Friday, November 23, 2007

What some people did for Thanksgiving

Pictured: The Waywayanda Thanksgiving Ride, by Mike Ala (see story below)
One thing I love about cyclists, they use the peace and serenity of Thanksgiving to hit the road. Yesterday I made sure I got my 40 miles or so in with a habitual trip to Nyack. I turned around at River Road and one of the cross streets in Nyack because I wanted to stop in Piermont. But when I got to Bunberry's I found it was closed, with other cyclists turning up, and disappointment registering on their faces.
But the main Korean-owned small food store was open, and many people had stopped there. I engaged in conversation with several people there, in the wonderfully balmy, 60 degree weather. On the way back I cut through Tallman Park which was covered with beautiful yellow leaves. A dream of a day.
This is what was so great about riding on Thanksgiving: I have never seen so few cars on the road, not even on a Sunday. It made me feel safe and peaceful. This is what every day should be like, and this is what we should be working towards, all of us.
Photos by Mike Ala and gang

Here also is what a wonderfully crazy group of mountain bikers did on Thanksgiving. Check them out. Here is what Mike Ala wrote:
What a great day for a ride last weekend we had snow today the temps got up to 60.
The warmer temps made for a great turnout I would say about 40+ riders. As Usual the rides split into different skill levels so that everyone has fun. Found a new trail today as I have on previous rides (one of the things I like so much about this ride) It was a rocky ridgeline that was made a little more difficult by the rain that we had overnight.
Our route started out on the race course going backwards (riding past the dam) then going up a climb (on the GPS you will see that we went up a bit then turned around there was a little confusion over which route we were going to take) There was plenty of climbs and rocky sections, some technical crossings made up of rock bridges and logs. Some really fun descents and a few Oh S#@* ones that got my adrenaline up. Overall a great ride.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

GS Mengoni's Bunde Busted for Alleged Doping

I like Jared Bunde, the 31 year old GS Mengoni Team racer who recently got busted for taking a non-allowed substance, Clomiphene.

I met him at a party last week, and he seems like a nice guy.

Last night, GS Mengoni put out a public statement on their website declaring that Bunde was tested positive, and regardless of how he got the substance into his body, Mengoni has a zero tolerance policy and he is off the team. Bunde said he must have ingested the drug--which is known in cycling circles to mask testosterone and is a women's fertility drug--through other supplements that he thought were safe, according to other cyclists who have heard him tell his story.

But after Jared was suspended from racing for two years by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) after testing positive for the substance on July 28, 2007 at the International Cycling Classic in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, all the local northeast cycling world has been embroiled in a storm of controversy over it.

Jared's two-year ban began October 15, the day he accepted a provisional suspension, according to NY Velocity.

NY Velocity also reported that as a result of the suspension, Bunde has forfeited his wins since July 28, including his US National Track Championship 30-kilometer points race triumph August 28 at Trexlertown, Pennsylvania, and "his sixth-place overall finish and third-place points effort at the Vuelta a Nicaragua, which included a victory in stage five on September 8," said Andy Shen of NY Velocity.

But the boards at NY Velocity are raging with anger and controversy about the entire thing. For one, guys are pissed that they raced next to someone that they now think was doping. Others feel that because Bunde doped, now everyone will dope. One writer thinks that having a DWI is a worse offense, and yet no one seems up in arms about that.

And that is a good point, because so many more people are affected by drunk drivers than dopers, a point that one cyclist who preferred to not be id'd for this article accurately pointed out. Some 45,000 people a year are killed by cars, but you don't hear or read screaming outrage about that: maybe because it's become a fact of life.

Still, read what some people said about Bunde:
"Indeed, he may be a good person, but his positive test shows a certain level of disrespect for his competition, the sponsors, and the sport. I would have no problem riding him into the gutter during a race because of it," wrote U23.
Another anonymous poster wrote:
"He STOLE thousands of dollars of prize money and ROBBED others of the results they worked so hard and sacrificed so much for."
While it maybe be true that Bunde did use drugs that he shouldn't have, there is some question as to how many people are using drugs now--or at least use them for specific competitions who never get tested. All those people who lost to Bunde might also have been using drugs, but just didn't get tested because they didn't win.

Well, this is one moral dilemma we won't find a straight answer to in a day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Various Headlines for the day

Well, I might as well tell you what other people are reporting about bicycles and cycling today.

Rain and a shortage of parts affect bike profits in the Netherlands
Accell Slumps After Bike Maker Cuts Profit Forecast
Bloomberg - USA
(Bloomberg) -- Accell Group NV, the largest Dutch bicycle maker, fell the most in more than six years in Amsterdam trading after cutting its profit ...

Groups Ask Lawmakers to Consider Bike Liability Lawsuits
WOI - West Des Moines,IA,USA
He died in 2004 while riding his bike on a Crawford County road during The Register's Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. The group, which met yesterday, ...

Now, why doesn't NYC, the greatest city in the world--have bike stands at stations? Why why why? It really boggles the mind.
New bike stands for stations
... to promoting cycling through the provision of infrastructure as well as initiatives like refresher/novice bicycle training for adults taking up cycling ...

I know this story is about prostitution crackdowns (1) and bike thefts (2). But what if you combined the two activities? If ONLY people used bikes for prostitution here, at least we would have some decent bike lanes. Like, all the way down 11th Avenue for example. And across 42nd St. And across 57th St. and Central Park South. Great idea!
Beijing police crack on prostitution gangs, bicycle theft
Xinhua - China
The Beijing police have cracked 329 bicycle theft gangs, nabbed 3686 suspects, smashed 774 hide-outs and confiscated 18825 bicycles so far this year, ...

650-mile bike race to conclude at the Rose Bowl
San Gabriel Valley Tribune - West Covina,CA,USA
Local bicycle shops and others will have the opportunity to participate." Bryon Bushatz, manager of the Incycle bike shop in Pasadena, said many of the ...

Man Killed Riding Bicycle Led Full Life
Signal - Santa Clarita,CA,USA
A life that ended at that intersection when a car struck him while he rode his bicycle. But the way he died is not the defining part of William "Bill" ...

This is the kind of story--and reporting--that leads people to think that "therefore, bikes should not be on the road."
Death smash driver was overtaking bike
Cambridge Evening News - Cambridge,England,UK
The inquest heard his bike was travelling in the opposite direction from 62-year-old Jane Elliot's car when he struck it as she overtook a cyclist in what a ...

Here's one for the NY crowd:
Bikes: DOT Still Doesn't Get It
Hartford Courant - United States
That's the story in Portland, Ore., where the city has added bike paths, retrofitted bridges and seen a huge jump in the number of bicycle commuters. ...

But will the kids be able to ride the bikes once they get them?
Want to win a bike this Christmas?
ic Wales - United Kingdom
Each poster should incorporate a simple safety slogan that encourages cyclists to light up their bikes at night.4. Closing date for entries is Friday, ...

Monday, November 19, 2007

In Memory of Sam Hindy

Sam Hindy, computer engineer, dies at 27: A memorial service will be held tomorrow, 6:30 p.m. at Picnic House in Prospect Park.

Jennifer Maloney writes in Newsday today: "Sam Hindy's passions took him on an unusual career path. In high school, his in-line skating stunts won him a sponsorship from Rollerblade. Passionate about theoretical physics, he explained string theory to his parents over dinner. After spending a year working at his father's brewery, he finally settled on a degree in computer engineering."

See the rest of the story at Newsday.

Sam died last week after cycling onto the motorist section of the Manhattan Bridge.

A discussion took place at a cyclist party held in Brooklyn last night. A representative of Transportation Alternatives was there: he refused to give an account of how Hindy died. It was not clear if he did not know the story, or just did not want to share it.

Whether it is the newspapers, or the city that tells us, it is important for the cycling community to know how Hindy died. A full accounting of how the accident occurred is owed to his family, and to others who cared about him, as well as to future users of the bridge who cross with a bicycle.

Stories abound: he used the roadway because the bike lane was closed. He couldn't find the bike lane. He became disoriented when cars tried to get him off the road, honking furiously behind him, turned backwards, hit the railing, flew over the top, and down to the next level where he was struck several times by oncoming traffic. Another story says he tried to turn back after being accosted by furious drivers, and was struck, and sent over the railing to his death below.

Whatever the event, whatever the conditions, we need to know how and why he died.

A memorial service will be held tomorrow, Tuesday November 20, at 6:30 p.m. at Picnic House in Prospect Park.

Monday, November 12, 2007

9W Struck Cyclist Okay, Seeking Witnesses

The cyclist who was struck by a motorist on 9W on Sunday and sent to the hospital with leg injuries has survived and is now seeking witnesses of the accident. (See stories one and two below and for full story)

According to the cyclist, who was traveling south on 9W, he made a motion to make a left turn and was completing the turn when he was struck.

An unidentified witness on the scene said the driver of the Toyota was trying to pass the cyclist when he struck him.

Indeed, the location of the vehicle in the roadway facing south was about three quarters of the way into the northbound lane, supporting the notion that the driver tried to pass the cyclist as he was turning left.

The cyclist said he was preparing to make the turn, looked behind him and saw sufficient space, and as he was making the turn, was struck.

He says he is in a lot of pain, but without permanent injuries.

If you have further information about this accident please contact jbenepe@msn.com

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Update on Fallen Cyclist

The unidentified cyclist who was struck today at 11:03 a.m. at the intersection of 9W and Tallman Park entrance, is 23 years old, and was taken to Nyack Hospital in Nyack, NY where he was treated for abrasions and an unspecified leg injury, according to Sgt. Chris Strattner of the Orange County police department.

According to the accident report, both the cyclist and the driver of the green Toyota were proceeding south along Rte. 9W, when the cyclist motioned to turn left to Tallman Park, and was struck by the traveling vehicle, and was "ejected" from his bicycle, hitting the windshield of the car, said Strattner.

Strattner said the accounts of the cyclist and of the motorist both reflected the same information, and that the cyclist was conscious when he recounted the details.

The vehicle's speed was not assessed by the police department using throw distance estimates because they are not required to do so unless there has been a serious physical injury or death, said Strattner. When pressed for what constitutes serious physical injury, Strattner said such a condition would likely constitute a "tremendous" injury for the average person.

The speed limit on this section of 9W is 45 mph, and the motorist was traveling at a slight incline.

No summonses were issued to either the driver or the cyclist, an indication that the cyclist was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident: helmets are mandatory for all bicyclists under Rockland County law, noted Strattner, who said he also is a cyclist.

No records are currently available for previous accidents at this location.

An employee answering the phone at Nyack Hospital refused to comment on the condition of the cyclist or whether he had been released.

Cyclist Hit by Car at Tallman, 9W Intersection

An unidentified cyclist was hit head on by a motorist at the turn from 9W to Tallman Park and Piermont at around 11 a.m. this morning.
The cyclist was traveling by himself, he told BBB.

At the scene of the accident, two police cars had blocked off the northbound traffic lane, while paramedics spoke to the cyclist who lay on the ground face down, not moving.

It was not clear whether the driver of the car, a green four-door sedan, had struck the cyclist as he was turning off the side road, or whether the driver had tried to execute a left hand turn into the Tallman road from the southbound lane as the cyclist was traveling northbound down 9W.

Picture of Tallman State Park near the Hudson River

However, the entire front window of the vehicle was shattered, and it was clear from the indentation on the glass that the cyclist's body had hit the glass, and then fallen to the pavement.
None of the officers on the scene could offer an explanation yet for the accident, and two paramedics tended to him by asking if he could feel his foot and other limbs as he lay unmoving.

A large stain of water, possibly either from an exploded water bottle, or from the cyclist's mouth, was evident on the pavement near where he lay, in the middle of the northbound lane.

Later it was reported that the injured man, dressed all in black, had been moved to a stretcher.
BBB asked the cyclist if he wanted friends or family to be contacted but he said he preferred to call them himself later.

The weather at the time was about 40 degrees, but visibility at this intersection was poor due to sharp sunlight angles and shadowed areas on the road.

This intersection as well as the intersection at 9W just south of stateline, are known for the large incidence of motorists turning left from the southbound lane, and are particularly treacherous according to cyclists. Cyclists are gaining speed from the decline of the road at both intersections, making any impact particularly deadly.

BBB has witnessed another head-on accident this year when a cyclist with the right of way traveling north was hit by a southbound motorist taking a left had turn onto Palisades Parkway south.

Cyclists report that despite the fact that they are traveling downhill at speeds of between 25 and 40 mph, many cars try to "beat" them to the turn, and take the turn in front of them.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

NY Bike Blog-o-Sphere: Bike Lock?

Well, some of our local NYC bloggers have been working overtime. Some of it is entertaining, some of it well, not as balanced as we would like.

Like the two important events recently covered by NY Velocity: One, the cycling-assists run by Richard Rosenthal, was covered nicely by photographer Marco (we assume Marco Quezada?) and pictured at NYVelocity.com. He also did a nice job taking photos of the runners (runners? there are runners in the NYC Marathon?)

NYVelocity also managed to take pics of all of their friends at Interbike, though they strangely missed one of the most exciting product booths in all of Las Vegas, Hotvelociti. Maybe they didn't have time? Though oddly they managed to find time to take pics of the platinum-dyed boob-job girls (hmm, wonder what they do for a living?)

Gawker recently covered the Alec Baldwin rant about the "dirty" Upper West Side. Sorry, but I have to agree with Baldwin--the streets are sometimes so dirty they are often ugly and depressing. The sidewalks are streaked with old food remains, dog pee, and pigeon s--t. Garbage cans are overflowing--where is our sense of pride?

The handsome Baldwin speaks out about dirty upper west side.

But even though entertainment abounds in the bike blog-o-sphere, in some areas I think we need some more work.

For example, regarding that whole relationship between Streetsblog, Transportation Alternatives, and Sam Schwartz--and now, the NYC Department of Transportation--some of it with good results, but some of it muddied by the lack of independence between the entities.

On November 6, WNYC's Brian Lehrer interviewed Mark Gorton's Street Renaissance campaign (funded by his millions from Lime share ware) and you guessed it, NYC Department of Transportation's chief, Janette Sadik-Kahn (more on this getting together of two sides later).

Gorton finally got the city to pay attention to the work of architect Jan Gehl in Copenhagen who Transportation Alternatives and Streets Rennaissance have been trumpeting for two years. We like it when Gehl comes to the city, and we're happy that Gorton's money brought him here. But if you read on, you will see how closely this triumvirate--with traffic engineer Sam Schwartz, has now worked to bring the city's mechanism into play.

I am sorry, but I have kept quiet about this too long: Streets Rennaissance's Streetsblog may be trying to become the de facto site for alternative transportation in New York, but their coverage is not balanced.

Not sure how Transportation Alternatives--or even NYC Department of Transportation feels about that, though we know from previous events that they work together. So much so it's getting to look a little like the latest fashion, with independent colors merging with one another (and that look is already out). In a Feb 7 article, the NY Observer reported that Gorton is TA's largest single donor. But even though everyone is getting into the act, big money wins!

On his site, Streetsblog funder Mark Gorton sticks himself into every video cast: see for yourself how his engineering degree has trained him as a journalist despite excellent work by producer Clarence Eckerson and his team, for example his piece on platinum bike city of Davis, CA.

Gorton's presentation talks to those who are already on their side. Why not interview NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, or NYC Council head Christine Quinn whose records on these issues are not the same or so straightforward?

Which leads me to the point, couldn't Gorton find someone fresh out of journalism school to do his interviewing and stick to what he does best, running a succesful software company? His GeoServer technology should be brought to the forefront of the cycling revolution in this country, which needs mapping of bike routes, not car routes.

In one of their latest missives, Streetsblog (no writers here, only the "filer" mentioned, which says what exactly, that writing is no longer a craft?) practically fawned over traffic engineer Sam Schwartz, who also in the past year has appeared innumerable times on their pages, at events, in their videos and in press releases.

Only one person who worked with Sam Schwartz during those official, long-ago, Schwartz-DOT days will speak off-off-off the record on his bike-likeability quotient.

Honestly, portraying the guy as a bike-knight in shining armor, is a bit over the top. Those 400 or so words a day all cover motorist traffic.

A lot of the city and state construction funding is going into bike lane construction and "pedestrianization" now, a big possible source of income for many traffic engineers including Sam Schwartz, PLLC.

It's more likely what we suffer from in the city now is BIKE LOCK rather than Gridlock, in terms of our impossible-to-navigate streets, a growing plutocracy of bicycle planners and players, and a narrowing of our information sources.

Why not rename the movement and give it some new owners who have really been working hard at this all along, like research curmudgeon Charles Komanoff, or previous Tristate Trans Campaign's Jon Orcutt (who was recently named to a post within the DOT admin)? Or get other people involved, those who use the streets the most, like bike messengers, commuters, and recreational cyclists?

And even if I totally agree with what Streestblog has to say--enthusiastically and wholeheartedly--I find myself hoping that they will find journalistic nirvana soon so they can be taken more seriously by the rest of the world.

Streetsblog editor Aaron Naparstek, whom I have tremendous respect for, should go start his own, self-financed blog.

Speaking about independence, we're on a hari-kiri roll and we can't gloss over this one. BBB spied Sadik-Kahn at Barry Benepe's award ceremony for the Jane Jacob's award (sadly the only event that BBB had time to go to in a long time). Transportation Alternatives Paul Steely White and a couple of other sparkling-eye puppies (male version of young eye candy), were almost stuck to Sadik-Kahn's side.

I can sort of understand that--Sadik Kahn is a brilliant transportation planner. Never mind that she is also a gorgeous streaked-blonde-redhead reeking of upper east side elegance, decked out in black designer clothing with a slim figure to match.

New DOT chief, Janette Sadik-Kahn
But Steely White might want to preserve some independence.

"Cyclists and pedestrians are still an oppressed class of our society, even in New York," said a cyclist who belongs to TA off the record. "The leader of transportation alternatives should represent this group and not as a friend of the establishment that maintains and perpetuates the oppression, no matter how friendly they are."

In other words, it is important to be diplomatic, but remember what side of the table you are on. "But I still like what Steely White is doing," said our source.

Benepe went up and introduced BBB to Sadik-Kahn, and got a chilly reception. But we know that's because BBB is still independent and on the other side of the table.

Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives.

Add one more member--Sadik-Kahn-- to the upper echelon of the pro-bicycle movement, now a plutocracy, a triumvirate no more.

Hopefully that's a good thing because it might mean finally--finally--New York City government, traffic engineers, advocates, "filers" and citizens are all seeing things the same way, with green-colored glasses.

Filed by: A staff member of BBB