Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cycling in the rain

Bicycles in the rain Winters California

Save to Cloud

I'm participating in the internal beta for some of the services made possible with Sun's recently announced Cloud Computing services. When I signed on I had to check a box indicating I understand that I'm not allowed to disclose any details of this beta, but since the CEO mentioned it at his blog I guess I can write something about it too.

(Aside: Jonathon writes his own blog posts. I asked. How many Fortune 500 CEOs do you know who can edit their own HTML?)

I think this is something like Sun's third or fourth attempt at computing as a utility, and I think this time they got it right. The "Save to Cloud" feature in OpenOffice and StarOffice that Jonathan mentioned is tres cool, and it's not too hard to envision things like an open source file system that stores your server files to the cloud (Oh wait, it's already there with WebDAV and DavFS!). Later this year, you'll be able to save your virtual machine to the cloud with the open source Virtual Box desktop virtualization software. Everything is built around an idea of a Virtual Datacenter (VDC) that you can use to allocate the storage and compute resources you need.

Amazon is the dominant player in the Cloud universe; if you're familiar with the Amazon Web Services (AWS) API, you'll find yourself in somewhat familiar territory with parsing XML output. What's super nifty to me, though, is the RESTful HTTP with JSON and even a drag-and-drop Web GUI interface for your Virtual Datacenter. It's very easy to get a nice little web application up and going in a short amount of time.

Amazon Web Services is very popular with web startups -- these startups use a mature, scalable and reliable web infrastructure resources offered by Amazon so they focus on developing the technology and not pay out the nose for server costs. Twitter, for example, uses AWS.

The problem Twitter now has, though, is they're tied completely to AWS. Amazon's API is proprietary to Amazon, so Twitter cannot simply move to another cloud provider or even bring their web services in house without tremendous cost and effort to rewrite, test, and debug all of their software. With an open API, such as that provided by *ahem* Sun's Cloud Services, transitioning is theoretically as easy as changing a few URIs in the software. We're even talking about marketing Cloud Services appliances to make that switch even easier. Because the API is open, there's nothing preventing IBM, Dell, or HP from doing the same thing if they want. (Oh wait: Sun's Cloud can provide AWS compatability, I'm told.)

Disclosure: I hope this is obvious, but I work at Sun Microsystems. I'm not writing on behalf of the company in this post.

Tuesday Transit Quiz: Can I catch this bus?

I'm with my 9 year old daughter at the Border's Books store on Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz (point "A" on the map below). My bus -- the route 35 to Scotts Valley, leaves on the hour and half hour from the Santa Cruz Metro Center about 2 blocks and 1,000 feet away (point "B" on the map). All buses leave the Metro Center on time.

We're walking out of the Border's Books store at 12:28 PM. Will we catch the 12:30 bus? My daughter is not a fast walker. Look at the map and let me know if we should hurry, or should we take it easy and catch the 1 PM?

View Larger Map

Hints: I ride the 35 frequently and know the route. Scotts Valley is north of Santa Cruz. Bus 35 exits the Metro Center at Pacific Avenue. Today's quiz tests your knowledge of Google Maps transit features.

What do you think? I'll post my answer later today.

My big thighs

I've never been a fast gainer and my legs are stick thin for a cyclist's legs, but I've always noticed that as the days get longer and I spend more time on the bike, my jeans get very tight around the thighs. Today, for example, just walking around it feels like the stitches are gonna rip right out of my jeans they're so tight.

These are not skinny sk8r jeans or something from Rock & Republic -- my jeans are usually the cheap bargain basement store brand denims. I guess it's time to wear my old man baggy chinos again.

Cozy Beehive had lots of big thigh cyclist photos in January.

Does that look like a stroller / bike hybrid below? The kiddo on the bike is Hugh Jackman's daughter, Eva Eliot, in New York City.

Deborra Lee Furness with her daughter Ava in NYC
Bicycles around the blogosphere

Maya Pedal.

Shorty Fatz chopper bikes.

Another interesting wooden bicycle.
55-year-old Peijia Wu, from Shandong province, allegedly took three months to build his DIY wooden bike. It features no metal parts whatsoever – joints are fixed with small wooden bungs and a rod-crank system has replaced where the chain would normally be.

Okay, it's a car, but still Gawker uses "stunning" to describe this Mercedes and I have to agree.

I realize I'm late to the party, but in case you haven't heard Phil Keoghan of The Amazing Race is riding his bicycle from LA to New York to race money for MS research.

Big BooomBox Bikes.

$2000 per ton for your carbon footprint?

I'm stunned! Alan is bent!

[Ad] Do I want to master mountain bike skills?

Product Recall: Better late than never, I suppose.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Bikescape Podcast

Jon Winston finally uploaded his Sacramento Bike Blogger Meetup podcast, featuring some cool music, Paul Dorn and David Bernstein. I don't sound too much like an idiot. For the record: Neither Paul or I drink.

That is all.

Accidents are, umm, no accidents

Tom Vanderbilt has been harping a lot lately on the use of the word "accident" to describe traffic collisions. He's also commenting a lot, lately, on the use of passive voice in news reports about traffic collisions. For example, "Joe Blow was killed when a car crossed the center line and struck him head on." There's little indication that the inanimate car was controlled by a driver.

A local (to me) example is the reporting after Santa Clara County Sheriff Deputy James Council drove his car into cyclists Matt Peterson and Kristy Gough last year. KTVU describes the collision thusly: "A rookie Santa Clara County sheriff's deputy whose patrol car swerved into a group of cyclists on a training ride, killing them...." The article happens to be on the deputy's history of drunk driving, but there's no indication in the lead sentence that the deputy was the one who actually driving his car -- it was the patrol car that swerved into the cyclists.

The San Jose Mercury News did even worse when they maddengly printed, "The group collided with the deputy’s car" when describing the accident, although the cyclists were riding lawfully on their side of the rode and it was the deputy who drifted over the line into oncoming traffic.

The San Francisco Chronicle did a better job assigning agency to the driver of the vehicle: " A rookie Santa Clara County deputy sheriff patrolling a winding Cupertino road Sunday morning veered into the opposite lane of traffic and struck three bicyclists, killing two."

Vanderbilt asks questions one why journalists use the passive voice so much in their traffic reporting.
I am frankly not sure why we are so afraid to assign responsibility in car crashes. Is it that we view traffic violations in general as “folk crimes,” not quite “real” crimes? Is it the “there for the grace of God” argument, that it may someday be us behind the wheel of “a car that strikes a pedestrian”? I sometimes hear the argument made, ‘well that driver will suffer the rest of his life for what he did’; maybe they will, maybe they won’t. But that’s not provable, not quantifiable. Prison time is.

Tom asks some important questions in my opinion.

Jobs for Rick Wagoner

Now that Rick Wagoner is the ex-CEO for General Motors, here are some openings in the bicycle industry he might look at. He's probably not qualified, but Cyclelicious readers are most certainly qualified for all of these jobs.

Specialized Bicycles is hiring an executive assistant to the president in Morgan Hill, California. Specialized's world headquarters in Morgan Hill is south of San Jose.
If you are alive and kicking, a passionate, bicycle-riding, retail-experienced, resourceful event planner, do-what-needs-to-done kind of person interested in a long-term rewarding career and long-term ride in the bicycle industry, Specialized wants to meet you. Bring us your skills!

This position requires resourcefulness and a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Event planning skills required and a grace-under-pressure-demeanor is an asset. Requires impeccable written and verbal communication skills with serious attention to detail; must have the ability to communicate effectively, manage changing priorities, and have previous experience providing Executive level support.

Need a can-do, never-give-up-attitude with uncharted multi-tasking talents and computer skills. Coffee drinkers and dog lovers welcome to apply.

Vocabulary may include but is not limited to: Ned, Stumpjumper, Paris-Roubaix, Alpe d’Huez, Gerolsteiner, domestique, single track, Giro d’Italia, FSR, Tarmac, S-Works, and innovate or die.

Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition in San Jose, CA seeks a program assistant.

The San Jose Downtown Improvement District wants bike riding safety ambassadors who know downtown San Jose well and be a information resource for visitors as well as provide security patrol services.

Palo Alto Bicycles needs a Sales Manager.

San Francisco: Part time marketing / PR for an active lifestyle agency.

San Francisco: bike mechanic for bike rental company at Fisherman's Wharf.

San Francisco: newspaper delivery; "bicycle is possible" they say.

Lancaster (Los Angeles Area), CA: traffic technician to count bicyclists and other traffic.

Lake Mead, Nevada: environmental education and outreach specialist.

Park Ranger in Castlewood Canyon State Park, Colorado.

Chicago bike shop needs legal help in exchange for a bicycle. They had to leave their leased property because of constant flooding. Court date April 2.

Friday, March 27, 2009

reaching non-traditional cyclists

A-bike photo courtesy of SlashGear, which has an extensive review

As has often been noted, selling expensive fancy bikes to passionate cyclists is where the bike industry excels. Expanding the pool of customers by reaching out to non-riders is much harder to figure out.

The Sinclair A-Bike was discussed in Cyclelicious and VeloVision in 2006, when the product first went on sale. What struck me in reading about the A-Bike again today was that its U.K. distributor is Mayhem, a gadget and novelty company more akin to Brookstone or Sharper Image than a traditional bicycle retailer. A big part of marketing bicycles to non-riders may be realizing that we need to sell bikes in the places that they shop. People who don't think they want bikes don't go into bike stores!

Sure Walmart sells bikes, but Walmart is where shoppers trudge to buy diapers and toasters, not fun toys and not transportation equipment. In order to promote the image of bicycles as hip fashion accessories, as seen in Bikes and the City and sac cycle chic and Velo Vogue, we need Electras in Ann Taylor and Stridas in Old Navy and Breezers in Starbucks. In order to promote bicycles as transportation, why not convince car dealers to sell them? Maybe someone who can't quite qualify for a loan to buy a Prius would be interested in an Xtracycle instead.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Celebrities and bicycles

Lance Armstrong wasn't the only cyclist to hurt his shoulder in a bike wreck this last week. Matt Lauer didn't show up to host the Today show Monday morning after he ran into a deer while bicycling on Long Island. Lauer had shoulder surgery Monday afternoon to repair the damage.

Actress Demi Lovato and her younger sister Madison De La Garza enjoy a bike ride around Toluca Lake, California.

Demi Lovato and Madison de la Garza ride bicycles

More photos of Demi Lovato and Madison De La Garza on their bicycles at Gossip Girls.

Fashion Designer Vivienne Westwood rides her bike for the premiere of "The Age of Stupid."

Vivienne Westwood rides a bicycle

Read more about Vivienne at Riding Pretty.

Another kind of celebrity is a missing celebrity bike: a one of a kind GT Golden Zaskar that's supposed to be a traveling trophy. GT is offering a $3,000 reward for the return of this bike.

Finally, the San Francisco Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission is taking nominations for bike commuter of the year. One "Bike Commuter of the Year" will be selected from each of the nine counties in the Bay Area.

Leather bicycle

Check it out: Jacques Ferrand's bicycle wrapped completely in leather.

See deatails and more photos of this lovely bike at Arkitip. Via Norcal Bikers. Mentioned also at Bike Hugger and Doobybrain.

Menlo Park Ringwood Avenue Pedestrian Bridge

Highway 101 separates the largely lower income and minority Belle Haven neighborhood in East Menlo Park from the higher income Flood Triangle enclave. These neighborhoods are connected at Ringwood Avenue by a pedestrian / bicycle bridge.

Caltrans wants to replace this pedestrian/cyclist bridge over Highway 101 in Menlo Park as part of a larger project to add lanes to Highway 101 between Marsh Road and Willow Road. Flood Triangle NIMBY residents have long complained about this bridge and used the public discussion over this bridge replacement to demand removal of this vital connection altogether, calling it an eyesore and a crime corridor.

Belle Haven residents use this bridge to travel to schools and jobs on the west side of the freeway. About 50 students in Belle Haven use this bridge to get Menlo-Atherton High School. I and several other people use this bridge to bike to our jobs in East Menlo Park.

The NIMBYs want Belle Haven residents to walk two miles out of their way and use this beautiful overcrossing on Willow Road. They also propose increasing the Belle Haven/Downtown shuttle service or busing the students to the school.

The short video below was taken as I rode onto the bridge from the west side of 101. Towards the end of the video you can see the stopped traffic below me on Highway 101.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bicycle tourism

Bikes are the "killer app" on Governor's Island, New York.
We’d love to hear what a “car-free bike oasis” means to you. We got great feedback and questions about the bicycle program. What would you want to see there? What could you do here that you can’t do elsewhere in New York?

Meanwhile, in Sausalito, California, some of the locals apparently refer to biking tourists as "a plague of locusts."
Some Sausalito locals are comparing the pedal-pushing tourists who descend on their boutiquey town to a plague of locusts, tying up traffic, taking over parks, blocking doorways and generally making the weekends miserable.
Just imagine how much traffic would be tied up if this plague showed up in their cars, instead.

Brothers Mike and John Logsdon rodes their bikes from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Film maker Nateon Ajello accompanied them to create the documentary Spinning Southward. The premier screening for Spinning Southward takes place April 11 in Santa Rosa, California -- see details here.

Bike photographer and Cyclelicious friend Russ Roca would like to do something similar. Vote for him so he can be chosen for the dream assignment of bicycling "through North and South America on an ambitious portrait project, photographing the work of community leaders and activists who are striving for a more sustainable planet."

Women's Cycling Magazine

Marian Hunting and Carson Blume will publish Women's Cycling Magazine. They'll cover road, track, cross, mountain, college, high school, masters, lifestyle, commuting, sustainability, training, tech, product, repair, rides, and community.

The first issue will publish in June, but the Women's Cycling Magazine blog is now online.

Women Cyclists

Busted bikes

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall on Cannondale's 2009 "Six" road bike because they're missing wheel frisbees. US Federal safety regulations mandates spoke protectors on all new bicycles. Cannondale authorized dealers will install the spoke protectors for you free of charge as shop staff razz you. More at CPSC.

The "Six" is Cannondale's low- to mid-range series of made-in-Taiwan aluminum and carbon road bikes.

I ran across Busted Carbon this morning. If you like looking at photos of broken bikes, Busted Carbon is the blog for you.

10 Speed Guy

10 Speed Guy has all the great ways to stay in shape: the dork disk, those rockin' 70s orange wheel reflectors, drivetrain on the non-drive side of the bike, and huge plastic platform pedals!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cycling points of view

In Carbusters issue 37, Jonas Christian notes
while the need to protect non-smokers is well established, the necessity of protectin non-drivers has yet to arrive in the mainstream.
Christian raises a fascinating question as to whether the protection of non-smokers is a curiosity or a precedent.

In a completely cycling-free lecture, Marjane Satrapi comments that cartoonists aren't taken seriously in part because most people learn to draw as children and then give it up as adults.

Via The Bike Show from Resonance FM, I learned of yet another cycling podcast, Bike Love from Sydney, Australia.

world's only bicycle-touring cellist performs in Mountain View

Chang recently rode in a 5,000-mile bike tour called The Pleasant Revolution with the band Ginger Ninjas. They set off from Northern California and traveled — with a bike trailer for his cello — all the way to Mexico. They would pull up into a town and talk to people at different bars trying to find a gig. As far as he knows, he's the world's only long-distance bike-touring cellist.

Courtesy of the Mountain View Voice. Chang performs for FREE an eclectic mix of classical, hip-hop and "generally wacky" on Friday March 27 at 8 PM at the Dana Street Roasting Company at 44 W Dana St, Mountain View, CA 94041, reachable at (650) 390-9638.

The California bike lobby

Sue Lempert, former mayor of San Mateo, California, explains how cycling advocates got to have a voice in California politics.
They may not have an expensive office on K street in Sacramento and they are not known for their generous campaign contributions, but the bicycle lobby is one of the best organized and most effective locally, regionally and in the state. CalTrans now has a full-time bicycle expert in many of its regional offices; the Metropolitan Transportation Commission has one to handle bicycle issues in the nine Bay Area counties and most cities in San Mateo County have a bicycle pedestrian advisory committee in addition to the county=92s bike

Peninsula cyclists won a major victory when they convinced Caltrain that more space was needed on trains for bicycles and bumping cyclists was no longer tolerable. The cyclists wrote letters, many of them printed in the Daily Journal, sent voluminous e-mails to Caltrain elected officials and staff and turned up at meetings of the Joint Powers Board (the three-county board which runs Caltrain) to make
their case. They took time off from work to present a well-researched and well-presented argument for allowing more bikes on trains. Bike riders make up 2,400 of Caltrain customers each day out of a total ridership estimated at 41,000. They are extremely loyal customers and Caltrain was smart to meet them half way.
There's much more in the San Mateo Journal. Murph takes exception to the description of Mark Simon as the driving force behind Caltrain's biking initiatives. Simon indeed got the ball rolling, but that's because he was directed to by the Caltrain Board.

Another virtual alleycat

Last year I ran a virtual alleycat where I gave away an Electric Monkey spoke light. I'm thinking about another virtual alleycat where the prize this book of lovely bike pr0n. I anticipate interest will be high.

Custom Bicycles: A Passionate Pursuit

A virtual alleycat is a lot of work but it's a lot of fun to put together and, I hope, to participate in. Contestants participate in a virtual scavenger hunt where they click through to various websites to find the next checkpoint. The final checkpoint gets you into the contest.

I plan to contact several blog owners via email for their permission to ride through, but drop me a note here if you'd like to be a checkpoint. For an idea of how it worked out last time, visit my original virtual alleycat page. I might take Dave's suggestion and make this a virtual charity ride instead. I'll talk with him and give it some thought.

Tuesday Transit Quiz: Which route is best?

Tuesday's Transit Quiz might take some good knowledge of Santa Cruz Metro transit operation, but I'll give the details and see if you can figure it out.

I'm in downtown Santa Cruz at the Santa Cruz Metro Center at 4:23 PM. All I have is a $5 bill and no bus pass of any kind. You can count on departure times from the Santa Cruz Metro Center to be on time. Three buses go near my home in Scotts Valley:
  • The Highway 17 Express departs at 4:30 with scheduled arrival at 4:45 in the Scotts Valley Transit Center. This bus goes up Highway 17 to Scotts Valley. One way fare is $4.

  • Route 31 departs at 4:25 with scheduled arrival in Scotts Valley at 4:45 PM. This bus takes Graham Hill Road. One way fare is $1.50.

  • Route 35 departs 4:30 with scheduled arrival in Scotts Valley at 4:50, taking the same route to Scotts Valley as the Hwy 17 Express. One way fare is $1.50.
Which bus did I catch and why?

I'll post my answer later today as an update to this article.

Be careful little ears what you hear

I'm a dirtbag. Yesterday, I repeated a rumor about Tyler Hamilton that apparently had absolutely no basis in fact. I apologize to you, to Tyler Hamilton and to Chris Brewer who all exhibited way more tact and restraint than I did. Salud.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Drafting the train

Following the VTA Light Rail Train on my bicycle, downtown San Jose, California.

Drafting the train

Tyler Hamilton

Tyler Hamilton for Rock Racing during the 2009 Tour of California Prologue in Sacramento.

Tyler Hamilton of Rock Racing: 2009 Amgen Tour of California Prologue

Hamilton was scheduled to race in this week's Vuelta Castilla y León stage race but pulled out because of bronchitis, according to Rock Racing. Francisco Mancebo took Hamilton's place as team leader for Rock Racing.

Other nonsense that I originally published about Hamilton deleted, although it lives forever in the world of RSS.

Lance Armstrong crash video

Lance Armstrong looks like a hurt puppy in this video from Spanish television.

In case you haven't heard, Armstrong crashed in a big pileup on a sketchy road on the first day of the Vuelta a Castilla y León. He broke his collarbone and was carted away in an ambulance. He's on the mend and will probably miss the Giro d'Italia in May, but he should be healed up in time for the Tour de France in July.

Visit Steephill.TV for complete Vuelta Castilla y León 2009 coverage.

54 miles per hour

54 mph is the fastest I've ever gone on a bicycle. This personal record was wind and gravity assisted on St. Vrain Road in Boulder County, Colorado as I zoomed east toward Longmont out of the Rocky Mountain foothills from Highway 36. If I recall correctly, the speed limit on St. Vrain Road is 40 mph.

The U.S. Rocky Mountains stand in the way of the west-to-east weather patterns over North America. When large weather systems move over the high mountains in Colorado, the peaks act just like pebbles in a stream, causing turbulence that can cause 100 mph winds to dip down into the Front Range. I watched one of these Chinook winds rip a storage building to shreds within minutes. These downslope winds cause millions of dollars in damage as they rip roofs from buildings and topple utility poles, but if you catch one as a tailwind while riding a bicycle, they can be a lot of fun.

This stretch of St. Vrain is also where I hit 40 mph on a fixed gear bike. That's a lot more terrifying because I had to disengage from the pedals and just let them fly as I rested my feet on the downtube. I could theoretically have put bigger gears on the bike, but to go downhill I first had to go uphill. My usual lunch ride circuit back then was west on Nelson Road from Longmont, north on U.S. 36, east on St. Vrain, then 75th and/or Airport Road back before winding my way back to work near where the Diagonal and Hover intersect.

I've been wanting to beat this personal record ever since and break through the magic 55 mph barrier. I thought I'd have my chance on Sunday, with strong northwesterly winds gusting to 40 mph in northern California. I should have gone down to the coast to Highway 1, but my time was limited and I thought the hills where I live in the Santa Cruz Mountains would help.

Felton is downhill from Scotts Valley by a couple of hundred feet, but Mount Hermon Road is a rollercoaster with a couple of good downhill segments going toward Scotts Valley. I pushed west against a stiff 20 mph wind and rode to Felton, California.

It turns out, unfortunately, that the hills along Mount Hermon Road effectively block the wind -- as soon as I got out of Scotts Valley, the wind was variable but mostly very light. I thought I'd try my luck on Highway 9 and went up to Ben Lomond, but all of them redwood trees block the wind, too.

My max speed today was 38 mph. Yeah, it was goofy going out for a ride for the sole purpose of going fast like the wind, but I had a good time doing it.

How about you? Do you like going fast? Do you purposely seek out strong winds and steep hills just so you can brag about how fast you went on a bicycle?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Caltrain 2 bike car sign

One of the problems with the Caltrain bike cars is cyclists often don't know if there are one or two bike cars. There's Twitter/Bikecar, but less than 10% of riders follow that services. It's difficult spotting the second bike car from the usual waiting place for cyclists on the train platform.

One of the announcements at the March JPB meeting was that Caltrain was working on signs to put on the front of trains equipped with two bike cars. This "2 Bike Cars" sign was spotted yesterday on a Gallery set! I'll try to watch for these signs this next week.

Beginning last week, Caltrain made an ffort to consistently have two bike cars on a set of trains. I purposely rode two of the trains on this list -- NB 231 in the morning and SB 266 in the evening -- to track Caltrain's consistency. Out of 15 trips on those two trains, there were only two trips I noticed with a single bike car. I reported those to the SFBC bike car tracking project.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bikes and the Blue Ocean

Last year, folding bike designer Mark Sanders applied the Blue Ocean marketing strategy in which he compares the international bike market to a big blue ocean of potential. There's a small red ocean of bike enthusiasts where the major bike oceans direct all of their efforts.

Red Ocean

Mark makes the case that the bike industry should try to migrate out of this red ocean of fitness cycling into the blue ocean of "everybody else" who can use the bike for transport and leisure.

Mark is at the Taipei International Cycle Show now where he encourages bike industry leaders to apply the Blue Ocean strategy in their business to expand beyond their traditional "red ocean" market of fitness enthusiasts. It's an important talk, I think, and Carlton Reid posted Mark's slideshow presentation and notes online.

See also:

The Man and The Law

A little while back, the California Association of Bicycling Organizations people discussed this article in The Inland Daily Bulletin in which columnist Michelle Pearl asks the local CHP for the Final Word on traffic law for cyclists. A retired police officer "took umbrage" at an earlier statement about the legality of riding side by side on California roads, so the CHP asked Pearl to "run a correction" that turns out to contain patently untrue information.

On the CABO list, Dan Gutierrez and others highlighted what California Vehicle Code says about bicycling on public roads. LA Streetsblog published Dan's excellent analysis of California law as it relates to Pearl's column shortly afterwards. He also addresses the status of discriminatory laws that apply distinctly to bicycles but no other slow moving vehicles.

In spite of what the law clearly states, however, "be prepared," as San Diego Bike Coalition board member Jim Baross writes, "to hear otherwise from your friendly cop on the street. It is not a good idea to try to argue on the spot with police folks. Take notes and deal later with a superior officer if possible."

David Cameron on bike (again)

UK Conservative Party leader David Cameron is well known for riding his bike to get around. Here, he's seen arriving at Parliament on March 11th. Can anybody picture U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner riding his bike to Capitol Hill?

David Cameron Arrives At Parliament For Prime Ministers Questions

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

immigrants boost cycling in Oakland

In the Chron today, an article by Christopher Heredia:

despite the car-oriented landscape, residents of the city's Latino community, for the most part, liked to get around on foot and bicycle and, as a result, were bending the neighborhood to their collective will. . . . The bicycle was a key mode of transportation even though there weren't dedicated bike lanes . . . . they like the cacophony of cars and bicycles because it reminds them of big-city life in China.

I'm biased since I am the descendent of relatively recent immigrants, but I think immigration is the key factor keeping America strong. The U.S. has a lot to learn from other nations, and immigration is the easiest way!

Bike meeting in Belmont THURSDAY

The City of Belmont, California recently eliminated a full width lane on Alameda de las Pulgas to calm traffic on this road to a school and make room for bike lanes. The school rush hour traffic jam for Tierra Linda Elementary and Carlmont High School along Alameda de las Pulgas resulted in howls for protests from residents in Belmont and neighboring San Carlos, who place more value on the convenience of motoring quickly to the freeway than they do on the lives and well being of the children traveling under human power to their schools. The wait time getting past the school drop off zones from eight minutes to a whopping 11 minutes after the bike lanes were added. Click here for Google Map of this location.

The City of Belmont will have a special meeting Thursday night to discuss the bike lanes on the Alameda. The meeting begins 7:30 PM in the Belmont City Council Chambers. Motorists screaming about delays and inconvenience are expected to show up in large numbers demanding a change back to multiple, fast lanes. To avoid looking like the selfish pinheads that they are, the motorists will disingenuously claim their slower speeds actually increase the danger for pedestrians and cyclists traveling along Alameda while increasing congestion and greenhouse gas emissions as they sit idling in traffic.

If bike users don't speak up, the City of Belmont could well remove the bike lanes and go back to the bad old days. Please show up and speak up if you can to support cycling facilities in Belmont.

For more talking points, read these letters to the Editor by Pat Giorini and Steve Vanderlip.

Cyclist's Manfesto by Robert Hurst

Cycling author Robert Hurst has a new book that should be available sometime in the next month or two.

Cyclist's Manifesto book

In The Cyclist's Manifesto: The Case for Riding on Two Wheels Instead of Four, Hurst looks at the role that human powered transportation can play in this junction of history as energy resource scarcity comes into play.
As the energy monster emerges from the shadows and starts to reveal the furry edges of itself to a sleepy populace, Americans cling with renewed urgency to the ideal of the personal automobile.

In popular visions of the future, technology comes riding to the rescue of the American Way of Life, and the thought of having to drive less is exiled to the back alleys of the mind. The simplest solutions -- those that don't involve carrying a few tons of metal and plastic around everywhere we go -- are banished from the discussion. It's a colossal and perhaps fatal failure of imagination.
In his latest book, Hurst looks at the history of bicycling as sport and its future as a means of transportation.

It's not yet available, but you can pre-order and look at a preview at Amazon: The Cyclist's Manifesto: The Case for Riding on Two Wheels Instead of Four by Robert Hurst.

Hurst also wrote the popular and excellent The Art of Cycling: A Guide to Bicycling in 21st Century America. See also his Industrialized Cyclist blog.

Celebrities and their children on bicycles

Eric McCormack, star of Trust Me and Will & Grace , takes his son Finnigan Holden McCormack cycling last week on a trailer bike near their home in Toluca Lake.

Eric McCormack takes his son Finnigan tandem cycling near their home in Toluca Lake

Soleil Moon Frye (of Punky Brewster fame) spends a day at a park in Beverly Hills with husband Jason Goldberg and daughters Poet Sienna Rose and Jagger Joseph Blue.

Punky Brewster takes entire family to the park

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Pleasant Morning Commute

It's very rare for us Wisconsinites to have a day like today in mid-March. It was already 45 degrees when I got this shot on my morning commute at about 7am. With an expected high of near the record of 73 it was very tempting to call in sick and to keep riding.

Freiker in Los Altos, California

Almond Elementary School in Los Altos, California became the first school in California using the innovative and successful Freiker "Frequent Biker" program that uses incentives and electronic tracking to encourage school children to ride their bikes.


The program began with a parade Tuesday afternoon in which children were outfitted with the Freiker tags, which are detected by the "Freikometer." When the children ride their bikes under the Freikometer, it beeps at them while tallying their bike trip to school. The Freikometer is a solar-powered computer that reads an RFID tag taped to riders' helmets. Each day, a Freiker rides past the Freikometer, and a buzzer sounds to indicate the ride has been logged. The Freikometer wirelessly uploads the rider data to the Freiker website daily, and the child or parent can log on to the website to see the number of rides accumulated. The Freikometer does the counting, and the prizes provide the motivation.

Los Altos parent Jon Simms learned of the Freiker program from co-workers at Sun Microsystem's Broomfield campus in Colorado. He generated excitement with the school PTA and presented the idea with the PTA to Almond Elementary's principal. After Simms met with Freiker chairperson Tricia Grafelman, Simms got cash and prize donations from Bicycle Outfitters, Palo Alto Bicycles, Monte Vista Velo, Jelly Belly, and several individuals to get the Freiker program up and running this spring. "In spite of the weak economy several people have really stepped up to give to this program," says Simms.

Simms wants to show his community "the real potential of cycling" through the use of the Freiker program.

Freiker began at Crestview Elementary School in Boulder, Colorado in 2004. When the RFID "Freikometer" was introduced in 2006, participation skyrocketed, with 54,000 rides logged at Crestview fof the 2007-2008 school year. When a Freikometer was installed at Burlington Elementary School in Longmont, CO last year, students logged 1,000 trips on foot or bike in a single month. The Safe Routes Coordinator in Longmont, Buzz Feldman, tells me he's seen children pushing their bikes through the snow so they can get credit for taking their bikes to school even in inclement weather.

Ten schools in four states are currently running the program, and the 100,000 trips made by the children at those schools have covered more than 150,000 miles (which is six times around the world).

2009 Tour de France teams announced

The 20 teams making up the 2009 Tour de France were officially announced today. The 96th Tour de France begins July 4 in Monaco. Team Astana, which was banned from the 2008 Tour, received in invitation for 2009. USA teams on the list are Garmin-Chipotle and Columbia High Road, both of which participated last year.

Fuji Servetto (nee Saunier Duval) was the only ProTour team excluded from selection in the wake of doping scandals last year.

Team Milram (MRM)

Quick Step (QST)
Silence - Lotto (SIL)

Team Saxo Bank (SAX)

Caisse d’Epargne (GCE)
Euskaltel - Euskadi (EUS)

United States
Garmin - Slipstream (GRM)
Team Columbia – High Road (THR)

AG2R La Mondiale (ALM)
Agritubel (AGR)
BBox Bouygues Telecom (BTL)
Cofidis, Le Crédit en Ligne (COF)
Française des Jeux (FDJ)

Lampre – N.G.C. (LAM)
Liquigas (LIQ)
Astana (AST)

Rabobank (RAB)
Skil-Shimano (SKS)

Team Katusha (KAT)

Cervélo Test Team (CTT)

Tuesday Transit Quiz: Which seat on a strange route?

Here's a common scenario for both veteran transit users and newbies.

You hop on an unfamiliar bus taking an unfamiliar route. You know the specific cross street and nearby major intersections, but you don't know where exactly the nearest bus stop is at. No bus schedule is available on the bus, the transit agency website doesn't display properly on your phone, the bus driver doesn't speak English, and you don't speak his language.

You don't have much wiggle room to walk to your location if you get off at the wrong stop. Where do you sit on the bus, and why? These seats are available from front to back:
  • Near the front on the right side of the bus, next to the grizzled, toothless man with yellow skin, in a flannel shirt and mismatched hiking boots without shoelaces.
  • On the left side of the bus the side facing handicap & elderly seats are both completely open.
  • Left side rear of the bus there's a seat open next to a very well dressed and extraordinarily attractive person. There's a large suitcase in the luggage rack near him or her.
  • One row back and on the right side rear of the bus, next to a heavily made up teen plugged in to her MP3 player.
Which seat do you pick, and why?

In my opinion, there is one correct answer, though there may be some considerations I didn't think of. I'll post my thoughts as an update to this article later this afternoon. Feel free to ping me in a comment if I forget :-)

Green bicycles

There's a Flickr group just for Green Bikes, and I happily contribute with photos like this Green Scwinn Racer I spotted at my local bike shop.

Schwinn Racer

A few days after seeing this almost pristine Schwinn Racer, I saw another green Schwinn on the road in Santa Cruz. This one is a little more used.

Rusty Schwinn in Santa Cruz

When Lynskey introduced their first steel bicycle in 2008, it was in a delighful green Irish themed paint job.

Lynskey's first STEEL bike

Have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day, all.

Surfer on bicycle

Green bike socks

Billy Zane on a bicycle

Spring is in the air, which means celebrities riding their bikes! Here's Billy Zane leaving Villa Lounge on his bicycle with a basket.

Billy Zane leaves Villa Lounge on his bicycle with a basket

Jake Gyllenhaal (on the right in black and white below) seen enjoying a bike ride with a friend in Brentwood.

Jake Gyllenhaal enjoying a bike ride in Brentwood

Monday, March 16, 2009

Free Range Kids free chapter

I love free stuff, and I love idea behind the book Free Range Kids, so naturally I love it that author Lenore Skenazy has uploaded the introduction of her book for free viewing.
Here in the nice, safe, scurvy-free twenty-first century we worry about our kids riding their bikes to the library, or walking to school. We worry all the time. Is he safe? Is she OK?

Read more or Buy the book. Via.

Oh, and don't miss Ms Skenazy's blog, too.

Editor's Note: Nudity

I get a feed of news images from Getty Images for journalism use which are then filtered for bicycling content.

A set of a couple dozen photos entitled "World Naked Bike Ride Takes Place In Sydney" contained the note for those who missed seeing the pale dangly bits flapping in the breeze: "Editor's Note: Nudity." The World Naked Bike Ride took place over the weekend.

I rode completely clothed this last weekend in Santa Cruz and was hit by a guy driving a Red BMW after he honked at me. I think he tried to swerve closely past me to frighten or intimidate me, which was an odd thing to do on a quiet residential street with no traffic. He apparently misjudged and swiped me. He looked at me; I exclaimed with bemused surprise, "You hit me!" and then he ran. I called the police, gave a full description of the driver and car (Red '04 to '06 BMW 1 Series Coupe, license 4ASRxxx, mid 30s Caucasian male, gelled black hair) as I followed the car around Santa Cruz Harbor up Seabright, across the Harbor Bridge on Murray, along the east side of the Harbor before I lost him on East Cliff Drive, where I waited for police to arrive.

Santa Cruz Police took less than five minutes to show up, which surprised me, and Officer Butler was very professional taking my report and expressed some anger about what she took as an obviously road raging driver.

The hit was actually very minor -- he nudged my bike but that's it. I probably would have ignored it if the driver didn't run.

Scofflaw cyclists

I wish I had more time to write about it because I have much to say, but briefly:
  • From Streetsblog:
    "Having observed New York City traffic enforcement pretty closely these last three years as editor of Streetsblog, I can safely offer the following advice to would-be murderers: If you ever need to kill someone in New York City, do it with a car. "

  • Tom Vanderbilt on The Phantom Menace:
    This incredibly oft-repeated idea — that cyclists are some grave threat to the lives of pedestrians, not motorists — is one of my greatest sources of irritation, and also puzzlement. I don’t have the NYC stats at hand, but in London, for example, from 2001 to 2005 there were 535 pedestrians killed by automobile. The number killed by cyclists?

Ciclismo Classico

Say hello to Cyclelicious fan Andrew Conway. Andrew is the USA managing director for Ciclismo Classico, which organizes cycling tours of Italy. He was in California promoting these European cycling tours during the Tour of California last February.

AToC Sacramento meetup

Besides riding around beautiful Italian countryside, Andrew is passionate about utilitarian cycling around Boston. He has a huge Christiana cargo trike that he uses to tote his two daughters around town. Andrew blogs about his rides around town at his Velo Fellow blog.


Last week, Sens. Thomas Carper (D-Del.) and Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), Steven La Tourette (R-Ohio), Melissa Bean (D-Ill.), and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) introduced the Clean, Low Emission Affordable New Transportation Efficiency Act. H.R. 1329, also known as CLEAN TEA will work in conjunction with proposed climate change legislation by using a portion of any future cap and trade revenue to fund a low greenhouse gas transportation fund.

The current transportation authorization law -- SAFETEA-LU -- was signed into law by President Bush in 2005 and expires in September 2009. SAFETEA-LU significantly altered the funding formula from previous federal transportation authorizations by significantly increasing federal funding over previous years for transit systems, pedestrian and bicycle facilities and freight rail. While the 19 page CLEAN TEA does not reauthorize transportation funding, it alters the funding formula with the inclusion of cap and trade revenue for transportation funding.

Sen. Tom Carper said: “Today, we fund our transportation system through a gas tax, meaning we pay for roads and transit by burning gasoline. When people drive less, our transportation budgets dry up. This means states and localities that reduce oil use, lower greenhouse emissions and save their constituents money end up getting their budgets cut. But CLEAN TEA reverses this negative funding policy by sending money to states and localities based on how much they reduce emissions. Now, we in the Congress have the great opportunity to address many national problems at once – finding additional funding for transportation infrastructure, building money-saving transportation alternatives and lowering greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.”

"We salute these congressional leaders for understanding that -- unless we link our efforts to protect the climate with efforts to cut congestion -- we will not solve either problem," said Michael Replogle, a Department of Transportation (DOT) adviser and Transportation Director at EDF. "This legislation reverses a long-term trend of transportation policies that encouraged growth in greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation should contribute proportionately to other sectors in solving the climate change crisis."

Share The Road and traffic safety

Eric at Bike Denver writes about a Share the Road education campaign in Portland, Oregon. Traffic violators can have their tickets dismissed by taking a traffic safety class, same as many other locations. Something unique about Portland's class, though, is the focus on safety for pedestrians, cyclists and children.

This and other "Share the Road" programs that Eric writes about work to address my biggest complaint about the message, which is that it's frequently misunderstood to mean "Get out of the way." The traffic safety education is good, but I still believe signs like "Bikes Allowed Full Use of Lane" are better.

Bikes May Use Full Lane

A few cities in California use these signs in lieu of "Share the Road" signs. In Santa Cruz, local cycling advocates rejected "Share The Road" signs as ineffective, demanding and getting signs that show cyclists using the entire lane in spite local police department protests.

Do you believe "Share the Road" is effective? Does anybody outside of California demand alternative signage?

See also:

Friday, March 13, 2009

Freakanomics and bicycle licenses

The Freakanomics blog briefly mentions Wayne Krieger's proposed bike tax in Oregon.
Wayne Kriger, the bill’s chief architect (and, natch, a non-cyclist), says bike riders should help pay for the roads they use. Just be glad he didn’t propose a Pay As You Drive fee.
nVidia pushes for bike commuters.

Bicycle Design: Uganda Cargo Bike.

Book: Buster's Ride by Kristen Elizabeth.

Ooh. (Via)

Kids on bikes in Paris.

An gorgeous beauty.

Streetsblog Capitol Edition.

Blumenauer proposes enhancements to the Bike Commuter tax benefit.

Matt Damon charity ride.

Good weekend, all!

Tracking Caltrain's bike car usage

Caltrain said they would try to always schedule two bike cars on certain trains, but they have no way to monitor how effective this setup is. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Caltrain Bikes On Board project is working on a web-based interface for commuters to monitor this effectives, but why not just use what's already available?

These are the northbound "2 bike car" train statuses (statii?) and here are the southbound "2 bike car" trains statuses. Easy as pie. I search on Tweets to @bikecar and filter on the train numbers that Caltrain says should be two bike cars.

This is far from a complete list because Ravi's "@bikecar" project needs more volunteers. Perhaps SFBC Bikes On Board can encourage participation in this useful service? The Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition also wants to measure Caltrain's performance on the 2 bike cars. Click here to learn how you can participate.

VMware ESXi on SunFire x4140 x4240 x4440

A work posting again because everybody always asks what I do for a living.

I work in x64 engineering at Sun Microsystems. I ensure that vendor software from VMware works well on the various AMD and Intel x64 systems we ship. The process works something like this.
    * Product Team specifies hardware and software requirements.

    * Hardware Team designs the hardware.

    * Software Team (that's me) engages OS vendors (e.g. VMware, Redhat, Novell, Microsoft and Sun) and says, "In six months we'll release the SuperConstellationMegaPlus using the unreleased 64 core Unobtanium HyperQuickConnect CPU with support for 256 sockets and maximum 32TB RAM and we already know your OS breaks with that high CPU count and memory size; InterHub MCP100 bridge on each socket so don't forget to fix your multiroot PCI Express support; SAS 2 with zoning and up to 1024 discrete solid state disks; and the usual peripheral support and high speed Infiniband, 10Gbps networking, etc. with hot plug required on everything, including the processors and RAM."

    * 3 months later, OS vendors toss their pre-release builds to me.

    * I toss the builds to our Software QA.

    * Software QA finds bugs. It's my job to work with the OS vendor and find the cause of those bugs and ask our OS vendors to fix them.
Here's an example:

Early on, we discovered the VMware's ESXi 'thin' hypervisor would not install on the SunFire x4140, x4240 and x4440 servers. These machines, codenamed "Dorado Tucana" (DTa for short), are essentially identical and share the same motherboard.

Previously, VMware always booted a modified Redhat distribution to install ESX. The ESXi install process differs from ESX "Classic" in that it uses itself as the installer. When you boot the ESXi install CD, you are booting ESXi.

I initially thought there was a bug in the HBA storage adapter because the install program always locked up at "Loading aacraid...", which is the software to control the Adaptec storage controller we use in our test machines. Debug by process of elimination: I removed the Adaptec controller.

So now the machine hangs somewhere else. Hmmm....

But now I'm able to see messages like "Keyboard controller buffer overflow...." And our nifty hardware debug tool shows me that the program is stuck in a very small loop that looks something like this:
    while (inb(0x64 & 0x01)) { call somefunction() }

I/O port 0x64 is the old legacy 8042 keyboard controller, except DTa does not have an 8042 or even a SuperIO chip! When I was reviewing the DTa hardware design way back in 2007, I even made a notation to our product team that this was our first platform without a legacy keyboard controller of any kind and we may encounter some OS bugs.

All modern PCs emulate the old 8042 keyboard controller first used in the IBM PC AT in 1984, because MS-DOS, the BIOS setup program, and the various option ROM setup programs all depend on the existence of a PC/AT keyboard even though your PC no longer even has a keyboard connector. The system BIOS can find your USB keyboard and make it pretend that it's an old legacy PS/2 keyboard for this old legacy software.

When your modern OS (such as Windows, Linux or ESXi) boots, it pokes the BIOS and USB controller and tells them to stop pretending to be an 8042 and start acting like a real USB controller -- this is called USB BIOS handoff. Almost every PC made, however, still has something that acts like the 8042 at I/O locations 0x64 and 0x60 somewhere on the motherboard -- when the pretending stops, the real 8042 I/O is still there. When the OS reads the keyboard status register at 0x64, though, the 8042 isn't connected to a keyboard, so it always reports the keyboard buffer is empty with a value of "0".

As I mentioned previously, DTa does not have an 8042 of any kind. As soon as the OS takes over the USB operations and tells BIOS and the USB controller to stop pretending to be an 8042, there's no longer anything at I/O locations 0x64 and 0x60. And when the CPU reads an invalid I/O location, the returned value is always "-1." This means every bit of what the keyboard driver thinks is a status register is set. The keyboard driver thinks the keyboard buffer is full, reads the keyboard data register at 0x60 (which also returns -1 or 0xff), and tests the keyboard status again, which will be 0xff again. Rinse and repeat until done, except, of course, it never is done because inb(0x64) always returns -1.

I proved this by dissecting the guts of ESXi and removing the OHCI and UHCI USB drivers (which forces this handoff behavior and keeps the BIOS and USB driver in legacy keyboard mode). When I remove those software bits, the problem goes away. I reported this to VMware so they could make the necessary changes.

There are a couple of fixes to this problem. Linux counts the number of "-1" values it reads and if it decides the number is unreasonable, it decides there's no 8042. The engineers at VMware got a little more clever for the fix and they look at the ACPI DSDT -- the Differentiated System Description Table. This is a data structure in BIOS that lists the component hardware. If an 8042 is not listed in this table, ESXi knows not to load the keyboard controller device driver.

For those waiting to install ESXi on the x4140, x4240, and x440 (and many people have asked): This fixed version of ESXi is not yet released, though it should be available Real Soon Now and we're already certifying that new version of ESXi for those servers.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

This isn't too hard to figure out

A motorcyclist hit a minivan in Watsonville, CA Thursday afternoon, amputating the biker's leg. According to the news article, "it's unclear who was at fault."

Below is the view from Bottius Street; the minivan driver pulled out from that stop sign to turn onto Lincoln. Note the stop sign that the van driver had. The motorcyclist was approaching from the left on Lincoln Street and clearly had the right of way. Witnesses say neither party was speeding.

View Larger Map

My guess is that something like this happened.

2009 Tirreno Adriatico

George Hincapie compared Tirreno Adriatico with California: "Tour of California - 100 riders on big roads. Tirreno - 200 riders, small roads. Welcome to European racing!!"

Go here for Tirreno Adriatico coverage.

The Complete Streets Acts of 2009

Matui encourages National Bike Summit attendees to promote Complete Streets as they meet with legislators.

U.S Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) and U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced The Complete Streets Act of 2009 yesterday. The Complete Streets Act will work to promote the design of streets that are safe for all of those using the street— including motorists, bus riders, pedestrians and bicyclists, and people with disabilities.

Bicycle in traffic
“When Americans choose to leave their car at home and walk or ride a bike to school or work, they are making a healthy decision. We need to ensure streets, intersections and trails are designed to make them easier to use and maximize their safety,” said Harkin. “This legislation will encourage Americans to be more active, while also providing more travel options and cutting down on traffic congestion.”

“By diversifying our roadways, we can provide real alternatives to travel by car. The strength of this legislation is that it recognizes that we face very real challenges today, many of which are interwoven,” said Matsui. “By opening up our roadways to pedestrians and cyclists, we can help ease the congestion on our nation’s roads. In doing so, we will make progress fighting air pollution and global warming, and we will take strides toward improving the health and protecting the safety of people across our country.”

At the National Bike Summit opening session, Matsui encouraged cyclists to advocates for the Complete Streets bill when they meet with their legislators this week in Washington, DC.

The Urban Land Institute has estimated that carbon emissions from transportation would be 41 percent above today’s levels in 2030 if driving is not curbed, and a recent study by the Texas Transportation Institute found that providing more travel options, including public transportation, bicycling and walking, is an important element in reducing traffic congestion. The study reported that congestion was responsible for an annual $78 billion loss in fuel during traffic jams in 2007, an increase from $57.6 billion in 2000.

Another study found that 43 percent of people with access to a safe place to walk, within 10 minutes of their home, met recommended daily activity levels. At the same time, only 27 percent of those without access to safe walking options were active enough.

The Complete Streets Act of 2009 has been endorsed by Cyclelicious, America Bikes, Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, Transportation For America, League of American Bicyclists, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, YMCA of the USA, National Association of Realtors, American Council of the Blind, Paralyzed Veterans of America, America Walks, and Active Transportation Alliance among others.

Ref: NBS09, HR 1443, S 584. HR 1443 was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure which is chaired by James Oberstar.

KTVU Sal Castaneda says "Cycling is dangerous"

Commenting on the cyclist vs car collision this morning in Hayward, CA in the East Bay, KTVU journalist Sal Castenada said: "This just shows how dangerous cycling on the road can be."

Never mind the teens "burned beyond recognition" when their car crashed last weekend in Oakland, the two men killed inside of their SUV on West Tasman in San Jose Saturday night, Mauro Garcia inside of his Chevy Cavalier on I-280 two weeks ago, Kamran Kahn of Daly City inside his pickup truck Sunday morning, Brandt Cannici of San Francisco in a Toyota Landcruiser, and the beat goes on. This just shows how dangerous riding in a car on the road can be.

Cycling in traffic has its risks, as does any other activity, but to call out cycling on the roads as an especially dangerous activity is irresponsible journalism, Mr. Castenada.

The reason it's news, of course, is because injury accidents for cyclists are rare. Take a look at the CHP real time traffic updates for the Bay Area at almost any time of the day and you will see the CHP responding to an injury accident. At this moment, I see two "Ambulance Responding" notations, including one with the heartbreaking report, "CHILD IS UP AND ALERT, PARENT IS NOT."

About 100 to 150 cyclists are killed every year, about a dozen in them in the 9 County San Francisco Bay Area. I support work to decrease the risk of cycling, but compare that against more than 4,000 killed in traffic collisions in California (500 in the Bay Area). The cyclists killed represent slightly more than their modal share would indicate, but it's not anything close to an order of magnitude difference.

A hat tip to my cycling buddies Kit and Murph for the tip. The cyclist was crossing over I-880 on Winton Avenue early this morning when he was struck at speed by a motorist and thrown into the windshield of the car. The cyclist was transported to a hospital with serious injuries. No word on if the cyclist was using lights (it's still dark at 6:30) or how he was positioned in the lane.

Update: Traffic author Tom Vanderbilt notes the passive text used in traffic accident reporting:
Note the passive tense here, rather common in newspaper reporting: It was his Tahoe 'that veered,' deaths 'were caused.' Not, 'he swerved, killing the two drivers.'

$1 million for bike park and ride

The Portland, Oregon regional TriMet transit agency announced they will spend $1 million in Federal ARRA (stimulus) funds to expand and improve bike parking facilities throughout the Portland transit system. That $1 million will create 250 new bike parking spots at two stations and upgrade another 100 bike lockers at another station.

"More riders are using bikes to get to transit, and with limited options for bringing bikes on board, having more secure bike parking facilities helps to make the bike/transit connection work," said TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen.

Caltrain in the San Francisco Bay Area, in the meantime, will receive $200,000 in ARRA funds to add 8 additional bike spots on each of 32 bike cars. With at least 4 trips for each bike car during the work day, that's a capacity for over 1,000 more bicycles every day, and the work will be complete within the next 60 days.

Caltrain has provided four times the capacity of TriMet's bike parking at one fourth the cost and in less time.

Accommodating bikes on board transit is a win for transit agencies that serve suburban populations. Encouraging bikes on transit expands the pool of potential transit users significantly, probably more than any other accomodation you can make for the price.

See also Why Transit Needs Bikes.

Late night bike news

There was a lot of activity here Wednesday night from myself, Alison, and Jessica here at Cyclelicious. In case you missed it...

- Jessica Thompson of the League of Illinois Bicyclists reported on the first two days of the 2009 National Bike Summit.

- Celebrity Jessica Alba rides a Velib bicycle in Paris, France.

- Alison Chaiken tells a little about larger than life cyclist Mick Murphy, who reportedly drank blood and ate raw meat.

- Finally, there are a couple of giveaways.


Elsewhere in the bicycle blog-o-sphere...

- Smurfette and Blue Suede Shoes.

- Do women make bikes?

- A new podcast at the Fredcast cycling podcast.

- Bike theft by cutting the spokes.

- More Menlo Park Criterium photos and video at NCNA Racing.

- DIY bike turn signal.

- Michelle Malkin mocks non car transportation as wasteful. Bizarre lady, that one.

That's all folks!

Bicycle messenger reality show

Get paid to ride your bike.
We are casting for a television documentary series about bicycle messengers. We are also interested in interviewing Alley Cat Racers. It's for a popular youth oriented cable network. We are searching for the fastest, smartest, coolest, and funniest bicycle messengers in NYC (but other cities are welcome as well) who are 25 years old or younger. We're looking for ALL types of messengers, but especially those who are deep into messenger culture. This is a paid gig if you're chosen. It's paid even if you're not chosen — we're giving $25 in cash if you come down and do a 15 minute interview on either Friday, March 13th or Saturday, March 14th. We will be able to arrange transportation.

If you are a bike messenger and are interested in being involved in this project please send us a picture of yourself and a phone number and we'll schedule a time for you to do a quick and fun interview.
From Craigslist.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mick Murphy, the Irish "Iron Man" Cyclist

Mick Murphy, courtesy of The Bike Show from Resonance FM

the legend goes a bit like this: he trained with weights made from stone, he made a living as a circus performer, on one stage in the 1958 Rás, after his bike had broken down, he stole an ordinary bicycle from a farmer and chased down the leading pack. It 's said that he rode for three days with a broken collar bone, that he would cycle for forty miles having completed a gruelling stage just to cool down, that he drank cow's blood and ate raw meat. It's said he was indestructible.

Listen to Irish RTE Radio's documentary about Mick Murphy and his epic victory in the 1958 Ras circuit race around Ireland. Learn more about the Ras from The Bike Show's audio interview with the Rapha directeur sportif John Herety and documentary maker Peter Woods.

Bike Summit Update

Who am I?

My name is Jessica Thompson, and I'm a Project Planner for the League of Illinois Bicyclists (LIB). (Shameless plug--click here to become a member!) Thanks to our generous Executive Director Ed Barsotti, I am have been in DC since yesterday, learning about bicycle-related policy. Tomorrow I will ask for it (5+ times!) on Capitol Hill as part of the 9th annual National Bike Summit, a lobbying event put on by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB).

I am sitting in Hotel Harrington right now. I feel tired, but also satisfied knowing that the tiredness is for a good cause. The past 24 hours have been a whirlwind. I will try and share the highlights from the viewpoint of an advocate. (For IL-specific info, check my blog.)

Bike Summit Day #1

Yesterday I walked into the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center around 3:30 PM to register. I ran into a bicycle advocate and Master's student from Anchorage, Alaska. Excitement was in the air! Suddenly more and more advocates poured in, like ants, and the frenzy began! We all got swag bags and dug through them, happy about our plastic bike pins, water bottles, and Cateye bike lights.

My first event was a 1-hour seminar aimed at people who have never been to the Bike Summit before. Stephanie Vance of Advocacy Associates (a funny lady!) spoke the majority of the time. She forbade anyone from wearing neon yellow bike gear, or bringing helmets into these professional meetings. (Apparently that's been an issue in the past.)

Next up was the amazing Keynote Dinner. Andy Clarke of LAB opened (another very funny person). Ambassador Friis Arne Peterson and Andrea Rohl, both of Denmark, spoke about bicycle planning in Copenhagen. Their powerpoint showed photos of beautiful ladies riding cargo bicycles (filled with beautiful children, or dogs, or groceries) while in high heels, and we learned that 36% of all trips to work and school are taken by bike in Copenhagen, while only 33% are by car! I believe the goal of this presentation was to make us Americans insanely jealous to the point where we were willing to fight tooth and nail to have what they have. (It worked.)

Minnesota's Congressman James Oberstar followed the Copenhagen presentation and fired everyone up. He said that the US will be comparable to Denmark bike-wise in 6 years! After driving home the point that he is the Chair of the Transportation Committee, everyone started to believe it. There was a whole lot of clapping after he said it isn't a question of if bicycle funding is in the next transportation bill, it's a question of how much.

The happening after-party was held at Elephant & Castle and thrown by the Alliance for Biking and Walking (former Thunderhead Alliance). I'd estimate 100 people showed up. They gave out many awards, including one to Chicago's own Randy Neufeld. Rob Sadwosky of Active Trans presented the lifetime achievement award, and officially announced that Randy will move on from the organization come June. Randy proceeded to lead everyone in song. I only remember part of the chorus, which went something like, "Much smarter, much cleaner, much better than cars..." Pretty wild to look around and see colleagues from across the country spontaneously singing in a crowded bar.

Bike Summit Day #2

This morning started off with a slew of politicians pumping us up. First up was Illinois' own Ray LaHood. Hearing the federal Secretary of Transportation tell a room of 550 bicyclists that we have a partner in the Department of Transportation was pretty amazing. He also said he plans on working from "best practices" in Europe, which is fantastic (and almost unreal) to hear. Maybe Copenhagen can become a reality here?

Next, Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer took the mic. He challenged Washington DC to put bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue before next year's Summit, said that "cycling is part of America's Economic Recovery," and pointed out that there is a bike mechanic in Congress now--Peter DeFazio (also from Oregon).

Dan Lipinski (Illinois) took the stage next, and pulled out his LAB member card to show that he is literally a card-carrying member. He pointed out that although 13% of motor-related fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians, less than 1% of all Highway Safety dollars go to bicycle and pedestrian programming. More advice on what we should ask for--a fair share of safety dollars.

Congresswoman Doris Matsui from California finished out the opening session by talking about the Complete Streets legislation she will be proposing later this week. Co-sponsoring that bill is another "ask" we can bring up to Representatives tomorrow.

The three break-out sessions I attended today were titled The America Bikes Agenda for Transportation Policy: Changing Outcomes, Getting Our Fair and Equitable Share in the New Transportation Bill, and Bicycle Friendly America: Smart Investments in Businesses, Communities, and States. If anyone has specific questions, I will answer them, but I don't want this post to get too long with all of the gritty details.

Tomorrow is the big day--the moment we're all here for. I've committed to attending five sessions with Congress staffers. There are 18 meetings scheduled for Illinois alone. My role will be to briefly explain Transportation Authorization funding and ask for support in all meetings. ("Newbies" usually only discuss one topic over and over, to keep it simple.) Wish me luck!


RideThisBike.com is offering a free folding bike to one lucky winner. Click the link for details, but you submit your sob story, and the sorriest candidate wins a free bike.

UltraRob has a $50 gift certificate. To enter, just leave a comment about some gear you want at his blog.

Jessica Alba rides Velib

Jessica Alba was spotted during Fashion Week in Paris riding around on the popular Velib rental bike.

Jessica Alba riding a Velib rental bike in Paris, France

Jessica Alba riding Velib in Paris

See the complete set of Jessica Alba on Velib photos at Celebrity Gossip.

In other Fashion Week news, Riding Pretty notes some intersting helmet covers on the runway in Paris.

Christian Vande Velde, Paris-Nice Stage 4

Full list of links to news and results from Paris-Nice at Steephill.TV. The race is over, but there's still some pretty cool photos and video online.

National BIke Summit highlights so far

The 2009 National Bike Summit in Washington DC kicked off with a record 550 attendees last night. Some highlights:
  • Quantify! You cannot judge the effectiveness of your advocacy efforts if you don't count the cyclists in your town. The League of American Bicyclists won't give you anything beyond a "Bronze" rating as a Bicycle Friendly Community unless you do traffic counts that include the number of bicycles.
  • Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) says the "days of irresponsible transportation funding are over" and "the transportation system should work for all Americans, not just cars." She will introduce Complete Streets legislation next week.
  • Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood tells cycling advocates "I want you to know you'll have a full partner in the Department of Transportation." He says likes rails-to-trails projects :-(
  • Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) says "Cycling is part of the country's economic recovery."
  • Thunderhead Alliance announced they are now the Alliance for Walking and Biking.
  • Jim Oberstar tells attendees to demand the resources to make cycling a more widely recognized form of transportation.
Thank you to all of those liveblogging NBS09 via Twitter!