Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Armstrong cleared to race in Gila, NM as Mellow Johnny's

Photos courtesy of
April 29, 2009

Lance Armstrong will be cleared to race the five-day Tour de Gila in New Mexico, but he will be wearing a Mellow Johnny's jersey instead of team Astana's.

Seven-time Tour de France winner--we all know that already but I think it's now become his title, kind of like, King of France--Lance Armstrong will start the race today, Wednesday. The five day SRAM Tour of Gila, takes place near Silver City, NM. Armstrong is part owner with Bart Knaggs of Mellow Johnny's, a bike shop in Austin, TX.

Armstrong had 12 screws implanted in his collar bone after a crash last month. This likely will be a warm up race for the Giro d'Italia coming up in May, followed by the TDF in July.

Wrote a report from the NY Times: "Armstrong had been barred from the race because of an International Cycling Union rule prohibiting top-level professional cycling teams from competing in national-level events. "

After some negotiation with the sponsors of the event, officials from the cycling union and USA Cycling reinterpreted the rule Tuesday, allowing Armstrong and two of his Astana teammates — Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner — to race as individuals, and will wear the Mellow Johnny's bike jersey.

The Australian News reported that organizers of the Gila were furious with the initial negative ruling of the USA Cycling officials barring Armstrong from the race. The ruling bars international teams from racing in local national races. But the loophole allows three riders to ride neutrally if they are not wearing the team jersey of Astana.

"I'm excited to get back to competitive racing," said Armstrong, 37, who is competing for the first time since breaking his collarbone in Spain last month.

"The recovery training has been going well but nothing compares to getting back into the bunch and racing."

Stage one will take riders from Silver City to Mogollon, NM, and will include Men Pro, Sr. Men 2, Sr. Men 3, Men 35 plus, and Women Pro.

Other reports:
Los Angeles Times
The Guardian
Silver City Sun News

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day for Cyclists: A free pedal in Harlem: and bike/boat share in Queens

Well, it is a gorgeous day, and hopefully you will get on your bike today and show the world that cars do not own the streets. Maybe you will even deign to pick up some random garbage surrounding your house, in your neighborhood, or even on your street or road. It's a sensible thing to do--you can't expect the people who threw it there to do it, can you?

And in New York City, Earth Day events by and with cyclists are numerous. For one, Peter Meitzler, owner of the Manhattan Rickshaw Co. will be offering free pedicab rides in Harlem between 8:30 am and 2:30 pm. Their location will be Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard (the big state building where Bill Clinton had his offices,) and 125th St.

The rides are being offered in conjunction with Share (Safe, Healthy, Affordable and Reliable Energy), New York, a non-profit coalition of organizations "committed to ensuring the continued supply of reliable, clean and affordable electricity for all New Yorkers," according to the organization.

The group says that New York City, Rockland, Putnam, Orange and Westchester Counties violate federal clean air standards, including the level of ozone permitted in the air. They also say that East and Central Harlem have some of the highest asthma rates in the country, and that approximately one in four children in Central Harlem has asthma, about four times the national average.

According to a study published by the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, asthma hospitalization rates are as much as 21% higher in low-income and minority neighborhoods in New York City, said SHARE.

When BBB was a mere journalism student at Columbia University in 2001, she wrote an article on asthma among families living near the George Washington Bridge, where close to a million trucks and cars pass each day. Trucks, if you don't know, emit particulates, which because of their minute size, can pass the bodies defense mechanisms --intricate nasal filtering--and enter the lungs where they proceed to cause asthma, lung disease, and cancer.

In an informal poll, BBB found that at least one and often two members of every family living within two blocks of the bridge had severe asthma. One woman described how every piece of furniture in her apartment was coated with black soot, and that a previously white dresser in her bedroom was now permanently darkened. Children are particularly vulnerable to exhaust emissions, and doctors that I interviewed at Columbia Presbyterian's asthma clinic confirmed that the incidence of asthma was greatly elevated around the major highways and byways traversing Washington Heights.

So remember, every time you step into a car, you are adding to the equation of more disease and suffering for your fellow human being--and that could one day be yourself.

Then fly on over (by bike) to Queens for a Earth Day extravaganza at the old World's Fair stomping grounds Flushing Meadows/ Corona Park for a bike and boat share! The event is to last from today the 22nd until the 30th and also commemorates the opening day of the World's Fair in 1964 (I know, too long ago for some people.)

This event was the brainchild of Steve Stollman, that cycling creative who used to host the post Critical Mass ride parties at his printing shop on Houston St., with something other than cigarette smoke gently wafting over the entire affair.

The bike and boat rental concession on 93-acre Meadow Lake was initiated by Stollman and completed in conjunction with NYC Parks, and is called Lightwheels. Stollman hopes that the concession will be open every weekend from May 1st on, though for this special week it is open until the 30th.

Said Stollman, "With luck it will become a grand destination like the two World's Fairs that took place there in 1939 and 1964, but [from the ] bottom up this time."

The idea he said was to employ "human-powered vehicles made by people from all over the world, instead of relying on displays by governments and large corporations. Some of these designers and builders will come from the diverse neighborhoods all around this beautiful 1255-acre park."

Along with gorgeous posters depicting the new venture, there is a NYC Parks map of the area that identifies all of the new and cool things to do at Flushing Meadows. What you'll find there may surprise you. In addition to the lake and the bike/ boat share, there is the Queens Wildlife Zoo, the Queens Museum, the Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium, the World's Fair Marina, the Botanical Gardens, Shea Stadium, the New York Hall of Science, the Aquatic and Ice Skating Center, and the Queens Theater.

To get there, take the E, F, V, or R to Forest Hills, 71st Ave., walk three blocks north on 108th St., take a right on Jewel Ave., walk down to Meadow Lake. Or, take the no. 7 train to Willets Point, then walk through Flushing Meadow Park to Meadow Lake.

For more info call Lightwheels at 718-271-3005.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

New York's Failed Bike Lanes: and Bike Parking in Some Garages Gets an "F"

Riding from uptown New York yesterday was an exercise in how-not-to-get-killed. The most infuriating aspect of my trip from the George Washington Bridge, down to Central Park was how seldom the bike lane actually has any space for its intended users, bike riders. It's so packed with parked cars, police cars, and vehicles doing u-turns right in front of you, it's a surprise when you end up at your destination in one piece.

I rarely use this route, preferring the west side Greenway which has no cars, but has it's own problems, like dogs off the leash, or a difficult, meandering street grid to get there near the bridge, and no lights at night. But at least it's dependably car-free. Still, it's not convenient for east side to GWB passage.

Cars parked 10 deep on 145th and Broadway, smack dab in the bike lane. While NYPD in three patrol cars across the street do nothing (see pic below).

Another north-south route, Riverside Drive with its two tightly packed lanes is used for race car practice among amateur and immature drivers who delight in speeding along its curvaceous lines. After being struck there twice by motorists in 2000, and then being harassed by angry drivers who appeared to have murderous instincts, I abandoned Riverside altogether as a north-south byway.

So for traveling back and forth from either the east side or Central Park to upper Manhattan the primary route down which branches off from Broadway on 168th St., is along St. Nicholas Avenue, perhaps one of the most dangerous routes in all of Manhattan.

It's not the fact that the route has no bike lanes: in fact it has two, one on each side of the street.

But these lanes are used by motorists to park their cars, wait in their cars, make u-turns, and even open their doors without looking. It is all so extremely casual, that the police routinely park their cars in the bike lanes themselves, and police officers in patrol cars seen right across the street (or even on the same side) as double parked cars, made no attempt to ticket any of these scofflaws.

Across the street, three NYPD patrol cars--with officers providing no enforcement of double-parked hogs in the bike lane--and parked in the bike lane themselves.

The lack of enforcement is so great, that even when there is space on the block for motorists to park properly and out of the way while unloading, they instead choose to park in the bike lane because it is right in front of their destination. Popular spots for mass bike lane parking are St. Nicholas and 145th St., the police precinct on 167th st., the police precinct on 144th st., and the church on approximately 140th st., (watch out on Sunday for an entire block of cars parked in front --in the bike lane--while big ladies in enormous straw hats festooned with flowers amble in front of you.)

I spent the entire 3-mile stretch of the trip dodging cars U-turning right in front of me; cars speeding to the corner only to do a right hand turn 5-feet in front of me; people opening car doors in front of me while parked in the bike lane, and massive potholes as I tried to move around these cars. I was frazzled by the time I reached my destination, my voice hoarse from calling out to drivers.

Bike lane plan for 9th Avenue: perhaps the most innovative and effective in Manhattan.

This problem is worse than it was 6 months ago. Why hasn't the city at least addressed the issue of enforcement? NYPD, please don't tell me you have better things to do like "fight crime." I saw at least four patrol cars sitting in the same places with officers doing basically nada, perhaps getting take-out black-eyed pees, chitlins, and pork jerk at the local Jamaican eatery. Sorry, but I just don't buy that argument.

In the case of upper Manhattan or Washington Heights to be more exact, could it be simply less of a priority because of where it is? In other words, does the city care less about this neighborhood because last census count it was 83% Dominican? After all, we all know the people who scream and yell for change--white liberals--are the squeaky wheels that get most of the grease.

A good case in point are those gorgeous bike lanes on 9th Avenue in lower Manhattan. They are innovative, freshly painted and they look so official. Even the motorists have to park outside of them, and it seems to work. Oh yes, the neighborhood also was up in arms about those, saying the lanes would hurt their business, more claptrap from New Yorkers with nothing better to do than complain about their high end lives.

Bike lane on 8th Ave. downtown.

If perhaps New York City's department of transportation thinks the Washington Heights bike lanes are less of a priority because there are fewer cyclists using those lanes, it doesn't matter, because it's not true.

On the weekends, this route is used by about one third of the cyclists traveling from Manhattan to the George Washington Bridge, many of them LAWYERS on their $10,000 bikes, and as many as 500 a day traveling back and forth. Oh and PS, are you trying to say that the Dominican biking population which is largely BMXers shouldn't have a safe ride?

In fact, NYC DOT says that commuter cycling grew by 35% from 2007-2008 and that their most recent screenline counts showed "a dramatic increase in cycling in New York City." But planned bike lanes for 2009 do not include any measures for anything above 110th St., except in the Bronx. It's not that BBB doesn't approve of the bike lanes the DOT is installing, and we think they've done a tremendous job so far: it's just that we need more enforcement until the heavily used bike route to the bridge from Central Park is cleaned up--whenever that is supposed to be.

A bike lane in Brooklyn, operating the way it should.

So please New York City--Mayor Bloomberg, NYPD, and DOT, give us a break, CLEAN UP THOSE WASHINGTON HEIGHTS BIKE LANES.

Bike Parking is Making a Slow--and Painful Debut

Okay, fast forward to bike parking. We've been hearing so much about the bike parking resolution put into the fray by the New York City department of planning. Mind you, this is not a DOT measure. It is DOP because the city is proposing that any new commercial and residential buildings set aside space and build bike rooms with secure bike parking for people who ride their bikes in New York City.

First of all, congratulations on a long overdue measure, and thank God DOP's chief, Amanda Burden has the nerve and the muscle to create this bill and set it before the City Council where is will be voted on later this month.

To the mind of BBB, the requirements are not enough: they only give enough space for 3% of any commercial building's occupants to park their bike on any one day. That means 3 out of 100 people. That also means they will be out of space in one year. The requirement should be increased to at least 10 to 15% and it is my belief that won't even be enough 10 years from now.

BBB attended the DOP's hearings on the matter over two months ago, and only a handful of people who spoke were against it. Even the Real Estate Board of New York, the organization that represents the bulk of commercial and private real estate businesses and developers in the city, is for it. BBB spoke in favor of the measure, and made the point that buildings can use bike parking as a marketing tool to bring people to their businesses, residences and shops. In fact, believe it or not, based on the fact that the New York Times is finally writing regularly about cycling, biking has already gone way past cool to mainstream, (their latest, about riding to work on Dutch bikes in suits was a little strange, but worth reading.)

However, (and you knew this was coming,) what is taking so long for the garages in New York City to get the message? I mean really, this group of capitalists need to go back to business school and learn the fundamentals of client service.

Not only are most of them completely ignorant of this growing need for bike parking, they are apparently also ignorant of its potentially lucrative rewards--if not too slow in actualizing them.

Entrance to Central Parking garage, one of 99 in Manhattan has no signs warning cyclists not to proceed.

Take for example the idiots who run Central Parking at 1886 Broadway under the Lincoln Center theaters. The garage entrance is downhill, with no signs posted for types of vehicles (that is bikes) allowed or not. As BBB entered the garage, a largely-spaced grating gripped my front wheel, pretzeled it and sent me and my bike flying to the ground.

As BBB lay on the ground bleeding and stunned, what did the well-trained garage attendants do? They proceeded to berate and scream at me. Another client driving a car offered me water to clean my wounds, while the attendants continued their barrage of insults. BBB's $5,000 Trek bike lay destroyed with $2,000 worth of damage, and I was unable to return home by bike that day--damages that they have refused to honor. Oh, and when I asked if I could park my broken bike for 1 hour in their garage they told me it would cost me $18.

Funny that they should call themselves, "the leaders in professional parking management," on their website.

But what else to expect from a garage owned by a company that has nothing to do with New York even though they have 99 garages here? Their corporate offices are in Nashville, TN, and they don't even attempt to understand the New York market.

Open grating at Central Parking at 1886 Broadway can maim you and your bike.

On a positive side, there are other garages that provide bike parking on the sly, even though they have no formal policy for it, and that includes Champion Parking. Pass the attendant a $5 tip and your bike is not only safe, it's scratch free when its returned by the pleasant staff of this family-owned business. With 44 garages in Manhattan, Champion has been in business since 1949, and their New York roots show in their positive attitude.

All of this I related to the half-asleep distinguished members at the DOP hearings for the bike parking resolution, and indeed one member did spark an interest in the parking lot aspect of the bill, and whether the garages would be prepared. But that was over two months ago, and still, garage employees appear to be no more prepared today to take bicycles than they were three years ago.

Transportation Alternatives offers an undated list of 21 (twenty one!) parking garages in NYC that offer bike parking, among them perhaps erroneously, Central Parking at a downtown location. (Hmm, one out of their 99 locations offers bike parking, must be a typo).

Still overall, there is no clear policy yet in the city administration guiding private garages like Central Parking who have no vested interest in the citizens of New York other than to milk them for all they are worth with outrageous parking fees of $32 to $50 for a few hours. Though we think companies like Champion are an exception, garages like Central are all the more reason to use your bike next time you come in, and avoid those hee-haw sharks.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Belge Wins Paris-Roubaix

April 13, 2009
As reported by the NY Times:

Tom Boonen of Belgium won the Paris-Roubaix race this past Easter Sunday. He broke from the pack about 10 miles from the finish, despite having crashed only eight miles before, and changing bikes.

Filippo Pozzato of Italy was 47 seconds behind, and Thor Hushovd of Norway was third, 1 minute 17 seconds back.

Still the negative aspect of bike racing couldn't help rearing its ugly head when a motorcyclist providing time checks for competitors in the race crashed into three spectators seriously injuring them.

The injured were taken by helicopter to hospitals in Lille and Valenciennes, said Philippe Sudres, a spokesman for Amaury Sport Organization, the race’s organizer.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Share the Road License Plates: Armstrong's bikes recovered, and NJ Senators offer lesser safe passing bill

Utah is now offering Share the Road license plates for an extra $25 fee. Can you imagine, it will cost YOU more money to advertise a fact that should be known by all drivers on the road--if it weren't for their ignorance and the lack of proper testing by state motor vehicle departments.

The proceeds will go to a local bicycle advocacy group, the Utah Bicycle Coalition, and will be spent on education, advocacy and restocking the plates, according to an article in the Salt Lake Tribune today.

That same article however says that the lawmakers and advocates who came up with this plan say "some cyclists earn disdain and risk injury by ignoring rules of the road."

Anyone who has ever spent any time on a bike knows that the truth is far different: that for the number of times a cyclist can count disobeying the law, they can count three to four times more incidents of motorists flouting the law and directly endangering cyclists' lives.

So now, not only are we paying to make drivers more aware, we're also paying more when they aren't.

Armstrong's Bike Recovered

Whether he wants it or not, the police have recovered Lance Armstrong's time trial bike which was stolen this past February during the Tour de California, reported the NY Times.

Police arrested Lee Crider, 39, and Le Dung, 34. Armstrong’s time-trial bike was allegedly stolen by Crider from the back of a rental truck in February who then sold it to Le.

It is not clear why Le was arrested, since he turned the bike in to the police four days after it was announced stolen.

Delaware Bike Summit Announced

A group of cyclists rode through the rain to announce among other things, that Delaware will be holding its first bike summit on April 24, as reported by the website.

The event will focus on creating the right conditions for bike safety in the state, said Amy Wilburn, chair of the Delaware Bike Council.

The announcement set off a flurry of emails among advocates in New Jersey bemoaning the fact that New Jersey does not have a bike summit.

New Jersey Senators Offer Lesser Bill for Safe Passing

That point was glaringly obvious last month in the New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Council (NJ BPAC) that was formed by project managers, Ranjit Walia and Leigh Ann Von Hagen at the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University, when after spending hours debating how and when advocates would try to begin introducing new safe passing legislation, out of left field a senator from Sparta, NJ Senator Steven Oroho, (R-Sussex), and Sen. Brian Stack (D-Hudson) on March 16, introduced their own, lesser version--a 3-foot passing regulation-- in the state legislature.

Camille Savoy's crushed bike lying on the ground on Rte. 9w on Nov. 9, 2008. It was crushed beyond recognition--and so was Savoy's head.

Members of the NJ-BPAC are made up of cycling advocates from Voorhee
s, as well as New Jersey department of transportation employees who have been working on making cycling safer for New Jerseysians--and care deeply about the outcome of their work.

The lack of coordination and even awareness that each group is working on the same measures could prove difficult for all parties--in particular if the Senator's version is an inadequate second to the BPAC intent.

The reality of a 3-foot measure is simply this: it's not enough. Already motorists are driving on top of the white line when they are supposed to be several feet away from it; driving 50 mph in 40 mph zones, and in general disobeying the law. Three feet is barely the width of a cyclist's profile. And the way that people measure from their car seat looking over to a person on the right hand side, certainly has at least a three foot capacity for error.

Bent Rasmussen--when he was still alive, and before he was hit by a hit and run school bus driver.

This is an insult to the people who have been killed by cars who did not pass safely. At least one of them hit the rider, Bent Rasmussen with a large mirror: the driver surely did not take the size of their massive mirror into account when passing Rasmussen, and no doubt other drivers with big mirrors will do the same with this inadequate bill.

If you are concerned about the lesser measure being passed, please write to the two senators, and ask them to coordinate their actions with the people who have been working on these measures, and understand the need for a half lane passing bill.

Senator Oroho:

Senator Stack:

If you want to join the newly established Bike Ped Group of New Jersey, contact Andrew Besold at the Alan Voorhees Transportation Center,

Andrew was also responsible for doing an extensive study of Title 39 of NJ motor vehicle regulations governing safe passing, and comparing it to similar state regulations across the United States.

To reach the chiefs of the NJ BPAC, contact either Leigh Ann Von Hagen, or Ranjit Walia,