Sunday, December 10, 2017

Splash Pools and GRT Windfalls

Sent to the Daily Post


We have elections for a reason,and as Terry Goldman recently opined, Council is empowered to make decisions on what to build and how to fund it subject to public input at regular intervals, i.e., election day, or at other critical times through referendum. The question of whether to build a more elaborate aquatic center is one of those decisions we as a community make, either directly via a bond issue or via a vote by council to spend our money.

Every community wants more stuff and ours is no exception. That said, once we build more stuff, we have the eternal obligation to maintain it. That costs money through staffing and maintenance outlays. Hence it requires us to raise these funds either through growing the economy or raising taxes.

Ever since LANL was privatized, Council and some citizens have seen this as a cash cow windfall. Indeed, Council has decided to speak for the work force in demanding that LANL stay private so that the county can continue to spend money like a drunken sailor on shore leave. Given the decision on who will manage LANL and what the terms of the new M&O will be are up in the air, all I call for is prudence.

I for one, having grown up in a community that saw its industries rust away, am a bit ashamed that one of the most financially well-off communities in the US might demand that the taxpayers of the Republic, many of whom can't afford a new roof on their heads, are being asked to pay a GRT surcharge so we can build a splash pool. At some point one has to ask if we have enough already.

Khal Spencer

Monday, December 4, 2017

Ode to Being A Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community

Acknowledgements and a tip of the 
brain bucket
 to Patrick O'Grady/Maddogmedia
(or, what a skeptical bicyclist might think about bike plans and metal colored awards. Heck, even Platinum Portland almost made the top ten in killing bicyclists)

Bike plan, bike plan, where art thou,
When every car gives me the plow
With every day I come and go
Some crazy motorist pushes me to and fro

So perhaps some day I will be free
To ride my bike without fear of thee
But until that day comes and I am loosed
Of someone's misdirected boost

I will remain quite skeptical of plans
Because every plan has left me damned
And all the virtue we so claim
(because we write our wishes in vain)
Does little to help when I'm always to blame

Burma Shave,

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Los Alamos Named A Bicycle-Friendly Community

Date: November 30, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE(I got this from Louise Romero in the Public Works Dept. --KJS)
Los Alamos County named a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists

Los Alamos, New Mexico— Today, the League of American Bicyclists recognized Los Alamos County with a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly CommunitySM (BFC) award, joining over 400 visionary communities from across the country.

With the announcement of 65 new and renewing BFCs today, Los Alamos County joins a leading group of communities, in all 50 states, that are transforming our neighborhoods.
“We applaud these communities for making bicycling a safe and convenient option for transportation and recreation,” said Bill Nesper, Executive Director at the League of American Bicyclists. “We are encouraged by the growing number of leaders who see bicycling as a way to build more vibrant, healthy, sustainable and connected communities and be a part of the solution to many complex challenges faced at both the community and national levels. We look forward to continuing to work with these communities as we move closer to our mission of creating a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.”

The BFC program is revolutionizing the way communities evaluate their quality of life, sustainability and transportation networks, while allowing them to benchmark their progress toward improving their bicycle-friendliness. With this impressive round, there are now over 400 BFCs in all 50 states. The Bronze Level BFC award recognizes Los Alamos County’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.

Philo Shelton commented “Last year we earned an honorable mention from the League. Within a year, we worked hard to meet the League’s objectives in becoming a Bicycle Friendly Community and made significant accomplishments to earn a Bronze level award. We are only the fourth community in New Mexico to earn such an award joining Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe as Bicycle Friendly Communities.”

These accomplishments include investment in bicycle infrastructure improvements such as completion of Phase 2 of the Canyon Rim Trail system and obtaining a sizeable federal grant to design and construct and a shared-use underpass for the Canyon Rim Trail beneath NM 502 near the Coop at Entrada Drive.  As part of bicycle promotion, education and outreach, County Council proclaimed May as Bike to Work Month which was followed with events celebrating Bike to Work Day.  Lastly, in June County Council adopted the Bicycle Transportation Plan which emphasizes the County’s commitment to bicycle planning as part of the transportation network.

The BFC program provides a roadmap to building a Bicycle Friendly Community and the application itself has become a rigorous and an educational tool.  Since its inception, more than 800 distinct communities have applied and the five levels of the award – diamond, platinum, gold, silver and bronze – provide a clear incentive for communities to continuously improve.

To learn more about building a Bicycle Friendly America, visit
The League of American Bicyclists is leading the movement to create a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.

Motorcycle Shop

Motorcycle Shop

(a tip of the brain bucket to Marc, Frances, and the OCD family. Also, a quick thank you to my cousin, Lori Bonati-Phillips, for inspiration)

Someone forgot the heat shield
So there I sat, waiting for the gas to cool down
Looking across a wide field
The mountain road a lost cause, a frown

Men in smocks with bikes on lifts
Pistons and parts, those inventive industrial gifts
That get us down the road at speeds that blur
Pirsig has passed on, but his ghost is somewhere in this room
Is there Quality here, Phaedrus, or is my bike doomed?

An ancient R60 sits nearby, its pinstripe lines on black and chrome still alluring
Sometimes, old girls are sexier and more real than the young ones
This history book is still sitting where I left it
Everything about this oil-tinged place recommends it

Thursday, November 23, 2017


"Captives' Knoll". The three rock outcrops remind me of Madonna and Child due to the curling over of the top of the rock towards something in its center (l), Ganesh, as there looks like the head of an elephant embedded in the rock (c), and a Zen deity due to the tree growing out of the rock (r).

 Lots to be thankful for this year. For one thing, it is not 2016 any more, which was the year I spent half the months in stiches or casts. Plus, there was the minor issue of That Election. So on the annual Thanksgiving ride, this year done on the double boinger, I stopped at my usual contemplative place in Bayo Canyon, the little knoll I refer to as the Captives' Knoll (because the rocks remind me of Michelangelo's Captives) to spend a few minutes in reflective solitude, thanking Providence, the stars, recent supernovae, the family dogs, and whoever/whatever else out there one must thank, for a good year.

First, I'm thankful for celebrating 30 years with My Better Half, which proves that a Blue Dog Democrat (me) and a Progressive can live under the same roof. As long as we don't discuss gun control...

Secondly, I want to thank surgeons Rodney Barker and Sean Marvel for reattaching various moving parts and then sewing me up when I was broken, which was how I spent much of 2016.

Third, I want to thank whoever one thanks for bringing me in contact with that long lost brother Rich, who my parents had adopted out in 1959 when I was a mere sprout. I knew he existed but had no idea of the details of his existence other than that my parents shipped me off to Uncle Joe's for a summer and when I got back, mom was not pregnant and my parents gave me a puppy. I knew something was rotten in Denmark or in that case, Buffalo. Thanks to both Rich and my nephew Nick who, for unrelated reasons, each got one of those mail-order DNA tests and didn't check the "privacy box". So we four (five, if you count David, me, Rich, Steve, and John) were all eventually reunited. Interestingly, although Rich and I never met, we both turn out to be avid bicyclists, motorcyclists, gun nuts, politically left of center, and  have advanced degrees. Go figure...must be genetics.

Forth, I want to thank Randy and the rest of the Classification Group for offering me a welcome place to land when I decided to change jobs. Its been a riot.

There are too many other folks to think of right now, including work buddies, family, friends, the folks at the Maddogmedia Pickle Barrel, and those elsewhere, including Daniel Webster and Cassandra Crifasi at Johns Hopkins and Adam Winkler at UCLA who always make time to answer my emails when I bug them about things they research as scholars and which I look into as a rank amateur doing a one-man Statler and Waldorf Act. And others. Given that its almost time to take the fake turkey out of the oven, it is therefore time to hit "post" and get back to work on Turkey Day Enterprises.

Be well, all, and go ride your bikes.

I can see why Oppenheimer loved this place

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

"...Let Your Light Shine Before Teens, That They Be Not Splattered On Your Bicycle"

 So in followup to my Nov. 6th post, tonight I was riding home from work at a little before six (dark) o'clock on the Salsa La Cruz commuter. Upon cresting Conoco Hill (aka Shell Hill) I flipped my Nightrider Lumina 650 to high beam in anticipation of picking up speed on the downhill, as unlike the Nightrider 1200 on my heavy duty commuter, the 650 is a tad less powerful. The 650 throws a nice beam but stuff can still surprise you and at 30 mph, finding an obstruction in the bike lane the hard way ain't fun. Sure enough, after passing the golf course entrance on Diamond Drive and heading for the roundabout on the downhill right sweeper, I suddenly saw two teens looming out of the dark, walking down the middle of the bike lane towards me as I barreled onward at about 30 mph.

It startled me first and I let out a bit of a shriek as I veered hard to port to avoid splattering all three of us on the road. I think I scared the crap out of them. They did likewise to me.

The bottom line is that lights matter. So does situational awareness. I was thinking deer tonight but teens are just as much of a hazard. Don't leave your lights or awareness at home. I may upgrade the 650, which I previously thought was plenty of light. Tonight it was enough but barely.

Everyone should be thinking safety, but the bottom line is that Looking Out for No. 1 is best done by No. 1. Don't count on others to be thinking about your safety. Or their own. I did stop and call LAPD and told them someone should counsel those teens. I hope someone did so. Next bicyclist might be running a 100 Lumen Saturday Night Special.  That's the problem with bike lights--no standardization. Don't outrun your illumination.

Monday, November 6, 2017

"...Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your bicycle..."

With apologies to St. Matthew and the Good Book (for those not familiar, I borrowed that title from Matthew 5:15-16).

Its back to Mountain Standard Time and short days. If you have not put lights on your commuter or evening-ride bike, its getting a little late. Safety is not someone else's problem. Its yours.

Note that active lighting, not just reflectors, is critical for safety. Reflectors only reflect light shined directly on them, so they do not tell a motorist at a cross street that you are approaching at right angles or a motorist making a left turn that you are in the far bike lane (until it is too late). Also, reflectors do not warn YOU of road hazards, unlit pedestrians, nor do they keep you safe in those vexing hours around dawn and dusk.

Here is the Long Haul Trucker in winter dress.

Reflective stuff on sides.
Fenders keep grunge off of rider and as importantly, off of lights and reflectors.

Helmet with front/back lighting which can also be used as strobes

Retroreflective tape and reflector, two rear flashing strobe reflectors in case one fails

Headlamp with 1200 lumen max, retroreflective tape
Oh, and "ding" bell to get attention of pedestrians who are not wearing headsets

Thursday, October 19, 2017

"All of that said, accidents and emergencies are going to happen." To Hell With That.

"...As horrific as the Las Vegas murders were, we need to keep in perspective that motor vehicles kill about twice as many people in one day on average, day in and day out. We've just become so desensitized to it that it's simply business as usual for many people."--Joe R., on Streetsblog

I was amused by the Santa Fe New Mexican editorial about the multihour logjam in traffic that occurred last Friday in Pojoaque after a teen (who has, according to the New Mexican, been cited six times for traffic infractions since 2014) lost control of his Chrysler, careened into oncoming traffic, and caused a multicar fatal wreck which the New Mexican conveniently called an "accident". The New Mexican editorial board apparently was more concerned with driver inconvenience and less concerned with driving habits that kill.

This is  the same newspaper that has recently printed every editorial it could find blasting our lack of ability to prevent gun violence. One can only assume that the editorial board of the New Mexican drives but does not shoot. How else could we explain such a flagrant double standard?

Certainly the recent Las Vegas carnage as well as most other gun violence is deliberate while the teen who tied up Northern NM traffic for hours did not intend to kill anyone. That may be a fine point lost on the dead and their loved ones. Not to mention, all those inconvenienced motorists. Such a hair-splitting rationale for flagrantly bad driving was lost on me when I was hit by a car a week before I was scheduled to defend my Ph.D. proposals. I regained consciousness, covered in my own blood, in time for the ambulance to arrive. That incident eventually took about a year out of my grad school progress. We make a lot of excuses, most revolving around convenience, for bad driving. I was one of the lucky ones and can push back against those excuses. The motorist killed last Friday is mute.

Fig. 1. Traffic fatalities per 100,000 residents. Image: International Transport Forum
Source, Streetsblog, Angie Schmitt
Fig 2. Traffic deaths and gun (including suicide) deaths in the U.S.
Graph: Violence Policy Center via Transport Providence
Source: Streetsblog, Angie Schmitt
The New Mexican would have us put up median barriers on US 84/285 to catch bad drivers careening out of control and thereby reduce the tedious delays when our fellow citizens flagrantly put others at risk. That might be an acceptable but expensive solution to prevent some high speed crashes on highways, but does nothing to keep New Mexico from jockeying for the national lead in killing pedestrians and bicyclists on our urban and suburban roads. To reduce that carnage means we must address bad driving habits as well as use Vision Zero concepts to reduce the lethality of those inevitable mistakes human nature ensures we make. Instead, we are asked to implement half measures to deal with what seems like an endless litany of inevitable and socially-tolerated misdeeds. After all, for a pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorcyclist, wide urban arterials and high urban speeds coupled with sloppy, careless, or reckless driving results in catastrophic injury or death.

If the New Mexican editorial board treated gun violence like it does car violence, our solutions to shootings would be to all wear bulletproof vests rather than to reduce the number of shootings. So I don't have very high expectations for the media or my fellow citizens as there still seems to be little emphasis on serious efforts towards crash prevention (enforcement, education, and engineering) rather than more and more crash mitigation. I wish we would hold ourselves and each other accountable to higher standards regardless of what dangerous devices we wield in close proximity to our fellow citizens. Compared to similar high economic status nations, we have high gun as well as high traffic violence rates in the U.S. These problems don't have one size fits all solutions, but as long as we avoid meaningful solutions and pretend that all is acceptable as it is, the carnage will continue, whether at the business end of a firearm or a motor vehicle.

On a related topic, I have called SUVs "urban assault vehicles" in the past. Angie Schmitt made it official.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Bike Review: 2003 Cannondale CAAD5 "Nashbar Special" After 14 Years

CAAD5 in 2017, on Tano del Norte Road, with Sangre de Cristos in the background

 Out of a bit of a miff that Patrick O'Grady is always reviewing new bikes, I decided that it was time to review the oldest bike in my fleet: the 2003 Cannondale CAAD5.

I bought the CAAD5 as a frameset in 2003 from New Mexico Bike N Sport (callout to Tony and the gang!) and transferred a Campy Chorus 8 speed setup to that bike from a previous Cannondale that I brought from Hawai'i. That Hawai'i bike, I think a Cannonball 2.8, did a lot of miles including my first Red River Century ride in the fall of 2002 shortly after we moved here from Paradise and I got over the shock of going from sea level to living at seven thousand feet. But I chafed for a new ride, especially after wrecking the beautiful eggplant color in a spaz attack with a rock wall in Hawai'i, and sprung for the CAAD5. Soon the CAAD5 was upgraded to a Chorus 10 speed setup in honor of the climbing here and having worn out the shifters. With a better CAAD tubeset and carbon fork (and Campy headset) the ride was greatly improved.

In 2005 I upgraded to a Six Thirteen, in part due to a lower back injury that resulted in me wanting a more compliant frame with a slightly bigger frameset; the Six-Thirteen is 52 cm instead of the CAAD5's 50.  The carbon tubes did the trick as well in their ability to damp down vibration. I swapped most of the Campy parts over from the CAAD5 to the carbon bike, leaving the CAAD5 temporarily sitting as a frameset. That did not last long.

Current drivetrain

The aluminum bike was soon rebuilt with the benefit of frequent visits to the clearance pages on the Bike Nashbar web site and after an email session with Lennard Zinn, who talked me into the virtue of compact cranksets. The FSA Energy 50-34 crank was purchased from Lennard, who, by the way, grew up in BombTown. The rest of the drivetrain is a mismash of Ultegra 9 Speed, the FSA crank, and a compact front derailleur from the Excel catalog. Wheelset shown above is Mavic Open Pro hoops laced 3x, 32 double butted DT spokes, to an Ultegra rear hub and believe it or not, a Shimano 600 front hub that I bought as part of a wheelset from a racing teammate in Hawaii back in the earely 1990's. I retired the sewups on the old wheels and kept that 600 front hub, lacing it to this wheelset. The rear cassette seen here is a 13-30 9 speed Sheldon Brown Century Special (holy shit, the price has sure gone up). A recent photo (below) shows the bike shod with a set of Shimano paired spoke wheels. Brakes are circa dozen year old 105's that stop the bike just fine. Brifting is courtesy of Dura Ace 9 speed brifters that were a Nashbar closeout. Tires on these hoops are 700-25 Vittoria Open Corsa CX while on the Shimano paired spoke examples are 700-23 Michelin Pro Service Corsa tires, servicable although ancient. Handlebars are Nashbar 44cm examples locked down with a Richey WCS stem. The bars look a little wide on such a squat bike but I have a wide set of shoulders in spite of being a runt. Blame my Sicilian ancestors.

CAAD5 with paired spoke wheels

Each generation of Cannondales rode better than the last and I have been riding them since the original Black Boneshaker of 1985. The CAAD5 suits me just fine, as does the Six Thirteen. The aluminum bike is what they call stiff yet compliant, largely defined in terms of wheel compliance. The Shimano paired spoke wheels give it a stiff and almost scary-nervous ride on twisty, chipseal descents while the traditional three cross Mavic wheels shown in the first photo give it a very compliant but efficient ride. With traditional rims the bike tracks excellently. I was distracted yesterday looking for where to take those pictures and suddenly noted I was about to ride into a sharp, steep downhill right turning curve. A quick shift of weight and flick on the bars and I recovered my line, avoiding the dreaded oncoming lane. My main problem with the deep profile Shimano rims is they tend to "rudder" the bike a bit and that can be annoying in crosswinds or high speed, sinuous descents.

I really like this bike and rode it a lot this year with the stem riser that I added back in 2005 after suffering a disk herniation. The added height on the handlebars came in handy this year after major shoulder surgery that left me uncomfortable on the deeper drop of the Six-Thirteen. The ride has not deteriorated over time. Maybe I just don't know what I am missing with the new stuff.

The bottom line is that bikes are not disposable or for that matter, easily made  obsolescent except for crappy companies that don't support their past parts lines. This bike is a dear friend and will likely last me a long time. It flies up and over the hills and mountains of Santa Fe and Los Alamos as well as I can manage given this old set of bones and descends like a rocket if I want to do that too. These old Cannonballs can still carry me as far as I want in a day. I know the bike companies want to sell me more stuff, but they had better come up with a better reason to get me to part with dead presidents or I will keep riding this old stuff. After all, I am old stuff too.

105 brakeset

Back when Cannondales were made in USA
No, you don't have to stand, damn it.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Comments Set to Moderation

An asshole (or asshole-bot) has been bombing this blog with spam. I have set comments to moderation and am trying to report the URL to Blogger. Until then, comments are on moderation so readers are not subjected to a steady stream of links to porn sites, fly by night huckster stuff, etc. Sorry.

Monday, September 25, 2017

First Fall Weekend

Continuing on the last post's topic, I almost got nailed twice by lousy drivers. In the morning, a young woman came careening down the street and didn't slow down as we crossed in a crosswalk with the dog, but instead sped around us missing by a few feet. For the lack of a baggie of dogshit...

Then a hiker almost turned left in front of me as I descended Camp May Road, stopping halfway as I maneuvered around his large car. People need to take safety seriously.

Otherwise, aside from a bit of wind on the first Sunday of fall, all was lovely.

Aspen starting to turn

To the top, with the "new" wheelset and a 12-28 cassette/compact crank

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Its All the Dead Pedestrian's Fault, Right? Wrong.

From Patrick O'Grady/ 
with occasional permission
  I sent a vastly shorter version of this tome as an email to Santa Fe New Mexican reporter Tripp Stelnicki last night. The New Mexican article, which puts the onus of ped fatalities primarily on pedestrian error (drunkenness, jaywalking, stepping out in front of cars) seems to have been written after consulting with the usual suspects, and is to some degree the equivalent of the "single witness suicide swerve" that we bicyclists are used to dealing with, i.e., the dead pedestrian never gets to give his or her side of the story. The other "blame the victim" analogy that comes to mind is "he wasn't wearing a helmet" (even if the hapless bicyclist dies of blunt force chest trauma). I don't blame Tripp for this institutional myopia (Tripp is a fine reporter) but I sure do have a bone to pick with UNM and the various traffic "experts". I've done a bit of editing on reproducing the email here. Not much though. There is a bike waiting to be ridden.

Hi Tripp

Gotta get to sleep but just read this: "Danger Afoot for Pedestrians in Santa Fe".

I think we are missing something here. Sure, people drink and walk in cities. We know that is a problem. Thank God they are on foot rather than driving. But there is an elephant in the room, although you briefly touch on it. That elephant is road design.

Three of those four "high dead ped" roads (St. Francis, St. Michaels, Cerrillos) are wide and fast arterials. With recent construction, DOT just made Cerrillos practically wide enough to turn an aircraft carrier and it is posted 40 mph. Even if one is sober, crossing those wide, fast multilane streets (where crosswalks are often far between) is a challenge.

Urban speed kills, which is why many European cities adopting the Vision Zero traffic safety paradigm typically drop city traffic speed limits to 25 mph or lower on streets where there are lots of pedestrians afoot.  The rough rule of thumb is that at 20 mph most peds hit by a car will survive and at 40 mph most get scraped off the road by the morgue truck. So, those wide and fast arterials you speak of are NOT safe for pedestrians because a mistake is going to be gruesome, if not fatal, and as we know, people make mistakes. The Vision Zero concept says that we expect mistakes and design the engineering to minimize the damage those mistakes will cause. Some references to impact speed vs. lethality here and here.

Afterthought added this morning. To some degree, crossing a "stroad" as a pedestrian is a high hazard activity, somewhat akin to working with Plutonium in a nuclear facility (something I did for years as a professional, Ph.D. level scientist). You design hazard mitigation so a mistake is not fatal. A single motorist or pedestrian mistake on a 40+ mph stroad can easily be fatal. If we treated nuclear facilities like we treated roads, then Plutonium workers would be working on tabletops, directly handing radioactive material rather than working on it through gloveboxes.

There was a mention in the article about midblock crossings where traffic signals at intersections are few and far between. One thing we found in Honolulu back in the nineties was that adding midblock crossings on multilane urban arterials was getting older folks hit by cars as motorists could be screened by adjacent traffic and not see a person starting into the street. But that was before HAWK systems (High-Intensity Activated crossWalK beacon). So that might work well now but it would require HAWK systems and having tried to get DOT to install one up here was the proverbial Land War in Asia.

Up here in Bombtown, Central Avenue has been our main shopping area prior to the Smiths Marketplace. We wanted to slow traffic down from 35 mph. While I was on the Transportation Board we re-engineered the street by narrowing it and adding bulbouts and many ped amenities. We dropped the posted speed to 25 mph and the 85th percentile speed is actually lower than that. Motorists have that extra time to pick up a pedestrian setting foot into the street, which is another benefit. Design works. So even if we have an incident, it is a low speed incident and the survivability is statistically and in terms of the physics, better. That hazard reduction (lowering speed limits, cutting the curb to curb distances a pedestrian has to traverse) are Vision Zero concepts.

My wife crossed Santa Fe's St. Francis Drive ONCE, and only once, at Alamo Drive, just as St. Francis enters town, in broad daylight to walk from the house to Albertson's and nearly died from fright. She will never do that again. Its considerably better to cross St. Francis at Crucitas/Paseo de Peralta as motorists have finally slowed down after flying down that long hill into town at 50-60 mph and finally cutting the afterburners. It is a longer walk.

 Google the Strong Towns web site and read about "stroads", which are a mismatch of designs that try to put rural road traffic speeds and throughput onto wide urban streets. Those engineers and planners you speak with will admit under torture that their designs are primarily to move as many cars as possible (optimize motor vehicle level of service) and the stuff they throw in for ped improvements are designed, as you say in the article, to impede "traffic", i.e. motor traffic, as little as possible. So of course people jaywalk. At foot speeds who wants to walk a mile for that Camel if the store is across the street (and I wonder if that guy in the ad would walk that mile if he had to cross Cerillos Road)? In the case of the article, if a homeless shelter (where we know substance abuse and mental illness might be problems) is across the "stroad" from a bus stop, what the hell do we think will happen?

I wonder sometimes what we would think if it were not drunks down on their luck getting killed. Perhaps we need to kill a few high profile people if we are to get something changed. Any volunteers from City Council, the NMDOT, or Santa Fe Institute? The cop who hit and killed the unlucky Francisco Navarette was fined eighty bucks for doing 52 mph in a 40 zone. Of course he could not avoid the crash. He was probably going too fast to avoid Mr. Navarette's mistake. A Vision Zero paradigm would have identified this as a likely failure mode scenerio. Alice Sookying Cameron, who was doing everything right when she was hit and killed by someone alleged to be driving while cellular, got a more sympathetic treatment. She was a corporate VP for accounting.

The bottom line is that it there is no one obvious and affordable fix to this mess, and too many conflicting interests to have a simple answer. It is practically impossible to design a city with both superwide, fast arterials to channel traffic swiftly and at the same time encourage walking if someone has to cross those streets at grade. And of course, once you build those giant arterials and encourage sprawl, its really tough to put that bad boy back in the bottle. Furthermore, walkability is compromised by sprawl.

Sorry for the prolonged rant, but I guess its my dozen years of T Board service showing.

Khal Spencer, Ph.D., geological sciences
Member/Chair, Los Alamos County Transportation Board  2003-2017, now off the board and speaking for myself.

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. 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.