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.