Thursday, January 31, 2008


(Home-brewed studded tire image from Minnesota Off Road Cyclists)

I had to put tires on the front of Lyndsay's Blazer and I wasted three hours waiting for those two tires. If Stephen King wrote Cujo as his revenge against the Ford people for selling him a Pinto, think of this as my revenge against a big box store and its automotive department. The following story is true, except for those parts that aren't.

Number One Daughter needed new tires on the front of her SUV, a Chevy Blazer that she prefers to my fuddy old Ford sedan. The Chevy is even older, but it's 'cool' in ways that only a teenage girl would understand. I just have cars to drive. Coolness is not a factor when you're going back and forth to work. Cars are little more than an appliance as far as I'm concerned. Just like a toaster, you plug it in and it works.

The weather forecast calls for snow tomorrow. Or maybe not. It all depends on which forecaster you listen to and believe. The last time we had snow, Number One Daughter who should also be known as She Of The Heavy Foot, said the Blazer didn't handle very well. The front tires would slide rather than turn. So I took it out in the snow to see for myself. Surprise, surprise! When driven by a fuddy old man, the Blazer was fine. Sure, the tires were worn but they still worked when driven judiciously. I told her that.

Number One Daughter spoke with She Who Must Be Obeyed. I received my orders which was how I came to be sitting in the waiting room at Big Willy's Tire Emporium.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Big Willy is an alien. Oh, not the hopped-over-the-border-illegally kind of alien. No, Willy came here from another planet. He's about my height and very skinny like a beanpole. His eyes constantly dart around, making conversation difficult. I'm pretty sure he had tentacles somewhere, like one of those Japanese monsters that frightened me so badly as a kid. These days, Japanese cartoon monsters with tentacles still produce some decidedly unpleasant images.

Sometimes a fly got in through the door with a customer, but once it realized Willy was in the room it made a frantic effort to get back outside.

The waiting room had an ancient television set with a rabbit ear antenna on top. Pieces of aluminum foil had been added to give it extra 'oomph'. Next to it was a drip coffee machine with a a hand lettered sign saying “Customers Only!” I thought it was unlikely that people just dropped in to Willy's to soak up that free coffee since it looked like tar and smelled worse. The television droned, it's picture fading to static now and then as airplanes, UFOs, and migrating geese flew overhead.

But what really clinched it for me was the sight of a dead guy propped up in the corner, a Styrofoam coffee cup in his mummified hand. I made a mental note to avoid the free coffee and sat at the far end of the room.

The only other customer was a chubby guy with big staring eyes who scratched himself incessantly, his eyes seldom straying from the television set. I gave him lots of room, fearing he may be a host to a variety of insect-like fauna. “Whaddja get?” he inquired. He had the just-released-from-prison look, his skin pasty from lack of sunlight. Maybe his critters were sensitive. He wore a brand new shirt and trousers. The shirt was creased from its packaging and the trousers still had paper tags attached. “Whaddja get?” he repeated. I pegged him for another alien.

“Ah, well, I came in to get new tires on my daughter's truck,” I explained.

“Oh, daughters...” His eyes drifted away from the television as his thought turned toward...well...let's not go there. He went quiet and the beginning of a leer showed on his face. I decided that what he said in the next few moments would determine if he lived or died, and I looked around for a weapon. The coffee looked lethal enough. It would do.

“Ack! Ack! Aackkkk!” Willy yelled and stomped behind the counter. Something crunched, immediately followed by a liquid, squishy sound. Willy lifted his shoe and inspected the sole. He sniffed loudly. I really didn't want to know and I was thankful that the counter obscured my view.

With his eyes locked on the television, Staring Guy said, “I'm applying for a job here. Willy hired my brother awhile back, and he said I could work here too.” I'd noticed a pudgy mechanic out in the work bay on my way in. He was staring with relentless intensity at an I-beam. He just had to be the brother.

Big Willy's mechanics could charitably be described as eclectic. Honestly, I figured most of them were here because the circus wasn't hiring that day.

“How do you spell 'parole violation'?” he asked. He struggled with the application form, trying to puzzle out the unfamiliar words and phrases. I felt sorry for him and helped as best I could. I even looked up the courthouse number in Willy's phone book. He finally completed the form, signed it in big block letters, and went over to the counter. I figured Willie probably wouldn't read it.

“How are you gonna get to work?” Willy asked. “Your brother lives at the other end of the county so you won't be able to ride with him.”

Staring Guy looked dumbfounded. “I don't have a car. I don't even have a driver's license.”

“You could ride a bicycle to work, “ I offered. “That's what I do most days and it works out OK.”

Willy and the Staring Guy stood absolutely still with their mouths hanging open. I'd just spoken heresy in a car shop, a major sin too awful to contemplate or discuss even in the less-than-polite society encompassed by the garage.

The mummy's eyes flew open and he rose from the chair, walking quickly toward the men's room with that Styrofoam cup still in his hand. He didn't spill a drop even while giving me a baleful glare, a look so filled with malice I was taken aback.

“Oh, no, we woke Dad up.” Willie moaned.

“You mean you're not....” My voice trailed off.

“No, I'm not Big Willy. That's Dad. I'm Little Willy.”

The toilet flushed and Big Willy stepped back into the room. The glare seemed to be permanently attached to his face and he turned it on me again full force. “You're one o' them bah-cyclists.” He fairly spat the words out. “We don't like bah-cyclists.” He settled down into a chair, one further away from me, and apparently returned to his near-death state.

Staring Guy didn't say a word. He too sat in a chair as far away as possible and fixed unblinking eyes on the television set.

Moments later, Little Willy said, “Your Blazer is ready. I'll get the keys.”

I paid for the tires and was on my way shortly. The Ford needs new tires too, but I'll pass on taking it to Big Willy's.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Copenhagen Cycle Tracks: Part 2

True believers among the facilities crowd are more easily swayed by emotion rather than logic and statistics. Fear sells bike lanes. Fear pays the bills at some so-called bicycle advocacy organizations. Fear makes people focus on the perceived threat and it makes them ignore contradictory information. In all honesty, I don't know how to adequately address those fears and counteract their emotional impact via the written word. The very best illustration of the practicality of vehicular cycling and the best antidote to misdirected fear is a simple demonstration ride. Obviously, we can't do that here. So all I can offer is logic, statistics, and truth.

Some people get irate when their sacred cow gets gored. And their insistence that we need Copenhagen-style bicycle facilities is a particularly stubborn sacred cow desperately in need of killin'.

I've written previously that there are other factors at work in making Copenhagen (or San Francisco, for that matter) a cycling city where bicyclists enjoy a larger mode share of transportation. Economics plays a big role in the development of utility cycling, as does housing density and urban development. Motor vehicles are relatively more expensive in the EEC mainly due to VAT taxes. Income taxes are onerous by US standards. Not surprisingly, outside the urban core where development is less dense (think – more like a typical American city) there are fewer cyclists. It's a fallacy to think that we could overlay a Copenhagen style cycling system atop one of our cities.

It's bad public policy to enhance safety for one road user while degrading it for another. That's especially true for those pedestrians entering or exiting buses in Copenhagen who have cyclists riding between them and the sidewalk. Their accident rates increased by 1951% and injuries increased by 1762%.

The chart shows that every category of accident and injury increased well above the rate for the increase in cyclists, except for same direction car/cyclist crashes, left turning cyclists, and parked car/cyclist crashes. There's also an increase in the number of crashes between illegally parked cars and cyclists. So despite the insistence than increased numbers of riders led to a proportionate decrease in accidents and injuries, this chart shows the opposite to be true.

Regardless, I believe that on an individual basis, the benefits we receive from cycling in terms of better mental and physical well-being more than offset any risks we face in the street. Since my feet are firmly planted in the reality-based community, I also believe that we should pursue facts and truth rather than fear-mongering.

The construction of cycle tracks has resulted in an 18-20% increase in cycle/moped traffic

...The increase in injuries due to the construction of cycle tracks arises because there are more injuries to pedestrians, cyclists and moped riders at junctions. There has been an increase of 28%, 22% and 37% respectively for these three road user groups.

From Table 1

car against c/m in the same direction

-63 % accidents

-68 % injuries

c/m against c/m in the same direction

+120 % accidents

+201 % injuries

car against right-turning car

+70 % accidents

+177 % injuries

right-turning car against c/m

+129 % accidents

+161 % injuries

right-turning car against pedestrian

+77 % accidents

+84 % injuries

left-turning car against c/m

+48 % accidents

+61 % injuries

left-turning c/m

-41 % accidents

-45 % injuries

c/m against parked car

-38 % accidents

-56 % injuries

entering and exiting bus passengers

+1951 % accidents

+1762 % injuries

c/m against pedestrians

+88 % accidents

+63 % injuries

c/m = cyclists and moped riders, with about 90% cyclists

People who ignore statistics have a 65% better chance of becoming another data point themselves. (I just made that up!) Statistics can be regarded another way - as a version of common sense or shared experience. They tell us what works and what doesn't. Statistics indicate that intersections are responsible for a greater number of car/bicycle collisions than the mid block area. So pay attention at intersections! Duh. Likewise, while car/bicycle collisions are disproportionately responsible for deaths, simple falls are the major cause of cycling injuries. That's another way of saying we're more at risk of a fall than a collision, so maybe instead of focusing on motor vehicle collisions, we should devote more attention to road conditions that cause falls.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Purina Bachelor Chow...

(Image from REDACTED)

Apparently the folks at M****8Spit don't approve of my use of their image. That's fine. If I inadvertently sent some traffic their way by including a link to their page, I apologize for that, too.

Found via who observed, "I note for reference that the Guaranteed Analysis covers eight components, three of which are described as "crude." Yep."

Ya know, this is one of those products that can greatly simplify a guy's life. Rather than decide between re-heating leftover Chinese in the microwave, popping another frozen pizza in the microwave, or calling in an order for more boring Mexican take out, he can just sit down in front of the television with a wholesome bag of Purina Bachelor Chow and a refreshing beer. No muss, no fuss, and certainly no dishes to wash! Whatta deal!

I think Rita Rudner said that all men wanted from life was sex, food, and a warm, dry place to sleep. "And then I realized - that's all my dog wanted from life too."

They could market this stuff to cyclists with some minor changes. "New! Improved Purina Bachelor Chow Endurance Formula with added Epo flavor!"

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008


(Image from Double Speak)

Mary and I were wandering through a local discount store earlier today. I was looking for cheap tools, electronic adapters, and some cooking stuff for Lyndsay. I found a nice bamboo cutting board for five bucks. An aisle or two away, a mother tried to herd three small children while she shopped. The kids were probably bored and they were getting a little rambunctious. Then I heard this.


It was loud enough to be heard throughout the store.

"MOM! SHE FARTED REAL LOUD -- LIKE THIS!" The kid blew out a long withering raspberry. "AND IT REALLY STINKS!"

Mom said, "Come on, we're leaving." She tried to round up the kids and get them moving, but junior was not to be deterred. He recognized an outstanding opportunity when he saw it.


Hanna, meanwhile, had managed to remove both of her shoes, neither of which could be seen anywhere nearby. She was obviously determined to remove her socks too, but they weren't being very cooperative.


Mom had had enough. She scooped up each kid, one by one, dropped them into a shopping cart, and wheeled them out the door as quickly as possible. A lone sock lay forlornly in the aisle. It's doubtful that Hanna and her shoes were re-united.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Obama and cyclists...

(Image from Ecorazzi)

I'll be honest with you. I don't know if Obama would make a good president or not, but I just had to use that photo. The wide-eyed joy and the little girl's laughter (his daughter?) are wonderfully loopy and infectious. We really need to ask him more questions - the REALLY important ones. Campy or Shimano? Road or mountain? Shaved legs or....well...maybe not.

From Ecorazzi...

As election time nears, those adorable, little presidential candidates put on their sparring gear and battle it out for the chance to be the next big cheese....the political hopefuls bat their eyes and shake their tush for the sake of each individual vote.

...But, who da thunk that the “cycler” vote was so darn weighty. According to C.I.C.L.E. (Cyclists Inciting Change Thru Live Exchange), the Portland bicycle community has discovered a quote from Barack Obama showing his support for cycling and mass transit. So far, Obama is “the only one of the Democratic presidential candidates who explicitly encourages bicycle transportation in his platform.”


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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Copenhagen Cycling: Not what it seems...

(Image of Copenhagen vehicle use from BlogNetNews 17May2007)

Patrick McManus says in “The Deer on a Bicycle” that he realized writing humor was easier and more remunerative than doing journalism. He dashed off a bit of comedy in an hour and it paid the same as a well-researched serious piece. Now, here on CycleDog, remuneration or writing for money is a non-issue. But I have to agree that serious writing takes far more time and care. Comedy is easy and I'm fundamentally lazy, so you can understand the undeniable attraction of trying to write humor.

With that said, please understand that the following is decidedly not humor and it took more time than I care to admit. Still, it's good information and I'm happy to share it with all of you...Ed

Many people equate 'bicycle friendly' with a network of bike lanes, paths, or cycle tracks. Sadly, even our own League of American Bicyclists seems to view this as a necessary criteria for conferring BFC status. Cyclists and cycling organizations are loathe to re-examine their underlying assumptions regarding such facilities, and when a study appears which contradicts their cherished assumptions, that study is ignored. Many facilities advocates point to Copenhagen as a Mecca for cyclists and a model for their idea of a modern city that embraces the concepts of multi-modal transportation. Yet this study, a longitudinal examination of crashes both before and after the installation of cycle tracks (Cycle tracks are separated from the roadway and raised slightly above it. Pedestrian sidewalks are then slightly raised above the cycle track.) indicates that such facilities increase the risks to cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists.

Also, I believe that it's desirable to understand the history of the conflicts over bikeways ( I use bikeways in its generic sense that encompasses all types of bicycle facililties) if only to avoid the mistakes made in the past. To that end, I've appended Wikipedia material that outlines some history and discusses the issues in a balanced format. But make no mistake, even the Wikipedia entry says that adding bicycle facilities to roadways increases the number of crashes at intersections. This is well established and references to it go back nearly 60 years.

(From Wikipedia on segregated cycling facilities)

The issue of the safety of segregated cycling facilities has been one of extreme controversy since the 1930s. Since then, the established cycling lobby in the UK and Ireland has taken a critical and measured view of their utility and value[14]. In 1947, in response to official suggestions that cyclists should use cycle-tracks, the CTC adopted a motion expressing determined opposition to cycle paths alongside public roads.[5] In 2007, official claims of safety for cycle tracks provoked a position paper from the umbrella body for UK cyclists' groups stating "Cycle Campaign Network knows of no evidence that cycle facilities and in particular cycle lanes, generally lead to safer conditions for cycling" [15] On the other hand, the proponents of segregated cycling facilities frequently proclaim them as being necessary to the provision of a "safe" cycling environment. However, in many cases their proponents have no established interest or expertise in cycling promotion and may include representatives of various interests such as the motoring/roads lobbies (including automobile clubs), traffic engineers, the environmental lobby, political parties, the health sector etc. In contrast to such claims, reviews of the international literature suggest a predominant finding associating the use of roadside urban segregated cycle paths with increases, some significant, in the rate and severity of car/bicycle collisions [16]. The argument has two sides involving both direct and indirect safety.

Marin county in California did a study that found a 66 percent increase in cycling between 1999 and 2007. The method employed was to simply count the number cyclists riding through a given point over a 2 hour period. (SEE NTTP COUNTY SURVEY REPORT ) I have to wonder if all conditions were controlled, that is, were the surveys conducted in similar wind and weather conditions both in 1999 and 2007. The study does not address this. As an exercise, I loaded the data from Table B-2 into a spreadsheet and removed suspect data that indicated very low counts. The outcome did not substantially change.

66 percent increase in bicycling during commute hour

Mark Prado and Brad Breithaupt

Article Launched: 01/05/2008 11:25:31 PM PST

A county study shows more people are rolling around on bikes these days.

As part of Marin's $25 million federal pilot bike plan, the county took a count of local bicycle and pedestrian trips to create a baseline from which to judge the program.

Overall, there has been a 66 percent increase in weekday commute-hour bicycle traffic and a 33 percent rise in weekend riding, when compared with a similar count conducted in 1999.

Evaluation should always be part of the analysis of the success or failure of any program. There's always the danger of falling into a fallacious argument, one that many facilities advocates make routinely, and that's a post hoc ergo propter hoc argument. The assumption is that if one thing preceded another in time, the first one caused the other. In the case of the Marin study, the increase in bicycle traffic could just as easily be attributed to increases in population, changing economic conditions, or variations in the weather. The linkage is unknown, therefore basing public policy and public spending on dubious information may be a waste of resources.

Allow me to expand on statistics for a moment. If we did a study of the number of cyclists going through a given intersection, it's obvious that time of day, the season of the year, and the weather conditions are going to have a large impact on our observations. Likewise, it's important to have as large a sample as possible because we need to know how how much variability is present. For instance, if we observed an average of 50 cyclists per day over a 30 day period, and that number varied plus or minus 10%, we could be confident of that count. However, if we established that our 50 cyclist average was based on numbers ranging from zero to one hundred, we could not be confident that any one-day count would accurately reflect the average.

Now, before you start thinking I'm splitting hairs over this, consider that it takes a huge amount of money to do an in-depth study over time. A simple traffic count is much simpler. But when we're proposing to use this information for planning, and that planning involves spending large sums of public money, it behooves us to see that the studies are solidly based.


This is a summary of two reports (here and here) on before and after observations of newly installed cycle tracks in Copenhagen. For those unacquainted with the cycle track concept, it's a bicycle lane physically separated from the motor vehicle portion of a roadway. The separation may be a raised curbing or the cycle track itself may be slightly raised above the road.

Some interesting parts of this study include the compilation of crash statistics for the same roadways and intersections both before and after the installation of cycle tracks. This is the reality of cycling safety – cold, hard numbers. But they went further and asked cyclists for their beliefs about their safety, and found that the installation of cycle tracks boosted cyclist's perceived safety, while in reality road safety deteriorated.

There's a risk of overgeneralizing in stating that this is often the case. Local governments and cycling organizations have a vested interest in touting the increase in cycling along newly installed bikeways, while ignoring whether those cyclists were attracted from nearby streets. The Copenhagen study, on the other hand, looked at existing streets and intersections over a long period, and had the advantage of a mature cycling population, one accustomed to daily bicycle use for transportation.

The construction of cycle tracks has resulted in a slight drop in the total number of accidents and injuries on the road sections between junctions of 10% and 4% respectively. At junctions on the other hand, the number of accidents and injuries has risen significantly, by 18%. A decline in road safety at junctions has undoubtedly taken place after the construction of cycle tracks. If the figures for the road sections are combined with those for the junctions, an increase of 9-10% in accidents and injuries has taken place.”

....The increase in injuries due to the construction of cycle tracks arises because there are more injuries to pedestrians, cyclists and moped riders at junctions. There has been an increase of 28%, 22% and 37% respectively for these three road user groups.

The increase in injuries to women was 18%, whereas there was only a small rise in injuries to men, just 1%. The increase in injuries is especially large among females under 20 years of age on foot and bicycle, as well as female pedestrians over the age of 64. On the other hand, there was a considerable fall in injuries among older cyclists and children in cars of both sex.

...From table 1, it can be deduced that the construction of cycle tracks has resulted in three important gains in road safety: fewer accidents in which cars hit or ran over cyclists from the rear, fewer accidents with cyclists turning left and fewer accidents in which cyclists rode into a parked car. These gains were more than outweighed by new safety problems: more accidents in which cyclists rode into other cyclists often when overtaking, more accidents with cars turning right, more accidents in which cars turning left drove into cyclists as well as more accidents between cyclists and pedestrians and exiting or entering bus passengers.

One aspect of the Copenhagen study revolves around questions it doesn't answer. Actually, that's always part of the process. As one question is answered, it leads to another. Why does the installation of cycle paths lead to increased crashes? Could it be that they attract unskilled riders who presumably learn to avoid some of the more critical errors over time? This question is unanswered. As far as I'm aware, there are no long-term studies of crash rates related to cycling facilities over a period of years. I could be wrong about that, so if anyone is aware of such a study, please note it in the comments.

Eliminating parking to install cycle tracks forced motorists to side streets, thereby increasing the numbers of cars turning at any given intersection and increasing the number of collisions between cars, pedestrians, and cyclists as an unintended consequence. Illegally parked cars increased the crash rate further.

The construction of cycle lanes has resulted in an increase in accidents of 5% and 15% more injuries. These increases are not statistically significant.

Yet page 1 says "The amount of data is enormous with more than 8,500 accidents, 1,500 traffic counts and 1,000 interviews investigated and many results are therefore statistically significant." With a sample that large, it's difficult to dismiss the above increases as not statistically significant. Page 2 says "A decline in road safety at junctions has undoubtedly taken place after the construction of cycle tracks. If the figures for the road sections are combined with those for the junctions, an increase of 9-10% in accidents and injuries has taken place." It cannot be both ways. Either crashes declined or they increased. They cannot do both.

(Perceived Risk)

Cyclists feel most secure on roads with cycle tracks and most at risk on roads with mixed traffic. This is true for all cyclists, irrespective of their gender, age, purpose in cycling or familiarity with their route. Figure 3 shows that conditions in mixed traffic create considerably more feelings of risk than conditions on cycle tracks or cycle lanes. Cycle lanes are a middle path so to speak: somewhat less secure than cycle tracks, but considerably more secure and satisfactory than mixed traffic. Increased car traffic leads incidentally to cyclists feeling more at risk.

...increase in entering/exiting bus passengers (where cyclist pass in a lane or cycle track to the right of the bus stop) +1951% for accidents and +1762% for injuries (presumably all types, including both cyclists and pedestrians)

62% of cyclists in the current study on cyclists’ perceived risk answered that in general they feel secure in the traffic of Copenhagen. This is close to the result of the Bicycle Accounts of the Municipality of Copenhagen of 2004, where 58% of cyclists said that they felt safe when cycling in Copenhagen. This figure can be compared to the fact that 87% feel secure on roads with cycle tracks and 86% feel secure at signalised junctions with advanced cycle tracks and blue cycle crossings.

Taken in combination, the cycle tracks and lanes which have been constructed have had positive results as far as traffic volumes and feelings of security go. They have however, had negative effects on road safety. The radical effects on traffic volumes resulting from the construction of cycle tracks will undoubtedly result in gains in health from increased physical activity. These gains are much, much greater than the losses in health resulting from a slight decline in road safety.

While it's probably true that increased physical activity and the accompanying health gains offset the documented decrease in road safety, there is nothing in this report to support such a claim. Making an unsubstantiated claim is highly dubious conclusion in the absence of any supporting documentation. This highlights the fallacy of facilities advocacy, insisting that decreased safety has a positive overall impact. Why not inform people that riding in traffic is both safer and more beneficial to one's health? This report shows that cycle tracks and cycle lanes are merely 'feel good' measures.

How can we use this information? Bike lane apologists will dismiss it out of hand because it does not fit into their carefully defined views. It's hard to argue with a closed mind. But as good citizens and good advocates for cyclists, and firmly believing that we should empower individuals, it's imperative that we insist that these statistics illustrating the fallacy of constructing separated facilities be included in any discussion regarding their construction. Doing so is a service to all bicyclists as well as an exercise in good citizenship. I do not want to see my community building something that reduces road safety and ultimately results in a greater number of injuries.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

INCOG Bicycling Advisory Group Meeting

"We're gettin' the band back together, man."

Yesterday, we had the first meeting of the new Indian Nations Council of Governments bicycle advisory group. Since this was the preliminary meeting, it included introductions and a brief discussion of goals and brought us up to date about on-going projects. This group may be meeting once a month, so there should be more to report shortly.


17JAN2008 1130A


Ed Wagner

Monica Barczak

Josh Gifford

David Darcey

Chris Zenthoefer (not present)

Tom Brown

Lisa Frankenberger

Patrick Fox

Mark Brown (not present)

Glen Sams (not present)

The Big Picture

The subcommittee is composed of people with diverse backgrounds in cycling. There are current and former racers, tourists, and commuters representing a variety of occupations.

We share a common goal – to get more people on their bikes in the Tulsa region – and we realize that the vast majority of existing cyclists are recreational riders rather than transportation cyclists. However, it's critical to recognize the impact of infrastructure, particularly traffic lights and bridges, when it comes to transportation riders. For a recreational cyclist, a road or bridge closure is a nuisance, but easily avoided. For a transportation cyclist, it can represent a major problem if it prevents riding to a destination like work. As the plan evolves, it must encompass the needs of all cyclists.

Naturally, we embrace the traditional five E's of bicycling advocacy: Education, Engineering, Enforcement, Encouragement, and Evaluation. We support the development of a comprehensive master bicycling plan, that includes elements from Complete Streets and Safe Routes to School.

The Nagging Little Details

It's easy to get bogged down in discussions about plan details. A perfect illustration: Patrick showed the group one of Portland's blue bike boxes, and we were sidetracked for a few minutes talking about it. Anyone familiar with the email advocacy groups will be aware of what I've called how-many-bicycling-advocates-can-dance-on-the-head-of-a-pin arguments. The people involved care passionately about their positions, but to the vast majority of readers, the discussion is a waste of time. Unfortunately, I'm one of those people who bite hard on such arguments.

(As an aside, be aware that I use the word 'argument' in its primary definition, a reasoned discussion. If I want the other kind of argument, the knock-down-drag-out kind, I need only say the wrong thing to my spouse.)

Monica yanked us back from that fruitless pursuit and I thanked her for it. For the present, we need to focus on that big picture up above and use it to set our goals, then develop a plan to reach those goals. The plan is a series of steps, some interlinked and some independent, almost like a road map. And the nagging little details are the individual steps necessary to achieve those goals.

Some of those steps may include:

Public service announcements modeling safe and proper bicycle use, both from a cyclist's viewpoint and that of a motorist.

Funding for BikeEd in an effort to reach school children, adult cyclists, and motorists.

Include knowledgeable cyclists in street planning as a normal part of the process.

Efforts to change building codes to incorporate bicycle parking.

Encouraging employers to promote bicycle commuting.

Promoting Bike To Work events.

Comprehensive Bicycling Master Plan, a larger document that includes the Trails Master Plan and much more.

Most of that list is nothing new, but they are popular efforts that have met with some success. As always, the devil is in the details. Another way to phrase that is the large print giveth and the small print taketh away. A plan can have glowing, laudable goals, yet if it lacks supporting details, it will never come to fruition.

Trail Projects and Updates

The locally infamous 'FEMA' bridge project over Little Haikey Creek should start moving dirt this month. The bridge was backordered. It's a pre-fabricated construction.

The Mingo Valley Trail is in negotiations with ODOT over bridge placement at 71st Street.

The Osage Prairie Trail Extension is looking for funding to continue trail construction north of Skiatook. Ultimately, the plan is to extend it to Barnsdahl, or if possible, Pawhuska.

The River Park Trail will be re-located west of the Creek Nation Casino, possibly funded by the Creek Nation. An astounding information tidbit – the new dual trail costs $290 per linear foot!

2007 Enhancement Grant Awards

South River Parks Extension

Fry Ditch Creek Trail (Bixby)

Mingo Valley (Admiral to I-244)

Osage Trail Trailhead (Skiatook)

Sand Springs, Visual Detection

A word about Sand Springs – the city is looking to attain LAB Bicycle Friendly City status.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Silly season usually arrives in August...

You've probably heard by now that the state of Iowa wants to charge a license fee for bicyclists. It would cost $10 and be good for 5 years. The idea is that since us pesky cyclists use the roads, we should help pay for them.

Here are my sources:

The Iowa transportation budget for 2006 was $1.1 billion.

Iowa's population is almost 3 million.

The US population is almost 300 million.

The number of US cyclists is 57 million.

The estimated number of cyclists in Iowa is 570,000, assuming it's proportional to the US figures.

If a license costs $10/yr, that's $5.7 million, but spread over 5 years it amounts to $1.14 million/yr, or roughly one tenth of one percent of the transportation budget.

A multi-use trail costs about $1 million per mile to construct. Iowa's proposed license fee, therefore, would purchase a little over one mile of new multi-use trail each year.

It's likely that this idea grew out of the push to exempt county governments from suits over hazardous road conditions. If that's the case, perhaps they should erect signs like this one at the state line.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008



(Image from Jupiter Images)

I'm no less a traffic whore than Fritz over on Cycle-licious! See Cute Kittens on Bicycles.

But you should understand this - I'm married to a Crazy Cat Lady. There's a variable population (poopulation?) of domesticated and feral cats who show up on our doorstep looking for a meal. Usually, they get fed first. My dinner can wait. If anything ever happens to me, she'll turn into one of those mad women with 75 cats running around the house. For that matter, she just might put my body out on the porch so I can feed them more directly.

Now, if you're wondering about the kitty pidgin under the photo, it's from a website that 'translates' English to LOLcat. I enjoy playing with some of these sites.


Sick, ain't it? K, thaz enuf shameles traffic mongerin 4 todai.

Still, who could refuse a wholesome, Hello Kitty knock-off image?

(Image from Tech Digest, and yes, it is indeed a keyboard bra.)

Friday, January 11, 2008

'Reckless' cyclist fined $1,050...

I'd like to know more about this one. Cornish was convicted of reckless driving. Officer George Evans said that motorists had to slow down to avoid hitting him. Much is left unsaid here. Was Cornish running a red light? Was he weaving? Or is it somehow illegal to force motorists to slow down? Please take a look at this video.

If anyone finds more on this, I'd like to hear about it. Don't expect the local bicycle advocates or LAB to get involved. Cornish is a black guy riding a bicycle to work and back, not a Lycra-clad 'real' cyclist. I'll set up another news alert in Google on this.

One bike and $1,050 fine

Newport News - Kajuan Cornish, 19, ran afoul of the General Assembly's controversial abusive driver fees Thursday, when he was convicted of reckless driving in Newport News traffic court.

The conviction for crossing over Warwick Boulevard during afternoon rush hour triggered more than $1,050 in fees under a program designed to raise money to pay for highway maintenance.

Cornish got the ticket while steering his 18-speed Huffy bicycle back to work.

...Some local lawmakers said Cornish's predicament underscored two big flaws with the abusive driver program: Lawmakers don't want to charge the fees — which run as high as $3,000 for the most egregious offenses — on smaller infractions.

Also, it would be extremely difficult to collect the money from Cornish.

...But according to the Newport News code and the police officer who wrote up Cornish, every vehicle on the road has to follow established traffic laws.

Officer George Evans said that when Cornish crossed Warwick south of Denbigh Boulevard, drivers had to slow down to avoid hitting him — a fact that Cornish disputes.

Either way, Evans said, he would have written a warning. "If he gets hit, then we have a mess," he said. "It was a major violation right in front of us."

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Sometime earlier today, the CycleDog hit counter turned over 100,000!

Yes, it's a small thing, but remember that I'm an escapee from the Home for the Easily Amused.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Comtemplating heresy...

(My garage almost looks like this!)

I have to admit this directly. I've been looking at mountain bikes. It's shameful, I know, but there's a certain appeal to a clunky, heavy, low-geared MTB as a commuter bike and all around basher. I've always been a dyed-in-the-wool-jersey guy (and I stole that phrase from Tim 'Masi Guy' Jackson. Remember, always steal the best) and I've always been on some sort of road bike for commuting. Oh, there was a brief affair with a cheap mountain bike about 20 years ago, but it passed quickly.

It's my knee, you know. It feels like there's a football inside it now and then. And I haven't been on any bike since Thanksgiving. I'm going a bit crazy. Which should explain the delusional ideation regarding mountain bikes. Maybe there's some kind of anti-psychotic drug I could take, or maybe a couple shots of brandy will do it.

Actually, there's a 40 hole rim out in the garage waiting to be laced up onto a Sturmey Archer 3-speed hub. That could occupy some of my time and nervous energy. Then again, I could just clean out the garage.

On another subject - if you look at the bottom of the page, there's a nice little hit counter. Sometime soon, perhaps Friday or Saturday, it will turn over the 100,000 mark. That's right, one hundred thousand hits! I'm clearly not a prolific writer, but in all honesty, it's humbling to realize how many people read CycleDog. My ego could get all swolled up, but there's no better target than an oversized ego here in the CycleDog ranchero.

Seriously, thanks for reading, and if you happen to be the lucky 100,000th can help me clean out the garage.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Wednesday Musette

(Image from

A new Aldi's opened a few weeks ago just around the corner from our house. Mary needed some dishwasher soap, so while we were out running errands, we stopped there for a box. Big mistake. Sure, the stuff is cheap, but if it doesn't actually clean dishes, what good is it? We were not impressed. The store doesn't take any form of plastic, not even debit cards, nor do they accept checks. Low, low discount prices and non-existent customer service. What's not to love?

I expect it will be another vacant store front within a year.

(Image of Fat Boy from

I know you'll think this is outrageous, but my wife thinks I'm stupid. Not merely stupid about women this time, but utterly witless and without a shred of common sense.

She was telling Lyndsay an ancient tale about baby sitting back when she was a teenager, probably in Bedrock for Wilma Flintstone. It was a girls night out, and when they finally returned at 3AM, the girls were loaded. They'd gone to see the Chippendales and they were perhaps overly enthusiastic.

Mary said she'd never seen them.

I stopped her right there. “Honey, if that's what you want, I'll just take off my shirt and start dancing around the kitchen!” I wouldn't want her to be disappointed.

Mary and Lyndsay started laughing. Lyndsay had to lean on the counter top. Mary laughed so hard she hyperventilated and had to go sit down quickly.

They never take me seriously.

(Image of snoring Lego Man from

Another thing about me that anyone within earshot should know – I snore. Oh, it's not a little purr of contentment, or even a light sawing noise. Nope, I snore loud enough to rattle the windows and convince the neighbors there's a maniac loose with a chainsaw in their back yard. I'm LOUD!

I once woke up in my armchair to find two neighbor's kids looking in through the window, wondering aloud what was making that awful racket.

Needless to say, my spousal unit is less than pleased with the noise some nights. For that matter, so are the kids since I'm perfectly audible from their rooms.

I can fall asleep easily too, something that my body learned to do when I worked the midnight shift for a few years. I just have to stop moving, close my eyes, and in a few minutes I'll be out. I can even sleep sitting upright, a feat that greatly embarrassed Mary when I fell asleep on an airliner and snored loud enough that people several rows away were looking around for the source of the noise.

So it's probably not too surprising to know that when I'm rasping away in bed and She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed is trying to fall asleep, I get kicked or punched once in a while. Well, there was that time she held a pillow over my face because she'd had only 45 minutes of sleep, but sleep deprivation does tend to make people a little testy.

Yesterday I told her I was going to the pharmacy to get some Breathe Right strips or some of those tongue strips that are supposed to prevent snoring. My thoughts on this were two-fold. First, I could avoid another night of interrupted sleep as she thumped me, kicked me, or shook me awake again. And second, Mary could get a good night's sleep too. (I'm not entirely selfish, after all.) I was getting my keys when she asked what I was doing, so I explained about the Breathe Right strips, etc.

“Oh, no,” she said, “you don't need to do that.”

“Honey, I know it bothers you, so I really don't mind trying these things.”

“It's not that,” she replied. “I just kinda like kicking you.”

Today she said. "You didn't snore last night. It made me sad."

No wonder I hurt some mornings.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

More on Matthew Parris...

QuickreleaseTV has this:

The infamous ‘kill all cyclists’ piece by Matthew Parris has now had a stonking 430+ complaints, many filed online on this easy peasy form.

In 2007 the most complained about story had 480 complaints to the Press Complaints Commission. The second generated 180 complaints and the third had only 40 complaints.

So, it looks like the Matthew Parris column could be an early winner of 2008’s ‘most objectionable story’ booby-prize.

It’s also well on the way to becoming the most objectionable story ever. Stephen Abell, the PCC’s assistant director told

“We don’t have the precise statistics for the last 16 years of the PCC’s history. However, we think that 480 is probably the highest ever.”

There's this to consider, also from the UK:


Jailed for writing a poem
By Liz Smith
On December 6, Samina Malik, a 23-year-old from Southall, West London, became the first woman in the UK to be sentenced under the Terrorism Act 2000. Malik was sentenced to nine months, suspended for 18 months, with the condition that she be supervised for the whole period and undertake unpaid work. She has already spent five months in custody and one month under house arrest after her conviction.

...The jury was told that Malik, who dubbed herself the "Lyrical terrorist," had written "extremist poems" praising Osama Bin Laden, in support of martyrdom and beheading.

One of her poems, "How to behead", was extensively quoted in the media and used by the prosecution to arouse a sense of repugnance in the jury. It states, "It's not as messy or as hard as some may think/It's all about the flow of the wrist. No doubt that the punk will twitch and scream/But ignore the donkey's ass/And continue to slice back and forth/You'll feel the knife hit the wind and food pipe/But don't stop/Continue with all your might."

Terrorism: the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion (Merriam-Webster).

Funny, isn't it? Both Matthew Parris and Samina Malik advocated beheading. Mr. Parris apologized for his inappropriate attempt at humor, and Ms. Malik is now a convicted felon. Methinks he got off too lightly.

But then again, I'm an unforgiving bastard.

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Huffy vs. Hummer...continued

Today's debate is whether cyclists should pay their 'fair share' to use the roads.

Showing cyclists the money

Last year, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said that building bike lanes and paths isn't a good use of federal transportation dollars. Is she correct? Cyclists Randal O’Toole and Will Campbell continue their debate.


I think this one is an old, tiresome argument. Motorists often insist that cyclists should pay something toward road use, and I have to assume that the underlying idea is to make riding a bicycle an expensive, onerous experience - just like owning and driving a car - so some cyclists would be inclined to give up two-wheeled transportation. Mandatory helmet laws have the same effect.

But I already pay taxes both for the fuel I purchase (yes, I do own and drive a car) and all those real estate and sales taxes, which support roads to a greater extent than fuel taxes. To my way of thinking, if a motorist objects to the way fuel taxes are spent, he can protest that by riding a bicycle. Pedestrians and horse-drawn vehicles have an equal right to our public roads as well. If you want to enact a tax on horses and affix a license plate to one, be my guest. I'll watch from a safe distance.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Gotta love it!

Boing-Boing has a piece on Pimp Star wheels. These are an improvement over those bladed affairs for bicycles. They allow you to send text and photos to all your wheels or each of them individually while you're driving! Imagine the highway fun inherent in playing with your computer, impressing drivers around you, and negotiating the roadway and traffic.

Can anyone deny these would lead to distracted driving?

But go watch the video anyway, if only for the girl in the Ferrari. I wonder if she'd be impressed by a Pimp Starred Bianchi?

"Huffy vs. Hummer"

Here's something interesting, a week-long debate between Will Campbell and Randal O'Toole about cycling in Los Angeles.

Today, local blogger Will Campbell and Cato Institute senior fellow Randal O'Toole determine who bears responsibility for the road rage between cyclists and motorists. Later in the week, they'll debate public funding for bike lanes and paths, cycling activism and more.


Who's to blame for road rage? That's easy - stupid people - regardless of their transportation mode. Honestly, you can ride like a complete moron, ignoring stop signs, riding on sidewalks, etc, and you'll piss people off. On the other hand, you can ride as a lawful, vehicular cyclist, and you'll piss people off. Screw 'em. Don't let someone else's rising blood pressure cause a similar rise in yours. Smile, wave, and use some language that would make a sailor blush.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Comfort Food...

During the winter, I crave those childhood comfort foods. Most all of it is 'big' carbs – lots of complex carbohydrates – like breads, rice, potatoes, and pasta. Maybe it has something to do with being inside the house with time on my hands. Maybe it has to do with that still-warm bread I had after school so many years ago. Regardless, I like that stick-to-your ribs food at this time of the year.

What started me thinking along this line was a discussion of Frito chili pie on a local list. I had never heard of it until I moved to Oklahoma. The idea of a pie shell filled with chili had a peculiar appeal, but that's not Frito chili pie. No, it's a pile of Fritos with chili and cheese served on top. I've had it once or twice, and while it's clearly good belly fodder, I know the fat and salt aren't especially good for a middle-aged guy. It goes well with cold beer, though.

Chili is a staple here in Ranchero CycleDog. We have it about once a week. There are some philosophical differences between the various cooks. I prefer chili with chunks of beef cut like stew meat. She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed and her understudy wrinkle their noses at this. They prefer ground beef. Since I'm generally not permitted to assist with the more technical aspects of the culinary art and have to content myself with peeling potatoes, making bread in the machine, and servicing the dishwasher, my preferences are given short consideration. On those rare occasions when I commandeer the stove for our nightly meal, the kids whine and moan, pleading with their mother to go out to a restaurant for dinner.

Chili gives me big-time heartburn, though, so I try to temper it with some other foods. I like having it with a couple of thick slices of homemade bread, but lately I've been ladling it over a plate of rice.

Oklahoma's traditional New Year's meal that's supposed to bring good luck is black-eyed peas and cornbread. Again, the culinary mavens in the Ranchero have declared corn bread persona non grata. “Ya ain't getting' none o that 'round here, cause we ain't makin' it!” There's something to be said for black-eyed peas served with jalapeno corn bread, and beer, of course.

(Image from Geekologie)

The nearest approach to that is Mary's ham and Lima beans served over thick slices of homemade bread. My Dad had way too much of that back during the Great Depression, and he wouldn't eat it. Mary starts the dried beans the night before and changes the water several times to reduce the sugars. She cooks them in chicken broth with carrots and seasonings. I have to be careful about eating too much, but we generally don't do this more than once a month.

One other weekly staple is chicken and dumplings. I don't have to worry about eating too much of it, because if I'm not quick enough, it's gone before I can get seconds. Number One Son likes it a lot!

I have the bad habit of eating when I'm bored, and lately I've been bored a lot. My right knee has been giving me problems over the last year, and I've been off the bike since Thanksgiving. At times, I've had difficulty walking due to the pain. Several people have asked if I've gone to see a doctor about it, but I'm not keen to do so. I'll take it easy for awhile. The problem with that is it's boring! Chomp, chomp, chomp. The big carbs aren't a help.

...and there's garlic bread rising in the bread machine as I write this.


Saturday, January 05, 2008

Lanterne Rouge

I didn't find this one in a cursory search of CycleDog posts, so I may be repeating myself, an occupational hazard of middle age. This was my column for October....Ed

Wheel Issues
October 2007

It was just a little hill as hills go in western Pennsylvania, not particularly steep or long. It was a nice fall day. I went out for a long ride and although I didn't specifically plan to spend a lot of energy on hill climbs, it's something unavoidable due to the terrain. The area was glaciated long ago, so the hilltops are wide and flat, with steep-walled valleys in between. The type of climb you do depends on both the terrain and the whim of PennDOT engineers. Oh, and let's not forget cows and goats. Some of the roads seem to follow old livestock trails. They're never flat or straight for more than a few yards.

I rode through a couple of glaciated valleys characterized by flat bottoms with a trout stream meandering side to side. They're usually easy climbs until the valley gets too narrow for the road. Then it would go straight up in a gut-buster climb. Think of it this way, you're climbing easily up a long valley when suddenly the road tilts up a wall. Your heart rate had been steady up to that point, but then it rockets into the stratosphere as your speed drops off.

There were a couple of climbs like that behind me. The temperature and humidity had been rising all day, and as I approached that last hill, the wind was starting to fade. It was going to be a broiler. On one side was a cow pasture. On the other, a mature hardwood forest. The combination made for sprint trainers in abundance — horse flies and deer flies.

Everyone in Oklahoma knows the common horse fly. They lurk in packs, waiting for an unwary cyclist. They're fond of landing on one's cycling shorts just above the saddle and they're quite capable of biting directly through the fabric. If you're riding in a group, other cyclists will pretend not to notice the voracious insect until you yelp. Remember this when you see a horsefly land on them.

(Image from

Deer flies are similar to horseflies, but they're smaller and they prefer exposed flesh and eyes. They'll buzz around your head driving you slowly insane while their buddies land on the back of your neck or your arms. One fisherman's trick is to put a white button on the back of a dark hat. Deer flies will land on it and leave your face alone.

The last hill was going to be a steady climb up to the state highway. From there it was a downhill run all the way home. The climb rose up from the valley floor at an angle across the slope. It was probably a wagon road at one time, because there was still a horse watering trough half way up where a spring crossed the road. I was out of water and the idea of refilling my bottles at the spring was very tempting, but there was the cow pasture to consider too. I passed. The breeze stopped, and I felt waves of heat rising up from the pavement. The humidity and lack of water made it worse. I was being slowly steamed to death.

That's when the flies pounced. It was almost like one of those cartoons where a swarm rises up, forms into an arrow, and attacks mercilessly. I could see dozens lined up behind me in a landing pattern. The deer flies were the fighter planes, swooping around my eyes and ears, distracting me from the lumbering attack of the horse flies landing on my back. I shook like a dog trying to dislodge them. They simply re-formed and attacked again. I dodged side to side on the road. It didn't help. The only way to shake them was to go faster. My legs and lungs burned. My head felt ready to explode.

I learned that maximum airspeed of an unladen horsefly is 15 mph, and I never rode up that hill again.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Decapitating cyclists - UPDATE

Parris' apology:

I offended many with my Christmas attack on cyclists. It was meant humorously but so many cyclists have taken it seriously that I plainly misjudged. I am sorry.


When I suggested that Mr. Parris be gut shot and left to die on a lonely country road, I intended it as humor too. Probably.

Someone told me once that women forgive but never forget, and men forget but never forgive. It may go a long way toward explaining the hair trigger temper some cyclists have. Basically, they're conditioned by long exposure to hostility just as a football lineman is similarly conditioned. They don't have to think or consider consequences. They merely react explosively as a result of hundreds or thousands of previous conflicts.

Mr. Parris initiated a hostile conflict and I had a visceral reaction that was as ritualistic and stylized as kabuki theater. I have to learn not to do that. Assholes like Parris will be with us always, and they'll always be assholes. I can do better.

My thanks to both Fritz and Dave Moulton for breaking this story.

For the insomniacs among us...

"The Federal Highway Administration has published in the Federal Register a Notice of Proposed Amendments (NPA) to the MUTCD. This NPA contains comprehensive revisions that are proposed for incorporation into the next edition of the MUTCD. A 7-month period is being provided for comments to the docket, which will close on July 31, 2008. To access the documents for review, select from the list below:"

You know, there's been many a night I've stayed up late reading a copy of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices by candlelight. Sometimes I've read passages aloud to my wife. It's far more romantic than, say, "Sonnets from the Portuguese" by Elizabeth Barret Browning. Lizzie didn't know squat about the placement of informational signage or lane control devices and their meanings.

On Chainguard, Wayne Pein posted this from Richard C. Moeur:

This webpage also has tips on posting comments to the docket and other useful info. Feel free to redistribute or forward as needed. Part 9 of the MUTCD is the section that deals specifically with bicycle facilities, although all the other Parts do affect bicyclists to varying degrees. New items proposed for Part 9 include: - Mode-Specific signs for skaters & other users - Revised numbered bicycle route marker signs & plaques - Reference Location Signs (Mileposts) for paths - Bicycle-specific direction & distance signing - Revision of Use of Bike Lane Signs - Shared Lane Markings - Bikes May Use Full Lane regulatory signs One more thing: references and citations to relevant research or studies can help increase the credibility of individual or organizational comments. The docket number is 28977, and comments are accepted at until Thursday, 31 July 2008.

Let the rulemaking fun begin!

Allow me to emphasize that sentence again - "...references and citations to relevant research or studies can help increase the credibility of individual or organizational comments."

LINK to Richard Moeur's website, with the MUTCD proposal organized a little differently. This webpage also has tips on posting comments to the docket and other useful info. Feel free to redistribute or forward as needed.