Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Police Enforce Bike Law To Combat Crime

Hey, any of y'all been "just ridin' around" in West Memphis?

Police Enforce Bike Law To Combat Crime

West Memphis, AR -- Police in West Memphis, Arkansas are enforcing a decades old bike law in effort to fight crime.

The law requires bikes to have a white light on the front and a red reflector on the back. The light must be visible from at least 500 feet.

Police say someone committed a rash of residential car break-ins in the city’s North Ward from August 6, 2008 to September 10, 2008. They believe the same person committed the crime and may have used a bike to get a away. They believe enforcing the state bike law will help keep would be criminals on the right path. “E
nforcing the bike laws, the restrictions on the lights, gives you legal opportunity to make contact with people to see what they're doing,” said West Police Captain Donald Oakes.

Anyone not abiding by the bike law can be cited and fined. Anyone with information about the recent car break-in is asked to contact the West Memphis Police Department.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Playing around with Wordle

I have been playing around with Wordle. I input the text from my recent post Funeral for a Bike Friend. Here is what it created (click it to make it bigger):

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Today I attended a funeral for a bike friend... favorite bike, my beloved Redline 925. It died on January 29th, 2008, but I just got around to having the funeral today, September 7, 2008. You can do that with bikes- they don't decay and stink like humans and other creatures- they just lose air pressure and take up space.

I didn't bury it, I just took it apart-- that's how you have a funeral for a bike. It was damaged beyond repair in a tragic crash-- luckily, I myself was not killed or damaged beyond repair. But my trusty 925 is no longer with me.

The frame and the fork were hopelessly bent. I stripped the rest of the parts off of the 925. I will keep some and the others will be donated to Revolutions Co-op. I guess it is kinda like organ donation- the stem, seat post, saddle, wheels and handlebars will go into other bikes, with other riders.

The Redline was all steel. It had a flip flop fixed/free rear hub - 42 x 15 for those who care about such things. I bought it to ride fixed. I probably spent about 99.9% of the time riding fixed. Once or twice I changed a flat and, in my haste, I made an error and put it on the freewheel side. I never rode the freewheel intentionally. As the late, great, Sheldon Brown said, "Coasting is a pernicious habit".

I bought the Redline in February of 2006 to be my primary commuter bike- it was perfectly suited for the job. It was cheap (retail about 525 at the time) and came outfitted with fenders. I already had lights and panniers, so I just had the dealer attach a rack and computer, and I was good to go.

Since it had fenders and was cheap, the 925 was also my designated rain bike. If skies were threatening I would ride the 925 to my bike club group rides with my friends. Those fenders paid off more than once.

The 925 gave me almost two years of service before it died in the line of duty. At the time of death the odometer read 8393.4 miles. There were probably another 100 or so miles on the bike- sometimes I would change a flat on the front and absentmindedly put the wheel on wrong so the computer magnet was on the wrong side. At other times when I had a flat I would swap the front wheel for that of another bike if I was in a hurry. So, I figure that even though the odometer reads 8393.4, I would be ok in saying that I put about 8500 miles on the 925 as a commuter in two years. Not bad for a sub-$600 bike.

I rode primarily two other bikes a lot while I owned the 925. I have a Serotta Rapid Tour, a light touring all-steel bike Serotta made for a few years. I bought it new in 2001. It has an Ultegra triple group on it and I consider it to be my 100 mile bike.

I also rode my Specialized Langster a lot. I bought it new in 2005. Like the 925, the Langster is a fixed-gear bike. It is great for 30-40 miles on mostly flat terrain. I rode it when I wanted to go faster. The Langster weighed in at 18 pounds, the Redline was "about 30".

But I really loved the 925. It was smooth, it was steady, and it was predictable. After I had the cheap factory wheels rebuilt with quality spokes, the 925 never gave me any trouble at all. I would change flat tires, clean and lube it now and then, but mostly I left it alone. It ran just fine without much intervention on my part. It died with the original chain, chainring, and rear cog. I replaced the brake pads once during the 8500 miles.

I did have to change the handlebars- the original bars broke while I was riding. Luckily, I was just accelerating from a dead stop at a redlight when the right half of my handlebars folded and broke. Too much torque, too much repetetive stress. Cheap bars break eventually.

Not to worry- I had some wonderful sturdy steel handlebars just waiting for a bike. When I was in New York in 2007 I had visited a tiny little shop that specialized in fixed gear bikes. I had bought some Soma Major Taylor handlebars. After the original bars broke, I put the Major Taylor bars on the 925.

At some point I upgraded to Arkel panniers for the 925. Arkels are great-- you can carry a ton (well, not a ton, but a lot) of groceries in the Arkels. Like the 925, the Arkels are simple and sturdy.

One night I had stopped by the grocery to pick up a lot of stuff. When I got home, I weighed my panniers and found that I was carrying over 30 pounds of groceries. What made the ride very interesting was that I was riding into a 30 mile an hour headwind, uphill, in the rain, at night, on a fixed gear bike that weighed over 60 pounds including those groceries. It was hard and I went pretty slow, but I really felt like I had accomplished something.

Another time I rode the 925 to the early club ride-- we did about 30 brisk miles. Then I rode to the Farmer's Market downtown, bought a watermelon and some other stuff, packed it all into one of my Arkel's, and rode home with it.

I had a lot of fun with the roadies when I was riding the 925 on group rides. I remember many rides where people were exasperated that they were getting dropped by an old guy on a cheap Chinese all-steel 30 pound single speed with fenders and a rack. They weren't cognizant of the fact that I had ridden about 7500 miles a year for the past few years while they were mostly just weekend riders. I imagine that high mileage and daily riding probably helped a lot with my conditioning...

But I mostly loved just riding the 925 back and forth to work. I am so sad that it is gone.

If you are curious as to how my 925 died, I wrote an article a few days after the crash that killed my 925 and nearly killed me. It is posted in the archives on this blog here.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bike Friendly States - Tennessee ranked at #36

Well gee, I'm surprised TN is ranked so highly. Chattanooga has bike-friendly city status, so that probably helps our overall state ranking. ~~ Cliff H.


The League of American Bicyclists has announced our first annual ranking of Bicycle Friendly States, scoring all 50 states on more than 70 factors. The states were scored on responses to a questionnaire evaluating their commitment to bicycling and covering 6 key areas: legislation; policies and programs; infrastructure; education and encouragement; evaluation and planning; and enforcement. The highest and lowest scoring states overall were:

Top 5

1. Washington
2. Wisconsin
3. Arizona
4. Oregon
5. Minnesota

Bottom 5

46. North Dakota
47. Mississippi
48. Alabama
49. Georgia
50. West Virginia

More details on how each state ranked can be found by going here and clicking on each state.

Andy Clarke, president of the League, said, “While every state has room to improve in making bicycling a preferred mode of transportation and accessible form of recreation, Washington is making the greatest strides to make this a reality.” Clarke points to Washington’s model bike laws, signed and mapped statewide bike route network, dedicated funding from the state for bicycle related programs and projects, and an active statewide bicycle advisory committee as a few examples of why Washington ranked the highest.

The bottom end of the ranking paints a different picture. “West Virginia may offer some great trails and mountain biking resources, but otherwise fell short in every category," said Clarke. "Their low bicycle usage rates and high cyclist crash and fatality rates are indicative of a state that does not adequately provide for the needs of cyclists.”

The annual state rankings are the first part of this new program. States are encouraged to further apply for award recognition of bronze, silver, gold or platinum status, similar to the League’s popular Bicycle Friendly Community program, now recognizing 85 communities across 32 states. Award recognition will be accompanied by technical assistance and further support as states work to become more bicycle-friendly.

The League of American Bicyclists promotes bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation, and works through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America. The League represents the interests of 57 million American cyclists, including its 300,000 members and affiliates. For more information or to support the League, visit

The Bicycle Friendly State program is generously supported by program sponsors Bikes Belongand Trek Bicycle Corporation.


1 Washington
2 Wisconsin
3 Arizona
4 Oregon
5 Minnesota
6 Maine
7 California
8 Illinois
9 New Jersey
10 New Hampshire
11 Utah
12 Michigan
13 North Carolina
14 Hawaii
15 South Carolina
16 Massachusetts
17 Vermont
18 Wyoming
19 Nevada
20 Florida
21 Iowa
22 Colorado
23 Virginia
24 Indiana
25 Kansas
26 Louisiana
27 Rhode Island
28 Missouri
29 Kentucky
30 Texas
31 Delaware
32 Ohio
33 Nebraska
34 New York
35 Maryland
36 Tennessee
37 Idaho
38 Pennsylvania
39 Arkansas
40 Alaska
41 South Dakota
42 Connecticut
43 Oklahoma
44 Montana
45 New Mexico
46 North Dakota
47 Mississippi
48 Alabama
49 Georgia
50 West Virginia