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