Thursday, December 25, 2014

Season's Greetings

I hope you, dear reader, find yourself in fortuitous circumstances on Christmas Day 2014.

We had a bit of snow overnight... just enough to call it a "White Christmas."  I braved the streets, which are bare except in the shady spots, for a little nativity bike ride.  I share a couple photos I took today, of a trailside makeshift nativity scene.  It's been there for the better part of a year, in a rusty box mounted on a power pole.  I quite like it.  Also, a couple other nativity scenes that I've passed on the bicycle, this year and last.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Bicycle Joy

Take a look at this photo.

The pretty little girl - does she look happy? She's Annie Rasmussen, and she's sitting on her sweet new bike, courtesy of the Boise Bicycle Project. The BBP overhauled and gave out more than 350 bikes - and helmets - to kids here in Boise this year.  The bicycle giveaway project is now a well-established tradition.

Now notice the guy in the photo.


No - better! It's Clancy Anderson, who freely shares his time and talents with the BBP on a regular basis. Does Clancy look happy?

Clancy not only volunteers (at the BBP and at Recreation Unlimited), he's also a devoted transportation cyclist and a regular commenter here on the Bike Nazi. And he's rightfully profiled in a story on the Idaho Statesman website... read it HERE. Jimmy Hallyburton down at the BBP calls Clancy a "magical volunteer" - and that he is!

The world is a better place, because of organizations like the BBP, and especially because of guys like Clancy.

(Photo stolen from the Idaho Statesman website - it's a great one!)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Gas for less than $3!

Motorists are rejoicing!  For the first time in quite some time, gas can be had for less than $3 per gallon!

Our long national nightmare is over!

I'm surprised that Obama, and/or the newly-elected Republican Congress, haven't already taken credit.

There are a lot of factors that go into the price of gas, but ultimately it boils down to supply and demand.  Supplies are up - as fossil fuel becomes more valuable, there's more incentive to discover and extract it.  North Dakota and eastern Montana and Wyoming are fossil-fuel beehives these days.  Meanwhile, the middle eastern oil terrorists are keeping their prices low, in the hopes of starving out the small-time oil barons who are competing for a tiny slice of the pie.

(I doubt demand is any lower... they say that big SUV sales are creeping up.  Sub-$3 gas will probably result in some GMC Conestogas and Ford Battle Wagons under the tree with big satin ribbons, come Christmas.)

Motorists are discovering... "Hey - if we spend less on gas, we'll have more to spend on other stuff!  Cool!"

Transportation cyclists reply, "Well, DUH!!!"

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bike lanes for East Emerald & Americana Hill?

This may be of interest to Boise cyclists.  The Ada County Highway District is conducting a survey and soliciting citizen comments about the possibility of adding bike lanes to the east end of Emerald Street (from Orchard east to Latah), and Americana down the hill to the entrances of Ann Morrison and Kathryn Albertson Parks.

To find the survey, go to the ACHD Project Page, and click on Emerald Street & Americana Boulevard... in the "Roadways" section - that project page is HERE.

Some observations... since I've ridden that corridor many times each week for years - on a bicycle - I felt qualified to comment.
- Being a pragmatist, I appreciate the fact that those streets get pretty busy at Rush Hour.  I don't relish the idea of turning four traffic lanes into two, which is one of the scenarios.
- Emerald can get a little dicey when traffic is heavy, but
- the lanes are pretty wide on Americana.  Maybe they could add a bike lane on both sides.
- Or perhaps they'd do a bike lane on the uphill side where there can be a wide disparity between bike speeds and car speeds, but let 'em share a lane on the downhill side.

My recommendation on the survey was to mark the outside lanes with prominent "sharrows" to remind motorists that they might be sharing the lane with brothers and sisters on bikes, but otherwise leave things as they are.  I also noted that it can be awkward to ride up the hill on Americana, and then somehow get into the left lane to turn south on Latah, but I'm not enough of a traffic genius to know how to economically make it better.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Well, it was bound to happen eventually.

I had a weather-related crash.

Background info - we got about 8 inches of snow Thursday night and during the day Friday.  They reported it's the most snow on the ground in Boise since 2002, so it's unusual.  And since then, it's remained well below freezing, so the precipitation has mostly remained on the ground as well, in various forms.

I've soldiered on, riding my bicycle every day... the craigslist wider-tire beater bike that doubles as my baby bike.

Friday I still had the smooth treads on when I rode to work, and that afternoon I was sliding around like I was on water skis!  I switched over to the "knobby" tires Friday night, and it's been much better.  I rode to nearby destinations on Saturday and Sunday.  Monday I had the day off and no destinations, so I rode a couple miles at the park across the street.  (At least a mile-and-a-half was in the tennis courts, that had mostly "virgin" snow - I spent a half-hour or so making tire track patterns in that snow - fun!)

Yesterday I rode in to work again.  As always when traction is marginal, I try to stick to the side roads, bike paths, etc., and travel at a reasonable pace.  (Yeah, I know lots of people think the only reasonable bicycle pace is STOPPED, when the roads are slippery.  If I had a car, I'd probably drive instead... but I don't have a car.)  The morning ride was fine.  But I'm convinced it's always slipperier in the afternoon.  In the morning it seems like even the slipperiest places have "crystallized" a little on the surface.  By contrast, in the afternoon when the sun has been shining, they become glass smooth, and even have a liquid-lubricant surface.

It was on one of those zero-traction surfaces where I had my mishap.  It looked deceptively like it had a bit of sand and gravel... but not enough to provide any traction.  There was just enough of a sideways slope that... ZIP!... my wheels were out from under me without a bit of warning and POW!  I bounced off that slippery surface sideways.

And I was reminded that I'm a 61-year-old man!  I didn't bounce right back up like I might have, 25 or 30 years ago.

There were cars approaching from both directions, but with plenty of distance to slow down until I dragged my sorry carcass out of the way.  The reality... I had the scene cleared in probably 20 or 30 seconds, but it always seems longer.  The guy approaching "head on" rolled down his window and sympathetically asked if I was okay.  I was.

Other than de-chaining, my bicycle was fine.  And as it turns out, I think I'm fine, too.  The true test is the next morning when the alarm goes off and you have to get out of bed.  That's when you find out if you've wrenched a muscle or bruised a joint... something that will hurt for a week or a month.  But I didn't feel too bad.  Just the usual morning slow start.  Didn't even take an aspirin.

I thought about taking the bus.  But when you get bucked off, you have to get back on that pony.  So I rode.  Did fine on the morning commute... and I have high expectations for the afternoon commute as well.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Snow Day!

What a difference a day makes!  Twenty-four little hours...

The forecasters and their tools have become much better in my lifetime.  For most of the (cold but sunny) week, they've been telling us to expect a couple inches of snow today.  As I bicycled into the office this morning, I could feel a few little flakes spittin'.  At goin' home time, there was an accumulation of an inch or two, just like the man said.

Office colleagues, as always, were horrified at the notion of bicycling in the snow.  "You're riding your bike?!!?"  And as always, I tried to reassure them that as long as the other roadway users were driving appropriately for the conditions, I'd be just fine.  In fact... I detoured several miles out of the most direct path to enjoy the unique treat that is riding in freshly-fallen snow.

Once you get away from the traffic noise, the quiet is something special.  The snow acts as a sound-deadener.  The bike tires make a slight crunching sound... off in the distance comes the occasional enthusiastic honking of a dozen or fifty Canada geese.  (I wish I understood goose - is it happy sound?  Or is it unhappy?  Are they encouraging one another, or complaining to one another?)  The occasional rippling of river rapids.  At one point a mommy came jogging by, with a pretty little princess pulled behind on a sled.  The princess was obviously very happy.


Trade this, for the climate-controlled comfort of a "cage"?  I think not!!

(NOTE!  I try to acknowledge and respect the damage that a 4000-pound steel missile could inflict on me!  The first snow day is always a godsend for the body shops, and if they can smash and crash one another, imagine the squish they could put on a soft-on-the-outside bike rider!  When it's slippery, I consciously avoid the heavily-traveled thoroughfares, choosing the protected bike/pedestrian facilities and side streets whenever they are available.)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Bike Briefs - mid-November

No!  Not what you wear under your bike shorts!

I find that I've lost some motivation to contribute frequently to this blog.  Probably because I've said all I have to say, and there's not a lot new in transportation cycling.  (Or if there is, it's apparently passing me by.)  I'd like to do a better job of "indexing" this blog, so visitors can more easily find specific information - or my spin on information - that's been previously posted.  That'll probably be a job for a frigid weekend, sometime over the winter.

On the local front, the weather has been ideal - and autumn is probably my favorite time to ride a bike in the Boise area.  So many people apparently hang 'em back up in the garage after Labor Day, so traffic is light.  The sky is often blue, and the trees start turning lovely colors.

I snapped this photo on Halloween, riding home after work.  (Actually two photos, merged together in a panorama.)  Looking out over Ann Morrison Park, downtown in the distance.

They've improved a couple stretches of the Greenbelt.

East of town, below Warm Springs Mesa, they improved some retaining walls, but the pathway appears unchanged.  (It might prevent dirt from washing across the pathway, during the occasional downpour.)

And downtown between approximately 16th Street and 23rd Street, they replaced another stretch of bumpy asphalt with concrete, and rerouted a couplel of ramps.  (I'm glad that one is done, because it was blocking my primary going-home route... over the railroad trestle and up to Garden Street.)

West of town... you can now ride all the way from Glenwood to Eagle Road on the south bank of the river... without getting your feet wet!  (I forded that canal a couple times over the summer, with bicycle over head.)  The feud between the city and the subdivision was resolved and they replaced a missing bridge over a drainage canal.  Twice this month already, I've ridden that stretch, and then crossed the river on Eagle Road, and returned to Riverside Village on the north bank of the river.  (Obviously, once a bike rider gets to Riverside Village, he's forced onto the streets, because the bike path becomes a no-bikes "nature trail" for a half mile or so.  A lasting monument to selfish "provincialism" by Garden City, and spinelessness by the Idaho Attorney General's office.  But I've beat that dead horse enough over the years.)

(NOTE!  The "Eagle Road Loop" of the Greenbelt includes several sections of unpaved pathway!  Keep that in mind if you decide to give it a whirl.  I do okay on my semi-skinny (28mm) tires.  Super skinny tires might fare worse... 2-inch tires would be lovely!  I don't begrudge the dirt sections at all - they probably keep the Lance Armstrong wanna-bes away.  If it's your first time... take it easy.  There are a couple of "surprise" bends.  And factor in some time for getting lost-and-found, particularly on the north side, and wending your way through Riverside Village.)

On a personal note... over the weekend I hit 5000 bike miles for the year.  And went on another sweeet ride with granddaughter Bonnie, who's over 300 "bike passenger miles" for 2014.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Fall back, schmall back!

I went to the Wikipedia to read up on Daylight Saving Time.  According to that source, the notion was originally floated by a guy from New Zealand, back in the late 19th Century.  And it says the "rationale" is that most people prefer a greater increase in daylight hours after the typical "nine-to-five" workday.

I can buy that - in fact, count me among them. So... why would we suddenly quit preferring daylight after 9-5, in Autumn when the days get shorter?

If anything, they should "fall forward" and "spring back," so we get that extra hour of precious daylight in the winter, when the days are shortest.

Starting Monday for a month or so, you'll get dressed in the morning and commute to work while the sun is up... big freakin' deal!  When you go home, maybe if you're lucky you can do a few minutes of outside stuff without artificial lighting.  By a month from now, it'll be dark all the time, except when you're at work.  (I'm describing the situation at roughly 43 degrees north latitude.  It varies.)  Oh goodness!  Just the thought give me Seasonal Affective Disorder!!

In any case, don't change the batteries in your smoke alarm on account of "falling back."  If your smoke alarm is anything like mine, it will start annoying you with incessant beeping when the battery is getting weak.  (Maybe Duracell is the powerful lobbying group that keeps DST alive.)

When I'm in charge, we'll have year-round DST... and "America the Beautiful" will be the National Anthem.

End of rant.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ebola nurse bike ride

So, let's suppose you're a medical professional who has been in Africa on a humanitarian mission, trying to provide care for people suffering from an often-deadly virus infection.  And then you come home, and find yourself surrounded by people who are worried that you might have the virus... and might in turn give it to them.  Because of that fear - a very reasonable fear - you are quarantined for the duration of the virus incubation period.

What would you do?

I think I'd go on a bike ride.

And that's what Kaci Hickox did.

She's the nurse who just returned from Africa.  Because it can take up to 21 days to get sick after contracting the virus, she was ordered to stay in her house for 21 days.  (The evidence also suggests that the only way to contract the virus is through VERY close contact with the victim, in which body fluids are exchanged/contaminated.)

Hickox defied the order and went on a bike ride with her boyfriend.  (She lives in Fort Kent, Maine, on the Canadian border.)  “I am not going to sit around and be bullied by politicians and forced to stay in my home when I am not a risk to the American public," she declared.  As they rode, a couple cop cars followed, and the "press corps" followed behind the cops.  Apparently it was uneventful - she didn't spew body fluids on any of her fellow citizens, who breathed a huge sigh of relief when she went back inside.

Story HERE.

I can't blame people for being wary.  Ebola is about the worst thing that could happen to you!  But a bike ride should be on the approved list of pastimes, during the quarantine period, as long as the cyclist avoids places where there are lots of people.  (A "critical mass" ride might be an event to avoid.)  I'd rather have 'em riding bikes than riding around in the subway, like that NYC doctor who started showing symptoms the next day.

If I was waiting 21 days to find out if I was going to die of a dreaded virus, I'd rather go on a bike ride than sit at home watching "The Stand."  (I have it in my DVD collection and have been thinking about watching it again.  If you're not familiar, it's a miniseries based on the Stephen King novel.  A germ warfare virus escapes the research facility and ends up killing 90% of the population.  The survivors band together - the good guys in Boulder, Colorado, and the bad guys in... are you ready?... Las Vegas!)  It's pretty good.  But maybe you don't want to watch it - or read the novel - during the Ebola Scare, or when you're nursing a case of the flu.

How about requiring her to wear a hi-viz yellow sweatshirt with bright pink lettering: "EBOLA QUARANTINE - DON'T RUN INTO ME!"?  I'd buy one of those!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Bicycle Safety Survey

Mark Hoglund is a doctoral student at SUNY, and has prepared an online survey about bicycling and safety.  I submitted my answers... it took about 10 minutes.  I'd encourage you to, as well, if you are at least 18 years old.  As with any survey, the more participants, the more accurate the survey can be.

"We hope to learn about things that bicyclists do which may help them avoid traffic accidents.  There will be questions about .....  
- your normal practices while bicycle riding
- traffic accidents or near accidents which you may have had while bicycling
- other factors (such as the amount of riding you do) which might affect your risk of having an accident."
Most of the survey questions seemed pretty reasonable.  There were a couple about behavior at stop signs and stop lights; I added a note explaining that I reside in Idaho, where cyclists aren't required by law to stop at signs.
You can link to it HERE.

Friday, October 10, 2014


In 1978, this offbeat new sitcom came into existence - Mork and Mindy.  I was young and poor, and much of my entertainment was listening to my records and watching TV, so I tuned in.  It was a winner... I watched it regularly.  I thought Mindy was cute as a bug (that's very cute... right?), but it was the zany antics of newcomer Robin Williams that kept it truly interesting.  (According to the Wikipedia, Williams came in to audition with the producer of the show... he was directed to a seat, and stood on his head in the seat, and was hired on the spot.)

Over the next 30 years, Robin Williams became a household name and part of our culture.  He made a wide variety of movies, playing everything from "manic Robin Williams" to straight men to sinister scary dudes.  And of course, whenever he got the chance to cut loose, there was no one better at frenetic high-energy improvisational comedy.  He sure caused me to laugh - and groan - a lot, over the years.

Off-camera, one of his passions was bicycling!  Did you know that?  It wasn't well-publicized, but he loved to ride bicycles, would hang out with Lance and visit France during the race of the same name, etc.

When he took his own life earlier this year, it shocked even his best friends.

How could a guy who made us so happy, be so sad?

So, why do I bring this up in a blog about cycling?  Well, I already mentioned his love of bikes.  But also... there's a saying among motorcyclists, "You never see a motorcycle parked in front of a psychiatrist's office."  Suggesting that motorcycling is therapeutic and brings peace of mind.

I certainly believe that to be true... unless maybe you're a white-knuckle edge-of-control motorcycle rider, and maybe even they get to release some stress.  (I don't think it would work for me.)

I believe bicycling is even more therapeutic!  Or at least I know it works that way for me.

Maybe Robin had let dust collect on his bicycles for too long.  Evidently he was very, very disappointed about how the Lance Armstrong soap opera turned out.  I s'pose I can understand.

Depression - chronic depression - is a serious condition, and obviously hard to understand if you don't suffer from it.  I had a younger sister who was a brilliant over-achiever.  As we were growing up, I know it was hard for my parents to not say, "Why can't you be more like your sister?!!"  She graduated from medical school at the top of her class, and very young.  Two or three years later, after several unsuccessful attempts, she committed suicide.  That's the last time I cried like a baby.  I couldn't understand how such a gentle, gifted person, beloved by everybody in her circle, could feel so bad about herself and her situation.  I still don't.  I still miss her many years later, and I'll miss Robin Williams, too.

(I happened across an interesting article about Robin Williams and his love of bicycling... HERE.)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Boise Bike Boosts

A couple developments in Boise could result in more bicycles on the road in the not-too-distant future.

A stretch of Capitol Boulevard is set to get upgraded bike lanes within the next few weeks, in conjunction with a resurfacing project.

For those not familiar, the street is prominent in downtown Boise, running between the Boise Depot on the south and the Statehouse on the north.  It is bordered by Boise State University and Julia Davis Park on one side, and Ann Morrison Park is nearby on the other side.

Some "intrigue" has been added to the project, because the City of Boise and ACHD (the roadway government entity in the county) have had a political "pissing match" (pardon my French!) about the details.  In the latest round, the city has wanted the traffic lanes to be 10 feet wide, while ACHD has insisted on 11-foot lanes.  Rational people would say, "Let's compromise and make them, uh... um... ten-and-a-half feet wide."  But that would be way too simple for our elected public servants and their paid experts.  ACHD will likely prevail, since they own the tape measures and painting trucks.  According to the latest update on the Statesman website, there will be a  "bike lane ranging between 4 and 6 feet wide running along the east side of Capitol. A painted buffer between 18 and 42 inches wide will separate the bike lane from car traffic."

Read more here:

How wide does a traffic lane have to be?  Based on my experience... the wider the better!  Some of those guys in their F350 Super Duty Turbo Dually pickups can occupy the full lane and seem to get flustered because they can't occupy ALL the lanes!

And in another "big city" development, the Boise Bike Share has become something you can actually touch!

The administrators were hoping to have it up and functioning in 2014.  But unfortunately, '14 is flying by, and now it looks like 2015 might be realistic.  However, they have a sample bike (!), and the Boise Weekly people took a ride on it.  Story HERE.

There's a photo of the bike.  It's bright green and has a "utility bike" look about it.  It appears to have an electronic bike share device on a rear rack, and also appears to have a drive shaft instead of a chain.  I suspect that's intended to lower the maintenance requirements... ?  A shaft is considerably less efficient than a chain for transmitting power to the back wheel... but on a bike that will be primarily used for low-speed travel over relatively flat and smooth surfaces, that probably won't be a major issue.

The story says they will be introducing the "principal sponsor" very soon.  I'm looking forward to that; my main reservation with the program has been the implication that it will be another taxpayer-funded perk that our kids' grandkids are expected to pay for someday.

Also, the story lists the "stations" where the bikes will primarily be parked:
  • City Hall Plaza: 15 racks
  • Old Borah Post Office: 15 racks
  • Boise Centre: 15 racks
  • YMCA: 10 racks
  • Idaho Power: 10 racks
  • Boise State University Interactive Learning Center: 15 racks
  • Boise State University Student Union Building: 15 racks
  • Water Center: 10 racks
  • Ada County Courthouse: 10 racks
  • Boise Co-Op: 10 racks
  • St. Luke's Campus: 15 racks
  • Library!: 10 racks
  • State Office Complex: 10 racks
  • BoDo: 10 racks

  • They're all fairly close-in... maybe if the program is a winner, they'll expand it to more destinations.  (And if I understand correctly, a GPS locator device on each bike will enable the user to leave it at a destination other than one of the "stations."  I'm waiting to see how that works; obviously it will require a staffer who can retrieve the bike at some point and return it to a station.  In my mind's eye, it seems a little haphazard and chaotic, but maybe the reality will be poetry in motion.)

    Monday, September 22, 2014

    "Daredevil biker" kills pedestrian in Central Park

    A 59-year-old pedestrian, crossing the street in NYC's Central Park, was struck by a cyclist last week and the injury to her head proved fatal.  The STORIES I've read, and the comments following some of them, have generally been sympathetic to the pedestrian, and have called out the "maniac bikers" who are making life dangerous for innocent citizens.

    I, too, am sympathetic.  Ms. Jill Tarlov, the victim, was allegedly crossing the street in a marked crosswalk when "fierce triathlete" Jason Marshall hollered a warning instead of stopping, and then struck Ms. Tarlov.

    However, some questions need to be answered.  (I wasn't there - in fact, I've never stepped foot in Central Park.  So unlike so many "authorities," I need to refrain from being judge/jury/executioner... at least for now.)

    Some people have stated flatly, "A pedestrian in a crosswalk has the right-of-way... period."

    Not so!

    At a "controlled" intersection - you know, with a traffic light and maybe a Walk/Don't-Walk sign, vehicles have the right of way when their light is green and the pedestrians have a "Don't Walk."

    Do the crosswalks in Central Park have such features?  As far as I'm concerned, that's the only redemption Mr. Marshall might have.  And even then... it's shameful that he wasn't able to avoid the collision anyway.  A defensive rider would've anticipated a possible problem and been prepared to take evasive action.

    (I once hit a pedestrian under slightly similar circumstances... except she darted without warning from between two cars, in the middle of a city block, right into my path.  I barely clipped her as I swerved to miss her, and slammed into the pavement.  She said "I'm sorry," and went merrily on her way... I hurt for probably 2 months afterwards.)

    The speed limits in Central Park are 25mph... even a "daredevil biker" would have a difficult time maintaining a speed much faster than that.  (The story linked above says during his ride, Mr. Marshall hit a speed of 35.6 mph... but was he miles away and going down a hill or something?)

    The main fact that the angry mob seems eager to ignore...?  This story is only newsworthy because it's so unusual!  How often does a bike rider kill somebody besides him or herself?  Hardly ever!  By contrast... in 2013, in New York City, 178 pedestrians and cyclists were killed in traffic aaccidents.  (Info HERE.)  It's a safe bet that all but one or two of those fatalities involved a motor vehicle.  So, when we're lamenting, "Something must be done about these daredevil bikers!!," let's just keep things objective and in perspective, huh?

    Tuesday, September 16, 2014

    Idaho drivers - RUDEST in the land!

    If you're in Idaho, you've probably heard that we're number 1!  "We're Num-ber One!  We're Num-ber One!"  (But I haven't heard our governor boasting about it, or turning it into a campaign issue... yet.)

    According to a poll of 2000 drivers taken by website, Idaho drivers are the rudest!  And our neighbors Wyoming, Nevada, and Utah are also in the Top Ten.

    Apparently the SLOW Idaho drivers are rude for driving below the speed limit... and the FAST Idaho drivers aggressively speed around them and flip them off!

    It goes without saying that Idaho cyclists can be lumped right in there.  Our slow-moving ways really annoy the NASCAR rejects in our midst.

    In all honesty, I can't say that Idaho's impatient, aggressive, fast drivers are any different from their like-minded comrades in other states.  Surely even North Dakota (#51) has its share of hot-headed gear jammers.  And interestingly, Idaho's rude drivers apparently avoid accidents... we have some of the lowest auto insurance rates (#48) in the nation.

    My favorite rude drivers are the ones that gun their motors to demonstrate their rudeness and lack of patience to the rest of the world... and then when they get a chance, it's pedal-to-the-metal, roaring exhaust and sucking that $3.75 gas as fast as the fuel pump will deliver it... and then half-a-block later they slam on their brakes to avoid rear-ending the next guy who's blocking their speedy trajectory.  So very impressive!

    Sunday, September 14, 2014

    4K miles for 2014

    It wasn't so long ago that I was boasting of having ridden 3000 miles this year... and it being the 28th consecutive year of at least that many miles.  Well... as of yesterday, I've ridden at least 4000 miles every year, for the past 28 years.

    Thank ya... thank ya verruh much.

    (I won't be repeating the "28 year" mantra at 5000 miles... there have been several years over those 28, when I rode more than 4000 miles, but less than 5000.  Not since 2002, however.)

    About 230 of those miles have been on the baby-seat bike, with granddaughter Bonnie.  Bonnie loves to go on bike rides!  Who can blame her for preferring it to riding in the car... facing backwards in a low-slung baby seat, so all she can see is a little sky through the back window?!!

    (The ill-advised "selfie while riding with granddaughter" photo)

    Some of those miles have been with both granddaughters, Bonnie and Mackie.  (Mackie propelling herself on her 24-inch bike.  She says it's not fair that she has to work, while Bonnie just relaxes and enjoys the ride.)

    I continue to have a "writer's block" of sorts - thus the infrequent posts.  I'm riding... and I see lots of other people riding.  But it's generally "steady as she goes," and whenever I feel like commenting these days, it's generally commentary I've already put down in the past.

    In fact, I'd say the bicycling population is as high as it's been over those 28 years, at least in Boise.  More and more people seem to be recognizing the many benefits of self-powered transportation.  At least during the warm months.  (And I believe September and October are the best months for bike riding in Boise, as a general rule.)

    There are other bike-related things that occasionally catch my attention...

    A texting Los Angeles sheriff's deputy killed a guy, and no charges will be filed because he was doing "official business."  This despite the fact that it's illegal for commoners to text in California.  I'd call it a travesty of justice.  Story HERE.

    In happier bike news... Miss Oregon is wearing "bike shoes" in the Miss America pageant, to promote her state's bike-friendliness.  When I read "bike shoes," this isn't what I expected.

    Monday, August 11, 2014

    Fat is coming to Boise!!

    The New Belgium Tour de Fat will roll thru town next weekend - Saturday, August 16 to be specific.

    How does one describe the Tour de Fat to someone not familiar?

    Well, its not about Body Mass Index, or an eating contest, or a gathering of the morbidly obese.

    Rather, it's a celebration of bicycle transportation and culture.  It's brought to you by the people who also bring you Fat Tire Amber Ale... which is probably delicious, particularly on a hot August afternoon in Boise!  (Not being a beer drinker, I can't speak from personal experience.  And in case you're wondering, most of the events are all-ages appropriate... particularly the parade, which takes a relaxed pace through downtown Boise on bicycles and contraptions that vaguely resemble bicycles.)

    A complete schedule of events, and additional information, can be found HERE.  (It asks when you were born... apparently even though the kiddies are welcome to ride in the parade, they shouldn't be looking at the schedule!)

    Mark your calendar now - the parade begins at 11am.  It's probably the closest thing we have to Carnaval, or Mardi Gras.  Very, very festive!  If you've done it once, you'll want to do it every year.

    Another favorite event is the "Car for Bike Trade."  An attendee who mostly drives a car for transportation pledges to give up that car for a year... and in return he or she rides away on a shiny new limited-edition Fat Tire bike!  (I'm always jealous... but must admit I'm not the "target demographic" since I'm already a believer.)

    Last year, they estimated 7000 parade participants!  No other parade in Boise even comes close!  And - there's another reason to participate... last year the attendees contributed $62,000 to local non-profit bicycle partners (this year the beneficiaries are SWIMBA, Treasure Valley Cycling Alliance, and the Boise Bike Project).

    Let's hope for 8000 or maybe 10,000 participants this year... and be part of it!

    Monday, August 4, 2014

    Another Greenbelt ride to Eagle Road

    I promised granddaughter a grand adventure, if she'd go on a bike ride with me.  She took the bait!

    We started riding at Glenwood at about 7:30pm Sunday, and headed downstream.  The scenery is in its summer glory... fantastic!  Mackie ran over a little garter snake, yelling "Snake!" and slamming on her brakes.  We stopped to check it out... fortunately it was in soft, loose dirt, and she has fat tires, and the snake continued on his way, apparently unfazed.  (Mackie's only disappointment was when I suggested a minute or two later that we could've caught it and taken a photo of her holding it.)  We also had a beautiful blue heron take to the sky from maybe 15 feet away from us - awesome!

    Downstream, we had the overflow canal to ford, since the homeowners apparently removed the plank that formed a makeshift bridge.  I had anticipated it, and we were both wearing our river sandals.  Sah-WEEET!

    We crossed the Boise River at Eagle Road, and then headed upstream on the north side, returning to our starting spot at about sundown.  At 10 1/2 miles or so, I believe it's the longest ride Mackie has been on, where she was supplying her own power.  She said, "My legs feel kind of tired, but I'd like to keep going!"  Her 24-inch bike has definitely expanded her horizons.

    I mentioned Clancy's dream - of extending the Greenbelt downstream another couple miles to Eagle Island State Park, and having overnight camping available for cyclists.  What a fantastic thing that would be, for a family bike-riding destination!  Mackie agreed heartily.

    It always seems 10 degrees cooler when you're near the river.  Maybe it's just the shade, I don't know.

    We are both looking forward to our next "near the edge" bike adventure.


    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    Living Healthy - Bike Safety

    Our local daily paper, the Idaho Statesman, is featuring a "Living Healthy" insert that's full of good info on bike safety.

    What got my attention in particular, was the photo on the cover... of a very high-visibility cyclist.  It's my "visibility guru" and friend, Bob T.  He's a great ambassador for bicycle safety, beginning with being highly-visible to motorists.

    Bob is hard to miss!  Hi-viz vest, lights at both ends day and night, big slow-moving triangle on the back.  Bob: "What I'm doing is for my safety, of course, and a courtesy to motorists.  I want them to know I'm there.  I know they don't want to hit me."

    There are some other worthwhile articles as well, about safety, rules of the road, local bike commuter profiles, tips for new riders, etc.  Definitely worth a review.

    The publication can be seen online, HERE.

    Thursday, July 24, 2014

    Down Memory Lane

    Since I've become pretty lackadaisical about generating new posts here on the Bike Nazi, I thought I'd post some links to previous comments that have returned to my attention recently.

    One recurring issue is turn signals.  Lots of motorists seem to not be aware their car has turn signals, or are too self-absorbed to think it important to signal... or let's face it, with cellphone in one hand and coffee in the other, it's just not possible to push the little thingie.  Previous commentary on the topic HERE.

    Granddaughter Mackenzie is 7 now.  I recently upgraded her to a pretty nice little 24-inch Kona bicycle.  She loves it.  (Although the reality is, a 7-year-old has a lot of entertainment interests and distractions; sometimes it's hard to coax Mackie to go riding with me if a favorite movie is on, or if she's absorbed in a game on one of the family "devices.")  I've been fondly reminiscing about the Summer of '11, when 4-year-old Mackie and I rode to 92 playgrounds around Boise!  More info can be seen HERE. (That will always be one of my fondest memories!)

    The Tour de France is underway right now.  (We Americans are once again not interested, since Lance retired, and then fell from grace.)  A few years ago I posted about the Tour de France Diet... and about how your food options are considerably more varied if you ride a bike regularly.  (Since I love to eat, and I have two excellent cooks in the family, that is a considerable incentive for me to hop on and ride.)  Read it HERE.

    3k for 2014

    Please indulge me while I engage in a bit of self-congratulation.  (It's part of my Bike Commuter Incentive Program.)  Today I crossed the 3000-mile mark, for the year 2014.

    Actually, I'm running a little late this year, due to out-of-town, non-bicycling days.  (If I'm in town for any part of the day, I try to ride... but when I'm separated from the bicycle by many miles, it becomes difficult.)  In 2013 I hit the mark on July 10, in 2012, on July 12, in 2011 on June 12 (!), etc.  (Am I a slave to my bike computer?  I'm probably guilty as charged.)

    Yeah, it's no big deal.  I'm sure lots of people, even right here in Boise, have ridden more than 3000 miles this year.  However... I'm guessing that the head count diminishes greatly, when you ask how many of 'em have ridden at least that far for 28 straight years.

    At this point, it seems unlikely I'll ride 6000 miles this year.  But 5000 should still be easily within the realm of possibility.  Gotta keep the faith!

    (Apologies for the infrequent posts lately; I'm going to try to do better.  I've been very, very busy for the past couple months, plus it becomes challenging to come up with new material.)

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

    Late spring status report

    It's a great time of year to be a transportation cyclist!  If I were more organized, I would've put all the winter gear away by now.  (I never have time to get organized, so the winter gear is just collecting dust.)  The mornings are brisk but tolerable, the afternoons are warm but tolerable.  The amateurs and wankers are starting to show up on the Greenbelt (particularly in the teenager hot spots - check out the new Water Park area!)... but generally aren't yet like a large herd of cattle or sheep.

    I had the good fortune to cross paths with "dlb" today - he occasionally posts a comment, and we live almost within hollerin' distance of one another.  We were both astride our velocipedes.

    I missed the last 10 days of May, bicycle-wise... had the good fortune to travel back east - specifically to Providence, RI, where my daughter Kellyn married Lucky Man Edward.  They are good people - I'm confident they will care for one another and make a wonderful relationship together.  (Providence was lovely, too!  Traveling to such a place and one wonders, "Why do they call Boise the 'city of trees'?  This is a desert, for cryin' out loud!")  On the day we got back, even though the day had started at before 2am (Mountain Time) to get to the airport on time, I went on a nice 15-mile shake-out ride.

    Bonnie and I had an interesting ride, last Saturday.  We rode a couple laps around the big fountain at Ann Morrison Park which is operational for the year.  Then we rode over the footbridge, where we mingled with the tail-end runners competing in the Ironman race.  (I didn't know their route until we were briefly sharing it with them.)  From there, we rode past the Firefighters' Memorial... where a ceremony was taking place!  Full-uniform firemen... flags at half-mast... and best of all, a pipe and drum corps!  Which marched right past us!  Fantastic!

    Yep - I feel a little sorry for those poor souls, stuck in their cars.

    Sunday, June 1, 2014

    NYC Bike Share - ZERO fatalities, one year in

    When the CitiBike program debuted in New York City over the Memorial Day weekend, 2013, the talking heads and finger-waggers all had dire predictions about how dangerous it would be, to introduce thousands of relatively inexperienced cyclists, on unfamiliar bicycles, onto the mean streets.

    Amazingly, 12 months and 8.75 million trips later, there have been 100 or so reported accidents, which resulted in 25 or so trips to the emergency room... but ZERO fatalities on the shared bicycles. Remarkable!

    Story HERE.

    (I continue to see occasional updates about the proposed Boise Bike Share that we may see in the not-too-distant future. My opinion remains constant - I'm not sure Boise is big or "urban" enough to support such a program, and I'm not a fan of expending general taxpayer funds. But nobody's asking me anyway.)

    Sunday, May 18, 2014

    Boise Bike Week '14 - personal recap

    Well, another Boise Bike Week has come and gone.

    I rode every day, and ticked off a little over 160 miles, Sunday thru Sunday.  But my participation in organized activities was marginal

    I took my two granddaughters, Mackenzie and Bonnie, for the Pedal Power Parade.  It was supposed to start at 5pm, from Capitol Park.  We got there 10 minutes or so early.  It's difficult to wrangle a 7 year old and a 15-month old who both are fairly attention-deficit, so I tried to time it close.  Too close, apparently... the park had maybe a dozen cyclists, rather than the hundreds that Mackenzie and I have joined in years gone by. (HERE is my report on last year's PPP.) The lady in charge said somebody got anxious, and the main group departed at 4:36pm - 24 minutes early.

    The later arrivals - the dozen or so of us - went on an abbreviated ride, maybe 1/4 the length of the intended route, and without police escort and VIP treatment and revelry that are supposed to surround the event.  We returned to the starting point.  My granddaughters and I enjoyed some ice cream, then went on home.

    (Photo snapped upon returning and joining with the remainders of the bigger group.)

    NOTICE TO ORGANIZERS - if you want to enjoy a broad participation by area cyclists who have busy schedules this time of year, you better stick to your announced schedules!! Please and thank you.

    Greenbelt - west update

    I saw a story a few days back, reporting on the ongoing conflict between an "affluent Eagle subdivision" that's balking at the prospect of a public bike path being developed adjacent to a few back yards. (I've posted on it numerous times... it's essentially a repeat of the "Riverside Village" debacle. The developer agrees to provide a public bike/pedestrian path as a condition of development... then the homeowners want to back out.)

    The most recent story says, "The Laguna Pointe Homeowner's Association recently hired a private contractor to clear a new pathway near the Boise River and away from the homes. Construction on the path was completed on Wednesday. The cost was approximately $4,000. Members of the HOA hope the city will develop that pathway and give up plans to seize the current path now in use." I was curious enough, and the day was beautiful enough, that I decided a personal observation trip was in order.

    Here's where the "new pathway" begins, at the east end - the Boise end.  The "traditional" disputed path is on the left, the new one on the right.

    It's extremely loose, dusty dirt as of today... I had to walk my bike for the first couple hundred feet.  But it gets better... and that problem is easy to fix.

    The route isn't a bad alternative, frankly.  Closer to the river and farther from the palatial estates - what's not to like?

    Except... eventually it merges back into the traditional path, just before where it crosses the flood overflow canal.  And - the stout plank that replaced the destroyed bridge has been removed.

    I had the choice of either returning the same way I got there... or fording the canal.  The socks and shoes came off.

    The rest of the path remained unchanged from previous visits, over the past year or so.

    I rode north a half-mile or so on Eagle Road, and then headed back in on the north side of the Boise River... my reward was several miles of well-maintained dirt paths mostly, and lots more very nice scenery.


    (And of course I was compelled to take to the streets, when I arrived at the exclusive Riverside Village "nature path.")

    It's about 10.5 miles, round trip, starting and finishing at the Glenwood Bridge.  There are a couple tricky places - forks in the road and such - where it helps to have ridden it before.  And I'm guessing that 6 of those 10.5 miles are dirt/gravel surface, generally quite well maintained.  (It may be marginal for super-skinny high pressure tires.)  But if the weather is nice and you've got some time, I recommend an exploratory adventure out that way.

    It's a shame that the public status of this pathway will likely be mired down in legal limbo for the foreseeable future.  But I've done the round trip 4 or 5 times now, and have ridden west to Eagle Road at least that many more times, and I've never had a confrontation with anybody.  Hopefully your results will be similar.

    Thursday, May 15, 2014

    Mackenzie's new bike!

    What better way to celebrate Boise Bike Week, than to do a hardware upgrade?

    Mackenzie could've probably made it through one more summer on her 20-inch bike.  But I swear, I've had to adjust the seatpost up another half-inch every month or so.  She's growing!  It was just about maximum-extended.  So, I've been casually watching the Craigslist for a decent 24-inch bike.

    Lots of department-store throw-away 24-inchers, and the bike-shop models have all been going for a premium price.  But patience paid off, and I found a nice little Kona "Hula" in pink and white.  If Mackie had spec'd it out herself, that's what she would've wanted.  And, it's been owned by a bike-riding family, meticulously maintained, and stored indoors.

    We took it on a quick around-the park on Night One.  Tonight we gave it a better workout - Mackie put 7 miles or so on it, and was rewarded with a refreshing root beer float.

    She declares, "I love this bike!"  I'm guessing it will serve her nicely for next three summers, at which point she'll be ready for a grown-up size bike.

    We'll be riding in the Pedal Power Parade, along with Baby Bonnie.  Hope you can make it!

    Thursday, May 8, 2014

    Bicycling to work - Census

    Okay - this is pretty remarkable.

    According to a U.S. Census report released today, bicycling to work has seen a 60-percent increase over the past ten years.  But even cooler from a local standpoint... Boise, Idaho is listed as the #4 "large city" with the highest percentage of transportation cyclists, at 3.7%.  Portland is #1 at 6.1%, and Minneapolis and Madison, WI, are both ahead of us... but we have more cyclists per capita than such traditional cycling cities as Seattle, San Francisco, and Tucson.  (Nationwide, the Census people say 0.6% of people use bikes to get to work.)

    Why the uptick?  Here's my "expert analysis" (nudge-nudge, wink-wink):
    - Gas is considerably more expensive than it was 10 years ago.
    - Despite suggestions to the contrary, the economy is still pretty stagnant; people have to economize.
    - The young adults of 2014 don't have the same perception of a fancy single-occupant vehicle as their parents did.  It's no longer an essential symbol of status and "success."

    I expect bicycles-as-transportation will continue to become more popular over the next ten years.

    Might Boise move up on the list?

    I sure don't know why not!

    Think about it - the weather and "geography" of Boise are more bike-friendly than those of Portland or either of those Northern-Midwest cities.  We get less rain than any of them... a lot less than Portland.  Our winters are shorter and milder than Minneapolis or Madison winters.  And our terrain is relatively flat.

    More and more, the local administrators seem to be willing to provide accommodations for casual or timid cyclists... witness the month-long test project downtown.

    What's working against us?

    Urban sprawl will always be the enemy of bicycle transportation.  People who live in their Little Piece of Country Heaven, 20 or 25 miles from where they work and 5 miles from where they shop, are never likely to do much bike-transportation, all other things remaining the same.

    We are lacking in education and enforcement.  There are still too many idiots-on-bikes who either don't know how to use the public roadways, or are willfully disobeying the rules of safety and common sense.  And as long as there are no consequences, that's unlikely to change.  (As the percentage of cyclists increases... MAYBE "peer pressure" will have a positive impact.  If just one guy is hollering "Wrong way!" at the against-traffic cyclists, nothing will change.  But if they get hollered at every block or two, maybe they'll take notice.)

    Boise Bike Week starts this Saturday!  I believe we have good reason to celebrate, now more than ever... pick out an event or two or five to participate in. I'd suggest the Pedal Power Parade on Saturday 5/17.

    Thursday, May 1, 2014

    Bike awareness cop car

    These are heady times for cyclists in Boise.  The street developers, ACHD, have laid down several miles of "demonstration" bike lanes downtown... at the expense of car lanes on significant thoroughfares.  They will remain in place for a month, and citizens are asked to comment on them.

    I've tried the bike lane up Capitol Boulevard... I won't use it regularly because it's off my most direct route.  But I can say confidently it's a boon for cyclists who travel that way... but at what cost?  A traffic lane can carry a lot of cars, that are suddenly squeezed into other lanes.

    I've got this theory - and I may be totally wrong.  Our mayor and ACHD have had some public spats over the years, and the mayor is a proponent of more bike lanes downtown.  I'm suspicious that ACHD is maybe doing this pilot project in such a massive and potentially-disruptive way, specifically so the general public will oppose it, and they can shelve the plans.  (But on the other hand, I have to give props to ACHD... I think they have a track record of including bike infrastructure in their projects, when it makes sense.  Does it make sense to steal traffic lanes and on-street parking for downtown bike lanes?  I s'pose the community should decide that.)

    "But... what about the bike awareness cop car?" you ask.

    The police department today deployed a shiny new cop car with bike awareness graphics on it.  Sah-WEEET!

    (Now if only they would use it to prosecute scofflaw cyclists... and impatient or inattentive motorists who increase the danger factor for law-abiding cyclists!)

    Thursday, April 24, 2014

    Bike crash season is underway

    We're not even through April yet, and already two young riders have been gravely injured (one fatally) in motor-vehicle / bicycle accidents.

    A little five-year-old boy was riding with his five-year-old sister on Fairview Avenue (!), when he was struck by a giant cement truck.  Preliminary reports lead me to believe the little fellow was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and went into the side of the big truck.  At last report, he was still in the hospital with serious injuries.

    And then on Easter Sunday, 13-year-old Olivia Schnacker was crossing Ustick Road while riding with friends, when she was struck by a car.  It was at the intersection of Jullion Street - there is a crosswalk with flashing lights there, and witnesses seem to believe the lights were activated.

    According to a STORY on the KTVB website, the setting sun may have been a factor. I'm sorry - the incident took place "just before 6:30 pm," and the sun set at 8:34pm on April 20. I'm not buyin' that lame excuse! And then the lady gets out of her car, and hysterically cried out, "I'm going to go to jail!"  I should probably feel sympathy for her, but I'm having a hard time summoning it.  I feel bad for poor Olivia, whose life was cut tragically short, and for her family and loved ones.

    I wrote a guest opinion over on the BOISE GUARDIAN, urging bicyclists and motorcyclists to be careful! And motorists too! Cyclists do stupid stuff all the time, but usually they're only endangering themselves. I want EVERY motorist to consider how he or she would feel, if he were getting out of his car to survey the damage he just inflicted on a child during a moment of inattentiveness... and drive so that NEVER happens!

    Sunday, April 20, 2014

    Bike/ped infrastructure of the future

    It's been awhile since I posted anything.  I hope you are well; I've been busy with lots of things... and at the same time the cycling has been fairly steady.  As the weather is getting nicer, the two-wheeled population is increasing meaningfully; 10 days or so ago, on one of the nice early-spring days, I was riding to the office and saw five cyclists in the bike lane up ahead!  Exciting.  (And also exasperating - the Greenbelt and other popular bike paths get complicated as "amateur hour" begins for another season.)

    There is an ongoing discussion about an effort to make downtown Boise more "bike friendly," with additional striped bike lanes, etc.  I commented about it just last month.  (As a "vehicular cyclist," I don't feel a personal/selfish need for improved infrastructure.  But when I put on my "bicycle advocate" hat, I acknowledge that if they build facilities for the casual/timid cyclist, it's likely those cyclists will increase their cycling... perhaps even to the point that they're less casual/timid and will expand their bicycle horizons.)

    There's always need for bicycle advocacy... because there are always plenty of non-cyclists who advocate against more bike infrastructure.  They lack the vision, and lack confidence that investments in bike/pedestrian facilities will make the community a better place for everybody.  They only see precious car/truck facilities - part of our culture! - being taken away.

    Maybe I lack vision... and occasionally it's good to take a look at "what might be."

    In that vein... recently my friend Bob T. emailed me a link about a totally unique bike/pedestrian roundabout in the city of Eindhoven, Netherlands.  It blew my mind!  It's extremely functional, and is also a fantastic melding of art and science.  It's called the "Hovenring."  You've got to see this thing.

    "The bridge comprises a 70-metre high pylon, 24 steel cables and a circular bridge deck and is made out of steel. The cables are attached to the inner side of the bridge deck."  So, it's a roundabout with ramps at the corners, that hovers above the motor vehicle intersection.

    You'd be hard-pressed to find somebody in the Netherlands who pooh-poohs the idea of bicycles being a significant component of their transportation culture. Maybe if they can put up a Hovenring, it's not preposterous for us to stripe down a few more bike lanes.

    More info about the Hovenring can be found HERE. And the video Bob sent me can be seen HERE.

    Sunday, March 30, 2014

    Wildlife viewing

    I've enjoyed some early-spring wildlife viewing.

    It's not uncommon at all to see a deer along the river banks, as one traverses the Greenbelt.  And any regular cyclist will attest that occasionally you find yourself slowly zig-zagging among the abundant Canada geese.  (For me it invokes the haunting final scene in the Hitchcock classic, The Birds, when Rod Taylor drives his Aston-Martin into the sunset, as millions of birds slowly clear a path for him.)

    But a few wildlife viewing opportunities have been a little less common.

    I've ridden the Greenbelt out to Eagle Road a couple times this spring.  And on the most recent trip, I saw several swans taking rest in the dredge ponds.  Beautiful!

    And a bit farther downstream, it's nesting time for the cormorants... hundreds of 'em perched in the trees.

    Even more uncommon in these parts is a giraffe viewing.  Which should convince even the most ardent global warming skeptic.  There was a time when giraffes were rarely spotted outside of Africa.  But Africa's too warm for 'em nowadays.


    Saturday, March 22, 2014

    Owning the road

    In most places in the USA, cyclists "have all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle" with few exceptions.  (Idaho statute)

    (Obviously, it has to be acknowledged that the laws of physics trump the laws of the state... if your choice of riding location exposes you to irrational danger, being legal may not be much comfort if you're lying in the hospital or morgue.)

    Some roadway users refuse to accept that cyclists have a right to be there.  And others - particularly, it seems, drivers of giant pickup trucks - seem to believe that the right to use the road is proportional to the size of the vehicle being operated.  This is obviously something that I often observe - read HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

    If they ever changed the rules of the road, so that the driver of the big vehicle has priority over the driver of the smaller vehicle, I will start driving one of these...

    (Spotted in a neighborhood I occasionally drive through.)

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

    New ridin' buddy

    My granddaughter Bonnie turned 1 end of February... I'm thinking she and I are going to enjoy some nice bicycle adventures over the next few months.

    We went on our longest ride yet a couple days ago - 11+ miles.  Since I can't see her face except for occasionally when she looks up at me, I have to go on sounds... but the sounds are uniformly happy sounds.  Our long ride was down to the greenbelt; she seemed to really enjoy the sights and sounds of the water.  We also engaged some Canada geese in a low-speed chase (them waddling, we following) across the grass.

    On the way home, we swung by the Boise Depot.  If you haven't been there recently, you need to check out the roundabout at the northwest entrance; it's been finished in beautiful style by some mosaic artists... spectacular!

    Friday, March 14, 2014

    More bike lanes in downtown Boise?

    ACHD (which builds and maintains roads in these parts) is proposing new bike lanes on several major downtown roads, at the expense of motor vehicle lanes.  They are asking the general public to weigh in.

    I wasn't able to attend their Open House, but I submitted the following comments via email:


    I'm a 29-year veteran transportation cyclist here in Boise... bicycle has been my primary year-round mode of local transportation since 1986.  And I've worked downtown, and bike-commuted via downtown streets, for the last 19+ years.  So, I've got a little experience.

    I'm somewhat ambivalent about your proposal to add bike lanes to several downtown roads.

    On the one (personal/selfish) hand, I'm rarely uncomfortable using the existing infrastructure.  There are several north-south streets with bike lanes, as well as Bannock and Grove.  I can navigate pretty close to 'most any destination without too much sharing-of-lanes-with-cars.  And, I share lanes with cars enough that I'm not uncomfortable with that, either, at 20mph speeds in particular.

    On the other hand, it's a FACT that a lot of people would ride bikes more, as transportation, if it weren't for the "fear factor."  Safe or not, sharing a lane with cars is PERCEIVED as being unsafe by people who don't do it regularly.  And more people on bikes is good for the community!  If 50 more people are riding bikes downtown, probably at least 30 cars are NOT on the roads that day!  They're saving money that they can spend at downtown merchants.  They are NOT spewing pollution into our inverted atmosphere.  And the city "happiness quotient" goes up!  THAT has to be worth something, huh?


    I know I'd be much more inclined to bring my 7-year-old granddaughter downtown on the bikes, if I was confident we could use bike lanes for the duration.

    So, in balance I suppose I'm in favor of more bike lanes downtown, and believe it would be the right thing to do.

    As more and more people straddle bikes, I sure wish there were some organized educational effort.  Mostly it's free-for-all.  I was dismayed this morning at the number of cyclists I saw riding nonchalantly along (downtown) roads, against traffic!  This is the time of year when the "amateurs" start dusting off their bikes after a long winter's nap, and showing up on the roads.  But unless they crash it's highly unlikely they'll be officially corrected in any way, and I've grown weary of trying to be the teacher.

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

    Thursday, March 6, 2014

    Gross Negligence

    This is why I need a bicycle with a belt, rather than a chain. [See previous commentary about the Novara Gotham bike.] Or a "bike butler."

    My shifting has been deteriorating recently, and occasionally the chain has been jumping cogs.  It had been a month or maybe six weeks since I last cleaned the drivetrain.  (I should do it every 2 weeks; the reality is more like every 2 months.)  So I figured it was probably just gunked up; I lubed it in the morning, thinking that would tide me over 'til the weekend when I could do a cleaning/lube.  Then in the afternoon I took a couple paper towels to wipe off the excess lube.  If I had a bike butler, I'd expect him/her to have significantly higher standards.

    Lo and behold, as I was wiping the chain with the towels, I encountered an obstruction - the chain was actually pretty much broken!

    Yeah, I know!  GROSS!!

    As far as I know, this is a first.  But it makes me a bit uneasy.  How many times have I ridden up my hill in the afternoon with a faltering chain?  How many "rabbit starts" have I done to beat the approaching traffic?!!  I'm glad I discovered the problem under such favorable circumstances.  And I'll try to make a practice of at least a quick check a little more frequently, going forward.

    Chain and cassette have both been replaced.  (Some people replace the chain 2 or 3 times a year; I try to make the chain and cassette last a year... and the crank rings are typically good for a couple of years.)

    Saturday, March 1, 2014

    Bike Lust '14

    If I had Jay Leno -type dinero, I'd enjoy the warehouse full of classic cars and motorcycles.  And I'd add on a 1000-square-foot wing for bicycles.

    Last week, a guy at the office rode in on his shiny-new custom-spec'ed CETMA cargo bike.  I tried not to drool on it as I checked it out.  I like the flat cargo deck, that can have various boxes, etc., added... very utilitarian!  Other features that he's included (he may not have Jay Leno dinero, but obviously money isn't a major stumbling block):
    - internally-geared hub (10 speed Shimano, I believe)
    - disc brakes
    - Brooks saddle (classy!)
    - a front hub motorized assist.  I was talking to him about it; he said when he gets it fully loaded he anticipates it will be pretty nice to have a little power backup.  In the third photo, you'll see a little control panel.  He said the battery is already onboard; it must be mounted underneath the deck.

    Then today, before it started to rain, I actually went on a new bike test ride!

    For a couple years, I've had my eye on the REI Novara Gotham "urban" bicycle.  What particularly attracts me is the NuVinci constantly-variable hub.  That and the belt drive.  In my imagination, the combination would be uniquely quiet and maintenance-free, besides providing a super-wide final drive ratio.

    To test ride it (OK since it wasn't raining at the moment) I signed a disclaimer, left behind my driver's license and REI credit card, and promised not to leave the parking lot.  I'd kinda dreamed of riding it uphill, and along a straight stretch for awhile, but I made do.  I did have the opportunity to test its maneuverability, since they're right next door to the Golden Corral... I deftly maneuvered around bovine GC breakfast customers who lumbered about in the parking lot.  And the hub is just as amazing as I imagined - a gentle twist changes the ratio in a very real way, but almost imperceptibly... no click between gears.  Very, very cool.

    Changes since last year, when I first started eyeing it:
    - frame was steel in '13, now it's aluminum (but the weight is down about 5 pounds - and it is NOT a lightweight bike, at 30+ pounds)
    - mechanical discs in '13, hydraulic in '14. (I'd probably prefer mechanical as a maintenance and durability issue, but it may not be a big deal.)
    - in '13 it had a front hub dynamo to charge the headlight battery.  Now I assume you have to plug it in now and then.
    - oh, and last year it was $1300; now it's $1400.  Spendy... but a good value, seems to me.  (Just the hub costs around $300 or so.)

    I'd dearly love to get it, but it'll probably have to wait for another year
    .  Hopefully they'll still build it in '15.