Monday, December 21, 2015

Traffic Skills Classes To Resume at LANL

Thanks to some work by Tim George, Bill Mairson, and Laboratory Legal, it looks like I can resume teaching the League of American Bicyclist's Traffic Skills classes on Lab property this spring. This will be for badged folks only. Give a holler or leave a comment after this post if you are interested and I will start to schedule.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

That Trump-Ugly Path That Better Not Be Before Us

Trump, with his fanning the flames of Islamophobiamay be full of shit, but his message should not be ignored by the public. We've actually gone down that ugly road once before, in the form of FDR's Executive Order 9066, which resulted in Japanese Americans, including native born citizens, spending WW II behind barbed wire through no fault of their own. Having lived in Honolulu for 14 years, maybe I'm just a little sensitive to that subject.

Over the weekend, we went to Santa Fe to do some shopping and on the way back home, stopped at the memorial to the Japanese-Americans who were forced into a WW II internment camp that was right in The City Different. The memorial is a big white granite block with a bronze plaque embedded in it, located on the hill overlooking the house we bought in Casa Solana. The memorial, shown below, is on the edge of the big dog park, the Frank Ortiz Park.

Santa Fe Internment Camp.
Photo from Wikipedia
 Turns out the Casa Solana development is built on what was a concentration camp. Think about that next time you drive by the neighborhood. I think I need to put up a Zen sculpture or Yorishiro in the yard.

So lest we forget, we've gone down this Trump-ugly road before. Paranoia does strike deep. Let's not let real problems lead to unreal solutions.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Strong Towns

 We seek an America where our local communities are designed to grow stronger in the face of adversity, to be the solid foundation on which our shared prosperity is preserved.

I had not realized that Strong Towns was a membership organization until recently. Once I did so, I joined. I'm not generally a joiner, but the Strong Towns philosophy of sustainability and of putting things like planning, zoning, and transportation into a context of how these contribute to an economically and socially self sustaining community, absent frequent infusions of IOUs, makes perfect sense to me. Indeed, in the context of how Los Alamos has discussed things like the new Smith's Marketplace, economic diversification, a walkable community, and what to do with Trinity Drive, we need to ask how projects, programs, and planning ensure that Los Alamos will persevere, regardless of what the Feds do with the National Laboratory. Having grown up in the heart of the Rust Belt (Buffalo, NY), I know firsthand what happens when the golden goose stops laying eggs.

We need to put some critical thinking into this at a deep enough level. Indeed, Kevin Shepherd of Verdunity, a Dallas based consulting firm and key Strong Towns supporter, gave the keynote at the recent joint APA/ASCE conference in Las Cruces and stressed the Strong Towns approach to truly sustainable communities. So Strong Towns needs to be present as a non-partisan think tank. I suggest you join if you have not considered it. Click up top for the full mission statement and think about it.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Annual Holiday Parade Ride--Dec 5th

From Chris Collord of the Tuff Riders

Hi all,
This year the Tuff Riders will be joining up with the Hooga Yoga bikers to promote biking of all kinds in the Los Alamos Holiday Parade. 
The parade is on Saturday, December 5th at 6:00PM, so we will meet somewhere in the Canyon School parking lot at around 5:45 (just look for all the other bikers).  All are welcome...bring the whole family!  Decorating your bike with lights or signs is highly recommended.  Smiths and Metzgers both sell battery-powered LED christmas lights for very cheap.
And just a reminder that the Tuff Riders Christmas party is December 11th at 6:30pm.
See you then,

Friday, November 6, 2015

Forming a BUG, i.e., Laboratory Bicycle User's Group

The inaugural meeting of the Laboratory's Bicycle User Group is from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesday (Nov. 10) in the conference room of Occupational Medicine at TA-3. The meeting is open to all Laboratory badge holders. The group's mission is to improve bicycling safety and enjoyment at LANL.

Employees can hear adventure bike presentations given by LANL adventure cyclists Matt Hardy of Environment, Safety and Health (ADESH) and Jack Killeen of SOC-Los Alamos. This meeting is sponsored by the Traffic Safety Program in Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Division and the Traffic Safety Committee.

Questions? Contact Khal Spencer of Actinide Analytical Chemistry (C-AAC) at 665-2418.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Potholes and Possibilities

Since we can't take pictures on DOE roads, here is for scale 

I sent this message to LANL. 

While bicycling on Sunday 1 Nov, I noticed, in addition to the large potholes on Diamond Drive in front of the CMR Building, a large pothole leading into the main VAP and another large pothole between Back Gate and Water Canyon on the eastbound lane of West Jemez road. Given the bad state of the roadway shoulder on the W. Jemez descent to Water Canyon, bicyclists are using the lane there. Plus, motorcyclists could be vulnerable.

Will these be fixed soon?

 Now, on to possibilities.

Lisa Dougherty and I have been batting around the idea of inaugurating a Tour de la Jemez "almost-a-century-ride" (not race) that would be combined with an easy, family ride in Los Alamos. Today I spoke to the Los Alamos Chamber Marketing Manager, Ryn Herrmann, about the idea. What I suggested is a combination easy ride that would take advantage of less busy street and bike laned streets in Los Alamos for families. The challenging ride for gonzo folks would start in Los Alamos, go out Back Gate and up NM4 through the Jemez, hang a right at NM126 in La Cueva, and go to the end of the paved road and then back again. That is about 85 miles. Not sure of the climbing but suspect it is well in excess of a mile.That is not the only option but NM126 is really quiet. I suppose an alternative would be down through Jemez Springs.
The pitch to the county would be as an economic driver (charity riders spend money on hotels, gas, and food as well as registration; one site I found regarding the Georgia 400 Century suggested around 500 a person), but I would require that a ride would have full support of the county to ensure plenty of places to eat on a weekend (when this town typically rolls up the sidewalks), and hotel availability. Ryn put me on the Lodger's Tax Board agenda for 17 Nov. to pitch the idea.
I then spoke to Brad at Fusion and Cyndi at Pet Pangea. Want to make sure that if this happens, it does not conflict with the Tour de LA. Brad was already thinking along the same lines and planning on going to the Lodger's Tax meeting.  Cyndi offered to be a brain trust since she has experience as the current Director Sportif of the Tour de LA.
The Bicycling Coalition of New Mexico has also expressed an interest in sponsoring such a ride.
So if this looks promising after the Lodger's Tax meeting, I'd like to suggest that anyone interested in pursuing this get together somewhere, perhaps over pizza or Bathtub Row beer, and discuss it further. My thoughts are we would not want to do it too early as it conflicts with the Santa Fe and Albuquerque century rides and bad weather in the mountains. Too late in the summer and we have to worry about a monsoon blowout in the early afternoon. Labor day is Red River and later in Sept. is the Tour of the Rio Grande Valley. So maybe June? But I'm not sure the market is saturated, and I think this ride would be glorious.
Holler if you are interested.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Thursday, October 29, 2015

That Blue Line Just Got A Little Thinner

Since most of the bike related work I do up in LAC is in my T Board capacity, I'll post this here.

Albuquerque Police Officer Dan Webster, who was shot six times by a felon with a firearm last week, died this morning. Story in the Journal and New Mexican.

I sent this to Chief Gordon Eden:

Dear Chief Eden

The Journal and New Mexican have just reported that Officer Daniel Webster has died of his injuries. Please accept my deepest condolences and transmit them to his family and to your department.

Too often, we concentrate on the problems we have in institutions and overlook the good people working there, doing their best to make our institutions the best they can be. The world, and Albuquerque, will be worse off for the loss of Officer Webster. I've worked with a fair number of the police officers up here in my capacity as a Transportation Board Chair and board member in Los Alamos County, and cannot fathom the grief involved in seeing someone I worked with end up this way.

We have to keep this sort of senseless loss from happening again.

Khal Spencer

Scientist, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Vice-Chair, Los Alamos County Transportation Board
Resident, Los Alamos, NM


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Counterfeit carbon fiber products and catastrophic failure

Interesting article in the latest issue of Bicycling Magazine if you have not  read it. One guy broke his neck in two places when his counterfeit handlebars snapped on a fast descent. Hit the link below and scroll down to the Ken Avchen story for that discussion.

As Jerry Merkey said to me in an offline conversation, even "genuine" parts need to be assembled and used properly and instances of good stuff breaking are in the record. Malformed, improperly assembled, crashed, or poorly constructed stuff is not worth the risk of a brutal crash.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Father of Mountainbiking, Charlie Cunningham, In Dire Straits--Crowdfunding (Medical Fund) request

A recent picture of Charlie
Read below. Los Alamos is a bastion of mountain biking. We need to help.

"In early August, 2015, Charlie Cunningham, bicycle builder, inventor and all around amazing person, fell off his bike and sustained several serious injuries.

Charlie suffered broken bones, bruises, and trauma to his head. At the time, he didn't feel his head injury was significant. Unfortunately, six weeks later, the head injury manifested into a subdural hematoma, a life threatening condition that resulted in emergency brain surgery.

Currently, Charlie is in the hospital, recovering. His condition is stable, semi-conscious, but he cannot walk, talk or safely swallow food yet. He is making very slow steps to regain very basic tasks. The road to recovery is going to be long and involve many specialists to help him get back to his former self. Charlie's wife Jacquie Phelan, racer and ladies cycling advocate, is teaching him basic speech, in tandem with his speech/swallow therapists. Their home will need modifications to allow him to live there. It is unknown know how long he will be wheelchair bound. Your donations will help to offset the costs of his rehabilitation and the "ramping up" of his home (Offhand Manor). Thank you for your generosity.

A bit about me: I'm a friend of Charlie and Jacquie's, since the 80's. An early Wombat and bicycle painter, just helping out a friend. All funds go to Charlie.  :)"

 I got a couple of emails directly from Charlie's significant other, WOMBATS founder Jacquie Phelan, confirming that the info on the GoFundMe page linked here is correct and Caroline James, the lady running the GoFundMe effort, is an old buddy of Charlie's and his web developer as well as a charter member of WOMBATS. Charlie is currently in his third week in an ICU.Its gonna be a long hard climb to the top of this one.  -Khal

Marin Independent Journal article article written today about the crash here.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Go Read This Discussion

Once again, Charles Marohn hits the bullseye in this discussion. Go read it.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Oil Being Sprayed on DOE Roads

I discovered this too while riding home from the Jemez on West Jemez Road. Thanks to Mike Warren for the shout-out on the Pajarito Riders e-list. You can ride it, but its like riding on flypaper and of course once you get fresh tacky oil on your tires, good luck with all the glass shards, debris, and goatheads that will stick to your fancy racing rubber....

Pajarito road is currently impassible by bike due to fresh oil sprayed from edge to edge.  Same thing appears to be happening on E/W Jemez in neighborhood of TA-3.


Here is more from LANL.

A LANL road project currently is in progress and is expected to be complete by Friday, Sept. 18.  The Laboratory's main arterial road surfaces are being treated with an asphalt emulsion intended to extend the service life of the pavement. The following road sections will be worked on this week from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • East Jemez (Truck Route) from NM 4 to the Omega Canyon Bridge
  • West Jemez from West Jemez to NM 4 
  • Pajarito Road from Diamond Drive to NM 4.  
The treatment sets up and road surfaces are drivable within 20 minutes. Traffic control will be in place as sections are treated. Motorists should expect delays and are asked not to drive on treated areas until traffic-control personnel direct them to do so. 
Once dry, the road is fine to bike on. --KJS