Monday, August 14, 2017

Standing With Charlottesville at Ashley Pond Tonight



Voices of Los Alamos in conjunction with other local organizations is hosting a candlelight vigil at 8 p.m. today at Ashley Pond Park and invites the community to attend in solidarity with Charlottesville.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Situational Awareness and the First Week of School

Next week starts school. Lots of inexperienced students behind the wheel thinking about the First Week, some texting more than driving. Harried parents suddenly realizing that they are running late for work after dropping off Dick and Jane for the first time in months. Did anyone walk Spot? Did Hubby remember his lunch? Even trained drivers can goof, as I describe in this story about my duel with a school bus. You on your bicycle. What to do?

Don't forget to put gas in it
 Well, some will consider parking the bike for a couple weeks in favor of driving the Main Battle Tank to work. Sometimes I don't blame them. For the rest of us, the Five Layers of Safety are especially critical as we ride, shell-shocked by the sudden mass of unskilled traffic, to our destinations. I'll refer you to that NY bike link for the Five Layers and do a little elaboration here.

Situational awareness 
doesn't mean terror
 The most critical (and often overlooked) part of the Five Layers is situational awareness. Without situational awareness, it is hard to stack those layers of safety in your favor. Situational awareness is, to paraphrase this Coast Guard document , the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening around you as you go about your ride and how those elements impact your safety. In addition to that, situational awareness requires you to be able to categorize, think about, and react in a competent manner to unfolding hazards, i.e., it requires active thinking and training on your part. Here is another set of examples from a motorcycle publication.

In one of my other circles, we have the WYOR definition of awareness (with acknowledgement to Mike Grimler) where these letters mean White, Yellow, Orange, and Red. These are as follows: In Condition White, you are off in your own world and blissfully aware of what is going on around you. An example is reading a book with the stereo on at home or sadly, riding through an intersection with the earbuds on and not watching traffic. In Yellow, you are continually scanning and paying attention and watching for hazards. When in traffic, one should never drop below yellow.  In Orange, you have identified a potential hazard and are actively observing the situation and planning a "what if" response. In Red, you have a fully developed hazard on your hands and are required to implement defensive measures that you have hopefully practiced, mentally and actually. For example, executing an emergency stop or quick turn.

As far as the techniques of these bicycle maneuvers, learn them. Unfortunately, as an older and wiser League Cycling Coach once quipped, many people think they learned everything they need to know about bicycling by the fourth grade. Complacency creates danger. As far as situational awareness, I think it is safe to say that next week should find commuter cyclists in a yellow-orange state of alertness given the likelihood of mistakes being made. Try to time your commute for a safer hour if you can or at least be aware of what is around you, do your "what if drills" routinely, and practice, practice, practice. Holler if you want a tutorial. Hopefully you won't need to use it.

Note added in review, motorcyclists too (I land in both camps) have their own serious issues of staying safe in traffic.  Their training can be found with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

LA Bikes Bloggers All To Be Fired For Disagreeing on Policy

In keeping with the Google corporate policy (since Blogspot is owned by Google) of firing anyone who strongly disagrees with accepted corporate opinion, all of the bloggers on this site will shortly be fired. Since we don't have an official opinion on bicycling issues, that means we have to fire anyone with any opinion on bicycling issues because we don't know which opinion is official and which opinions are impostors. Especially, say, if we go down the rabbit hole of paint 'n path vs. VC. So, they all gotta go. Take that, LA Bikes.

Here is a transcript (and here is another source) of the actual "manifesto" that got Google software engineer James Damore shitcanned. Since many news outlets are opining on it rather than referring to the original, I will post the link to the original and you can draw your own conclusions rather than mine.

The Google Memo: Four Scientists Respond. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Now, Surgery on the Bike

We decided to get outa Dodge for a few days and headed up to Boulder, CO for a mental health break. I brought the CAAD-5 as I worry less about tossing the aluminum bike around on the car than I do with the carbon-aluminum Six-Thirteen.

On Monday I went for a short 20 mile ride and noted that the rear wheel had gone out of true so on returning home, touched it up a little bit. Tuesday morning had me kitted up for what would hopefully be a longer ride but on getting a few miles down the road, the bike seemed to go slower and slower and on inspection, the back wheel was seriously outa round and rubbing on the brake. I stopped to adjust the spoke tension again and one spoke was really loose. On closer inspection, I observed that the hub had cracked at one of the spoke holes and the spoke had pulled through. Oops. So much for putting the lightweight wheels on the bike for a road trip.
Front hub intact.

Limping back to our host's house in Lafayette with the quick release fully open, I checked  online and found an endless supply of bike shops in the Boulder area. Boulder Bicycle Works had high web ratings and they told me that they had a used rear wheel in excellent shape.  I headed over there to look at it. Sure enough, when I arrived, the wheel was in the wheel truing stand ready to be checked and tuned up if I wanted it, which I did. I decided while I was there to also get the matching front wheel and the attached cassette for what amounted to a very economical parting with currency. I think they are ShimanoWH-R540's.
Whew...my vacation was saved. The only complication was I had to run back out to a nearby shop and get new brake pads because the paired spoke Shimano wheels have the spokes attaching to the rims on the sides of the rims and my brake pads were worn down so much that the brake shoe guides were tapping the spoke holes.
Hub flange fractured on non-drive side as shown 
by the arrow.  Stock picture from web. 
I forgot to photograph the original part.

So today found me on a longer ride on the Cannonball sporting shiny newish Shimano wheels that ran fast and true.  Many thanks and a tip of my brain bucket goes to the great folks at Boulder Bicycle Works. They definitely get the Los Alamos Bikes "save the vacation" award.
Cannondale sporting replacement wheels
Eldorado Springs in the background.
 I sallied on to Rocky Flats to search for glowing animals.
No luck.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Surgical recovery program at 10,300 feet

As a sixtysomething, recovering from two surgeries and a broken foot last year sometimes left me wondering if I should trade in all the bikes for a newer motorcycle and a barca lounger. Psychologically, getting back into Serious Cycling© was difficult. For a while, just riding to work took mental, if not physical effort. That mental hocus-pocus is what really surprised me, since I've been riding since, well...since I can remember.  Meanwhile, the blood pressure and numbers on the bathroom scale were inching up. Time to get seriously off my ass.

So there was this bucket list item....done yesterday. The Ski Hill road in Santa Fe, aka NM475, aka Hyde Park Road. Last time I broke 10k altitude via human two-wheeled power was around 2007 during the Red River Century. (That pic on the masthead was taken on the Red River circuit, with me on the Six-Thirteen and long dormant co-blogger Scott following closely on the Litespeed).

The Santa Fe Ski Basin route goes sinuously up into first the Sangre de Cristo foothills and then into the high peaks. From the home base in Casa Solana its about 1.5 miles of flat warmup to Artist Road, followed by about 16 miles of relentless climbing. Suitable for a TdF stage, I suppose. Probably not Hors Categorie (the average grade is about 4%; the 4 mile NM-4 climb into the Jemez is about 7%), but perhaps Hors Old Fat Guy. The Strava page here shows the gritty details better than the NM Touring Society illustration below. As far as my time compared to folks like Ferrara Fortunato, don't even ask.

Santa Fe Ski Basin profile, courtesy of the New Mexico Touring Society

Aside from getting enough oxygen to these old legs as I pushed towards 10,000 feet, the only other problem on the uphill was that my recently rebuilt right shoulder still fatigues before my left when pulling on the bars in hard climbs. But the psychological lift on hitting the imaginary red kite near the top (see Patrick Brady's beautiful description of the power of the red kite here), and then my personal finish line was enough to convince me to do the happy dance out of the saddle and then my usual Fates to the Damn Wind Screaming Descent. Fortunately, there is not another Fabio Casartelli style memorial on the road resulting from my ride back down the hill yesterday.

Ok, bring it on...whatever "it" is. I feel whole again, albeit still a little overweight.

If the city limit doesn't end, does the city go on forever? Another rider, in picture, tackling what Patrick O'Grady calls The Big Hill

Around 8500-9000 ft you go through Hyde Park

End of the road, circa 10,250

Road actually tops out at about 10,300 ft a little before the ski basin at Vista Grande Overlook

I'm not dead yet...

Sturdy and efficient Cannondale CAAD 5 back at normal, 7000 foot altitude.
Yep, that is a compact (50-34) and an Old Guys Special 13-30 on the back. 

I'm still using this bike rather than the Six-Thirteen because I could put a steerer tube extender on this steel steerer tube and that was a must during post-PT recovery. 

Unintentional self-portrait...



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

County Council Approves 2017 Los Alamos County Bike Plan

Got this email this morning.



Good morning T-Board and Bike Plan Subcommittee,

Just a quick note to inform you that Council adopted the bike plan last night.  Thanks for the great cooperative effort from all, the hard work of the subcommittee, and Desirae’s diligence with the details to see this through.  All in all, great team effort!


Eric Martinez

(Eric is the Los Alamos County Engineer, Dept. of Public Works)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Green is for thee, but not me....

Some prominent politicians, including Santa Fe Mayor Gonzales and New York City Mayor DeBlasio, have repudiated President Trump's efforts to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate accord.  But a funny thing happened on the way to the soap box. Its harder to do something than to sound impressive.

Not that I am arm-waving my way past the considerable uncertainties in climate science. Readers of this virtual fish-wrapper have been down that path of caveats before. But in the face of major, unresolved uncertainties, one should, I think, hedge one's bets and that means not adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as if we were drunken sailors on a fossil fueled shore leave binge.  Uncertainty recommends prudence.

In New York, my old friend and Vision Zero colleague Charlie Komanoff called Mayor Bill DeBlasio on his statements that the Big Apple would work to preserve the spirit and letter of the Paris Accords even as the Mayor routinely drives a hulking SUV on congested NYC roads to a gym that is eleven miles from Gracie Mansion (aka the mayor's residence).  Mayor Bill huffed back that Charlie was long on symbol and short on substance but I agree with Charlie: if our leaders think they are too important to reduce their carbon footprint, why should Joe Sixpack, who is just as busy juggling his life as the mayor, trade in his Tahoe for a bicycle? And if transit doesn't work for Mr. Mayor, why do we think it will work for anyone else?

Closer to home, Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales also promises to fight climate change through local action and I tip my hat to him. Indeed, while it would be tough for Mayor Gonzales to find a gym eleven miles from city hall in compact Santa Fe, those in the City Different are plagued with bad designs that maximize road surface, vehicle speeds, and level of service at the expense of transportation options other than the family car. Indeed, the New Mexican complains about a proposal to use privatized speed vans to slow down speeders.  The problem is, enforcement, privatized or otherwise, cannot trump bad planning because roads that look like they were designed for high speeds (wide, clear lines of sight, etc) will be driven fast. Indeed, the whole notion of the 85th percentile rule to set speed limits means that a road that looks like it should be driven fast will have its speed limit set fast. While government enforcement is a requirement for public safety, privatized enforcement has proven to generate huge amounts of public mistrust at the motives of those speeding tickets. But the bottom line is that speeding and the bad road design that encourages it go hand in glove and puts huge emotional and safety roadblocks into using biking or walking. So Mr. Gonzales and his council will have to somehow take back the city from bad state planners who think roads in a city should be urban versions of interstate highways, aka "stroads".

The bottom line is that going to a low carbon transportation future is not someone else's problem. Its everyone's problem. Even Mr. Workout, Bill deBlasio's problem. I think Mayor Gonzales gets it but like other mayors, he is somewhat held hostage not only to the current paradigm, but to those government organizations and their private sector tagalongs in the transportation industry who have a vested interest in continuing business as usual. And business as usual is moving more cars efficiently.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Los Alamos County will host a community bike ride


More than 150 public transit systems and organizations are celebrating the 12th Annual National Dump the Pump Day on Thursday, June 15th. Los Alamos County will take it one step further by asking its residents to Dump the Pump and Bike It, Walk It, or Bus it.  

Invite your family, bring your friends and join us on a three-mile Community Ride. The ride was originally scheduled for Bike to Work Day on May 19th, but was postponed due to snow.  Therefore, “Dump the Pump Day” is another a great way to celebrate bicycle transportation.  The ride will start at 11:30 am from the Ashley Pond Pavilion.  Members of the Los Alamos Fire Department and Los Alamos Police Department bike patrols will lead the ride through town.  After the ride, free hot dogs, chips and refreshments will be served to the first 100 participants.  Staff and a bus from Atomic City Transit will be on site to demonstrate use of bus mounted bike racks along with information promoting safe cycling.

A raffle will be held at the lunch time event for a 26” Roadmaster Mountain Bike that was donated by Wal-Mart, and adult bike helmets donated by the Los Alamos Heart Council.

Atomic City Transit would like to thank our customers for choosing public transportation on this and other days. 
Questions/Comments please call the Public Works Department at 505-662-8150 or send an email to lacpw@lacnm.us.
Bike safety is very important!  Please be sure your bike is in good working order prior to the ride, inflate your tires and a bike helmet is required to participate. Route Map below.













Monday, June 5, 2017

City Bike/Country Bike


A bicycle-friendly city needs to have fun rides and convenience in using a bicycle for utility purposes. The nice thing about Casa Solana, on the north side of Santa Fe, is you can ride a city bike half a mile in street clothing and do one's shopping in a bike basket at La Montanita or Albertson's. One can also hightail it outa town in two minutes on the road racer (not that I can even outsprint a jelly donut any more) and have some awesome riding north of town, which is one of the things I have been doing some rubber to the road research on lately.

Where Los Alamos excels is that one can ride a bike on any of our streets and not be in mortal danger. That is due to low traffic, generally high levels of motorist compliance (when half the town has a security clearance, there is less overt violence), and adequate capacity even at rush hour. Where it has shortcomings is that due to the topography (narrow mesas with deep canyons in between), the food co-op that is a mile from my house as the crow flies is on the other side of a deep canyon, and is seven and a half miles by bike or car. Short of a multi-million dollar suspension bridge or a catapult, it is a serious haul on the utility bike. Santa Fe is more compact, as I said above. Furthermore, it is working madly to create bypass urban trails for bikes because many of its roads do put one in real and perceived mortal danger, thanks to bad "stroad" design (well, that is redundant: is there such a thing as "good" stroad design?) by the State Dept. of Transportation and its car-centric friends in the City Not All That Different.

When designing a bike friendly community, one has to play the cards one is dealt and I think both Bombtown and The City Sorta Different are trying to do that, given that politics constrains the options. But the bottom line is that the riding, as well as utility bicycling, don't get much better than this, as shown in the pics below.

Looking west towards the Rio Grande Rift on Tano West Road
I suspect these rollers are downdropped fault blocks

Looking kinda north on Tano Norte road, riding into rift features
Riding the half mile to the La Montanita food co-op by way
of Rio Vista.  Helmet optional

Friday, June 2, 2017

2017 County Bike Plan Next Heads to County Council



The Transportation Board endorsed the Draft Bicycle Plan last night unanimously. After last night it heads to Council Chambers for a hearing and hopefully, a vote to adopt. Its not on the agenda yet so stay tuned. It might make it onto the June agenda but if not, July.  Meanwhile, here is a semifinal version. I don't expect too many changes (mostly polishing up the prose) so if you have not looked at it yet, here is your chance.

Note that no one showed up to testify or offer comment last night except a couple of us who are on the bicycle plan subcommittee. I don't know if that means everyone is happy with the draft or if there is just massive indifference.

This is a massive upgrade compared to the more rudimentary 2005 edition and I'm pretty happy with it. The document hits all the E's but does so on policy, leaving engineering details to what will be best practice when stuff gets done.

Stay tuned, and please show up in Council Chambers when this is being discussed and debated.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Recreation Bond Craters at the Polls

According to the Daily Post, the Rec Bond crashed and burned. But its not like we don't have options up here. Just walk out the door and find them. Its hard to live in a house in Los Alamos that doesn't let you trip and fall over a trail as soon as you walk out the door. Plus, there are ball fields, tennis courts, multiple swimming pools, mountains to hike, a wonderful equestrian facility, and other stuff.

That doesn't mean we can't still develop more recreational resources and those are good things as long as we have the means to take care of what we have. It just means we need to do so in a normal budgetary manner based on normal revenue streams, rather than borrowing twenty million bucks for non-essential projects.  Stay tuned.

Back when Richard Hannemann had an active political blog, he often said that some in Los Alamos always want us to be something we are not rather than something we are. I think he was right. We are so goddamn spoiled up here.  We gotta keep up with (or more likely, we have to out-do in honor of our Uncle Sam generated wealth) the Joneses and every other Tom, Dick, and Harry community as far as recreational facilities even though most or all of those communities can't hold a candle to our natural recreational resources.

As far as one of those trails one can trip over, here, below, is one of my favorites: The trail out to the end of Kwage Mesa, which I can get to by riding out the front door and enduring a couple minutes of Mr. Pavement as I struggle mightily to get to singletrack.

So, go ride your bike.

End of Kwage Mesa Trail. Pic taken recently, once I got my arm (and ass) out of their respective slings. Life is pretty darn good up here on The Hill.

Friday, May 19, 2017

County Bike To Work Day - POSTPONED



Bike to Snow Day....

Hi,

Due to the weather the event is cancelled for today and Postponed for a future date TBD.  We’ll get together in the next week to discuss.  Thanks for everyone’s help today.

Dianne

Dianne M. Marquez, CPRE, CIRM
Los Alamos County Parks, Recreation & Open Space Division
Recreation Programs Manager / Ice Rink Manager