Sunday, December 14, 2008

Boy, is this the wrong e-mail list!

RAAM (the Race Across AMerica) is one of the most grueling sports events imaginable. In long bike races like the Tour de France, you race a specific distance each day and then sleep in a hotel at night. RAAM runs the width of the US with no rest stops -- you sleep when you want/need to.

I have a certain fascination with this race, and I'm on their "fan" mailing list. But either they sent this out to the wrong list or they have a very optimistic view of my capabilities:

Dear RAAM Racer, Team Manager,
We are excited to bring back the RAAM Clinics for 2009. We held two last year, one in London and one in Texas, with both being very well attended. This year it's 3 - Sacramento, CA; London, England; and our finish - Annapolis, MD. You can find more details on dates, price, and more here -
The clinics are a great way to dive into RAAM logistics and preparation, ask your questions, and interact with the RAAM team and other team managers/crew chiefs. There are no secrets to RAAM, just lots of questions that we delve into to further your changes of a successful RAAM.
Register now at the RAAM Store ( under RAAM Clinics.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What does "Transportation Alliance" mean?

The term "Transportation Alliance" shows up quite a bit in organization names. Google has 78,100 hits. But these groups don't seem to be unified in any way other than the use of these two buzzwords next to each other.

Let's look at the top page of Google search results

The Minnesota Transportation Alliance mostly looks like people who favor more highway spending.

The Transportation Alliance Bank is part of Flying J (the truck stop people)

There's a Bicycle Transportation Alliance in Oregon -- looks like an alliance of bicycling groups.

"The Pennsylvania Transportation Alliance (PTA) was formed to bring together all people with disabilities and their allies in a unified, statewide organized effort to ensure that "accessible, affordable transportation is available to all PA citizens with disabilities."

The Central Maryland Transportation Alliance is all about transit -- regional rail.

The New North Transportation Alliance (Tampa) is also about transit, transit, transit, although they do offer a free bike rack program for businesses.
There's also some superficial bicycling information -- e.g. "you might think about biking to work". The maps page (which is a good indicator) has a map of bike racks on the USF campus, but otherwise is all transit.
The advisory board doesn't list any organizations I recognize, upon quick glance, as cycling organizations.

The Regional Transportation Alliance (Raleigh)
is "The regional business leadership group that focuses on relieving traffic congestion and enhancing mobility." That says "build roads" to me. The project page lists road projects and the construction of a regional rail system. Well down the list (11th, 2nd from last) is "Completion of American Tobacco Trail and improved pedestrian-bicycle access to transit." [Biking on the American Tobacco Trail??] But it does have a pedestrian and bike page and links to bike maps on the NC DOT web site.

The Westside Transportation Alliance [Washington County, Oregon]
OK, now we hit pay dirt. The executive directors are wearing bicycle helmets. They are big supporters of the new commuter rail line that opens next year.

Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance
The third paragraph of their mission statement says it all: "The debate is not roads and bridges versus buses and trains, but which strategies move the most people most effectively in most corridors." Then there's the last two paragraphs: "More than half of all transportation resources available over the next 25 years are assigned to public transit to move less than 10% of daily trips.
Road projects that will carry 90% of future vehicular – auto, truck and bus -- trips remain un-prioritized and un-funded." Doing a search on "bicycle" turns up one table showing bicycles are used on only 1-2% of daily trips, nothing else.

I don't see much of a thread here other than a general advocacy for some form of transportation (hence the word "transportation" in the name. Only the Westside group seems, at first glance, to be the type of organization ATA (formerly the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation) would want to turn into, although on a bigger scale.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Logo comparison

Here's the old CBF logo and the new ATA logo.

1. The CBF logo is no thing of beauty.
2. The CBF logo is pretty Chicago centric and bicycle centric.
So, it's a fair statement that if CBF was going to expand their mission, the logo needed to go.

3. The new logo is pretty much as generic as you can get. There are buildings, not not recognizable ones. There's a slash -- is that supposed to be a sidewalk, separating buildings from parkway? There's an unfortunate shade of green in the lower right.
4. The logo shows the determination of ATA to get as far away from its CBF roots as possible. This could be the logo for anything that might occur in or near a gray building, which is most things.
I was taken to task on the earlier posting by someone who noted:

The name is Active Transportation Alliance, not ATA. I have not seen ATA on any communication from the organization. The abbreviation used in the website name is "Active Trans".

Right, and the name is Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, not CBF.

What's your point? ATA is particularly the moniker that will stick because "Active Transportation Allliance" is just 3 generic buzzwords thrown together and "ActiveTrans" sounds like a laxative.

But my whole point has nothing to do with either ATA, ActiveTrans, or Active Transportation Alliance. My point -- which you completely ignored, thank you very much -- is that CBF threw away all the equity in their existing name. They took a name that meant something, and substituted buzzword gibberish.

It's not the specific buzzwords chosen -- although I think these are poor ones -- it's the fact that they are turning their back on their equity. It's like when Philip Morris renamed itself "Altria". At least Philip Morris had the excuse that they were trying to hide the fact that they made cigarettes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

CBF throws away its name equity.

The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation -- CBF for short -- wants to expand its mission.

While I support the expanded mission, it was STUPID to throw away all the equity in the CBF name. It's now called the Active Transportation Alliance, or ATA.

Are we ashamed of being Chicagoans?

Are we ashamed of being bicyclists?

Does ATA mean anything except a failed airline?

Could you not find some name that hearkened back to the CBF equity, rather than turn your back on it so completely and ashamedly?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Folding wheels

They look interesting, but due to the added weight are only practical in carbon fiber, hence they would be expensive.

In addition, folding bikes would need to be redesigned to take advantage of this technology.

So, they won't be at your bike shop soon -- it's a great idea if it works, though.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sweep finishes ahead of ride leader?

Saturday I went on a ride through "Meet Up" in rural Wisconsin. The ride leader (Ron) was very well organized, but the 20+ riders here a highly varied lot and a ride leader can't be everywhere at once. I volunteered to sweep the ride. My friend Mark stayed with me.

Mark and I and the couple of riders in the back were seldom able to see the riders in the front as we fell progressively farther back. But, about 10 miles from the end, we saw them stopped for a flat. By my reckoning, they must have been there several minutes already, and our speed was in single digits, so we just kept on going. I figured they would catch up soon.

They had some additional problems, and arrived a couple of minutes behind us -- first ride I've been on when the sweep arrived first.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

One traffic fatality a day in Chicago

From the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation:

Every day in Chicagoland there are more than 800 traffic crashes. Of those, about 150 drivers will flee the scene. Chicagoland has an average of more than one traffic fatality every day. Another 24 are seriously injured every day. Crashes cost the Chicago area resident $1,000 each year.

All this crashing is mostly cars crashing into other cars. But they are crashing among people biking and walking. And those are the people most vulnerable to serious injury and death.

Hit-and-run crashes
Pedestrians are disproportionately impacted by hit-and-run crashes. In Northeastern Illinois, an alarming 30 percent of all pedestrian crashes are hit-and-run. That means that in four crashes each day in our region, a driver leaves the scene after hitting a person walking. Pedestrians are left many times in the street to be found by a passerby. Cyclists fare a little better. Just under 20 percent of our region’s bicycle crashes are hit-and-run, a level similar to car-on-car hit-and-run crashes.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Bailing out banks ... and bicyclists?

To get the bailout bill to pass, a variety of odd pork was added to the bill.

Here's one that might benefit me:

Congress Passes Commuter Act

WASHINGTON, DC (BRAIN)—Employers of people who bike to work stand to gain a $20 per month tax credit per cycling employee, according to the final version of the Wall Street bailout bill, H.R. 1424, passed this afternoon.

The House passed the bill today with a final vote of 263-171, a comfortable margin that was 58 more votes than the measure garnered in Monday's stunning defeat. The Senate passed the bill Wednesday by a vote of 74 for and 25 against the bill.

The bicycle tax provision was part of an additional $110 billion in line items added to the already $700 billion bailout package.

What does bicycle commuting have to do with credit issues or covering the debt racked up on Wall Street? Bicycle commuting advocate Earl Blumenauer, a Democratic Representative from Oregon, was one of the 228 Representatives who voted against the House version of the bailout package on Monday. House members looking to pass a bailout bill needed to convince as least 12 of the dissenters to switch their position and vote for a bailout bill.

According to a Blumenauer spokeswoman, the bicycle commuting tax credit had the Representative’s attention, according to a report by However, Blumenauer said he was opposed to the bill because it failed to include bankruptcy equity for homeowners, not because employers of bicycle commuters suffered unfair tax burdens. He is also against incentives for coal-based liquids, tar sands and oil shale also included in the Senate’s bill. Blumenauer voted against the bailout bill in today's vote but his pet bicycling project passed with it.

Congressman Blumenauer spearheaded a seven-year campaign to extend commuter tax benefits to those who bike to work.

Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists, said the Bicycle Commuter Act has been held up getting through with previous bills.

“It’s been attached to a variety of different bills or devices—climate change, energy, transportation,” Clarke said. “It’s ironic that it would wind up in a financial rescue package, but we’ll take it. I’m not going to quibble with the method; I’m glad to see it done.”

There's a civics lesson in what's above, and it's not a pretty one.

Sunday parkways

Today was Chicago's first Sunday Parkways.

Car traffic was banned from the city parkways streets from Logan Square down to Garfield Park. Cross-streets were still in operation, so you had to stop.

The nicest thing about this event was seeing so many parents and children out. The children were often on training wheels. There were many, many little girls on pink bikes with streamers.

The city's parkways system is a gem, but a gem that isn't paid much attention by many of us. This links parks that also are wonderful areas that can be made more wonderful.

I rode down with a group of cyclists from the Evanston Bike Club. At Garfield Park Conservatory we stopped. There were a group of cyclists from the other EBC (Elmhurst Bike Club) there. But most people seemed to be local, which is good. The Garfield Park Conservatory is such a gem, it's hard to believe I lived in the Chicago area for 25 years before visiting it.

I liked the event -- and liked that the rain held off until I was almost home.

On October 26th, there is another Sunday parkways -- this time on the south side.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dangerous water bottles?

After listening to some zealot explain the dangers of plastic water bottles to me, I looked up some information here.

The net of this is that this is a problem with the expensive, Nalgene-type water bottles. These have a "7" in the recycling triangle.

I checked the water bottles cluttering up my bicycle area. I got them all free because they advertise Amlings Cycle, the North Shore Century, Evanston Northwestern Healthcare, REI, Village Cyclery and other similarly fine institutions. They are evidently free of harmful BPA as well. They have either "4" or "2" in the recycling triangle.

The BPA problem does not apply to all Nalgene bottles currently sold. I threw out the older Nalgene I used for foreign travel.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Be a bike race official?

Here's an interesting way to get involved in bicycle racing (or re-involved):

If you would like to get involved in the exciting world of bike racing from the sidelines our officials program is for you. You take a class, pay $35 for your license, and then can help
officiate at the races. Everything from criteriums to time trials, to road races, to cyclocross and track too.

What is nice is you get paid for your time and travel expenses. You can also move up through the ranks and become a National Commissar and officiate bigger regional races.

Please spread the word to your club members and if they are interested, have them sign up. The details and registration procedure is here: If you have any more questions before you sign up, please send an email.

Steve Hansen steveh AT illinoiscycling DOT org
Illinois Cycling Association

A way to clear out traffic jams

Above picture from

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bank Bailout: How many bikes would it buy?

BEFORE this weekend's bailout plan, I figured the potential liability of what the U.S. Treasury Department had already done amounted to $8200 per household.

[assumptions laid out here: ]

Now, with an additional $700 billion proposed this weekend, that's another $6300 per household, for a total potential financial loss of $1.6 trillion, or $14,500 per household.

I see REI currently has a Cannondale road bike on sale for $800. So, for what this bailout might end up costing US taxpayers, we could get 18 Cannondale bicycles for every household in the US. provides new bicycles in poor third world countries at $134 each. (I've seen these -- these are very sturdy bikes with strong racks). That works out to 11.9 billion bicycles. Yes, friends, with what this might cost US taxpayers we could buy nearly everyone in the entire world two sturdy bicycles.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

North Shore Century Sunday Sept 21

Our club charity ride is coming up Sunday, September 21! There's a nice article on it in the Evanston Review:,ev-centuryride-091808-s1.article

For more info, go to our website:

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Scraper bikes

From Clare on rec.bicycles.misc:

Intersection of hip-hop and cycling:

You can see some slides here:

A video:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lance is back

Just a small notice on the front page of the paper today:

Lance Armstrong said he would return to professional cycling and compete in the Tour de France next year.

It's a bold move. Lance's domination of cycling at a time a rampant doping has looked increasingly suspicious. If he comes back he will be tested relentlessly -- particularly at the TdF.

So, if he could get a top-10 finish, TT or mountain stage win, a King of the Mountains jersey, or do similarly well this would put a lot of the doubts to rest. It's too much to expect a guy who's years older to win the thing, however cool that would be.

But it's risky as well. If he's actually doping and gets caught he will be trashed forever. If he limps along in the back of the pack, wheezing as he goes, he will only give fuel to his enemies. If it's all a publicity stunt and he drops out before actually entering the TdF (or another big stage races), he will be regarded with further suspicion.

We'd all like to believe in Lance. Go, Lance, go!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Generators for Bikes

From a thread on r.b.m. comes this information about finding bike dynamo generators in the U.S. [thanks to Frank Krygowski, and Steve at

Bike dynamos or generators are a bit hard to find in the US, but not
impossible. Here are some American sources:

I've ordered stuff from this British firm and been well satisfied.
Shipping seemed as fast as from most American companies, and with a
valid credit card, location doesn't matter much.


Hub Dynamos
Joule, $65: ""
Shimano, $90 "" or
Schmidt SON, $275: ""

Dymotec, $60, ""
or ""

Also see "" for a 12V/6W dynamo
(all of the above are 6V/3W).

Also search on Amazon U.S. for "bicycle dynamo".

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sign up for free Bike Bits

Bike Bits, the free newsletter from Adventure Cycling (the US bike tour people) is an interesting read. They recently published their 200th issue, and asked me to pass this along:


We may have stretched the truth a bit in the opening quote, but
we're not fibbing when we tell you this is the 200th edition of Bike
Bits. Since we started sending out this e-newsletter in 1999, we've
grown the reader list to an astonishing 33,792 current subscribers.
What's more, they are distributed among more than 100 different
countries, representing every letter of the alphabet except Q and X.

Now, will you take the official Bike Bits 200th Edition Challenge?
We would like to ask every current reader to invite a friend or an
acquaintance to receive the newsletter. (We're hoping this will net
at least one subscriber from Qatar, but unfortunately there are no
countries beginning with the letter X.) If just half of all readers
rise to the challenge, our subscription list will instantly zip past
the 50,000 mark. Wouldn't that be marvelous? Forward this entire
Bike Bits (or this section) to all your cycling friends and ask
them to join with you in receiving this quick, fun cycling
e-newsletter. You do the convincing and we'll come up with the
creative cyclo-news.

Sign up for Bike Bits here:

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Cosmic bicycle wheel

Astronomy Picture of the Day, which is a marvelous site that I very highly recommend, today features a cosmic bicycle wheel.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Making myself useful

Yesterday I did my first century of the year. This is a far cry from earlier years when I did a century a month, but maybe this is a start of another century streak.

We went up to the Jelly Belly plant in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. The pace was substantially higher than the 15-16 mph advertised, and I was often challenged on the way back, when we had a headwind. I'm a big drag in a headwind. But the ride was great fun.

I got to be useful, too. One rider had a flat, and 3 of us stayed back with him to help fix it and to follow the route. Unfortunately he couldn't get his back wheel off because it was not a quick-release wheel. But I had a wrench, which saved the day (a passing local cyclist would also have saved the day, but he lived a mile or so back).

Later, the same rider's derailleur broke/ I led him to the Lake Forest train station so he could take a train back. It was not a good day for him. As a result of this, I ended up with 120 miles for the day and was pretty tired.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Riding to interesting places

Jobst Brandt wrote on the rec.bicycles.misc newsgroup about the importance of interesting places. If you haven't browsed through at least a couple of Jobst's tours, this would be a good time to do so.
> I think riding to interesting places supercedes any interest in
> setting records and I have been riding in that manner for more than 50
> years. A collection of some of these summer tours is at:
> That longer rides are also practical for someone in good physical
> condition is reported here:
> When an unusual happening occurs, such as the big freeze of 1963, you
> should take advatage of it and savor the event for a long time:

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Thoreau speed of cars, bikes and walking

There's an interesting discussion here about Thoreau speed:
In Walden, Thoreau proposed a modification of the traditional formula for calculating speed. Instead of merely dividing the distance traveled by the time it took to cross it, Thoreau proposed reckoning also the cost of the ticket.

So, after some assumptions and calculations, where are we left?
Kifer has also assessed the costs and the Thoreau speed of bicycles, into the bargain. He estimates the Thoreau speed of cars as between 4.8 and 14.4 miles per hour, and the Thoreau speed of bicycles as between 8.9 and 14.8 miles per hour. Though beaten to the punch, I'm posting anyway, because my sources and method are different yet I end up confirming Kifer's conclusion: When costs are factored in, cars are not faster than bikes and only twice as fast as walking.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Paging Dr. Triathalon

The Trib reports on somebody who didn't follow doctor's orders:

After a swollen right knee caused the Englishman [Stuart Hayes] to take a $1,300, two-hour trip to the emergency room Saturday evening, the pain and swelling mysteriously subsided and Hayes became Sunday's improbable winner in 1 hour 48 minutes 9.2 seconds, earning $10,000.

"The doctor told me to take off two weeks," Hayes said. "I guess he's not going to like that I didn't listen."

Hayes, 29, considers the victory a breakthrough after 10 years of competing in triathlons with few major victories. His last major win came in 2005 in his hometown of London.

I guess if you've come all this way you might as well give it a go.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bike the Dog

In imitation of the Evanston Bicycle Club's Hot Dog Ride and CBF's Bike the Drive, next month features Bike the Dog, which is a bike tour of 9 hot dog places in Chicago on September 13.

The EBC's hot dog ride was yesterday. We visited 3 places this year (sometimes we do 4). I had an encased meat product at all 3 -- the Thai sausage with peanut sauce and coconut at Hot Doug's wasn't exactly a hot dog -- and fries at 1 place. I didn't eat again until today.

I can't imagine visiting all 9 places and eating at all of them. Maybe going with 3 other people and having .25 of a hot dog at each would work.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Real Estate bike tours

Today's WSJ reports that some realtors are leading bike tours around to show houses. This is a good way to show off some of the features of the neighborhood as well as show several houses to multiple people.

I'd like to think of it that way, rather than a sign of desperation in the housing market ;)

One of the things it illustrates is that access to bike paths is something you want to show off. All those NIMBY people who slow down bike path construction turn out to be wrong -- it doesn't lower property values.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Book Bike

From Joe Ferguson on the BCHI list comes this gem:

Once upon a time, there was a bibliophile named Gabe Levinson who
wanted to spread the word about his passion for books.
So he did the obvious: ordered a custom-built tricycle with a 200-
pound capacity and wrote to dozens of publishers asking for book
donations. The hook: He’d ride around in his Book Bike and give away
free books to the masses.

The responses flooded in — from McSweeney’s, Dark Horse Comics, Not
for Tourists, Drawn & Quarterly, and Washington Square Press, to name
a few.

Levinson now spends his Saturdays pedaling around Chicago parks giving
away free reads. Cops have tried to stop him, but he woos them with
his bounty.

This Saturday, you, too, can be wooed (check his website for location).

Pretty cool in our book.

For locations, go to <>

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Beijing by bike

There's a nice photo essay on riding a bike in Beijing in the New York Times today.

Jason McCartney of the U.S. Olympic cycling team rents a commuter bike and goes for a ride. It's a bit different than being in the peleton.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What's wrong with this picture?

from Mike Jacoubowsky at Chain Reaction Bicycles comes this picture. The full page at ToysRUs is here.

Sharp-eyed readers at rec.bicycles.misc noted the following:

The ad species a 26 inch frame, which would be huge (for someone about 6'5"). What they mean is 26 inch wheels.

On the rear, the plastic thingy that protects the hub in shipping is still on.

The fork has been installed backwards.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Robert Novak, columnist, involved in "Hit and Run"

He trots out the old, tired, incredible excuse of “I didn’t know I hit him. ... I feel terrible,”

The bicyclist [who chased Novak down] was David Bono, a partner at Harkins Cunningham, who was on his usual bike commute to work at 1700 K St. N.W. when he witnessed the accident.

As he traveled east on K Street, crossing 18th, Bono said "a black Corvette convertible with top closed plows into the guy. The guy is sort of splayed into the windshield.”...“This car is speeding away. What’s going through my mind is, you just can’t hit a pedestrian and drive away,” Bono said.

Update 7/29/2008: Robert Novak has written he has a brain tumor and will, at least temporarily, retire

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

This is a famous person on a bike. Who is it?

The bike seems to be a Rivendell. What does it mean if you recognized the bike before the famous person?

Hint: born in 1924. The picture is from 2008.


Monday, July 21, 2008

What's your neighborhood's Walk Score?

Here a site that let's you look at the "walkability" of a

There's a lot of variability in the scores. I typed in addresses I was personally familiar with and got a "0" in one case and a "98" in another.

The 98 is downtown Evanston, IL, near the Northwestern University campus where pretty much everything is within walking distance.

Two of my sisters live at places rated "5" and "0" -- I think the 5 is a bit harsh, but the 0 is pretty much correct since there's not a school, or a park, or a store of any kind within 2 miles. This is a 1970's suburb, by the way, not a ranch in Montana.

Not surprisingly, it works with available data, which is Google maps locations of stores, schools, and parks. Nothing in there right now about sidewalks or crime.

It works in the UK as well. "10 Downing St" scores an 87 -- very walkable.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My new bike: Xootr Swift

Did I NEED a new bike?

For some values of need, yes. I'd gone from 8 bikes to four.

Two road bikes were stolen.
My younger daughter took the tandem to Philadelphia (and now that I just own a Prius I'll never get it back!)
I loaned my mountain bike to my daughter's boyfriend. He has to return it if they break up. So far, so good, although I'm not sure the bike is the major thing holding their relationship together.

In addition the old folder I bought -- a Raleigh Twenty -- just isn't big enough. I can get the seat height OK, but can't easily change the proprietary handlebars.

So, I replaced that with a Xootr Swift. I put it together last night (pictures here), but it's rained all day today so I haven't ridden it. I'm figuring this will be a lot easier to pop in the back of the car when my wife wants to go to Michigan. I can take the train out to the country without gambling on whether the conductors will let the bike on. And, in addition, I'd gotten a nice bonus and wanted to spoil myself a bit.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pro racers aren't like you and me.

Today's live coverage of the Tour de France on contains this gem:

The peloton is currently riding pedaling at a good 50 km/h [over 30 m.p.h.]. Is it strenuous? Well, Sebastian Lang's heart rate is not much above a hundred, sometimes below.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Metra clarifies folding bikes policy

From a poster on the Chicago Folding Bike Society list:

I just grabbed the new bikes on trains brochure since I didn't have one
(carrying on is encouraged because you can kind of make out that
folding bikes aren't subject to the normal bikes program). The new
brochure says 2008 across the top right corner and in it, it
says, "Folding bicycles in protective covers are permitted on all
trains at all times but should not block train aisles or doorways."'s clearly stated in something you can find at
the stations and carry with you. Hopefully this eliminates any

All bicycles weigh 50 pounds

"All bicycles weigh fifty pounds.
A thirty-pound bicycle needs a twenty-pound lock.
A forty-pound bicycle needs a ten-pound lock.
A fifty-pound bicycle doesn't need a lock."
-- Anonymous

Monday, June 16, 2008

Bumper Sticker = Bad Driver

Bumper Sticker Shock

Drivers who personalize their cars take it personally. Beware of the bumper sticker.

That's the unexpected conclusion of a recent study by William Szlemko of Colorado State University in the Journal of Applied Psychology, reported in the Washington Post in Shankar Vedantam's column. "Drivers of cars with bumper stickers, window decals, personalized license plates and other "territorial markers" not only get mad when someone cuts in their lane or is slow to respond to a changed traffic light, but they are far more likely than those who do not personalize their cars to use their vehicles to express rage -- by honking, tailgating and other aggressive behavior."

It does not seem to matter whether the messages on the stickers are about peace and love -- "Visualize World Peace," "My Kid Is an Honor Student" -- or angry and in your face -- "Don't Mess With Texas," "My Kid Beat Up Your Honor Student." The personalizing of the vehicle might be seen as territory markers.

"The more markers a car has, the more aggressively the person tends to drive when provoked," Szlemko said. "Just the presence of territory markers predicts the tendency to be an aggressive driver."

The implications for bicyclists are obvious -- aggressive drivers are bad news. The problems are equally obvious -- very seldom do we get a look at a vehicle's bumper until it has passed us.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Chicago World Naked Bike Ride

For a variety of very good reasons, I'll not be participating in this ride. I just thought it was interesting to see the long list of rules and suggestions I was e-mailed.

CHECK-IN for the Chicago World Naked Bike Ride is at UNION PARK
Southern triangle, near 100 N. Ashland, near Washington/Ogden intersection,
South of Green/Pink Line Ashland/Lake stop, AT the statue of former mayor
Carter Henry Harrison Sr.
GoogleMaps: * YahooMaps:
* MapQuest:
Saturday June 14th, rain or shine, 6-9pm gathering, then riding for several
hours, ending near beginning.

DO NOT COME except participants on people-powered wheels, due to crowd

NON-RIDERS go watch at the recommended VIEWING point Halsted+Belmont some
time after 10:15-ish. Belmont Red/Brown stop puts you in the neighborhood.
We should pass that point twice over a period. Last year a sizable throng
assembled there and your cheers were greatly appreciated! To get live
updates en-route text message JOIN WNBRC to 8762.

RIDERS come at/after 6pm if you need body painting or wanna hang for tunez,
contests, bike decorating, eco banners, camaraderie, donations, etc.
Or come to check-in closer to launch time, like 8:45pm at the latest.

YOU are responsible for your own bike+self, travel+lodging, ID+money,
food+water, clothes+towel, etc, and help others. m'K?
Maybe bring some snax or drinx to share; also bells/whistles,
blinkees/glowies, helmet/backpack, smiles, etc.
There's no storage to leave stuff behind for the ride, but at least we may
have a potty this year.

DONATIONS are solicited on site to help defray costs, or use PayPal from

CELEBRATE positive body image and the end of the automobile era with WNBR-C.
Bare-as-you-dare outfits range from body paint to fanciful costumes to
beach-wear. GREEN is the theme color this year.
Chicago's past rides rallied hundreds of cyclists and numerous skaters
winding over a dozen miles of city streets. The ride's atmosphere is
extremely joyful, convivial, and transcendently fun. Now in its FIFTH YEAR,
Chicago's turnout is among the largest of many cities participating
With gas prices skyrocketing and obesity an epidemic, our messages have
become truisms.

1. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT visibly carry open alcohol.
2. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT arrive naked or be anywhere near the park naked.
3. DO NOT COME unless you are participating on people-powered wheels due to
risk of overcrowding. NON-RIDERS come watch at Halsted near Belmont some
time after 10:15pm.
4. No photographs allowed before ride except by identified authorized
personnel. Assume however by participating that you may be photographed
anywhere anytime.
5. Exposed goodies may make you a target for arrest. Even naked butts may
be risky. Do so at your own risk or remain minimally covered or painted.
6. If confronted by police obey commands and comply, do not escalate and do
not argue. If told to put something on simply do so immediately. And thank
them en-route for their help.
7. This ride is monitored by National Lawyers Guild volunteers who can serve
as witnesses in case of trouble. If arrested immediately call the NLG office
at 312-913-0039
8. Remember the messages: Promoting freedom from oil addiction and positive
body image. Not antagonizing cagers and residents and authorities. Hostile
acts are completely uncool towards cars not directly threatening riders.
9. For maximum First Amendment protection integrate your messages: "burns
fat not oil", "nude not lewd", "no concealed weapons", "naked is how
vulnerable I am sharing the roads with cars"
11. For more information see or try the hotline at
773-578-6289 or text JOIN WNBRC to 8762.

1. Keep a slow pace, it's easy to get excited and start pedaling faster, but
we need to stay together and not get stretched out.
2. We don't need to blast through every red light. They're a great chance
for the group to mass up, so we must stop every so often to allow the group
to remain in a tighter formation.
3. Avoid passing cars and swallowing them up in the ride. Drivers caught in
bike masses tend to make erratic moves, so it's best to just stop behind a
pack of cars and wait for them to move on.
4. Stay out of the oncoming lane, we don't need both sides of the street and
must leave room for emergency vehicles.
5. If you have never been on a big group ride in Chicago here's some helpful
6. Mr Bike has some great tips for riding naked:

==== SOUND BITES ====
"Say no to oil."
"Less gas, more ass."
"Cars support terrorists."
"Naked is how vulnerable I am sharing the roads with cars."
"Bikes don't block traffic, bikes ARE traffic"
"Why are we naked? Because it got your attention."
"This is an annual free speech exercise promoting bicycling."
"Bicyclists make better lovers!"
"My bush would make a better president."

THANK YOU participants for being the most wondrous community I've known, and
crew for having brought your A games, and the mayor and police for being so
bike friendly. C U tomorrow!

~ ~
WNBR-C Coord and avid inline skater.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Car runs into bike race

A driver, possibly an American citizen, fell asleep at the wheel and ran into a bike race in Mexico, causing mayhem.,2933,362147,00.html

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Trib Gets Bike Religion

Today's Chicago Tribune devotes the Q section to a bike issue.

It's pretty well done. I'm not sure I can handle all this trendiness, though.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

From Pakistan, the Inventor Spirit

I wouldn't ordinarily post about electric bikes, but there's a post here about the bike pictured above and the man from Pakistan who put it together. It's a good story.

Instead of using expensive speed controller I've used relays to
connect batteries (4 of them) parallel and series to get 12, 24, 36
and 48 volts by a throttle switch that I designed it my self by using wood....

Most importantly I've not connected the motor directly to the wheel,
instead I've connected it to the gearing mechanism so this gives me
the choice to go for speed on straight roads and go for torque on
hills. This saves my batteries and reduces the load on motor.

With slight power of paddling it is giving me 60 km/hr these days,
I¢m really enjoying my ride to my office which is about 14 km away.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Thought for the day

"I delighted in the supreme sense of freedom that comes with the
first mile of a bicycle journey. No bills, no messy
relationships, no job. All I needed was stuffed into four sturdy
-- Dan Buettner, on setting out on a 12,000-mile ride across Africa

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A kid dreams of bike racing with the pros

If I had known about bicycle racing when I was 11, I might have dreamed of starring in this video.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Wheel Rage

Kevin Williams (bike commuter and Tribune writer) writes:

We're mad as hell, and it's all because of the wheel.

Cyclists are dropping [two Chicago cyclists killed in the last few days], and the whole bike-versus-car showdown has become a tinderbox...

"Those bikers had it coming. They don't obey traffic laws," says a motorist.

"SUV-driving pigs hog the road and waste resources as they try to kill me," says a cyclist.

Kevin's got a theory that's as good as anybody's:
Everybody's angry, and everybody's wrong. As a cyclist and driving enthusiast, trust me—both sides are being buttheads.

But why does this blind, festering, almost cauterizing rage seal off logic? Why does it make everyone as stupid as the day is long?

I repeat: It's the wheel. Wheels make life a race. If you are strolling 10 feet behind an elderly couple, do you break into a run to reach a spot before they do? No. Do we try to outwalk each other to work? No.

But put us in a wheeled conveyance, and it's competition.

And Kevin's thought a bit about a solution:
take these easy steps:

•Use wheels sparingly. You already know they're evil.

•Self-witness, as [psychologist Leon] James puts it. The psychologist recommends turning on a little tape recorder while driving. Verbalize all the invective you're feeling, and play it back later. Shameful, isn't it? Realization is the first step toward correction.

•Recognize that we're all vulnerable. On a bike, you earn the karma you might have spawned by buzzing a pedestrian or running a light. In a car, you buzzed a rider, now an SUV is crowding you. Is that 18-wheeler crowding you, SUV driver?

Good advice, Kevin. Or, in a word: CHILL!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Sheldon Brown's April 1

I humbly post this link to Sheldon Brown's past April 1 posts

[Sheldon having died recently, there won't be any more.]

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Sheldon Brown, 1944-2008

Sheldon Brown, justifiably one of the most famous bicyclists in history, died this week.

You can pay respects at

Sheldon was nominally a bike mechanic, but that does not begin to explain the influence of his website, and of his voluminous writings over decades.

He not only invented the real man saddle
he was a real man.

Obituary in the Boston Globe

Friday, February 01, 2008

Retire up where it's cold

Under the heading of "things I would not have expected to be true" is this
article suggesting Canada is the most popular retirement destination for the

Wouldn't someplace warmer be nicer?

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Driver who killed teenager sues parents over damage to his car
By Harold Heckle
The Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 01/25/2008 05:24:00 PM MST

Posted: 5:23 PM- MADRID, Spain -- A
speeding motorist who killed a teenage cyclist is suing the boy's parents over damage to his luxury car, the government says.

Enaitz Iriondo, 17, died instantly in August 2004 when businessman Tomas Delgado's Audi A8 crashed into him at 100 mph near Haro in northern Spain, an Interior Ministry traffic report said. The speed limit was 55 mph.

Iriondo was not wearing reflective clothing or a helmet, the ministry report said. As the sun had set when he crossed the path of Delgado's car from a side road, a regional court found both parties at fault and closed the case, the report said.

Get this. The driver is going 45 miles over the speed limit, and the cyclist is not wearing gear he isn't legally required to wear (based on US vehicle code, which I've heard is similar to what's required in most European countries). Yet they are both considered at fault.

"Chutzpah" is headline used by the person who sent me this article, and that's pretty appropriate term.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Water-filtering bike

"The Aquaduct is a pedal powered vehicle that stores, filters and transports water; aimed for use in the developing world. It consists of a storage tank, filter, peristaltic pump, clean tank and clutch."

It's an interesting idea and worth a look if you like engineering designs of this sort. I think it would be better if it were two-piece (bicycle separate from tank/filter apparatus), but then I didn't design it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Winter Bike to Work Day

I didn't make it this year. I was working from home while the chimney guys did some tuckpointing on my chimney. But Dave B. did as usual. Here's his report:

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bicycle Licence Plates?

The League of Illinois Bicyclists seems like a fine organization doing good work, and I'm happy to be a member, but I don't have to agree with everything they do.

Annually, they flog their commemorative license plate, which costs $28 and can be used for one month instead of a regular plate. A bicycle license plate on your car always seemed to me like a commemorative handgun for a pacifist, and I've always passed.

But wait!

This year, they are trying for a permanent plate:

"This year we are working a getting a permanent SHARE THE ROAD license
plate for Illinois and are surveying our plate holders. We must get a
minimum of 850 firm commitments for this to happen."

There only need to be 850? No wonder Illinois has so many difference license plates. The Illinois Secretary of State's office lists the following plates:

* Amateur Radio
* America Remembers

So, who can quickly tell me what we are remembering here?

* Antique Vehicle
* B-Truck
* Charitable Vehicle
* Collegiate [21 different plates for various colleges]
* Education
* Environmental
* Farm Truck & Trailer
* Firefighter Memorial
* Hearing Impaired
* Illinois Hospice

* Illinois Michigan Canal
* Illinois Pan Hellenic Series [Four of these, honoring those fraternities who have had the most drunk driving arrests over the years.]
* Mammogram
* Master Mason
* Mileage Tax Truck
* Military [18 different plates]
* Motorcycle [3 plates]
* Organ Donor [only one! I was expecting one plate for each organ, but no...]

* Park District Youth
* Passenger
* Peoria Wildlife
* Persons With Disabilities
* Pet Friendly

* Police Memorial
* Prevent Violence
* Recreational Trailers
* Recreational Vehicles
* Route 66
* Sporting Series [There are 6 of these: duck, turkey, rival gang member, bass, pheasant, duck]
* Trailers
* Trucks over 8000 lbs.

How can such a confusing array of license plates possibly serve one of the main purposes of license plates, which is to allow people to easily identify the car? The answer is, that this confusing array just causes confusion. With such a small minimum order, it's hard to imagine the state ends up making much net income from these. But they make a lot of political interests happy. Do cyclists have to stoop so low?