Monday, May 31, 2010

Bicyclist-Friendly Communities

A bicycle is an inanimate object. Its the bicyclist I worry about. I would like to see the Bike League change the name of our community-building program to "bicycling friendly communities" since its the activity that has to be made more friendly, and consider Commute Orlando's pyramid (see link for details) as a basis for the BFC model (from Keri Caffrey, with permission).

The pyramid demonstrates that we need to build these programs from the bottom up and ensure that the cyclists out on the roads are good ambassadors to cycling. So #1 and 2 are really quite intertwined. By building this pyramid, the legwork for changing motorist and police behavior, and the job of building well-designed cycling infrastructure will be so much easier.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The real reason we have a Gulf oil spill

I took a quick look at the news this morning on TV and Interior's Ken Salazar was reiterating that the government was going to "keep a boot on the neck" of BP until the Gulf well blowout was sealed shut.

But who is going to put the boot on the American public's neck? We usually don't see this kind of traffic congestion in Los Alamos, but its the rule in our nation's major population centers, as reported by the Texas Transportation Institute: In its annual report (see link) the TTI tells us that:
  • The overall cost of traffic congestion (based on wasted fuel and lost productivity) reached $87.2 billion in 2007 – more than $750 for every U.S. traveler.
  • The total amount of wasted fuel topped 2.8 billion gallons – three weeks' worth of gas for every traveler.
  • The amount of wasted time totaled 4.2 billion hours – nearly one full work week (or vacation week) for every traveler.
Without the voracious and wasteful appetite we have for oil, there would be less reason to drill in deep water and certainly more reason to be prudent in how we do so. As long as we continue to demand all the oil that can be pumped and elect leaders who are lax on regulatory oversight (the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service lax oversight problems are bipartisan but certainly worsened with Dick Cheney running the show), the blame for this disaster has to be shared.

Meanwhile, those reading this blog are hopefully doing the right thing: use your bike when you can instead of your car. And not just during Bike to Work Week.

Further note: In the 6-8-10 Monitor, columnist Hal Rhodes asks "Why did the American people, through their elected representative, allow anyone to go poking for oil in deep waters off our coastlines without first knowing how to fix the inevitable disasters that would follow?"

Jeeze, Hal. Look at any road or parking lot in Los Alamos County or elsewhere in the U.S. and you can get the answer right away. We want our gas, and we want it now. As Walt Kelly, speaking as Pogo, reminded us, "we have met the enemy, and he is us".

Cartoon source: Wikipedia. Click pic for link.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Congrats to Los Alamos' Spring, 2010 Traffic Skills 101 grads

Many thanks to the LANL Industrial Hygiene and Safety Division Office for its continued support of this program, and especially to Deputy Division Leader Theresa Cull whose administrative support is key to this program, and Division Admin Dee Sherlock, who covers a lot of the logistics. -Khal

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Floyd Landis comes clean, implicates others

Well, now Floyd Landis has come clean but in a somewhat controversial way, making sure that he has plenty of company downwind of the fan. Velo News, the Wall Street Journal, the NY Times, and NPR are all covering the latest in a long series of stories about doping in the pro peloton, stories that are surely replacing the Yellow Jersey with one covered with brown, smelly spots.

On the other hand, there are alternative viewpoints to those who want to hang Floyd. Why should Landis take the fall alone for a flagrantly corrupt system? The omerta' system of handing the doping questions in high level pro cycling has gotten a little transparent, hasn't it?

We just need to ride our bikes and wash our hands of this shit. My idea of a role model for up and coming racers doesn't have track marks in his arms.

Well, with apologies to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Click the original below and sing along.

What a drag it is getting caught...

Bike pros are dif-fer-ent today, I hear ev’ry teammate say,
Yellow Jersey needs a shot to drop the crowd,
And though he’s not really ill, there’s a performance-enhancing pill,
He goes running for the shelter of pro cyclist’s little helper,
And it helps him on his way, gets him through another stage,

Doctor please some more of these
I won the Tour, I want four more
What a drag it is going slow

"Things are different today"
I hear ev'ry manager say
Eating right and getting sleep just ain't enough,
So he buys a syringe o'stuff, rubs testosterone in his butt
And goes running for the shelter of pro biker's little helper
And that helps him on his way, get him through another stage,

Doctor please some more of these
I won the Tour, I want four more
What a drag it is going slow

"Teams just aren't the same today"
I hear ev'ry cyclist say
They just don't appreciate that we get tired
They're so hard to satisfy. But you can EPO your times
So go running for the shelter of pro cyclist's little helper
And take a "patch" with you tonight, help to minimize your plight

Doctor please some more of these
I won the Tour, I want four more
What a drag it is getting dropped

"Racing's much too rough today"
I hear ev'ry teammate say
"Pursuit of the Maillot Jaune is just too hard",

But if you take some more of those,
you’ll get busted, you'll get hosed,
No more running for the shelter of pro cyclist’s little helper,
They just helped you on your way,
to win your lying, cheating stage

Doctor please, some more of these
I won the Tour, I want four more
But what a drag it is getting caught....

Here's the real version of the song; just click the picture below. Its played out in our homes, the workplace, and in schools across the country every day. (From the PBS link:"...Indeed, citizens of the United States, most of them well below the legal drinking or smoking age, now consume over 90 percent of the 8.5 tons of methylphenidate (trade name Ritalin) produced worldwide each year. ..")

Just in case anyone missed the real hypocrisy here

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I pity the fool!

I took some photos on the way in this morning. I am certain that bicycling from town to TA-3 is quicker than driving. Just look at that clear bike lane! And I'd already sailed past a good half-mile of traffic when I took this snapshot.

Khal, would you be up for a car vs. bike race from my house to TA-3 sometime at the end of May?

Khal sez: Neale, I'll take you up on that, but only if you drive the car!!! This morning a guy in a red Hummer passed me as I exited Camino Uva by the Middle School. I passed him in the construction zone and he caught up with me as I was approaching the Diamond-Sigma intersection. So driving isn't very time-efficient unless you really need the car while you are away at work.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Next Week is Bike to Work Week

So get out and ride to work.

Not to mention, LANL is sponsoring a League of American Bicyclists Traffic Skills 101 cours

Friday, May 7, 2010

So long, Gail

Picture Copyright Graham Watson.

Gail Ryba, Ph.D., was the co-founder of the Sandia Commuters Club at Sandia National Lab where she was engaged in fuel cell research for several years before going full time into advocacy for clean and sustainable lifestyles. She went on to form the Greater Albuqurque SpokesPeople (now BikeABQ) and the Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico. She was a League Cycling Instructor and most recently the Executive Director of the New Mexico Coalition of Clean and Affordable Energy (NMCCAE) and the recipient of the 2009 League of American Bicyclists Phyllis Harmon Volunteer of the Year Award for her contributions to bicyclist advocacy, an award that should have been presented to her at the 2010 LAB Rally in Albuquerque. Most recently, Gail spearheaded the grant proposal that just bore fruit in having the NM Dept. of Transportation partner with the BCNM to provide more bicyclist safety training in New Mexico.

Gail died today, Friday May 7th, after a prolonged battle with cancer.

Dan Baker of Santa Fe, who was the BCNM webmaster for quite a while, has suggested a memorial in the form of a bike fund for Gail and Tom's daughter Lynn. If you are interested, contact Dan:

Dan Baker
1909 Proctor Ct.
Santa Fe, NM 87505
dan AT dtbakerprojects DOT com

Gail's husband Tom Robey has indicated that Gail would be honored with remembrances to the Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico (PO Box 3326, Corrales, NM 87048) or Gerard's House (PO Box 28693, Santa Fe, NM 87592). Services will be held on Saturday, May 15 at 5:00 pm at the United Church of Santa Fe, 1804 Arroyo Chamisa (corner of St. Michaels and Arroyo Chamisa), Santa Fe, NM; Rev. Talitha Arnold presiding (505.988-3295). Please consider supporting Gail's memory by walking, biking, or carpooling!

I last used this photo of Lance Armstrong winning the 18th stage of the 1995 Tour de France, with Graham Watson's permission, when I was helping organize an AIDS multiisland ride in Hawaii back about a dozen or so years ago. Like many others, I had just lost a close family member in the prime of his life to AIDS and found the picture compelling.

Fabio Casartelli, a promising teammate of Lance's on the Motorola squad, had just lost his life in a bad crash during a high speed Alpine descent during the 15th stage of the 1995 Tour de France. Like Fabio, Gail has been taken from the cycling community and loved ones all too soon.

Lance, a young teammate to Casartelli, went off on a flyer on Stage 18 and dedicated the win to his teammate. Like Lance, we all need to go on a flyer and dedicate our success in cycling and sustainability advocacy to Gail Ryba.

There is a "Fans of Gail Ryba" page on Facebook where there are some very nice pictures of Gail.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How about a distracted driving superblitz?

According to the Monitor, there will be a DWI superblitz all summer. As far as cyclist safety, I am equally concerned with driver distraction (see downloadable pdf courtesy of the AAA Foundation) as we cyclists are usually out during the day when driver inattention is likely to be more prevalent than driver drunkenness, at least here in BombTown.

Driver inattention (not having to do with a cell phone or similar device, apparently) almost took a local cyclist's life last summer and I suspect that is only the harbinger of things to come as more people get into the habit of texting, etc., while driving and our state legislature does squat about the problem. I would hate to wait until we have a dead victim in Los Alamos to name a County law after, either.

Lets face it, here on The Hill as at Lake Wobegon, everyone thinks their driving and multitasking skills are above average and they can thus multitask safely while driving. But the jury is back in: such behavior reduces our drivers to dangerous incompetence. Sure, most multitaskers don't intend to hurt anybody, but that won't stop you from getting hurt. Do you want to see motor vehicle operation reduced to Gumby Theatre? Probably not.

Monday, May 3, 2010

LANL to sponsor Traffic Skills 101 Course

In consideration of National Bike Month and the impending completion of yet one more segment of the Diamond Drive Bicycling Superhighway (see photo in link), LANL will sponsor another League of American Bicyclists skills course.

You will need to be a LANL employee to take this. However, if you are not a LANL employee and there is enough interest, the local LCI contingent can schedule another course not on company time.

Traffic Skills 101:

Friday, May 21, 2010, at Canyon School, Room 164, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Instructors: Khal Spencer and Neale Pickett

Description: The course covers bicycle safety checks, fixing a flat, on-bike skills and crash avoidance techniques and includes a student manual. Recommended for adults and children above age fourteen, this fast-paced, nine-hour course prepares cyclists for a full understanding of vehicular cycling.

Please note: The ABC Quick Check is a bicycle safety check performed to ensure your bicycle is fit for riding. Please make sure it is fit for the class in advance--see me if you have any questions. No point on showing up with a bike that is not safe to ride!

Questions? Leave 'em here or contact me at work.

Khal Spencer

It's National Bike Month!

After ramming my beautiful loaded touring bike into the garage (it was strapped onto the top of the car), I have nothing left but an 80s double-chainring Italian racing bike to get me in to work. It has an 11-21 6-speed freewheel, which means I attack hills or blow out my legs going slowly. I'm looking forward to getting my new Bike Friday New World Tourist, but it won't be here until June.

In the meantime, since I'm on a racing bike now, I may as well engage my fellow hill cyclists in the Silly Commuter Race. I have an FCN (Food Chain Number) of 15, which I think puts me just below Yehuda Moon. Woo!