Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Danny Macaskill - Industrial Revolutions

After seeing this video on several bike blogs today, I finally gave in and watched it.

Treat yourself to this.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Seen on my bike:

In the road, one upright and empty champaign bottle, next to two empty plastic Starbucks cups.

Saturday, June 18, 2011



Part One!

This post, as many of them do, started as a comment on another blog. This particular one was in response to a post by my Internet Friend in Akron, Ohio. Hi, CG!

Part Two!

I've been hacking away at this post for most of the afternoon. (With breaks, naturally. I've had lunch and taken a nap and stuff.) But for the most part, it's a sprawling monstrosity. I'm not going to edit it or make it more concise. I'm just going to allow this to be a sounding off.

Part Three!

My own "shame on you" on-bike communication tools consist of "No!" shaking my head, like the author in the linked post did, and in some situations giving a head-shake/thumbs-down combo. I like to think this combination renders a motorist helpless with guilt.


Miscommunication causes the majority of problems that occur person-to-person.

(Actually, all the world's problems result from the fact that there are too many people. But accepting that that is an inevitability, let us continue.)

Humans are expressive, communicative creatures. We communicate so hard. So hard! We speak words, and we assume certain contextual postures and stances while speaking them that also convey messages, and we adopt certain inflections and vocabularies while speaking that add extra layers of meaning to our original message, and our facial expressions—on top of already established body language—can add yet another layer of complexity. And we won't even get into layers of meaning one can achieve though sarcasm, metaphor, mixed words, and other read-between-the-lines stuff.

Point being, communication! Wow, we do it so hard! In so many complicated ways!

Driving in a car makes you inhuman!

The vast majority of vehicular humans are deprived this most essential tie to humanity. Anybody operating a motorized vehicle is experiencing their surroundings—and their fellow human beings—at such velocity, and in such an enclosed—dare I say "caged off?"—environment that they are rendered inexpressive, incommunicative, and perhaps inhuman.

(Tom Vanderbilt writes on this to great effect in his book, Traffic, which I recommend so hard. Even if you just skim through it, there will be much gleaning.)

In a car, you are denied words, eye contact, and body language. You are essentially limited to two forms of expression: turn signals (which are ridiculously lame forms of expression) and horn-honking (which is a hopelessly vague and, sadly, an intrinsically aggressive form of communication).

You can't see your fellow motorist through their suit of car armor. What you can see is usually the rear end of the car in front of you. It is ridiculous. It is dehumanizing. It is infuriating. It is provocative.

It makes you a monster.

It makes you a person who might call a fellow citizen of the road a dirty whore even if that's something wildly out of character for you. It might be something you'd never dream of doing face to face with a person with whom you might enjoy other, more civil, means of communication.

But in a car, you are rendered dumb. You don't have the luxury of other, more humane and civil avenues of communications.

So you end up screaming "Dirty whore" at people.

Because you are left with few alternatives as far as communication goes.


The Internet in general, and Youtube specifically in my experience, is notorious for allowing—perhaps encouraging?—bullying.

Randall Monroe, one of my favorite Internet Culture commentators, once commentatedto great success—on the hateful YouTube comment phenomenon.

In my mind, there is little difference between the false anonymity granted to you as an Internet user and the false anonymity granted to you as a vehicular citizen of the road.

In both scopes, bullying is intolerable, and I will call you out on it.

In both scopes, your anonymity is a false construction.

There have been stories in my local newspaper about cops who have lost their jobs for posting "anonymous" hateful/bigoted comments on local sites. And, in my workplace, when I am considering interviewing applicants, I google your ass.

Internet anonymity isn't what you thought it was.

There have been stories in my feeds about drivers who have been rightfully damned and condemned for plowing into cyclists.

Vehicular anonymity isn't what you thought it was, either.

In Closing

Don't be a dick.


In your car? On the Internet? Seriously, anywhere? Don't be a dick.

Because anonymity is a falsehood.

You are responsible for your actions. There will be consequences for your actions.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Rain ninja

It's raining in Denver. Has been for over 24 hours now.

Point being, it's gray and cloudy and wet outside, and visibility is low.

On the way home from driving my partner to work just now, I stopped at an intersection near my house. I had a stop sign and cross traffic did not. I looked each way twice before proceeding, and one more each way as I entered the intersection.

And as I started to clear the intersection, I saw a cyclist pass close by, right behind me, looking at me disapprovingly. I apparently had come close to cutting her off.

I am hyper-aware of cyclists, so I was surprised that I had carefully surveyed the area and had flat out, straight up not seen this one.

She was on an upright bike, probably a cruiser, wrapped up in a large black wool coat, covering herself with a gray umbrella. (If you imagine riding a bike in the rain, you'll realize that you need to hold the umbrella more or less in front of you—blocking your face and covering your head—in order to utilize it.)

No lights. Perfect ninja.

Even with her dark attire, and even hiding behind an umbrella, I might have seen her had she had lights on her bike.

Which is why my bike lights and my automobile lights are on, day and night. There's no reason to ever not have your lights on. All they do is make you more well seen. All they do is increase your chances of not getting hit.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Opposing View Points: Tinted Windows

In favor:
I love tinted windows!

I'm a big fat jerk!

Tinted window suck.

I do not like them on parked cars because I can't see if someone is in there about to open their door and flingsmash me.

I do not like them on cars in intersections because I don't know if the driver is looking at me or waving me through.

Where do I stand?
I am not a big fat jerk.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Opposing View Points: Bike Lanes

In favor:
Bike lanes are awesome.

They create a space in which the novice cyclist feels safe. It encourages cycling, and gets more people on the road.

Plus, bike lanes feel fast because you don't have to worry as much about maintaining CONSTANT VIGILANCE regarding the traffic around you.

Bike lanes infantilize a legitimate form of road transportation.

As a cyclist and equal citizen of the road, I am entitled to all the privileges of the road. I don't need to be siphoned off into a special safety lane.

Bike lanes also discourage cycling in the sense that a novice cyclist, used to the bike lane oasis, will not venture out onto new roads, and will feel discouraged from cycling if the trip cannot be made using bike lanes.

Where do I stand?
I'm in favor of them being a resource to the beginning cyclist, but am leery of cyclists becoming dependent on them.

I think bike lanes are good in that they remove an obstacle between the road and a curious cyclist; they serve the valuable function of offering a feeling of security.

I also think that as cyclists gain experience and confidence in the bike lanes, they will venture out onto other roads that don't have bike lanes. And there they will gain vehicular cycling experience.

Bike lanes are like training wheels for grown-ups.

Monday, May 9, 2011

#bikeschool recap 5/5/11

ala Rob Row's rundown, here is my recap of last week's #bikeschool, which I too missed.

  • ***Q1: In honor of Cinco de Mayo, how would you combine bikes and tacos for the ultimate best day ever? #bikeschool

    Surely I didn't just invent this: is there a taco shaped bike bell? A "Taco Bell," if you will?

    I did have a Chipotle veggie bowl on Cinco de Mayo, but only because my partner brought me her leftovers. Whatever, it counts. I had guacamole. Cinco de Mayo: observed.

  • ***Q2: It's National Bike Month in the USA, are you doing anything special to acknowledge it this year? ***** #bikeschool

    Denver observes Bike Month is June. But I look forward to hearing about everybody else's adventures during May and then having my own in June!

    One thing I'm doing right now to get pumped and to get other people interested is cleaning up the bike parking locker where I work.

    More on that later.

  • ***Q3: If you could be any other bike rider/cyclist for a day, who would it be, and why? ***** #bikeschool

    I'm picturing somebody in board shorts, cruising down to the beach with a six pack in tow.

    I'd be that dude.

  • ***Q4: Who has a cycling-related tattoo? Gold star to those who post a photo. ***** #bikeschool

    I don't have any tattoos.

    I'd like to see somebody get a "Share the road" tramp stamp. How funny would it be to see that peeking out of a cyclist's shorts on the road?

  • ***Q5: When you pass another cyclist on the road, do you nod, wave, shout? What do you do? *****#bikeschool

    I smile, nod, and say hello, and try to make the road a friendlier place.

    If we're stopped at a light together, I often try to strike up some kind of conversation.

    If I'm passing somebody, I shout a warning; I don't have a bell.

    I often chastise people for passing me closely without giving a warning. It can be startling!

Opposing View Points: Helmets

In favor:
Helmets save lives. Plain and simple.

It's like a seat belt. Just wear it, and if something unfortunate happens, you'll be more likely to survive it.

How is there even an argument against wearing helmets?

Your Magic Styrofoam Hat isn't going to save your life if you get hit by a car. What is going to save your life are your riding skills, and awareness of your surroundings.

All of which begs the question of the inherent dangerous nature of bicycling. Cycling is not dangerous. Things like mandatory helmet laws and Bike Safety Month are turn people away from cycling by suggesting that cycling is so dangerous that it requires special equipment and month long awareness campaigns.

Where do I stand?
Somewhere in between. I don't think helmets are Magic Styrofoam Hats. And I wear one 99% of the time. But there are occasions when I want to go for a ride and feel the wind in my hair because it feels good.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dangers of not taking the lane

Totally got buzzed by a car today. It was partially my fault because I was being a gutter-hugger by riding too close to the curb instead of asserting myself into the lane.

I knew better, too. It was on a road where I know I have to take the full lane, or I'll be passed way too closely.

I guess I was just day dreaming or something.

That inches-away car sure did bring me back to reality though!
I did the thing I usually do when I get buzzed. I shouted "TOO CLOSE!" and shook my head disapprovingly.

That'll learn 'em!

I still have yet to perfect what I think is an awesome response to stuff like that: the emphatic Thumbs Down. Compared to the Bird it is less inciting and more shaming.

And truth be told, that's exactly what I'm looking to levy upon people who are driving inconsiderately or recklessly or carelessly near me. I don't want to instigate a confrontation. I want to shame and haze the driver so they're aware of their actions.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sounds of the road

Here are some sounds I recognize while on the road.
  • There is a car behind me and—
    1. it is far away and going slow.
    2. it is going way too fast.
    3. it is nearby, about to pass me, and is way too close to me.
    4. it is behind me but isn't making an effort to pass me.
  • The car that was behind me just turned onto to side street.
  • There is a bike behind me and it needs some chain lube!
  • Somebody just honked at me I am about to die. (Seriously, there is no "friendly honk." It's always "I am about to die.")

I glance over my shoulder to get a visual of what's behind me every once in a while, but I rely a lot on my ears while riding.

Wind, snow, and rain make riding especially difficult for me because they limit my hearing.

Just so you know, Denver, it is illegal to ride with headphones on! I met a guy last week who received that ticket.

It's not a bike law, but it's a vehicle law.

And so is wearing your seat belt, so. BE AWARE.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The oblivious masses

It's spring time and it's nice outside and there are a lot more people on the multi-use trails.

One type of trail-user who emerges in the spring but isn't present in the winter is the trail-user who is totally plugged in: both earbuds in, volume cranked, and totally oblivious to everything going on around them.

I'm having to yell "ON YOUR LEFT" louder and louder to penetrate their cone of silence.

Might need to get a bell.

Fog horn.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Shine a light on the problem

I arrived at work this morning after a very pleasant 6.5 mile commute to find our IT guys on site working on the new computers.

This work apparently involved having to go down into the crawlspace to run cables.

One of our technicians asked, naturally, for a flashlight so they could work down there.

Now, we do have a flashlight. Somewhere. But I'll be darned if we could find it!

After several futile moments of searching, I got a bright idea and grabbed the two Cat Eyes off the front of my bike—yes, I have two headlights. Two tail lights too!—turned them on steady and handed them off.

Not that much later, the work was complete, and two different technicians returned each light, each of them holding it out in front of them confusedly and asking, "How do you turn this thing off?"

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Quick Tip: Removing your tire

Quick tip!

If you need to remove your tire, you can use the lever from your quick release skewer.

(Unverified! Word of mouth knowledge from a commuting class I went to last week.)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

National Bike Month vs Denver Bike Month

What's up, bnerds! It's May!

(I just made up the word 'bnerd.' It means bike nerd.)

For most of the nation, May is National Bike Month. Denver however opts-out in May and celebrates Bike Month in June.

There is a reason for that, and there is a bittersweet consequence of that.

The reason is that May is Denver's most precipitous month. Most of it is rain but some of it is snow. Other places are colder, and probably snowier. But that's the reason. Other snowy/cold places act in like. The Wisconsin Bike Fed, for example, promotes Bike To Work Week in early June.

The consequence of not being in sync with the majority of the rest of the nation is that you get to spend a month keeping up with blogs, photos, tweets and more from all over the states as people are biking, going to events, getting together for rides, and generally having an awesome time. It can feel like you're missing out. But you also get to spend a month getting pumped about your local Bike Month seeing how much fun everybody is having! You really start anticipating and looking forward to your own local events.

And you can totally still participate remotely in May events. You can bike to work May 22nd AND June 22nd, you know.

It's really like having whole nother bike month!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hook Prevention

So I was riding my bike down the Teenybopper Mallrat route, eastbound, which is more annoying than riding it the other direction because on this side, the south side, the eastbound side, the bike lane is a narrow little strip next to the curb that I barely consider safe to ride in because—
  1. It often doesn't feel like there's enough room for traffic pass comfortably. I mean we're really flirting with the 3-foot passing distance, and
  2. It's seriously right on the curb—in that space where cars usually park and next to which bike lanes usually go—and is often full of garbage, ice, glass, and everything else that gets swept to the side of the road.

Because of those two factors, I often ride in the regular traffic lane. To the dismay of any motorists behind me, I'm sure, but I do try to be mindful of them and pull over out of the way when it's safe so they can pass.

And that's just what I had done for this one car as we both approached Park Avenue. Once we got there, as you can see in the dramatic re-enactment below, the car wanted to turn right but was unable to because there was a little old lady in the crosswalk.

As I approached, I saw that the LOL (little old lady) was going to clear the intersection just in time for the driver—should he not be paying attention to the cyclist (me) coming up behind him—to execute a perfect Right Hook.

Like the kind that took down two Denver police officers a couple weeks ago.

Ultimately, I had no intention of suffering a right hook, so I left the bike lane and merged into the traffic lane proper so he could right-turn away without worrying about me anymore than he would any motor vehicle.

I did it to be nice to him and, mostly, you know, out of self-preservation. But also to be nice.

Which is why I was surprised when he, after I got out of his way, did a hand fling at me in his rear-view mirror.

It wasn't an Incredudignantlous Flingsalute level hand fling, but it was a pretty good "C'MON WHAT THE HECK" fling, and was impressive in its own way since he had the steering wheel in one hand and his cell phone in the other.

So I think he was angry because he had mentally prepared to invest his valuable time in waiting for both a LOL and a Scofflaw Cyclist to pass the intersection before he could turn right, but I denied him that opportunity by not zipping around him.

I failed to live up to his expectations as a scofflaw cyclist, and true, it is frustrating when someone doesn't live up to your expectations. Especially if you're feeling pretty proud of the amount of observation and anticipation that lead you to form these expectations.

By all of which I only mean to say that the dude got a little angry, and I'm okay with that. You're allowed to get angry. You're entitled to your feelings.

But I will always behave the exact same way I did in that scenario, and I will continue to do so even if I know for sure that it will make that dude angry each time. Because I behaved in a way that allowed me to avoid a scenario in which there is a possibility I will get hit by a car.

And I am entitled to the feeling of not getting hit by a car.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Things I have yelled on my bike recently

Things I have yelled on my bike recently.
  • Nice turn signal! (Sarcastic)
  • Nice bike! (Not sarcastic. Said to a kid on a bike on the sidewalk who was watching me very closely.)
  • Foot doooooown! (Cry of anguish. Didn't want to put my foot down, but had to.)
  • Did you do yoga?

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Check out this picture I took of a traffic altercation in which I was involved today.

click through for street view

I was honked at for proceeding through an intersection, when I had a green light.


I was approaching Colfax and Sherman from the capitol parking lot, which I love riding through because
  1. all the congresspeople's license plate numbers are simply their district numbers and I like looking at those; and
  2. I find it fascinating to note the bumper stickers--and there are many, many!--that our congresspeople choose to put on their cars.

But! I was approaching the intersection from the parking lot, and I noticed the light change in my favor. Scanning the area, I noted there were some pedestrians crossing my path but they were too far away to be of concern, and I noticed there was a queue of cars opposing me waiting to turn left. (Across my path.)

Assessing (note you, having a GREEN LIGHT) an intersection through which it is safe to proceed, I proceeded.

SIDEBAR: As you can see in the photograph above, I was towing a trailer. I had some very large items to deliver downtown, and I had a bulky load of things to bring back from downtown. It required the buggy. I don't know how relevant that actually is. It obviously expanded my length and width until it approximated that of a small automobile.

So, having a green light, I proceed through the intersection.

I'm halfway through it when, BAM! It happens.

Rather, I should say, HONK-ONK-ONK-OOOONK! It happens.

I am horn-blared by a car wanting to turn left.

I was totally surprised and caught off guard.

I looked back at the driver and gave them what I hopped was an adequate Indignantcredulous Flingsalute.

The next car in line had its windows down, and the driver consoled me by calling out their window, "It's alright. You're okay. Keep riding. Okay."

And like that, I was through the intersection, and it was all over.

I had been incomprehensibly, inexplicably disrespected by one motorist; and comforted by another.

Which just goes to prove that "Some are jerks, some are nice, and you can't afford to generalize."

We're all people, you know?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

People can hear you on your bike

The other day I was riding home from work. As I approached an intersection, I saw a young woman in comfortable looking clothing standing on the corner. She had over her shoulder a large canvas bag, peeking out of which was a large rolled up mat.

Assessing her appearance as I approached, I said aloud but to myself, without really realizing it, in kind of a sing-song voice, "Oh, did you do yoga?"

She whipped her head around and watched me with a boggled, surprised, slightly incredulous look on her face as I sailed past.

Sorry, lady.

I'm a talk-to-myself-er and sometimes I forget people can hear me when I'm on my bike.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Made my day: overcoming modal bias

On the way to work this week, there was a car tailing me for a couple blocks. It was still a little icy out, so I was asserting myself into the lane—where it was dry and rideable—and announcing my intentions so there'd be no misunderstandings = so there'd be no accidents.

I stopped for a light, signaled two left-hand turns, and then when we were at a spot that allowed it safely, I slowed and pulled over into the slush so the car could pass.

The driver rolled down his window and shouted at me, Thanks! before continuing on his way. I don't know why, but it really felt as though he wasn't just thanking me for getting out of his way, but for being so careful and communicative.

I wish I had you're welcomed him, or responded at all really, but it surprised me because motorists are so often just annoyed to be behind cyclists. His response really made my day.

I like to imagine that we were each, to the other, surprisingly good representatives of our modes of transportation.

Friday, February 11, 2011

What I Wore

Yesterday morning it was zero degrees outside when I left for work.

Here's what I wore to stay warm.

From the bottom up!


  • Wool socks from Costco. It feels like every third or fifth trip to Costco, I grab a pack of wool socks. You just can't have too many!
  • These knitted blue socks that my partner's grandmother made me a long time ago. They add a layer of insulation but mostly I wear them because my boots are way too big and I need some extra padding when I wear them.
  • My boots. I've had these things since I was a young teenager. My dad brought them home from work one day because one of his coworker's husband died and so now she had all these big shoes, and what was she going do with them! And my dad was like, hey, my kid has big feet. I'll take 'em and give 'em to him. And he did. But these things are enormous even on my size 13s. But they're the best thing I've ever experienced as far as good winter/snow boots go.


  • Tights
  • Jeans

Torso and arms!

  • Two long sleeved cotton t-shirts
  • Cycling jacket. You probably can't see it in the picture, but this jacket is littered with holes and tears. I've worn it daily, year-round, for over three years. It has survived one significant crash and a dozen minor spills. I'm rough on my gear. (Gear ~ body.)


This is my problem area.
  • Smart Wool glove liners
  • These other gloves
I have yet to find a way to keep my hands warm. I have four or five different pairs of gloves—wool and leather, lined and unlined—that I use in different combinations, all to no avail.

What that means is that I can postpone Hand Freeze by riding with one hand behind my back (and no longer exposed to the wind), but that's not always an option because when it's icy and nasty out, I'm keeping both hands on the bars.

After that, I simply have to stop, get off, and warm my hands in my pits/pants. (Your arm pits and your crotch are two of the warmest parts of your body.)

What I have learned recently, though, is that I can keep my hands approximately 90% warmer by pulling my fingers in and wearing them as mittens. It's so much warmer! And it makes me think that I need to seriously consider some good, actual mittens. Or maybe some of those lobster gloves.


  • Two Buffs: one "Original" and one wool.
My Buff, as I've said before, is my all-time, all-purpose favorite cycling accessory. I wear it in warm and cold weather, and don't leave the house without it.

I got a wool one this Christmas, and I really like it. I was surprised by how much longer it is! It hasn't replaced the old one, but I like to keep it on hand. When it's really cold, I usually wear the red one on top of my head, and wear the wool one as a scarf around my neck that I can pull up over my face if I need it.

On one even colder ride last week, I wore a smart wool balaclava under the two buffs, and was plenty warm.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Halest

50 Across: Most robust

The answer to the above crossword clue is HALEST. I had never encountered this word prior to this past Tuesday's New York Times crossword.

A crossword clue database lists other clues for this word: Most fit, In the best shape, Most vigorous, Most strapping, Most hearty, Most sound.

Being a fairly competitive fella, I like this word.

The Rules of the Velominati

I recently stumbled across the Velominati, which is a racing oriented site and home of The Rules. I disagree with and willingly break many of these rules.

Some of them are great though. Consider Rule #9.
If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.

I have had plenty of opportunities this week to have my behavior defined by Rule #9 and by that crossword puzzle.

Yeah, it's below zero and I'm biking to work: I'm a halesome badass.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Mountain Biking Bill fails on Party Lines

In which I explore a train of thought that makes me sound profoundly anti-Mountain Bike

Colorado Senate Bill 36 was written to acknowledge the inherent risks of mountain biking, and to limit lawsuits against property owners, equipment renters, etc. over injuries sustained during the activity.

The bill died tonight, having never made it out of committee.

What I find interesting about this bill is that it was a wholly Republican endeavor from start to finish. [1] It was sponsored by a Republican, and the vote on it was strictly down party lines: Republicans for, Democrats against.

This speaks to a suspicion that I have long had. Mountain biking is largely a Republican activity, because Republicans insist on seeing bikes as toys.

One blogger recently wrote about how in her community bikes were considered suitable for kids to play with, but were completely inappropriate for an adult to ride.

There's some kind of mental trigger that produces this mindset, and I don't know what it is. But I think that whatever it is, it's the same thing that causes motorists to get angry at cyclists for being in the road. The other side of the "They think they're entitled to the road" coin has to be "I believe they have no entitlement," which means that to the coin flipper, the cyclist is a kid playing at grown-up games and should be riding bikes on the sidewalk. Or playing hop-scotch in the alley. Or kicking a tin can in a dirt field. The idea that a bike might be used for grown-up reasons—going to work, grocery shopping—is not reasonable, nor even plausible, to this person.

(This coin-flipper is the same person who honked at me twice this week for not riding in the bike lane when it was full of snow and slush and ice and muck.)

To this person, the idea of spending Department Of Transportation money in multi-modal transportation is ridiculous. Because bikes are toys, and who walks anywhere?

"Bikes are toys" is the mantra that allows anti-bike people to embrace mountain biking. In this activity, bikes are safely confined to recreational use far away from cities and roads and traffic.

As proof, I submit the most—the only?—outspokenly anti-bike politician in Colorado, or anywhere else, Dan Maes.

From the transcript at grist.org:
The bike program in and of itself is fine. I'm a biker, I rode the seat off my mountain bike last year myself.
So. Cycling in the city is a UN conspiracy to rob us of our freedoms. But cycling outside the city, in the mountains and in the woods, is peachy-keen and supports family values.

I am not against mountain biking. I find the idea of it appealing. I am simply interested in the apparent mental break that exists in people who are for it, but who are against cycling in the city and who are against infrastructure that supports it.

Because in one case, cyclists are simply kids playing with toys. And in the other, cyclists are humans, people who are just living their lives, doing their jobs, trying to live simply, and to simply live.

[1] One caveat from bicyclecolorado.org
This bill was conceived by past Senator Chris Romer after encountering many liability obstacles in trying to host a mountain bike event.
Romer is a Democrat currently running for Mayor of Denver and who appears to be very fond of the cycling demographic.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Denver Bike Cop Hit By Truck

Cyclelicious tipped me off this afternoon to the news that a DPD officer was struck by a truck while on bicycle patrol.

I don't see tons of bike cops on Colfax, but I see them there enough to know that it's a thing: bike cops on Colfax. They're there.

I've even observed them perform the highly dubious Sidewalk Ride + Red Light Run combo.

More of the same kind of riding no doubt caused this accident.

The Denver Post—
Denver Police say two officers on bicycles were pedaling west through a crosswalk at the corner of Lafayette Street and Colfax Avenue just before 9 a.m. when the crash happened.
—strongly suggests that they were on the sidewalk and riding against automobile traffic.


The Denver Cruisers claim, as I shared earlier, that uniformed officers can legally ride on the sidewalk while on duty.

And while that may be the case, I think this unfortunate incident proves that it's not a good idea.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Boulder Winter Bike To Work Day

I signed up to participate in three events/programs this winter to promote, de-mystify, and enjoy cold weather cycling.

  1. BikeDenver's Winter Solstice ride, the successful completion of which is three years in the telling.
  2. Salvagetti's winter Commuter Team, which is a on-going commitment.
  3. And the city of Boulder's Winter Bike To Work Day, for which I was able to register despite the fact that I don't live or work in Boulder.

There are few things better than a good ol' BTWD to get people, who otherwise would not be riding, onto their bikes and onto the road. The inciting qualities of a BTWD are these.
  1. It's a holiday with a clearly defined means of celebration/definition of success. On Halloween you dress up and eat candy, and you win. On New Years Eve, you dress up and drink champagne, and you win. On BTWD, you dress up and ride your bike, and you win.
  2. Breakfast stations. Handouts range from water to Starbucks, and from a banana to breakfast burritos, but it's all free and it's all good.
  3. Other freebies. I've gotten water bottles, blinkie lights, stickers/decals, and cinch sacks.
  4. Group ride! The main attraction of BTWD might be the promise of riding with a large group of people. Denver even organized pelotons, with ride leaders and everything, that struck out at strategic times along strategic commute routes.

A good BTWD in June might bolster enough confidence for me to commute through the rest of the summer and into the fall. But perhaps not enough to carry me through the winter.

The obvious solution? A winter BTWD! An opportunity to talk with other cyclists about routes, maintenance, and clothing. And an opportunity to get out on the roads and realize, hey, this ain't so bad. I might could do this.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mandatory registration sweeping the nation!

The year 2011 is barely two weeks old, and is already proving to be quite challenging for cyclists and for personal liberties.

  1. January 4, 2011: the LA Times runs a story about $400 in fines levied against one teenage boy for operating a bicycle without a license.
  2. January 12, 2011: New Jersey Assembleywoman Tucker proposes legislation requiring a $10/year registration for all bicycles and a $100 citation for each offense.
  3. January 13, 2011: Tucker back-pedals and withdraws her proposal.
  4. January 14, 2011: the New York Post runs a story about a legislator from Queens proposing similar registration laws.

And today, the city attorney of Santa Monica is proposing to the city council an ordinance that will require bicycle registration for all residents of Santa Monica at a cost of $4.00 per bike, and which sets the fine for operating a bicycle without a license at $10.00.

In response, local (to Santa Monica) inter-blogger and pedal-masher Gary has written a letter raising several logistical concerns about redundancies and enforcement that bureaucrats and politicrats will likely find more ponder-worthy than my ideological "bikes are like libraries" flight of fancy.

Some of my favorite bike personalities—bloggers, photographers, advocates—are in and around LA, so I'm anxious to see the coverage of the meeting and reactions to the outcome.

And as for things on the home front, I'm a little nervous about the spread of this apparent anti-bike brush fire. I would feel confident that bike-friendly Denver, home of the country's first bike share program, would be immune from the craziness if it weren't for two things.
  1. Dan "It's A Plot" Maes is headquartered a stone's throw away in Evergreen and his influence, if felt from New York to LA, is surely felt here in his back yard, and
  2. Even Portland, where cyclists hope they go when they die, is suffering from restrictive bicycle legislation! This proposed law would prohibit, with the threat of a $90 fine, children under the age of 6 being carried on bicycles.

Basically, I can't take it for granted any longer that this couldn't happen here. I denounce this kind of legislation, and I need to make sure my legislators know this.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Bike Lane Is Nice To Ride On!

There doesn't really need to have been a story written. Just look at the picture, and you pretty much know what's going on.

click through to nytimes story

People Holding Signs always stirs in me a certain proud, teary-eyed emotion. You can't be any more honest or true than you are when you stand up and hold up a sign in support of something in which you believe.

Especially when said belief is as simple and pure and innocent as this one is.

I'm eight years old, and this I believe: THE BIKE LANE IS NICE TO RIDE ON!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bike registration continued: the real source of the problem

Eric Ulrich, lawmaker from Queens, is "floating the proposal" that all cyclists pay for mandatory bicycle registration.

Ulrich is the Republican/New York complement to Cleo Tucker's Democratic/New Jersey anti-bike agenda, proving that Bike Hating is a bi-partisan issue behind which we all can get.

It goes without saying that we are witnessing the beginnings of a movement. A movement no doubt masterminded by the most paranoid, anti-bicycle conspiracy theorist of our time.

Dan Maes. Is Crazy.

Yes, you can almost hear the sound of Dan "Corny" Maes' weird grin all the way up in Evergreen, Colorado. Deep down in the Maes Cave, in the center of a nondescript Evergreen cornfield, Maes is accumulating politicians by the handful and is encouraging them to introduce anti-bike legislation in order to cull the Red Threat.

In the NYPost.com article, both of the city of Denver's stated reasons to register a bike are addressed with varying degrees of bizarritude.
  1. The recovery of a stolen bicycle. Ulrich himself couldn't offer us a way that this law could actually benefit actual cyclists. It was left up to a gentleman named One Biker (aka Audio "Engineer Chvad" Bernhard) to find one.
    One biker saw an upside, saying lost or stolen bikes could be identified. "Right now, [recovered] bicycles just get auctioned" by police, said audio engineer Chvad Bernhard, 37.
  2. The identification of an injured cyclist. Okay, so in a weird backhanded kind of way, Ulrich conveys concern for cyclists here. His proposal will help identify cyclists, which cannot at present be done because
    many cyclists don't have identification on them if they get into an accident because "they're in Spandex or whatnot."
    It is absolutely, entirely true that all cyclists are at all times either in Spandex or in whatnot. Whatnot, in my case = corduroy slacks and a long sleeved cotton t-shirt. But neither my corduroy slacks nor my long sleeved cotton t-shirt prevent me from carrying identification.

    Furthermore, look at the picture included in the article.

    Does it look like this cyclist is prevented by his whatnot from carrying anything whatsoever?
But none of this is even the interesting part.

The interesting part is this. Both Ulrich and Tucker say their legislation was inspired by frightened, elderly constituents.

In New Jersey:
[Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker (D-Essex)] proposed it after several senior citizens in Belleville and Bloomfield called her to complain about kids on bikes. "They had been knocked down, knocked over and they had no way to register a complaint. They couldn’t identify the person," said Tucker.

In New York:
Ulrich says that many of his constituents are seniors and that "people on bicycles scare the hell out of them. Sometimes they can be an intimidating presence on the city streets."

So what we obviously have here is perception problem. The perception that Evil Mastermind Dan Maes wants us all to believe is that old people are being intimidated and tipped over by cyclists.

In reality, the truth is that old people are slow moving and easily startled, and are better off doing laps around the mall.

Frankly, old people scare the hell out of me. Sometimes, when they wander into the middle of city streets, they can be an intimidating presence.

What I'd like to see is a piece of legislation requiring that old people be registered and stickered at the DMV so I have some way of identifying and reporting them when they wander into traffic.

Freedom of Access: Bicycles, libraries, and mandatory registration

On Wednesday, a New Jersey lawmaker named Cleopatra Tucker proposed a law requiring bicycle registration, inciting a peloton of protesters, comprising penny-farthings and twelve year olds, into a frenzy of action.

There are five penny farthings in that picture. Five pennies and five farthings. That's four more than I've ever seen in person, and possibly every such bike in New Jersey.

Cleo Tucker must have been overwhelmed by all the big wheels, because the very next day she was back-pedalin' and retractin'.

At which point the big wheels and the twelve year olds all turned around and went back home.

Arguments in favor of registration are often of the type, "If you're using the roads you ought to be paying for their upkeep." It's hard to argue against that. Fortunately, one doesn't have to, because nearly all cyclists are already paying city and county taxes.

The city of Denver offers—but does not require—bicycle registration for two cited reasons: to assist the police with-
  1. the recovery of a stolen bicycle, and
  2. the identification of an injured cyclist.

I have a hard time imaging a successful outcome in either of those scenarios resulting from having registered your bicycle, but click here to do it anyway.

Some places, like Long Beach, actually do enforce bicycle registration. With $400 fines.

Which is utterly ridiculous.

Mandatory registration, especially as proposed by Cleo Tucker and especially as enforced by Long Beach, is in direct opposition to the idea of freedom of access, which is a major pillar of my personal belief system.

Freedom of access empowers any person to grab one (of whatever it is you have been granted access to) and use it it for what-so-ever-the-hell pleases them.

It's the primary function and purpose of public libraries. The material is there, and the user has access to it. It's up to the user to decide what it means to them and how to use it, how to apply it in a way such that they achieve their vision of success.

Bicycles and libraries serve critical functions—far beyond mere entertainment value—for twelve year olds, homeless adults, and everybody in between. People often need access to these resources and these opportunities in order to thrive.

Libraries and bike kitchens caulk the cracks in the sidewalk of society because libraries are bastions of knowledge and bicycles are instruments of mobility and transportation. People crave and are entitled to knowledge and mobility. They are human rights, and as much as abstractions can want something, they want to be free.

Ultimately, bicycle registration will never work because there will always be people salvaging bikes out of dumpsters to ride to work, or the drug store, or the unemployment office, or the day laborers office, or to the library to work on a resume and apply for a job, and that simply has to be allowed to happen freely and unhindered by the threat of a $400 fine.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Boulder B-Cycle and Google

B-Cycle announced today that Google donated $25,000 to the soon-to-be-launched Boulder bike share.

click through

The donation will cover roughly half the cost of one docking station, according to a story in the Denver Post.

The cost to install a station is about $45,000 to $65,000, depending on the size of the site and how much work needs to be done, he said.

One thing that stood out to me in this story is that the annual membership in Boulder will be $50, as opposed to the $65 annual Denver membership.

Cost of living difference? Except, it's more expensive to live in Boulder. What gives?

Monday, January 10, 2011

As easy as falling down

Showering after my morning run, I noticed a nicely colored bruise on my left shin. I couldn't remember banging it on anything, and was ready to just assume from its position that I had just caught a pedal on the backspin at some point, a common enough occurrence that I don't remember each time it happens.

Then I remembered that I fell off my bike last week. It was a real minor spill, but I probably bumped that shin at some point during the tumble.

click through

Falling is Gloria's Valid Concern. An inevitability, really. Especially if you choose to bike through the winter. There are things one can do to minimize the chance of it happening like installing grippy, knobby tires. Maybe letting a few pounds of air out of them to increase surface area. Lowering your seat/center of gravity.

But it'll still happen from time to time. Now, I'd be interested in studying more closely what to do while you're falling. I think falling should be included in bicycle safety courses. Not in Biking 101, necessarily. After all, you don't want to scare any newbies. But maybe in the masters course, invite somebody from the local Clown College to give a guest lecture on how to tumble effectively and safely.

Principles of cushioning. Tuck and roll technique. Clearing the bike frame. That kind of stuff. I feel like there should be 3 - 5 little tips to keep in mind that can prevent you from nursing a banged knee for weeks after a spill.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Modern Family

So the funniest thing on television right now is Modern Family. I pretty much watch it every week, and I don't even have a TV.

One of the show's subplots this week was about how neither Gloria nor Manny knew how to ride a bike, eliciting from Jay an exasperated, "Two thirds of my family can't do what a billion Chinese do every day!"

There are two good angles on cycling presented here. One is Jay's pre-flight checklist, and the other is Gloria's fear of bicycles. Those are pretty much the two aspects of bicycling for people with little experience with bikes, and for overprotective worriers. Safety and fear.

Laces, mirror, bell!

Jay's bicycle wisdom is that before you start pedaling, you check to see that your shoelaces are tied, that your mirror is adjusted, and that your bell works.

I agree with "laces" in that you need to be sure that you aren't wearing anything that will get sucked into your chain or wheel. I tuck my laces into my shoes and cuff my pants before riding each time. Unless I'm on the Lady's cruiser which has a chain guard. Then I don't worry about it. And, truth be told, not worrying about it is so nice that I've considered putting a chain guard on commuter.

Mirror and bell? I have neither and honestly don't consider them necessary. As far as safety accessories go, I'm all about lights and don't think I can have too many. I turn my lights on, front and back, before every ride, night or day.

The only other thing I do before each ride is give my tires a squeeze to see if they could use a top-up.

So my pre-flight checklist would be Laces, Lights, Tubes!

That's how they GRAB you!

During Luke's cycling lesson, Gloria admitted her fears of cycling were falling down, looking silly, and getting "snatched up!"
  1. Falling down. That happens. I've fallen down a dozen times, mostly during the winter, and it is ... not a fear, but a concern of mine. Valid fear, Gloria. I just put on some grippy tires and try to lower my center of gravity when it's slick out.

  2. Looking silly. Sometimes that happens, too. But it's all perspective. Lycra/Spandex racers and utilitarian commuters look pretty silly to each other. And from the perspective of a nice warm car, all cyclists probably look silly in 20 degree, snowy weather. I don't worry about it.

  3. Getting snatched up! A hilariously unlikely fear, despite Gloria eventually being snatched up by Claire. (Who didn't pedal off before completing a quick "Laces/Mirror/Bell" check.)

One of the real winners of the show was when Gloria dismissed the bicycle, saying "There's no way it should stay up," and Jay in turn dismisses that argument, "There's no reason you should stay upright, either. It just works."

Female anatomy and the physics of riding a bike: it just works!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sometimes dismounts just happen

Six days ago, we got our first "for reals" snow of the year, followed by days of thoroughly iced, utterly scary roads.

I was not hardcore enough to bike these roads. I saw other people biking these roads and I celebrated them in passing, thumbs-upping if we caught each others eyes.

Four days later I decided to try out the roads. I mounted up, made it two blocks, turned around, went right back home, and put my bike away. Still not hardcore enough.

Funnily enough, an Internet Cohort of mine successfully completed a ride that same morning, but he did declare it to be scary in the "holy crap" levels.

click through

So this morning I decided to try out the roads again.

And here, in an unsorted list, are some reasons that it was still too soon to brave the roads!

  • I fell off my bike!

    It happened really fast. The road looked clear, but apparently there was a well placed patch of ice that kicked my bike right out from under me. I was instantly put down, gently, on my side on the road, and I think I even continued to pedal air for a second before I realized I was no longer upright, much less no longer on my bike, which lay about a foot to my left.

  • A truck slid towards me on the ice!

    The truck approaching from my right was going slowly and only slid probably six inches, and successfully stopped at its stop sign as I continued through the intersection. Still, I think that's one of the most nerve-wracking things you can see while on a bike.

  • The bike lanes were full of slush and unrideable!

    This was the first time I noticed how badly the city bus tears up the bike lane! At nearly every bus stop, a wide pile of slush and ice had been smeared and frozen across the lane where the bus had pulled back out into traffic.

    I eventually settled into a pattern of riding mostly in the traffic lane, and periodically sliding over into the odd patch of clear bike lane to let traffic pass.

Over all, the ride was manageable. I'll probably keep doing it and am glad I'll be able to get some riding in until the next time it snows and freezes. After two or three days in a row, I just get to feeling uncomfortable being boxed into having to use the car.