Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Support Joe Wermer and your legal rights as a cyclist

I'm posting Joe's request here as it is of interest to the general bicycling community. Please read on, and show up for the court hearing on 5 December. This could affect any of us.
Relevant article HERE in the Daily Post.



In May 2012, I (Joe Wermer) was involved in a bicycle-car accident during the morning commute. I was riding from my house in North Community to my workplace just before 8:00 am. I was wearing a “highway yellow” long-sleeve jersey and other gear, including a helmet and gloves.

As I passed Metzger’s Mobil across from the high school, the car traveling beside me made a right turn into the Metzger’s parking lot (in front of the service bays). As the car crossed into the bike lane on the right turn, it struck the left side of my handlebar, causing me to careen off into the parking bay area and wipe out. Bicyclists commonly call this a “right hook” collision, and this is one of the perils of the road for bicycles. I sustained lacerations and a separated shoulder in the crash. The car driver said that he had “checked his mirrors” before the crash. That tells me that he did not turn his head to check the blind spot.

In the most bizarre turn of events, the LAPD officer gave me a citation for the crash. He cited me for a violation of statute 38-454, “Crossing at other than crosswalks.” This comes out of the pedestrian section of the code, and applies to jaywalkers. With the help of Diane Albert, a Motion to Dismiss was submitted to the Court. However, the Court refused to dismiss the charge without a hearing.

The Motion to Dismiss is scheduled for Wednesday, December 5, 2012, at 10:00 am before Municipal Court Judge Alan Kirk, at the Justice Center (entrance near Ashley Pond). If the charge is not dismissed, then a court trial on the charge will begin right away. Municipal Court meets in the Los Alamos County Justice Center next to Ashley Pond. As this type of incident affects all of us, I would like to see as many of my fellow cyclist in the courtroom as possible.
--Joe Wermer

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Change We Can't Believe In.....

Interesting ride to work this morning. Riding out of the roundabout from North Mesa in the inside lane of Diamond, I was checking to see if I could merge over into the bike lane as there was a car coming in from Barranca in the outside lane and that often results in me being overtaken on my right. What I do is look over my right shoulder and either wait to be overtaken or negotiate crossing the lane.

So while gauging that situation, the lady in the small black sedan following behind me from North Mesa with the Obama bumper sticker in her back window got impatient and went over the DOUBLE set of double yellow lines to pass me in the oncoming lane rather than wait five seconds. And we wonder why motorists kill people. 

I guess that “change we can believe in” doesn’t include YOUR changing to a more responsible driver, eh, love?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Comments sought on State Transportation Improvement Program

Found this in the Daily Post.

The public is invited to comment on the New Mexico Department of Transportation’s sixth amendment to the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP.)
The program will serve as a four-year plan for the state’s federal aid highway program. 
The NMDOT has posted the 2012-2015 STIP amendment on the Internet asking for public comment until Dec. 19. Final Public comment will be held at the NMDOT General Office in Santa Fe 1-4 p.m.,  Dec. 19.
The STIP contains proposed road and bridge projects and is required under the federal legislation. Projects on the list are on federal and state highways (roads with I, U.S. or N.M. designations.)
The STIP is developed by the NMDOT, working in cooperation with state, local and tribal transportation agencies as well as regional planning organizations. 
Projects included in the STIP are funded with a combination of federal, state and/or local funds. The document is posted on the NMDOT website at

Note added by KJS. The actual location for the program management page is here and for the pdf (311 pages) is here.

The NMDOT STIP Coordinator will take comments via email at For more information, contact Melissa Dosher, NMDOT Public Information Officer, at (505) 469-5698.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Driving is not a right

As published in the Daily Post.

The Sunday morning Monitor reminded us of just how close we came to killing some children at the Montessori School on Canyon Road. Why? Because as County Engineer Kyle Zimmerman tells us, our safety is held hostage by a few "irrational" drivers.

Not only do we not control them, but it seems difficult to even know who the people are who are trying to kill us, including another driver who crashed the same week on Main Hill Road while, according to the Daily Post, driving aggressively and passing another vehicle. Often, we don't even know if the motorists were even cited!

Perhaps the first level of dealing with dangerous drivers is not to ask the County to spend more money on traffic studies to change speed limits, but to arrest and prosecute reckless and careless drivers, put their faces in both newspapers, and take away their driver's licenses. After all, these are often not "accidents" caused by bad weather or poor facilities. They are caused by deliberate risk taking - because there seems to be no risk to being held accountable by the community.

Driving is not a right. When you abuse your driving privileges and endanger the community, you must lose that privilege. 

It's about time we made that stick. Preferably, before there is innocent blood spilled in the road.

Added later, just here:

Indeed, the driver who narrowly missed all those students at the Montessori School could have been as effective a killer as the Aurora, CO shooter. I wish we would take driving seriously. Instead we treat it casually, with predictable results.

In these two cases, the Daily Post told us both drivers were teens. I therefore hold the parents equally responsible for not teaching their children to take driving seriously. Or, for that matter, taking other things seriously. Recently, a teen bicyclist riding on a sidewalk (in a business district signed as private property where bicyclists are not supposed to be riding on sidewalks) plowed into a local storekeeper's door. Fortunately, no one hurt, but its not a huge leap of logic to see where a careless teen on a bicycle will end up in a couple years.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Kwage Mesa Trailhead Blocked by Construction Company

Note 11-15-12. The trailhead is now open after discussion between the County and the construction company.

Yesterday I was riding on the singletrack at the back of North Mesa and noted that even though the County trail folks (aka Craig Martin) re-routed the Kwage Mesa Trailhead and its extention to the North Mesa tennis court parking in order to avoid the construction of the covered equestrian center, the contractor fenced off the trailhead completely. I put in a call to Craig Martin and he is contacting the contractor about that.

If Craig gets the run-around, I'll be happy to raise Cain with the county about this completely unnecessary blockage. The county went through the trouble to move the trail, and now the contractor has blocked it anyway. The trails should remain open. If anyone wants to assist in grumping about this, should it become neccesary, let me know.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

In Remembrance

Thanks to Ian Cooper for reminding me to do something besides run up the flag. Follow the embedded link in the title to read the story of the poem.

In Flanders Fields

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Get Your Gobble Going on Thanksgiving Day

Courtesy of Jim Rickman over at Little Jimmy's Wheelhouse.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

"Only bicycles seemed to be rolling"

One Way Around the Traffic Muddle in Brooklyn: Riding a Bicycle

With power out, gas stations not able to pump, and subway lines still flooded or without power, New York City is working its way out of gridlock  as it tries to recover from Hurricane Sandy (note added later--no sooner did the area start to recover from Sandy than another 'Noreaster hit the area!)  Commutes are lasting hours and I wonder what happens as folks sit in stalled traffic with the gas gauge dipping towards Empty. According to the Times article, Gov. Cuomo has declared a transportation emergency in the NYC area.

1979 revisited?
A couple quotes from the NY Times article: "Only bicycles seemed to be rolling."..."With no underground route from Queens to Manhattan and car traffic stalled, some crossed the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge on bike or foot. One Twitter user described cycling over the bridge as “escaping zombie apocalypse.”

Typical 1979 East Coast gas line during the the oil
 crisis. This one in Md but Eastern LI was bad, too.

Streetsblog tells a different story of those who are more adaptable: "...The commuters who had the least to worry about from post-Sandy traffic were those who rode their bikes..."

Indeed, twice while I was on Long Island during grad school, the bicycle proved why it is without question the most reliable and robust vehicle, needing only air in its tires and food and beer in its engine. These were during the 1979 Oil Crisis, and in 1985 when power in the Stony Brook/Port Jefferson area was out for close to two weeks after Hurricane Gloria roared over Stony Brook on its way across the island, leaving downed trees and severed power lines in its wake. Not needing gasoline and being able to filter around storm damage (and mile-long gas lines) helped a lot. I started my habit of riding my bicycle to work in the spring of 1979 rather than face hours sitting in a gas line with my wife's car or my motorcycle (my wife usually rode her bike, too). 

This latest crisis reminds me of a cartoon my Ph.D. advisor, another avid transportation cyclist, once sent me. Gil provided an email caption along the lines of "in case of emergency, pump tires". Just change the dates.

Late Note: Gasoline is now being rationed on Long Island and in NYC. From the 11-8-2012 New York Times.
A 2012 Gasoline line in New York City. From the 11-8-12 NY Times