late with this news from my employer about bicycling to JavaOne. Most people I know attending from the South Bay just ride the train up to San Francisco and walk to the Moscone Center .
Sun is continuing to promote Eco Responsibility at JavaOne and will be hosting our second-annual Bike to JavaOne for all partners, employees and conference attendees next week. To help Sun make JavaOne a "greener" event, you are encouraged to bike or take public transportation to the conference.

To make things easier, Sun has again partnered with the San Francisco Bike Coalition to offer a free "Bike Valet" services. The "Bike Valet" service will be available Monday through Thursday from 8:00 am - 7:00 pm and Friday from 8:00 am - 1:00 pm in front of the Moscone Center South Hall.

To make the event fun, we will be giving away Sun-branded, reusable Nalgene bottles to the first 100 bikers.

So, please tell your conference-going friends, post a quick note on your blog and bike to JavaOne. Your participation will have a positive impact at the conference and on the environment.
JavaOne started today at the Moscone Center in San Francisco and runs through Thursday. Bicycle valet parking runs to 7 p.m., so if you stay for the night events you'll need to make other arrangements.

Directions: After exiting the Caltrain station at 4th and King in San Fransisco, go left up 4th Street. Turn left onto Townsend, which is a signed bike route. Turn right onto 5th with its bike lanes. Moscone is to the right on Howard Street, but you'll be riding against one-way traffic so walk your bicyle on the sidewalk to the entrance.

Here's a cool note about last year's bike valet service at JavaOne 2006.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Bikes in the fast lane

Fast Lane - Fat Lane

Love Your; found by Kori. The bike advocacy website LoveYourBike is from the Friends of the Earth Manchester and the Manchester City Council.

The site includes Love Lanes (bike route maps), the Logic of Love (why cycling is good), Justify Your Love (a quiz), Love News, Love Gallery (where I got this image), Love Tools (equipment guide), Not In Love, and Love Mail.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Berkeley bikestation

Dave Campbell of the Bicycle-Friendly Berkeley Coalition gives a quick video tour of the Berkeley Bikestation where bike parking is safe and free.

Watch the Bikestation:Berkeley video at Streetfilms. Two more videos are on the way next week about bike parking in the East Bay.

Job: Marin County bicycle planner

Fairfax, Marin County, California. $50,000 - $55,000/year plus benefits DOE.

The Marin County Bicycle Coalition is Hiring a Director of Planning. This full-time salaried position is currently available and will be open until filled. Interviews will begin the week of April 30, 2007. The Marin County Bicycle Coalition (MCBC) is a non- profit that was established in 1998 to promote safe bicycling for everyday transportation and recreation. The organization is recognized as a national leader in bicycle advocacy, and plays a critical role in shaping Marin County transportation policies and projects. MCBC has 11 full-time and part-time staff, and its office is located in Fairfax, California. More information about the MCBC can be found

Interested applicants are invited to apply by sending the following to Kim Baenisch, Executive Director, at kim at marinbike dot org, with:

. cover letter
. resume
. three references with contact information
. two writing samples (at least one should be an advocacy-oriented example such as a response to an EIR, a technical report, or campaign talking points for volunteers)

No phone calls, please.

Greenville SC Bike To Work Day

James the Bicycle Design Guy is the advocacy chairman for his local cycling club in Greenville, South Carolina. James started Bike Greenville to keep local cyclists up to date on cycling goings on in Greenville.

Currently, he's busy putting together Bike To Work Day activities in Greenville by organizing breakfast stations, publishing posters and other publicity, and otherwise encouraging people to ride their bikes to work on Friday, May 18 2007.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

County supervisor bikes to work, meetings

Ken Yeager is a Santa Clara County Supervisor. He also is a member of Caltrain's Board of Directors and the Valley Transportation Authority board. He chairs the BART policy advisory board for VTA, he is Santa Clara County's representative on the Association of Bay Area Governments, and he is the county's representative for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

As a member of all of these positions, Ken must attend a lot of meetings. For the month of May, he has committed to ride his bicycle to work and to these meetings. “One of the top concerns in the Bay Area is traffic, and if enough of us ride our bicycles to work, we can make a difference,” said Ken.

You can follow his daily rides at his blog, Ken Bikes.

“Not only does biking to work relieve congestion and wear and tear on our roadways, it also incorporates daily exercise into a busy work schedule.”

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Raleigh Coasting review

Raleigh Coasting

About $450.
Steel frame, 700x35 tires.
Shimano Coasting group with 3-speed automatic shifting and coaster brake.
Perfect for casual riding, commuting.

Other resources

Photos from my Raleigh Coasting test ride.
Bicycling magazine on Shimano Coasting: No shifting, low maintenance, all fun.
Sheldon Brown's Interbike 2006 report includes his thoughts on Shimano Coasting.
Visit Raleigh USA for U.S. Dealer locations.
Raleigh Bicycles Blog.
Raleigh Commutes Blog.

I poked, prodded and rode Raleigh's new Coasting bicycle based on the Shimano Coasting group. With the Coasting project, Shimano and its bike industry partners worked to create a bike for the 160 million 'latent cyclists' in America who know how to ride a bike but do not. They're not interested in performance or the latest technology; they just want to ride a bike for fun.

While the Coasting offerings from Trek and Giant are cruisers appropriate for the bike path with big 26 inch tires, Raleigh took their inspiration from the old English three-speeds like the classic Raleigh Superbe to create a hybrid city bike with 700c wheels, a steel frame with a fairly lively geometry, and a practical front rack (complete with bottle opener) for carrying stuff.

Other nice details on Raleigh's Coasting bicycle are a retro leather saddle with big coil spring, the Coasting chain (and wow! what a chain it is), leather grips on the swept-back handlebar, and attractive shimmery paint job. The other Coasting offerings invite the rider to wear flip flops and sun hats; the Raleigh bike has a more refined, casual yet civilized look and feel.

Minor problems

My sample bike did not shift properly on my test ride; we figured out this was due to a problem with assembly. Because bike shop mechanics may not be familiar with the Coasting mechanism you will want to check for proper operation.

Raleigh Coasting: Coffee ride

Sheldon Brown is famously skeptical of the Coasting experiment, calling Coasting “a wrong-headed exercise in form over function.” Coasting adds mechanical complexity to simplify the actual bike-riding experience. Sheldon, though, prefers the ability to quickly get at the mechanical bits so riders can fix them. “Making the bike look simple is not the same as making it be simple. The hubcaps over the wheels cover up the stuff you need to get at to fix a flat tire.”

Sheldon Brown also objects to the missing front brake, which he considers to be a safety flaw. I'm personally not a big fan of coaster brakes either, but I think this may be because I'm not accustomed to them. Positioning the pedals after you stop, for example, is difficult with coaster brakes. I suspect the target market for this bike won't care about the lack of front brakes. Front brakes are required for bicycles in the UK.

Because of the automatic three-speed shifter and coaster brake, no cables clutter up the lovely clean lines of this bike. The hub caps and special fork ends may make it a little more difficult to fix a flat, but Raleigh has equipped the Coasting with flat-resistant Kenda tires.

When I noted the lack of a fender to Raleigh marketing coordinator Carey Schleicher-Haselhorst, she explained that they considered fenders but kept them off due to pricing. “We wanted to keep this bike at a certain price point that would be appealing to that first time rider and unfortunately adding a set of fenders was going to pop the bike into a different price bracket. We put the money into the specific coasting chain, the chain guard with the window, the rack, 700c wheels, the grips and seat and frame silhouette,” Carey told me.

Riding the Raleigh Coasting

Some fat-saddle hybrid bicycles are so overbuilt that they really impact the ride. The Raleigh Coasting bicycle, though, feels just like a bicycle is supposed to feel. I didn't expend a lot of energy pushing past unnecessary bulk. The wide leather saddle with its coil springs very effectively smoothed the ride without getting in the way of my pedaling. The steel frame, traditional geometry, moderate fork rake and Shimano Coasting components quietly and efficiently transfer power to the wheels while giving a responsive yet comfortable ride.

Coasting is perfect for neighborhood trips to the coffee shop, but the Raleigh also is a nice commuter bike. This bike is built well enough for the occasional charity ride.

While bike shop revenues were up last year, actual unit sales are down. The National Sporting Good Association recently announced that cycling for recreation plummeted in 2006, falling behind bowling – bowling! -- in popularity. Shimano and their builder partners have put a lot of energy into Coasting in the hopes of growing the bike market pie. In spite of the slight shortcomings I mention above, overall I think this bike is a winner. Raleigh did an excellent job of designing an attractive city bike that I think will appeal to non-cyclists.

More cyclists terrorize women and children

More horrible news about the wanton destruction wreaked by irresponsible cyclists.

It's important to realize that your actions have an impact on how the public views us and treats us! If you don't want to be run off the road, don't run other people off of the road.

Bicycle terrorists behind Bay Bridge destruction

This is the funniest thing I've seen this week. exposes the TRUTH behind the collapse of the Bay Bridge on 4/29.

See also Bay Area Roadway Collapse Was Actually Cyclist Terrorism: "The destruction of the bridge is, in truth, clearly the work of rogue cyclists intent on destabilizing the Homeland and the Middle East by reducing demand for oil. Just two days earlier, the San Francisco Chronicle gossip reporters got wind that a coalition of rogue cyclists known as Critical Mass was going to riot in the streets AGAIN. Once the cyclists got wind their plan was foiled, they pretended to hold a peaceful parade, but were actually traveling around the city in a giant pack filling their little plastic water bottles with gasoline siphoned from cars using old bicycle tire tubes cut in half. Sunday morning, a horde of them stuck their Lycra shorts in the top of those bottles, sneaked onto the highway and used their cyclist Molotov cocktails to firebomb a gasoline truck, and then disappear ed onto local roads. The goal: To topple Saudi Arabia and install a puppet cyclist dictator who would jack up oil prices until all of us would be stuck riding Huffy mountain bikes to the mall for the rest of our lifetimes. That's what my sources tell me."

Big props for CycleDog for this news.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Bike month public service announcements

"Candace on bicycle with dance bag" by Michael Slezak.
May is U.S. National Bike Month. The League of American Bicyclists and bike enthusiasts across the United States is promoting Bike to Work Week from May 14-18.

If you need help promoting a Bike To Work event in your community, the League has made several video and audio public service announcements that you can send to your local media outlets. They also have a sample press release to help you publicize local bike to work events.