Wednesday, May 30, 2012

SEEing ahead--hazard avoidance and execution

This is on the motorcycle safety foundation web site.

SEE = Search, Evaluate, Execute

Search (or scan)= scanning up the road several seconds before you get there, interrogating what you see, looking for clues to possible danger and problems that could unfold. For the bicyclist, one should probably include stuff coming up close behind or along side you, since as a bicyclist, you are being passed more often and this could lead to issues unfolding, such as at intersections (right hook crash).

Evaluate = Understand and interpret what you are seeing in the context of how it could affect you. Create a plan of action to avoid the potential danger scenario should it develop into a crisis.

Execute = Be able to execute the plan of action when needed. This, obviously, means practice bike handling in advance. Execution could be as simple as slowing down or or more complex, such as taking evasive action, such as being able to make an instant turn, hop a curb, or execute an emergency braking maneuver. The bottom line is knowing that an observation can develop into a hazardous scenerio, you, the rider, by being alert and competent on your two wheeler, you can gracefully (or not so gracefully) dodge it, keeping the rubber side down. Its better to cuss and mutter than to be picking yourself off the road--or be scraped off the road by the EMTs.

Interesting whitepaper and powerpoint here explaining some of the thinking behind the training. I tried to post this to the national LCI list earlier today. Has not appeared yet.

An example here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Closing out Bike Month

There is a tendency in bike advocacy circles to ascribe all sorts of good deeds and good outcomes to bicycling. I worry about that sometimes. That rationale starts to make the bicycle sound like something that has to be experienced as penance or preventative: an aspirin, purgative, visit to the confessional, or "even more green than a Prius". Here is my response to National Bike Month.

A Bike

A Zen Teacher saw five of his students return from the market, riding their bicycles. When they had dismounted, the teacher asked the students,

"Why are you riding your bicycles?"

The first student replied, "The bicycle is carrying this sack of potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!"

The teacher praised the student, saying, "You are a smart boy. When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over, as I do."

The second student replied, "I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path."

The teacher commended the student, "Your eyes are open and you see the world."

The third student replied, "When I ride my bicycle,  I am content to chant, nam myoho renge kyo."

The teacher gave praise to the third student, "Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel."

The fourth student answered, "Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all beings."

The teacher was pleased and said, "You are riding on the golden path of non-harming."

The fifth student replied, "I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle."

The teacher went and sat at the feet of the fifth student, and said, "I am your disciple."

Some other good koans and stories here:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

NM State law on overtaking and turning

In the general case, a cyclist has well defined rights to the road in New Mexico.

66-3-702. Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles.

Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle, except as to the special regulations within Sections 66-3-701 through 66-3-707 NMSA 1978.

In response to a couple questions on a previous post regarding how to pass a cyclist in a bike lane. Here is the only law I could find, i.e., there is no mention of whether this changes if a bike lane is present.

 66-7-322. Required position and method of turning at intersections.  

  The driver of a vehicle intending to turn at an intersection shall do so as follows:      

  A.     both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway;      

  B.     at any intersection where traffic is permitted to move in both directions on each roadway entering the intersection, an approach for a left turn, except where left-turn provisions are made, shall be made in that portion of the right half of the roadway nearest the center line thereof and by passing to the right of such center line where it enters the intersection and after entering the intersection the left turn shall be made so as to leave the intersection to the right of the center line of the roadway being entered. Whenever practicable the left turn shall be made in that portion of the intersection to the left of the center of the intersection;     

  C.     upon a roadway with two or more lanes for through traffic in each direction, where a center lane has been provided by distinctive pavement markings for the use of vehicles turning left from both directions, no vehicle shall turn left from any other lane. A vehicle shall not be driven in this center lane for the purpose of overtaking or passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction. Any maneuver other than a left turn from this center lane will be deemed a violation of this section;      

  D.     at any intersection where traffic is restricted to one direction on one or more of the roadways, the driver of a vehicle intending to turn left at any such intersection shall approach the intersection in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of such vehicle and after entering the intersection the left turn shall be made so as to leave the intersection, as nearly as practicable, in the left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in such direction upon the roadway being entered; and    

  E.     local authorities in their respective jurisdictions may cause markers, buttons or signs to be placed within or adjacent to intersections and thereby require and direct that a different course from that specified in this section be traveled by vehicles turning at an intersection, and when markers, buttons or signs are so placed no driver of a vehicle shall turn a vehicle at an intersection other than as directed and required by the markers, buttons or signs.      

  History: 1941 Comp., § 68-2421, enacted by Laws 1953, ch. 139, § 76; 1953 Comp., § 64-18-21; Laws 1965, ch. 108, § 1; recompiled as 1953 Comp., § 64-7-322, by Laws 1978, ch. 35, § 426.

66-7-310. Overtaking a vehicle on the left.  

  The following rules shall govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions and special rules hereinafter stated:      

  A.     the driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle; and      
B.     except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle on audible signal and shall not increase the speed of his vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.      
  History: 1953 Comp., § 64-7-310, enacted by Laws 1978, ch. 35, § 414.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cyclist down--and cited, too

According to media sources, the cyclist who was involved in a collision with a motorist in front of Metzger's Gas Station this morning was cited. Fortunately, that mental picture in my head of seeing him on a gurney being lifted into an ambulance was for prevention, not dire need. But I missed the fireworks.  If you were a witness and saw what happened, you might want to make a statement as to what you saw, assuming you have not already done so.

Although this is a bike blog, I'd prefer not to jump to too many conclusions without seeing a full report.  But one thing is for sure. Whenever there are bike lanes and a lot of curb cuts (i.e., side streets, parking lot entrances), there will be conflicts. Be careful out there, be aware of your surroundings, and expect mistakes. For example.  And another example, where I came close to being hit at almost the exact same location.

Here, to review, are some general reminders I posted a couple years ago.

Here is a general video of what can happen at an intersection with a bike lane.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Two Jarring Incidents--and another cyclist down

Sent to Police Chief Torpy and the Transportation Board

Yesterday I rode my motorcycle home for lunch after some training at White Rock. Headed East on Diamond Drive, I saw in my rear view mirrors a County garbage truck gaining on me from some distance back. Finally, with the truck just about filling my mirrors, I hit the gas in a lower gear, sped up, and then looked back as if to say "what are you doing"?

The County driver slowed precipitously and kept about a hundred yards back the rest of the way to the roundabout. I wonder if he realized he nearly hit me.

Today, again heading home for lunch on the motorcycle (we have had a complicated life lately requiring us to take turns going home for lunch, so I'm often motorized), I saw an older motorist weaving back and forth between the bike lane and travel lane in an older brown American car, headed northbound on Diamond near the First Baptist Church. Not just slightly in the bike lane, but driving for long periods ENTIRELY in it and seeming to be daydreaming. I saw a bicyclist up ahead and maneuvered forward to warn him to watch for this guy. Seeing me riding my MC in the bike lane and pointing at him, the older gentleman suddenly found the wherewithal to keep his vehicle under control and drove straight as an arrow all the way to the roundabout, where he headed onto Barranca Mesa.

Is distracted driving on the rise here? I hope that when our LAPD sees such bad driving, they are citing under Sec. 38-297. - Careless driving

As much as I would hate to be a statistic, I would really hate to have to read about the next one. Most of these are preventable if the public paid attention.

Khal Spencer

To which Jerry adds this:
Is distracted driving on the rise?

Just last Friday afternoon I was standing by the side of the street by my house when a car with 4 kids in it drove by with the driver’s window open.  The driver had his phone in the center of the steering wheel and was texting with his thumbs.  Didn’t see him look up at all to see where he was going.

Regarding cars using the bike lane:  I see it all the time…  mostly on sweeping right hand turns on Diamond.

Send your stories in as comments. Let's see who can win the prize for nuttiest driver story. Winner gets a six pack of their favorite beer or non-alcoholic beverage.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Los Alamos Half Century?

Photo from the 2011 Tour de Los Alamos collection, with

Due to a lot of things related to life getting in the way of fun, we skipped the Santa Fe Century this year. While Meena was out on a long walk with our neighbor and our very ill dog, I dusted off the somewhat neglected Cannondale road bike and took it for a long overdue spring spin.

This started out as the usual "Bandelier Loop" ride starting and finishing from the the Old Same Household on North Mesa. I decided to take the detour through White Rock and Pajarito Acres to avoid construction on NM-4. What followed was the realization that this loop, in the form I rode, it was about forty clicks long, has more than two thousand feet of climbing, and is about as pretty and challenging a ride as any I have done of similar length. Why can't we market that as a Los Alamos Half Century? Any takers from Council, Los Alamos High Altitude Sports, our highly competitive local cycling community, and the Lodger's Board?

So here is an approximate 40 mile loop.

Start/Finish at the Golf Course. They can deal with a cycling event once a year, given they have asked for a lot of public money and some additional space for improvements. Look at it this way: we can market our course to outa town cyclists and the golf folks will earn a lot of aloha from non-golfers. Conversely, we could start downtown, but I wanted to showcase Diamond Drive.

Ride on our excellent bike lanes over the Omega Bridge, turn left onto Truck Route, and follow to NM-4  (I suggest a clockwise ride to get people off of Truck Route and that nasty section of NM-4  east of White Rock as early in the a.m. as practicable).

Turn left on Rover, left on Meadow, left on Overlook. First rest stop at Overlook Park.
Back out to Rover and left. Left on Grand Canyon, left on Sherwood to Piedra.

Left on Piedra Loop and Piedra Drive, Left on N. Monterey Dr,, Left on Rio Bravo, Left on Potrillo, Left on Estancia, left back onto Potrillo.
Left on South Monte Rey Drive.
Left onto NM-4
Right onto West Jemez Road-second aid station somewhere around here
Through Large Intestine and across the bridge back into Los Alamos.
Promenade up Central past all the stores and Ashley Pond, loop around downtown, back to Diamond, and out to Golf Course

Yeah that is a lot of lefts, which means a lot of course marshals. But I don't think its a good idea to have a lot of tired cyclists on NM-4 between Truck Route and White Rock later in the day. But the whole thing could be run in reverse to maximize right turns, running up Truck Route as we do the Tour de Los Alamos.

This is plus or minus 40 miles. Add a ride up Camp May Road to the ski lodge (small aid station there for the insane) to make close to fifty.  Anyone wanting more punishment can do it twice. We could have a short, community ride staying in Townsite.

I'll work this if the County and the cycling community want it. I won't if no one else does. This will take work, but I think we can have one of the finest public bike rides in New Mexico if we want it.

If anyone wants to ride this and shoot the shit about it in the near future, send me a comment or email. Well, as long as we dodge the chipsealing, that is.  I wish I brought a camera, but if Jim Rickman wants to send a pic from his excellent collection of local bike pics, I'll post it here with acknowledgements.

Oh, and this thought. There is money to be made. For a town far too dependent on Uncle Sam's increasingly withered teat, its a chance to diversify and take advantage of our glorious setting, nice roads, and good climate. If you saw what I saw on that ride this morning, you would have a hard time riding anywhere else. Its tough to haul my sorry butt outa the sack on a Sunday morning and schlep myself to Santa Fe when our own beautiful place beckons.

Durango Suspends Lodging Rules for Bike Race

  DURANGO, Colo. (AP) — Durango is suspending rules on vacation rentals to accommodate up to 25,000 visitors expected in August for the start of the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
Beginning Aug. 10, homeowners can rent their property without having to get a permit or collect lodging and sales taxes.
According to The Durango Herald, people renting their homes and condos will be asked to register with the city’s finance department.
The seven-day race runs from Aug. 20 to Aug. 26, and draws pro racers from around the world.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hit From Behind?

Interesting post and letter from LAB below on BikeDelaware. We need good numbers. In an age of rampant driver distraction, it would not surprise me if the relative proportion of various crash types has changed. Does anyone have a link to modern numbers?

Part of the problem with the letter below is the LAB mixes apples and oranges. The one in four figure is for fatal crashes, whereas the low percentage of rear end crashes is when compared to all crashes.

One could probably argue with some confidence that bicyclists, including myself, are far more interested in mitigating the kinds of crashes that are going to put me six feet under or in an ICU than the type of crash that merely has me nursing some road rash, picking up the bike, and going home. Therefore, yes, I think we really want to know if the percentage of rear end crashes of all types (fatal or non-fatal) are going up, because these are indeed some pretty lethal crashes.

Are more cyclists getting hit from behind than ever before?

Bike Delaware includes a copy of page three of a letter it says it got from the League:


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Make mine a double-wide

Picture taken near the North Mesa 
athletic fields. Actually, I suspect 
the width is for ADA compliance.
Bicycling's June issue has a heart wrenching story ("Why Johnny Can't Ride") about a family that had to fight a land war in Asia against its own school district in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. in order for their son to ride his bike to school. Few parents are this determined. As Bicycling's Chief Editor, Peter Flax, said in his own column, "... "...Many of us see ourselves as weekend warriors or bike racers or busy people who like to ride, and we don't fully wield our own power to make our communities a little better for bicycling". That is the whole problem in a nutshell. I penned a short email to Mr. Flax, whose 1.3 mile ride to school he shares with his own son I see as "One small ride for a man, a giant ride for mankind".

The epidemic of sedentary based diseases in the U.S, including Type II diabetes and obesity, poignantly demonstrated by the new, upsized outhouse pictured here, would be less of an issue if as a society, we overcame our irrational fears and societal prohibitions against letting our kids ride to school. Better yet, ride to work while you are at it. Thanks.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign...

Followup note: Please see Kyle Zimmeman's comment after this post. The signs have been moved. Further, it is a contractor, not county staff, who are setting these signs. Many thanks to Kyle for once again addressing this, and my apologies to county road crews for initially blaming them.

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin' out the bike lane, breakin' my mind,
Dodge this, don't dodge that, dontcha hit the signs...

 (with apologies to the Five Man Electrical Band)

Jerry Merkey's email to Pajarito Riders, sent this morning, pointed out that once again, road work crews are blocking the bike lanes with signs. I don't have a problem when there is no choice in placement and a good faith effort is made to avoid impeding travel in the bike lane, but these don't seem like good examples.

Kyle Zimmerman, County Engineer and formerly Dept. of Public Works Director, once told me that the bike lanes are a "traveled portion of the street", not to be used as parking spaces, etc. So it surprises me that work crews continue to block the bike lanes with signs when it seems there should be an alternative. I am going to send Council a link to this post to ask them to PLEASE make sure our work crews (local or contractors) are trained to avoid the situations below.

Here, just East of the Roundabout, a road work sign has been placed a long way from the actual work. I don't know why this sign could not have been put somewhere else where it does not block the bike lane. Also, please note that the right forward foot of this sign is damaged and is projecting upward. It could easily catch someone's rotating pedal and cause a bad crash (although if you are that close, you might also hit your head).

Here, closer to the work zone, a sign is simply plopped right in the middle of the bike lane. Why?

While not sure death, this practice imposes an unnecessary hazard. If we build bike lanes, let's take them seriously.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ride "Volunteers" please confirm here for where and when


To Jim, Jerry, Geoff, Jon, and Shea and anyone else who wants to lead a group in for Bike to Work Day/LANL Employee Health and Wellness Day on May 15th: Could you please confirm here (in the comments attached to this post) as to where you will start and at what time?

Please don't turn yourself inside out for the day. This just lets anyone else know where some rides will be starting. Presumably, ending at the Wellness Center unless folks want to peel off to their own destinations. Please leave full name if you don't mind, so folks like me know who is volunteering. Alternatively if you don't want to leave a full name here, email me at my LANL or home email.

For cyclists riding together. Please remember, this is not a parade or a race. Obey all traffic laws.  A line of cyclists in traffic is no different than a line of cars in traffic. Don't "parade" through a red light, and remember, if you are riding behind someone, do you really know them (or yourself) well enough to "draft"?

I'll be leaving the North Mesa at about 0645 on Tuesday from the intersection of Hawk Road and S. San Ildefonso, i.e., where San I road has the turn off into the Middle School near the bus shelter. See you there.

Khal Spencer