Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Morning Music - Interpol

Still one of m favorite tracks of the last few years.  And, they're coming to Reno in April!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bicycles Are Vehicles!

I've mentioned before on this blog that I am a member of the Reno Transportation Commission's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee.  Amongst other things, the BPAC is spearheading much of the efforts around the Truckee Meadows to increase bicycle lanes, create a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, and continually update the bicycling map for the area.  Many locals will have seen the updated bicycle map released in the last year (imperfect as it is).

Yet it is with much consternation that I am increasingly aware that one of the members on the committee is pretty blatantly anti-bicycle.  I used to just think that his expertise is more on the pedestrian side of the committee's duties and chalk it up to ignorance on the bicycling side of the equation.  But after last night's BPAC meeting where not only was his ignorance on display, but his animosity towards cyclist's rights to the road, I have to call a spade a spade.

The crux was that his opinions about our rights to the road would put the city on the slippery slope towards redefining bicyclists as something other than vehicles.   I've had conflict with this member of the board before so I refrained from countering his inane ideas in the meeting where others did a much better and less heated job than I could have done.    After all, every state in the country legally acknowledges bicycles as vehicles.

I'm not completely in the camp of noted bicycle advocate, John Forester, when he argues that there shouldn't be marked bicycle lanes or even some sort of separated bicycling infrastructure.  If those things serve to create a safer or perceived safer bicycling environment they have their place.  More people on bicycles makes motorists more aware and that makes cycling safer for all.

However, the starting point that Forester argues from, is to my mind, where the conversation begins about cyclist rights.  Simply put, our cities already have a vast network of routes to get anywhere we want to get by bicycle.  These routes are called streets.  Fundamental to this is the bicycle being treated as a vehicle with full rights to use those streets.  The most well-known quote from Forester's famous book, Effective Cycling, is:

"Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles."

Clearly this statement is a double-edged sword for cyclists when they don't obey laws.  But the fundamental starting point for cyclist's rights, and all the good that follows from cyclists being active in a community, begins with the understanding that bicycles are vehicles.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday Night Pick Me Up - Public Enemy

Damn these guys were so good.  Was just talking to some friends about seeing them in concert years ago.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Half Way There!

Well, half way through the school year anyway.  I'm sitting at 640 bike commute miles at this point which is a fine if not spectacular number considering my goal is 1500 miles on the year.  I always tend to put more miles in during the second semester so I'm not really sweating it.  It has helped that the weather has been so pleasant this last couple of weeks (knock on wood).

So here's to surviving to the midpoint of another school year and the many miles yet to come!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Morning Music - PJ Harvey

Such an awesome song from a great artist.  Hope the new album doesn't disappoint.  The odds are good since she hasn't yet.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Greg LeMond!

Maybe I'm just old enough to know better than to think that Greg LeMond is the crazy person that most journalists seem to want to paint him as these days.  He certainly has been a vocal critic of the performance enhancing drug scene in cycling and while I don't always appreciate his methods I don't really believe his assertions are wrong in my heart.  Ultimately I also believe in innocent until proven guilty so whatever may be going on with the whole Lance Armstrong investigation, until there is obvious direct evidence of wrong doing we have to give him the benefit of the doubt.  Even if it counters common sense.

Regardless, this is a pretty awesome article worth reading.

LeMond has been steadfast in his criticism of cheating, and for that he has been called bitter, jealous, hypocritical and unhinged. He’s been depicted as a fool. It’s a bullying tactic and it’s been unfair. Cycling desperately needs outspoken reformers.
Read more:

 I have another great audio interview with him from several years ago that is an hour long and fantastic as he breaks down the peloton over the last 25 years and discusses the ins and outs of doping.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday Night Pick Me Up - PJ Harvey

I was watching this video and catching part of American Idol and wondering what the judges would think of PJ.  I'm guessing she wouldn't make it to Hollywood in spite of the fact that she is one of the most talented musical artists of the past 20 years.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wacky Bicycle Designs

I'm pretty fascinated by the alternate bicycle designs that people think up.   Even the impractical and ridiculously complicated ones that never make it off the drawing board.  I suppose there is a reason that the diamond framed shape has survived for well over a century regardless of whether it was being constructed by steel, carbon fiber, titanium, aluminum, or bamboo.  These designs forwarded to me by a blog follower are from neatorama and are both whimsical and silly.  They're what I'd expect a student in class to be doodling if they were fascinated by the basics of bicycle design but don't really get how they work precisely or the dangers of being skewered on a top tube.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Morning Music - Little Comets

Clearly Little Comets have committed the back catalog of XTC to heart.  This track is sounding ridiculously close to Black Sea or English Settlement.  That's not a bad thing.   

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Congresswoman Giffords the Bicyclist

In case you missed this little tidbit I thought I'd pass it along.  I had read that Congresswoman Giffords was into motorcycles but didn't realize she was part of the Congressional Bicycle Caucus and a pretty avid bicyclist.  She even has a pretty nifty bicycle.  Here's hoping she's able to get back on that pretty bike soon (notice the lugs and nice biplane fork crown!).

Giffords says bicycling is a critical part of urban infrastructure. She says she biked a lot while getting her Master’s degree in planning at Cornell and that bike and pedestrian planning is an important part of urban planning.
She loves that Tucson is a top-10 biking city and that the city makes bicycling a priority. Giffords says she supports all types of alternative transportation from bike infrastructure to projects like the modern streetcar.
I also love that she is not willing to take s**t from motorists:
Giffords says she’ll yell at motorists who pull out in front of her or cut her off when she is on her bike and but says most of the time they don’t mean to do it, they are in their own world and aren’t looking for cyclists. 

Saturday, January 08, 2011

A Travesty of Justice - Equal Before the Law?

There are those who will say the 200 hours of community service that Washoe County Sheriff's Deputy Matthew Durham received for running down and killing a bicyclist is fair.  After all, as this article from the Reno Gazette Journal so prominently points out, the mother of the victim forgave and embraced him after the sentence was handed down.  Shouldn't that be enough justice for the rest of us bystanders in the community?

No, it is not enough.  That is not how the legal system is supposed to work.  It shouldn't matter if the victim's family has forgiven the criminal or desires the death penalty.  The sentence should not be based on the whims of the victim's family.  

Simply put, the reduction of the crime of running over a cyclist and killing him to a misdemeanor with a sentence of only 200 hours of community service is a travesty.  Yes, I know that an internal review of officer Durham is pending.  I'm not holding my breath that the review will be much more than a symbolic slap on the wrist that will barely be mentioned in the media when it is revealed.  

As per usual, there are lots of ridiculous comments on the RGJ site following the article reflecting a total lack of understanding of the law, and the rights of bicyclists to the road.  And plenty of comments demonizing officer Durham.  Neither view is particularly helpful.  The one thing that would be nice is for bicyclists, pedestrians, and drivers (including law enforcement) to reflect on how this case would be handled differently if roles were reversed, if it had been a pedestrian hit, or an officer hit by an inattentive, texting teenager.   Anyone who thinks Durham's being a member of the law enforcement community didn't play a role in how the case was handled is a fool in my book.  

Part of officer Durham's community service will:

consist of speaking at schools about inattentive driving, and speaking at victim impact panels about the dangers of drunken driving, Freeman said.
In addition to the community service, Durham’s license will be suspended for one year, and he paid $500 in restitution to cover Kevin’s funeral expenses.

I can't help but wonder how I will react if Durham speaks at my school, to my students, about inattentive driving?

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Vandals Cut Down Vandalized Tree!

My bike tour compadre, Greg, during our 2009 bike tour across Nevada.
I know there has been a lot of handwringing about the "shoe tree" being cut down along highway 50 near Middlegate.   As someone trained as a folklorist there is something interesting about the stories and legends that surround these "expressions of culture" that show up around the world.   I am saddened that somebody decided to kill the tree.  Frankly though, every time I passed the tree (the last time was December 28th!) I was always saddened by the sad shape the tree seemed to be in while supporting all of those shoes.  I'm curious how much extra weight the tree had to support with all of those shoes in it.  Hopefully the disappearance of the tree won't kill the businesses that garnered extra traffic in that area as people travelled down "the loneliest road in America."

They served an amazing cheeseburger at this place nearby the "shoe tree."

A photo taken by me during my 2009 bike tour across Nevada.

Wednesday Night Pick Me Up - Radiohead

A pretty ripping cover!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Bicycling Nightmare!

Two of my nightmares in one...underwater, mountain biking, Santas in scuba gear, and being surrounded by sharks!  And I thought my commute was rough...

Monday, January 03, 2011

A Reminder to Get Off MY ASS!

It's that time of year where the cold and the dark can really wear on a person when you profess to be a cyclist.  It certainly doesn't help when you have snow and ice on the streets and trails.  It's as if Mother Nature is triple dog daring us:  You won't ride in this crappy weather!

When this happens it is always good to pop over to a couple of my favorite blogs.  Jill Outside is a great spot to remind yourself that people can and do ride in amazing conditions.  A recent entry begins with the following passage:
The last day of 2010 brought clear, cold conditions. It was 6 below zero when Beat, Bill and I left my house Friday for a four-hour, 32-mile snow bike ride up Miller Creek canyon. Temps climbed into the single digits as we drove north for New Year's Eve festivities in Kalispell, and hovered near zero degrees for our sled-testing 12-mile New Years Day run up Patrick Canyon. Two beautiful days yielded some incredible scenery, including the most incredible crimson red alpenglow I've ever seen, burning up the Swan Mountains as a sundog shimmered on the opposite horizon. I'll post those photos when I have more time. But beyond the intriguing scenery and general exhilaration of exercising in the cold, there's also a humorous side-effect: Flocked facial hairs.

If you want something more urban then I'd suggest the old standby, Copenhagen Cycle Chic, and the gallery of people who show you just how cold weather riding is done for everything from commuting, transporting kids, or picking up groceries.

Yes, that's a Christmas tree!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Beginnings, Start Over, Blah Blah Blah...

Was listening to this album on the way back from Utah over xmas break and reminded what a perfect pop confection it is.