Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A little worried about this guy

Floyd Landis in San Jose Team OUCH

I truly hope he gets some good counsel and doesn't do something tragically stupid in the next few days.

Fat tires and float

I'm having a lot of fun trying the Urbana Bike bicycle. I hope to have an initial review on Commute By Bike in the next day or two.

Those ultra fat 2.6 inch tires on the Urbana suggest to me that they might "float" wonderfully on the snow, and Urbana confirmed for me that the tire was designed with the year round, all weather commuter in mind. Urbana is based in Montreal, Quebec, and Montreal this time of year means snow.

I want to test this out, but we don't exactly have an abundance of snow in Santa Cruz. I tried a reasonable analog: Beach Sand. Conditions this last weekend were 70 degrees and sunny at the beach, a perfect opportunity to test these tires.

Balloon tire on the sand

As you can see, the blue waters of Monterey Bay look very inviting. Furthermore, the tire "floats" over the sand just fine. I didn't photograph myself on the dry, less compact sand away from the water because I was more concerned about keeping in control, but I can still ride and control the bike in the soft sand.

Unfortunately, for my return trip home, I discovered another type of float these tires excel at - the tires are too fat to fit into the tire slot on bus bike racks, so they sit right on top of the slot!

Fat tires and bus bike rack

The bus driver won't let me mount the bike like this, but I eventually found a solution to this problem. If I deflate the tires partially down to about 10 PSI (recommended minimum is 20 PSI), I can jam the tires into place. They're wedged in pretty good, so some effort is required to pull them back out at your destination.

Deflate to fit

At 10 PSI, these balloon tires are still ridable, though you risk pinching the tube on curbs and bumps and the front tire squirms like crazy. You also need noticeably more effort to make the bike go with the tires so squishy.

If you frequently bring your bike on the bus, you might consider swapping out to a skinnier tire. The Nid De Poule tires otherwise perform surprisingly well, with good rolling resistance and superior shock absorption because of their big air volume.

I discovered another cool feature in Santa Cruz last weekend -- a pair of pedestrians crossed against the light directly in front of me, so I squeezed brakes and the rear tire emitted a satisfyingly loud heart stopping screech. The walkers yelped in fear and clutched their chests in response as they jumped back to the sidewalk. I really hate the idea of generating fear like a car, but I have to admit to a certain visceral satisfaction when I saw the look of terror on their faces. I'll repent of that later.

If you want the Nid De Poule, you have to buy the bike from Urbana -- it's not available for sale individually. Steve tells me, though, that Schwalbe's Fat Frank tire might be similar.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bike ride with Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn

Streetfilms Clarence Eckerson joins Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn on his morning commute.

Video: NYC Ice Biking

Sydney and Pat riding their bikes (on road slicks while holding a camera!) on snow covered streets in Brooklyn. Good times!

How much icebiking did you try during last week's Snowmageddon?

Speaking of winter, Byron of Bike Hugger is up in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics, where he's snapping photos of bikes on the street while trying hard not to be too snarky with the Canadian border control officials.

SLO man recovers stolen bike in Santa Cruz

A San Luis Obipso man who had two high-end mountain bikes stolen did a little detective work of his own and found one of the missing bicycles listed for sale on craigslist by a Santa Cruz man.

21-year-old Jordan Scott of Santa Cruz was allegedly offering the stolen Specialized SX 9-speed red mountain bike on craigslist for $1,100. It's valued at $4,000.

More in the Santa Cruz Sentinel: A stolen bike, a sketchy ad, a police sting, an arrest.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Katie Holden

Katie Holden races mountain bikes for a living. When she's not racing bikes or attending college or working at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, she lives just a couple of doors down from me.

That is all. More about Katie here. Her Bio, where she explains how she got into cyclist, is pretty cool.

Bike theft and vigilantism

Don't steal bikes, Bro.
Some bike messengers last month took justice into their own hands when they caught two suspected thieves, teenage boys who attended a local Catholic high school. According to police, the messengers stripped down the teens to their boxer shorts before taking their cellphones, backpacks and clothes.
More in LA Times Blog: L.A. sees big jump in bike thefts, prompting some vigilante justice.

Four train wrecks per day

A reminder for you that the scale of the tragedy in Belgium occurs four times a day, every single day of the year, on U.S. roads and highways. I'm not denying that this isn't newsworthy and that mass transportation shouldn't be safer, but I would like to inject a little perspective into it.

Redbeard cyclist


Bicleta Bandita takes the lane on Mission Street Santa Cruz and discovers it's not so bad.

Jim Langley reviews a new book about Major Taylor. Biking Bis also looked at this book a short time back.

Fruitvale BART: Tour de Taco, Saturday, February 20th at 11:00.

Bay Guardian: "$840 a year to ride Muni? Save your cash -- buy a bike!"

Riding Pretty Tweed Limerick.

Take the lane legal victory in Columbus, Ohio.

Nitwit Illinois politician protests safe driving and saving lives.

Kate Hudson, yet again, on a bicycle.

Blue bike in Little China

Grant Street, San Francisco, California. My family and I wandered around Chinatown last weekend.

SF Grant Street

The Chinese New Year began yesterday and celebrations will continue through the end of February. This east Asian Lunar festival is also celebrated by the Vietnamese as Tet, and also by the Koreans, Mongolians, Tibetans and Bhutanese. The Japanese celebrate the Western New Year on January 1.

Happy New Year, Happy Presidents Day, and a belated Happy Valentines Day.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

How to make miso soup

You need these ingredients.

Miso soup ingredients

  • Miso paste. Unless you live near an Asian market or a well stocked organic foods store (e.g. Trader Joe's or Whole Foods), miso paste can be difficult to find. Miso paste is available for ordering online, but because the product is perishable it must be shipped overnight.

  • Fresh Japanese style tofu. Chinese tofu doesn't taste "right" to me in miso soup, but if that's what you prefer then go for it. Use "firm" or "extra firm" tofu. Some of the freeze dried tofu can work in a pinch, but fresh is much better. Fresh tofu seems to be pretty widely available in the United States. Some tofu I've bought in the Midwest has an "off" flavor to me; YMMV.

  • Wakame seaweed. This comes dried in plastic bags and is marked in English as "WAKAME SEAWEED." If you go to the really ethnic place you might need to look at the English language sticker placed by the importer on the back of the bag. You can buy online if there's no Asian grocery nearby and you don't mind paying the outrageous prices. A little dab will do you -- a tiny shriveled piece expands in water to about five times in size. Just add three or four pieces per serving.

    Wakame isn't strictly necessary, but it's nice to have for texture and traditional miso generally uses it. Other dried seaweeds can also be used. Just don't use nori (sushi seaweed).

  • Dashi. Dashi is the dead fish broth that gives Japanese food its distinctive flavor. I and pretty much the entire population of Japan use instant Hon Dashi which is in the red capped jar in the above photo. Many American object to the MSG content of instant dashi, however (it's the number 2 ingredient, right behind salt), so you can also roll your own the old fashioned way by boiling kombu (kelp) and moldy sardines like my grandmother used to do, and get your monosodium glutamate the all natural way.

    My hands down favorite soup stock for miso soup was when my grandmother boiled up a mess of clams in her kitchen and used the juice for the soup. That was wonderful. For the vegans, another soup stock I really like comes from simmering dried shiitake mushrooms.

Optional ingredients might include chopped scallions (green onion), chopped mushrooms, different kinds of seaweeds, and even meat, fish and shellfish chunks.

To make miso soup, start some water (or your homemade dashi stock) simmering in a sauce pan and add cubed tofu, wakame seaweed and instant dashi - I use a scant 1 tsp of powdered dash for 2 cups of water. Add the other optional ingredients such as vegetables and meats, but reserve the miso paste for last.

After the soup is heated through and the dried ingredients are reconstituted (2 or 3 minutes), remove from heat and stir the miso paste in -- about 1 Tablespoon for each 2 cups of water. Miso paste is added last because the delicate flavor can dissipate with prolonged exposure to heat. Serve the soup as soon as the paste has dissolved.

Miso soup is so simple to make I don't know why instant miso soup is even available. I'll toss the ingredients in a little baggy and bring it to work, where I'll add hot water and mix in a bowl for a quick and inexpensive "instant" lunch.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

SF2G in the news

SF to Google SF2G is the group of cyclists who ride the 42 miles from San Francisco to the Google campus in Mountain View.

Murph mentioned this the other day, that somebody from the Examiner talked to a few SF2G riders. You can see the infamous bikes-on-sidewalk photo in the Examiner article about SF2G.

P.S. Happy Valentines Day.

P.P.S. Happy Chinese New Year.

Ed van der Elsken and bicycles

Ed van der Elsken was a Dutch photographer and film maker. Naturally, one of his favorite subjects was of people riding bicycles (and motorcycles) in Amsterdam.

Translated from Rad Spannerei:
Ed van der Elsken (March 10, 1925 in Amsterdam, † December 28, 1990 in Edam) was a Dutch photographer and filmmaker.

His work was exhibited in the early 1950s at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and the Bibliotheque Nationale de France. Throughout his life he used the city streets as his stage, and photographed the lives played out there. He was interested in the interaction between humans and the environment. He began his professional training as a sculptor, but he turned to photography after the Second World War.

The black and white film from 1965 shows Fietsen cyclists from Amsterdam.

Nid de poule

Montreal's Urbana Bikes comes stock with these huge 2.6 inch "Nid de poule" balloon tires.

Urbana Bikes

My French is very weak, so I translated this literally: "chicken's nest." I asked the folks at Urbana (they're in Montreal) what it means, and it's the French idiom for pothole. The idea is that tire effortlessly rolls through potholes; the design and name of this tire was "inspired by our crumling infrastrucure here in Monteal," according to Urbana.

The recommended pressure for this tire ranges from 20 to 40 psi. At a low PSI these look like they would float fairly well on deep snow, though the slicks might be less than ideal. I'll try these on the beach in Santa Cruz to see how well they roll.

Watch for a first look of the Urbana bicycle coming soon at Commute By Bike.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Free road side assistance with bike rental

Props to NY Times travel writer Tanya Mohn for this news...

Rent A Bike Now, a bicycle rental network in the United States and Canada, has partnered with the Better World Club for free bicycle roadside assistance when you rent a bike for more than a day through the RentABikeNow website. The free roadside assistance is a limited time offer.

RentABikeNow partners with local bike shops in over 200 North American cities to provide a single point of contact to find bike rental information. The Better World Club is an auto service club that also offers "towing" assistance to cyclists by transporting them up to 30 miles.

See details here.

Texting, driving, and Lake Wobegon

Do you have a story of a near hit by a texting driver? Please post it in the comments.

If you're an above average driver, this is for you.

Yesterday on KGO Radio (a San Francisco AM talk radio station), the mid morning talk show took listener calls for their thoughts on Oprah Winfrey's crusade to discourage texting while driving.

The phoned in comments were an eye opener for me, to say the least. The first call came from a 24 year old in Woodside (natch). "I grew up with all this amazing technology, and because these old people can't handle it I am not allowed to use it!" he whined. ( ...and they say cyclists are entitled.... ) "I text while driving and I've never had an accident," he continued.

Caller after caller complained about California's anti-texting law. Even those who acknowledged the danger of texting while driving confessed they wouldn't sign Oprah's no texting pledge because they don't plan to give it up. "I'm perfectly safe texting while driving," was a common sentiment. "Just because those other idiots can't handle the technology doesn't mean I'm dangerous."

Let me clue you in on a little known fact: Almost every driver considers themselves above average, but we clearly cannot all be above average. Just like the above average children of Lake Wobegon, your superior driving skills and mine are fiction.

Overestimating our driving skills results in less caution and awareness on the roads, and the callers who claim to drive safely while texting are a perfect example of this lack of caution. It reminds me so much of some of my college pals who claimed they were safer driving drunk than they were driving sober. The truth is they just didn't realize how dangerous their driving was because they were so out of it!

People who text and drive are not aware of how dangerous their driving is because they're not even paying attention! You don't notice that you just ran a red light, because everybody else in the cross street slammed on their brakes as you plowed on through. You don't notice that you've drifted halfway into the next lane over, and the driver in that lane had to take evasive action to avoid the collision.

I see this stuff all the time in the Bay Area - drivers (all of them above average, I'm sure) who barely avoid killing somebody and don't even realize that they were just inches from a major accident. I wonder how many of these hit and runs of cyclists and pedestrians are motorists who blithely run over somebody without realizing it and then puzzle over the body damage on their car a week later. They probably assume they were the victim of a parking lot scrape.

In case you haven't heard, studies reveal that texting is at least as dangerous as driving drunk.
  • Car & Driver did a comparison, and saw reaction times while texting are worse than driving over the limit.
  • University of Utah found texting is more dangerous than DUI. And that same study shows that texting is even more dangerous than talking.
  • Motorists who text while driving are six times more likely to crash than those who don't. If you believe you're a safe driver while texting, you're lying to yourself.
  • If you believe your youth is an advantage, watch this video of teens, "very experienced texters," who crashed their cars in a driving simulator. Sadly, the teens participating in the study still believe they can get away with text while driving. "Usually I have enough time to react, so I'm not worried about it."

  • Here's a bus driver in San Antonio who rear ended an SUV while texting. [Caution: He says a lot of very naughty words.] I don't know how old driver Adrian Perez is, but I'm guessing he's under 30. Adrian is the reason truck and bus drivers are now banned from texting while on the job.

  • I know graphic "scared straight" presentations are ineffective -- the people (and by "the people" what I really mean is "you") who this is targeted to don't think this applies to them (when I write "them" what I really mean is "you") -- but I'll post this one from the UK anyway. This isn't the complete video but I can't find the rest of the series at the moment.

  • You probably are not an above average driver.
  • You are not as safe as you think you are when you text

HTH. I need to run and cook dinner now (I'm typing this up on Thursday night) so I don't have time to elaborate on why this is so important to cyclists. Please feel free to comment with your own thoughts, experiences with near hits, and news local to you where a cyclist was killed or maimed by a texting driver.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Health insurance choices and cycling

Healthnet Cycling Jersey I begin new employment next Monday, and my my new employer offers a choice of health plans through three different providers: Health Net, United Healthcare, and Kaiser Permanente.

Each of these health insurance companies have slightly different features: HMO vs PPO, physician and facility locations, my out of pocket expense (premiums, copays and deductibles) and so forth. I'll pretend that corporate sponsorship of professional cycling will also fit into my decision.

Health Net sponsored a U.S. professional cycling team for six years with Maxxis, supporting a number of young American (US and Canadian) cyclists. Tyler Farrar got his professional start with Health Net. Other familiar names who raced for this team include John Murphy, Rory Sutherland, Jeff Louder and Ryder Jesjedal. The team consistently won races in the USA Cycling race calendar.

United Healthcare Cycling Team

When Health Net dropped out of cycling in 2008, their team became Teach OUCH for a while, and this year United Healthcare picked up sponsorship. The 2010 UHC-Maxxis team are Rory Sutherland, Bradley White, Roman Kilun, Karl Menzies, Andrew Pinfold, Tim Johnson and Chris Baldwin. Besides a number of USA Cycling Races throughout North America, UHC will race in the Tour of California coming up this May.

Kaiser Permanente seems to be a little more low key and local in their sponsorship, supporting a handful of club and shop teams such as Team Oakland and local community events like the The Moonlight Classic night time bike ride coming up this July in Denver, Colorado. Besides that, I think their advertising showing cycling as a positive, mainstream activity and mode of transportation absolutely rules.

If all other things are equal (and they're not at all), which corporate sponsorship do you like the best? Health Net's record of professional cycling in the past, UHC's current sponsorship, or Kaiser Permanente's "feel good" local support of events and clubs?

Bicycle Philosophy

If this isn't on that list of pithy quotes about bicycles by famous people, it should be.

"Nothing motivates me to ride like a new set of wheels."

That, and a cool new jersey. I'll see you after lunch.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dear Kate: Use a skirt clip

Actress Kate Hudson struggles to stay covered as her dress billows while she rides an Electra Super Deluxe bicycle.

Kate Hudson bicycle skirt filming

She needs to take a tip from my pal Reese and use a garter with a clip to keep her skirt in place.

The big pole sticking out front holds a camera that's pointed right at her face. She was filming a cycling scene for a new movie "Earthbound" in New Orleans the other week. The Daily Mail has more photos and commentary.

Kate also appears riding this Electra bicycle in the February 8 issue of Star magazine.

Kate Hudson bicycle dress

2010 Tour of California: Tunitas Creek, La Honda, and Bonny Doon

Stage 3 Route: San Francisco to Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz race to end at Beach Boardwalk.

The pro cyclists racing in the 2010 Tour of California will enjoy some of the best road cycling in the Bay Area when they ride the signature climbs of San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties on May 12.

The race will start at 11:15 AM on Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Assuming the highway hasn't washed into the Pacific Ocean by then, the racers cycle south on Highway 1, hanging a left after Half Moon Bay to climb Tunitas Creek Road and past the Tunitas Creek Bike Hut in a near carbon copy of the 2009 Stage 2. After skirting past the bicycle friendly community of Woodside, they ride past La Honda and Pescadero as they return to the Coast Highway.

Another climb up Bonny Doon Road south of Davenport takes the cyclists into the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains, before the cyclists turn onto Empire Grade Road for the thrilling, 60+ mph descent past the UCSC campus into Santa Cruz. Here's the view coming down Empire Grade.

Unlike last year, the racers will continue straight on Bay Street to West Cliff Drive for a finish at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which will be really cool, I think. Local Santa Cruz organizers were concerned about the railroad tracks in the street next to the Boardwalk, so I'm glad they have something worked out for this.


Fort Worth Bike Plan approved

Ft Worth bicycle advocates are excited about the city council's unanimous approval of a bike plan that will radically expand the bike infrastructure. This north central Texas city of 700,000 sprawled over 300 square miles in Tarrant, Wise, Parker and Denton Counties plans to expand the bike network 10 fold and otherwise work to encourage bike use.

As Kevin Buchanan of Forthworthology reports:
At last night’s Fort Worth City Council meeting, a mass of bicyclists turned out in support of the Bike Fort Worth plan, which the council would be voting on adopting and implementing. Groups from the newly formed Bike Friendly Fort Worth, the Fort Worth Bicycling Association, and the LMRA Bicycle Club joined individual supporters to express their enthusiasm over the proposal. Supporters took many forms, male and female, from the hipsters to the sports riders to daily commuters to families with kids.

The plan received enthusiastic endorsement from the council, especially Councilmembers Joel Burns and Carter Burdette. Finally, Mayor Moncrief also spoke out strongly in favor of the plan, saying that Fort Worth deserves real transportation alternatives.

The Fort Worth City Council unanimously voted to approve and implement the ambitious Bike Fort Worth bicycle transportation plan. After the vote, there was a standing ovation from the entire council chamber.
Read the details at Forthworthology: City Council unanimously approves Bike Fort Worth plan.

Besides radically expanding the miles of bike lanes and bike paths, some of the more important and useful aspects of the new Ft Worth Bike Plan include:

  • Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Program will be created in city government to manage implementation of the bike plan. The city will also designate a Bicycle Coordinator. A citizen Bicycle Advisory Committee will be the liaison providing input to city government on cyclist needs.
  • Bike Fort Worth website will be created for a one stop shop on bicycling resources in Ft Worth.
  • Plan performance will be measured through bicycle traffic counts, opinion surveys, and counting miles of paint and pavement.
  • Bicycle crash data: Bike Plan planners received data from the Ft Worth police on bike crashes, but discovered the data was incomplete and useless for planning purposes. Policies will be changed to provide better, more complete information on bicycle street safety.
  • Traffic signals: Calibrate signals to detect bikes, road markings directing cyclists to the location of loop detectors, and green phase timing lengthened to give cyclists enough time to cross an intersection.
  • Bridge design guidelines requiring wide outside lanes when the bridge is one "a proposed bikeway."
  • Bicycle Parking: Bike racks should accommodate "U" locks and provide two points of contact for a bike frame. Ribbon racks are discouraged. New city government office construction will incorporate bike parking in the design, and showers & lockers will also be designed into new government buildings. Planning & Zoning codes will be modified to include requirements for bike parking in new developments (currently, Ft Worth has no bike parking requirements in the city code).
  • Bicycle safety education: The city will encourage the school districts serving city residents to provide bike safety education for children. Safe Routes to School program participation will be expanded. A bike map with safety information will be printed. The city will promote bicycling for transportation through events. (Sadly, the onus seems to be on the cyclists to stay safe; there's no mention in the plan on educating motorists on their responsbilities.)
  • Enforcement: Better enforcement of speed limits, red lights, wrong way riding, and reckless driving & riding. Police will be trained on "the rights and responsibilities of cyclists and motorists." Police will also receive training on common bike / car crash types, and given guidance on crash reports so more detailed data analysis can be done.
  • Proposed new traffic ordinances include 3 foot passing law, anti dooring law (What?! Texas already doesn't have a law like this? It's in the Uniform Vehicle Code.) No parking in bike lanes. Specific prohibitions on right hook and left cross crashes. Ban sidewalk riding in high pedestrian traffic zones.
  • Bike fleet for city staff use.
You can read the entire Forth Worth Bike Plan here.

Road Rage Karma: The Sequel

Remember a couple of weeks ago when the impatient motorist honked at the lane taking cyclist, and the cyclist turns out to be a police officer? Something like that happened as well in in the UK.
A road rage teenage driver repeatedly targeted a cyclist and left him fearing for his life.

Nine times [18 year old Benjamin Harrison] almost mowed down [cyclist Martin] Melvin, aiming for him on the pavement, striking his handle-bars, forcing him off his bike into trees, threatening to kill him and hurling stones and coins at him.

The victim had no escape route and had no choice but to continue his journey on the almost deserted road, the court heard.

The cyclist in this case happened to be police inspector Martin Melvin, who was cycling home from his job at the Burnley police station last summer. He reported the assailant's car registration information. When Harrison was arrested at his parents' home, he asked the arresting officers, “Can I not just apologise?”

Benjamin Harrison's sentence: Nine months in jail, suspended for two years, with 12 months supervision and 100 hours unpaid work. He was banned from driving for two years and must pay £750 costs.

Read more in the Lancashire Telegraph: Burnley road rage teen targeted cycling police chief, via the informative and amusing Treadly and Me.

See also UK CTC encourages cyclists to report bad drivers.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Jennifer's 15 minutes of fame

Props to her: she made the front page of the Chicago Tribute (online edition) because she rides her bike in the snow, although she's not quite sure what to think of it.

Tour of Qatar Stage 3

Tour of Qatar cycling race

Three time Tour of Qatar winner Tom Boonen (Quickstep) took the podium for the third stage outside of Doha, the capital of Qatar.

Tour of Qatar cycling race

Boonen reportedly hit 72.8 km/hr (45 mph!) in the sprint finish, which he said was one of the fastest of his career. That incredible speed enabled him to edge ahead of Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo Test Team) and Baden Cooke (Team Saxo Bank).

The top American in the field today was Taylor Phinney of the Trek-Livestrong development team. Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) finished 9th, John Murphy of BMC came in 13th. Other American finishers are Justin Williams (Trek-Livstrong), Ben King (Trek-Livestrong), Jackson Stewart (BMC), Julian Kyer (Trek-Livestrong) and Danny Pate (Garmin-Transitions).

In the GC, Boonen holds 3rd place, nearly 2 minutes behind yellow jersey wearer Wouter Mol of Vacansoleil Cycling.


* Gulf Times: Boonen takes third stage of Tour of Qatar.

* Cycling News: Tour of Qatar Stage 3 results.

Scotts Valley Mountain Charlie Challenge

The annual "Mountain Charlie Challenge" pledge ride the big fund raisers for the schools in my town, Scotts Valley, CA, through the Scotts Valley Educational Fund (SVEF).

The event offers you a choice of 100K or 50K routes. Both rides start and end at Skypark in Scotts Valley. The 100K Metric Century (62 miles) climbs to the summit of the Santa Cruz Mountains via Mountain Charlie Road, winds through wineries and beautiful redwoods, then travels through Corralitos, Aptos, Santa Cruz then up Branciforte Road for the return to Scotts Valley.

Mountain Charlie's Cabin The 50K Half Century (32 miles) has less challenging climbs and travels through the redwoods, has a rest top at a vineyard, continues on to Aptos and returns to Scotts Valley.

Both routes offer beautiful scenery, ride support, lunch and refreshments. The rides are followed by a family luncheon at Skypark with great music.

The ride takes place Saturday, April 24, 2010. Registration check-in starts at 7:00 a.m. for both routes. The 100K mass start is at 8:00 a.m. with a second start at 8:15 a.m. for the 50k.

To register, print and sign the registration form and this liability waiver. The SVEF also seeks sponsorship and volunteers; click here for details.

Trivia: "Mountain Charlie" is not a mountain, but the nickname of Charles Henry McKiernan (Think "Grizzly Adams"). Charlie was one of the earliest European residents of the Santa Cruz summit area. He's most famous for surviving an attack by a California brown bear in 1854. The grizzly crushed his skull, but another hunter got help for Mountain Charlie, and he would eventually marry the woman who nursed him back to health. California grizzlies were extinct in the Santa Cruz mountains within 40 years, and extinct from the state (and the world) by 1920.

Mountain Charlie cut a track from Los Gatos to Santa Cruz; the portion from a bit north of the summit down to Scotts Valley would become the McKiernan Toll Road, and his cabin at the summit became a stage coach stop. The 7 mile portion of that road which still exists is now "Mountain Charlie Road" -- a rough, steep, poorly maintained single lane road that roughly parallels Highway 17 from north of Scotts Valley, across the summit (where it crosses Highway 17) and down to Old Santa Cruz Highway.

Mountain Charlie Road

Ascending on Mt Charlie Road (like the SVEF Mountain Charlie Challenge) is a pretty decent ride; the road is so bumpy that descending isn't too fun. Here's what the road looks like from my bike:

Another Mountain Charlie Panda Portrait

2010 Tour of California Stage 2: Davis to Santa Rosa

The 2010 Davis to Santa Rosa stage is an almost carbon copy of the 2009 Stage until the 70 mile point, when the racers will veer south after Deer Park into Napa Valley, taking the race through some of more well known Napa Valley vineyards along the Silverado Trail.

Another big difference will be the weather -- last year, huge crowds turned out in the Platinum-level bicycle friendly city of Davis and in Santa Rosa, in spite of the cruddy weather.

The route from Davis to Santa Rosa will provide plenty of scenic settings for both the cyclists and spectators. The route includes evenly spaced climbs throughout the stage and spectacular views.

After 20 miles of flat roads, the riders will meet their first climb up a short, but steep section leading up to the Monticello Dam. This short climb is followed quickly by the difficult “Cardiac Hill”. Another long, flat section along Lake Berryessa will take the riders to their third climb up Howell Mountain Rd., followed by a fast descent into Napa Valley.

After one final climb up the Oakville Grade and a steep descent down Trinity Grade, the cyclists will finish the race in Santa Rosa. Race organizers continue to include the city of Santa Rosa because the locals consistently show up with a great turnout and rapid enthusiasm for the race and other related events.


* Santa Rosa organizing committee @ Twitter.
* Davis Tour of California @ Twitter.
* Keep the Tour Santa Rosa.
* 2010 Stage 2 Map
* 2010 Stage 2 Elevation Profile.
* 2010 Amgen Tour of California Stage 2 description and details.

2010 Amgen Tour of California Stage 1 details

The Amgen Tour of California route details are being posted this week, with Stages 1 and 2 announced this morning.

Stage 1 - Nevada City to Sacramento

The 2010 Amgen Tour of California will begin with the first-ever visit to the picturesque town of Nevada City, CA, which will also be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Nevada City Classic.

From there the race will head south en route to Sacramento, and will travel through Grass Valley and Old Town in Auburn. Heading out of Auburn, the cyclists will cross over the Auburn-Foresthill Bridge – the tallest bridge in California and the third highest in the U.S.

The cyclists will begin at an elevation of over 2,500 feet and descend to nearly sea level in Sacramento. The mostly downhill stage interrupted by a handful of climbs (including a 1,000' climb from Auburn to Cool, CA) which will favor the sprinters.

Sacramento streets will once again see the teams finish their 104 mile race with three fast circuits around the State's Capitol building.

I already have a couple of viewing locations planned for this stage. What are you suggestions?

* Stage 1 Map.
* Stage 1 Elevation Profile.
* Amgen Tour of California Stage 1 description and details.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Make a Valentine heart from a bicycle chain

Make a Valentine out of Bicycle Chain


Link Love

A few goodies to check out this week:

* Calgary Tour du Nuit Society is " voice for commuter cycling in Calgary."

* Dan the Bike Man is car free in Oakland, California. Nice stuff at his blog!

* Kendra is a Girl On a Bike in Berkeley, California.

2010 Tour of Qatar

Tour of Qatar cycling race

Katusha team riders cycle past a mosque during the first stage time trial of the Tour of Qatar cycling race, around the West Bay Lagoon in Doha, Qatar, 07 February 2010.

Tour of Qatar cycling race

Quickstep team rider Tom Boonen of Belgium leads a second breakaway during the second stage of the Tour of Qatar cycling race, between the Camel Race Track and Qatar Foundation near Doha, Qatar, 08 February 2010. Topsport team rider Geert Steurs of Belgium won the stage.

Tour of Qatar cycling race

Topsport team rider Geert Steurs (L) of Belgium celebrates as he crosses the finish line ahead of Vacansoleil team rider Wouter Mol of the Netherlands to win the second stage of the Tour of Qatar cycling race, between the Camel Race Track and Qatar Foundation near Doha, Qatar, 08 February 2010.

The 2010 Tour of Qatar began yesterday (or two days ago, depending on your time zone) and continues through the end of this week, with 16 teams competing. USA viewing options are limited (which is a polite way of writing almost non existent), with a one hour show on Versus almost two weeks from now on Sunday, February 21.

The current monarch, Amir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, began the Tour the Qatar in 2002, one year after overthrowing dear old dad in a coup. The emirate boasts wide, smooth roads that are great for cycling on, and the flat terrain favors sprinters.

Steve @ Steephill.TV is doing is usual fine job of posting race results and news links of the Tour of Qatar at his site.

Vancouver vs the NFL vs Cycling

I thought I'd see how many NFL doping stories there were over the past week versus how many doping stories related to the 2010 Winter Olympics were posted to the news.

NFL Doping Feb 1 - Feb 7 2010: about 164 stories.

Vancouver Doping Feb 1 - Feb 7 2010: about 2,870 stories.

If you're curious about cycling: 284 hits from this past week for "armstrong doping" and 529 hits for "cycling doping. Even tour de france doping has 536 hits, and that event is five months away.

Some people accuse editors, journalists and bloggers of soft pedaling the doping issue in professional cycling, but in American football nobody is even asking the question.

(I ran these searches Sunday night - some of the values might have changed by the time you read this post).

Snow bicycle

Parked bikes at the King Street Metro Station in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia over the weekend.

Historic snow storm hits Atlantic Coast

Kabul, Afghanistan doesn't have quite as much snow on the ground as the two feet dumped on in the DC area. This cyclist rides past the destroyed Darul-Aman palace in Kabul.

Snow Falls In Kabul

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sun Tools

Sun Microsystems made puns using the Sun name for several internal tools and programs. Here are some that come to mind; I'm sure there are others.

* Sun TEA (travel expense authorization)
* Sun TAN (old name for a training program)
* SunWay (the shuttle service)
* SunScreen (background checks)
* Sun Spot
* Sun LAMP (loaner equipment for demos)
* SunDial (HR help desk)

Anybody who spent any time at all with Sun Microsystems will remember at least a couple of these.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

55 mph highway & taking the lane

Those around the US westEAST coast: I hope you're enjoying the snow! Shoot your snow biking photos my way (links to Flickr or other photo sharing site) and I'll post them on Monday.

This is cool: The cyclist takes the lane on a 55 mph divided 4 lane highway with 12 foot lanes and 8 foot shoulders.

Discussion at Commute Orlando: Mythbusters on Highway 535.
To accuse a cyclist of being militant, selfish or rude for riding in the lane is nothing more than car-centric bias assuming the bicycle driver is of lesser status than the motor vehicle driver — especially in context of how easy it is to see and safely pass a cyclist.

Those of us who choose to ride in the lane vs the shoulder do not insist that others make the same choice if they are not comfortable with it. We simply provide information to allow others to make the choice based on something more than knee-jerk fear of the unknown. The only thing we insist upon is protecting our right to ride in the part of the road where we feel safest and most comfortable.

Yikes! Cyclists have been fighting shoulder rumble strips for years, so why do people like these wheel diverters all of a sudden?

Friday, February 5, 2010

POM Wonderful and the plague of locusts in my home

POM Wonderful sent a sample of their Pomegranate juice for me to review. I usually like to take a photo of the product I review, but here's all the plague of locusts in my home (aka my teen son and growing daughter) left me with.


Ah well. I've seen the cute little bottles at the grocery store, but I've always thought "Pomegranate? Bleh!" POM makes claims about the antioxidant content and they like to brag about the tens of millions of dollars in scientific research that shows the health benefits of drinking POM. But if it doesn't taste good, what good does it do? The stuff is pricey, and I'm generally skeptical of superfood health claims.

I took a swig of POM's juice (100%, no sugar or other ingredients added) and it's actually pretty good. It's tart and sweet, reminiscent of cranberry juice but not quite as strongly flavored (in my opinion -- other reviewers say the flavor is stronger!)

Don't take my word for it, though: see what my children did! They don't care about POM Wonderful's sponsorship of Garmin - Transitions Cycling Team, or that their fruit is all grown here in California, their local manufacturing and bottling operations, or the antioxidant content. They just like the flavor and they're asking me to buy more at the store.

POM Wonderful is available pretty much everywhere you can buy refrigerated juices, at least here in California. POM Wonderful's pomegranate juice are generally available larger bottles. Some of the flavor combinations with Kiwi, Mango, Blueberry and Cherry seem especially intriguing to me.

More information at POM Wonderful.

Bicyclist vs animal

The California Highway Patrol incident reports are maddeningly short on details, providing just a tantalizing hint of information. Take this report last night in Orange County, for example. I've translated some of the abbreviations and codes to English language and put the dispatches in chronological order.

2/4/2010 9:28:47 PM


The dispatch says "Santa Ana" but Weir Canyon Rd and the Riverside Freeway are actually in Anaheim (I think). "Santa Ana" is the local highway patrol office. "Station 17" is presumably the local fire department.

Huff Post: Bike Lanes

Huffington Post featured a Bike Lanes Around the World slideshow yesterday. If you read Cyclelicious and Copenhagenize (or similar bike blogs), you've likely seen all of these illustrations already.

Avoid the comments -- even at the left leaning Huff Post, there are depressing attacks on "smug" cyclists. *sigh*

Good Times sez "Kick the habit"

Pledge to try commute alternatives for a chance to win prizes!

I sat down in my local coffee shop with a copy of Good Times, one of the weeklies published in Santa Cruz, California. The cover story, Kick The Habit, gives commute alternatives for those who live in Santa Cruz.

Good Times: Kick the habit

Elizabeth Limbach writes about the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission's Commute Solutions program, which was formed 30 years ago to encourage residents to use modes of transportation besides the single occupant vehicle. She points to carpool resources (mostly 511 ride matching) and carpool success stories.

Limbach writes about her surprise in finding that her three mile trip from work to home can be faster on bike than with her car, mentioning the work of Ecology Action and People Power. She quotes Eco Action's Piet Canin, who says the bike commute share in Santa Cruz is now at 9.3%, according to the US Census American Community Survey. This is more than double the 4% bike commute share seen in Santa Cruz in Y2K.

Finally, she writes about the Santa Cruz Metro bus system, including the Highway 17 bus that I ride "over the hill" to San Jose most days of the week.

One option she forgot to mention is telework or "working from home." A lot of my job involves lab work and face to face meetings and collaborating with colleagues, but with planning I can often arrange to work from home once or twice per week. Lately, I've seen a pickup truck parked at the summit of Highway 17 advertising The Satellite, a telework center in Felton with locations opening "soon" in Aptos, Santa Cruz, and Scotts Valley.

Good Times: Kick The Habit. The Feb 4 issue also includes Commute Solutions, a "resource for sustainable transportation options" in Santa Cruz County. If you make The Commuter Pledge, Good Times will enter you in a drawing for prizes including dinner for two, bus passes, and bike locker "ParkCards."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Rumble strips, Amish buggies, and road taxes

Unbelievable -- some stingy residents in St. Joseph County, Michigan say the Amish shouldn't have a say in how road maintenance is done because they don't pay road taxes and vehicle registration fees. State fuel and vehicle registration taxes cover 57% of the Michigan Department of Transportation budget. This is, of course, immaterial regarding access -- public roads are open to the public, no matter your ability to pay, and all stakeholders should be considered in road design.

(If the video doesn't work, you can read some of the edited text here.)

Cyclists are often opposed to rumble strips because of the hazard they pose. I once nearly killed myself when I drifted left to avoid trash in the shoulder and into the nearly invisible rumble strips alongside US Highway 66 near Lyons, Colorado. The Amish in Michigan don't like them because rumble strips are positioned perfectly for the left buggy wheel, resulting in a very unpleasant ride.

Via Spokes Rider and RJ on the CABO discussion list.

Big Basin General Plan Open House

Via Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz...

TONIGHT - Big Basin General Plan Open House in Los Gatos. Fisher Middle School Library, 19195 Fisher Avenue, Los Gatos, CA. 6:30 PM to 9 PM. More info at Big Basin General Plan website. Big Basin is the oldest state park in the system yet it doesn't have a
general plan.

Currently, there is no legal way to bike from the coast to park headquarters via off road trails. One of the draft plan options proposes "a continuous trail from the ridge tops to the coast (outside of the wilderness) for bicycle access to natural areas and scenic points of interest."

Another Big Basin General Plan Open House takes place Saturday, February 6, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Felton, CA at the Felton Community Hall, 6191 Highway 9.

According to MBoSC president Mark Davidson, "We should emphasize that mountain bikers desire connections to regional trails, parks and roads. We would like to have a way to get to the park headquarters from the coast and a LEGAL off road route from the
(Santa Clara) Valley to the coast via Big Basin."

"Big Basin is too remote from large population areas to get the same sort of trail density as in Santa Cruz. Legal riding in Big Basin would tend to skew towards the epic XC, cyclocross, explorer, and adventure tourists rather than the gravity crowd."

Bicycle palliative

Those who follow me on Facebook know that I was diagnosed with "optic neuritis" yesterday. This is an inflammation of the optic nerve, and I tell you it hurts like a banshee at times.

Pain killers don't do a thing for it. Closing my eyes is useless. The only thing I've found so far to alleviate the pain is cycling. When I'm riding my bike, the stabbing pain behind my left eye completely goes away, and the relief lasts for a couple of hours after I stop riding. It's pretty awesome; yet another reason to ride my bike!

The gorier details: I starting having the worst headaches of my life about a week ago. Yesterday morning, I noticed vision in my left eye was degraded (!). Alarmed, I called my optometrist so he could tell me not to worry, but he responded with alarm as well and instructed me to come in immediately. After I biked to my eye doctor, he looked at my retinas, did the RedCap Test, and visual field testing. Diagnosis: inflammation of the optic nerve and edema of the optic disk, making my blind spot about double its normal size.

My optometrist referred me to an ophthalmologist (an M.D. specialized in the eyes), so I biked to his office where he did Exactly The Same Tests and pronounced Exactly The Same Diagnosis.

Several people have already asked (and I did as well): This is not related to the car crash the other week. Eye trauma doesn't cause optic nerve inflammation. The ophthalmologist I saw says he thinks it related to my sinusitus, but to rule out stuff like multiple sclerosis I'm getting an MRI scan this afternoon.

Aside: My optometrist and the ophthalmologist are both cycling enthusiasts. The ophthalmologist, Dr. Jonathan Cress in Santa Cruz, crashed his bike a few years ago and damaged his neck. His physician told him he couldn't bike anymore, but Cress told me, "Give up biking?! That's #****n nuts! I can't do that." He rides a recumbent these days.

Another aside: Multiple sclerosis is the disease that Sheldon Brown succumbed to in the final years of his life. Yesterday was the anniversary of Sheldon Brown's death.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sesame Street: How we get to school

"My man Sam always rides his bike."

(On Hulu. Sorry Illinois and other locations outside the USA).

Hit by a car

I need to remember that not everybody who regularly follows this blog also follows me on Facebook, Flickr or Twitter. If you haven't already heard, I was hit by a car a couple of Fridays ago. It hurt and put a nice gash in my upper lip. Here I am still smiling before the pain sets in.

Post Crash Panda

Since somebody's going to ask: The bike is mostly fine, and in fact I rode the same bike the following morning with the Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz for their Saturday ride at Wilder Ranch the very next morning. The black stitches in my swollen face adds cred to my mad shredder mountain biker look, I'm sure, though I had to quit the ride early because, honestly, getting hit by a car really takes it out of a guy, especially at my age.

I was well lit with multiple bright lights (steady and blinking), but I was invisible to Bridgett in her little black Nissan. She turned into me in a class left cross collision. She called me four or five times Friday night telling me how awful she felt, but confessed to me, "I didn't see you at all!" I saw her just fine, especially as she swerved toward me and all I saw were her headlights, and then stars and whistling birds.

This is my second left cross. The first happened when I was a teen, and the driver didn't see me. I went up and over the hood, slammed the windshield, then rolled off and landed on my feet. The bike was crushed under the car.

My second collision with a car occurred when the driver blew through a stop sign in Wichita Falls, Texas and sideswiped me -- the driver didn't see me and didn't even realize she hit me until I got up, chased her down and caught her at her destination down the street. The responding police officer declined to even take a report and he let me know I was wasting his time. Grrr...

The common factor in those collisions, if you haven't noticed it yet, is "I didn't see you!" Actually, in each of those cases the driver was maneuvering too quickly for conditions and not paying while turning, but you get the point. Cycling lawyer Rick Bernardi discusses this common excuse when cyclists are hit.

How about you? Have you been hit by a car? And did the driver say, "I didn't see you"?

(Don't forget: California Highway Patrol bike incidents here.)

High school physics and bicycling

Teacher Luther Davis III plans to cycle 140 miles tomorrow, all inside of his high school physics classroom in Lake Mary, Florida while teaching the principles of physics to his students.

He'll ride on home made rollers while explaining momentum, balance, work, power, energy dynamics and other principles of classical mechanics.

He plans to use PowerPoint and video excerpts in addition to his anecdotal knowledge to convey lessons while he rides. When asked if the teaching will make him more tired, Davis says, "Yea maybe, but, I'll be sharing physics with every exhale, it'll be more efficient that way!"

"Luther Davis III" is a perfect name for an evil genius bent on dominating the world, and this video shows he already has his adoring legion of minions willing to obey his every command.

Besides world domination, Davis hopes to raise awareness for cycling in Florida and an upcoming Tour de Cure ride.

Learn more at Davis's Cycling Physics web page. Via WIRED Magazine.

Singlespeed bikes: Illegal death traps?

These bikes may be illegal to sell in the United States! Do you see the problem with these production bikes? See if you can find it before I give it away below the photos.

Swobo Del Norte

Erin on the Swobo Del Norte

Spot Brand 29er

Spot brand 29er with belt drive

Cayne Uno

Cayne Uno

Strida 5.0

Look, Ma! No seatpost!

Bianchi San Jose

Katie and her Bianchi San Jose

Cannondale Hooligan

Vajda and his Cannondale Hooligan

This belt drive singlespeed from Lynskey, however, is perfectly legit.

Lynskey titanium singlespeed mountain bike with BELT DRIVE

This Trek District is also legal.

Trek District -- belt drive bike

This Bianchi Pista is probably legal to sell.

Bianchi Pista at San Jose Diridon Station

Have you spotted the problem, yet?

In the United States, the Consumer Product Safety Commission produces the regulations for bicycle safety. Any bike sold here must meet the standards published under the Requirements for Bicycles. These regulations are the reason every bike must be sold with a pie plate spoke protector, reflectors, brakes, instruction manuals, and warning stickers cautioning owners not to overtighten the handlebar stem.

Chainguards required

Chainguards are a requirement for "bicycles having a single front sprocket and a single rear sprocket." That seems to mean that every singlespeed bike and every bike with internal hub gearing -- including that sweet singlespeed 29er, your urban fixed gear tarck bike, and the very useful Strida folding bike with belt drive -- is required by Federal law to be sold with a chainguard.

This standard dates back 1973, when the nascent CPSC identified the bicycle as the Number One health threat to children (no kidding!). If the CPSC narratives can be believed, one problem is the little darlings apparently kept jamming their foot into the chain, wrecking the bike and injuring themselves in the process. John Forester, among others, has expressed his disdain for CPSC accident investigations.

The CPSC only regulates the sale of new bikes. You can modify it however you want after the sale, which is why so many people remove the dork disk spoke protector and reflectors from their derailleur bikes after purchase.


What about the Lynskey, the Trek District, and the Bianchi Pista? Why don't those bikes break the law?

The Lynskey is a custom made, built to order bicycle. "One of a kind" bikes like the Lynskey are specifically exempted from CPSC bicycle regulations.

If you look close at Trek's district, you'll see a little vestigial chainguard that likely meets the minimal requirements for a chainguard.

Finally, the Bianchi Pista is a real track bike, meant for racing on the velodrome. "Track bicycles designed and intended for competition that have tubular tires, a single crank–to-wheel ratio and no freewheeling feature are exempt," according to the CPSC regs. I put that bike under "maybe" because the Pista is spec'd with clinchers, not tubulars, but the CPSC fails to define "tubular tires" in their regs so maybe Bianchi and every other track bike vendor can get away with this.

Okay. So what?

This doesn't directly affect us as consumers. The CPSC rules are only for those in the bike supply chain. If the CPSC ever decides to enforces this chainguard rule, it will increase costs for the bike companies that will probably be passed on to you. The chance of a product recall affecting singlespeed mountain bikes seems silly, but the CPSC forced Cannondale to issue a recall last year when Cannondale forgot to include spoke protectors on some of their road bikes.

Maybe the bike companies are working behind the scenes to update the CPSC regulations. When the chainguard requirement was written in 1973, children bikes weren't equipped with derailluers, while adult bikes generally were. I imagine the rationale was that adults typically know better than to stick small appendages into moving bike parts. Simple adult "city" bikes and singlespeed mountain bikes are big categories these days, and the increasing popularity of belt drives reduces much of the need for a chain guard.

What do you think? Should the bike industry push the CPSC to modify their regulations? Or should they continue to operate on the down low and hope the Feds continue to ignore them?

Photo credit: Trek District photo courtesy Mark Stevenson aka Guitar Ted; Lynskey courtesy Lynskey Performance Designs. All other photos Richard Masoner.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cadel Evans in town

Check it out: Cadel Evans was riding in Palo Alto this morning around Woodside on Alpine and Portola.

Murph had his almost encounter with the world champion cyclist but missed out because he believes all motorists are out to git him.

Cadel was also in my town of Scotts Valley this afternoon, but I missed out because I was hard at work and not paying any attention to cycling tweets. Scotts Valley is home to Team BMC sponsor Easton Cycling / Bell Helmets / Giro.

Los Gatos cyclist fatality: Driver arrested

Kevin Derr, the driver who killed cyclist Joshua West yesterday morning in Los Gatos, California, was arrested, Los Gatos police announced today. Details in the Mercury News and NBC Bay Area.

H/T to Rick Warner.

Tuesday bike news

I wasn't able to make it to the Titus mountain bike demo last weekend in Santa Cruz. When I got hit by the car the other week, my eyeglasses were smashed to bits. I haven't been able to find my backup specs, so I went up to San Francisco to visit Optical Underground.

My buddy Erik, though, made it to Delaveaga Park and tried out his first 29er -- the Titus RockStar. You can read his impressions here.

Cycle & Style: Women are better cyclists.

Suicide machine?

Transit's Zoom Woosh problem. <-- Interesting read.

Did I already post this link? " Tyler Strandberg of Rocky Mount has a hard time getting her mind off her BlackBerry when she drives. She has crashed three cars in the past three years. Each time, she was distracted from her driving because she was typing text messages or talking on the phone.

Greater Greater Washington: 12 ways our region could reform bicycling laws.

Chris: Bicycles & Business Design.

SF Bay Guardian on SF Critical Mass and Gascon's review.

Los Gatos, CA: A cyclist was killed Monday morning after he was struck by a Chevy Blazer. The motorist, who somehow rolled his SUV in a 30 mph zone and damaged several street signs and the signal lights, was hospitalized. A witness reports the motorist was driving at a high speed and passing stopped traffic on the right.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sesame Street: The Land of B

Things with B are really grand! We ride in buses, we ride on bikes and bananas are the food that everybody likes!

Peugeot: Why do they do that?

You might have seen Bike Rumor's post on Peugeot's futuristic concept bike. Peugeot hasn't sold bikes in years, but the brand still holds cachet with many Europeans. A European cycling company has licensed the name and will sell Peugeot branded bikes through car dealerships and bike retailers in Europe. This 2010 relaunch of Peugeot bikes is done to celebrate the company's 200th anniversary.

The actual bikes for sale include very utilitarian models like this city bike.

Why are Peugeot designers also releasing unworkable concept sketches like this B1K that seems more at home in a sci fi movie than on an urban street? James at Bicycle Design provides some interesting insight from a designer's perspective:
Concept designs like this do serve a real purpose for designers. Cutting loose a bit and creating something that is purely conceptual from time to time helps to inspire the design team and "keep the creative juices flowing". That creative energy can translate to a really nice, and saleable, product line down the road if the company chooses to puts the resources in place for the product development team to succeed.
Read more at Bicycle Design.

California Highway Patrol bicycle incidents

The California Highway Patrol posts traffic incident dispatches to the web. A while ago I wrote a script to filter out incidents involving bikes or bicycles, and I finally modified this script to save each bike incident to a web page.

You'll see a few false positives involving motorcycles, and most of the 'bike incidents' seem to be either "1125 - Traffic Hazard" or "Pedestrian in Roadway" when a motorist reports a cyclist somewhere. Still, there are a fair number of "TC" (Traffic Collision) and "Ambulance Responding" incidents.

You can view the list of bike incidents here. If you want to follow this in (near) real time, each new incident is tweeted to @CHPBIKE on Twitter.

If you have suggestions on ways to improve this, I'm all ears. Already on my TODO list:
  • Create separate monthly index pages.
  • Hover over CHP "10 codes" and jargon so you can see what it means. For example, "XRAY" means "female"; 1097 just means they showed up; JSO = "Just South Of."
  • Replace Dispatch Center code with English language. For example, OCCC is "Orange County."
  • Instead of listing incident number in the link tag, I'll put the incident type so you can quickly ignore "Traffic Hazard" and "Pedestrian On Roadway" type incidents if you want to, instead of requiring you to link through.
  • In addition to the Twitter feed, I might create an RSS feed as well (though the Twitter feed already has an RSS feed built in *shrug*.

It's important to note that this only captures incidents reported to the California Highway Patrol. Incidents handled by the local police, such as this morning's cycling fatality in Los Gatos, will not generally be visible here.

Danilo DiLuca suspended

Danilo Di Luca was suspended and fined by the Italian Olympic Committee. Di Luca tested positive for EPO after the 2009 Giro D'Italia, in which he placed second behind Denis Menchov. This is the second suspension of his career.

More --> Bicycle.Net.

Highway 101: University Avenue Crossing

I'm contributing to Murph's Bay Area Highway 101 Crossing Project directly to his Holier Than You blog now. This morning, I posted details on the University Avenue crossing between Palo Alto and East Palo Alto.

Next up: Willow Road in Menlo Park.

SF Police Chief: Another Critical Mass crackdown?

Back in 1997, then Mayor Willie Brown of San Francisco was slipping in the polls. To direct attention away from his failing policies, he set out to crack down on the San Francisco Critical Mass. When 5,000 cyclists showed up at Justin Hermann Plaza in response to Brown's public challenge to Critical Mass, police responded by arresting (and eventually releasing without trial) 150 cyclists and pedestrians, violently attacking many of them without provocation.

In an apparent repeat of this history, newly appointed police chief George Gascón says a review of Critical Mass is under way at his department. “I am not satisfied with Critical Mass,” he says.

Gascón threw some fuel on the fire with a direct challenge to cyclists, suggesting a (clearly unconstitutional) ballot initiative to ban Critical Mass would "pass with flying colors."

The SF Chief's review is supposedly part of his plan to reduce crime in San Francisco by 20%. Cutting down on the number of red light cyclists just might do that!

H/T Murph.