Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Support the Failure to Yield law introduced in NM House

HB 0290 introduced by Rick Miera with support of the New Mexico Motorcyclists Rights Organization and which is supported by the Bicycle Coalition as well will add penalties for failure to yield, which is a major cause of bike and motorbike crashes. You know, the old "I never saw you" stuff.

Please support it and call your representative. For most of us, that's Jeannette Wallace.

Bill URL. Be sure to copy the whole thing below.


NM Legislature

For more info on the bill:

Dave Covert
Board Member
New Mexico Motorcyclists Rights Committee
505-844-2989 (day)
dcovert (at ) kcp (dot ) com (day)
505-896-2179 (night)
quietdave ( at) bikerider ( dot) com (night)

Monday, January 26, 2009

LCI Seminar in Albuquerque

If you're at all interested in becoming an LCI (League Cycling Instructor) like some of us jokers, there's a seminar scheduled to happen at the end of February (27th, 28th and March 1st) in Albuquerque. Go here for more details or to sign up. You need to have taken Road I (which is now called Traffic Skills 101 I think) by the seminar date. Who are the people who should take this seminar? People who are interested in teaching, cycling advocates, and at past seminars we've seen some city or county staff civil engineers.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

On Bicycling and Redemption

Since LAB membership gets me a copy of Bicycling, I usually read it. At least scan it. Sometimes its not worthy of being put, perforated, on a tube of cardboard, since the pages are too glossy. Sometimes there is real journalism in it. This issue contained the real thing. Hence this letter to the mag.

Dear Editors at Bicycling

Every once in a while, your magazine prints a story that drops the usual offerings like a fat guy on a Category I climb. This month's (March, 2009) piece by Steve Friedman "The Impossible Redemption of Jonathan Boyer" is one of them. Like "The Invisible Riders" by Dan Koeppel that you ran a few years back, such work goes beyond the surface stuff and unearths realities that go to the heart of the human condition, which, as that famous cyclist once reminded us, "its not about the bike".

I suspect that like many others, I wrote Jock Boyer off to the scrap heap of history after his arrest and conviction for violating one of our more fundamentally held prohibitions. Fortunately, people like Tom Richey, Judge Meyer, Dan Cooper, and Jock's close friends did not. Fortunately, Steve Friedman has given us a deeper understanding of Boyer. As has Jock's involvement with Project Rwanda.

None of us are as bad as the worst thing we have ever done, nor as good as the best thing. We all hurtle through life on metaphorical skinny, high pressure tires; a badly timed blowout is not out of the question for anyone. I wish Jock Boyer well. Redemption, after all, is the best possible outcome of a run-in with our criminal justice system.

The picture above is from an article "Measured Redemption: The Life and Times of Cyclist Jonathan Boyer". Please go read it so I can justify cockroaching* their picture.

* "cockroaching": Hawaiian, pidgin english for pilfering something (don't bother with the def. in the Urban Dictionary)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Downtown Streets Standards Committee meeting

If you were not at the streets standards meeting tonight and worry about Trinity, I suggest you follow up at future meetings to follow this. If we do anything, we need to get it right the first time and that is always a political battle.

I'm more worried about pedestrians crossing the street than of cyclists riding there, to tell you the truth. We have built a lot of housing to the east of Trinity and somehow expect the folks to cross a high speed, wide, multiple lane road with few ped crossings, some of which are badly compromised to keep motor vehicle traffic flowing. If we build commercial properties at the Trinity Site, this will intensify the problem.

There were some designs that looked bicycle-friendly on the surface, but have some not so hidden flaws. Basically, the existing right of way width, at 80 feet, requires some serious compromises if the County is trying to do all things for all constituencies. One design, for example, shows nice bike lanes, but also includes street parking, and the bike lanes are sketched into the design within the door zone of parked cars.

see The Door Zone

and see

Multilane roads with wide outside lanes or with painted bike lanes in lieu of wide outside lanes have their problems: on a heavily used, fast road like Trinity with lots of cross streets, having cyclists riding to the right of other vehicle traffic may increase the risk of cutoff ("right hook" and "left cross") crashes at intersections. Two scenerios are important. In one, motorists pass bicyclists and then abruptly slow and turn right. In another, motorists turn left without paying attention to an oncoming cyclist on the far edge of a wide road. And Trinity has a boatload of intersections and driveways. A further bad scenerio arises when a cyclist tries to make a left turn from a bike lane rather than merging left in advance.

One design on the table had a wide, ~17 ft. multiuse path just a few feet from the roadway, which violates AASHTO best practices. What you get are twice the hazards of a regular intersection when the bike path and the roadway cross. The problems are similar to the problems sidewalk cyclists face--visibility, right of way management, cognizance of both road and path traffic by each set of operators, and compliance.

So regardless of what we do in the way of design, cyclists on Trinity will have to be skilled and reasonably comfortable in traffic as long as Trinity is a traffic-mover. I rode a street similar in design to Trinity but far worse than Trinity in vehicle miles per day travelled in East Honolulu for 9 years without incident by riding in a vehicular cycling fashion. Sadly, I had the dubious pleasure of seeing some inexperienced people on bikes, i.e., college students riding to the Univ. of Hawaii, seriously nailed because they tried to ride to the right of cars while oblivious to turning and crossing complications and opening doors. A reasonable degree of cyclist skill is needed to ensure the cyclist is aware of these hazards and to manage the risks. Take Neale Pickett's Traffic Skills course.

I'd personally prefer a conceptually simple design that integrates cyclists into other traffic without too many whistles and bells, while preserving Central Avenue as a traffic calmed slow street where no one is moving too fast and so no one has that much kinetic energy at their disposal. The biggest problem I see on Central is that some cyclists think they have no right to be in traffic and are intimidated and that a few buttheads in motor vehicles reinforce that notion.

Another option to Trinity, not discussed, is knocking a hole in some buildings and running Deacon Street all the way to MariMac and calling it a bicycle boulevard. A down side is that it would be riddled with stop signs.

Anyway, I'm a fan of not trying to do more than your resources allow. The boundary conditions are fixed by the 80 foot width (unless we add width), number of traffic lanes, and amounts of traffic we want to move. My favorite design was the one with a single, wide lane in each direction and single-lane roundabouts at all the intersections. Barring roundabouts, I'd prefer left turn lanes be included to keep traffic moving without people zooming around left turning vehicles. These could be built into a center median/ped refuge structure.

Speaking for myself here, of course.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

An Earth Day theme they forgot?

LANL talks about Earth Day. Amongst all the themes being bantered about, there is one picture out of three dozen with a bike--sitting in a rack.

Seems we could do better. We shot this pic during BTW Day, 2007.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Shared-use path design guidelines

While we are on the subject. Lets do it, and lets do it right the first time.

Federal Highway Administration

Chapter 14. Shared Use Path Design

Canyon Rim Trail CIP Committee Meeting

Please consider coming out and supporting the development of the Canyon Rim Trail on Tuesday, January 20th - 6:00 p.m in Council Chambers.

This is an important project that will help define what is included in "economic development" in Los Alamos going forward.

From the Parks & Rec Department: "This trail network of multi-purpose, paved trail will serve to link neighborhoods, parks, and businesses with safe, easy alternative transportation routes."

The Canyon Rim Trail will be considered by the CIP Committee on Tuesday night. Opposition to the trail is emerging in the developing battle for limited CIP funds. Consider attending this CIP meeting to voice support or consider emailing the committee (

You can review the proposal on the county's website at:

More information is available at this site:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Jimmy Carter's bike stolen from Carter Center

Scummy world we live in.

Jimmy Carter’s bike stolen from Carter Center

Thieves also make off with wife Rosalynn’s bicycle; both were gifts from local shop owner

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Monday, January 12, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dept. of Double Standards?

Waddaya suppose if this was a nuclear waste release? So much for clean domestic energy from coal. Ride yer bike.

Hundreds of Coal Ash Dumps Lack Regulation

The coal ash pond that ruptured and sent a billion gallons of toxic sludge across 300 acres of East Tennessee last month was only one of more than 1,300 similar dumps across the United States — most of them unregulated and unmonitored — that contain billions more gallons of fly ash and other byproducts of burning coal.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Proposed Legislation to support cyclists and pedestrians

CALL TO ALL New Mexican CYCLISTS and Walkers
Please invite your legistators , bring them and yourself to O'Niels Pub Washington & Central Albuquerque Wednesday January 7th at 6PM Reservered Room. Lots of bike racks at the rear enterance.
Get out the vote for new Legislation to support cyclists and pedestrians .
The Platform will be introduced.
Save lives, get New Mexico a Bicycle Friendly State Status ( currently 45th out 50), Get the 5' law enacted through out the State. Hear what Oregon has done.
Sorry for the short notice but we have to act FAST!!!!!!!
The Santa Fe will only be in session for 60 days and we need Bills introduced by the 16th of January. Ask your State Senator or Representative to sponsor a bill.
Forward this on to all the cyclists, walkers, and lawmakers you know in the state of New Mexico!!!
See you Wednesday at 6PM
Craig Degenhardt
BikeABQ President

(see link on right sidebar for BikeABQ info)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Speaking of environmental sustainability, lets examine cycling infrastructure and policy in Los Alamos

I'd like to start collecting feedback on local bicycling infrastructure and policy here.

Policy seems fine. We don't have any egregiously bad law here, the LAPD is supportive and professional regarding cyclists rights to the road, our Transportation Dept. is keen on cycling issues, and Council has been pro-cycling and pro-pedestrian. But the devil is always in the details.

The infrastructure needs to be examined critically since there is often the presumption among less experienced cyclists that infrastructure equals safety. In fact, no infrastructure is safe unless everyone using it (motorist and cyclist) is skilled. Some infrastructure can actually increase the danger for a nonskilled cyclist by creating a false sense of security and creating conflict points. As far as problematic infrastructure? One must not build it. One must critically examine it.

A particularly worrisome example, supported by some in the cycling community in the past, is the "downhill" North Rd. bike lane descending to the Quemezon intersection.

Here, downhill cyclists at any speed approaching motor traffic speed should be fully in the lane. You need to prevent North Rd. motorists from overtaking you and then right hooking you if they turn right into Quemezon. You need to make sure uphill North Rd. motorists see you and not turn left in front of you, thinking a curb-hugging cyclist is going slowly. You also need to be as visible as possible to prevent motorists from exiting Quemezon in front of you (fail to yield) as you ride downhill. Again, a curb hugging cyclist is less visible.

Not all "bicycling facilities" are created equal. Some are fine. Some create hazards as well as benefits. Some just are not a good idea. We need to sort these out and have some input as Los Alamos rebuilds its streets.

Further, this is a great time to add such input, since Los Alamos is trying to make itself "environmentally sustainable". What better way to be environmentally sustainable than to replace a fossil fuel trip with a cycling trip? But let's not uncritically equate facilities with safety.

See below.

Hello members of Boards, staff and community,

The County Council asked the Environmental Sustainability Board to provide recommendations for objectives under the Council’s Strategic Goal to Maintain Environmental Quality. The Board held a work session on December 11, 2008 to develop recommendations. Various members of the public, boards and staff attended the work session which is documented in the attached document.

Before we present these recommendations to Council, we wanted to give you a chance to provide comment. We are available to make a short presentation to your Board if you would like. Please provide any feedback to me. We would like to have these recommendations ready for Council’s next strategic planning session which is likely to occur in February 2009.

The recommended objectives are listed on page 3 under Workshop Outcomes, followed on page 4 by the actual words from the brainstorming session. Recommended objectives are also listed below:

Proposed Objectives for Council’s Strategic Goal to Maintain Environmental Quality

1. Demonstrate sustainable design, renewable energy and green operations in County facilities.

2. Pursue community wide independence from hydrocarbon energy sources.

3. Take bold actions to conserve water and energy.

4. Maximize recycling, waste reduction, and reuse.

5. Increase the use of products with positive environmental attributes.

6. Establish key baseline measurements, establish conservation goals and measure progress annually.

7. Create sustainable education and outreach on environmental and energy goals.

8. Incorporate sustainable land use practices wherever feasible including protecting open space, trails and habitat and encouraging beneficial planting and community gardens.

Thank you for your consideration,

Regina Wheeler

Los Alamos County

Environmental Services Manager

505-663-1920 office

505-690-4197 cell

To this call, by the way, I made the following suggestions:

Develop land use planning codes which minimize the need for additional vehicle miles travelled and additional roadway space required in the county (a Transportation Master Plan cannot be written in isolation from a land use/development plan, since people need to travel from where we let them build homes and offices and what facilities we provide them to displace cars--so why are we spreading out all the way to the Airport Basin?)

Ensure that new and existing roadways are constructed/rebuilt to encourage pedestrian, transit, small electric/hybrid vehicle, and bicycling oriented movement. Ensure that new and renovated roadways and their speed limits do not serve as impediments to the above modes of travel. One potential benchmark can be how the transportation mode split changes as we implement these plans.

Provide tax incentives for local businesses to provide bicycling end-user facilities and plug-in parking for future fleets of plug-in hybrid vehicles. If future county/regional transit centers are to be provided with private vehicle parking, these should be equipped to encourage non-traditional travel to these facilities (plug in hybrids, bicycles, mopeds, etc.)

Examine how we tax property to encourage "best use" practices from an environmental quality perspective. Should downtown Los Alamos look like a sea of parking lots interspersed with buildings?

Friday, January 2, 2009

What if you ran an election and nobody came?

I was perusing the LAB web site ("Vote Today! (12.15.08)" and see that three National Board seats were open, representing Regions 1, 4, and 6 (not us). However, there appears to be only one candidate on the ballot in each region: "...Running for election are: Region 1: John Siemiatkoski, President, Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition Region 4: Rob Sadowsky, Executive Director, Active Transportation Alliance (formerly Chicagoland Bicycle Federation) Region 6: Amanda Eichstaedt, Chair, League of American Bicyclists..."

Could it be that cyclists are simply not interested in running their national organization? Not a good sign. But it might be worse than apathy, according to the LabReform page:

LAB and a Soviet-style election

"LAB members in 3 League regions are now being offered a chance to vote -- but like elections in the old Soviet Union, there will be only one choice in each region..."

My opinion?

Sent today (1-4-09)

Editor, The American Bicyclist

I was perusing the LAB web site ("Vote Today! (12.15.08)" and see that three Regional Board seats were on the ballot in the Fall of 2008, representing Regions 1, 4, and 6. Unfortunately, there appears to have been only one candidate on the ballot in each region. Could it be that League members are simply not interested in running for the Board of their national organization? That concept is troubling.

In addition, LAB, like any other organization, needs new brains to be cycled through the LAB leadership in order to prevent inbreeding and stale thinking. Will these three new Board members, elected by default, provide critical, outside-the-box oversight of LAB's policies and procedures? Should the Nominating Committee have worked harder to solicit more choices?

A second issue is the large number (42%) of appointed rather than elected Board members. This can be problematic for a membership-based organization. While it is undoubtedly practical to appoint rather than elect some board members, especially those with needed expertise (such as members of the cycling, planning, or engineering industries) or appoint a trained and experienced treasurer, auditor, or legal counsel, this current LAB practice compromises the membership's representation. Indeed, this policy leaves open the possibility of severely manipulating the balance of an otherwise membership-elected Board to perpetuate a temporary majority or point of view. Imagine if our 100 elected U.S. Senators could have, on their own, appointed an additional 72 members in the 109th Congress when Republicans ruled. Or, for that matter, in the upcoming 111th Congress when Democrats will rule. So much for the People.

LAB is a critical organization for American cyclists and must be supported, nurtured, and grown. LAB represents the interests of its membership (and cycling in general) at the national level where national transportation policy and funding are determined. LAB can lend support to local and regional organizations by bringing local issues to national attention and bringing national resources to bear on selected, critical, local problems. LAB sponsors the League's excellent cycling education program and its instructors (LCI's), the Bicycle-Friendly Communities program, and does other fine work. But as good as these programs are, all of these efforts, and LAB's prioritization of member-supported resources, must be responsive to member input through our choice of leadership.

Therefore, as messy as democracy may be, I think it is important to have fully democratic representation on the Board. Our Board should not be unduly controlled, through appointments, by the existing board members regardless of their high caliber, but should reflect the evolving views and diverse thinking of the membership. Having large numbers of appointed board members threatens this ideal, and increasingly takes members out of the loop of governance and decision-making. Hence the need for lively and contested elections and a minimum of appointed members.

Keep LAB strong. If you are not a member, join. If you are a member, become involved in leadership.

So if you have gripes, e-mail our regional Board rep., Harry Brull. His address is on the League web site here. Board Chair Amanda Eichstaedt's email is there too.