Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Only Thing That Stops a Bad Guy With a Drone is a Good Guy With a Gun?

For the latest bit of insanity in our National Security Surveillance State, check the following story out, as reported in this morning's Denver Post and Albuquerque Journal

DEER TRAIL, Colo. (AP) — This tiny plains town an hour east of Denver doesn’t have much to offer visitors — a gas station, a bar and a small-time rodeo one weekend a year.
But Deer Trail, population 500, is considering a proposal to make itself a national attraction for gun enthusiasts and people skeptical of government surveillance. Citizens on Oct. 8 will vote on whether to issue permits to hunt drones.
Yes, those drones. Shoot ‘em down for $25. With a $100 bounty reward for shooters who bring in debris from an unmanned aircraft “known to be owned or operated by the United States federal government.”
The initiative’s architect insists it’s a symbolic stand against government surveillance....

Apparently, Deer Trail hasn't worked on any of the details. Will you need a Federal Drone Stamp on your license since I presume these are a Federal protected species? A three shot plug? Steel shot? Will this be modelled after those coyote killing contests in New Mexico? Does the winner get a free stay in Club Fed?

I coulda benefitted by the County flying one of these little drones as a traffic camera on my ride up NM-4 on Sunday. That's when the guy in the blue convertible came up behind me. He laid on the horn and then passed me well within five feet. But that isn't terrorism, right? Just good old fashioned American intolerance.
"Get Off The Road!"

The Deer Trail proposal is a symbolic (and slightly wacky) but well deserved poke in the eye to the Feds over its ill-regulated and probably unconstitutional surveillance policies. Furthermore, given the public's resistance to traffic cameras, I worry about what may happen if the Feddle Gummint actually starts flying drones over the general public while the public is enjoying what it thinks of as its private space. In other words, rhetorical flak could be replaced by actual flak. That will be especially interesting in some of them Red States that don't trust the Feds anyway. Especially with that socialist, liberal, Kenyan black guy in the White House.

Traffic cameras are far less of an intrusion than Federal drones or Internet spying, IMHO, since both the traffic cameras and you are in plain sight on public space,  Nor do you need a security clearance and access to the Federal star chamber court to find out about them or to find out whether you have a right to privacy on public roads.

But perhaps drones and NSA spying is too esoteric for Americans to worry about. More importantly, have you run a bicyclist off the road lately?

So it goes.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

From Strong Towns: Is Traffic Always Bad?

Good reading here:

I've appended the conclusion below:

"...With governments at all levels short on cash, maybe it's time to broaden the goals for our streets. It’s time to retire the expressway in an urban context. It should be replaced with a system that examines the performance of street networks, including transit where relevant, and considers economic and social value along with vehicle distribution. It should be a system that measures the value and effectiveness of a city’s street network. If departments of transportation and local governments take a closer look, they may find value in congestion. After all, real estate prices seem to confirm that preference, and shouldn’t our infrastructure reflect that and add value to the place where it is built?"

Perhaps its time we stopped building these silly urban pseudo-expressways like Diamond Drive and of course, add more lanes to Trinity. They cost lots to maintain and are empty most of the time, acting only as speedways and impediments to normal humans being able to cross the street.

Along similar lines is this Atlantic Cities article on Hamburg, NY, just south of Buffalo on Lake Erie, "What Happens When a Town Puts People Before Cars".  Hamburg, NY, as it happens, was where my maternal grandparents lived. NY Times covered this carefully here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rob Oakes Ghost Bike Placement

Forwarding on behalf of Jennifer Buntz. Rob was a Los Alamos cyclist.

Following the May 11 crash that ultimately claimed the life of New Mexico Touring Society member Rob Oakes, a ghost bike will be placed in his honor.

Maureen Oakes has asked for the ghost bike installation to be done at 2 pm on Sunday October 6.  The location is Highway 15, just south of mile post 25**.  This is near the junction with Highway 35.
Everyone is invited to join the Oakes family at this ceremony.  If you have a special token of remembrance you would like to place on the ghost bike you are welcome to do that.  Plastic flower will be provided so that all who want to place something to help dedicate the bike can do so.
On Saturday October 5 the Gila Monster Challenge Gran Fondo will take place, covering some of the same highway miles that Rob was riding before being struck.  If any of you would like to participate in this ride as your way of remembering Rob, he would probably like that. 
Details for the ride can be found at
Click on the show/hide Oct. on the right or you can email me.

We at Duke City Wheelmen are pleased to be able to support cyclists from across the state in our common goal of promoting cycling in New Mexico.
Please help spread the word about this Ghost Bike for Rob Oakes.

thank you,

** I think that means near here.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Four Types of Bicycling Advocates

Where's Shemp?

1. Strongly and Fearlessly Full of It: 1%
 This one percent is absolutely convinced of its righteousness. Whether it be that every road larger than a tractor path needs a protected bike lane along side it and we need to re-engineer every city as a model of Copenhagen on one extreme, or that the only thing wrong with cycling is that cyclists are not confident enough to be taking the lane on our interstates at the other, don't try to disabuse these folks of their opinions. It won't work.

2. Enthusiastic and Confident of their Knowledge: 7%.
  This subset rides lots, reads and studies cycling as both transportation and recreation,and generally tries to stay away from purely dogmatic reactions. Practicality and a tendency to pick the low hanging fruit while building base makes more sense than pure ideology. Evolving one's thinking in light of new knowledge is not considered heresy. Visionaries who temper their enthusiasm with reality and whose motto includes "the devils are in the details". These advocates will look for fixes to problems that do not require wholesale reinventing of traffic law, that require motorists put eyes in the back of their heads, or assume immediate sea changes in human behavior.

3. Interested, Concerned, and Willing to Listen: 60%
  With cycling on the rise, these are the folks pounding the web sites trying to figure out who makes the most sense and where to put their money and volunteer effort.

4. No way,  no how, will they ever know what they are talking about: 33%
 Made up of the uncritical, the sheeple, the occasional mainstream transportation journalist who either never rides or whose bike's most often used accessory is a roof rack, and those who look at cycling as a solution to a social engineering problem without ever intending to learn anything about cycling. 

With not quite a serious apology to the City of Portland for my spoof on their post, which continues to flog that horse about four types of cyclists, an argument that is more often used to dismiss thoughtful cyclists rather than improve the lives of the rest of us. I'm also mulling this over as I decide whether to re-up my membership in LAB for another two years. 


Friday, August 16, 2013

In NM , a bicycle is not a vehicle.

Just in case someone asks. This can, on occasion, be an important point of law to know. For example.

66-8-102. Driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs; aggravated driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs; penalties.
A.     It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of intoxicating liquor to drive a vehicle within this state. 


Section 66-1-4.19 - Definitions.

66-1-4.19. Definitions. 
As used in the Motor Vehicle Code:
A.     "validating sticker" means the tab or sticker issued by the division to signify, upon a registration plate, renewed registration;
B.     "vehicle" means every device in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, including any frame, chassis, body or unitized frame and body of any vehicle or motor vehicle, except devices moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks; and
C.     "vehicle-business number" means the distinctive registration number given by the division to any manufacturer, auto recycler or dealer.

Therefore, since DUI is specific to the operator of a vehicle, and a bicycle is not considered a vehicle, a cyclist should be exempt from this law due to the construction of the law. Ken McLeod of the LAB agrees. Author's Note to readers. I am not telling you that bicycling drunk is a particularly good idea. I'm using this as an example of how one must read the law carefully to see how it applies to a cyclist. As far as BUI (bicycling under the influence), the same story applies about the deterioration of good judgement, reaction time, situational awareness, coordination, and common sense. Don't ask me how I know that....


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

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.   

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tour of the Rio Grande Valley

Sign up. Should be really nice.

School About to Start. Be Careful Out There

School Daze, school daze....
The morning (and evening) rush hour almost guarantees that at least some people will not be on their best behavior and the next week, with our schools adding traffic and complexity to the mix, should provide plenty of examples. Be careful out there as the usual suspects, some pictured above, start their fall panic, dropping off and picking up kids at our schools and getting themselves to and from work (or whereever) on time. Of course, also watch out for the high school students who are texting their way to the High School while driving a 5,000 lb lethal weapon.

Big issues I see are inattention (texting, other distractions), speeding, and making careless left and right turns into parking lots, especially along Bloody Lane (aka Diamond Drive) between Orange/Sandia and the Lemon Lot, where several cyclists have been hit by right hooks. Be careful out there, stay alert, scan traffic and watch for clues as to other people's actions, and take a Traffic Skills or Cycling Saavy class to learn bike handling skills, including instant turns and quick stops. That stuff really works in a pinch.

Questions? Contact a local LCI. 

If you are one of the parents, why not try putting the children on shoe leather or bikes if reasonable, or if not reasonable, on the Atomic City Bus.  Will help reduce traffic and cut our carbon emissions.

And on a lighter note or two...