Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I found this on http://inthebluff.blogspot.com/ . The rest of the post is from that blog, which I highly recommend if you are a Memphomaniac.
The Consumerist is one of my favorite blogs (tho, for the life of me, I can't figure out why) and today they have a little bit about a Wal-Mart shopper who wasn't allowed to bring her $600 bike into the store.
Because there were no bike racks at that particular location, the cyclist thought she'd just take the bicycle with her into the store, something she'd done in the past. But a Wal-Mart manager argued that she couldn't bring it into the store because the store sold bicycles.
From her posting on Bike Forums:
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Scenic Commute Cuts Stress --- Even with more traffic, driving through the woods increases patience.
Scenic Commute Cuts Stress --- Even with more traffic, driving through the woods increases patience.
By: PT Staff
Finding a shortcut to work may not be the only way to improve your morning commute. People have more patience for on-road stresses when they drive through scenic, nature-lined streets. This is the case even when judged against roads that have less traffic, but are surrounded by sprawl.
"Not only do we like natural scenes, but they have a physiological effect. People are, in fact, calmed down and relaxed by them," says coauthor Jack Nasar, professor of city and regional planning at Ohio State University.
For the study, 106 participants watched a simulation of a morning commute. Some were shown a four-lane road passing woods with little development. Others were shown commutes with fewer cars on the road, but with more strip malls and less vegetation.
Before the simulation, the participants had been given tests designed to increase frustration—for example, anagrams that had no solution. After their "drive," researchers measured the participants' stress levels with a questionnaire. The drivers who had been on the greener but more congested road were less frustrated.
Nasar gives an evolutionary explanation for the calming effects of natural scenery. "There is an innate response to nature: it has a healing and restorative effect," he says.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Here is the misunderstanding- If you ride in the city at night, you don't need a headlight. Street lights and your reflective clothing will suffice.
Wrong. You need a headlight for safety (and a tail light, too!). Good lights reduce your odds of being hit. The brighter, the better. And, headlights are required by law in all 50 states in darkness or low-visibility conditions. It is illegal to ride a bicycle on public roads without a working headlight.
1. Safety improves with a headlight
The number one reason motorists give for hitting a cyclist? "I didn't see her."
If you have been riding any length of time in recent years, you probably have a story or two about a close call with a motorist who was driving while distracted. Cell phones, kids, food, GPS, music, smoking, all of the above at the same time--- motorists are distracted.
Increasing your visibility is the best thing you can do to increase your safety.
Here is the cognitive process that transpires in a human mind in a split second: I see something- I recognize that it is a cyclist - the cyclist is on the road with me- I need to drive properly - I do it.
The sooner that decision process starts in the mind of the motorist, the sooner the motorist can start comprehending how to handle the car-bike traffic situation.
"But isn't a bright tail light enough to keep me safe?"
Nope, not at all. Here's why: Over ninety percent of all car-bike crashes happen from the front or side from turning or crossing traffic. A red rear blinky doesn't do you any good in preventing 90% of the crashes!
Increasing your visibility makes it more likely that you will be detected sooner by a motorist. If they detect you soon enough, the have a better chance of doing the right thing. If they don't see you in time... Well, I hope you are lucky that night.
Psychologists say that a motor vehicle presents a visual field that is seven times bigger than the visual field of a bicycle. Smaller road users need to do something special to be more easily detected by the bigger road users.
2. Cops, Lawyers and Money might not be so bad if you have a headlight
Not using a headlight at night can become a legal and financial liability. If you are not using a headlight and you get into a crash with an automobile, you might be held responsible for the crash and for all your costs and even for the motorist's damages. Your medical insurance company might try to deny payment for your injuries if you are found negligent. If you ride illegally (without a light at night) you might be seen as negligent and contributing to the accident even if you are otherwise doing everything right. Collecting damages from motorists is much more difficult when you are riding illegally.
If you don't have a headlight, you can be ticketed because you are breaking the law. In many places you absolutely will be ticketed by the police if you are not using a head light on your bike when it is dark. This happened to several friends of mine when I lived in Germany- the police there enforced the laws for all road users. Cyclists around the more enlightened parts of the USA have been cited for not having working lights at night. This does not yet happen in Memphis, but I think that as more and more Memphians turn to cycling for basic transportation needs, enforcement of the law will become necessary.
3. It is cheaper than you think, and they don't weigh that much.
"But, headlights are too expensive! And they are heavy!" some say.
Headlights are not free, that's for sure- the best and brightest can cost several hundred dollars! However, you can find a "Be Seen" light-- one that clips on to you handlebars or helmet, that is in the $20-30 range. A small price to pay to keep your bike, and yourself, from getting crushed by a motorist who cannot see you in time.
And, modern lights are much lighter than they were a few years ago-- you no longer have to lug around a 2 pound battery to power your lights. There are plenty of powerful lights that run on AA batteries. No hassle, no big deal. The best ones attach in seconds-- no excuses for not using one.
How much is your life worth? If you are unlucky and get into a crash becaue you are not seen, think about this for a moment, grasshopper. An ambulance ride to The Med costs about $550-- the ER costs are astronomical. And then, there is your pain, suffering, and possible death-- and, OMG! Your bike gets smashed!
4. Bottom Line
Almost all the cyclists who are hit at night believe that the motorists could have seen them and should have seen them. Almost all the motorists say the same thing "I didn't see him." What the motorists should really say is "I didn't see him IN TIME."
Lights get you recognized faster. Lights help a lot. Friends don't let friends ride without lights. Check out the Youtube video below.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
You think we have enough mechanical tech expertise to build these here in Memphis?
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Opinion-- I don't like getting tickets, but I think that we cyclists need to (mostly) obey the laws of the road in order to be seen as legitimate road users by everybody. Motorists need to mostly obey the laws too, and most motorists know that when they blow a stop sign or red light a ticket may be issued. In Memphis I have not heard of any cyclists ever getting a ticket (Am I just uninformed? Let me know!)
Same road, same rights, same rules, right? Until enforcement of the laws for all road users is a priority, our progress in sharing the road will be limited.
The video - produced by Massbike.org
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I have been bike commuting off and on for 24 years so I am pretty comfortable riding in all sorts of city traffic. Others, however, are not comfortable at all—they might not have much experience in traffic or they might have had one or two bad experiences that have scared them off from riding solo.
However, most riders (urban traffic novices in particular) feel much safer in a group, especially if they trust the group leader. I have taken some traffic novices through some pretty complex traffic quite safely. The experience was usually exciting for them, but not too scary, and we were definitely safe. When they follow an experienced leader through traffic, they gain competency.
So here is the point for this article—to help less experienced people learn to negotiate urban traffic on a bicycle, consider starting a Bike Bus Ride in your area.
A Bike Bus is a group of cyclists riding together to a specific destination on a schedule with an experienced leader. Bike Buses were originally started to allow commuters to ride together to work. However, a Bike Bus can be adapted to go anywhere groups of riders want to go- church, shopping, the zoo, parks—If a road goes there, a Bike Bus can go there.
The Bike Bus rides two abreast (where legal) and will single up as needed. The Bike Bus rides legally and courteously—Bike Bus members are ambassadors for cooperative legal road sharing, adhering to the “Same Roads, Same Rights, Same Rules” slogan. The Bike Bus stops at traffic lights and stop signs. (Well, we may slow down and not stop dead still if it is safe to roll, but we will slow down and act like a, uh, act like a Bus.)
The pace of the bike bus is agreed upon by the members that day. Since the Bike Bus serves a safety and a social function, dropping slower riders is generally not a good idea. However, if there are enough riders, splitting the Bike Bus into two or three groups riding different paces can be a good idea. Smaller groups are easier for motor vehicles to pass as well.
A group of 4 is big enough to feel like a Bike Bus. I think once the group reaches 12 or so, splitting into more than one Bike Bus might be a good idea, depending on the situation. If there is only one leader, don’t split it. Recruit competent co-leaders.
MidTown Bikes is leading a Farmer’s Market Ride on Saturdays. Bill Draper is leading a Downtown Memphis History Bike Tour a couple of Saturdays a month. In my own neighborhood, I think that a good thing to do would be to create a Bike Bus ride to local grocery shopping. I live just 2.5 miles from Wild Oats, Super Lo, and Kroger, so it is very bikeable. To me it is bike friendly, but to novices riding down Southern and crossing Poplar looks like certain death.
Consider getting on the Bike Bus! Here’s a website from down under-- be sure to check out the video.
Friday, July 11, 2008
I received this by e-mail today:
Date: Tue, 8 Jul 2008 12:50:23 EDT
Subject: Update on the 26 year old who hit Danny Fadgen with his car
Capt Keller had one of the Lieutenants interview the driver when he returned to the scene, about 30 minutes after he had fled the scene. He was not drinking. Apparently, he was doing stupid things in the car, like talking on his cell phone and eating, and did not notice that he went on to the shoulder of Germantown Parkway. Apparently, he was convincing enough that the police did not feel that alcohol or road rage were issues.
The young man is just a moron.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
From the Memphis Flyer: (and also http://inthebluff.blogspot.com/ )
Perhaps things are changing -- we'll see. I am hopeful but skeptical. I will be at the meeting tomorrow night at CBHS regarding bike lanes on Shady Grove and Brierview.
Shelby County mayor A C Wharton said that when he was first elected, it became clear to him that we were "creating disposable neighborhoods."
That realization eventually led to his Sustainable Shelby initiative, which included yesterday's call to action at the Memphis Botanic Garden.
"A few years ago, people thought they looked stupid if they rode a bicycle," Wharton said of Germany, a country he just visited and where a gallon of gas costs $8. "Now the only people who look stupid are those driving to work alone in their car."
You can ride your bike with others to the meeting -- be sure to bring headlights and tail lights so you will be legal and more visible on the ride home after the meeting.
From Midtown, consider riding with the gang from Revolutions: from Anthony Siracusa: The shop will be closed on Thursday during our normal hours (6:30-8:30 p.m.) in lieu of a meeting held by the City of Memphis to discuss creating bike lanes on Shady Grove Road and Humphreys near Shelby Farms. Revolutions has organized a ride from First Congregational to Christian Brothers High School where the meeting will be held. The ride will leave from Revolutions at 5:15 p.m. in order to make it to the meeting by the start time of 6:30 p.m.. Please join us, or head over to CBHS at 6:30 p.m. Attendance and riding time count towards earning volunteer hours at Revolutions. Don't forget a blinky light and a helmet if you'd like to ride with us.
From East Memphis, cyclists will gather at the Super Lo parking lot on Southern- the ride will roll out at 6 pm sharp in order to get to CBHS on time.
And, if you just ride down Shady Grove, you'll probably eventually meet up with other cyclists heading to the meeting.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Here's the bottom line—In urban settings, I think that even bike lanes that are well designed often create more problems than they solve. Thus, at this point, given the dozens of research articles and reports I have read from around the world, I strongly prefer the development of wide outside lanes with effective road signs, education, and enforcement rather than separate bike lanes in most cases.
Bike lanes actually increase the likelihood of the three most common car-caused car-bike crashes. These are called the left hook, the right hook, and the drive out. They also increase the likelihood of ‘getting doored’ when installed in urban settings with parallel on-street parking (like many midtown streets)
Bike lanes help avoid only one type of crash, the least-common car-bike crash, which is a car hitting a cyclist from behind.
Bike lanes look simple, but they actually make the roadway more complicated for cyclists and motorists alike.
If cyclists routinely hit speeds approaching or exceeding 20 mph (like on the downhill from Yates east on Shady Grove) bike lanes are too narrow to ride in safely—at high speeds cyclists need more room to operate than is offered by the standard 4 foot wide bike lane.
Many bike lanes are installed by planners who do not ride bikes and who do not understand the complexities of bicycling in urban traffic. Just lay down a stripe of paint within the legal limits and it is done-- a bike lane! It is a lot more complicated than that. So I am strongly against blindly rushing to paint stripes on roads when it will do no real good and might even make things worse.
For anyone who knows or cares about Jane and Danny Fadgen, this is very important.
Two sources - the first is from the Commercial Appeal, the next is from WMC TV.
Bicyclist hit; driver charged
A 47-year-old bicyclist was hurt early Thursday morning when he was hit by a car on Germantown Road near Wolf River Bridge.
Germantown Police Lt. Mike Gray said Daniel Fadgen,47, of Germantown, was listed in stable condition at the Regional Medical Center at Memphis late Thursday afternoon.
Gray said Fadgen was riding on the shoulder of the road with his wife, traveling north on Germantown Road, when he was hit by a Toyota Camry driven by Thomas Ruffin, 26, of Cordova.
Capt. Alan Keller said the driver continued on after the crash but later returned to the scene. Police charged Ruffin with failure to maintain a safe lookout, failure to notify police of an accident immediately and proof of auto insurance.
-- Lela Garlington
Mid-South aquatics instructor injured riding bike
Updated: July 3, 2008 09:36 PM
A well-known Mid-South swim coach is in the hospital. The aquatics instructor broke his back while riding his bike early Thursday morning.
The crash happened on Germantown Parkway, near the Wolf River bridge
Danny Fadgen is now home recovering from a broken back and thankful to be alive. His crash highlights the dangers bikers in the mid south face.
What may be just as disturbing is the police response to it all.
At Bikes Plus in Germantown, it is one of the few businesses booming in the economic slow down.
The high price of gas is making pedal power popular. Just ask Jane Fadgen.
"I'm traveling 100 miles each week and saw an opportunity to not only save money but get a little fitness in also," Fadgen said.
Thursday Morning Danny was riding with his wife as she commuted to Saint Francis Hospital in Bartlett. When they came to the bridge overlooking the Wolf River on Germantown Parkway, it was 4:45 in the morning. There were not any cars around.
Then his wife heard an awful sound she'll never forget.
"Terrible crash. It sounded like a car coming through a brick wall," Fadgen said.
But it was not a wall the car hit. It was Danny Fadgen. Breaking his back and landing him at the med.
"I started screaming couldn't even hear over my own screaming," Jane Fadgen said.
The driver did not stop when he hit Fadgen. He eventually came back.
According to this Germantown police report, officers stated the 26 year old driver was not the owner of the car, his car insurance was expired, and yet he was still not given a test for drugs and alcohol even after hitting a biker with the car. Instead he was given a moving violation.
"Literally a slap on the wrist a ticket, if that. So there is no zero tolerance." Jane Fadgen said.
Danny Fadgen is expected to be okay, but he hopes Mid-South law enforcement and lawmakers will do more for the cycling community.
A community that is growing bigger everyday.
Click here to e-mail reporter Andrew Douglas.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Because cycling involves our personal safety, we often react quite emotionally to situations on the road. Many people tell me that they won't ride 'because it is too dangerous'. The data show us otherwise, but folks who have been overwhelmed by their fears rarely are convinced by logical data.
I frequently tell my fellow cyclists who are anxious that cycling is safer than it looks or feels-- and, at the same time, it can be fatal if either you or another road user make a bad error. I don't like the word "accident".
From wikipedia.org: "An accident is a specific, identifiable, unexpected, unusual and unintended external event which occurs in a particular time and place, without apparent or deliberate cause but with marked effects". Thus, we cannot do anything about accidents because they are "without apparent or deliberate cause". However, almost all bike crashes have a very apparent cause. They are not accidents, they are crashes that happened due to errors.
We can control most of our personal errors and we can ride in a way that can negate many motorist errors. Check out the Data: Only 18% of bike crashes involve cars. More importantly, roughly 47% —almost half! —of all car-bike crashes are caused by bicyclist errors.
Common cyclist errors include running stop signs and red lights, riding against traffic, riding at night without lights or reflective gear, turning left from the right hand curb, passing on the right side of a right turning motor vehicle and so on.
Smarter more skillful cycling can eliminate cyclist error as a factor in car-bike crashes. Motorist error causes about 53% of total car-bike crashes, or about 9% of all categories of bike crashes. Smarter cycling can help avoid most motorist errors. Unfortunately, not all motorist errors can always be avoided by even the most skillful cyclists. But don’t be too scared—accident statistics show that for experienced cyclists bicycling is less dangerous than driving a car.
The five layers of safety are bike skills and habits that can help you ride more safely and more confidently. The League of American Bicyclists ( http://www.bikeleague.org and Fred Oswald, LCI #947 developed this material. I modified it a bit.
Layer 1 - Control your bike. About half of all cyclist accidents are single rider crashes. If you can skillfully control your bike by starting, stopping, and smoothly turning, you can better avoid falling. Learn how to control your bike when you need to stop or turn quickly.
Layer 2 - Know and follow the rules of the road. A bike is a legal vehicle in all 50 states. As a vehicle driver, you are required to obey all traffic laws, signs, and signals.
Ride in the direction of traffic, on the right side of the road. Never ride against traffic.
Intersections are where most car-bike crashes occur. Use the right-most lane that goes in the direction you are traveling.
Use correct lanes for turns. Before you get to the intersection, position yourself in the proper lane.
Use hand signals to indicate your intentions whenever it is safe to do so.
When you are riding with other cyclists, stay alert and follow good group riding procedures. Use hand and voice signals. Cyclists riding in a group are much more likely to collide with one another than with motor vehicles.
Layer 3 – Ride in the smartest lane position. Know when you should take the full lane and when it is ok to share the lane with motor vehicles. Use your lane position to let other drivers know your intentions.
Many inexperienced cyclists will hug the far right edge of the road in an attempt to not obstruct motor vehicle traffic. Doing so on a narrow road leaves the cyclist no room to maneuver. Eventually a foolish motorist will try to squeeze by when there is insufficient room, putting the cyclist in grave danger.
In lanes that are too narrow to share with cars, you should ride closer to the center (about where a car’s right tire would be) instead of trying to squeeze closer to the right. By using smart lane positioning and the first two layers, many accidents can be avoided.
Layer 4 – Manage hazards skillfully. Learn and practice evasive maneuvers such as the quick dodge, quick turn, and quick stop to either dodge obstacles or to avoid motorist's mistakes. In tight traffic, taking evasive action might force you into another vehicle’s path.
When it isn’t safe to dodge or turn, you’ll need to master skills like riding or hopping over obstacles (potholes, debris, rocks, glass, trash), riding through hazardous surface conditions (oil slicks, sand, gravel) or stopping very quickly without losing control of your bike.
Layer 5 – Passive protection. When all else fails, helmets and gloves are your last line of protection. Make sure your CPSC-approved bike helmet fits properly— it should not wobble or flop around on your head when your chinstrap is buckled.
Even with a great helmet, you might be unconscious if you crash. Carry ID, any important medical info, emergency contacts, and your insurance information. Cell phones can be handy in an emergency.
We often think of bicycle crashes as accidents, events that happen to us that are beyond our control. While a small percentage of crashes may truly be accidents, beyond our control, cycling smarter can greatly reduce our probability of crashing. By maintaining awareness of our surroundings, making sure we are visible, and adhering to the five layers of safety, we can have a much safer bicycling experience. Enjoy the ride.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Language is important—how we frame any debate determines how we will perceive and resolve the issues. I often hear something like “Memphis streets aren’t safe for cyclists”. This is absolutely the wrong language, the wrong frame to use.
Here’s why—it is not the streets that are the problem, it is the people who are driving the cars and the people who are riding the bicycles. The streets are fine, it is the people that are the problem. The streets don’t cause crashes- people cause crashes, especially car-bike crashes.
Some data – Almost half of all total bike crashes don’t involve any other vehicles, pedestrians, or animals—we cyclists make errors and we crash all by ourselves.
Further, almost half of car-bike crashes are caused by cyclists’ errors. The other half are caused by motorists’ errors.
Streets don’t cause crashes – people cause crashes.
Trust me- meet me at 5 am on a Sunday morning in the summer and we’ll ride together down Poplar Avenue from Germantown to the Mississippi River– it is great, I have done it myself many times– Poplar Avenue is a great street for bicycling –until the motor vehicle drivers show up, then it becomes a bit more unpleasant.
If the streets are the problem, we just need to ‘fix’ the streets with some engineering or with some paint- a bike lane stripe will fix the street, and all will be well. Unfortunately, the research in bike crashes tells us otherwise.
If people are the problem, then the solution is in the domain of driver and cyclist education and in law enforcement. Instead of engineers, we need to turn to cycling educators and the traffic police. Engineers fix streets but streets are not the real problem. We need education for both drivers and cyclists, and we need enforcement of the law for both drivers and cyclists.
The law in all 50 states already grants cyclists full rights to use the roads and requires that cyclists be responsible to all the laws as well. Thus, we should hold cyclists accountable to the law the same as we do motor vehicle drivers. It is illegal to run red lights and stop signs. It is illegal to ride against traffic on the wrong side of the road. It is illegal to operate a bicycle after dark without a headlight and rear reflector. It is illegal to ride more than two abreast. Cyclists who do these illegal things should be stopped and ticketed by police, or we should change the laws.
It is already illegal for any road user or vehicle operator ---motorist, cyclist, tractor, horse-and-buggy, pedestrian--- to operate unsafely on the public roadway. It is illegal for motorists to hit cyclists who have the right of way. They should be ticketed accordingly.
A local Memphis cyclist (yours truly) was hit by a motorist named Harold. I had the right of way and Harold was appropriately ticketed.
The streets were safe, but Harold was dangerous. Harold got the ticket, not the street. The street was great, especially at 6:30 am on Saturday, otherwise I would have chosen a different route.
Cyclists who violate a motorist’s right of way should also be ticketed, even if they get hit like my friend Darlene did in Germany. Darlene was riding her bike in regular traffic, legally, when she made a mistake. She violated another road user's right of way and they collided. (It was a streetcar, of all things-- its not like Darlene could not figure out where it was going-- those tracks are a dead giveaway, right?) Darlene got a concussion, an ambulance ride, and she also got a ticket from the German police. The streetcar had the right of way.
The streets were safe-- it was Darlene who was dangerous.
Another example-- I cannot remember his name- let's call him Chris. Chris was barreling down the road and the light he was approaching turned red. He saw no crossing cars, so Chris blew through the red light. Unfortunately, Chris didn't notice in time the pedestrian who stepped into the crosswalk right in front of him. Chris hit the pedestrian. Chris got an ambulance ride, a concussion, a hospital stay for 3 days, a trashed bike, and a very expensive traffic ticket from the German police.
The pedestrian was fine. The streets were safe; it was Chris that was dangerous.
Watch your language.
I need your help - send me news, views, and reviews.
News - stuff relevant to local cycling, whether it is transportation planning meetings, a new weekly group ride, races, a construction project blocking your daily commute route-- whatever.
Views - Got an opinion about biking in Memphis? Let me know.
Reviews - Reviews of books, films, equipment, ride reports, etc. Read a good book? Bought some expensive bike stuff that failed too soon? Rode a great ride somewhere and want to share it with our readers? Send it in, dudes and dude-ettes.
Send all correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Ciao! Enjoy the rides!