Wednesday, November 24, 2010


As a cyclist... I have so much to be thankful for!

I'm thankful for excellent health.

I'm thankful for the mild weather I enjoy on so many days of every year.

I'm thankful for a sweeeet, reliable, problem-free bicycle.

I'm thankful that I live in circumstances that enable me to ride to most of my usual destinations.

I'm thankful that I have the strength - both physical and "strength of will" to pedal to those destinations.

I'm thankful for public servants who keep my pavement in good condition, and who diligently try to enforce safety on our public roadways.

I'm thankful for the large majority of motorists who share the road with me ... who are patient and cooperative, who are paying attention to their driving, who understand and follow traffic laws.

I'm thankful for fellow cyclists who are good ambassadors for transportation cycling ... and who smile and wave back at me.

I'm thankful for the bounties of nature - the sights, the smells, the sounds - that are so freely available to the bike rider.

I'm thankful for my princess of a granddaughter who enjoys (at least so far) bicycle outings with her tired old grandpa.

May I never fail to recognize the great blessings that are mine, or fail to feel and express the appropriate gratitude.

(I've just listed the stuff I'm thankful for as a cyclist. If I expanded the scope, I'd get tired and you'd get bored.)

Happy and safe Thanksgiving to one and all!

Texting while driving revisited

IMO, one of the most significant threats to cyclist safety is the motorist who is distracted from that critical task, by whatever it may be. And some of the most common distractions are posed by electronic handheld devices, most often cell phones. More recently and alarmingly, drivers are composing text messages on their tiny keyboards. (Anybody who would do that while driving doesn't have enough common sense or concern for the safety of his fellow citizens, to be using public roadways!)

Many jurisdictions - including both Twin Falls and Meridian here in Idaho - have passed specific laws prohibiting texting-while-driving. Critics claim that the current inattentive driving laws are adequate... and I'd agree, if they were vigorously enforced. But "inattentive driving" is a matter of judgment, and very hard to prove unless an accident is involved. Probably a third of the motorists I see these days could be accused of inattentive driving, but many don't get into accidents... often because of the avoidance maneuvers by more diligent citizens.

State senator John McGee tried to get a statewide ban on the practice enacted last year, and pledges to do so again this year. According to McGee, "Texting while driving is 30 times more dangerous than even drinking while driving."

Another supporter of such legislation is Liz Catherman. Her daughter Kassandra, 18, was killed while texting in a tragic accident, when she drifted into oncoming traffic.

I had a huge change of heart about Liz Catherman and her motives while watching a TV story a couple days back. Her daughter was at fault in the fatal accident. I've always felt that there were other overlooked victims - those who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I was surprised by Ms. Catherman's compassion for those other victims. In the story, she explains, "On Dec 29th, daughter made a couple of poor decisions...she decided to text and drive and not wear her seatbelt. When you're on that public road you're involving the public and the public has a right to be safe on the roads."

My hat is off to Ms. Catherman. I wish other roadway users realized, like she does due to her personal tragedy, that texting-while-driving is a POOR decision!

Previous commentary HERE.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

First Snow

The commute this morning was a bit treacherous (enough to use extra caution), but beautiful. I ventured slightly off the beaten path to enjoy the beauty and serenity.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Garden City Greenbelt development

The Boise Greenbelt - oft-described as a "crown jewel" that enhances quality of life - has a bottleneck for cyclists. I've commented before about the arbitrary closing of a section in the red-headed stepchild community of Garden City.

I'm happy to report an interesting and promising development. Below is a "news release" I got from the Citizens for an Open Greenbelt organization.

For almost three years the Citizens for an Open Greenbelt (COG) has attempted to reverse the bike riding ban in Garden City. We have been unwavering in our commitment to eliminate this unjust Garden City bike ban ordinance. During this time countless hours have been spent with officials of both Garden City and the State Land Board to resolve this issue. No doubt both the State and Garden City hoped that our grass roots organization would quietly go away - but we haven’t. Unfortunately the State and Garden City are resolute in maintaining no bike riding along this section in the Riverside Village area; the same section (our public trust lands) that had been called a “bike path” by the State and Garden City for many years.

Having exhausted our efforts to resolve this out of court, this last Friday, November 12, our attorneys filed a complaint on behalf of COG in the Fourth District Court, in Ada County. The defendants in this case are Garden City AND the State of Idaho Land Board. Essentially we are arguing that:

1. This disputed section in Garden City (Riverside Village area) was intended, designed and created for bike riding.

2. The State and Garden City have arbitrarily and wrongfully limited the citizens’ right to utilize a public bike path for bike riding.

3. Garden City enacted an ordinance that is unreasonable, arbitrary and in violation of prior agreements for which they were a party to.

This was not an easy decision for COG as we had hoped either the State or Garden City would respect the interests and needs of the bike riding public in the Treasure Valley. But they chose not to. As much as we’re glad this case is moving ahead, it’s unfortunate that we could not resolve this without the need for legal action. Now both the State and Garden City will be committing taxpayers’ money and resources to defend this lawsuit.

Thanks to the many of you who have contributed your time, support, and money for this cause. We also are very fortunate to have three talented and dedicated attorneys who are willing to devote their time to this case pro bono.

As this case unfolds we will keep you informed.

Best regards.

I donated both effort and money to this cause; I'm glad it's proceeding forward.

The Idaho COG group has a Facebook presence; that may be the best way to get in touch, if you'd like additional information.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dangerous Routes

There's an interesting letter to the editor on the Statesman website today, written by a cyclist.

Here it is, in its entirety.*

Safe walking, riding paths for everyone

I’ve been commuting Downtown via bike since early June. I know that cyclists are rarely “seen” by motorists, and so I ride defensively and restrict my route to the Greenbelt path whenever possible.

Recently, I was struck by a motorist as she was turning onto Glenwood. Luckily, my injuries were limited to scrapes and bruises because my bike took the brunt of the blow and I had a helmet on — had I been a pedestrian, I’d not have been so lucky.

Though several bystanders gave accounts that the vehicle operator did not look both ways before turning, I was cited with an infraction for riding on the wrong side of the road because the sidewalk ends about 50 feet before I was struck, where it exits onto the hotly contested, pedestrian-only path through Riverside Village. Had the path been open to all users or had there been sidewalk available, I wouldn’t have been cited and the accident could have been avoided.

When will we in the Treasure Valley put our money where our mouths are and provide safe walking/riding areas for everyone? We might just lose a few pounds and gain some environmental perspective in the process.


First of all, a snide comment: How about that name?!! I'd sure hate to be Crystal Deschamps-Fogdall, every time I had to sign a check!

On to the content of Ms. Deschamps-Fodgall's (thank goodness for "copy and paste" - haha!) letter.

It sounds like maybe she was riding on the sidewalk, on the against-traffic side of the road, and when the sidewalk ended she drifted over into the breakdown lane and proceeded on up the road, against traffic. And that a motor vehicle entering from the side (likely a parking lot) turned into her path, not anticipating a cyclist approaching from the wrong-way direction.

Is that about right?

Cyclists - if you're in the wrong place, it's no wonder that you're "rarely seen." You'd be MUCH safer riding legally and predictably on the correct side of the road, in bright attire. I'm glad she wasn't severely injured, or killed!

Think about it, if you're also a motorist.

You're pulling out of a parking lot, intending to turn right into busy traffic. The traffic is coming from the left, so you look to the left, eagerly awaiting an opening. Although ideally you'd also look to the right to make absolutely sure there's no approaching hazard, it's certainly understandable that many people don't. I know I've had close calls myself, when some bonehead on a bike comes puttering up the wrong side.

I'm really glad Ms. Deschamps-Fogdall wasn't riding against traffic when another cyclist came along, riding with traffic. (I ride that stretch of Glenwood - sharing the road with cars - probably 4 times a week average. And it's always scary and maddening when somebody is bicycling straight toward me, against traffic.)

On the bright side, I'm glad the cop did his job and issued a citation. (Although that rarely happens unless an accident is involved.)

I agree with Ms. Deschamps-Fogdall that it would be really nice if the Riverside Village path was open to all users. (And I expect it will be soon... I sense "something in the air.") But you can't blame facilities, or lack thereof, for illegal and ill-advised behavior on the streets.

* NOTE - My experience has been that the Idaho Statesman web content isn't a permanent archive; the link will go stale in a few weeks. Thus, I chose to copy the letter over. I hope the folks at the Statesman wouldn't have a problem with that, since I acknowledge the source.

Safety Warning

To my fellow leisurely bicyclists: Please keep in mind that we're sharing the road with people in cars and trucks and SUVS who, unlike us, are very very busy, with important schedules to keep. That's why they're forced to multitask - you know - drive with their knees while jockeying a large coffee in one hand and a cell phone in the other hand.

And this time of year - sometimes their vehicles have frost on the windows, at least in these parts. Due to their extremely busy schedules, these folks don't have time to scrape those dad-blame windows - they've gotta run! They have the skills to safely navigate while peering through a tiny peep-hole, with phone in one hand and coffee in the other... as long as you stay out of their way. Let's not slow them down - PLEASE - they're busy!

Why just this week, a schoolgirl here in Boise was smacked by a guy in his frosted-up car, as she rode her bike through a crosswalk. (Story HERE.) What a thoughtless child! She's lucky that poor driver wasn't injured! (In seriousness, it's hard to say if her crossing in a crosswalk played a role. Motorists aren't expecting relatively fast-moving bike traffic where they might be expecting pedestrians. She probably would've been safer carefully navigating the traffic lane. Of course, the sidewalk - or in your house - is safer than sharing the road with frosted-windshield motor vehicles.)

LET'S BE CAREFUL! We are obviously sharing the road with some very thoughtless folks, who figure they're willing to take calculated risks in their harness-and-airbag equipped steel chariots.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bicycle helmet backfires

This is a tragic story.

An Emmett 3-year-old died as a result of wearing a bicycle helmet.

He had been cycling, and didn't take his helmet off upon arriving home. Instead he headed straight for the swing set. And apparently the helmet got stuck in the set, and the strap choked the little guy to death.

I can't imagine the grief the family must be feeling. What an unfortunate and unexpected accident. My heart is heavy.

When my Princess Mackie and I go riding, we frequently stop at a playground. She's usually off the Tag-Along, and running for the swings and slides, before I can even dismount! I usually ask her to come back so I can take her bucket off. (Even though I watch her the entire time.) As a result of this tragedy, I am going to teach her to unbuckle her own helmet, and encourage her to always remove the helmet, the minute she's done riding.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

1 year old

My newest bike is 1 year old today. On November 7, 2009, I threw a leg over my new Cannondale bike for the first time.

I rode her 563 miles in 2009, and I've ridden her 5683 miles in 2010, for a total of 6246 miles. Not too bad for an old fat guy. I would've had a few more miles, if I hadn't been grounded for 30 days over December and January.

Today I gave 'er a good drivetrain cleaning, and rode 21+ miles.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Flat #19 for the year

Yesterday afternoon I got a flat.

Big deal, right?

This wasn't a goathead flat (like probably 15 of the first 18 were). I ran over what looks like a 6-penny finishing nail. Took about 3 revolutions of the wheel before it was completely flat. The nail pierced the tire and both sides of the tube. Fortunately it didn't damage the rim.

Being a pathological cheapskate, I tried to patch the tube, rather than replacing it. I should've known better. I missed one of several nail-holes... and I'd also sustained a "snake-bite" puncture, by riding over something pointy while the tire was quickly deflating.

At least it was daylight, and a lovely day. (It's no fun to patch a flat while getting rained on, in the dark.)

This flat was notable because it was the first rear-tire flat I've repaired this year, thanks to the Vittoria tires I've been using. I'm TOTALLY sold on those tires! Because I'm a cheapskate, I'll use up the other tires I have on a hook, but I think I'll buy Vittorias from now on.