Thursday, June 30, 2011

Doctor makes house calls on his bike

A doctor still makes house calls? In 2011?

Dr. Tony Ohotto, a geriatric specialist in Portland, makes house calls on his bike! Story HERE. He is joined by Kevin Callahan, a therapist, as they visit oldsters around Portland.

That is too cool!

Callahan travels almost exclusively by bike. Ohotto splits bike trips and carpooling with other medical staffers. I s'pose if your doctor told you to get more exercise, it would mean more if he arrived on his bike, than if he arrived in his Mercedes-Benz.

My dad was a doctor, and one of the last I knew of who would make house calls when the situation warranted it. (I remember his big tan leather "doctor bag." I sat in the car on a few occasions while he visited a patient. Yeah... he went in a car, rather than on a bike.)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bike Rodeo

There is essentially no formal effort to educate bike riders on how to be safe and do things right. And one gets the impression that a lot of kids learn from clueless teachers. So it was exciting to help put on a Bike Rodeo yesterday evening, to give 10 or so Cub Scouts a bit of education. (I'm a cubmaster these days, and every June is the traditional Bike Rodeo... intended to provide both fun and education.)

I enlisted the help of a couple gifted and willing volunteers - Clancy, who reads and occasionally comments here, and Dave, who works in the same office building as me. Clancy is very mechanically-inclined; works at the Boise Bike Project and builds up bicycles... including a bike he built out of wood! Clancy rides a lot, too. And Dave is the only other guy at my office - maybe 800 people - who rides his bike year-round. I've ridden with him and have observed his safety skills.

During preparation, I had a couple setbacks. I made the mistake of storing some milk for refreshments in the church refrigerator overnight. It was gone. ("Thou shalt not steal" is a hard concept to understand, apparently.) And the night before, I drew out a little road practice course in the parking lot with sidewalk chalk. A half-hour or so after I was done, a fantastic thunderstorm blew up out of nowhere - it poured rain for 15 minutes or so. The next morning I went to survey the damage... there was absolutely no evidence that a course had ever been there! D'oh! Fortunately, I'd used less than half of the chalk, so my assistant Jared and I were able to redo the course in 45 minutes or so.

As for the Bike Rodeo, we started with a couple learning sessions. Dave and I taught about how to ride safe - my rules in a nutshell are BE LEGAL, BE PREDICTABLE, BE VISIBLE, and BE DEFENSIVE. Clancy and Andrew (a Varsity scout with considerable bike skills and a sweet single-speed) taught the ABCs of safety-checking your bike before you ride.

Following the learning sessions, we sent the groups to: 1) a big loop - 5 times around is a mile, and 2) our chalk-outline road course, where they could practice straight-line riding, signaling their turns, stopping and starting in a smooth fashion, and riding the slalom course.

I got the impression that the evening was a success. Nobody got hurt, and I didn't kill anybody! (I struggle a bit with the limited attention span of 8-10 year olds, but my granddaughter gives me experience with that almost every day.) The chocolate milk (as plugged by Kristin Armstrong) and peanut butter cookies (all cyclists love peanut butter!) topped the evening off nicely.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bike Nazi hits the airwaves!!

Does anybody still listen to radio? Besides me?

(Some of the youngstas are asking themselves, "What's radio??")

On Saturday morning, bright and early at 7am MDT, I've been invited to be on "Weekend Idaho with Doug McConnaughey" on KBOI radio, 670 on the AM dial. The topic is supposed to be "transportation cycling." (Give me a soapbox and a megaphone, and I love to "preach the word"!!)

I've listened to Doug for a long time, early (5-8am) on Saturday and Sunday mornings. His program is quite relaxed and not "hot headed" like most talk radio. It's a call-in show, with guests and a wide variety of topics, mostly "local" topics as opposed to ranting about Washington, D.C. And I particularly like it because he plays an eclectic mix of music, as well.

If you're interested in listening, but don't have a radio, or are outside of broadcast range, it can be heard on the web HERE.

Doug frequently gives the phone numbers to call in - DO IT if you feel so inclined! (Don't call just to whine about those crazy bike riders, though.)


If that weren't enough, also this weekend is the "Boise Rec Fest" at Ann Morrison Park. I'm helping staff a "Citizens for an Open Greenbelt" booth. The COG group is working - now in the courts - to get a short stretch of Garden City Greenbelt opened for bicycle use. It's currently closed to cyclists, even though the state deeded the land to Garden City with the stipulation that it be maintained as a "bike path." (Ironically, I've never seen the stretch of path in question - it's on the north side of the Boise River, west of Glenwood Street. But the Greenbelt is supposed to be a multi-modal path - including bicycles - so that's why I somehow got into the fight.)

Anthing bike-related will probably be mostly "toy-bike"-related at something called the "Rec Fest." But most toy bikes could also conceivably be used for transportation.

Come by and see me from 1-5pm. (The weather should be perfect for outdoors stuff, and there are a lot of other goings on at Ann Morrison Park. Saturday and Sunday - my shift is on Saturday.)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Summer Bike Fun!

My granddaughter and I have a daunting task in front of us ... in the three summer months, we intend to visit every public playground in Boise. By bicycle.

Daunting - why?

Boise has 44 city-park playgrounds listed on the website. Garden city has 2 or 3. Plus - most of the elementary schools have a playground. Plus - there are few playgrounds in church yards and other quasi-public places.

The closest is across the street - we visit it several times a week anyway. The farthest from us are 10 miles or more. We'll need to build up some momentum to get to those! (And hopefully pick days when it's not 100 degrees.)

We're off to a decent start - since the beginning of June, we've already visited 17 playgrounds. (Mackie gets upset with me when, after a 10-minute stop, I say, "Okay - we've gotta go." But when we're headed for another playground, she's pretty quick to forgive.)

Whittier School:
Playground - Whittier-School

Manitou Park:
Playground - Manitou-Park

Liberty School:
Playground - Liberty-School

Phillippi Park:
Playground - Phillippi-Park

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bike Austerity

One of the compelling reasons to choose bicycle transportation is the relative economy. I love cycling because I'm frugal! It warms my heart that I haven't made a car payment, or bought commuting gas, for years and years, and my main expenses are patches and the occasional tire.

However, another guy at the office makes me look extravagant by comparison!

He seems to have a collection of several older "ten speeds" that he rides. (Actually pretty nice steel-frame bikes from back in the days when they had butted tubes and nice lugs... but he obviously is hesitant to upgrade any more than is absolutely necessary.)

I snapped a couple photos of his makeshift bike treatments.

In the first photo, you'll see how his worn out saddle has been "covered" - looks like with an old t-shirt held in place with a spring clip.

In the second photo, you'll see how he replaced some of the handlebar tape with a stretch bandage - you know, the kind that's used for taping a sprained ankle or gimpy knee. And it's held in place with duct tape. (NICE!! Red Green would be very impressed!) (Apologies are in order - the photo is a little blurry as it was snapped indoors without a flash.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Boise Bicycle Project goings-on

The Boise Bicycle Project is an awesome endeavor.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit I never stepped foot inside the place until perhaps 6 months ago. Since then, I've dropped in regularly for various reasons... usually in search of parts. Granddaughter Mackie has accompanied me a couple times. Stanley the shop dog intimidates her a little... for no other reason than they are close to eye-level with one another.

Their main focus is on recycling bicycles and bike parts. And getting bikes underneath kids who don't have one.

But they do a lot more than that. And a lot more than I was aware of.

Jimmy Hallyburton, the director of the place, recently wrote in to Boise Weekly: " I could go in-depth about the 1,200 students that BBP and SR2S taught bicycle safety to in the month of May, or the two straight weeks of Bike-in events from June 10-25 during Pedal 4 the People. I could explain how we collaborated with the Idaho Transportation Department to make and implement a Sharing the Road video into 300 different drivers' ed programs, and how we certified 12 new LCI instructors to teach safe riding practices throughout the state. BBP hasn't put in any bike lanes, but we've recycled about 3,500 bicycles and taught countless numbers of people about safety and repair."

Talk about making a difference! Hats off, BBP! (My new favorite Local Bike Shop.)

They haven't asked for much in return... but right now their hand is out. They are trying to raise $115K so they can buy the building they are currently leasing. They are in the midst of some very creative fund-raising efforts; tomorrow (6/16) there will be a Poster Party at 217 S. 11th Street. (31 artists designed a bike-themed poster; limited-edition prints will be for sale to raise funds.)

I encourage one and all to hook up with one of their fundraisers, and get familiar with their facility. They are here to stay, and hopefully soon in their very own real estate!

Sadly, I just read that some lowlife broke into their facility last weekend and stole $1000 worth of cash and merchandise. I wish Stanley had been there to bite him on the arse!

Monday, June 13, 2011

"The Race"

(The Bike Nazi generally steers away from the "competition" side of bicycling, mostly because there seem to be plenty of sources for such info. And because I'm generally not very interested. But now and then, something catches my interest, and I share in the hopes that my audience may also be interested.)

The Boise-flavored "Half Ironman" took place over the weekend; it attracted around 1500 participants. It consists of a 1.2-mile swim (at Lucky Peak Reservoir - still mighty cold in June!), a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run. Pretty impressive. 1200 or so of the starters finished. (My granddaughter and I were bicycling on the Greenbelt toward the end of the competition, and some of those poor runners looked beat! But they were still going.)

But that's not "the race."

Early next month, the celebrated Tour de France gets underway. Despite the fact that professional cycling has taken a big PR hit recently, with the allegations and accusations about illegal drug use, the Tour remains popular and famous. Of course, the "tour" races consist of both individual effort and teamwork, and cover several thousand miles in bite-size chunks, for the better part of a month.

But that's not "the race," either.

This week, "the race" starts... for the 30th time. I refer to the Race Across America, arguably the most grueling test of athletic endurance you'll find anywhere.

What's it all about? From the website, "RAAM is a race! But unlike the three great Europeon Grand Tours (Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana and Giro de Italia), RAAM is not a stage race. RAAM is one continual stage, similar to a time trial. Once the clock starts it does not stop until the finish line. RAAM is about 30% longer than the Tour de France. Moreover, racers must complete the distance in roughly half the time allowed for the Tour."

So - you get on your bike at the Pacific Ocean, and take a little ride to the Atlantic Ocean. Along the way, you cover 3000 miles and climb 170,000 vertical feet. Typically the winner crosses the finish line in 8-9 days, thus averaging 300+ miles per day.

Suddenly the Half Ironman - which perhaps 1% of the population could even finish - seems pretty wimpy by comparison.

(I don't follow the RAAM, but I've thoroughly enjoyed a couple DVDs my daughter gave me - documentaries about the race. And I'm happy to give a nod to those awesome competitors. I hope they occasionally ride their bikes to the office, too!!)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Cub Scout Bike Safety Quiz

I recently became a Cubmaster for Packs 2, 44, and 88 here in Boise. (They are all small packs, and meet together.) Sometime over the summer, we'll be doing the traditional Bike Rodeo, where we teach and practice cycling skills in a nice offroad environment (a huge, paved parking lot).

This is a quiz that was provided with resource materials; I thought it was interesting. And I've got disputes with a couple of the "official" answers. (Yeah, always the rebel.) The questions ... followed by the answers. (Don't cheat!)

(Cub Scouts) Safe Bicycle Riding
True or False Quiz

1) Bicycles should be ridden on the right-hand side of the street.
2) Bicycle riders should obey all traffic signs and signals.
3) Stop signs are round in shape.
4) Pedestrians have the right-of-way on sidewalks and crosswalks.
5) Bicycles should be "walked" across busy intersections.
6) The signal for a right turn is stretching the right arm straight out.
7) Riding a bicycle at night without a front light or rear reflector is unsafe.
8) It's safe for a bicycle rider to carry a passenger.
9) You don't have to stop at a stop sign if there is no traffic.
10) Hitching a ride on another vehicle is safe if the driver is careful.
11) Bicycle riders should give a hand signal before making a turn or stopping on the street.
12) It's safe to ride a bicycle that is in poor condition if you are a good rider.
13) If you're riding bicycles with friends, you should travel in a single file.
14) Your chain should be loose enough to slip off easily.
15) It's OK to ride a bicycle in either direction on a one-way street.
16) It's not safe to pass another bicycle on the right.
17) Even a good rider should "walk" his bicycle through heavy traffic.
18) The faster you ride, the safer it is.
19) Bicycle riders should stay at least 3 feet from parked cars.
20) If you don't ride on busy streets, you don't need a horn or bell.

My answers [and the "official" answer in brackets, where mine differs]:
1) Oh, so TRUE!!
2) True.
3) False (they are octagonal).
4) True.
5) Maybe. If there's a crosswalk, then walk if you feel better about it. If there's not a crosswalk, ride (with traffic flow). [True.]
6) True. (The "official" answer is going to be false, but the right-arm-out will probably be just as meaningful as the left-arm-squared to most drivers in 2011.) [False.]
7) True.
8) False. (Unless it's on a bicycle designed to carry a passenger.)
9) True. (In Idaho! That's the law! Sweeeeeeeeet! HOWEVER - if I were teaching bike safety to 8-10-year-olds, I'd tell them to always stop at a stop sign.) [False.]
10) False.
11) True. (I rarely make a "stopping hand signal." But I rarely stop when stopping isn't necessary.)
12) False. (Assuming that "poor condition" refers to operational condition, and not faded paint or a bit of rust.)
13) True. (As a rule. Riding two abreast is legal in Idaho, but only if you're not impeding traffic flow.)
14) False.
15) False.
16) True (As a rule. Exceptions: cyclist you are passing is turning left, etc.)
17) Huh? Like when you're crossing a street with heavy traffic? The question isn't specific enough. [True.]
18) False.
19) True.
20) True. (The "official" answer may be false, but in Idaho and most jurisdictions, hollerin' is a legal substitute for a horn or bell. And who's gonna hear that little tinkle-bell with the windows rolled up, the A/C blastin', and the 2000-watt hip-hop blastin' even louder?!!) [False.]

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hmmmm... another local bicycle organization?

It's news to me. The Boise Weekly is reporting a first-ever meeting in late May of the Boise Bicycle Congress. The apparent objective is to gather cyclists from disparate interest groups, with a common purpose of "advocacy."

The motives for people attending, other than beer and pizza, were diverse, according to the article. "For some, it was disappointment with what they considered toothless laws or absent infrastructure. For others, it was the lack of a decent bike map. What united them was their frustration that despite Boise being thick with bike organizations, there was little advocacy."

Apparently the bicycle organizations are focused on their specific interests - recreational mountain biking, racing, bike recycling, etc. I always thought of the Treasure Valley Cycling Alliance (WEBSITE) as an advocacy organization, but apparently they "aren't interested in advocacy, only in community events." A more recent group - the Idaho Pedestrian and Bicycle Alliance (WEBSITE) seems to be picking up momentum, and in fact the article says that the director of that group chaired the event. (It also says she's moving away.)

IMO, part of the challenge (for people trying to gather the troops) is that cycling isn't really all that bad in these parts. In fact, our situation would be envied by cyclists in most places. Yeah, there are some streets that take some courage to navigate. And there are some Neanderthals out roaming the streets, that could benefit from some "eye-opening" in the form of education or enforcement. But they are the exceptions, rather than the rule.

Strength in numbers. If one or two voices in the wilderness are crying out for stepped-up enforcement or education or bike lanes, it's not as likely to garner attention, as if somebody can tell ACHD or the Boise Police, "I represent 2000 voting, taxpaying bike riders, and we feel..." So I'm supportive of an active advocacy group. (Whether I'd rather spend time going to group meetings or riding my bike? That's another story! For me and most cyclists, I would reckon.) I guess we'll see what shakes out.

(Did you attend the organizational meeting? If so... what happened? Anything?)