Monday, May 7, 2018

May 18th is Los Alamos Bike to Work Day

To celebrate bicycling as a green, fun, and healthy way to get to work, the Laboratory is providing coffee, tea, water, 100 Virgin Pulse points, and snacks to (LANL-badged) cyclists who roll up to the J. R. Oppenheimer Center, (TA-03, Bldg. 207), May 18, 7–9 a.m.

“The Lab sees more bicycles on the road during the summer weather, so this is a good opportunity to increase awareness for both motorists and cyclists. It is important that respect exist amongst all employees who utilize LANL roads—each of us wants to arrive home safely after each work day,” said Debra Garcia, Vehicle and Pedestrian Program Lead.

The County is providing coffee, water, snacks and prizes at the Lemon Lot from 7 to 9 a.m. on May 18. They’re also sponsoring a Community Bike Party at Ashley Pond on Wed., May 16, 4–6 p.m., with a kids’ bike rodeo, free hot dogs, and prizes.

REI Corp. Throws Cyclist Safety Under the Bus for a Questionable Political Statement

Or, why does it have to be "guns or helmets" just in time for Bike Month?

I went down to REI yesterday to look for some tires for the cross bike, as I wanted something a little fatter than those 700-32's that left my teeth chattering during a recent downhill ride on a rocky trail. Sure enough, a set of Donnelly MSO's were beckoning to me and some electrons substituting for greenbacks changed hands.

When we sell guns like we sell cars
what does one expect?
Bushmaster ad, discussed by 
David Yamane
 What was not beckoning to me was the wide variety of bike helmets and Camelbak water systems that usually grace REI's shelves. Why? Because REI has decided to boycott Bell, Giro, and Camelbak products until those companies parent corporation,Vista Corp, cleanses itself of the sin of guns. Vista owns Savage Arms, which makes "black rifles" and Vista owns several ammo companies; Federal ammo helps underwrite the sometimes sophomoric and obnoxious NRATV. As far as Savage, it makes a lot of traditional rifles, as well as those euphemistically referred to as "modern sporting rifles" whose actual "sporting" purpose is overprinted onto a design based on shooting people in combat, benign civilian sporting use notwithstanding (of course, so many guns are based on "weapons of war" designs that this can be a meaningless, political phrase, too). But to fill in the blanks, the modern US military "black rifle" was originally designed by Eugene Stoner and the Armalite company (hence "AR" actually originally stood for Armalite Rifle although it has been generalized to black rifles of all types). Civilian, semiauto-only versions have proliferated in the decades since and although the vast majority never make the news, some, as readers know, have been used to ghastly purpose (Newtown, Pulse, Las Vegas, Parkland, etc). For the record, I don't own one; my interest here is in policy, not hardware.

Now its popular right now to make extreme political statements for and against guns and organizaations. I agree that gun violence, and how to reduce or suppress it, is a valid topic for conversation (and policy). But according to various sources, one here, handguns make up the lion's share of guns used in murders (and by inference, criminal activity in general); that number being around 7000 in 2016. Rifles of all types, ARs included, make up a minimal fraction of murders, a little under 400 in the same year. Several thousand firearms murders were undetermined as far as gun type. If you ask people in violence-drenched cities like Chicago, St. Louis, or Baltimore what gets people shot, they will likely respond that its lunatics armed with hand cannons doing the bloody work. The roughly 100 million law-abiding American gun owners are scratching their heads wondering how to get out of no-man's land in this discussion.

Oh, and back to helmets.  According to the CDC, there were over 1,000 bicyclists killed and close to half a million bicycle-related injuries in 2015; head injuries are serious business. One can thoughtfully ask what the cost-benefit is to society of having unrestricted civilian ownership of ARs (how many mass shootings does it take to negate whatever benefit these have in unrestricted distribution) but why would REI compromise the safety envelope of a huge number of bicyclists to do so, helmet wars notwithstanding?   Especially when REI doesn't sell guns. Perhaps a letter writing campaign to Vista or a movement to get bike products out from under the Vista umbrella, and meanwhile, keep the brain buckets on the shelves. Note to readers: Vista may be considering dumping Savage and Stevens Arms but not its other gunsport stuff.

I think REI is ignoring cyclist's safety needs to make its Board of Director's point (less than 25k petition signatures, not all REI members, out of 6 million co-op members does not a majority make). I would suggest that any cyclist worried about wearing a helmet, or about getting a little dehydrated this summer on a long rural or mountain ride, ought to take his or her business elsewhere and I say that as an REI member.

Road deaths per 100,000 people. (source: Angie Schmidt article in Streetsblog).
 Netherlands 3.4
 United States 10.6

Since we are talking about public safety, if REI is really worried about the safety of its client base, perhaps it ought to dissuade people from driving to its stores. Replace those parking lots with parks and trees and multiuse paths.  I suspect a lot of the deaths and more serious injuries suffered by bicyclists are due to the misuse of a certain four-wheeled contraption called a motor vehicle rather than misuse of something with a breech and muzzle called an assault rifle. Especially since the safe operation of either is determined by the operator, not the item itself. Given my time behind the wheel or handlebars in Santa Fe, its more likely to be a distracted, drunk, or clueless motorist who is going to kill me. Meanwhile, this weapon of urban destruction is still legal and acceptable at REI: