Archive for category advocacy

don’t be that guy

There’s this guy. You might know one too. He’s a lot like you or I. He rides his bike on the same streets. He gets overtaken by impatient F-150s. He’s a cyclist. There’s one major difference, though. Unlike you or I, he tends to get hit by cars; frequently. Most of the time, he comes away without any serious injuries (which is more than I can say for his bikes – carbon fiber, it turns out is the real victim here).

When I first started riding I thought maybe this guy spent more time on busy roads than I did. But slowly, I began to think there might be something else, something that didn’t have anything to do with where he was riding or what he was wearing (more garish colors than I). It was when he told me about his 4th crash involving a car that I began to wonder if, perhaps, it was the way he rode.

It turns out, I might have been on the right track. Last month the City of Minneapolis published a study that examined 2,973 bicycle-motorist crashes that took place over a 10 year period and one of the many interesting bits of data they uncovered was that the cyclist involved is, at least partially, at fault in 59% of all crashes (motorists were, at least partially, at fault in 63.9%*).

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If you’d asked me a few weeks ago I’d probably have guessed that cyclists were at fault in about 30% of all accidents. I’ve seen a lot of motorists do a lot of dumb things (I’ll even admit to being a motorist doing a dumb thing once or twice) and it’s easy to assume, because they’re the more vulnerable of the two groups, cyclists are always the victims. But, you have to admit, it sort of makes sense.

I consider myself a careful cyclist 95% percent of the time. During my commute, I’m alert and cautious and often yield even when I have the right of way. I check driveways and think about how to react when the unexpected happens. These things don’t make me invincible, I know that. It is nice to know, perhaps, they do make me a little safer.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming that guy who gets hit by a car once a year for everything. Some of it is bad luck and some if it is bad driving and, maybe, some of it is bad cycling. It is nice to know, as I’m riding my 25 pound bike next to a 2 ton truck, what I do makes a difference.

* Adds up to more than 100% as in some crashes both motorist and cyclist share fault.

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Take Action!

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From my email:

Dear Michael,

Our partners in California, including the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and the California Bicycle Coalition, are encouraging everyone who wants to improve cycling in the state to sign this petition to Governor Jerry Brown TODAY! The petition seeks improvements to a significant Active Transportation funding proposal by the Governor and deserves your attention.

Yours sincerely,
Andy Clarke

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why I’m thankful for cycling, 1

Cycling Oxford

I got an email today from the League (the League of American Bicyclists). First of all, let’s talk about how awesome it is that they go by “the League.” It sounds like some sort of group of cycling superheroes that rides around town painting bike lanes, handing out bike lights and using force to keep cars out of the bike lane.

Ok, but this post wasn’t about an idea for a crappy bicycle centric comic book, it was about being thankful for cycling. The League, in the email mentioned above, asked me why I’m thankful for cycling? So, I’m going to spend a couple of posts attempting to address that question.

1. The wind in my hair and all that jazz. 

Seriously. I spend 9 to 10 hours a day in a cubicle farm. Under fluorescent lighting. Surrounded by people who may or may not have washed their hands the last time they used the restroom. Lately, I’ve been riding “the short way” to work. That’s about 15 minutes. 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the evening. And sure, it’s cold, it tends to be dark going both ways this time of year, and road grime is only slightly more appealing than touching the door handle of the men’s restroom, but I’m outside.

That’s right, for at least 30 minutes a day, I’m outside. On my bike. It’s fantastic. So, I’m thankful for that.

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Twisted Bib Shorts!

It’s bike month and we’ve not even made a single post. What is wrong with us?

The good news is we (at least some of us) are still riding our bikes and stuff. The bad news is that our real jobs of been occupying way too much of our time. But I’m resolved now to get on here and post something a couple of times a week. So, you know, keep checking back.

When I was young and attending a Catholic high school swearing was frowned down upon by the deans (so was walking around with an untucked shirt) and I came up with the idea of replacing the “uck” with “unny papers.” It seemed incredibly clever at the time and nobody seemed to question it when something happened and I said, “oh, funny papers.” Then I went to college and started using the “uck” part again.

Now that I have small children who tend to repeat everything I say, I try to avoid that nasty word again. And I do, mostly. Happily, while getting dressed to head home the other day I stumbled upon an incredible alternative to swearing that also captures my exact sentiment. I stepped into my bib shorts, pulled them up and realized the bib was all twisted. “Oh, twisted bib shorts.”

TWISTED BIB SHORTS!

So, when I tried to remove the pedals from my wife’s bike and broke the wrench (yes, I was turning it the right way) I yelled, “TWISTED BIB SHORTS!”

Of course, now my kids are going to have to explain Lycra to their friends.

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in the saddle…

I’ve set out in the rain and come home dry, or mostly dry.

I’ve sat comfortably behind big men, the ones that are as wide as Volkswagen Beetle.

I’ve dropped those same men.

I’ve been dropped by women.

And old men.

I’ve set out in the sunshine and come home wet.

I’ve stopped, not because I needed to rest but because I wanted a moment to take it in.

I’ve sat up when the gap was too big.

I’ve had road rash.

I’ve run red lights.

I’ve been defeated by headwinds.

And Coleman Valley Road.

I’ve stopped for wildlife.

I’ve been honked at.

And yelled at.

And waved at.

And smiled at.

I’ve slowed down to chat with strangers.

I’ve taken turns at the front.

I’ve been stopped by the police.

I’ve underdressed.

And overdressed.

I’ve suffered.

But mostly, I’ve had fun.

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Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates

During the last year that I’ve been unemployed lucky enough to pursue my dreams, not only have I been able to train and race the way a proper ‘wannabepro’ should, but I’ve also been coaching athletes as a USA Cycling Certified Coach.  I absolutely love working with people to reach their goals whether they’re competitive or not.  As I’ve pursued these passions, I’ve been surprised with other opportunities that have come my way.  I’ve always enjoyed writing (obviously, I’ve been posting here for awhile as well as on my own website) and advocating the bicycle using the written word seems to also fit my bag of tricks.  A few months ago, I started writing regularly for Dean Alleger and the Sacramento Valley Velodrome Campaign. I met a member of the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates while at the NAHBS and we talked about the possibility of me writing for them as well as a freelance journalist.  I started yesterday and I’m loving every minute.  It’s flexible and fits with everything else I do as a cyclist, bike racer, coach and advocate of the bike and the sport in general.  One of my most recent findings in doing my research was the Bicycle Parking Guidelines developed by Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals.  I loved that!  I wanna be part of that…

I would ride to work if there was a safe place to lock my bike.

Working on it. Stay tuned!

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On the rain

First, let me apologize for how quiet it’s been around here recently. Kurt and I happened to go on family vacations at the same time this year (not together) and that, a week or so off of work, always comes with a week of frantic preparation and a week of frantic catching up. Or, at least, that’s my excuse, I think Kurt’s probably still lost on some beach in Hawaii.

I spent about 8 days on the California Central Coast and, between beaches, drives down to Big Sur, trips to the aquarium and shuttling around my wife’s 15 year-old half-sister, I managed to get out for a couple of bike rides in pretty fantastic weather.

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I returned home only to find that the rain we’d been missing all winter was due to arrive just in time for my (now dark) morning commutes,

Thirty minutes (or just under) is about perfect when you’re talking about riding in the rain. At 50° it’s not cold enough to get the chills and just as the water starts to slosh around in your shoes and breach the “water resistant” barrier jacket you’re wearing, you’re pulling into the parking lot at work and (careful not slip due to the wet tile, cycling shoe combo) heading into the locker room to change into some dry clothes.

Then, after you’ve hung up socks and jackets and laid out your shorts and jersey to dry in the back of your cubicle, people walk by your desk and say, “you didn’t ride today, did you?” And suddenly you become a hero, at least temporarily, for braving the elements and showing dedication to the cause. Or, maybe they add it to the list of things that make you weird, right after “wears Lycra in public.”

At least, that’s my experience.

,

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The world needs bicycles

This article was published several weeks ago, but it never hurts to reiterate that a bicycle is more than a sum of its parts.  It’s more than a way to travel, race or find pleasure.  For much of the world, it’s life giving, opportunity providing, gender and class equalizing, and destiny changing.

I’m pretty sure Nitish Kumar is one of my new heroes.  Considering the culture in India, it can’t be easy to take a stand like he is…for women.

[he] set about redressing his state’s endemic gender imbalances in an attempt to boost development in one of India’s most backward states. His vision was to bring a sense of independence and purpose to his state’s young women, and the flagship initiative of this agenda is the Mukhyamantri Balika Cycle Yojna, a project that gives schoolgirls 2,000 rupees (about £25) to purchase a bicycle.

Kumar succinctly sums up the initiative’s aim and all it stands for: “Nothing gives me a greater sense of fulfilment of a work well done than seeing a procession of school-bound, bicycle-riding girls. It is a statement for social forward movement, of social equality and of social empowerment.”
How do you measure an ROI on a free bicycle? You don’t; and you don’t need to.

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¿Has probado a usar la bici?

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you call that exercise?

From our spam:

riding a bike is not a wkuoort. Exercise?you call that exercise? You sit down then move your feet in a little circle.

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