Monday, December 28, 2009

Yes, bicyclists already pay their share...

...Especially in Bomb Town, where they make good money and pay plenty of local taxes.

Some interesting comments below to the eternal question from Andrew Holtz, a health journalist. Comments were posted on Citiwire, in response to an article by Neal Peirce posted on this site.

"...Many people are unaware of how we actually pay for our roads. Recently, a marketing company in Portland sparked strong public reaction with an ad campaign that asked: Should cyclists pay a road tax? The company’s wrap up report included the conclusion that most people simply don’t know that cyclists already do pay taxes that are used to build and maintain roads. “[T]he amount of misinformation shared throughout this campaign was staggering,” the authors of the report by Webtrends wrote:

Here’s recent summary of the subsidies of motor vehicles:
Analysis Finds Shifting Trends in Highway Funding: User Fees Make Up Decreasing Share

It documents that road users pay less than half the cost of highways. The subsidy for local roads is much higher...Comprehensive economic analyses support the idea that if costs were fairly apportioned, drivers should pay people to use bicycles."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bike Lanes: Some reminders, with videos

Original Door Zone Bike Lane, North Road

This was printed in the Monitor some time ago. Perhaps time for a reminder. I've made some edits and added some video links from the Mass Bike Law Officer's Training Page and one produced by League of American Bicyclists Education Director Preston Tyree to hopefully improve this.
Currently, much of Central Avenue and Diamond Drive, as well as N. and S. San Ildefonso have bike lanes. More of these lanes are in the works, as the remaining phase IV of Diamond Drive construction will result in the entire length of this arterial having bike lanes. It is not clear what changes may occur with Trinity Avenue. Trinity was defined by Council (2005) as a Priority I bike route, but without defining exactly what infrastructure will be provided. The County is currently examining the design of Trinity as part of a Corridor Study, but nothing has been decided as far as future designs are concerned, either by LAC or NMDoT.
Diamond Drive Phase 3 bike lanes, from 39th Street to south of North Road, have just opened. Most of our "spinal" (look at a map) arterial connecting our homes to our workplaces, schools, and other public places is now a "complete street" with great bike lanes as well as bus pulloffs and better sidewalks. It is timely to remind readers of some general laws and guidelines that apply to bike lane use.
First, before you wheel onto the road, make sure your bike is safe to ride. Finding out your brakes don't work as you sail down Conoco Hill is not a good idea. In this video, League Cycling Instructor Dan Guiterrez takes about three minutes to explain how to do an "ABC Quick Check" of your bicycle. Watching this video is time well spent if you are not familiar with this quick, painless, and important procedure.
According to DPW Director Kyle Zimmerman, the bike lane is a “traveled portion of the street.” According to code 38-353(a) “no motor vehicle shall be stopped, parked, or left standing, whether attended or unattended, upon the traveled portion of any street when it is practicable to stop, park or leave such vehicle off the traveled portion of the street.”
Parking a vehicle in the bike lane is not allowed and violators can receive a citation. The bike lanes do not need to be posted as no parking zones. Act accordingly and avoid forcing a cyclist to veer around your car.
Not all roads will have bike lanes. All roads, however, may have cyclists. Bicyclists are lawful users of all the roadways unless a road is posted otherwise (no Los Alamos County road or state highway in LAC is so posted--in fact, no roads that I know of in New Mexico, aside from some possible sections of Interstate, exclude bicycling). Cyclists are considered vehicle operators. Do not be surprised or annoyed if a cyclist is on a bike-lane free road.
Bike lanes operate as “slower moving vehicle” lanes. They allow for more efficient passing of cyclists by motorists, since cyclists are typically not riding as fast as motorists are driving their cars. This roadway arrangement will only be safe for bicyclist-motorist operation if that assumption is true and the following safety considerations are made.
Many of these comments are covered in codes, Sec. 38-545: “Riding on streets and bicycle paths.”
• Bike lanes are not always usable. They may be blocked by snow and ice, debris, or other conditions making them impassible. Cyclists should not use a bike lane that is dangerous, blocked, or impassible. The cyclists in these cases will be safely merging into and riding in a travel lane at a safe distance from the travel lane edge or whatever is making the bike lane impassible. Bicyclists may also be merging into the travel lane at intersections to avoid being cut off by right turning traffic.
Staying in the bike lane is not always desirable. A cyclist riding at the speed of traffic may choose to ride in the travel lane if riding in the bike lane creates a potential hazard. One location where cyclists may be wise to take the travel lane is if riding downhill on North Road towards the Quemezon intersection. A cyclist trying to hug the side in the bike lane but at or close to the speed limit is less visible to other traffic and increases his/her chance of being cut off by turning and crossing traffic at North and Quemezon or cut off by a motorist exiting the Quemezon development who does not see a cyclist hugging the curb along the rock outcrop and fails to yield. Likewise for a cyclist riding north/eastbound on Diamond and descending Conoco Hill with cross streets on the right and left turn bays on the left. In the winter, the north/eastbound Diamond bike lane tends to accumulate snow and ice, being in the shade, and is hazardous.
• A further hazard is not adequately controlling or relinquishing the lane on curvy, mountain roads, which we have in abundance in Northern New Mexico. In this video, Dan Guiterrez and Brian deSousa demonstrate how a cyclist can ride safely and encourage safer motorist behavior on a curvy mountain road. They adjust their lane position and communicate through hand signals in order to maintain maximum visibility, deter motorists from unsafe passing on blind curves by taking the lane, assist motorists in overtaking the cyclist safely by relinquishing the lane, and deter motorists from unsafely pulling out of side streets by moving left to be maximally visible.
• Intersections are locations where "left cross" and "right hook" crashes are hazards to consider. Motorists making left turns must look for oncoming cyclists in bike lanes as well as oncoming motorists in the travel lanes and plan their turns safely. Motorists approaching an intersection and making a right turn need to watch for cyclists on their right. Motorists should either yield to the cyclist if the cyclist is close behind or along side them as they get to the intersection, or make sure they are far enough ahead to signal, merge right across the bike lane and make their turn without cutting off a cyclist. Cyclists need to be aware of these maneuvers and plan their own actions accordingly.
Cyclists should not pass other traffic on the right when entering an intersection unless they are absolutely sure the vehicle is not making a right hand turn into their path. Passing on the right puts the cyclist in the motor vehicle operator’s blind spot while the motorist is turning right--such situations have led to fatal crashes, especially when the MV is a large one and actually runs over the cyclist (in a fatal crash in Portland, a garbage truck did exactly that). A cyclist would be wise to learn to make an "instant turn" in order to perform evasive actions in these situations.
Unfortunately, bike lanes can (and do!) contribute to this type of turning and crossing confusion at intersections by placing a thru lane for cyclists to the right of motor vehicle lanes used for right turns or thru traffic, such as at Conoco Hill. This is an unfortunate design hazard and can only be mitigated by alert and defensive riding/driving (or not having a bike lane to encourage suboptimal roadway positioning). To lessen the chance of these failures, a motorist can signal and merge across the bike lane, or a cyclist can signal and merge into the travel lane. Some bike lanes are dashed into intersections to encourage such behavior.
• A bike lane is an appropriate travel lane for cyclists if it is proceeding in their intended direction of travel. A cyclist planning to turn left or right needs to signal and change lanes to the appropriate travel or turn lane in a safe and predictable fashion and in advance of the intersection. Motorists must be aware that this will happen. Again, a bike lane should not be an excuse to not properly position yourself for your intended direction of travel, and in a timely manner.
• Bicyclists must not ride the wrong way, i.e., facing traffic, in a bike lane. That is dangerous and unlawful, just as with operating a motor vehicle on the wrong side of the road. Motorists approaching from side streets or making turns from your street are not watching for wrong-way cyclists. In addition, cyclists "swimming salmon" (i.e., against the flow) cannot see traffic control signs, and may collide with a cyclist riding the correct way, especially at night.
Obey the law. Most of all the usual vehicle laws apply in the bike lane, i.e., a cyclist can be cited for moving violations, including both front and rear lighting violations, running a red light or stop sign, or other inappropriate conduct. Remember, you are operating a vehicle on the public’s road.
• A wide bike lane, such as on Diamond Drive, is not an optional passing zone for motorists.
• Don't ride in the "door zone" of parked cars. At least one local bike lane has cars parked to the right of it (North Road by the tennis courts). Cyclists need to ride far enough from parked cars to avoid being hit by a suddenly opened car door as shown in this video by Preston Tyree; this crash is otherwise known as being "doored". Use bike lanes carefully if cars are parked along side them. Use some or all of the travel lane if riding in a bike lane puts you in the door zone of parked cars. On roads without bike lanes, position yourself far enough from parked cars so that you do not have to weave in and out of parking spaces and unintentionally weave in front of an overtaking vehicle. Be predictable!
• On roads not having bike lanes, some bicyclists choose to ride on sidewalks. These riders must do so safely and not endanger pedestrians. In addition, it is dangerous to ride off of a sidewalk and into the street without slowing or stopping. Sidewalk cyclists crossing roads must also remember that they are bound by the laws that apply to pedestrians doing the same.
• Bike lanes do not eliminate the need for motorists and cyclists to drive defensively, alertly and aware of each other’s actions. We are all interactive parts of traffic, and must operate our vehicles accordingly.
Los Alamos has four cycling instructors licensed by the League of American Bicyclists (myself, Neale and Amy Pickett and Suellen Bowersock). We would be happy to schedule a LAB sanctioned Traffic Skills course if there is interest. In this course, you will learn more about all the topics above and more. In addition, you will be on your bike, being taught some basic but critical bicycle handling skills. These are shown in this video produced by Dan Guiterrez and Brain DeSousa. The drills teach how to scan over your shoulder without veering, a rock dodge, instant left or right turn, and quick stop.
Final notes: Some cyclists are rightfully concerned about how we will negotiate Phase IV, which should be an interesting challenge for all county residents, not just cyclists. There will be a meeting between cyclists and the County (perhaps via the T Board) to brainstorm some options. Council Vice-Chair Wismer is in the loop on this as are others. Stay tuned to this blog and other media for more details. Finally, when Phase IV bike lanes open up on Diamond, they will be in an area with the most intersections, side streets, and parking lot entrances. Turning, crossing, and lane-change complications will be at their highest and those paint stripes do not have magical safety qualities. We will all have to ride and drive carefully in this area.
With acknowledgments to Mass Bike, Dan Guiterrez & Brian DeSousa, and Preston Tyree for the embedded video content.
Khal Spencer
League of American Cyclists cycling instructor

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Phase III Now Open--and being swept!

Diamond Drive's old profile near the golf course. Note abrupt gutter drop
Diamond Drive's brand-new profile (note construction cones are still there!)

These are before and after shots of Phase I by the golf course ped crossing, in case we forget what put cyclists off. Click on the photo for a high resolution version.

Well, three phases down and one to go. Nice to see this progressing.

I'll be frank. Phases I-III were built in areas with limited turning and crossing points (the one big one being Conoco Hill) and where most cyclists are not making left turns, so they are nearly ideal locations for bike lanes. By contrast, Phase IV will be the nasty one as far as safety. There are so many turning and crossing points between Orange/Sandia and the Omega Bridge that I wonder if in-lane sharrows would be a better idea than bike lanes. I can see a lot of left hooks and right crosses happening if cyclists and motorists get careless.

It is going to be incumbent on everyone to use these lanes smartly and to be wary and alert for the usual mistakes that are made. And, don't run the red lights!

Any thoughts out there?

Cycling Wheels Up the Policy Agenda (Neil Peirce/Washington Post)

In the context of the ongoing discussion of downtown street standards.

Cycling Wheels Up the Policy Agenda

Neal Peirce / Dec 18 2009

For Release Sunday, December 20, 2009
© 2009 Washington Post Writers Group

The idea’s a sort of watershed–cyclists starting to qualify not just as recreation supplicants but serious players in America’s transportation decisions. It’s about time.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

If you don't have studded snows, then ski

Its been a week of glare ice and black ice. Have not seen as many cyclists. I tiptoed through slush and melt on Sunday but in the morning, its not pretty.

Frankly, I'm thinking of plunking down some dead presidents and buying a set of studded bike snows. Some really good information can be found at this link, courtesy of Peter White.

Otherwise, looks like there might be enough snow up on Pajarito Mtn. to break out the cross-country skis. I've added a link to the right to our own Southwest Nordic Ski Club page. Snow might make cycling a little dicey, but it sure does make the trek up to the mountain worthwhile. Join the club and help keep those grooming machines oiled and gassed up.

Here is the most recent report.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

USA Today to Cyclists: Get the %$## off the road!

USA Today article: Two-wheel troublemaking: Have motorists let bicyclists' 'rights' go too far?

Its unfortunate when a major news publication lets itself be used for such one-sided journalism. I sent my two cents directly to the editor.

With acknowledgements to Patrick O'Grady/Maddogmedia for the illustration.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sweepers, anyone?

This picture of a dysfunctional bike lane is not from Los Alamos, but from Tulsa, OK, with acknowledgments to CycleDog and Ed Wagner. When I break out my digital camera, I'll take some local pictures of problems closer to home.

Having said that, I've seen sections of bike lanes here in Bomb Town that have not seen a broom for a long time. Send your pictures here and we can post 'em.

I am sympathetic to the County because we have a lot of new construction going on and it makes it hell on Tom Roach and his Pavement Div, who are stretched pretty thin. But if our bike lanes are to work reasonably well, we need to keep them free of crud, and that language was included in the 2005 Council action that created our Bicycling Transportation System.

I personally had a bad run in with a motorist who got his knickers in a knot after I moved into a travel lane to avoid a smashed beer bottle in a bike lane. We don't need that sort of bad attitude, or that sort of broken glass.

So to the county, please find time to sweep, esp. on Diamond. To our citizens, please don't use the bike lanes as places to leave junk.

Mahalo nui loa!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Frank Zappa, at 22, playing the bicycle on the Steve Allen Show

Actually #1 in a series of four.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bicycling politics: Gloom vs. Hope?

Great essay on cycling advocacy and safety by Mighk Wilson here.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gail Ryba Medical Fund

I'm posting this on behalf of several BCNM Board members.

Many of you know Gail Ryba personally from the many years she served as our Bike Coalition President, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, League Cycling Instructor.... as well as other do-good non-profit activities. Many of you are aware she has been fighting Cancer, and doing well! Unfortunately, medical co-pays and some non-covered services are making things pretty tight financially.

This email is in part to suggest that we all consider what I will call 'delayed recognition' for all those years of hard work, all those good deeds, and all that inspiration.... and consider donating to a Fund we have set up at Los Alamos Natl Bank. You can mail donations for deposit to

the 'Gail Ryba Medical Fund'
c/o Los Alamos National Bank
301 Griffin St.
Santa Fe, NM 87501
or call 505-954-5400 if you have questions

Friday, September 4, 2009

Air Caddy

This looks like a cool product.

Fast Food Drivethrough Turns Down a Cyclist (initially)

This is my favorite fast food joint in the world, which apparently had a stupid rule about bicyclists using their drivethroughs:

Burgerville and Cyclists.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Commuter/Cross bike for sale

2004 Redline Conquest Pro cyclocross bike, disk and canti compatible frame and fork, never crashed or dented. Used as a daily commuter, not raced.

Selling because it is too tall for me (shoulda researched Redline’s dimensions better).

54 cm (C-T), 31.2 inch standover clearance with 700-23 c tires.

Components are a mix and match since the bike was set up for everyday commuting:

8 speed Shimano (Ultegra bar ends, 105 front /XT rear derailleurs)

Nashbar 13-32 cassette and compact 50-34 crank

32H Sora hubs/Mavic MA 3 rims no-name spokes currently shod with Vittoria Randonneur Pro 700-35 tires.

Avid Shorty 4 cantilever brakes/Dia Compe drop bar levers

Turbo seat, Nashbar micro adjustable seat post

Asking $475 or make offer. Suitable for commuting as is. Will also sell just the frame and fork/headset (make offer) if you are gonna race it or are otherwise not interested in the prosaic parts.

Call Khal Spencer if interested. 665-2418 W 661-8141 H

More info on bike here.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Paging the Secretary of the NM Dept. of Logical Inconsistencies

The State Dept. of Health's Anna Hargreaves, who runs the Diabetes Prevention and Control Program's efforts to promote walking and other physical activity is likely to see her efforts fail if we do not treat pedestrians and cyclists as integral parts of our mobility system. She therefore needs to have a chat with the State Dept. of Transportation's Gary Giron, head of the agency famous for designing wide urban roads with few and dangerous crosswalks (S. St. Francis, Cerillos, Trinity), and rural roads with dangerous shoulders or roads completely lacking in same (NM-4). Such designs don't do much to encourage walking or bicycling and point to the hopeless stovepiping of government agencies working at cross purposes to each other.

I suppose the cynic would say that the NM DoT's designs actually weed out the slow runners and walkers among us who cannot make it across the street, thus encouraging survival of the fittest. That's actually not my comment. It was made at a state Bike-Ped conference a few years ago by one of the Espanola representatives, discussing the two main drags running through his city, which as Federal highways fall under State jurisdiction.

This is what Complete Streets is all about--designing transportation that promotes the public welfare in more ways than by moving cars, e.g., moving people in a way that benefits the greater good, including considerations of health, energy efficiency, intelligent urban planning, and less pollution. Its about time someone explained that to our Dept. of Transportation. And, to some of our parents around here who create massive gridlock at our schools every morning by carting Dick and Jane to class in Old Belchfire.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Are the roads themselves designed to kill?

Roads that are designed to kill

By Mark Rosenberg August 18, 2009, The Boston Globe

THREE YEARS AGO, I was driving in Atlanta early one morning when I saw a body on the road. It was a young female runner. I called 911 and then ran to her. She had a horrendous head injury but still had a heart beat. I started CPR, but her injuries were too severe. She died in my hands. I wrote a column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about what happened to the runner, and a flood of letters came in.

Half blamed the runner, saying she should not have been running in the street at that hour. Half blamed the driver, for not paying close enough attention. Not a single writer blamed the road...

Is the morning snarl getting to people?

A little while ago one of my colleagues at work told me that at about 0845 this morning he saw a cyclist trying to make a properly positioned and legal left turn from Diamond onto Pajarito and was repeatedly harassed by a following white pickup truck operator who was tailing him and repeatedly blasting his truck horn. So the white truck was apparently headed down the Pajarito corridor.

According to the law, that motorist could have been, at minimum, cited for Sec. 38-545, (f) No person shall operate a motor vehicle in such a manner as to harass or endanger the operator of a bicycle.

If this is due to the morning snarl on Diamond, it might also be worth reminding the work force via official Laboratory channels that to minimize construction delays and frayed nerves, (here quoting the Diamond Construction Web site) "...Alternative options (to the multitude of single occupant vehicles clogging the construction zone) include minimizing the number of vehicles on Diamond Drive by riding Atomic City Transit, carpooling, or flexing schedules when possible. "

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Most of the traffic I saw yesterday and my wife saw today in the construction zone quagmire was in single-occupant motor vehicles. Its not likely we will reduce the traffic snafus if everyone out there keeps pretending we don't have a seriously constricted construction zone out there for the near future and modify our habits appropriately.

At minimum, single-occupant vehicle operators ought to put some soothing music on the vehicle CD player and just ride it out. Wal-Mart pays a lot less than most of the jobs at the Laboratory, and as we know, the DOE clearance people don't look kindly on arrests.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Better Lock Yer Bike...

Don't know if this is a sign of the times, i.e., the recession, but there seems to be a lot of theft going on out there according to Carol Clark's blog. Including some nifty bikes. One valued at $6k. Better lock up your ride.

It would not surprise me if we had a rash of thefts up here, although I don't actually know if there are more going on than usual. Lots of well paid people up here in a sea of want.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

SRAM recalls some 10 spd Power-Lock connectors

Story is in Velo-News. This is for bikes equipped with ten-cog cassettes.

"...PowerLocks stamped with “M” and “N” date codes are the targets of the recall. The date code letter is stamped onto the end of each PowerLock outer plate, near the pin. .."


"...SRAM noted that the safety issue (cracking of the outer plate) typically happens upon installation of the PowerLock or during first use..."

Anyway, go read the whole article if you have a bike with a SRAM chain on a 10 cog setup.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Better off to buy a bicycle...

Like everything else the government does, the Cash for Clunkers program is seeing its wheels fall off. I wonder what will happen to the deal we think we made at Premier Subaru on Wednesday night, replacing our hail-battered Outback Sport with a new Outback Sport and using our '93 Ford Exploder as a "clunker" to sweeten the deal.

The Wall Street Journal says deals closed so far will be honored. Lets hope so...

W. Jemez Crash--Latest, latest update

5th (Latest) update from Monitor Managing Editor Carol Clark. LAPD has wrapped up its investigation and turned it over to the District Attorney for further examination. Check out Carol Clark's site for updates.

From another site, not sure who this person is, but there seems to be an ongoing progress report on the cyclist's recovery here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bicycling Coalition of New Mexico letter to Gov on partial paving of road shoulders

This letter was just sent to Gov. Richardson.

Also being covered in the Santa Fe New Mexican and Albuquerque Journal.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lawless cyclists? Who is throwing the stones?

Had an interesting day yesterday. I course marshaled the Tour de Los Alamos at the Vehicle Access Portals south of the Omega Bridge from 8:30 a.m. to about 1 p.m.

During that time I had abundant opportunity to watch motorists. I would qualitatively estimate that at least half and probably closer to two-thirds blew the blinking red light when making the right turn from Jemez into the VAP area. Some even did this with a cop stationed at the light. Some barely slowed down.

One guy who I stopped looked at me in disbelief when I asked him why he ran a stop sign. Guess he forgot what a blinking red means:

A flashing RED traffic light means the same as a stop sign. You must come to a full stop and then may proceed when it is safe to do so.

So next time someone tries to single out cyclists as being particularly averse to obeying the law, I suggest they not throw too many stones. The problem is bigger than cyclists.

Just wish I had an assistant with a laptop to write all the numbers down.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

An LCI Bites the Dust

Just be careful out there, folks.

League mourns the loss of Bruce Rosar

In a statement issued today on behalf of the League of American Bicyclists’ board of directors, board chair Amanda Eichstaedt said, “I am terribly sad to announce the death of Bruce Rosar earlier today in Apex, North Carolina; he was killed in a collision with an automobile. Bruce was elected to the League’s national board in March 2008 and as recently as late June had traveled to San Jose, Calif. for a board meeting and our Smart Cycling conference. It is a tragic irony that Bruce was one of our certified League Cycling Instructors with a passion for safe riding; he was active throughout the Raleigh/Durham area promoting cycling and cyclist safety. He will be missed terribly and our hearts go out to his family, friends and riding colleagues. We are still gathering details of the crash and will keep the League family informed of additional details and responses.”

Cyclist who led others is killed

Collided with car during Apex ride

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Rescheduled Bike League class

Here is the class information for the rescheduled bike league class. This is the full-length version of what Khal taught at the Wellness Center. We'll be teaching on July 24th (evening) & July 25th (all day).

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cyclist hit on W. Jemez --More

Latest (3rd) update on Carol Clark's blog is out and contains more details following an interview between LAPD, the motorist, and his attorney. Click on the photo to go to her site. Keep an eye on the Monitor, too, which hopefully will have the police report in a few days and we can figure out how this happened.
A previous update is here. In this update, Carolyn Zerkle indicates there will be a fundraiser as part of this year's Tour de Los Alamos for the hit rider.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Road Rage Season

Yup, its summer, and the stories are starting to multiply again. As far as road rage?

Don't engage, instead count to ten

If endangered, call 911 and press charges

If possible, and the opportunity arises, explain safe cycling to an attentive and calm motorist

Your own safety is more important than "winning" a fight

with acknowledgments to Patrick O'Grady and the Mad Dog Media Whirled Hindquarters for use of the cartoon.

Espanola bans dialing while driving

As reported in the New Mexican.

For all of us who have watched inattentive drivers swerve, brake late, or have near misses while they dial their infernal phones or perform other domestic tasks, this is a small win. A very small one. I suspect compliance will be low.

I suspect we will have a cell phone law up in Bomb Town some day--after we have a deceased to name it after.

People are just too arrogant behind the wheel to know their own limits. We want it all--safety but no limits to the risky behavior we impose on others. When you are piloting 5500 lbs. of steel around our streets in close proximity to other people, you have some responsibilities far more important than that phone call.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Noontime LANL bike safety course, Part II

I am giving a two-session bike safety course based on the League's Traffic Skills 101 curriculum on 10 June and 17 June over the lunch break (2 hrs total). This is NOT equivalent to Neale and Amy's Traffic Skills 101 course and does NOT come with League certification.

If you are a LANL employee and interested in cycling safety but cannot make the full 8 hour League class this week, check out the Wellness Center's schedule. I don't remember the course number but can add that info on Monday.

It is possible that for those who take the 2 hour class version and who wish to obtain the full TS 101 certification, we can schedule the road and parking lot drill sections at a later date and fill in the course details, but the Wellness Center isn't keen on scheduling an 8 hour show all in one gulp. Let's see who shows up.

The on-road and bike handling skill sessions are pretty important. You don't learn this stuff in a classroom, but on the road.

Note: if you left on time on the 10th, you didn't get a copy of Street Smarts by John Allen (no charge, courtesy of Industrial Hygene and Safety Division). So if for some reason you cannot make it to Part II, please contact me at work and I will send your copy by intramural mail. I put a reminder slide into my Power Point to help me remember this time!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Please don't ride behind the Diamond construction barriers

I got an email from County Public Works Director Kyle Zimmerman today indicating that cyclists are riding behind the construction barrels:


This morning some of the bicyclists on Diamond Drive were riding on the construction zone side (west side) of the barrels. There is a lot of construction equipment and workers moving around doing the project work. They are not looking for bicyclists riding on the wrong side of the barrels. Please pass the word that bicyclist need to use Arkansas/North Road as an alternate route or take the lane as a vehicle like you did this morning.

Aside from this conduct undoubtedly being illegal and quite dangerous once heavy equipment and workers are in full swing (milling off the pavement will start shortly), taking the lane southbound is relatively easy as it is downslope and I was able to ride with heavy traffic effortlessly as it was moving slowly. Northbound (upslope) cycling in the construction zone traffic is more problematic, but cyclists can use the dedicated left turn bay to turn onto North Road and avoid the whole mess. I plan on turning left on North tonight to go home. I'll post here if I have any trouble.

As an alternative to those who don't want to ride north in "the narrows" or turn left and climb North Road, there is a sidewalk on the South side of Diamond. I would recommend cyclists use North/Arkansas, but suggest to any cyclists who use that sidewalk to please take it slow and respect that pedestrians and other cyclists may be using it for two-way traffic.

There is no real way to eliminate the short term pain of this project. Consider the long term gain, though.

Post comments here if you have them. I will direct Kyle to this page as well. Let's just muddle through this as best and as cheerfully as we can. Everyone is suffering a little bit.


Khal Spencer
County Transportation Board Chair and League Cycling Instructor

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bomb Town to finally have a Co-Op

According to Greg Kendall over at Los Alamos County Views, we are finally going to get a cooperative market. It will be located in the Entrada development.

Well, the good news is we will have a Co-op. The bad news is that it will not be downtown. Greg tells us "...there will be turn lanes and acceleration lanes on State Road 502 at Entrada..." Sure. These will serve motorists, but we need to find out how the cyclist will be served. Its probably written down somewhere, and forgive me for not knowing where.

Entrada and Airport Site Details here, including links to blueprints including intersection changes.

The NM DoT link for NM 502 improvements is here. It stops at Tewa.

Its a little ironic that we continue to talk about Complete Streets and a compact, sustainable city, but continue to build outwards with the assumption that everyone will continue to jump into their cars. I guess we have to build where we get the land, i.e., DOE land transfers, since we can't seem to figure out how to fill in some of our vast acres of parking lots Downtown.

Presumably, once Entrada is up and running, an Atomic City bus route will be out there serving the eastern community and this new center for economic development.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

All's Quiet on the Fire Front

Those who were here in May, 2000 and saw the fire sweep through town on the 10th can feel a bit of compassion for Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition President Ralph Fertig and the Santa Barbara folks. Ralph posted this email to his cycling friends.
To my friends,

This morning I woke at my evacuation motel to a fog, cool temperatures, and a breeze off the ocean. It was a radical change from the 90 degree heat, low moisture, and strong winds that drove the Jesusita Fire in Santa Barbara for 4 days.

Statistics released tonight said that 50,000 people had been evacuated, 8700 acres burned, 80 homes destroyed or damaged, and 4300 fire fighters\ were on the ground. They say the fire is now 40% contained, and believe that another day like this will bring it totally under control. I also heard that a local bike shop lost 400 bikes stored in a barn in the fire

I was allowed to return home this afternoon about 3:30. I picked up cat Luke at the cat animal shelter where cat carriers were stacked to the ceiling. They said that 250 evacuated cats were there, the volunteers were working nearly 24 hours a day. Nearby in other animal shelters, I could hear LOTS of dogs barking, a rooster crowing, and heaven knows what other creatures were quietly slithering around.

The entire day was cool, about 70 degrees and mostly cloudy. Exactly what we all were hoping for. I spent most of it returning to my barricaded roadway every 2 hours, but couldn't get past the police. (They were very nice, but firm.) I finally got home, brought Luke inside, unpacked my bike, computer, clothing and documents. Took a nap, had a beer, started a load of laundry, washed the ash off my car, put a carrot-turkey meatloaf in the oven, and now am facing a 4-day backlog of catching up.

People are asking whether our Western drought is fueled by climate change. This was the third Santa Barbara fire in a year, totally unprecented. Each one has burned a separate section of chaparrel in the National Forest and the adjacent foothill areas, but they DID occur. If we're destroying our world, I hope that we can halt the process before we all drown, burn, get blown away -- and take down most other species with us.

I see that a beautiful full moon has risen above the hills east of me. Perhaps you are looking at the same one. It brings an illusion of stability to our changing planet.

~~ Ralph Fertig

Monday, May 4, 2009

League Bike Class coming up

League of American Bicyclists
Traffic Skills 101
Dates: June 5th & June 6th

Location: 1990 Diamond Dr (Family Strengths Network, Pueblo Complex), Los Alamos, NM

League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructors Neale & Amy Pickett and Khal Spencer are teaching the League's Traffic Skills 101 course June 5th from 4:30pm - 7:30pm, and June 6th from 9am - 4pm (with one hour lunch break). $10 for the 9-hour course.

Learn how to:
* make basic repairs,
* the most common types of crashes and how to avoid them,
* bicycling in traffic, emergency maneuvers, and more.

To register for this course, contact:

Amy Pickett
Phone: 505-310-9804
Contact Email:

* Equipment required: Working Bicycle and CPSC-approved Helmet

Friday, May 1, 2009

"As Far Right as is Practicable": Dwight Tovey's Day in court

Dwight Tovey is a League Cycling Instructor in Idaho. He was pulled over for not riding far enough right, and cited when he contested the officers advice to ride farther right then Dwight thought appropriate. In light of recent discussion in the Monitor, here is what happened when he had his day in court.

It was an interesting trial. There were 5 people (including me) on the calendar. They called my case last, so I got to watch everyone else. There were some interesting things there, but it mostly gave me a chance to watch the process.

When the called my case I went up and the officer came in. The prosecutor called him as the first witness and he basically went over what happened when he pulled me over. The only thing that I really disagreed with was when he said that I told him I could ride where ever I wanted. What I really said was that where I was riding was not against the law, but I didn't need to dwell on that.

During the previous trials, one of the things I noticed was that the prosecutor asked each officer how long he had been an officer and about his experience. In my case, Officer Lim stated that he had been an officer for 12 years and a patrol officer for 5. During my cross I asked him what experience he had as a bicyclist (mountain bike only) and what training he had as a road cyclist (only "common sense" training - not sure what that was supposed to mean, but I let it go). He had also stated that he noticed me because traffic was backing up trying to get around me. I asked him if he patrolled that are often at that time of day (5:00PM) and he said that he did. I asked if traffic didn't normally back up on that road at that time of day. He acknowledged that it did. Since this was a three-lane road (two traffic lanes and a center left turn lane), the judge asked him if there were many cars entering the center lane to make a left turn (thus preventing through motorists from moving over to pass me). Officer Lim stated that there was not.

Then it was my turn to testify. I pointed out that the law does not require bicyclists to use the shoulder, and I presented two Idaho Supreme Court cases (thanks to Philip Cook - a fellow LCI from Moscow) that explicitly stated that bicyclists are not obligated to stay in the shoulder. The judge took a few minutes to review these cases and agreed that the law was in my favour there. I testified that I am a League Cycling Instructor and that I teach bike safety and the bicycling related laws. I explained that in a narrow lane it actually isn't safe for a bicyclist to be all the way over on the edge of the lane because it encourages motorists to try to squeeze by when it isn't safe. I presented photos of the area to show how narrow the road is, and a diagram from the Florida Bicycle Association (thanks to Fred Ungewitter in Florida) showing 'How to Get more Passing Clearance' by riding further left in the lane. I pointed out in the Idaho Street Smarts manual (written by John Allen) the section that deals with narrow lanes. The Prosecutor had some concerns about where the manual came from.

The Prosecutor did ask me some questions during his cross, but I really don't remember what his questions were. I don't think they were very relevant.

After my testimony I called Mark McNeese (Idaho Transportation Dept. Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator) to the stand. I asked Mark about the Street Smarts manual and he explained that ITD and the Ada County Highway District had collaborated to have the book published. Mark stated that there was nothing in the book that contradicted Idaho law. Since the area where I was ticketed is a State highway, I asked Mark about the standard lane width (12 feet). I also asked what the recommended width would be for a "shareable lane". Mark presented the Idaho Design Manual which states that a lane should be 14 feet wide to be considered shareable. Mark also stated that a bicyclist needs to be visible and predictable. Part of being visible and predictable includes riding where motorists will be more likely to see the bicyclist rather than at the edge of the road.

In all my trial took over an hour, while the previous cases where all less than 1/2 hour each. Both the judge and the prosecutor commented that it had been a learning experience for them, and while the judge acknowledged that Officer Lim was just trying to do his job, given that the law is less than clear about what is "as far right as practicable", the final verdict was Not Guilty.

After my trial there was a Sheriff's department bike officer there who was talking to Craig Quintana from ACHD. The officer was interested in setting up some seminars for the Sheriff's department so that we could explain what the League is trying to teach bicyclists and why. He took Craig's card and will contact him to see about setting something up.

In all it was an interesting (if long) day.


Dwight Tovey
LCI #750
dwight at dtovey dot net

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Relay for Life, 26-27 June. Bicyclist contingent?

Mike Wismer recently spoke to me about cyclist participation in the Relay for Life, which is a benefit for the American Cancer Society. The honorary Chair of the event is former county councillor Jim West. It is to be held on 26-27 June.

see info here:

There is a thought to have a bicycling contingent riding up from Santa Fe on Friday and arriving at the start of the Friday relay, i.e. about 6 p.m. and/or having a riding contingent Saturday morning.

According to Mike, the SF connection is through Frank Sotomayor, 473-1712 who owns a bike mechanics shop in SF. He is not organizing riders, but would probably know who to contact to link up with Santa Fe riders.

Contact Mike or Frank for more info.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tour de Gila

Sent by Jim Moffett of the Silver City Cycling Group and forwarded by BCNM Board member Jamie Thompson.

Not surpising they distain us....more thoughts

Riding home from work yesterday, I reached the intersection of Urban and North Roads at 6:30 p.m. A kitted up cyclist was headed south on North Road as I was headed north and about to make a left turn on Urban to ride up through the back roads on my way home. The guy had curly black hair, was wearing a blue jersey. Couldn't get the make or model of the bike.

So I stop for the stop sign and check traffic, and watch this guy ride up to the intersection at a good spin and just simply blow through the stop sign and intersection. Fortunately, not too much cross traffic, but people were around. Not even a modest effort to slow down. I said "next time stop at the stop sign" and he said something thatI had trouble hearing (and earlier thought was a profanity, but see the responses to this post--I was wrong) as he continued his training ride.

I've seen people in motor vehicles do a rolling stop, but rarely if ever see someone blow a stop sign at cruising speed in their car. That stuff stands out and sends the wrong message. Think about how you look to others--and how other cyclists look to non-cyclists-- next time someone gives you a hard time.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Create your own comeback?

Flipping through the latest issue of Bicycling Magazine while ensconced in the throne room, I see a full page advertisement for Carmichael Training Systems, showing a quite buff Lance Armstrong in yellow, pitching a "Create Your Own Comeback Program".

I have a lot of respect for Chris Carmichael. He's done some really good work for Lance and I'm sure many others. But for the rest of the world, esp. those just barely scraping by in this deep recession, do we really need that high-end designer training? Seems to me a decent intro level bike and some attractive roads or trails (i.e., roads where you don't feel like you are intruding on someone else's dedicated SUV space) ought to be enough motivation. If that isn't enough to get you on the bike, then the shock of stepping on the scale, as I did today, works wonders. I was wondering why Truck Route felt so steep.

With acknowledgments to Patrick O'Grady/Maddogmedia for the self-portrait--of both of us.

Friday, April 24, 2009

50 mile road bike option for Santa Fe Century?

I was scoping out the Santa Fe Century Ride's "50 mile ATB" route today after getting my Subaru out of the Premier shop, as we might do the 50 mile option on our tandem. I wanted to see how rough the dirt section was in order to plan for the right tires.

There now is about two miles of dirt road left on Rt. 42, on either side of the railroad crossing near the Galisteo end. Most of it did not look too rough, with minimal washboard and deep ruts. Seems like a lot of new paving has been done on Rt. 42, continuing the pavement most of the way from NM 14 towards Galisteo.

Of course, in classic New Mexico tradition, the new paving was done from fog line to fog line, so there is no rideable shoulder, at least for a road bike. Fortunately, its likely that most of the traffic during the Century will be of the two wheeled variety.

Anyone else from Bomb Town considering a half century ride?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Comments on the Monitor's letter to the editor re: bicycling safety

Janet Basinger's recent letter in the Monitor, discussing bicycling safety, needs further discussion.

A shortened version of this screed has been printed by the Los Alamos Monitor.

Traffic law does not say that a cyclist needs to ride as far to the right as possible. The law says to ride as far right as is practicable (i.e., feasable, realistic with regards to all likely hazards and traffic considerations.) For example, proper positioning leaves the cyclist some room to the right in order to avoid the debris to which Ms. Basinger refers and far enough away from the gutter pan or road edge to not be in danger of a crash. Just as importantly, the rider needs to be far enough into traffic to be clearly visible to others. Indeed, the cyclist is legally entitled to take the entire lane if it is too narrow to be shared, thus deterring motorists from unsafe passing in a narrow space. Of course, in the narrow lane situation the cyclist needs to cooperate to help other traffic move around him or her. Further discussion would require a lot of space here, so I would refer readers to Los Alamos County Codes, Ch. 38, Article X for details. The following two online references are also useful guides to cyclist position on the road.

Being visible is important. However, I would recommend that a cyclist wanting to ensure his or her visibility during daylight, dawn, or dusk should use well-tested designs such as the Class III or Class II reflective vests (links are used as examples, not endorsements) used by highway departments and road crews. These vests have been designed with minimum amounts of reflective material and can reduce the hazards faced by poor visibility or a busy background environment (i.e., heavy traffic). Having said that, the onus for being aware of what is on the road in front of you (whether it is a cyclist, a pedestrian crossing the street, or a motorist slowing down) falls primarily to the vehicle operator. It is everyone's job to pay attention to safety and not hit someone. Let's keep the responsibility where it belongs.

A more serious concern not addressed by vests or reflectors is nighttime illumination. Very few cyclists riding at night use lights. A bright vest or bicycle reflector does not tell a cyclist he is about to hit a pothole, brick, patch of ice, or fellow lightless rider. From the Law Officer's Guide to Bicycle Safety, Reference Guide, "...Certain types of motor vehicle-bike collisions occur disproportionately at night, including motorist entering from side street or on-street parking, motorist turning left, motorist overtaking, and wrong-way cyclist hit head-on (Forester 1994 based on Cross and Fisher 1977). In the first two of these crash types, the motorist must yield to the bicyclist already in the road, but the motorist’s headlamps will not be shining on the bicyclist. Therefore the bicyclist needs, and is required by law to use, a headlight to be seen by drivers in these situations..."

Bike lanes increase the comfort level for cyclists and in terms of traffic management in busy traffic, make it easier and more efficient for a motorist to overtake a cyclist by providing the cyclist a separate "slow moving vehicle" lane. However, these lanes don't necessarily make a cyclist safer and the lack of a bike lane does not make a road unsafe for cycling--unsafe operators are the greater determinants to safety.

The assumption that bike lanes dramatically increase safety is based on the premise that a cyclist is likely to be hit from behind, but that is actually a relatively rare (a few percent) type of car-bike collision and more of a real concern in rural areas. According to the Law Officer's Guide to Bicycle Safety, Reference Guide, 80% to 90% of urban bike-car crashes occur due to right of way (turning and crossing) errors at driveways and intersections. In these cases, poorly designed bike lanes often increase the chances for these types of collisions by encouraging motorists to pass a cyclist on the cyclist's left and then turn right and cut off the cyclist, by encouraging a cyclist to make a left turn from the right side of the road (i.e., from the bike lane) resulting in the cyclist being hit by a thru motorist, or by positioning the cyclist too far to the right to be clearly visible to a motorist entering from a side street or driveway. A well-designed bike lane system enables traffic to flow smoothly and comfortably, but also encourages cyclists to position themselves properly in traffic while turning and at intersections and roundabouts.

The best advice to cyclists is:

1. Control your bike and routinely inspect it for safe operation.
2. Follow the rules of the road.
3. Observe proper lane positioning.
4. Avoid hazards and practice effective bike handling skills to enable you to take effective evasive actions.
5. Use passive safety devices such as helmets and active safety devices such as lights.
6. Take a League of American Bicyclists bicycling safety course.

Useful pubs and references

California Bicycle Coalition guide to rider position on the road

John Allen's Street Smarts

Law Officer's Guide to Bicycle Safety Reference Guide, Powerpoint, and instructional movies

My recent article on Los Alamos' bike lane system.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Albuquerque gets a bike boulevard near Nob Hill

Sharrows and 18 mph speed limits. Sounds like a good start. More here on KOB TV.

Also, on the BikeABQ Blog.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Albuquerque to lose cycling advocacy group

Shocking. Just shocking.

BikeABQ to disband and restructure under AAA

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Stimulus Package to give Albuqerque cyclists a Rio Grande crossing

Fed funds revive Rio Grande bike bridge

$7.4 million project in works for 10 years

Updated: Friday, 27 Mar 2009, 10:05 PM MDT
Published : Friday, 27 Mar 2009, 10:04 PM MDT

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Albuquerqueans longing for another river crossing are about to get one, but it will be for bicycles, not cars.

You suppose we should have had a shovel-ready project to get bicyclists across the Los Alamos Canyon without having to share a single, seven foot sidewalk with pedestrians?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cycling Instructor and LAPD Discussed Cycling Do's and Don’ts on KRSN

Muchas Gracias to radio station KRSN for hosting this and to Det. Williams and Ms. Clark for participating.

The Monitor article associated with this radio show is here.

Photo by Carol A. Clark of the Los Alamos Monitor. On the left is Det. Williams, on the right, my mug.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sucks to be Lance

Photo from Velonews, with link embedded in picture.

Lance Armstrong crashed out of the first stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y León with a broken collarbone. Apparently, someone overlapped wheels in the field and Lance went down hard in the cluster-crash. Did that myself during a training ride in1990, being the instigator in the overlapped wheel contest. Have to agree with Lance as to the effect on Mr. Psyche: "I feel miserable right now so I have to relax a few days."

Yeah, relax with some painkillers and then, as my orthopaedic surgeon Kent Davenport told me that year, take your time getting back on the bike and have a few cold ones in the interim.

Get well soon, Tex.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

When is a roadside memorial not a roadside memorial?

Click on the picture for the Journal piece.

State law says you have to respect roadside memorials. So why was this one, put up for Roy Sekreta, immediately taken down? Stay tuned.

There is one legal loophole. See section C.

30-15-7. Desecration of roadside memorials; penalty.

A. A person shall not knowingly or willfully deface or destroy, in whole or in part, a descanso, also known as a memorial, placed alongside a public road right of way to memorialize the death of one or more persons.

B. A person who violates the provisions of Subsection A of this section is:

(1) for a first offense, guilty of a petty misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be sentenced pursuant to the provisions of Section 31-19-1 NMSA 1978; and

(2) for a second and subsequent offense, guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be sentenced pursuant to the provisions of Section 31-19-1 NMSA 1978.

C. The provisions of this section shall not apply to law enforcement officials or other employees of the state or a political subdivision of the state who in the course of the lawful discharge of their duties move or remove a descanso that obstructs or damages any public road in this state or to an owner of private property upon which a descanso is located.

Seems to me the government can only take it down if it is obstructing something. Put up a new memorial with flowers and a smaller ghost bike or perhaps just the bicycle wheels, and make sure it doesn't obstruct the public road in any way. Then file the lawsuit if it gets taken down.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Another gruesome double murder in New Mexico

Can't we just put these clowns away? This is what really kills people: the lack of intestinal fortitude to hold people accountable.

Police: Driver kills 2 in crash

'Highly intoxicated' Santa Fean in van hits pair on motorcycle ride

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Making Cycling Irresistable

Entire article is about 35 pages. Found the link to this on the League of American Bicyclists home page.

Making Cycling Irresistible: Lessons from
The Netherlands, Denmark and Germany

Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA

(Received 9 July 2007; revised 16 October 2007; accepted 11 November 2007)

ABSTRACT This article shows how the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany have made bicycling a safe, convenient and practical way to get around their cities. The analysis relies on national aggregate data as well as case studies of large and small cities in each country. The key to achieving high levels of cycling appears to be the provision of separate cycling facilities along heavily travelled roads and at intersections, combined with traffic calming of most residential neighbourhoods. Extensive cycling rights of way in the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany are complemented by ample bike parking, full integration with public transport, comprehensive traffic education and training of both cyclists and motorists, and a wide range of promotional events intended to generate enthusiasm and wide public support for cycling. In addition to their many pro-bike policies and programmes, the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany make driving expensive as well as inconvenient in central cities through a host of taxes and restrictions on car ownership, use and parking. Moreover, strict land-use policies foster compact, mixed-use developments that generate shorter and thus more bikeable trips. It is the coordinated implementation of this multifaceted, mutually reinforcing set of policies that best explains the success of these three countries in promoting cycling. For comparison, the article portrays the marginal status of cycling in the UK and the USA, where only about 1% of trips are by bike.

John Forester's critique of this and some earlier work are here.

Another opinion is offered by my Ph.D. adviser, Gil Hanson. Gil is also a serious road cyclist and bike commuter back at suburban SUNY, Stony Brook, on Eastern Long Island. He wrote Bicycling in Muenster, Germany after spending a sabbatical there.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lucky you don't live in Tennessee

Gets ugly out there. Ride yer bike on River Road, go to jail *.

*HB 0342 by *Moore. (SB 0276 by *Haynes.)

Motor Vehicles - As introduced, prohibits operation of bicycles on River Road in Davidson County between U.S. Highway 70 / S.R. 24 and the Cheatham County line; violation is Class C misdemeanor. - Amends TCA Title 55, Chapter 8.

The League of American Bicyclists opposes such restrictive laws. As does the Bicycling Coalition of New Mexico. A Knoxville cycling blog is reporting on this.

* (Class C misdemeanor penalty not greater than thirty (30) days in jail or a fine not to exceed fifty dollars ($50.00), or both, unless otherwise provided by statute)

Note: at last report (2/24/09), the bill was taken off the calendar.

Friday, February 13, 2009

And Ed Grothus is gone...

Being an anti-nuke activist in Los Alamos must be one of the few things harder than being a bicycling activist in a land of motorists. A hard sell. So when Ed Grothus finally checked out this week, perhaps it was to him a bit of a reprieve.

But when so much seems to be measured in everyday terms such as meeting milestones or performance initiatives, Ed (seen here on Youtube) reminded us that a mushroom cloud is more than an abstraction. Or, as Robert Oppenheimer might paraphrase from the Bhagavad Gita , "we have become death, the destroyer of worlds". Not just with bombs, either. How many species have gone extinct due to Man's having overwhelmed our natural systems? We are practically as efficient as a bolide impact!

So keep the big picture, not just the small stuff. That goes for most things. Including bicycling advocacy.

Godspeed, Ed. And let's remember that granite lasts a lot longer than humankind.

Joel is back...

Sure enough, Caballo Bike & Ski is open for business again. I stopped by and chatted with Joel for a few minutes today. He is also working on getting his web site up again.

Good to see that shop with its lights on again! When the website is up, I'll link to it here. And, thanks to Anon for mentioning it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Economic Stimulus and Bicycling

I'm copying this out of an email I get from the National Center for Bicycling and Walking. Not sure what Sharon means by "reconcile"--the bill has Congressional leadership approval, but has not been voted out of Congress yet. See NY Times link.

Dear Centerlines Readers,

Today, Wednesday, February 11, 2009, members of Congress reconciled the House and Senate versions of The Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act, more popularly known as the Economic Stimulus Bill. As you are likely aware, the economic stimulus bill has generated a tremendous amount of political hyperbole—both in favor of and against its passage. However, there are now three simple facts that remain: 1) the bill has passed both chambers; 2) very soon $800 billion will be allocated by Congress; and 3) a significant percentage of that amount will be devoted to transportation projects.

Making sure that the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists are looked after once the stimulus funding is disbursed to the states is now the primary concern of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking. We believe that the best way to ensure that this happens is to support the House bill which requires that 45 percent of transportation funding go through the Surface Transportation Program formula, which will preserve funding for the Transportation Enhancements program.

NCBW believes that this is the best compromise towards ensuring that bicycle-pedestrian projects are built by the state DOTs, that public accountability for transportation spending is maintained, and that transportation spending conforms to the will of the American people, as expressed in Congress’s passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act in 1991 and subsequent reauthorizations.

If you are ready to take action now, please follow this link to the League of American Bicyclists’ website.

If you would like to learn more about America Bikes Collation’s stance on the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act, please follow this link to our website.


Sharon Z. Roerty, AICP/PP
Executive Director
National Center for Bicycling & Walking

Friday, February 6, 2009

Bob Mionske and Velonews: Good Night, and Good Luck

Bob Mionske has ended his Legally Speaking column in The last essay is titled Good Night and Good Luck. Guess Bob watches the same movies I watch. Or, follows the same famous journalists. The essay is an excellent synopsis of where we are in the continued saga of cyclists's rights.

Fortunately for us, Bob is quite the web presence. He is continuing online with a blog. And, his book. And, Velologue.

According to his web site, Bob is not ceasing his bicycle magazine writing. Rather, he will be moving his articles to Bicycling Magazine. Guess I'll keep paying my LAB dues since the mag comes as a fringe benefit to membership.

I'm still disappointed by the change. Even long after I have gotten too fat to race anything other than the Grim Reaper, who is always trying to catch my wheel, I still follow closely. Bicycling gave the bum's rush to most of the columnists (Langley, Pavelka, etc. who are now here) whom I used to follow.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico

Only seven registered BCNM members from Los Alamos? I would suspect we are under-represented. If you are concerned about cycling, go join. Its admittedly really tough to have a statewide organization in such a large state, but the alternatives are not to have any statewide coordination at all.

There are actually quite a few people registered statewide. We look kinda wimpy here in BombTown.

You can register here:

Thanks for thinking about it!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Support the Failure to Yield law introduced in NM House

HB 0290 introduced by Rick Miera with support of the New Mexico Motorcyclists Rights Organization and which is supported by the Bicycle Coalition as well will add penalties for failure to yield, which is a major cause of bike and motorbike crashes. You know, the old "I never saw you" stuff.

Please support it and call your representative. For most of us, that's Jeannette Wallace.

Bill URL. Be sure to copy the whole thing below.


NM Legislature

For more info on the bill:

Dave Covert
Board Member
New Mexico Motorcyclists Rights Committee
505-844-2989 (day)
dcovert (at ) kcp (dot ) com (day)
505-896-2179 (night)
quietdave ( at) bikerider ( dot) com (night)

Monday, January 26, 2009

LCI Seminar in Albuquerque

If you're at all interested in becoming an LCI (League Cycling Instructor) like some of us jokers, there's a seminar scheduled to happen at the end of February (27th, 28th and March 1st) in Albuquerque. Go here for more details or to sign up. You need to have taken Road I (which is now called Traffic Skills 101 I think) by the seminar date. Who are the people who should take this seminar? People who are interested in teaching, cycling advocates, and at past seminars we've seen some city or county staff civil engineers.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

On Bicycling and Redemption

Since LAB membership gets me a copy of Bicycling, I usually read it. At least scan it. Sometimes its not worthy of being put, perforated, on a tube of cardboard, since the pages are too glossy. Sometimes there is real journalism in it. This issue contained the real thing. Hence this letter to the mag.

Dear Editors at Bicycling

Every once in a while, your magazine prints a story that drops the usual offerings like a fat guy on a Category I climb. This month's (March, 2009) piece by Steve Friedman "The Impossible Redemption of Jonathan Boyer" is one of them. Like "The Invisible Riders" by Dan Koeppel that you ran a few years back, such work goes beyond the surface stuff and unearths realities that go to the heart of the human condition, which, as that famous cyclist once reminded us, "its not about the bike".

I suspect that like many others, I wrote Jock Boyer off to the scrap heap of history after his arrest and conviction for violating one of our more fundamentally held prohibitions. Fortunately, people like Tom Richey, Judge Meyer, Dan Cooper, and Jock's close friends did not. Fortunately, Steve Friedman has given us a deeper understanding of Boyer. As has Jock's involvement with Project Rwanda.

None of us are as bad as the worst thing we have ever done, nor as good as the best thing. We all hurtle through life on metaphorical skinny, high pressure tires; a badly timed blowout is not out of the question for anyone. I wish Jock Boyer well. Redemption, after all, is the best possible outcome of a run-in with our criminal justice system.

The picture above is from an article "Measured Redemption: The Life and Times of Cyclist Jonathan Boyer". Please go read it so I can justify cockroaching* their picture.

* "cockroaching": Hawaiian, pidgin english for pilfering something (don't bother with the def. in the Urban Dictionary)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Downtown Streets Standards Committee meeting

If you were not at the streets standards meeting tonight and worry about Trinity, I suggest you follow up at future meetings to follow this. If we do anything, we need to get it right the first time and that is always a political battle.

I'm more worried about pedestrians crossing the street than of cyclists riding there, to tell you the truth. We have built a lot of housing to the east of Trinity and somehow expect the folks to cross a high speed, wide, multiple lane road with few ped crossings, some of which are badly compromised to keep motor vehicle traffic flowing. If we build commercial properties at the Trinity Site, this will intensify the problem.

There were some designs that looked bicycle-friendly on the surface, but have some not so hidden flaws. Basically, the existing right of way width, at 80 feet, requires some serious compromises if the County is trying to do all things for all constituencies. One design, for example, shows nice bike lanes, but also includes street parking, and the bike lanes are sketched into the design within the door zone of parked cars.

see The Door Zone

and see

Multilane roads with wide outside lanes or with painted bike lanes in lieu of wide outside lanes have their problems: on a heavily used, fast road like Trinity with lots of cross streets, having cyclists riding to the right of other vehicle traffic may increase the risk of cutoff ("right hook" and "left cross") crashes at intersections. Two scenerios are important. In one, motorists pass bicyclists and then abruptly slow and turn right. In another, motorists turn left without paying attention to an oncoming cyclist on the far edge of a wide road. And Trinity has a boatload of intersections and driveways. A further bad scenerio arises when a cyclist tries to make a left turn from a bike lane rather than merging left in advance.

One design on the table had a wide, ~17 ft. multiuse path just a few feet from the roadway, which violates AASHTO best practices. What you get are twice the hazards of a regular intersection when the bike path and the roadway cross. The problems are similar to the problems sidewalk cyclists face--visibility, right of way management, cognizance of both road and path traffic by each set of operators, and compliance.

So regardless of what we do in the way of design, cyclists on Trinity will have to be skilled and reasonably comfortable in traffic as long as Trinity is a traffic-mover. I rode a street similar in design to Trinity but far worse than Trinity in vehicle miles per day travelled in East Honolulu for 9 years without incident by riding in a vehicular cycling fashion. Sadly, I had the dubious pleasure of seeing some inexperienced people on bikes, i.e., college students riding to the Univ. of Hawaii, seriously nailed because they tried to ride to the right of cars while oblivious to turning and crossing complications and opening doors. A reasonable degree of cyclist skill is needed to ensure the cyclist is aware of these hazards and to manage the risks. Take Neale Pickett's Traffic Skills course.

I'd personally prefer a conceptually simple design that integrates cyclists into other traffic without too many whistles and bells, while preserving Central Avenue as a traffic calmed slow street where no one is moving too fast and so no one has that much kinetic energy at their disposal. The biggest problem I see on Central is that some cyclists think they have no right to be in traffic and are intimidated and that a few buttheads in motor vehicles reinforce that notion.

Another option to Trinity, not discussed, is knocking a hole in some buildings and running Deacon Street all the way to MariMac and calling it a bicycle boulevard. A down side is that it would be riddled with stop signs.

Anyway, I'm a fan of not trying to do more than your resources allow. The boundary conditions are fixed by the 80 foot width (unless we add width), number of traffic lanes, and amounts of traffic we want to move. My favorite design was the one with a single, wide lane in each direction and single-lane roundabouts at all the intersections. Barring roundabouts, I'd prefer left turn lanes be included to keep traffic moving without people zooming around left turning vehicles. These could be built into a center median/ped refuge structure.

Speaking for myself here, of course.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

An Earth Day theme they forgot?

LANL talks about Earth Day. Amongst all the themes being bantered about, there is one picture out of three dozen with a bike--sitting in a rack.

Seems we could do better. We shot this pic during BTW Day, 2007.