Friday, September 28, 2012

Los Alamos Beer Cooperative Debuting at Ullr Fest

Civilization comes to BombTown.

Courtesy of the Los Alamos Daily Post.

Los Alamos Beer Cooperative Debuting at Ullr Fest. And we all have a very good reason to ride up Camp May Road tomorrow. Just make sure your descending skills are not compromised, ok?

The Los Alamos Beer Cooperative [LABC] will be introduced at Ullr Fest, according to volunteer/founding member Steve Watts.
Watts is general manager of the Los Alamos Cooperative Market.
The LABC has begun a fundraising effort to raise $300,00 to $500,000 to establish a location for a taproom, buy brewing equipment and hire personnel for the LABC. Watts expects this process to take 12 to 48 months.   
LABC lists the following anticipated benefits for joining the LABC:
  • Discounted beer when the taproom opens,
  • Free members-only pint glass to enjoy your favorite brew,
  • Discounted beer education opportunities, beer dinners, beer tastings,
  • Member appreciation and private tasting events
  • Help choose and evolve the beers brewed,
  • Voting power for Board of Directors and setting long term goals and policies,
  • Run for a seat on the Board,
  • Bragging rights and a chance to build and be part of something great,
  • Patronage rebates—after the brewery and taproom are operational, the excess net savings of the business can be distributed back to the membership on the basis of patronage.
  • More to come as the Beer Coop grows.
Contact Steve Watts at 505-575-3785 for more LABC information. Click on links for more information. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

But will we finally get a bike shop, or just a failed mall?

Trinity Site revisited.  Just saw Kristin Henderson's op-ed.

Being ever the disloyal Dem, I more closely agree with former councilor Robert Gibson. Some consider challenging the Smiths option to be beating a dead horse. I think we have been beating a dead horse on this for some time now and the dead horse is that we can somehow create a shopper's Mecca in Los Alamos simply by throwing land at developers.

Robert Gibson:

I offered my own foaming rant few months ago, but this never got published by the Monitor.

It did just get picked up by the Daily Post. Go over and let Carol Clark make some money courtesy of your mouse clicks.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

LAB's Model Vunerable Road Users Statute: Must some victims be more worthy than others?

While I enthusiastically applaud the LAB for establishing a legal affairs committee and enthusiastically thank them for writing a model law to address injuries to cyclists, motorcyclists, and others, I do have some concerns with the bill in its present form.

The law muddies the waters of justice by creating preferential classes of victims. A Prius driver injured by a badly driven SuperDuty is just as worthy of justice as a bicyclist hit by a badly driven Prius. What is gained by defining some road users as more worthy of justice than others?

By defining classes of victims, this bill is sure to encounter more resistance than one that defines the crime as injuring another person through the willfully careless operation of a vehicle. Any victim by any vehicle.

HB 12, which the cycling and motorcycling community originally had introduced two years ago in New Mexico is victim-neutral. While it is far from perfect and has itself encountered resistance in the Senate Judiciary Committee, I prefer such an approach which has also been supported by the NM motorcyclists. They tend to be more conservative and libertarian than the average cyclist, based on my own small, unrepresentative, and unscientific sampling.

Finally, it always worries me to self-define as a vulnerable user. We must beware of the law of unintended consequences: perhaps instead of holding drivers accountable for their mistakes, Government will protect us from ourselves with more restrictions on bicycling. Beware of what you wish for.

Having said all that, I again applaud the LAB for establishing this committee and for drafting a model bill. I am sure that this bill was itself a case of political sausage being made, based on a conversation with one of the committee members. I hope this is a work in progress.

My advice to readers, assuming there are any, is to look carefully at the local political landscape before offering a draft of an enhanced penalty/vulnerable user protection bill to a pair of legislators (one from each house, perhaps one from each party), consider whether it has the horsepower to be passed, what its unintended consequences might be, and ask quietly who might get heartburn over specific parts of the text.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Yet another reason to ride to work: You don't have to restrain yourself from thoughts of violence at the talking gas pump

Target in yellow, left of the pump handle.
For the record, I'm not serious. Yet.
When I stop to get gas for the cars or motorcycle, I expect to be left alone unless there is something critical to say (such as "hey, the idiot at the pump next to yours is lighting a cigarette"). I don't expect some huckster to confront me and start yammering in my face while I'm a captive audience pumping fuel into the tank. Therefore, I've about had it with the talking gas pumps. Especially since most of the people filling up around here (case in point, last night at the "Conoco Hill" Shell Station) are so used to constant background babble that they don't hit the mute button on their own yacking gas pump even if I silence mine in a legal, non-violent fashion. So you end up with a cacophony of babbling, intrusive, annoying gas pumps. Where's my 357 magnum when I need it? Do these oil companies have no shame? Oh...never mind...
In the fine tradition of Mort Walker...the urge to kill.
I changed the title of this post since these days, 
too many people don't know the boundaries
between thought vs. act

Ride the bike and let the gas pump yack to someone else. Its better for your health and definitely better than getting a knock on the door from Chief Torpy. Come to think of it, maybe this is a secret liberal plot to get people to buy less gas and thereby reduce global warming. Sure will work for me.

To put it more constructively:
Talking gas pumps and sacred silence
Noise Pollution: A Modern Plague
 "Silence Machine" Zaps Unwanted Noise

Monday, September 10, 2012

When the political pressure to paint stripes trumps logic and engineering best practice

 Andy Cline posted the picture below on his Carbon Trace site in Springfield, MO, showing some really bad traffic engineering just foisted on bicyclists. This bike lane egregiously violates AASHTO guidelines by including the gutter pan in the bike lane space. This forces cyclists to ride on the gutter pan seam while being squeezed into a very poor ("gutter bunny") lane position, encouraging motorists to think there is enough space for a cyclist and motorist to be riding side by side. This will undoubtedly be sold as making cycling "safer" and "more attractive" and making Springfield more "bicycle-friendly".

Cherry St. in Springfield, MO. The AASHTO minimum bike lane width is 5 feet to the curb face, with a minimum of 3 feet of smooth pavement to the left of the gutterpan seam**
 Photo showing actual dimensions here.

The keyword here is blackwhite. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink. Doublethink is basically the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.
— Part II, Chapter IX — The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism” (George Orwell--1984)

The job of any PE or PTOE should be "first, do no harm". Unless we take an Orwellian view of bicycling infrastructure, believing that designs incongruous with bicycling best practice become advisable if you "hold two contradictory beliefs...simultaneously".  What I find acridly humorous is that the point of the sharrow lines up with the hazardous gutter pan lip. Fall down and get hurt---here.

Thankfully, I don't think the picture above would ever make it past the laugh test here.  But unfortunate results can creep in even when accepted designs are installed without adequate analysis of specific conditions. Three recent crashes on Diamond between Orange/Sandia and West Road this year come to mind, as bike lanes were added to areas rife with right turning traffic, hence right hooks. Another example of the law of unintended consequences.

**19.2 Bicycle Lane Widths and Construction Standards
Bicycle lanes serve the needs of all types of cyclists in urban and suburban areas, providing them with their own travel lane on the street surface. The minimum width of a bike lane should be 1.5 meters (5 feet) against a curb or adjacent to a parking lane. On streets where the bike lane is adjacent to the curb and the curb includes a 1-foot to 2-foot gutter pan, bike lanes should be a minimum of 4 feet wide (width does not include the gutter pan, since bicyclists are typically unable to use this space).

Friday, September 7, 2012

Memori Hardwick gets the max

Memori Hardwick, who ran down cyclist Matt Trujillo in Albuquerque in 2011 while running a red light as she was high and on her way to buy methamphetamine (per police and media reports), was sentenced to 9 years in jail today, the max allowed by law, in Judge Ross Sanchez' courtroom. Matt died of his injuries after spending two weeks in a coma. If you want details to turn your stomach, read about it at KOB.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, Hardwick's sentence broke down to "...six years for vehicular homicide and 18 months for possession of a controlled substance, to be served together, plus three years for leaving the scene of an accident with great bodily harm or death. She will be referred to Delancey Street during her parole for inpatient treatment for substance abuse."

Matt was about to be related to Los Alamos cyclist and scientist Joe Martz as an in-law had his life not been senselessly cut short. Nine years won't bring back a life. I hope it changes Memori for the better, and sends a clear signal to others: Thou shalt not kill.

Memori led a dark and troubled life, to be sure, according to this more recent piece in the Journal. She has to pay the price for this horrific act but indeed, we have to be our brother's keeper and keep things from ever getting so dark. How one does that, I really don't know.

Matt Trujillo's Ghost Bike, from the KOB story

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Lance doping fiasco: how far back should we go?

 Read this article by Bill Strickland while making breakfast, and penned the following response to Bicycling.

 Editor, Bicycling

Please convey my thanks to Bill Strickland for his nuanced and complex analysis of the Armstrong case in the October issue (gasp--where did the summer go??) As usual, Bill gets the yellow jersey for journalism.

Those expecting a black or white outcome of the doping vs. Armstrong investigation have long suffered from naivete. Doping has been part of the sport since as far back as the six-day races of a century ago. How far back should we censure and strip riders of their wins and fame? Shall we take down Tom Simpson's granite memorial on Mount Ventoux? Tom was, after all, a doper!

One also has to ask how modern, high tech doping could be so well established if it is only the riders who are complicit. The riders are not sinless, but "performance enhancement" has been as integral to modern pro cycling as high tech frames and big corporate money. Which riders do we throw under the bus to offer penance for the pro race industry as a whole?

As Bill so clearly points out, the problems of doping will only become more complex in a modern age of nanotechnology and genetic engineering. I have no idea how we will manage such technologies or what we, in the future, will call "clean racing". Meanwhile, I agree with Bill: Lance was the best Tour de France rider in his era; even the most negative outcome of this case will not erase the memories of him riding away from his adversaries to win those jerseys. Giving his jerseys to anyone else, or even just taking them away, would result in a cure worse than the doping disease, which will take more than sanctioning Armstrong to cure.

Later addenum: Thank you, Anon, for pointing out Padraig's carefully and comprehensively written essay ("Keeping Score") in Red Kite Prayer.

And yet a later addenum from the excellent Red Kite Prayer:

Forgoing Judgement.
"...Could it ever have been any other way, with the fall of Armstrong? It seems cycling has been on a collision course with this moment for the better part of its history. From riders dosing up with brandy in the early days, to the scourge of amphetamines, to modern day blood doping, top level racers have always pushed beyond the rules in search of an advantage...."
Granite Memorial to Tom Simpson on Mount Ventoux