Monday, December 31, 2007

The cost of transportation

How much does your chosen mode of transportation cost?

I got the memo last Friday:

Effective January 1, 2008, the mileage reimbursement rate for the use of personal cars in conjunction with company business will be increased to 50.5¢ per mile, up from the current 48.5¢. The new rate is consistent with the maximum standard mileage rate currently authorized by the IRS.

Of course, the cost for using your car for personal business is about the same, but you don't get reimbursed. You just write out the checks... for gas, and for car payments, tires, repair expenses, parking, insurance, etc., etc.

DANG I'm glad I ride a bike!!! (No information from the IRS on bike expenses yet, for 2008. Must mean they are staying about the same.)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Bicycling 101 for Non-Cyclists

There's no denying it – a rift exists between motorists and cyclists. Motorists tend to see cyclists as obstacles and road hazards. Cyclists tend to view motor vehicles the same way.

Most cyclists – at least adult cyclists – know the motor vehicle traffic laws, because they have driver's licenses and drive cars. And that means at some point in time, they had to take the test.

But many motorists (and cyclists, too) seem to be ignorant of traffic laws as they pertain to bicycles and their riders. After all, many have either not ridden a bike since childhood, or they ride bikes recreationally, but steer clear of the roads. (Bicyclists who ride on the roads have no excuse for not knowing bicycle traffic laws!)

I've collected some driver statements and complaints about cyclists below. (Most were harvested from the local newspaper's forum-board; people commenting about bikes-in-the-news. Hopefully the anger and hostility on display isn't felt by the vast majority of road-going citizens.)

I've composed responses to many of them. Please note that I'm being very civil. And I hope common-sensical. (Traits that are absent in many online postings.) My only intention is to clear up misunderstandings about traffic laws, and hopefully help drivers understand the view of the world from the bike-saddle. I've also included some links to resources that might aid in shedding light.

Also note that my comments are based on Idaho's traffic laws. And laws tend to vary from place to place. (The laws of common sense are much more uniform than the statutory laws, however. If a behavior is totally stupid in Idaho, I bet it's equally stupid in Iowa, or New Jersey, or even Denmark.)

The statements and complaints of others are in yellow (copied exactly as posted); my responses are in white.

You might want to read it in its entirety, or you might just want to scroll down and look for the ones that you, too, may be confused on.

I would encourage feedback, particularly if you think I'm making mistakes. I would also be honored if you shared this with people you know, who might benefit.

Well… here we go.

It's a miracle that more bikers don't get killed, the way they ignore stop signs and blow through red lights.

If a cyclist "blows through" a stop sign or a red light and is involved in an accident, it will almost certainly be his fault.

In Idaho, a cyclist can "coast" through a stop sign, if it is safe to do so. He must yield to cross traffic. A cyclist is required to stop at a red light, but after coming to a complete stop, he may proceed cautiously after making sure the coast is clear.

"Why is it different for cyclists?" you ask.

There is some unusual common sense in play here. It's almost as though these variations were crafted by experienced bike riders!

In the case of stop signs… it is much easier to maintain momentum on a bicycle, than to build momentum from a complete stop. (It's easy in a car – you just step on the gas.)

In the case of traffic signals… many of them are triggered by a loop of metal embedded in the pavement – a low-tech metal detector. And often it isn't sensitive enough to detect a bicycle.

A conscientious cyclist will always wait for the light to turn, if there are also cars waiting. And will avoid "close call" intersection situations. (I don't want motorists, driving 4000-pound metal missiles, to resent my presence on the road!)

Link: Idaho State Code

IMPORTANT NOTE! Idaho's stoplight / stop sign rules are very unique; if you're elsewhere, please check your local rules. (And encourage your lawmakers to look at Idaho's rules… IMO, they are uncommonly sensible.)

It's hard to see these Bicycle riders when it's as dark as it is in the Morning. When a rider is dressed in dark clothes, makes them even harder to see.

I agree! A cyclist's survival depends on being seen.

A bicycle must legally have a headlight and a rear reflector, if it is operated in the dark. But common sense would dictate further precautions – several lights both front and rear, reflectors on all sides, light-colored and/or reflective apparel, etc.

When I'm riding, day or night, I always assume that if a motorist sees me, it's unlikely he'll run into me. If he doesn't see me… all bets are off.

Link: Idaho State Code

[This comment was posted in response to a story about a 14-year-old kid who got a ticket, after he got hit by a car while illegally crossing a street on his bike.] You have got to be kidding me!!! So being hit by a car isnt enough the police had to give him a ticket as well??

I was happy to see that the kid was ticketed. If you break the law, you should get a ticket. The prospect of getting a ticket should deter people from breaking the law.

Here in Boise, the police declare that bicycle violations "are not a priority enforcement issue." In other words, they tend to ignore bike violators, unless an accident is involved. Since there is little or no enforcement, there is rampant ignorance and violation of the laws. Which leads to resentment on the part of motorists.

Every morning, I see cyclists who think they own the road. That they are entitled to make me run someone-another car off the road because they want to ride in the street, though there is a sidewalk that is paved just for them!

The facts aren't on this commenter's side. Bicycles are legally entitled to use the road, not only in Idaho, but in all 50 states. Furthermore, sidewalk riding is either illegal or discouraged in most places, because of its inherent dangers.

Most states have a law that says something like this: A bicyclist "should ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except when passing, or preparing for a left turn, or avoiding hazards."

Boise's law further clarifies that "Every person operating a bicycle upon a two-way roadway shall be entitled to use the right-hand lane and shall proceed in the same direction of travel as other vehicles in that lane. On one-way roadways a bicycle may be operated in any existing lane."

How about sidewalks? Aren't they safer than the roads?

In Idaho, cyclists by law must behave like pedestrians if they are on the sidewalk.

There is some danger of bike-pedestrian collisions – and non-cyclists tend to think such a danger is much more benign than the danger of a bike-car collision. And they are right.

The danger in sidewalk-riding is the increased likelihood of a bike-car collision. At every intersection, curb-cut into a parking lot, etc., etc., a sidewalk-rider is potentially conflicting with a motorist. Frequently neither the cyclist nor the motorist is anticipating a conflict, or watching for it. Pedestrians move substantially slower than cyclists, and are much less likely to move into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

(Riding a bicycle against traffic sets up similar conflicts; thus it is illegal. Sidewalk-riding is illegal in many places, but not anywhere in the Boise area, far as I know.)

Links: Idaho State Code; Re: Sidewalks

Yes, cyclists have a right to ride on the road. However, there are some cyclists who ride 2 or 3 abreast and invariably invade into the normal car's zone.

There is an amazing amount of hostility regarding 2-abreast riders. I rarely ride with other people, so I'm confident I'm not contributing to the hostility. And - I wish that whoever is would knock it off!

What does the law say about riding two abreast?

Actually, in Idaho it's legal. But not more than two abreast. And "shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic."

Some bike-snobs seem to interpret that differently than I do. If you're riding 2-up and holding up traffic, you are being very poor ambassadors for transportation cyclists, even if you're within the law. Knock it off, you jackasses! (Pardon my French…)

Link: Idaho State Code

I have no problem with cyclists sharing the road, as long as they follow the rules. Like, pull over when you back traffic up. If you are in a car, you can't hold up traffic (though, it seems to be rarely enforced).
I am a driver. I am not into riding bikes, but as a kid, I used to love it, so I understand the love of riding bikes. What I hate, are the morons that won't let cars pass. I KNOW technically, they have the same rights... but they can, and do hold up traffic. THANKFULLY those morons, are very few, and far between, but they REALLY give all other cyclists a REALLY bad name. (and there is nothing like going 50mph down a country road, and come up a rise, and find 3 bike riders abrest, all the sudden).

I liked that comment. It had a sympathetic tone to it, while simultaneously doing a good job of pointing out the frustrations many motorists feel.

I bet if he (she?) tried riding bikes as an adult, he would discover that it's just as fun as when he was a kid!

I hope that when he says "pull over when you back traffic up," he means "keep to the right." I'll stay as far to the right as I can, but I won't get off the road and stop and wait for the traffic to go by. (If I'm riding as far to the right as I safely can, it's rare to delay even one car for more than a few seconds.)

I sure would like to see the statistics that supposedly indicate that it is safer for a bike rider to be riding on the street rather then the sidewalk. I have yet to read a report of a bike rider dying as a result of a collision with a pedestrian. Perhaps if bike riders belong on the street they should be subject to the same laws vehicles must adhere to such as headlights,stop lights ,turn signal lights etc. Also they should be required to travel the speed limit within reason as any motor vehicle. Also they should contibute to the cost of roads by purchasing license plates and be required to obtain drivers licenses as well as liability insurance.

That comment was made by a poster with the handle "Dann."

I already commented on the sidewalk issue. (He's right – you rarely hear about bike/pedestrian fatal collisions. But there are plenty of fatal collisions between cars and bikes, in which they conflicted at a sidewalk or crosswalk. In such cases, it's usually the cyclist who is dead.)

I actually posted a response to his other points, as follows:
- With a couple exceptions, bicycles are subject to the same laws as motor vehicles.
- Bicycles are (legally) required to have headlights if operated at night. And reflectors.
- Bicycles aren't required to have turn signal lights... but neither are cars. (Cyclists are required to signal with an arm gesture, unless they need both hands to safely operate.)
- Most roads don't have a minimum speed limit, only a maximum one.
- Regarding contributing to the cost of roads:
a) A meaningful percentage of road budgets comes out of the property tax, and most cyclists live in houses, apartments, etc.
b) Most cyclists also own motor vehicles. I know I have a couple. Since they are licensed but sitting in the garage when I'm riding my bicycle, I could argue that I'm paying more than my share, compared with somebody who's actually using his licensed vehicle on the road.
c) How much wear and tear will a bicycle cause to a roadway, compared with, say, a Ford Excursion? Or even a Geo Metro?
(Of course, as with all laws, bicycle laws are subject to change. If you feel strongly that bicyclists aren't paying their fair share, you should make your opinion known to the movers-and-shakers.)
- Liability insurance: If there were a meaningful number of accidents where the cyclist was found at fault, and the resulting property/medical expenses to the other party were substantial enough that the cyclist (or his estate) were unable to pay, there would probably be a requirement for liability insurance. But such a scenario is quite uncommon, thank goodness.

["Dann" made this separate comment later on. Sounds as though he's convinced that bicycles shouldn't be on the roads.] If bikes ride on street... Perhaps I should be able to ride my horse down the street. I could mount an LED light between his ears and a flashing light from his tail or reflectors and of course I should be intitled to a full lane also.

I assume he's being facetious. But I'd support his right to ride his horse down the street if he can do it cooperatively. (And who knows? In Idaho, I wouldn't be too surprised if indeed it is legal!) If he's concerned about cyclists not having liability coverage… think of the potential liability of riding a 2000-pound animal around on the streets!

People riding bicycles and not obeying the law is their own fault. Sure I ride a bike from time to time and yes I do know Idaho laws regarding this. Yet I do not follow the laws altogether as I follow my own law. Watch out for the cars as they do have the right away.

That comment speaks for itself. I resent people who ride bikes and disobey the laws because they are "following their own law." I see it all the time.

[This comment was posted as a response to the news that ground was broken for a new velodrome in the area.] Good, maybe it'll keep the spandex wearing retards off the streets!!!!

This is obviously somebody who thinks bikes are toys or hobbies – not transportation.

If I'm not wearing spandex, will he know I'm a retard anyway?

I live in Eagle and wish some of these bike nuts would obey the law and stop when there is a stop sign. It makes me wonder how many of these accidents reported in the paper were caused by poor biker judgment!

Yep – we all (motorists and cyclists) should know and understand the laws, and we need to watch out for each other. ("Stop sign" law previously commented on.)

It only takes getting hit by a car once and you realize the fight isn't fair. I've always wanted to just bump the rear tire of a cyclist who's in the left lane on state street. The speed limit is 45 mph and they do about 15 mph and they think they own the freakin road. I don't car that there isn't a bike lane. Get in the right lane and if you need to make a left turn go to the next intersection and walk you bike across the street.

I hope this poster can control his anger and hostility while on the road, for everyone's sake. (And if the offending cyclist is attempting to make a left-hand turn, this fella should be patient and wait for him, just like he would if the guy was in a Hummer.)

Last I checked, gas tax pays for roads and cars are big - There is no good reason to share the road with a bicyclist. It is too dangerous.

As previously commented, gas tax (and vehicle registration) is only a fraction of the road-construction-and-maintenance funding pie. My contention is that when you figure the amount of wear-and-tear on the infrastructure, and the tax burden, cyclists are paying their fair share or more.

"Cars are big." No, semi-trucks are big! Cars are puny! Should the "big" traffic get special dispensation on our roads? (Drivers of "big" vehicles sometimes seem to think so. Except for professional truck drivers – as a rule, they are the best, most courteous, law-abiding drivers on the road.)

I agree 100% besides all the money they put into makeing bike lanes is paid by automobile drivers. Alot of the bikers have no respect on the road anyway.Stay on the side walk.

I believe this poster is agreeing with the previous guy. And - deep down, I bet he thinks drivers are footing the bill for sidewalks, too!

Kids sure aren't learning spelling, punctuation, and grammar any more, are they?

(I'll give him a pass… he might be punching it in on a candy-bar-size keyboard, or typing while simultaneously playing World of Warcraft.)


Motorists say they see lots of idiots on bikes. But if they stop and think about it, I bet they'd admit they see lots of idiots in cars, SUVs and trucks, too.

I ride a bike, and see lots of idiots in cars. But I see plenty on bikes, too.

Idiots get around in or on every type of vehicle. Hopefully we can all understand and follow the rules, and watch out for each other… especially the idiots! (They need all the help they can get. After all, they're idiots!)

Additional links:
- Idaho Driver's Manual (PDF)
(Chapter 5 has stuff about bicycles. It's brief, but quite comprehensive.)
(The Idaho Driver's Manual is also available in "audio" version here – is that for the blind drivers?)
- Idaho Statutes regarding pedestrians and bicycles
- Boise City ordinances regarding bicycles (PDF)
- "Bicycling Street Smarts"

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Transportation Energy

Way back in July, I posted some information on how much energy is generated by a cyclist.

(An anonymous commenter reminded me of it just recently, whe s/he questioned the numbers. Click here to link to the original post... it might be worthwhile just to see the awesome Tour de France photos that are attached.)

According to David Perry, author of a fantastic book, Bike Cult, an average person can produce 75 watts of power (0.1 horsepower) for several hours. A top-tier racing cyclist can produce 375 watts for several hours. It takes about 33 watts to putt along the Greenbelt at 7 mph (12 km/h).

Anyway, I got to thinkin'... and would like you to consider:

A normal car headlight burns 55 watts lo-beam, 60 watts hi-beam. Most cars have 2 of 'em. Sometimes 4. (The "dually-diesel J.C. Whitney macho monster truck crowd" likes to have 8, or 10, or 16.)

So... if you're driving with your headlights on (which many people do this time of year, what with the short days and long nights), your two headlights are burning more energy (110 watts) than a bicyclist is burning for propulsion (33-75 watts)! If you've got that heater/defrost going, you may be using 5 times more energy when you're sitting at that stoplight, than I do crankin' along.

(Sure, you don't notice it, because your engine is doing all the work. But when it has to spin the alternator, your fuel consumption will reflect the extra load.)

Think of the energy it takes to push that hulking hunk of metal and plastic down the road!

Speaking of sitting at stoplights... I sure see a lot of folks doing that. (It reminds me of one of the main reasons I gave up driving. I hate being stuck in traffic! And don't they have highly-paid traffic engineers who should be trying to minimize the amount of red-light waiting? Maybe those folks are taking too many donut breaks.)

When you're sitting at that stoplight, Mr. or Ms. Motorist, unless you shut your car off you are getting ZERO miles per gallon! OUCH! By contrast, when I'm sitting at that stoplight on my bicycle, I'm still getting 119,000 (so far) miles per gallon!

Yep... warm thoughts on a chilly day.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Out here in the vast WWW frontier, people sure aren't afraid to put their ignorance on prominent display. (Of course, I must realize there are probably folks who are thinking that same thing about my rants!)

Maybe it's the anonymity. Maybe it's clever parody - they're just pretending to be totally ignorant.

Case in point -

Last Friday (December 14), a teenage boy was cited by the local police after he ignored a traffic signal and rode his bike into a crosswalk, and into the path of an oncoming car. Fortunately, it sounds like the kid wasn't seriously injured.

As is the case when anything bicycle-related is in the news, the all-knowing yokels responded. (The local newspaper has a forum where readers can comment on stories.) Last I saw, there were 34 comments... along with numerous responses to the comments.

There was a sizable sidewalk-riding component this time around... comments on whether bicycles should be relegated to the sidewalks.

Here are some of my "favorites" (?):

Every morning, I see cyclists who think they own the road. That they are entitled to make me run someone-another car off the road because they want to ride in the street, though there is a sidewalk that is paved just for them!

Back in the good old days, I used to be able to drive on the streets without any fear. Thirty years later, it's a whole new world. Now there are cyclists everywhere.

Yes, cyclists have a right to ride on the road. However, there are some cyclists who ride 2 or 3 abreast and invariably invade into the normal car's zone.

If bikes ride on street, perhaps I should be able to ride my horse down the street. I could mount an LED light between his ears and a flashing light from his tail or reflectors and of course I should be intitled to a full lane also.

People riding bicycles and not obeying the law is their own fault. Sure I ride a bike from time to time and yes I do know Idaho laws regarding this. Yet I do not follow the laws altogether as I follow my own law. Watch out for the cars as they do have the right away.

Last I checked, Gas tax pays for roads and cars are big - There is no good reason to share the road with a bicyclist. It is too dangerous.

I agree - besides all the money they put into makeing bike lanes is paid by automobile drivers. Alot of the bikers have no respect on the road anyway.Stay on the side walk.

I sure would like to see the statistics that supposedly indicate that it is safer for a bike rider to be riding on the street rather then the sidewalk. I have yet to read a report of a bike rider dying as a result of a collision with a pedestrian.

"I do not follow the laws altogether as I follow my own law." AMAZING!!

(Idaho Statesman article, and comments, can be found here.)

Saturday, December 15, 2007


As of today, I've accumulated 6000 bicycle miles in 2007. (Woo-hoo!)

It's my 6th 6000+ mile calendar year. Most recent was 2004. My best ever was 1996 - 6589 miles.

By contrast, I've maybe driven 1000 miles in the Missus' car this year, including a Boise to Stanley to Ketchum to Fairfield to Boise loop (400 or so miles).

Friday, December 14, 2007

Bike Christmas Lights - Part II

I rearranged the lights a bit, and snapped a photo. It came out... okay, I s'pose. Snapping photos in the dark is somewhat hit-and-miss, and this was as close to a "hit" as I could come up with. At least you can get the idea.


Click HERE to see a larger rendition, along with the house in all its glory. (My wife and daughters took over the house decorations a few years back, after my feeble efforts over the years were no longer adequate. I'm rather half-hearted about Christmas decorating, I admit.)

Worth noting are the yellow reflective stickers I've put on my bicycle, on the rear fender and front fork. They increase nighttime visibility tremendously.

Another side note: As I pulled into my driveway yesterday evening, my neighbor asked me, "Are you the bike nazi?" I confessed that I was, and asked him, "How did you know?" He said the bike Christmas lights gave me away. DOH! (I swore him to secrecy, but I'm afraid if Cheney and Rummy were water-boarding him, he'd sing like a bird!)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Holiday Bicycling Tip

Well... I finally did it.

Yesterday I went out, despite the 20-degree temperature, and installed my Christmas lights.

On my bicycle.

(NOTES: Substitute "holiday lights" if "Christmas lights" is offensive. Ha! And it's silly to mention the 20-degree temperature as an obstacle, since I managed to ride 22+ miles yesterday. The high was 27 degrees.)

Yep. Last year I got a string of LED Christmas lights. 20 or 25 lights, in red, yellow, and green. They run off a 4-AA battery pack, and either blink or stay on solid. I got 'em at the Walgreens; I think they cost $4 or so. I don't think they're waterproof, but I stowed the battery pack under the saddle... and since the risk is $4, I can risk it.

This morning on the ride to work, I put 'em on blinky mode.

The response was overwhelmingly positive. Several people tapped their horns, gave me the thumbs-up, smiled happily, etc. A school bus driver even slowed down, opened his door, and said, "I like your Christmas lights!"

They aid in visibility... they add to holiday cheer (for myself and others)... what's not good about this idea? I'll probably leave 'em on 'til December 26th - no point in overdoing it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Look at that idiot on the bike!

I'm sure if I had been a fly on the inside-window of a car, I would've heard that a time or two this morning. (As I rode past motorists... them being hampered by traffic jams and such.)

It snowed a half-inch or so in these parts this morning, just as drive-time was starting.

That, of course, caused a couple of inevitable side effects:
- A good percentage of the area's motorists went into panic mode.
- Another meaningful percentage of 'em huffed and puffed confidently, because they have macho SUVs, and are "prepared." (These are the ones who aren't paying attention, and haven't noticed that when it snows, a large majority of vehicles-involved-in-accidents are macho SUVs, pickups, etc.)
- Our road surfaces quickly deteriorated, because snow events are infrequent enough that the road maintenance agency is ill prepared to quickly handle it. Especially when it comes right as drive-time is getting started.

One of my fellow workers was lamenting that it took her 55 minutes to go 10 miles. Another told me he saw 6 accidents on the inbound I-84. He drives about that same distance, and it took him an hour and 15 minutes.

I rode my bike. It took me 15 minutes instead of the usual 13, for my 3.5 mile commute.

Designated bike lanes become meaningless when the roads (and lane stripes) are covered with snow. Typically the car-lane moves to the right and occupies part or all of the bike lane.

My strategy is to stay far-to-the-right and try not to put myself in harm's way. (For example, where there's a curve in the road or a downward slope, it's more likely that motorists will have problems, than along a straight, flat stretch of roadway.) More detailed winter riding strategy here.

One of the numerous differences between riding a bike and driving a car is - you get much more "road feel" on a bike. If it's slippery, and you're paying attention and have the experience to know what you're feeling, there's a different feel at the slightest hint of your tires losing traction. It's just a matter of tuning in those feelings, and knowing how to react (also a matter of experience)... and hoping and expecting that other roadway users will be responsible enough not to plow into you!

(When I hear my fellow workers' tales-of-woe about their hour-long commutes because they live so far from work, it's difficult not to think to myself, "Look at those idiots in their cars!")

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Boise Choo-Choo Update

There's a lot of local train news lately.

Mayor Bieter seems the believe that light rail will go a long way to solving our local transportation / pollution issues.

There's a movement afoot to bring Amtrak back to Boise. (The Portland - Boise - Salt Lake City route was abandoned several years back, due to light ridership and the hugely-subsidized expense of operating passenger trains.)

More immediately, "Big Mike," a 1920-era steam locomotive, is being moved from its long-time residence in Julia Davis Park, to a new "Big Mike Plaza" at the Boise (railroad) Depot.

Your taxpayer dollars at work. (Around 322,500 of 'em, if you're counting.)

IMO, the Big Mike Move is a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars.

But more significantly, it's a colossal waste of dollars that could, and should be used for improved bike and pedestrian facilities. Let me explain.

According to Boise City's website, "The Idaho Transportation Department awarded $309,000 in federal funds for the entire project, which includes moving the historic locomotive, preservation efforts, construction of the new plaza and interpretive signage. The funds are designated for non-roadway improvements."

Almost certainly, those funds were awarded as part of the Federal "Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act" (ISTEA), intended for stuff like better bike and pedestrian facilities, "Safe Routes to School," etc. My understanding is that the state receives the funds from the feds, and then cities apply to the state for the projects they designate.

Apparently our City Fathers felt that moving "Big Mike" was the best use of the funds - better than installing sidewalks where there are none, or fixing busted-up greenbelt, or improving routes to school.

They should install a little plaque in the Big Mike Plaza that says something like:

"Paid for by the sacrifice of pedestrian and bicycle facilities."

(Lest you think the entire project is being funded using federal bike/pedestrian funds, let me clarify that $14,000 came from private donations - mostly local railroading fans.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Air Quality Summit

The local movers-and-shakers conducted an "Air Quality Summit" at City Hall, a week or so ago.

There's a good reason - our days with poor air quality are WAY up this year. Close to half the days have been "yellow" air quality or worse. (Using the Homeland Security Color Code, apparently. But coincidentally, on many of those days, the air has been yellow, or brown.)

Dave over at the Boise Guardian boldly predicted how the meeting would go:

"Experts from all the local planning, air quality, and highway agencies will each give presentations. If they follow the usual protocol, the politicos and bureaucrats will spew their wisdom and then offer citizens a mere three minutes to respond or offer their own ideas and assessments."

Wow! Uncanny clairvoyance! (Or is it that he's attended so many of these bureaucratic gab-fests that he's detected a pattern...?)

Our mayor is on the choo-choo bandwagon. He seems convinced that a commuter train will solve all our problems. Others call for expanded transit service. (The local public transportation is on life-support; the routes are very limited and they only run every half hour, even at peak times. And even at peak times, most buses are running mostly-empty.) Meanwhile, like 'most every place else in this great land, well over 90% of citizens drive - ALONE - to all of their destinations.

All those drivers like to blame agricultural burning, wood stoves, and forest fires for the bad air. And that is the problem, my friends. So many people blame somebody else. They think, "I care about the problem. But I'm doing everything I can, and it's somebody else's fault."

I'm guessing all the bureaucratic experts are just the same. Here's a photo from the Summit; look how many experts were gathered, sitting in their lofty perches! But... how many of these yokels carpooled to the meeting? Or took the bus? Most likely every one of 'em arrived in a single-occupant vehicle.

Until there is a big change-of-attitude among the majority of the public, nothing will change, except the air and traffic will keep getting worse.

The "Guardian" says, "... making it painful helps no one."

I'll have to differ. As long as driving a car is the most comfortable option, plenty of folks won't even consider something else. Maybe as gas prices continue to spiral upward, and traffic gets worse, and the air is more befouled than ever before... it will get painful and more people will be willing to get out of their comfort zones.