Posts Tagged 'Iowa'

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.

State senator’s bike ride today in E. Iowa district

For my Iowa friends:

State Sen. Rob Hogg’s annual district bike ride is this afternoon. He wants to know what constituents think is important. I’m planning to pedal along from the 3 p.m. start to Papoose Park at 4:30. See you on the route?

His email to constituents about this event:

This e-mail update is to invite you to join me for my Fifth Annual Bike Ride Across Senate District 19 this Sunday, August 22.  My bike tour is always a great chance to visit with constituents about the issues important to you.

This year’s bike tour will begin at 3 p.m. at Cedar Valley Park in the Rompot neighborhood at the intersection of Memorial Drive and Otis Road SE.

It will end at 6 p.m. with a picnic at the Creekside Pavilion in Noelridge Park off of Golf Street NE (near Harding Middle School). The picnic is being sponsored by the Cedar Rapids Education Association.

The complete list of stops includes:

3:00 p.m. – Cedar Valley Park (corner of Memorial and Otis Road SE).

3:45 p.m. – Anderson Park (corner of 5th Avenue and 21st Street SE).

4:30 p.m. – Papoose Park (end of 30th Street Dr. SE east of Indian Creek).

5:15 p.m. – Bowman Woods Park (along Boyson Road NE).

6:00 p.m. – Creekside Pavilion, Noelridge Park (off of Golf Street NE).

I hope you can ride along, or join me for the picnic or for one or more of the stops on my tour.  I look forward to seeing you Sunday.

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Asking the mayor for Bicyclist Awareness Month

Updated 8/27/2010: No response so far to this or to a follow-up email sent later.

* * *

A letter emailed to Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett a few minutes ago:

Dear Mayor Corbett:
You can save lives in Cedar Rapids by doing your part to educate the public about bicycle safety and responsible driving.
My letter is prompted by the death a few weeks ago of Susan DeSotel, who was riding her bicycle when she sustained fatal injuries because of a careless driver, and by this article about similar situations and how another mayor stepped up to help protect citizens:
That town’s mayor declared August to be Bicyclist Awareness Month. I am asking you to do the same for September and to do everything you can to promote bicycle safety and safe driving — before, during and after the Mayors’ Bike Ride on Sept. 6.
I look forward to your reply, which I will post along with this letter on my blog at
Thank you.
B.J. Smith
If you would like to contact Mayor Corbett with your own version of this letter, other advice or even a different opinion, here’s his contact information.
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Cycling fans get 2 days of races in E. Iowa

People liked last summer’s one-day Iowa state championship criterium in Cedar Rapids so much that HBA Racing volunteers* have scheduled two days of racing in June instead of just one.

Criterium spectator 2009

Starting at noon on Saturday, June 26, in downtown Cedar Rapids, the Gold Pointe Fitness Club Criterium will feature racing well into the evening on a 0.6-mile course covering the 2nd and 3rd Avenue bridges across the Cedar River.

Beginning at 8 a.m. the next day, racers will compete on a challenging new 1.8-mile course at Squaw Creek Park in Marion, where downhill speeds are expected to reach well over 40 miles per hour.

The 1 p.m. start on a Saturday during the Freedom Festival is intended to support downtown businesses by attracting spectators in the afternoon and evening. (Anyone offering drink or dinner specials that day, be sure to let me know and I’ll tweet it along for you.)

Supervised bike parking facilities will be available for those who want to pedal down to the races on Saturday.

*Full disclosure: Your blogger donated a few minutes of news release editing to the cause.
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Share the Road signs given to Linn County

Linn County Roads will be marked with 16 “Share the Road” signs this spring, thanks to a campaign that raised $4,000 to buy those signs for the county.

Fundraising campaign organizer Lisa Paulos said about half of the total came from individual Hawkeye Bicycle Association members and matching HBA funds and about half from other individuals who contributed through the Linn County Trails Association.

Signs could be in place in May. Now let’s hope our county officials and law enforcers will help educate the citizenry about what it means to share the road.

Pedal on.

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Fuel for the bicycle motor, cash for the fire department

Bicycle motor fuel

At least one of the motorists who passed us on the road to Center Point this morning didn’t appreciate having us share the road with him. After buzzing several people, he pulled over and confronted some of the group.

He took off when somebody mentioned calling the sheriff (and was gone before I caught up). Someone suggested maybe he had some anger management issues.

The folks putting on the pancake breakfast at the fire station in C.P. certainly didn’t mind having us there. Eleven guys, $6/plate = $66.00 for the cause.

Filling breakfast was a nice reward for 18 miles into a headwind (measured from the Smith Compound), and good fuel for the hilly, tailwind-assisted 18 miles home.

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Trails group wants your answers

Do you know anything about the Linn County Trails Association? Ever heard of it? Do you use the trails in Linn County, Iowa?

To get the answers to those questions, and a few others, LCTA is asking for your help. Just click here and complete the survey. It’s that simple.


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No pill’s gonna cure my ill, but a shiny new bicycle might

Before talking to Derek Stepanek at Northtowne Cycling and Fitness yesterday, I did not know that if a physician writes you a prescription for a treadmill, you don’t have to pay Iowa sales tax on the thing.

He was making a case for a “cash for clunker bicycles” stimulus program, which we both agreed would be sweet. (I don’t have a clunker myself, but I could probably find one somewhere if I had to.)

I said doctors ought to be able to prescribe bicycles for people and have them covered by insurance, and he told me about the sales tax being waived on some stationary fitness equipment. That could easily apply to bicycles – highly mobile fitness devices.

Compared to the cost of some heart and blood-pressure medications, bypasses, strokes, treatment for diabetes and various other ills, a new bicycle every few years makes a lot of sense.

Doctor, doctor…

On cycling and mirrors…

The debate over bicycle legislation in Iowa has had me wondering if what I’ve believed for years about using a mirror while riding is wrong – that it’s a good idea.

I’ve encouraged other people to use a mirror and check it frequently for traffic approaching from behind. If my mirror happens to be broken or forgotten (which is rare now that it is hot-glued to my helmet), I feel very vulnerable to being overtaken.

The head turn you hear about seems to work well for some cyclists, but others tend to veer left when they turn their heads to look back. I always feel I see better behind me with a quick glance in the mirror rather than turning my head, which I often do anyway.

Some other people swear by mirrors, too, as you can see in a discussion here, but apparently there is no real research showing they improve safety – and certainly no basis for requiring their use.

The best advice might be this: Understand the mirror’s limitations and don’t focus too much on what’s behind you.

Go here for an interesting article on the subject in Adventure Cycling.

What do you think? Do you use a mirror? Bike-mounted or helmet-mounted? Why or why not?

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Kill the “yellow for cyclists” idea

Update: Mark Wyatt reported on Facebook that the bill passed the House Human Resource Committee, and without any requirement for yellow clothing or mirrors.

Be visible and be aware of your surroundings, though. Get a mirror and a helmet.

* * *

Apparently some lawmakers are taking the “cyclists should wear yellow” thing pretty seriously, hence this urgent request from Iowa Bicycle Coalition this afternoon:

The Human Resource Committee is discussing the bike safety bill and will pick it back up at 5 PM today.

The fight to make bicyclists wear 50% yellow clothing for your safety is getting serious. WE NEED EMAILS NOW.

1. Reflective and yellow clothing doesn’t work if you don’t have headlights to reflect. It is worse in low-light situations and curves. The current law for lights is effective.

2. Mirror requirements are bound to surface. Mirrors are good tools, but any driver’s ed instructor will tell you they don’t replace a head turn and look. They have blind spots and prevent scanning.

Bicycle supporters are advised to contact the following members of the House Human Resources Committee. Please tell them to support the amended Bike Safety and Responsibility Bill.

Representative Mark Smith and Representative Sharon Steckman are supportive of the bill. No need to contact them at this time. Concentrate on the list below.

COPY AND PASTE THIS LIST:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


Dear Representative,

Please support the Bike Safety Bill, amended Senate File 117. It is fair to both motorists and bicyclists. We need a 5′ passing law for bicyclists.

1. Reflective and yellow clothing doesn’t work if you don’t have headlights to reflect. It is worse in low-light situations and curves. The current law for lights is effective.

2. Mirror requirements are bound to surface. Mirrors are good tools, but any driver’s ed instructor will tell you they don’t replace a head turn and look. They have blind spots and prevent scanning.

The required passing distance could save lives. The dangerous behavior towards vulnerable highway users should not be tolerated in Iowa.

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