Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Roadways to Bikeways"

If you weren't paying close attention, you may not have noticed that last night, the ACHD Commission unanimously approved the Roadways to Bikeways Master Plan.

(For non-locals, the Ada County Highway District is the organization that builds and maintains the local roads for this, the most populous county in Idaho.)

The Roadways to Bikeways plan "envisions a bicycle network in Ada County that provides a designated bicycle facility within a quarter-mile from 95 percent of the residents in Ada County and its six cities. A bicycle facility could be a roadway that is signed as a bike route, bike lane or other type of improvement."

The map of the plan can be seen HERE. The entire plan can be seen HERE. (It's a 75-page PDF. I downloaded it; haven't read it "cover to cover," but have read the interesting bits. It's a very well-done document that provides much insight into some of the issues that go into infrastructure planning.)

Sounds like a worthwhile but lofty goal. And a quarter-mile is a good benchmark; most people are willing to walk or put up with various "transportation inconveniences" for that short a distance. Well... maybe not MOST people, but a lot of people. (Some people drive to the end of their driveway to pick up the mail, because it's just too much effort to waddle.)

Of course, many lofty plans end up being doorstops for the office, due to changes in priorities and budget shortfalls.

Also, it must be stressed to everyone - SHOUTED FROM THE ROOFTOPS! - that bicycles are not relegated only to those roads that have a "bicycle facility." It should be safe to responsibly operate a bicycle on every public roadway, since it's legal to do so. Cyclists need to know that; motorists need to know that; planners and public officials need to know that. (Who should educate them? All of us!)

The Idaho Statesman said in an editorial (addressing the recent bicycle fatalities in Boise): Bike paths and bike lanes remain vital, but not just for weekend recreation. They are an essential for everyday cycling.

A lot of people, unfortunately, incorrectly believe that bike paths and lanes are essential. That's not going to happen; there's not the money or the space for bike lanes on every road. But having one within a quarter-mile would be very handy for cyclists at all levels.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Grim times

Bicycles are the most efficient form of transportation, and superior to all others in so many ways.

Unfortunately, the cyclist is more vulnerable in an accident situation, than all those poor pathetic folks in their motor vehicles. In fact it's safe to say the only way to for a cyclist to avoid injury or death, is to avoid being in an accident.

This week, two experienced cyclists were killed in separate accidents, even though all evidence indicates they were doing everything right.

It's tragic... and it's also somewhat sobering. To realize how dependent we are on motorists to be taking care of their responsibilities in a competent manner - when we see their incompetence demonstrated regularly.

(Lest you misunderstand - most motorists are doing just fine. But there are some who obviously view their driving duties as secondary in importance to their phone call, or text message, or whatever the distraction of the moment happens to be. I sincerely hope that our legal system requires some accountability on the part of those who have cut lives short; there should be a heavy price to pay.)

Correspondent bob t sent me this; PLEASE help get the word out to anybody who might be of a mind to participate. Thanks. ...

Memorial Ride for Jim Chu

Last week on Tuesday, May 19, a van hit bicyclist Jim Chu, who was having a lunchtime ride along Orchard Street south of I-84 in Boise. Jim died two days later as a result of severe traumatic brain injury. He was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

Jim's funeral will be held on Friday, May 29, at 1:00 p.m. Services are at the Cathdral of the Rockies, located at 11th and Washington near downtown Boise. Burial will occur at the Dry Creek Cemetary.

The family wants bicyclists to lead the funeral procession partway from the church to the cemetery, and they hope for a large turnout. There is no requirement that you attend the funeral service itself, but the family welcomes all who wish to come inside. If you are available and want to join just the ride, please arrive at the Cathedral of the Rockies around 1:45 p.m. on Friday. The procession will stage on 11th Street, and will be fully escorted once underway.

I hope that you can join us on Friday, and please accept my apologies if you receive this message more than once.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sharing the Road

Wow! Perhaps it's the time of year. Bikes are everywhere! Yesterday on the bike ride home from the office, I took my normal short jaunt along the Greenbelt. It's a detour that's normally worth the extra distance because it puts me away from noisy heavy traffic. But yesterday it was like Rush Hour Downtown! Heavy bike traffic in both directions, merging from the side paths. Lots of casual cyclists who aren't paying enough attention for the circumstances.

Bikes are in the news.

There's a story on SLC's Deseret News website today: "Sharing the road with bicycles." (Click HERE to read.)

It's about Dwight Butler's near-disaster when his bicycle and an automobile collided at an intersection, and how his helmet saved his bacon... or at least his brain. (His bacon was apparently skinned up.)

Dwight owns a bike store - Wasatch Touring - and apparently is an avid cyclist. But according to the article, he "usually rides on the sidewalk."

What's with that?

As of this moment, 56 comments have been posted. And, based on the comments, I'm thinking that bike transportation in Boise is perhaps more cordial than in Salt Lake City, or Provo.

It's hard to believe that anybody would prefer to live in a place where the streets are so dangerous it's both unsafe AND illegal to ride a bike on those streets! Yet some people don't hesitate to say bikes don't belong.

Yep - bicyclists and motorists. Hatfields and McCoys. "Yanks" and "Johnny Rebs." Catholics and Protestants. Rush ditto-heads and Obamalamaloids. Muslims and Jews. Never the twain shall meet. (Or perhaps, as I suspicion, the worldwide web is just a particularly uncivil place. But then... the "mean streets" can be uncivil places, too.)

I sincerely hope that my riding practices aren't often the source of all that motorist frustration and hostility... or the "focus" of their anger.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Car-as-weapon, cont.

Correspondent bob t points us at the narrative of the cyclist who was involved in the hit-and-run with a black Dodge Charger. Read it HERE.

Based on his description, he and his gal were NOT out prowlin' for trouble on their bikes; they just had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and encountering some testosterone-charged macho motorist who resented their presence. I sure hope they nail the guy, and the case gets enough publicity that it serves as a LESSON... that cyclists indeed have a right to be on the roads.

The KBCI website had a rather interesting follow-up story HERE: "Can't drivers and bike riders just get along?"

The story points out, accurately, that while bicyclists generally have the same rights and responsibilities as other roadway users, there are some slight differences. (It would be good if motorists understood the unique Idaho stop sign/signal rules for cyclists.)

The comments following the story are a good illustration of some of the hard feelings that exist between the drivers and the cyclists. Can we get along? I'd like to think so...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Car used as a weapon against cyclists

... or at least that's the impression one gets.

A motorist - most likely a semi-Neanderthal who thinks he's entitled to the road - had a run-in with a couple cyclists Saturday evening in downtown Boise. (This was just a short time after the "Pedal Power Parade" - I hope it's not related.)

Evidently he honked at a couple cyclists, then passed them, then slammed on his brakes, causing one of them to plow into the back of his late-model black Dodge Charger. Then he drove away.

Were the cyclists "asking for it"?


Well - very improbable.

Unless they were threatening him with physical harm (which seems unlikely), he has no right to endanger them by his own actions.

(Although, to be totally honest and frank... who hasn't seen uppity cyclists who think they are entitled to the road, and at least briefly entertained the thought of giving 'em some redneck driving lessons? Cyclists can do a lot to avoid angry road-rage confrontations. Too bad some of them are hellbent on behaving like the stupid rednecks who drive cars and pickups with a hostile, confrontational attitude.)

The fact that this musclehead drove off afterwards is certainly an indicator of who is likely the guilty party. I hope his shiny black Charger was severely damaged, and somebody identifies him. Car-as-weapon should be automatic forefeiture of driving privileges.

The official news story can be read HERE.

"Can't we all just get along?"
- Rodney King, 20th century statesman/philosopher

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Remembering fallen cyclists

Here's an interesting and meaningful event to participate in - the Ride of Silence.

Wednesday, May 20. In Boise, it begins at Camel's Back Park at 6:30pm.

"Cyclists will take to the roads in a silent procession to honor cyclists who have been killed or injured while cycling on public roadways. Although cyclists have a legal right to share the road with motorists, the motoring public often isn't aware of these rights, and sometimes not aware of the cyclists themselves. ... The ride aims to raise the awareness of motorists, police and city officials that cyclists have a legal right to the public roadways."

It's held simultaneously at many locations; click HERE for more information.

I s'pose I'm fortunate that I've not lost a single close personal friend to a bicycling fatality. Some would say that's because I don't have any friends. (And I confess, I rarely ride with other people. And my good friends are generally not enthusiastic cyclists. Their loss!)

I could ride in memory of Barry Bastian. Barry was a father / husband / farmer out in Canyon County. Six years ago, on a beautiful late-spring day, Barry was riding his bike along the side of a rural road when he was overtaken by a farm truck that had a spraying arm sticking out on the right side. James Delfino, the driver, didn't realize there was a problem, or that he had killed Barry, until the boom whacked some cars on down the road. (Barry's brother is a dear friend of mine, although I never met Barry.)

I could ride in memory of Sarah Howard. We should not forget Sarah. She's the mother / wife / oncology nurse / cyclist who was stopped on Overland Road on her bike, back in October 2007. She was waiting for a green light, when she was plowed into from behind by Erika Hanson, who was driving her Hummer while impaired on narcotics.

(Hat-tip to bob t for pointing me at this...)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Near Miss

I'm as dedicated a transportation cyclist as I think you'll find. But every now and then, something happens that makes me wonder if I should hang it up. Like today.

I was stopped at a red light. 4:15 or so in the afternoon. Sunny day; perfect visibility.

On the other side of the intersection, waiting for the same green light, was a lady in (of all vehicles) the undisputed champion of private motor transportation, a behemoth white Ford Excursion. All by herself, far as I could tell.

The light turned green. I started across.

She started, too... but as it happens, she was turning left. Never a signal of her intentions. Right into my path, just as I was in her path.

I started hollering at the top of my lungs and waving one arm about frantically. Usually people are conscious enough that they'll notice what's directly in front of them. But not this absent-minded broad. Her brain might as well have been at the mall, or that soccer field she was headed for, or whatever.

The main thought I had was that if she hit me, she would roll right over me before being able to stop.

I must have gotten a sudden micro-burst of adrenalin; by some miracle I made it around that huge, hulking grille that was bearing down on me. It was as close as I've ever been to an impact, without it happening.

Frankly, I'm not sure what I was screaming, there toward the end. I believe it included "Stupid Idiot!" Some would say that's redundant. Now that I have more time to think it over, I can come up with at least a half-dozen more adjectives I would like to include.

She appeared to have had a weird slug-like delayed reaction. She looked over her shoulder; perhaps she realized what just about happened. It would be very comforting to know she was aware, and as shaken up as I was. And that she understands how critical it is for her to responsibly manage that 6000-pound lethal missile she controls.

Her husband probably bought her an Excursion so that if she's in an accident, she's less likely to get hurt.

I felt fortunate to ride away. Still a little shaky.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Boise Bike Week '09

Every year Boise Bike Week has been bigger and better-organized, with more participation.

It's next week - May 11-16.

The 2009 schedule can be seen HERE. You local cyclists need to look it over and find some things that you can get involved in.

I particularly endorse the "Pedal Power Parade" - the last official event, Saturday afternoon. It's the closest thing we have in these parts to a "Critical Mass" Ride... but without the animosity. (Downtown Boise is relatively quiet on Saturday afternoons. And we are blessed to have a motoring public that is generally tolerant of cyclists, and vice-versa.) This year it begins at Capitol Park at 5pm. It's for all ages and abilities - WEAR THOSE BRAIN-BUCKETS!

Old Man??

I was riding home last night, when two bike-riding punk kids were suddenly occupying my space... one close to the curb, the other out in the lane. Both riding illegally, against traffic and directly toward me.

If it were just them and the motor traffic, I'd be more than happy to let nature take its course. "Law of natural selection," you know. But when I'm needing to adjust out of the proper course and potentially put myself at greater risk, it really irritates me. So, I commented, using my standard comment: "Wrong way, Gomer!" I figure that's relatively mild while at the same time accurately declaring their violation of the law, and announcing my dissatisfaction.

The in-the-lane punk replied (after a few seconds to get safely farther down the street), "Be fruitful and multiply, oh venerated elder of the tribe!"

Only not in those words.

(If he had said that, I would've been very favorably impressed!)

His actual words were, "F*** you, old man!"

The first part of his statement reinforced my opinion. I had pegged him as a run-of-the-mill, likely below-average-intelligence youth, with demonstrably poor judgment. His use of a meaningless cliché that was already worn out when I was his age - so many, many years ago - says he's not very creative.

I know I was supposed to chase him down and escalate the discussion - right? Stand in the street and holler macho epithets at one another? That's part of the testosterone-charged cliché.

Problem is, an "old man" standing and exchanging verbiage with a verbally-challenged punk kid seems pretty pointless. (Now, if I could legally use my frame pump and administer the beating he probably deserves, without ending up in prison? Different story! But that frame pump has served me well for many years, and I'm too old to go to da joint anyway.)

But the "old man" part kinda bothered me! I've never been called "old man" before!

I did a bit of introspective analysis while completing the ride home.

I s'pose when I was 15, anybody over about 30 seemed pretty dang old.

And besides... the way I got so old was by NOT riding against traffic! Being so old suggests that I have learned some survival skills, and have spent a lifetime not being in the wrong place. (And... being LUCKY in more instances than I'd like to admit. I'd be embarrassed to list all the stupid stuff I did as a teenage punk kid.)

In retrospect, I'm pretty satisfied with the way this old man handled the situation. (And despite my rant, I genuinely hope those punk kids live to be old men themselves someday.)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Hamsters on Treadmills

Perhaps you've seen the cute new Kia commercial. It's for Kia's new little "Scion replica" box-car.

The commercial features hamsters in treadmills... a metaphor, of course, for all those folks who are stuck in the rat-race in common, ordinary vehicles. Except, of course, for the stylin' hamsters drivin' their new little Kia.

From the saddle of my bike, the commercial is spot on, in its portrayal of the rat-race and all those poor hamsters, who are probably not even aware that they're part of it.

But - is the Kia car distinctive enough to somehow liberate the hamsters from the treadmills? Again, from the bike saddle... I'm just not seein' it.

MILESTONE! This is the 400th post to BikeNazi.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


I took the scenic route home yesterday, along a road we call "the cow loop." And I believe I spotted an intruder among the dogies. See if you agree.

Which raises the topic of critters.

A bicycling buddy told me of recently spotting some pelicans while bicycling.

I've not seen pelicans, but I've seen many blue herons. Many times I've had to change course to avoid running into Canada geese. Plenty of ducks. Kingfishers. Blue jays.

I've seen numerous deer... raccoons, skunks, foxes. Beavers. Muskrats. I followed a coyote on the same road where the above photo was taken, as he took a relaxed pace for a quarter-mile or so, before heading off thru the brush.

I've had closer encounters.

One morning I was bicycling through Julia Davis Park; two squirrels were scrappin' in a tree directly above the path when one of 'em lost his grip and dropped probably 20 feet onto the concrete. He sat there momentarily, stunned, and I stopped to avoid running over him. After a few seconds, he came to his senses and scampered off again.

I was riding near Lucky Peak Dam - a "rock chuck" scampered across at the worst possible time, and his path took him directly under my bike. By some miracle, I didn't run over him, but I heard and felt as he whacked the chainring.

I did run over a cat one day.

I was riding along at a relaxed pace, and saw this cat crossing the road diagonally up ahead, at an even more relaxed pace. Cats have keener senses than a lot of critters, so I expected him to either pick up the pace or stop, so as to avoid an encounter. But he didn't! He walked directly into my path, and my front wheel rolled over him!

I didn't crash, which is pretty remarkable. I stopped and looked around, expecting to see a damaged cat... but he must not've been damaged too badly... because he was gone like a shot. 8 lives to go.

I've got a few dog stories... will post at some point in the future.

Friday, May 1, 2009

April riding report

538 bicycle miles, ridden on 30 days. Including my first 2 30-mile days of the year.