Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dave Horton: Fear of Cycling

Must reading for anyone following this blog.

Dave a sociologist by training, and currently work at Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, on a project to do with walking and cycling, and the capacity of these most sustainable modes of mobility to re-make cities and towns fit for the twenty-first century.

Dave Horton has written a great piece, "Fear of Cycling" where he dissects some current thinking. I think that should be required reading the cycling-advocacy crowd.

One thing Dave cautions us about is the widespread use of the jargon "safe" in cycling circles, i.e., we want "safe" bicycling, "safe" bike lanes, "safe" special facilities, etc., often stated uncritically. The implication is that bicycling is not safe unless we re-engineer bicycling, safe from threats, both real and over-hyped. But the sad part is that by insisting we have "safe" bicycling, we often end up less safe than ever--being asked to ride in door zones, for example. Why? Because in trying to provide the appearance of safety, we often don't do the actual deed itself, i.e., re-engineer society so it really improves safety, which may be a challenge greater than any set of simple solutions (facilities, helmets, special laws, etc.) will provide. Instead, we just amplify the message that cycling isn't safe because we have not done all these special things. Thus, fewer cyclists are willing to ride in these so-called "unsafe" conditions, even as advocates struggle to "make things better". Define "better".

Cycling is not intrinsically unsafe (sorry for the double negative). According to this link,  there are 0.26 cycling fatalities for every 1 million hours bicycled, or 1 fatal for about 4 million hours. By comparison, the source quotes 0.47 fatals per million hours of driving and 8.8 for motorcycling.  A 100 year old person has lived for about 876,600 hours. Humans haven't lived four million hours since Genesis.

In our social paranoia of all things with even a slight amount of risk, we have painted ourselves into too many corners and have ever fewer ways out. Special treatments as requirements for cycling safety are one example. Driving ever more obese kids to school in ever larger vehicles, so they are safe from mythical predators, is another.  Our fear of nuclear power leaves us with one fewer option for low-CO2 energy. Meanwhile, there are risks when we do nothing, because "do nothing"  is often not a credible solution to many of our social, economic, and ecological problems.

Neale Pickett has said much of the following. Maybe he even read this essay.

Conclusions (excerpted from the essay)

Fear of cycling constitutes a significant emotional barrier to cycling. Ironically, this fear is partly produced through attempts to make cycling safer. For as long as cycling remains something to fear, it remains a marginal and marginalised practice. The constant cultural construction of cycling as dangerous justifies the continued spatial marginalisation of cycling practice, which then enables the continued construction of the cyclist as other, a stranger pedalling on the margins. The ideological, spatial and cultural marginality of cycling are continuously reproduced, together...(snip)...we can in varied ways promote a pro-cycling culture. At the level of representation, our task is to generate and continuously reaffirm positive representations of cycling as an ordinary and enjoyable practice, something I am pleased to see happening in, for example, the recent marketing campaigns of both Transport for London and Cycling England. Certainly, we must stop communicating, however inadvertently, the dangers of cycling, and instead provide people with very many, very diverse, positive and affirming representations of both cycling practice and cycling identities. Current fear of cycling can be otherwise, but we must help make it so.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cycletracks, Safety, Numbers, and Statistics. What's a Poor Cyclist to Believe?

Montreal injury (not crash) data points (red boxes) from Lusk et al 2011 for non-cycletrack (lower left red box) vs cycletrack (upper right red box) roads. "Safety in Numbers" models are the result of a discussion between me and Bob Shanteau and based on Jacobsen-like calculations with different exponential factors between 0.3 and 0.7 (a factor of 1 would be a linear increase). I take responsibility for any errors or misinterpretation and thank Bob for thinking about this.
I've been a little concerned about a couple things looking like bandwagons lately. One has been the uncritical acceptance that bicycling safety is successfully addressed through safety in numbers; that hypothesis has arisen from Peter Jacobsen's 2003 paper. Critics call that the "More Butts on Bikes" approach, often assumed to work (but never proven) because motorists get used to seeing bicyclists all over the place and thus modify motorist behavior. I prefer to think of a hypothesis also involving more brains on bikes--more riders get more experience and stop competing for the Darwin Award. The other bandwagon is the hot topic of cycletracks. A recent paper by Lusk et al (Lusk, Furth, Morency, Miranda-Moreno, Willett, and Dennerlein, Risk of injury for bicycling on cycle tracks versus in the street, Injury Prevention 2011) has been quoted in Grist and elsewhere as giving unequivocal support for these facilities as reducing crash and injury rates. Well, if you completely separate cyclists and motorists they can never crash (into each other). But that ignores that nasty little word "intersections". It also ignores cyclists crashing without a car involved. The week I was in Calgary, Alberta in 2005 a cyclist was killed on a Calgary multiuse path. He sped through a curve and in trying to avoid a pedestrian, crashed head on into a concrete retaining wall. Do off-road facilities give a false sense of safety?

The Lusk study, at least in "brief report" form, worries me in that I don't see enough in depth study that would rule out any factors other than cycletracks vs not having cycletracks. That seems to beg the question. Perhaps other tests were done and not discussed.

But to push the discussion, lets ask this: Since the Montreal cycletracks apparently resulted in a 2.5 times increase in cycling over non-cycletrack streets, should the "safety in numbers" theory apply? Well maybe not. We don't know if Jacobsen's model or Smeed's law works on the microscale. But let's just say, for shits and grins, that it might. What happens then? How does one know if facility design, safety in numbers, or something else controls crash rates?

The Montreal cycletracks are quoted as having reduced the injury rate by 28% with an increase in ridership of 250% compared to non-cycletrack streets. Jacobsen's paper suggests that cycling crashes rise as the 0.31 power of an increase in cycling. Soren Jenson, in a more critical study of Copenhagen facilities, says Danish engineers often use a more complicated model, but with that exponential factor (or factors) between 0.5 and 0.7. He also states that Copenhagen cycletracks resulted in a 20% increase in cycling and a 10% increase in crashes. [Readers please note Comment #1 before reading further]. That would result in a power law of about 0.5. I've plotted a crash rate with exponents between 0.3 and 0.7, labelling the 0.5 curve "Spencer" because I don't want to blame anyone else for my assumptions.

Seems that the Montreal facilities track the higher of the three crash rates that one would get simply by applying the Safety in Numbers model and have a far higher crash rate than predicted by applying Jacobsen's model to Montreal cycletracks. Seems to me that if safety in numbers makes you safer and cycletracks make you safer, the crash/injury rate should be lower than we see in Montreal. Then again, I'm winging it....

Personally, I'd like to see someone actually push this a lot farther than my back of the envelope attempt by an amateur. The Jenson study is a good one, but over there rather than over here; I suspect cultural differences matter quite a bit. I'd also like to see a more detailed breakdown of injuries per mile of bike facility and of general-use facility (i.e. the road) in terms of injury severity. If a cycletrack has 2x the use-normalized injury rate but 0.25 times the serious injury rate (to be defined, but I would define "serious" injury as one that causes more than a few days of mobility loss, i.e., a sprained wrist vs. broken ribs or neck), is that an improvement?  If nothing else, cyclists need to be asking such questions rather than listening to the usual heated but untested arguments. It is, after all, your life, your road rights, and your tax dollars.

To close, I'd like to remind readers that to some degree, we fear things in proportion to how we have manufactured our fears. Or as Dave Horton, a Sociologist at Lancaster University says so well in a series of essays posted on his own site and on on Copenhagenize:

"...Fear of cycling belongs to a fearful culture (Glassner 2000; Massumi 1993). UK sociologist Frank Furedi (2002) argues that western societies have become dominated by a ‘culture of fear’. We have never been so safe, yet never have we been so fearful. ‘“Be careful” dominates our cultural imagination’ (ibid.). We belong to ‘a culture that continually inflates the danger and risks facing people’ (ibid.). ‘Activities that were hitherto seen as healthy and fun … are now declared to be major health risks’ (ibid.). What is more, ‘to ignore safety advice is to transgress the new moral consensus’ (ibid.).[1]

Our fears are produced (Sandercock 2002), which is why they are subject to such variation. Obviously, some fears take more work to produce than others. Most people fear a lunging shadow down a dark alleyway. Fewer people fear waste incinerators, nanotechnologies or the policies of the World Trade Organisation (Goodwin et al 2001, 13) because those fears are more difficult to produce. Fear of cycling is neither inevitable nor ‘natural’ and needs similarly to be produced. It also always exists relative to other fears...."

Thanks muchly to Bob Shanteau for doing most of the good thinking here. I take full responsibility for any brain farts.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Better keep those bike tires pumped up

NY Times: The main government conference hall in Tripoli, Libya, continued to burn Monday following major riots in Tripoli on Sunday night.

When I saw that picture, I wasn't sure it was from Tripoli, Libya or from Madison, Wisconsin.

At any rate, we better fire up the Traffic Skills-101 classes, etc.  Gasoline prices may be about to go through the roof again.

The trouble with watching world events unfold in real time is you don't know where they are going to end up. We've been through two oil crises due to Middle East political instability and our own gluttony. Is this third time to be the charm? Not to mention that food prices are rising because of Federal requirements that ethanol be blended into gasoline as a motor fuel, an absurdly inefficient process that at best encourages a "what, me worry?" driving and energy policy, at worst burns about as much oil as simply drilling more holes in the ground--at the cost of starvation in the Third World. After all, how does one raise and process corn into hooch? With horse-drawn plows and Snuffy Smith's wood-fired 'still?
The latest from the NY Times
CAIRO — The faltering government of the Libyan strongman Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi struck back at mounting protests against his 40-year rule, as helicopters and warplanes besieged parts of the capital Monday, according to witnesses and news reports from Tripoli.
LONDON — Global oil companies said Monday that they were making plans to evacuate employees in Libya after some operations there were disrupted by political unrest. Libya holds the largest crude oil reserves in Africa, and the moves drove some stock prices down and a crucial oil benchmark to a three-year high.
U.S. Energy Policy, 2011

May we live in interesting times, eh?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Traffic Justice, Two Views

(Note--click any picture except the first one for the full size version)
Amy Jobe's sister (l) and mom (r) at the dedication of a 
Ghost Bike (descanso) for Amy. 
Pic courtesy of Duke City Wheelmen
Deceased cyclist Amy Jobe's mom, in red shirt, and Amy's sister in the white dress, behind the Ghost Bike. Jennifer Buntz of Duke City Wheelmen (purple jersey, bending in front of front wheel) finishing up the bike placement.

Two events today had me in the car rather than on the bike. The first was placement of a Ghost Bike (descanso) for Amy Jobe, a 16 year old bicyclist who was hit by a car along  US 84/285 Highway near mile marker 177 back in 1999. Tom Sharpe of the Santa Fe New Mexican researched details of the crash for me, digging through 12 year old stories, and I am extremely grateful for that. Thank you, Tom (this has been updated on Monday, 21 February).

Amy was hit was crossing the road from a mobile-home park where her sister lived to use the pay phone at an Allsup's convenience store. She was on her way to call a friend when she was struck by a northbound 1973 Pontiac. Officer Nick Jimenez of state police in Santa Fe said in the original story. It was apparently after dark. No driver fault was found. That finding may have been fair, or may not. How does one know?

This was also before all the improvements were made that have grade-separated the highway and shut down the old road except for local access. The Ghost Bike is between Camel Rock and the new gas stations, on the access road to the east of the main highway.

Jemez Mts. in background. 
Not too far from home

Amy's Ghost Bike
Afterwards, most of us headed for the State Capitol for a joint rally (sponsored by the NM Motorcycle Rights Organization and the Duke City Wheelmen) in support of House Bill 68 and to memorialize fallen riders. A press release is here. This bill, if passed, will  increase the available penalties for careless drivers who kill or injure others.

Most of those present were motorcyclists, according to Jennifer Buntz, 125 wearing leather vs. 25 in lycra . Those who don't know me well don't know I have a motorcycle endorsement on my driver's license and have put over 100k of miles on my hind end on motorcycles, including riding motorcycle support for several Dick Evans Road Races on Oahu. So I am entirely comfortable surrounded by the leather jackets folks.  You should be too. Believe me, we are all in this together. My very first realization of cyclist vulnerability was when I was pulled out of school as a high school junior and rushed home because my dad had just wrecked his cherished BMW R60 (and himself) when a motorist failed to yield and made a left turn right in front of his big bike. He lived, but was permanently partially disabled with a shattered leg that had to be reconstructed. He eventually got back on big bikes again, too. Tough old coot.

I was a little disappointed in the cycling turnout. Kinda interesting mix, though, and the motorcycling fraternity definitely motivated a bigger turnout than we did. We need to do better if we are going to be listened to in the Roundhouse.
Duke City Wheelmen Foundation President Jennifer Buntz 
and Annette Torrez, President of the NM Motorcycle Rights Foundation 
address those assembled at Saturday's State Capitol rally 
in support of House Bill 68
Amy Jobe's mom, on her scooter, joins the rally

A poignant memorial. If anyone's offended by the fake blood and legs, I've actually been present at a motorcycling  double fatal caused by a delinquent motorist. Real blood and gore is worse than this.

A good crowd filled the Roundhouse main floor
(From a Jennifer Buntz e-mail). Due in part to those of you who wrote to the House Judiciary Committee members, HB68 was given a unanimous "Do Pass" recommendation by the committee.  Its a great step in the progress of this bill, but more importantly, its a step towards having more behind our push for increased attentiveness and diligence while driving.  Duke City Wheelmen Foundation can keep putting up ghost bike for a long time, but what we really want is for fewer cyclists to be killed.  Ghost bikes do generate awareness of cyclists on the road, but descansos or road side memorials don't have the same impact as a law with stiffer penalties, nor will they reach the same audience.

The next step for HB68 is to pass on the floor of the House.  With all the Judiciary Committee behind the bill, we are optimistic that the bill will receive a favorable vote from the House.  Then it will progress to the Senate, where we will need to voice our support again, this time to our Senators.

For those of you who wrote to Representatives, please consider e-mailing again, to thank them.  You could contact all the Representatives, noting the unanimous "do pass" recommendation in Judiciary today and urging support for the bill.  The bill was also given a "do pass" from the Consumer and Public Affairs Committee two weeks ago. 

Like the "5 feet to pass" bill, getting through one chamber is good, but what we need is for the bills to get through the other chamber.  Then, there may be a need to lobby the Governor to sign.  We will wait and see about that.

For Los Alamos readers, please contact Jeannette Wallace and our Senators. A full House list is below,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Friday, February 18, 2011

Situational Awareness vs. Right Turning School Bus

It was an unusually quiet commute in on Diamond Drive this morning, perhaps because a lot of LANL employees decided to make this a four-day weekend. Maybe that was part of the problem.

Riding West on Diamond Drive and approaching Range Road on my right, I noted that a school bus was approaching the stop sign as it drove south on Range Road. That bus normally makes a right turn onto Diamond Drive and heads West towards the rest of its route.  I mentally did my "what-if drill" as the driver slowed to a stop. The driver was looking past me at that point and I didn't know if I had been noticed at any point, so I kept up my guard. The bus stopped.
Bus driver's view, approximately, looking east. I took this picture at the same time of day (~0745) a few days later. I ride in the inboard part of the bike lane, slightly to the right of the motorcycle. I noticed, while taking the picture, that a lot of the motorists pulling out of this side street were squinting or shading their eyes while checking for  westbound traffic. That might have been part of the problem.

At least burial would have been convenient
Unfortunately, my first indication that the motorist had not seen me was as I was "crossing the t" in front of the bus and noticing it had started out and was heading straight at me. Note that one of the problems with bike lanes is that they position you closer to side street stop lines than traffic in the travel lanes, giving you less time to react and potentially, making you less obvious to side street motorists looking for cars in the travel lanes. I've discussed that here. Hmm....Also, its funny how much slower one can accelerate a loaded commuter bike, including panniers (35 lbs) when compared to an unladen Six-Thirteen with race wheels on it (17 lbs).

Looking over my emergency options at that point, a Quick Stop would likely have put me under the front of the bus, and an instant left turn might have put me in front of overtaking inside lane traffic (I had no chance to even notice if there was anyone coming up on my left from behind) so being a certified BombTown conehead, I was accelerating (as much as an old man can accelerate a heavy bike), calculating the bus turning radius, yelling at the top of my lungs, and trying to stay ahead of and slightly outside the radius of the bus as it turned while not moving any farther left than I had to, to avoid being potentially clipped from behind. With the bus slightly off my rear fender and to my right, the driver finally saw me and stopped.
Crossing the T.  
Me as white ship on Diamond, 
bus as black ship on Range Rd. 
Bus has stop sign.

The driver was obviously mortified and pulled alongside, apologizing profusely. Learning experience, I guess. I smiled, waived, and said OK, its all right. No fingers, no Southern Italian blessings. Try to put a positive spin on this....whew...funny how these things can seem so analytical as they are happening.

A few take-home lessons:

One, if you are making a right on red or a right at a stop sign, PLEASE don't rush it. Look carefully for cross traffic (both vehicle and pedestrian) in both directions. Don't assume nothing is there unless you VERIFY THAT IS TRUE. I found the following bit of info one day after hearing yet one more complaint about bicyclists running stop signs: “…Another popular, but illegal, California driving habit is the legendary California Stop, the act of slowing down but not fully stopping at a stop sign. The dedicated staff of wanted to see how prevalent this behavior was in our fair city…In a sample of 300 cars, the dedicated staff only saw 50 full stops (16.67%)…” Let's face it, we are ALL getting sloppy and that creates risk. I recently saw a ped dive for safety when a motorist did a "California Right on Red" at the Diamond intersection with W. Jemez road. Ouch.

Two, if you are a bicyclist, this is yet one more example of why SITUATIONAL AWARENESS is your friend. I was mentally doing a what-if drill as I closed on the intersection, and was mentally prepared to act when the shit hit the fan. Although I often think of this part of Diamond Drive as the safest section of bike lane anywhere in Los Alamos county due to its few intersections and excellent sight lines, one cannot let one's guard down--anywhere. Where I failed was that I did not take into account the position of the sun in anticipating a potential problem with motorists pulling out of side streets. Situational awareness means not only being aware of other operators, but aware of the totality of conditions.

Perhaps in a defensive move, I should have moved farther left, so as to be more in the side street motorist's field of consciousness, i.e., be riding with the cars, which is what other motorists are looking for. As it is, I usually ride the inboard side of the bike lane to be more obvious to overtaking traffic. That the bus driver would have therefore seen me is a hypothesis, obviously. I think a cyclist is pretty visible here. The sun, however, was most likely the big problem. A strategy of moving left may mean leaving the bike lane, but one has to ask of what use the bike lane is if it puts you so far right that you are not in a side street motorist's attention. But I'm not sure lateral position was the problem. One doesn't always know what the problem really is.

Of course, my only experience with road rage in Los Alamos was the day I moved out of the bike lane on that same section of Diamond and ended up in a near-brawl with a motorist who was outraged that I was taking up his lane. But the bottom line is that you are only required, when riding slower than the speed limit, to ride "as far right as is practicable" and given this lesson, I would conclude that as far right as is practicable may not always include the bike lane.  A good move may be to scan, signal, and safely move left into the travel lane whenever you are approaching a potentially risky intersection (my most worrisome ones are descending Conoco Hill headed north, riding downhill past Quemezon on North, and riding north on Diamond past Sandia/Orange). Alternatively, slow down and prepare for a right of way violation by a motorist.

In this video, John Allen is approaching an intersection in the bike lane, as I was. In John's case he does an instant turn to the right. I was already in front of the side road vehicle when the vehicle accelerated off the line. Would me being in the travel lane have helped?

Three, if you are trying to impart a positive learning experience during such a situation, try to retain some composure, command, and control, at least while the incident is unfolding. Although I have to admit, once it was all over, I waited till no one was around and then yelled !%$#@ at the top of my lungs a couple times.Just to let off some tension.

Now, what was it I was supposed to be doing this morning?

2/19 Postscript: Last night while riding home, an Atomic City Bus pulled alongside me on my left and then merged into the bike lane, with me in it, in order to make a stop at a bus pullout. Rather than yielding until I was past the facility, he simply forced me towards the curb. I stopped and talked to him. He thought he had left me "enough room" even though the bus was straddling half the bike lane. I told him that was not a good idea. It might terrify a less experienced cyclist and left me two choices, brake to a stop or be headed directly for bus customers in an attempt to shoot the gap. Nothing malicious intended, just a typical misunderstanding.  Bombtown cyclists have some work to do.

But really. Was there something about the way the stars were aligned yesterday?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Safety in Numbers? Or safety in good cycling practices?

Steve Avery generated this plot with a random number generator
Steve Avery has some good comments about "Safety in Numbers" on his web page. I won't reinvent the wheel here, just refer you to his post.

I do worry about taking the Minneapolis safety assertions without a grain of salt. Plotting commuters against crashes (second figure) makes the assumption that commuters are a proxy for cyclists exposed to the risk of  crashes or of total cyclists.  However, if you look at actual data, turns out that most crashes are during the evening rush hours while few are during the morning rush hours. If commuters really are the population that is crashing, why are they only crashing while going home? I would want to test whether after-work or after-school recreational riders are crashing, thus helping create the bulge in the return rush hour numbers.
Actual Minneapolis data. Source document in pdf is here
Do we track those recreational rider numbers? The largest group of injured bicyclists are still in the 10-14 year old age group. So do we really know whether there are more cyclists on the roads, or simply a higher estimate of commuter cyclists (these are self-reporting data from surveys, not actual bike counts) driving down the so-called crash rate? Or for that matter, do we know how well crashes or injuries are counted?  In 2009, for example, there were fewer reported (957) bike crashes than (973) reported bike casualties (including 10 fatals). More tandems??? Or, counting errors?

Smeed's law, as well as mechanistic attempts to explain his numerical observations, go back a long way. I am sure there are advantages to having more cyclists on the roads, i.e., motorists have more experience interacting with bicyclists, there is an expectation of seeing cyclists, more money is spent on bicycling education and awareness, etc.. But I wouldn't count on numbers alone to keep one safe. This article for example suggests just the opposite of "safety in numbers" for motorcyclists (and based on how I saw or read about young servicemen riding their motorcycles in Honolulu, I can understand why--young riders were often engaging in high risk behavior, were riding beyond their competence, often on extremely high performance vehicles, or were drunk.)

Although one doesn't have 50-100 horsepower to abuse on a bicycle, take it from my personal experience: doing something dumb on either a motorcycle or on a bicycle is an excellent way to get hurt, no matter how many other people are riding today. Don't let "safety in numbers" convince you to be complacent. Its not simply more butts on bikes that makes for safety, but more brains on bikes.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Black Hawk, Colorado bike ban update and action alert. Much revised.

Coming soon to a road near you?
The Colorado House Bill described below, which tries to redress the situation in Black Hawk, CO, might not be an entirely bad idea. In many if not all states, cycling laws and operation can be regulated locally and for every "bicycle-friendly community" that cuts you a break, there is the potential for a Black Hawk.  The Colorado bill tries to make it harder to ban cycling by requiring an engineering study that would justify a local restriction (at least that is my read). Call that half a loaf? Of course, if you read the bill, it says a horse trail is good enough for cyclists. Great win...if you like riding through horseshit on your road bike.

This particular problem, i.e., an outright bike ban or mandatory sidepath ordinance, has not surfaced in NM in quite a while (i.e., since the days of the Rio Rancho mandatory sidepath law, since repealed) but similar situations have surfaced repeatedly in the U.S. (see League link above or this one.) Don't get complacent.

I had earlier doubted that many localities would want to suffer through the trouble of doing a contentious engineering study to show that bicycling is incompatible with other traffic (given that it usually isn't) and then be forced to build alternative rights of way even if they win. Turns out if you read the court transcript posted by Bicycle Colorado, not only did Black Hawk do such a study, but the cycling community may have hoisted itself with its own petard, courtesy of the use (or perhaps misuse), by Black Hawk's consultants, of an FHWA-developed "bicycling level of service" concept (also found here).

Anyway...don't burn your mixed-use tires. You may someday need them. And thanks to MikeonBike and Jon for the wakeup calls.

From the LAB blog:

Black Hawk ban update – Colo. cyclists action needed!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Bike Ride?

That's in Farenheit
It was ten below when I let the dogs out on Thursday morning, and folks all over New Mexico were losing heat when natural gas demand exceeded supply, crashing the system. The other day at work, when we saw the storm approach, I had sent the link to Jack London's To Build A Fire out to my group. My seventh grade English teacher, Mrs. Quinlan, had read that to us in class one badass Buffalo winter day. Even the class clowns were riveted and silent.

I didn't know that Ma Nature would take us up on that story so literally, as low temperature records were broken across the state. To about 25,000 souls in New Mexico yesterday, (40,000 if you read the Journal) a fire in the fireplace was as good as it got.

I did see one guy ride into work yesterday morning, when the temperature was about ten below and the wind chill in the minus twenties. Me? I chickened out and took the Subaru.

With the temperatures hovering around thirty today, it seems positively balmy. Ok, time to get back on the bike.

BTW, John Fleck of the Journal has a good story (Jet Stream Detour Left the Freezer Door Open) on the science behind the analysis of this storm.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Support House Bill 68

Cyclist favorable HB68 is on the House Consumer and Public Affairs Hearing Agenda for Thursday Feb . Note from Jennifer Buntz: HB 68 passed through Consumer and Public Affairs Committee and is on to Judiciary sometime next week.

The hearing will be held in Room 315 at 1:30 pm.  Consider attending if you can.

PLEASE contact members of this committee to ask for their support of HB68.

The members and their contact information is as follows:

Representative Gail Chasey                        Chair                  (505) 986-4844

Representative Antonio "Moe" Maestas    Vice Chair             (505) 986-4464

Representative Thomas A. Anderson         Member                           (505) 986-4451

Representative Dennis J. Kintigh               Member (505) 986-4453

Representative Bill B. O'Neill                      Member             (505) 986-4254

Also, contact our own Rep. Jeanette Wallace:                    (505) 986-4452

You can read the bill at
House Bill 68, introduced by Representative Rick Miera, (Dem. ABQ). is legislation aimed at increasing penalty options at sentencing for drivers found guilty of careless driving that resulted in severe bodily harm or death. Currently, unless the driver is intoxicated or found to meet the stringent definition of “reckless driving” the penalty options are not commensurate with the devastating consquences. House Bill 68 would allow stiffer penalties to be used, up to $1,000.00 in fines and/or up to one year probation/jail for careless, un-intoxicated drivers who cause severe bodily harm or death. Under current law, even when a crash causes severe bodily harm or death, but remains “careless driving” the maximum fine is $300.00 and maximum probation/jail time is up to 90 days. 
In support of House Bill 68, the New Mexico Motorcycle Rights Organization (NMMRO) proudly joins forces with Duke City Wheelmen Foundation (DCWF) and the Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico (BCNM). Although HB68 is not specific to crashes that involve motorcycles or bicycles, many times these collisions are determined to be a result of “careless driving” even though the cyclist or motorcyclist has suffered great bodily harm or is killed. This joint effort is being done in memory of fellow cyclists and motorcyclists who have been severely injured or killed where the at-fault drivers received very minimal penalties. Among them are cyclists James Quinn, Heather Reu, and David Sciera and motorcyclists Donald Harris, Mickey Maldonado and Paul Souther.