Archive for the 'hors categorie' Category

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.

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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.

The hazards and joys of night bicycling

You’ve certainly noticed by now, if you’re a Northern Hemispherian, that we’ve had fewer and fewer daylight hours lately.

While in reality the Earth goes in an orbit ar...

Image via Wikipedia

In a couple of days, in fact – around about September 23 – we’ll experience our annual autumnal equinox, when the days no longer last longer than the nights, and the darkness begins to rule.

You know what that means, right?

If you’re not prepared to bicycle in the dark, you’re going to miss out on some fun.

Nearly anyone can ride a bicycle in broad daylight. Only those bright enough to adorn themselves with a little reflective material, and their bikes with headlights and tail lights, can pedal safely into the night and the wee hours of the morning.

A few tips for those who haven’t already tried this:

  • Slow down, particularly when you’re riding on an unlighted trail. Since you can’t see as far ahead as you do during the day, and not very far at all off to the side of the trail where scary things wait to jump out in front of you, slowing down gives you a little more time to react.
  • You won’t see many runners, skaters and walkers pushing strollers on a trail in the middle of the night, but don’t assume they aren’t there. Stay alert.
  • Also be ready to encounter and dodge any dim-bulb cyclists who are out riding without fresh batteries or even entirely light-free.
  • Assume that every driver on the road is drunk and/or stupid. (This might be a good rule for daytime cycling, too, by the way.)
  • Enjoy the cool, quiet feeling of privacy and freedom that makes night cycling a unique, exhilarating experience.

Pedal on.

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Bicycle Safety and Driver Alertness Month

Woman with a step-through frame bicycle in the...

Image via Wikipedia

You may have trouble finding this anywhere else, as the local media so far have largely ignored the idea, but here is the actual text of the proclamation that Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett made on Labor Day during the Linn County Mayors’ Bike Ride:

Whereas, the bicycle is a practical and environmentally sound form of transportation that is used daily by thousands of Iowa citizens for both recreation and commuting; and

Whereas, residents will experience the joys of bicycling through educational programs, races, trail riding, charity events, commuting to work or simply venturing out to enjoy the weather; and

Whereas, rising concerns about health, fitness, increased energy costs and the environment have increased the number of cyclists on our roads in recent years.  Motor vehicles and cyclists are obligated to share the state’s roadways; and

Whereas, Bicycle Safety and Driver Alertness Month asks cyclists to share the road, safely accommodate motorists, wear the proper safety equipment and riding gear, strictly follow all laws of the road, operate with extreme caution and learn expert techniques that provide for a heightened level of safety while riding; and

Whereas, it is a privilege to recognize Cedar Rapids’ appreciation for the outdoors, and remind all citizens of their responsibility to be safe and alert so that everyone may equally exercise their right to enjoy our wonderful community.

Now therefore, I, Ron J. Corbett, Mayor of Cedar Rapids, Iowa do hereby declare September, 2010 as:

“Bicycle Safety & Driver Alertness Month”

in Cedar Rapids and encourage all citizens to identify and learn the various aspects of bicycle and motor vehicle safety as it relates to sharing our public roads in an effort to make Cedar Rapids’ streets some of the safest in the state.

Thanks, Mayor Corbett.

A quibble, if I may:

I probably would have asked the motorists to share the road in that fourth paragraph. They’re the ones piloting the big, heavy machinery after all.

Anyway, here’s hoping a lot of motorists get the message about being alert – maybe even some that weren’t there to hear Corbett read it aloud. Most of those folks were on bicycles, right?

Spread the word.

Pedal on.

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Motorists liable until proven otherwise? Hard to imagine

The concept of strict liability for motorists involved in collisions with people riding bicycles was so foreign to me that I had to watch this twice. Imagine…

Thanks to tweeters @alicestrong and @bikecommutenews for calling attention to that video.

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September to be Bicycle Safety Month in C.R.

Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett plans to declare September “Bicycle Safety Month,” says an email posted Friday afternoon on Dave Glandon’s blog.

It also says Corbett plans to participate in the Linn County Mayors’ Bike Ride on Sept. 6.

That’s good news for a couple of reasons:

  • The proclamation – depending, of course, on what it says – will help spread the word that people need to be more concerned than they have been for the safety of others, specifically for the safety of citizens who ride bicycles on our streets.
  • His participation in the ride means at least two of the 17 Linn County mayors plan to participate in the ride named for them.

Two?

That’s how many had said “yes” as of Friday.

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Questioning Sen. Hogg about the consequences of careless driving

At the second stop on State Sen. Robb Hogg’s fifth annual bike ride through his Eastern Iowa district on Sunday, he was asked about the potential consequences of one of his fellow bicyclists’ being killed by a careless driver.

Paraphrasing my own question here: Shouldn’t a person whose careless driving causes the death of another person face time behind bars as a possible penalty?

Well, the answer seems to be, now paraphrasing Sen. Hogg’s various comments:

  • I’m not sure we should be sending people to prison because of legitimate accidents. (I agreed that not every incident should be resolved by throwing someone in jail, but maintained that the state should allow for jail or prison time as a possible outcome for someone whose carelessness causes death or injury.)
  • Sometimes accidents just happen. (I said we could have quite a long debate over what deadly situations can be prevented and what might be termed – legitimately if vaguely – “accidents.” Most traffic “accidents” can be avoided if people take their driving responsibilities seriously and pay attention to what is going on around them.)
  • We need to do more to make bicycling safer. The Iowa Senate did pass a bicyclists’ Bill of Rights. (True on both counts, but that Bill of Rights is meaningless without corresponding success in the Iowa House and a governor’s signature. What have you done for us lately? What will you do now?)

Presently, I can turn my motor vehicle in front of you as you ride your bicycle down the street, causing a collision that leads to your death, then drive away with a simple traffic ticket and, maybe, a guilty conscience.

As Sen. Hogg and others have asked, in one way or another, “Isn’t it enough that I will have to think about that for the rest of my life?”

Well, no. It’s not.

You should think about the consequences of careless driving before your careless driving kills someone. If you know you could wind up behind bars, maybe you will think harder when it counts.

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