Moving to “The Smith Compound”

Where coyotes live...

Time to give this blog a rest and try something new.

The Smith Compound actually has been up for a few weeks now, and your blogger has not been in Iowa in some time. He’s a mile high and Mrs. Smith will be, too, before a whole lot longer.

The Smiths are still very much interested in cycling and what’s going on in Iowa with our many friends and relations.

We are fortunate that we will be able to stay in virtual touch so easily, but things change. Shit happens. Time flies.

Please visit as often as you can, even if it’s only at the new digital home in the West.

No ghost bike for me, thank you. But…

Ghost bikes.

Ghostcycle: this makeshift monument appeared b...
Image via Wikipedia

Someone suggested them again this weekend as a way to mark the spots where cyclists have died on the roads. The thinking seems to be that these eerie memorials will raise the awareness of those who pass by and maybe prompt them to drive more carefully.

For the record: I understand the impulse and the sentiment, but if I should fall victim to a careless motorist I do not want a ghost bike.

I don’t want people to be afraid to ride their bicycles. I don’t want anyone to waste their time putting a ghost bike by the side of the road when it almost certainly will be removed as junk before very long.

What I want instead, and what I suggest that you do for other victims rather than mark the spot with a bicycle painted white:

  • Call and write to your city council representatives, your law enforcement people, your state legislators and your federal elected officials.
  • Go to meetings where decisions are made and make your case.
  • Say out loud what you think and what you want done to make the roads safer.
  • Hold officials accountable until they make and laws that will make a difference. Those people work for you.
  • Demand action.
  • Don’t stop.

Put up ghost bikes for other people if you like, but do these other things, too.

They will be more effective.

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Copenhagenize.com – Building Better Bicycle Cultures: Free Hugs (Sorry, not for drivers)

Fun video, rewarding folks for not driving…

Copenhagenize.com – Building Better Bicycle Cultures: Free Hugs (Sorry, not for drivers).

Click it. Enjoy.

Deadly driver charged with “improper turn, no insurance”

From thegazette.com

Update 11/5/2010: The driver charged with traffic violations that resulted in the death of Susan DeSotel turned himself in to police last night.

Update 11/4/2010: It says here that the arrest warrant for Robert Fleming was issued today.

Based on comments from a number of Eastern Iowa cyclists in various forums, they are unimpressed with the performance of law enforcement authorities in this case. That is what you might call an understatement.

If the driver is still around somewhere nearby, “we’ll run into him again sooner or later.”

That’s the best you can do when someone is killed? Seriously?

Shame on you.

Update 10/25/2010: CRPD Lt. Cory McGarvey says the traffic charges against Robert H. Fleming are simple misdemeanors.

He added: “We cannot find the driver. We feel he left town.”

CRPD asked the county attorney to issue a warrant for Fleming’s arrest.

Posted earlier today:

The driver who turned in front of cyclist Susan DeSotel, resulting in the collision that took her life, has been charged with “improper turn and no insurance.”

That information came in an email from Cedar Rapids Police Chief Greg Graham to Monica Vernon, a council member who followed up on my request for information. No other details about the charges – when they were filed or what the penalties are, for example – were provided at the time. Look for more details this week.

Improper turn and no insurance.

It says a lot about the limitations of state law in Iowa and, of course, about the driver, Robert H. Fleming.



Let officials know you want action when cyclists are injured or killed

Some phone numbers you might consider calling to ask what is being done in the wake of Susan DeSotel’s death (see previous post):

  • Cedar Rapids Police Department: (319) 286-5491
  • Mayor Ron Corbett, City Hall: (319) 286-5051
  • Mayor Ron Corbett, Home: (319) 365-8187

Those numbers are all from the city’s website. You can find your council representatives there, too.

Let the police and the mayor and the others know you care about this.

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Want to be bike-friendly? Take cyclist deaths seriously

Cedar Rapids, Iowa - This town has made some progress in recent years toward becoming a more “friendly” place to move around by bicycle rather than car or truck.

There are a few bike lanes. There is a city Bicycle Advisory Committee. There are Bicycle Ambassadors, and now and then people make an effort to accommodate and encourage the bicycling public by providing special parking areas, generally staffed by a few volunteers and city employees.

Although most people didn’t know it, largely because of a lack of timely promotion by city officials and lack of interest from the local media, there was even a Bicycle Safety and Driver Alertness Month back in September.

All well and good.

How “bike friendly” is it, though, when a local cyclist can be killed in a collision with a motor vehicle and it takes months (nearly three in this case so far) to decide about charging the driver?

A lack of charges in a timely fashion says the death is no big deal to the city. (The toxicology tests cited as a reason for delay certainly could have been completed by now if this were a priority.)

That there is no serious penalty for careless driving that causes serious injury or death says such injuries and deaths are not very important to the state.

A community that accepts this is not “bike friendly,” no matter how hard it tries to pretend that it is.

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Why is there water?

Just as air is for filling up volleyballs and basketballs and footballs*, not to mention bicycle tires and soccer balls, water for many of us is something that keeps a canoe or a kayak or a bass boat afloat.

Water is for washing cars, keeping the lawn green, swimming around in and splashing on others. We drink it and use it to brush our teeth and wash our clothes and do so many other mundane things.

In much of the United States and, I suppose, much of the rest of the world, we have trouble even imagining life without clean, fresh water.

Take a look at charity: water and it won’t be so hard to imagine.

You’ll learn that:

“Almost a billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean drinking water. Unsafe water and a lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of all disease and kill more people than all forms of violence, including war.”

You will learn what you can do to help, and how far even a modest cash donation will go.

Another way to help: Buy a copy (or two or three) of the social media book Age of Conversation 3: It’s Time to Get Busy! using one of these links:

Why? All of the proceeds go to charity: water.

I know that because I’m one of the book’s many co-authors. I slipped in there among some pretty deep thinkers and innovative marketing types. Consider it a must-read, and help bring clean drinking water to people who really, really need it.

* * *

*Paraphrasing the great Bill Cosby, of course.

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