Sunday, October 28, 2007

Late Sunday Afternoon...

(Image from Aeolus Aerospace)

I drove down to Tom's new shop on Cherry Street yesterday. He had a Velocity 700c rim drilled for 40 spokes that he'd ordered for me two weeks ago. This is a moderately deep-V rim and with 40 spokes laced to an old Sturmey-Archer AW hub, it should be nearly bulletproof in my commuter bike, fully capable of standing up to Ed's Vertical Crush Test. I have a few bundles of spokes out in the garage (somewhere). I'll have to find them and run the numbers through a spoke length calculator.

Going home, I went east on 11th Street. A lone cyclist was going west, grinding up hill in the tire track of the right-hand lane. “He obviously knows what he's doing,” I thought. “I might know this guy.” It was Brian Potter, one of our local LCIs! I passed him, then turned around in a parking lot. I caught up to him and slowed. He turned to look, prepared to shout something scathing at another idiot motorist, and then realized it wasn't just another everyday idiot. “Hey! Pull over!” I yelled.

We stopped in a side street and had a long chat about some of the issues facing the advocacy group, including the upcoming streets meeting planned for tomorrow. Brian is planning to attend. We shared some of our frustrations and Brian pointed out that I may have an anger management problem when I said that so-and-so “really needed to be bitch-slapped in a very public way”. I don't regret doing it, either. Maybe that has something to do with having kids. Not that I'd be intentionally mean or abusive, mind you, but that I don't hesitate to discipline them when it's warranted.

While Brian and I were talking, Mary called. We didn't go to Tulsa Friday evening, and I thought that worked out well since we tried that new Chinese restaurant and liked it. But here it was Saturday morning and I was in Tulsa without her. I could feel the frost coming through the phone. I thought I was being nice by allowing her to sleep in a quiet house since the kids were at work and I was away, but I was wrong. I tried to explain this to Number One Son by saying, “When we argue with women, we're wrong most of the time, even when we're not.” He has a hard time understanding that basic concept. Grasshopper has much to learn.

Tonight, Mary and Lyndsay are out shopping, doing some mom-and-daughter time together. It's important for them. But they'll probably go for dinner too, so Jordan and I have to fend for ourselves. We're having shells with marinara sauce, Parmesan/garlic bread, and some cheesecake for dessert. I'm chief cook and bottle washer because there was some difference of opinion as to whether he'd have to eat my cooking or I'd have to eat his. I'm still bigger than him so I won – this time. The joy of this is that there will be plenty of leftovers, perfect for my lunch tomorrow.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Restaurant Roulette (OT)

Last night Mary and I played another exciting round of Restaurant Roulette. Married men can relate to this. The game begins with the usual opening move on my part. “Where do you want to eat?” I asked.

She replied with the traditional rejoinder, “I don't care.”

The object of the game is to guess what restaurant she has in mind, because she really DOES have someplace she'd like to go but she's not about to tell me that straight out. I supposed to be capable of gaging her mood, the history of restaurants we've visited since we met over 23 years ago, the solunar tables, and the tide chart for northeastern Oklahoma, put it all together and arrive at a restaurant choice. If I guess wrong, she'll be sullen and merely pick at her food. If I guess right, she'll smile and familial harmony will settle over our evening. I always shoot for the smile.

How about a steak?” she said. This was an entirely unexpected move and I was caught flat-footed. But it was 6 o'clock on a Friday. Not only was it impossible to get into one of the steak places, it was equally impossible to get into the parking lot.

Owasso now has about 35 restaurants. Most of them are chains, of course, but I like to try the smaller, mom-and-pop places. That's getting more difficult as the area grows. There are a couple of smaller places with one or two other restaurants in the Tulsa area. Every chain had to start somewhere.

We were driving north through the Smith Farms shopping area when she said, “Hey! What about that new Chinese place?” We'd just passed it. I did a quick U-turn and we pulled up in front of TK's 2 Chinese/Asian Kitchen. It looked dark since the heavily tinted windows made it nearly impossible to see inside.

The interior is brightly lit and laid out like many fast-food places. We placed an order at the counter, received a number placard and cups for drinks, and then found ourselves a table. The food arrived quickly. Mary had wonton soup and lemon chicken. I ordered two spring rolls and Kung Pao chicken. I'm not a big fan of spring rolls but I know that she likes them immensely. True to form, I ate half of one and she devoured the rest. They were flaky and not at all greasy. I could have eaten more, but she would have stabbed me with a fork. Portions are ample, maybe not as much as I'd like to eat, but definitely as much as I should. No wonder I have problems controlling my weight. The soup was good too, with a chicken broth that seemed only lightly salted. Fresh mushrooms floated on top. The wontons were fresh too. The entrees were tasty. We shared, of course. She couldn't finish all the lemon chicken, so we boxed some to take home.

Currently, there are four Chinese restaurants here. One is fast food. The other two are buffets. But TK's has the best food of the bunch. Honestly, the difference was startling. It reminded me of when we were dating. We had a favorite Chinese place where the food was outstanding. I'd forgotten just how good Chinese could be – until last night. Naturally the prices are a little higher, but I think that good food is worth it. Dinner for the two of us was right at thirty dollars.

We're coming back here next weekend,” Mary stated flatly. At least I won't have to play another round of restaurant roulette.

Oh, one other thing – that leftover lemon chicken that she brought home didn't make it through the evening. About ten o'clock, I was going to have just a nibble, but it was already gone. It's another sure sign she likes the place.

TK's 2 Chinese/Asian Kitchen
9045 N 121st E Ave
Owasso, OK

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Friday, October 26, 2007

The next hipster trend?

(Rivendell image from Country Bicycle)

So I'm cruising about, looking for interesting tidbits of information, when I stumble across this: Bike Snob Chicago.

Is this going to be a franchise like McDonalds or CSI? OK, OK, we all know that imitation is a sincere form of flattery, but are 2 or more bike snobs really necessary or desirable? BikeSnobNYC is funny because it's original and witty. Clones are considerably less so.

Let's see, when the television producers decide that we desperately need CSI:Duluth, they'll try to ram it down our throats. I don't think the world wants or needs BikeSnobSapulpa.

...but I'll still put it on my list in Bloglines. It's a compulsion.

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Swap meet in Tulsa (some bicycle content)

(Image from Conbinibento)

I went to this swap meet a few years ago. It's mostly car and motorcycle stuff, but a few bicycles were on display, most of them the collectible variety. But since it's free to get in, I'll probably go if only to have something to write about and post some photos. Remember, this is primarily a CAR event, so they refer to "bicycles and other assorted toys".

I found the announcement on the Tulsa Now forum, a good source for area news.








15625 E Pine St
Tulsa, OK 74116
(918) 438-7856


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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

ATTN: All Tulsa Bicyclists

(Image from Bike Friday)

By Paul Tay (LINK)

Sharon King Davis and Dewey Bartlett Jr., leaders of the "Complete Our Streets" panel established by Mayor Kathy Taylor and City Councilor Bill Martinson, invite all interested Tulsans to attend a Citizen Town Meeting on Monday, Oct. 29, from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. in the Central Center at Centennial Park, 1028 E. Sixth St. (Sixth Street and Peoria Avenue).

The panel invites Tulsans to share their comments by either speaking to the group or submitting written comments. Those who want to speak will be asked to sign in before the meeting begins.

The Complete Our Streets panel is taking a comprehensive look at Tulsa's streets. This includes information gathering, questioning of information, and decision making for recommendations to be submitted by December 4 to the Mayor and City Council.

The panel will focus on three aspects of Tulsa's streets: contracting, smart urban design and financing. A committee has been assigned to study each of these three areas. For further information, you may contact the City of Tulsa Mayor's Action Center at 596-2100.

Thanks, Paul!

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

This is too bizarre!

(Image from Dancing Times)

It a jive translator! Word. Use this to mangle some English. Just like that romance novel you keep stashed under the bed, playing with a translator like this can become a nasty, filthy, pernicious habit that you turn to again and again. Here's the original text from the Recumbents: Threat or Menace post.

Recumbents are the spawn of Satan. Oh, the people who ride them look like ordinary, relatively normal human beings, but don't let that fool you. They're demonic imps, bent on global domination. They often form up in packs and they'll box you in on the road, endlessly haranguing you about the supposed benefits of their outlandish machines, until, like a trapped muskrat, you find yourself considering gnawing off a limb to escape. Other desperate diamond frame riders succumb to the pressure and drink the 'bent Kool-Aid (or maybe it should be called Kook-Aid), becoming yet another recumbent zombie. Then they go out to infect others.

And here's the result:

Recumbents is tha spizzay of Satan. Oh, tha thugz who rizzle them look like ordinary, relatively normal human steppin' but diznon't let that foo` you . Chill as I take you on a trip. They're demonic imps, bizzle on global dominizzles so you betta run and grab yo glock. Tizzle often form up in packs n they'll box you in on tha road, endlessly harangu'n you `bout tha supposed benefits of they outlandish machines, until, like a trapped muskrat, you find yoself consider'n ridin' off a limb ta escape. Brotha desperate diamond frame playa succumb ta tha pressure n driznink tha 'bent Kool-Aid (or maybe it should be called Kook-Aid), blunt-rollin' yet pusha recumbent zombie. Thiznen they go out ta infect killa.

Here's da link:


Monday, October 22, 2007

I'm baaaad, I'm nationwide: A Wally Crankset Tale

(Image from Mixed Plate)

The phone rang in the wee hours of the morning. I hate that. It's either bad news or Wally, sometimes both.

I fumbled around in the dark searching for the handset on the nightstand. “Hello?” I mumbled.

Sure enough, it was Wally. “Hey, I'm glad I caught you still awake.” he said. “I've got a great idea.”

Mary's voice rose from her pillow. “Kill him. Kill him now.” She probably wasn't serious.

This isn't a good time to talk, Wally...” but he interrupted and went right on.

I've been thinking about a better way to make a living, well, a better way than I do now, and I think I've hit on the solution.” After losing his position at the University of Southern Oklahoma extension campus in Broken Elbow, Wally held a succession of jobs around town, finally settling into his old one at the Amiracle Airlines hub out at the airport, where he quietly slipped back into his ticket agent/baggage handler/ fueler/wing walker duties. Almost everyone's heard their slogan, “If it's on time, it's Amiracle!” The airline serves most of the Midwest from the hub, flying regional jets.

Fortunately for Wally, the lynch mob of flight attendants who pursued him relentlessly for some months had moved on to other targets like the current management team and the onerous contract they'd signed a few years ago. Wally was still on their list, but he wasn't a priority these days. Sure, they took an occasional potshot at him for old time's sake, but their hearts just weren't in it anymore.

He went on. “You know I don't do well when I'm working for someone else. I mean, it's almost always turned out wrong for one reason or another.” This was certainly true, and the 'one reason' often involved a woman, sometimes a drunken, angry woman waving a handgun. “So I've decided I need to run things, start my own business, and be my own boss. I want to start a bicycling advocacy organization, a big one, and I'll need your help.”

A flash lit the window curtains and a few seconds later thunder rolled overhead. I took it as a bad omen. “Wally, you need my help. OK. But can't this wait until morning?” I temporized, hoping he'd get some sleep and forget about it. “Where are you anyway?”

I'm down at Larry's. Wanna join me?”

No, it's too late.” I glanced at the clock. It was just before 2AM. Larry would have last call and close the bar in a few minutes. Chances were good that Wally wouldn't remember any of this conversation.

Mary's pillow said, “I'm gonna get medieval on his ass.” She was educated in the classics, after all.

Wally continued. “I'm thinking – big organization – big ideas – big name. How about Thundering Herd Alliance? It has to be national, coast to coast, and it'll be a force to be reckoned with in advocacy!” Alcohol made Wally expansive, to put it mildly. Less kind people call it delusions of grandeur. Regardless, he'd have a crushing hangover in the morning. “We'll get money by scaring the hell out of the membership, just like the NRA. Scared people shell out lots of money!”

He had a point. Fear is a powerful motivating tool. Look what it's done for Dick Cheney, for instance. My kids wore Dick Cheney masks at Halloween last year and came back with bundles of cash rather than candy. We stashed it in an undisclosed location to keep the IRS at bay. Our mortgage payments will be covered for a very long time, like maybe another thirty or forty years, so Wally may have hit on something.

Still, any organization with Wally at the top should more correctly be called the Dunderhead Alliance. “Uh, Wally, Thundering Herd Alliance sounds like some other group. Maybe you should pick another name.”

In the background I could hear Larry bellowing that it was last call. Something about late night drinking induces deafness at 2AM.

I gotta go, “ Wally said. “I'll stop by your place sometime tomorrow so we can talk about this.”

Mary's pillow mumbled things that would have horrified the Spanish Inquisition, and once I got back to sleep, led me to have terrible dreams for the rest of the night.

Wally didn't show for a couple of days, which was probably a good thing because I found Mary sitting in the kitchen sharpening knives and fashioning a sort of Pillsbury dough-boy voodoo doll that looked like him. It was pin-cushioned with uncooked vermicelli, except for one limp piece of elbow macaroni boiled well past al dente and strategically placed. Women can be so mean.

I bumped into him at the grocery. “Wally! Good to see you! How've you been?”

Did I call you the other night?” he asked. “I'm really sorry for doing that. It's rude to wake you in the middle of the night.” He didn't remember the conversation, but Larry had given him hell for calling me. It's wise to stay on the good side of your favorite bartender, or in our case, the town's only bartender. Even Wally knew that.

As he left to get on his bike, I noticed he was walking a little stiffly and I asked him about it. “Oh, well, I've just had a bunch of little aches and pains for the last few days. Nothing major. It's probably just the weather.”

I'd dodged a bullet. He'd forgotten about the Thundering Herd Alliance idea. Then I went back in the market and bought a bouquet of flowers for Mary. I made a mental note to try to stay on her good side too.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

In the news...

Fritz posted a link to this Gristmill story on Cycle-licious, in which a cycling father wonders about the safety of his son. It's a long post and worth your time to read.

Excerpts follow.

Cycling is safer than you think! Alan Durning


It also inspired me to dig into the question of bicycle safety more rigorously than before: Is it safe for Peter to be biking so much?

Here's what I learned: Biking is safer than it used to be. It's safer than you might think. It does incur the risk of collision, but its other healthbenefits massively outweigh these risks. And it can be made much safer. What's more, making streets truly safe for cyclists may be the best way to reverse Bicycle Neglect: it may be among communities' best options for countering obesity, climate disruption, rising economic inequality, and oil addiction.

The alternative -- inaction -- perpetuates these ills. It also ensures the continued victimization of cyclists and pedestrians. It means the proliferation of GhostBikes.

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

Yep, it's another reincarnation of fear as a tool of supposed bicycling advocacy.

Carlton Reid critiqued this 'news' when it appeared on Faux News with their own inimitable spin, calling bicycle-related injuries among children a pediatric 'crisis'. I saw it on Associated Content where it contained these two diametrically opposed sentences. “Most Bicycle Accidents Also Involve a Motor Vehicle” and “Researchers found that 30 percent of all bicycle related hospitalizations involved an accident with a motor vehicle.” Let's just say that I don't have a high level of confidence in this since proofreading seems to be non-existent. The report goes on about the high degree of danger faced by child cyclists, and drags up the tired, discredited old statistic that helmets can prevent 85% of head injuries. When I researched this statement once, I found the oldest estimate of head injury reductions said that helmets MAY prevent 40-80 percent of all head injuries. An estimate that broad is more correctly termed a wild-assed-guess. But the helmet nannies seized on the high end figure.

Here, kids, wear this helmet and you'll be safe!” It's merely a small part of learning to ride a bicycle safely, and it makes as much sense as handing my teenage son the keys to the car and saying. “Wear your seatbelt and you'll be safe” without offering any further instruction. That's the path to madness.

Another interesting statistic popped up this summer, and since my laptop crashed, of course I lost all the references. (I'm feeling lazy today, but I'll have to do that research again soon.) I read that the incidence of skin cancer far exceeded any head injuries. In other words, as a cyclist, you're at greater risk of contracting skin cancer than you are of receiving a head injury. Could it be that the nannies should be telling our kids, “Here, put on this sunblock! Now you're safe!”

(Another news item says, and I'm NOT making this up, “Scientists at MIT discover that blood might help humans think.” I'd speculate that the lack of blood is a significant factor related to the inability to think.)

More Children Hospitalized from Bicycle Accidents Than Previously Thought

Most Bicycle Accidents Also Involve a Motor Vehicle

By Patty Oh

Children and adolescents injured in bicycle accidents are more of a concern for their health than previously thought, according to a recent press release

The cost of bicycle related injuries to children and adolescents are nearly $200 million in hospital inpatient charges every year. Researchers estimate that of the 85 million bicycle riders, approximately half of them are children or adolescents under 20 years old.

Researchers found that more than a third of those children who are hospitalized have received a traumatic brain injury. This type of injury is very serious and can cause cognitive, emotional, physical, and social problems.

Bicyclists can usually avoid this type of brain injuries by wearing a bicycle helmet at all times. Researchers want to promote strategies to lessen both the number and the severity of bicycle accidents and deaths.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

BikeSnobNYC revealed!!!

Yes, the latest issue of Bicycling has photos and an interview with BikeSnobNYC.

He's posed ala Boy George in his 'pensive gaucho' phase, a strikingly sensitive yet manly photo that includes stunning use of color coordination between his attire and his oh-so-chic fixed gear bike. Everything that isn't NYC formal (black) is that other color - white.

Really. He should post a photo of the bike on fixed gear gallery so he can lampoon it.

But seriously - my congratulations for appearing in Bicycling! Trust me, the rest of us only mildly talented writers are seething with envy!

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Friday, October 19, 2007

American Lawbreaking and Traffic Policy

(Image from Daily Placebo)

What follows are two stories that are related in a sense. The first part is from Tim Wu on Slate. He discusses American lawbreaking and and the forces that cause all of us, ordinary citizens, lawmakers, law enforcement, and the judiciary, to turn a blind eye toward some aspects of our laws. His article is in five parts, too long to include here so there is a brief excerpt below. I've included the excerpt about narcotics as an example, not as an advocacy piece on drugs. That's a thorny subject worthy of more nuance and depth than my post.

Since I'm a bike commuter and League of American Bicyclists instructor, bicycle safety is a big part of my focus on CycleDog. Laws that effect our ability to ride on the road are often misunderstood, misapplied, or simply ignored. The apparent goal of traffic planning it to facilitate motor vehicle travel, in effect increasing convenience for motorists to the detriment of cyclists and pedestrians. While we lobby for new, more effective laws intended to make our streets safer, we must acknowledge that these efforts will be futile if the laws are ignored or unenforced. As Wu points out ...tolerance of lawbreaking constitutes one of the nation's other major—yet most poorly understood—ways of creating social and legal policy. Almost as much as the laws that we enact, the lawbreaking to which we shut our eyes reflects how tolerant U.S. society really is to individual or group difference.” In effect, the almost universal disdain for speed limits reflects our society's view that exceeding the limit is acceptable and that the resulting carnage is acceptable too. Periodic enforcement actions meant to reduce speeding have merely temporary results. Likewise, the occasional enforcement action targeting cyclists who run stop signs is merely another temporary irritation. As soon as the cops are gone, traffic returns to normal.

But should it be that way? Traffic law is meant to provide a common template for behavior and thereby make traffic predictable. This predictability enhances the safety of all road users.

Motorists and cyclists, however, have different perceptions of safety. Another way of describing that is to say they have different ideas regarding risk, both real risk and perceived or imagined risk.

A ton or more of steel and glass gives the occupant a much different view of safe road behavior as opposed to wearing a Styrofoam hat and a couple layers of fabric. This difference was illustrated by a comment from a combat infantryman when he was asked about a new uniform he'd just been issued. “It's good,” he said, “but the buttons keep you too high off the ground.” While it's clearly a facetious comment, the buttons wouldn't be an issue for someone riding in a tank or an airplane. That infantryman had an entirely different view of personal safety involving factors that are of little or no concern to other military personnel.

That's equally true of cyclists and pedestrians. We have different issues regarding road safety, and our perception of safety is very much different from that of motorists. While it's certainly desirable for cyclists and motorists to share a common understanding of the rules of the road, cyclists need an additional skill set and an additional awareness of road hazards on top of that common understanding. We are at risk from things that a motorist simply doesn't see, like patches of sand, wet leaves, railroad crossings, or painted road surfaces when they're wet. That can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts. When a motorist understands why cyclists need to zig-zag across angled railroad crossings, for instance, they're less likely to crowd a cyclist or try to overtake him. Ideally, we'd address these conflicts through education programs aimed at both cyclists and motorists.

Our current transportation policy accepts 42,000 deaths as just another cost of having a modern highway system. Yet when we propose ideas to reduce those deaths, ideas like traffic cameras, more stringent driver's ed training, more enforcement of traffic laws, we immediately experience resistance. The public expects to go as fast as possible as often as possible. Road planning values convenience and speed over other considerations like safety, noise, stress, or quality of life. Trust me, when it's nearly impossible for an able-bodied adult to cross an urban street even at a signalized intersection, the negative effects of traffic are a quality of life issue. Cyclists and pedestrians are widely assumed to be not as important to road policy as motoring interests.

I don't expect that Americans would tolerate an extensive CCTV system like that used in the UK. Likewise, since the interstate highway system and similar high-speed roadways are fairly safe, it makes little sense to attempt to 'improve' their safety with reduced speed limits. But there's another proposal mentioned in the second piece below, an easily implemented law that would have a genuine impact on unnecessary deaths by reducing the speed limit in urban areas to 20 mph. That would be across the entire metro area and would include all streets. I'd expect that some motorists would rail against it, of course, because there's nothing as onerous as having to drive slowly. There's no question that it would reduce injuries and deaths, reduce noise, save fuel, and make our cities more liveable less stressful places.



American Lawbreaking

from: Tim Wu


Posted Sunday, Oct. 14, 2007, at 8:03 AM ET

...As this story suggests, American law is underenforced—and we like it that way. Full enforcement of every last law on the books would put all of us in prison for crimes such as "injuring a mail bag." No enforcement of our laws, on the other hand, would mean anarchy. Somehow, officials must choose what laws really matter.

This series explores the black spots in American law: areas in which our laws are routinely and regularly broken and where the law enforcement response is … nothing. These are the areas where, for one reason or another, we've decided to tolerate lawbreaking and let a law—duly enacted and still on the books—lay fallow or near dead.

...But tolerance of lawbreaking constitutes one of the nation's other major—yet most poorly understood—ways of creating social and legal policy. Almost as much as the laws that we enact, the lawbreaking to which we shut our eyes reflects how tolerant U.S. society really is to individual or group difference. It forms a major part of our understanding of how the nation deals with what was once called "vice." While messy, strange, hypocritical, and in a sense dishonest, widespread tolerance of lawbreaking forms a critical part of the U.S. legal system as it functions.

That Other Drug Legalization Movement

...what's particularly interesting about the Experience Vaults is how many of the drugs reviewed there aren't actually classic "illegal drugs," like heroin or cocaine, but rather pharmaceuticals, like Clonazepam.

That's because over the last two decades, the pharmaceutical industry has developed a full set of substitutes for just about every illegal narcotic we have. Avoiding the highly charged politics of "illegal" drugs, the pharmaceutical industry, doctors, and citizens have thus quietly created the means for Americans to get at substitutes for almost all the drugs banned in the 20th century. Through the magic of tolerated use, it's actually the other drug legalization movement, and it has been much more successful than the one you read about in the papers.

...Over the last two decades, the FDA has become increasingly open to drugs designed for the treatment of depression, pain, and anxiety—drugs that are, by their nature, likely to mimic the banned Schedule I narcotics. Part of this is the product of a well-documented relaxation of FDA practice that began under Clinton and has increased under Bush. But another part is the widespread public acceptance of the idea that the effects drug users have always been seeking in their illicit drugs—calmness, lack of pain, and bliss—are now "treatments" as opposed to recreation. We have reached a point at which it's commonly understood that when people snort cocaine because they're depressed or want to function better at work, that's drug trafficking; but taking antidepressants for similar purposes is practicing medicine.


Safety group urges 20mph in urban areas to save lives

Dan Milmo, transport correspondent

Tuesday October 16, 2007

The Guardian

Motorists will face a mandatory speed limit of 20mph in residential areas if the government accepts proposals that would reduce the annual death toll of 3,100 people on British roads.

The measure could help to cut fatalities by two-thirds to 1,000 a year, according to the influential Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (Pacts). The current speed limit in built-up areas is 30mph but Pacts has urged the government to issue guidance to local authorities, which control speed limits on minor roads, demanding tighter restrictions.

Robert Gifford, executive director of Pacts, said the measure would save lives by reducing accidents on residential and shopping streets, while encouraging walking and cycling. According to Department for Transport statistics nine out of 10 cyclist and pedestrian casualties occur on built-up roads. "A 20mph limit in built up areas ... will help create an environment where people are not afraid to walk or cycle. And it will make a contribution to issues such as climate change and sustainability," said Mr Gifford.

The proposal is published today in a Pacts report, Beyond 2000, that calls for tough targets on road deaths and injuries. The government is aiming to reduce casualties, compared with 1994-98 numbers, by 40% by the end of the decade. It also wants the number of children killed or seriously injured cut by 50%. So far it is exceeding the child target but is lagging on the overall figure, which has prompted calls from road safety campaigners for a change of strategy.

France reduced fatalities by a third between 2001 and 2005, compared with 7% in the UK, although ministers said that the figures did not take into account the fact that Britain had focused on road safety decades earlier than many other EU countries.

The DfT said it supported 20mph zones but the decision on implementing them should be left to local authorities as in Portsmouth, where the city council is imposing a 20mph limit in residential areas. A spokesman added: "Previous research has shown that 20mph limits are only effective when vehicle speeds are already low or where additional traffic calming measures are implemented."

Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation, warned that drivers would not accept a blanket speed limit in towns and cities. He said there was no doubt that 20mph speed limits would improve road safety, "but some motorists might not understand or accept them [blanket limits] and it could backfire".

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Monday, October 15, 2007

I watched in amazement...

(Image from LAB Reform)

Mary and I were on our way to the library Saturday afternoon. Far ahead, I saw a wrong-way cyclist going down the other side of the street. He blithely rode through a stop sign and continued on his way - as a local police car drove up the street past him!

If I were driving my car over there on the wrong side of the road, I'll bet the cop would have noticed.

Other news...

My Compaq laptop is up and running again, but I lost all the drafts for CycleDog as well as some other writing projects. I'll live. But I'm thinking about ways to retain the drafts. I'll probably back them up on my thumb drive for now, but I'm wondering if I should beg She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed for an external hard drive this Christmas.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Recumbent bicycles: Threat or Menace?

Excerpts from EZ Biker :-)

Dear EZ Biker, we are having an issue with the Diamond Frame bunch verses an ex DF cyclist, now riding a recumbent. There are a few recumbent cyclists, (Including my husband) that are constantly being teased and basically are shunned by others, because of their bike choice. It’s as if they are lepers or something. My concern is that our bicycle group will not want to have anything to do with us anymore. What to do?

Diane, this is actually a question I get asked often about and have done tons of emails in response to the issue. There are just so many opinions out there concerning this. My initial response is basically this: The HARDEST THING to learn about recumbents is how to deal with either being accepted or spurned by your fellow cyclists. Most groups are tolerant towards recumbents, but then there are those other types...

Well, that certainly says a lot, doesn't it? EZbiker doesn't have a comment field, so I'll have to make a response here on CycleDog. As you all know, CycleDog offers a comprehensive view of bicycling, placing an emphasis on a fair and balanced portrayal of potentially divisive issues. So, in that spirit of honest, unflinching discussion of all things related to cycling, I offer the following:

Recumbents are the spawn of Satan. Oh, the people who ride them look like ordinary, relatively normal human beings, but don't let that fool you. They're demonic imps, bent on global domination. They often form up in packs and they'll box you in on the road, endlessly haranguing you about the supposed benefits of their outlandish machines, until, like a trapped muskrat, you find yourself considering gnawing off a limb to escape. Other desperate diamond frame riders succumb to the pressure and drink the 'bent Kool-Aid (or maybe it should be called Kook-Aid), becoming yet another recumbent zombie. Then they go out to infect others.

A crucifix will not ward off the recumbent horde. It's just not effective on them like it is on vampires. No, what you really need is a Campagnolo T wrench as shown above. Recumbent riders are repulsed whenever one of these appears, so be sure to keep one handy, particularly on group rides when the danger posed by groups of 'bent riders is greatest.

Another attractive option is to apply one of these stickers to each butt cheek - more or less at eye level for a recumbent rider - in the unlikely event that one of them overtakes you. I guarantee they'll give you plenty of space, but it's a small concern because they seldom catch up with a diamond frame rider anyway.

Never allow 'bent riders to draw you into their favorite topic -the alleged 'conspiracy' that excludes recumbents from competitive cycling events. They get an uncomfortable gleam in their eyes as the extol the advantages of their machines, advantages that would supposedly allow their usual riders - short, bald, middle-aged guys with beer guts, ancient Skid Lids, and baggy shorts - to ride as fast as any professional cyclist. Some sort of recumbent magic would turn them into sleek, road-going missiles. They've had more than a cup or two of Kook-Aid. Don't let them offer you one too. Like a nut ball street corner preacher, shouting at passerby who hurry along without making eye contact, they'll try to proselytize until you join them. Never make eye contact, and if necessary, line your helmet with aluminum foil to ward off harmful geek radiation.

You'll be thankful you did.

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I escaped for the morning!

There's a car event on Cherry Street in Tulsa today, mainly to exhibit the new Smart Car and offer some test rides. And while I was intrigued by the Smart Cars, this old Art Car caught my eye. More photos are on my flickr page.

Annie Hartzog-Murrell from Sustainable Tulsa.

Annie and her husband are bicycle commuters. We talked about some of the issues for Tulsa area cyclists, and I mentioned that I read the Sustainable Green Country blog. Really, there's lots of information about food! How could I resist?

Tom Brown - the Tom in Tom's Bicycles

I've said before that I like going into a bike shop where there's someone with more gray hair than me! This isn't a dig at Tom. I just like seeing someone with experience rather than some teenager. Well, that, and us old farts can swap lies with a straight face while the kids stand around looking bored.
Tom's storefront (and yes, that's Mark Lemieux trying to duck under the lens!)

Mark, if I spelled your name wrong, please let me know.

Assorted women's cycling clothes.

Normally, I wouldn't even notice the clothes racks, but Tom took pains to display these well, and the selection looked good. Not that I'm an expert on women's cycling clothing, of course. I just know that it can be difficult to find a variety.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What next?

The voters of Tulsa County decided they really didn't need to increase sales taxes to fund a river park system. I've written about it previously, and I did not support the tax increase for reasons given here.

But as that title above asks, what comes next? Many voters are concerned about the sad condition of our local streets. Many of our bridges are in dire need of repair. But I don't live in the city of Tulsa. I'm a suburbanite. Still, I have to travel in Tulsa, so the streets and roads are part of my life too.

If I recall right, the cost estimate on doing the maintenance and construction would be four times that of the late river project, and that totaled $285 million. Where will the money come from?

Honestly, I could see Tulsa voting in a commuter tax on us suburb dwellers. These kinds of taxes are usually popular because they aren't levied on residents. Instead, out-of-towners, who can't vote in the election, are taxed to support city services. If it weren't an onerous tax, I wouldn't mind paying it. But I'd certainly expect to see good roads in return for my money.

Yes, I'm probably a hopeless dreamer.

Good roads benefit everyone, motorists and cyclists alike. Signalized intersections that reliably detect bicycle riders should be the norm, not a rarity. And while Tulsa and surrounding communities do have signals that trip for cyclists, far too many signals do not operate as they are designed to. And when you consider that some signals in downtown Tulsa are nearly 80 years old, well past their design life, and that a 'simple' signalized intersection costs about $100K dollars, you can see that tax money can be stretched thin in a hurry.

So, are there other way to fund streets? I know there must be, but I'm not versed in public finance. Any suggestions?

As my crew chief is fond of saying, "There ain't any one of us as smart as the rest of us put together!"

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Winter Riding

(Photo from Cycle-licious)

(Part One: CLOTHING)

We're finally into a fall weather pattern here in Oklahoma. This morning it was 53F as I drove to work and I was grateful for the car's heater. Yes, I drove to work. I've been fighting a sinus infection since Saturday. Between the constant headache and the chills, I really didn't feel up to being on the bike.

Sadly, many people put the bike away when the temperatures drop, but with a few key clothing items, cold weather cycling can be enjoyable.

Briefly, let's hit the high points. First, why would anyone want to ride in the cold? For big, 'thermally efficient' guys like me, cold weather is simply more comfortable. But if you've ever experienced the thrill of riding a bicycle along a snow-covered road just after dawn when the whole planet seems to be still and silent, almost as if holding its breath in anticipation of the coming day, you'll understand the fascination. The air seems crisp and clean. Your tires crunch across hard packed snow. Barking dogs and cars can be heard a long way off, yet the freshly fallen snow muffles their noises.

But you can't enjoy moments like this if you're freezing. Adding some items to your regular summer kit will extend the riding season well into the fall or even allow you to ride all winter. Let's cover the cold weather basics starting with the base layer. Long johns, both tops and bottoms, are a winter cycling essential. Avoid cotton because it will not keep you warm if you sweat, and believe me, you can still sweat copiously in cold temperatures. Get polypropylene, silk, or wool longs. There are different weights for different temperatures. You'll be comfy with a layer of warm, dry air next to your skin.

Next is the mid-layer, the insulation that retains body heat. Just like the base layer, there are different weights (or thicknesses if you prefer) so it's possible to tailor your mid-layer for the conditions. This takes some judgment and experience. Generally, if you start out feeling warm and comfortable, you'll feel like you're riding in a sauna before many miles have passed. I have a variety of thin, medium, and thick sweaters, as well as a couple of vests, allowing great versatility.

Cold weather comfort comes from layers of clothing. Wear two thin mid-layers rather than a single thick one if conditions warrant, especially if they're changeable. You can peel one off if you get too warm, so try to have something to carry it like a seat bag with a long strap or even a fanny pack or Camelback.

Your outer layer provides protection from rain and wind, and retains all that nice, warm air. I use simple nylon windbreakers and carry a separate rain jacket in a pannier. Goretex is an alternative, but I've been too tight to buy it. Besides, most of the Goretex clothing is either cycling-specific or seemingly built for mountaineering . There are some wind stopping fleece jackets that do an admirable job of providing both wind protection and some additional warmth. They're water resistant too, and probably a better choice in wet conditions that a simple nylon shell.

Up to this point, I haven't mentioned any winter clothing that's cycling-specific. There's one article of clothing that is indispensable, though, and that's a good pair of cycling tights. Worn over a pair of long johns, they'll keep you warm well below freezing. And just like long johns, they come in different weights. I like the bib double-front ones because they offer an extra layer over the chest.

For the first time, this winter I'll be using some overboots. My old cycling shoes were warm enough for most cold weather, but the new ones are much better ventilated. While that's a bonus when it's 100F in the summer, at the other end of the temperature scale, it's a big minus. I may try some other ways to keep my feet warm, like wearing two thin socks or even using those neoprene socks made for hunting. I'm a big fan of old-fashioned wool athletic socks, but they're getting hard to find.

You may think you need thick socks and heavy gloves to keep warm. Sometimes it's easier to simply wear a hat or a vest. The head is an excellent radiator because roughly a quarter of your blood flows through it. If you keep your head warm, the blood going to the extremities is warmer, thereby keeping your hands and feet warm. Likewise, if you think of your torso as the body's furnace, you can put on a vest and force more heat out to the extremities. Even a bandanna or scarf around your neck will help trap more heat under your jacket.

Another way to keep your face warm is to grow a beard and mustache for the winter. This only applies to part of the population, however. Motorists look horror-stricken when they see a cyclist with icicles hanging from his face!

If you commute in cold weather regularly, there may come a time when you look outside and see big, fat snowflakes drifting down, slowly covering the street with wet slush. Some weird part of your brain will insist that it's a good day for a ride. If this happens, it's time to consider engaging in the cold rain, mud, and perverse fascination of cyclocross.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

Okie Blog Awards are Up...

...and cutting to the chase, CycleDog didn't win.

Tasha Does Tulsa did win in the Best Culture Blog, however, and Natasha's blog is well worth reading. I first stumbled across her when she wrote about the Tulsa Tough back in June.

The whole list is on

I'd thought about attending the dinner, but it simply slipped my mind. Then the usual Saturday activities took over my limited attention, and after a day spent mowing, edging, and cutting down a sickly tree, I was too beat to even consider going out for a meal. Let's just say I have a 25 year old ego trapped in a middle-aged body. I overdid it today and now I'm paying the price.

But enough of that. My congratulations to all the winners! There's some good writing in that list, so take the time to read it. I'll candidly admit that Tasha Does Tulsa and Red Fork Hippie Chick are two of my favorites.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

An odd start to my Friday

Wired has a piece on moldable protective goo, and the demonstration of its shock absorbing capability involves a man being hit on the head with a shovel.

It's very weird.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Who knew?

(Image from the CJ2A Owner's Manual)

Robert Heinlein said that money is the most powerful aphrodisiac, but flowers run a close second. I may have stumbled across another way to a woman's heart.

As I've written before, women are bemused by men who can cook. I'm the breakfast guy here at Chez W. Pancakes, waffles, various styles of eggs and even big, fluffy muffins are regulars. But I had a few comments about making crepes with fresh fruit from our local farmers market. A guy who can make crepes!

But I may have found a new one. I had to drive Lyndsay's Blazer coming home from a football game in the rain. Her windshield wipers were shot and did little more than smear the windshield. Let's just say it makes me extremely nervous to drive without being able to see very well. So I went to the auto parts store and bought some replacement wipers. When I got home I installed them without telling her.

It rained later in the day. She used her new wipers and was absolutely thrilled! Imagine that. I got a hug and a kiss on the cheek simply for replacing those shabby old wiper blades.

So there you have it. The way to a woman's heart is paved with auto parts.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A non-scientific experiment...

(Follow this LINK for a detailed discussion of magnetic loop detection systems and bicycle.)

Last week, Gary Parker and I discussed an idea for tripping magnetic loop signals. These are common around the Tulsa area. There are several loops buried under the pavement, and Gary came across an idea for placing several magnets on the underside of the bottom bracket. Supposedly the additional magnetic field helps to trigger the detector.

So today, I salvaged three small rare earth magnets from some defunct headsets, attached them to some double-sided adhesive tape, and applied them to the bottom of my left cycling shoe. Yes, I'm a left footer.

There's a double loop detector at our main gate. A double loop looks like a big 0 with a vertical line up the middle. The most sensitive portion is that mid-line. Normally, I position the bike directly above it and the light triggers. But today, I stopped a bit to the right and placed my left foot with the magnets directly onto the center line.

It never triggered, leading me to conclude that small magnets have little effect even in close proximity to the loop. A magnet attached to the bottom bracket would have to be much more powerful due to the rapid weakening of the magnetic field. It decreases by the square of the distance according to the field equations.

But there's another idea worth trying, and that's a shorted coil. I may do that tomorrow if time permits.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Posts may be sporadic...

My 'new' laptop puked and died. It partially boots into Windows, then stops cold. Yoda and Wade figure something in the BIOS is either corrupted or the NVRAM chip itself is faulty. Yes, I could try to flash the RAM and re-install the BIOS, but this unit is still under warranty, so the most likely outcome will be a return to Compaq.

Much of CycleDog is on that machine. I've stored a few drafts on Bloglines, but the bulk of the posts are inaccessible for now. Worse yet, all the training and tracking information for my 'real' work is on that machine too.

Wade offered one of his Toshiba laptops as a loaner, and tonight I said I'd take him up on that.

CycleDog may be experiencing temporary outages.

Please stand by....

Please stand by....

Please stand by....

Please stand by....

Monday, October 01, 2007

This just in...

I'm still shaking.

As we left the junior varsity football game this evening, I nearly stepped out in front of a speeding car at a pedestrian crossing. There's a signalized mid-block crossing to permit pedestrians access to parking lots on both sides of the road. Mary was to my right and I turned my head toward her as the light changed to green for us. I stepped forward without looking to my left. A woman was determined to run the red light, and whooshed by less than an arm length away.

If I had taken another step, I wouldn't be writing this. My water bottle banged off the side of her car. It was that close.

I'm pissed off. Nothing gives motorists the right to ignore red lights and endanger pedestrians. Nothing.