Thursday, October 30, 2008

Brian Grieger

Brian passed away just a few days ago.

I didn't know him, but he's been described by those who do as a friend and advocate of bicycling, and an expert mechanic / wheel guy. (And, he lived just off one of my favorite bicycling streets - the "Homer Loop." I've ridden right by many times, and never knew.)

Brian's family and friends have scheduled a reception and Remembrance Ride in his honor:

Natalie Grieger will hold an open house and Memorial Reception to honor Brian from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm on Saturday, November 1. The location is the Grieger home / Brian’s Pro Bike - 2422 N Haven Dr., Eagle, ID. (Near Ballantyne / Homer, north of Eagle)

The Brian Grieger Remembrance Ride will start that morning from Camel’s back park and finish at the Memorial Reception. The ride will depart from Camel’s back at 11:00 and will head to the Idaho Velodrome and Cycling Park. It will then depart from there at 11:30 and go the Grieger Home.

Team Dobbiaco/Boise Cycling Club & IO/Lost River Cycling are asking for a small ($5.00) donation from each rider to help us purchase a Velodrome block in Brian’s memory.

Natalie is thankful for the cycling community’s support and the love that has been expressed. She asks that those who wish to bring food bring appetizers for the memorial reception.

Friday, October 24, 2008

$3 Gas - Woo-Hoo!

The road-going Car Zombies (hat-tip to Danielo) are rejoicing. Happy days are here again, as area gas prices are around $3 per gallon. (Story HERE.) Last night on the teevee news, they showed a guy pouring the not-quite-so-precious fluid into his Hummer - it only costs $75 to fill up now (for a week or so of transportation), rather than the $100 he's grown accustomed to over the summer.

Who'd-a-thunk? Gas is $3, and it brings a sense of contentment across the Fruited Plain.

(Have people given the Bush Administration their proper due? After all, a great number of folks blamed them for the upward trend we've suffered through. I'm surprised Obama and McCain and every local-yokel politician aren't taking credit for the drop. Or maybe they are.)

As usual, I don't expect my commute-cost to be affected one way or another.

Of course, some realities need to be faced.

As gas prices drop, people will take their vehicles out of mothballs and start driving more. Which will result in more congestion on the roads. (And I expect some bikes will quit showing up on the rack at the office.) Also - of course - more consumption will result in more demand, which will tend to drive oil prices back up.

Also, long term, reduced fuel prices will result in less incentive to develop alternative energy sources. (I don't forecast that happening - this drop is likely to be a temporary downward spike. By next driving season, gas is likely to be back at $4, or maybe even $4.50.)

But for now, let's enjoy, and get to consumin'! (I'm happy for the people who heat their houses with oil. Or natural gas - like me.)

My advice to you? Do not celebrate by going out and buying a new F350 4x4 dually diesel turbo super-cab Xtra Duty Paul Bunyan Edition, to drive to the office in!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Freedom Rider

One of the "excuses" I frequently hear from motorists, for their choice of transportation, is "freedom." They need the freedom that a car or SUV or truck affords, to go where they want, when they want.

As occasionally stated here, I just don't understand that mentality. I can go anywhere on a bicycle that a car can go, and any time. (Granted, if I find a unit of sheetrock at a bargain price, I can't load it up and take it with me. And I can't do my quarterly Costco run on a bike. But I seem to avoid those situations with a bit of planning.)

PLUS... here are some places I regularly go, that those poor souls in their cars just can't go.

Freedom? Sorry - I'll continue to prefer "bicycle freedom."






(Photos snapped on 10/21/2008. For larger views and download options, click on any of the images.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Motor Voters

I caught a small bit of an interview between NBC's Matt Lauer and Presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

The question posed to Mr. Obama was something like, "If you are elected president, are there any sacrifices that you'll expect the American people to make, to help resolve the current economic crisis?"

Obama's reply was something like, "The American people need to continue to be conscious of their energy usage."

Hey, Obama - that's not what we want to hear! We want unlimited supplies of $1 gas! We don't want to have to think about it before hopping in the SUV and driving across town!

(While I have serious reservations about Obama because of my own philosophy that "small government is good government," I fully agree with him on that point.)

In a related development, Orange County, California, has implemented drive-up electronic voting. Apparently you drive up to the weatherproof voting kiosk, kinda like driving up at Jack in the Box, and punch in your choices. (Story HERE.)

We wouldn't want our overburdened citizens to have the inconvenience of getting out of their cars, and actually walking into a building, huh? They might get mad and stay home and not participate!

For the people who are waiting in line... if it's hot or cold on Election Day, it's okay to sit in the car with the engine idling, and with either the heater or air-conditioner going... right?

Friday, October 17, 2008

We're Number 37!

The League of American Bicyclists recently ranked the states based on "bike friendliness."

We (Idaho) are number 37. Our neighbor, Washington, is number 1. It's always good to be ahead of Mississippi - they're number 47.

How is "bike friendliness" measured?

Maybe we don't smile and wave enough as we're riding, here in Idaho.

But seriously... the LAB's broad categories are: Legislation, Policies and Programs, Infrastructure, Education and Encouragement, Evaluation and Planning, and Enforcement.

Those sound like good categories to base their rankings on. (An ongoing mantra of mine is... we've got generally good infrastructure and laws, but education and enforcement are essentially nonexistent. Admittedly, that's based on my very geographically-limited viewpoint. I'm unqualified to compare the Boise area with any other area.)

The list of states-by-rank can be seen HERE. (The questionnaire they based their rankings on can be seen HERE. It's long... some of it is rather mumbo-jumbo... but it's interesting.)

Some good analysis and commentary by Bill Schneider can be read HERE.

(Ada County is currently the holder of a "Bronze Medal" as a bike-friendly community. But IMO, they were deceptive on the questionnaire, implying that there's a lot more education and enforcement than there really is.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cycling in the Spotlight

I am really enjoying the chocolate milk promotional campaign, fronted by our own Kristin Armstrong.

(The web presence can be seen HERE. There are some nice wallpaper files, etc., available.)

Sure... she's promoting chocolate milk. But she's also putting cycling out there in the public eye, in a significant way.

(Regarding chocolate milk... I've always loved the stuff. And I've always thought somebody who doesn't is probably a Communist.)

I've seen some awesomely-clever billboards around town.

Every day I ride past one at the corner of Roosevelt and Rose Hill that says:

More Throttle Per Bottle

My favorite was one I saw out on I-84 someplace. It says:

Fuel Crisis? What fuel crisis?

You go, Kristin Armstrong!

(She's probably a relative. As is Lance, most likely. I've got lots of Armstrongs from Denmark in my family tree.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


... the number of "Bike Nazi" bike miles for 2008, YTD.

(Kinda meshes with the 123,456 cumulative miles, reported recently.)

My 35-day doctor-mandated hiatus cut deeply into my miles for the year. But with a bit of weather good fortune, I shouldn't have too much trouble accumulating 5000 miles for the year. (The last year I didn't make it to 5000 miles was 2002... gotta keep the streak alive!)

Cell Phone Silver Anniversary

Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the first commercially-available cell phone. It weighed 2 1/2 pounds. (All those vacuum tubes, circuit boards, cooling fans, etc., add up, huh?)

I'm not sure that society is better off, as a result of that particular development. (But admittedly I'm one who loves to put distance between myself and the phone!)

Are doctors treating "cell phone elbow" on patients who hold a phone jammed up to their ear for 12+ hours a day? How about "Bluetooth Cauliflower Ear"? (I see people - almost exclusively men - walking around with one of those little Mister-Spock earpieces. Sometimes they are twaddling; other times they are silent. I guess it goes on right after the necktie, and comes off just before the necktie.)

There is no question that they have made our roadways more dangerous. Jay Leno said it best last night, in recalling that anniversary. "The first conversation lasted for 30 seconds. And then the car ran into a tree."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Autumn Attire

This is a "funny" time of year, when daily wardrobe adjustments are part of the bike-transportation experience. For example, in the morning when the temperature is around 40 degrees, I wear a jacket (and occasionally regret not wearing my thicker gloves, which will come out in another 10 degrees). By afternoon, I'm usually riding in shirt sleeves and shorts, with jacket stowed in fanny-pack. (It works out pretty good, because I carry my sack lunch in the fanny pack, and that space is vacant for the jacket in the afternoon.)

Yesterday I was riding home, at 5:30pm or so. I was wearing my work slacks and had put on my T-shirt. I was very comfortable; in fact I was gloating about how fantastic I felt.

When lo and behold, here comes this gal on her bike in the opposite direction. She was wearing what looked like a down-filled expedition parka, several inches thick. She had on a thick stocking cap and earmuffs (!), heavy knit scarf around her neck, and what looked like a neoprene cover over her face. Thick gloves. Napoleon Dynamite moon boots.

What the?!!?

Maybe she's not from around here... maybe she was visiting from Phoenix. Either her thermostat, or mine, is busted.

(I realize that I'm blessed with some awesome physiology - I have a layer of fat that many cyclists have to do without! Poor pathetic beings! And I'm also the first to declare that I seem more tolerant of temperature variations than most people are. I think regular cycling helps in that regard. Danielo has mentioned the same thing. It is a blessing to be comfortable, whether the temperature is 45 or 95 degrees. The Missus prefers the 70-73 degree range, and if it's not there, she takes measures to fix the problem.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Otter: Garden City can keep bikes off Greenbelt

The Idaho Statesman is reporting that Governor "Butch" Otter and the State Land Board have concluded that Garden City can make up the rules as it goes, with regards to the Greenbelt (defined in the rest of the community as a multi-modal path for all varieties of non-motorized traffic).

Story HERE.

"Local authorities generally are in the best position to determine public use and safety concerns. Therefore, it is Land Board policy to encourage local regulation wherever that is feasible and prudent."

So, here's a question for ya... Does this mean Garden City could also arbitrarily close other sections of Greenbelt to cyclists... or roller-bladers, or geezers using crutches, or whoever? If not... why not? Like the folks in Mayor Evans' beloved Riverside Village, the people in the new "Waterfront District" might decide that cyclists are disrupting their garden parties and frankfurter roasts. Can of worms!

I hate to see the cycling community pitted against anybody... but that's kinda how it seems to be stacking up.

Bicyclist shame

Last night I was riding home from work.

A couple teenage punk kids came up behind me on the 4-lane road, in a beat-up old Honda sedan.

Rather than cautiously passing in the other lane, as any sensible motorist would do, they got right behind me and laid on the horn. (Yeah... funny!)

Unfortunately, instead of reacting by slowing down, smiling and waving (which is an awesome way to react), I flipped the bird at 'em.

Immediately I regretted it. It didn't make me feel any better... and of course, they flipped the bird back at me.

I'm blaming it on the economy. If the stock market had only dropped 400 points, instead of 600, I probably wouldn't have been in such a foul mood. (I flip the bird at somebody about once a year. And don't think I've ever felt any better afterwards.)

Bike riders on parade!

This will mostly be of interest to Boise area cyclists. (I hope it is of interest to you!)

The Boise Holiday Parade will take place on Saturday, November 29th (Thanksgiving weekend).

Fellow cycling enthusiast Danielo got the ball rolling for an ad-hoc BICYCLE -oriented entry, and we've been accepted! Of course, for maximum impact, we hope to recruit a large number of cyclists.

Here's Danielo's vision, as accepted by the Parade Committee:

Our entry is a series of four mini-floats featuring the four seasons, starting with Spring and culminating in the main float featuring Winter. Each mini-float will be pulled by a bicycle and will feature decoration and color appropriate to the season. Operating on the common psychology of the color white reflecting cleanliness and purity, our goal is to impress that cycling, because it is environmentally and socially responsible, is the best way to have a truly WHITE Christmas. Our message is that cycling is a practical and joyful way to commute in all seasons, and that a White Christmas is best enjoyed from the saddle of a bicycle.

In addition to the seasonal mini-floats and the final Winter float, we will invite public participants to join the Winter finale of our entry on their own bikes. We will require helmets for all participants, and will restrict the number of participants as necessary to assure that we stay within the parade entry length limitations.

To make sure we don't overtake our predecessors in queue, we will incorporate some Shriner-esque twists and turns in our progress. One of our organizers has experience with this type of thing, having led similar, though much larger, groups of cyclists in parade form in California. This will engage the audience and help assure that all sides of our floats are seen by all.

We will use no recorded sound, but will instead create real-time sounds that capture the joy of cycling. Bicycle bells and other pedal-powered live sounds will make us a truly unique and exciting entry.

We have chosen to forgo corporate sponsorship, and intead are funding this project entirely out of our own pockets. We are of the opinion that a corporate sponsor would only detract from our message that cycling isn't a sport or another expenditure, but rather a practical reality for everyday folks, like us. Our aim is to have our enthusiam for cycling be apparent in our parade entry.

I'm tellin' ya... Danielo has some powerful creative mojo going, plus he's an awesome ambassador for the pastime! (He prudently refrained from going off on the "car zombies" and such... a car zombie might be on the Parade Committee! Ha!) I hope his description peaks your interest, and you'll join us. I'd love to see 400 enthusiastic bike riders, 100 for each season! (Hey - think big! Tell your friends!)

If you'd like to contact Danielo directly about this project, I'm sure he'd like to hear from you. To send him an electronic message, use the word "huzzah" followed by the at sign, followed by "danielo" followed by a dot and "org." (Hopefully I've effectively deceived the web spam crawlers.)

A bit of Holiday Parade history... Back in the day, when I was first observing and later participating (usually playing trumpet in a school band), it was called the Fairyland Parade. But at some point - in the '70s, I believe - the name was changed to the Holiday Parade, in an effort to appeal to the area's sizeable non-gay community. Nowadays, it's "Don't ask, don't tell." (That's a joke! No offense to anybody intended.)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bailout Pork to benefit cyclists?

Since I strongly embrace a "small government is good government" philosophy, I've been totally distressed and disgusted by the Wall Street Bailout Plan. Firstly, if those Wall Street Geniuses are so incompetent they can't successfully run their businesses, should we let them squander even more of our citizen dollars by the semi-truckload? Secondly, the haste to pass the bill is uncomfortably similar to the classic carnival-hawker Hard Sell: "Act today, because the offer expires today!" I'm not comfortable at all with it, like a meaningful majority of my fellow citizens. Like it or not, our "representatives" have sent it on through, and President Bush, a proven proponent of Big Government, immediately signed it.

But wait! Do I detect a silver lining in that dark cloud?

Turns out that one of the "sweeteners" the second time around was the attachment of the "bicycle commuting tax credit."

What is it?

It's a $20-per-month tax credit per cycling employee. (Make sure your CEO knows!) If your employer provides safe haven for bicycles, or showers and lockers, or what-have-you to benefit bike commuters, the credit is available.

Essentially, it levels the playing field on behalf of cyclists. For quite some time, employers have benefited from providing parking for employees who drive to work, or assisting with mass transit -using workers. It has long been championed by Congressman Earl Blumenauer, the cyclists' best friend in D.C. (I have more admiration for the man now; he voted against the Bailout, even with the added pork... which was obviously put in there to tempt him.)

For more info, check HERE.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

11 years of car-free commuting

As September 2008 rolls to an end, I celebrate another anniversary.

The last time I drove a car to work - in downtown Boise, Idaho - was in the month of September, 1997.

Since then, it's been essentially all bicycle transportation, with occasional forays into motorcycle (but not for 3 years), bus, and the ever-so-occasional carpool. (The carpool thing has always been when I was running a car-specific errand, like dropping the wife's Family Truckster off at the shop, or something like that.)

Ah, freedom.
Free from being at the mercy of Big Oil.
Free from parking hassles.
Free from being on Algore's black list.
Free from bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go, traffic jams, etc. (For me, that is probably the sweetest of all. I hate driving in heavy traffic!)

Yep, I'm breathing deeply of the fresh air of freedom.