Paul Andrews

Archive for October, 2009|Monthly archive page

Can you spare a couple of hours for the Traffic Justice Summit?

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Commuting, Obama Bikes, Rider Down on October 14, 2009 at 7:06 am

More motivation to attend today’s summit, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Seattle City Hall:

BikePortland: Good links and commentary on Texas tandem mowdown. Yes it was an unfortunate accident, but hey, it’s vehicular manslaughter any way you cut it.

SeattleLikesBikes is tracking bike deaths statistically. Even a casual glance shows that most bike deaths do not involve alcohol or drugs, just carelessness and the psychological belittlement of bikes as rightful sharers of the road. Thanks to Michael Snyder for compiling this.

Head on down to lend your presence to legislative relief for this most critical challenge for the cycling and pedestrian communities. Help make our streets safer for non-motorized transport!

This Day in Doping: From using to running, a sorry scene

In Lance's Chances, This Day In Doping on October 13, 2009 at 6:36 am

Confessed doper and former King of the Mountains winner Bernhard Kohl continues to name names. The latest: physician Marc Schmidt, team doctor, who “oversaw the doping practices.” Schmidt vehemently denied the charges. And the beat goes on…
Unconvinced that the 2009 Tour de France was as squeaky clean as it seemed, French prosecutors are opening an investigation into doping. And the beat goes on…

According to French daily Le Monde, the investigation involves a number of teams including Astana, home of 2009 Tour de France champion Alberto Contador of Spain and American seven-time winner Lance Armstrong. Sports daily L’Equipe backed up Le Monde’s claims regarding Astana, and added that some of the syringes being analyzed had been used by the Kazakh team. “These syringes, used by the team of race winner Alberto Contador, were sent to the Parisian forensics laboratory Toxlab of Professor Gilbert Pepin and are currently being analysed to determine their contents,” read an article on the L’Equipe website.

Meanwhile, Lance is in France, meeting with the President! His latest tweet: “Just finished lunch w/ President Sarkozy at the Palais de L’Elysee. He loves cycling!”

How one cyclist came back from the abuse scene. The inspirational story of Chad Gerlach, courtesy of Sacramento Bee and Bicycle.net.

And how another cyclist, alas, did not. The story of Sam Brown is chronicled in Rolling Stone. See Northshore forum comments queue as well…

Weekend Roundup: Biketoberfest in Marin, Pedals trump heli, Male cyclists are sexier and more

In Bicycle Commuting, Daily Roundup, Lance's Chances on October 9, 2009 at 9:48 am

SF Streetsblog: Bicycle beats chopper in Sao Paulo, Brazil … don’t you love it!

Cyclelicio.us: Bike guys are sexier than any other sports guys. And if anyone should know, it’s Yokota!

Get your tickets now online for the Race Across the Sky one-night movie event Oct. 22. The feature depicts this year’s Leadville 100, won by roadie Lance Armstrong over mtb legend Dave Wiens. Enter your zip code to find the showings nearest you. It’ll be a great place to meet other cyclists and share a cycling experience.

Be sure to catch the Marin Biketoberfest tomorrow in Fairfax. Lots going on, including celeb meetups and group rides.

Great detective work in Seattle on the trail of a hit-and-run suspect in a bike collision.

This Day in Doping: More UCI-French squabbling

In This Day In Doping on October 9, 2009 at 9:40 am

The French and the UCI are fighting again … bring out the Ritalin!

UCI fires back at French anti-doping authority accusations: Did not! Did not favor Lance, Bert & Astana!

But the French aren’t backing down. Saying they’re really really skeptical of 2009’s “squeaky clean” Tour de France, the AFLD announced they won’t play along next year with the UCI (which supervises drug testing during the Tour).

“I am astonished that there was no positive doping tests at this year’s race,” said AFLD president Pierre Bordry.

Small wonder pro cycling can’t make much headway in the drug wars. These guys are acting like junkies coming down off a 3-day jag.

Nothing to disclose (alas!)

In Equipment reviews, Mountain Biking on October 8, 2009 at 1:38 am

Regarding the FTC’s new mandate that “bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service,” we consider it worth repeating Bike Intelligencer‘s review policy.

The reason we head our reviews with the tag “by someone who paid for one” is that the phrase sums up our approach to vendors and manufacturers. We pay as we go. We do not accept freebies or test products or anything else as a quid pro quo, unstated or otherwise.

Admittedly, this cuts us out of a lot of cool stuff. But at least our readers know we have no hidden agenda. We only tell the truth.

That said, we don’t point fingers at bloggers who do accept freebies (as long as they disclose it all, of course). Case in point: BikeHugger‘s and Cyclelicio.us‘s recent (nearly) all-expenses-paid trip to Taiwan. I think both could have more prominently stated from the outset the terms of their arrangement, but the fact remains that few if any bloggers can finance a trip to Taiwan out of their own pocket. So you pretty much assumed someone was picking up the tab.

Was their reporting on the trip unbiased? Hardly. But readers can factor the PR element into the blogs’ coverage, and filter it accordingly. Nearly all travel writing is paid for by someone other than the author; that doesn’t mean it’s worthless, only that it isn’t going to win any Pulitzers for investigative reporting.

Bloggers vary on their aggressiveness in reviews, but as an example of someone who accepts products but still does a fine job of evaluating, consider Robb Sutton at Mountain Biking by 198. Discloses the arrangement, knows his stuff, writes thoroughly and accurately. And he gets to review a whole lot more products than we ever will.

Although he knows it could jeopardize his getting free stuff, Robb sticks his neck out more than most reviewers in offering criticisms and critiques. And he’s definitely more candid than most magazine reviews (they also get stuff free to review, and tend to review products that also splash their advertising pages).

Another good source of generally trustworthy reviews is mtbr.com. Reviews are written by real mountain bikers, with the grammar and spelling to prove it. A good number are boosterish and superficial (“it has a good beat and you can dance to it”), but most queues contain thoughtful reviews by folks who obviously know their stuff. The one problem with mtbr.com is anonymity, which we will repeat is the cancer of the Web.

One other point: You’ll notice here at Bike Intelligencer we do not run ads. Our approach is aimed at emphasizing our content rather than cluttering up our landscape. Ads also tend to muddy the waters when it comes to cred: If we took ads from Thule, would we have warned of the T2’s failures and suggested a recall? We also think ads make Google disproportionately more money than they make bloggers.

That said, our ad policy is “under constant review,” which translated means that if we can figure out a way to make real money from ads, and keep our message open, trustworthy and meaningful, we’ll revise it in an instant! Not that we’re greedy, it’s just that we take our job, and the calling of journalism, seriously and it’d be nice to see material reward at some point. Someone is going to crack this nut — wearing another hat, I once put forth some ideas under “a penny a click.” Here’s the latest stab, with more on the way.

This Day in Doping: Did Lance, Alberto & Astana get preferential treatment?

In Bicycle Racing, This Day In Doping on October 8, 2009 at 12:38 am

Team Astana, including stars Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador, got preferential treatment when it came to drug testing, two leading French newspapers have reported (linked by Bicycle.net).

This is part of an ongoing snit between the UCI, the international cycling governing body, and French anti-doping authorities over the rigorousness of dope testing during the Tour de France. The UCI undoubtedly considers the irregularities, including the infamous 45-minute delay at one point during the Tour, as trivial. If the AFLD is correct in its allegations, however, it raises serious questions as to the diligence of UCI procedures.

It’s hard to know — particularly based on a reading of press reports rather than original documentation — whose side to take, other than the truth’s, which will always remain in question. As we’ve said before, doping at this point is not an athletic issue or even a political issue. It’s a financial issue. Say they found doping on Team Astana and Lance and Bert got kicked off the Tour. Where would that leave the Big Money — TV and commercial sponsors — that makes the Tour possible? This is the main reason why the worst penalty a steroid-soaked baseball star can expect is an asterisk next to his records.

So cycling governance just muddles along, engaging in petty feuding and self-righteous posturing, while the doping continues.

Bert’s and Lance’s main transgression here may be that they’re not French. I mean, where was the AFLD (or equivalent) when Hinault and Fignon were ripping up the Tour?

BikeSnobNYC takes a swing at the doping scene as well, with his usual amusing speculation (every time Lance is tested he tweets? really? or does he tweet only when he knows full well that supposed irregularities will get reported?) thrown in for comic relief. Worth a read as always.

Meanwhile, doping is migrating its way down into the amateur ranks as well, and even the excuses are the same.

And back in Italy, yet another suspension.

A Chance for Cycling Justice

In Bicycle advocacy, Obama Bikes on October 5, 2009 at 2:04 am

Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club, the nation’s largest local cycling club with more than 11,000 members, continues to do yeoman advocacy work on behalf of cyclists mowed down by careless— and uncaring — drivers.

At City Hall from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 14, the club will host a traffic justice summit with city attorney Tom Carr and Tim Burgess, who chairs the city council’s public safety committee. The summit’s aim: To move forward on a new state “vulnerable user” law protecting riders and walkers from vehicular injury and death.

“We are committed to bringing the Vulnerable User Bill back to the legislature for 2010,” said David Hiller, advocacy director for Cascade Bicycle Club, in a press statement. (Last winter a similar bill got unprecedented early traction but failed to make it out of committee.)  “Our goal with this summit is to broaden public dialogue about the current laws surrounding vulnerable roadway users.  It is clear to us that vehicles involved in pedestrian or cyclist injuries or fatalities should be subject to legal repercussions more serious than a traffic ticket. We welcome the opportunity to educate the public about this issue and to listen to feedback about our efforts.”

The issue here isn’t spite or revenge against drivers who hurt or kill cyclists. It’s to make drivers take cyclists and pedestrians as seriously as they do other drivers. The only way to accomplish this is to give more gravity to law enforcement. If a driver runs into another driver, whether it’s injury or death, the legal system is set up to determine who was responsible and penalizes the culpable party accordingly. The same laws should apply if a driver hits someone on wheels or foot.

The city tried to address the inequity with its own statute in 2005. Unfortunately, last August the State Court of Appeals ruled that state law supersedes local statute. So only a bill passed in Olympia can provide a real remedy.

Four cyclists struck by vehicles have died in Seattle this year, and in only one case was the cyclist’s right-of-way unclear. Other severe car-bike accidents have been reported with “life-threatening injuries” to the riders as well. Annually more than 500 cyclists and pedestrians in the state are killed or disabled by motor vehicles.

With bike commuting on the rise and the bike culture reviving in general due to “green” concerns, healthier lifestyles, higher gas prices and just the joy of riding two wheels, it’s time to recognize cyclists’ traffic rights. Riders and walkers should not lose their right to equal justice under the law simply because they aren’t sitting behind a steering wheel when they are hit by a car.

Good discussion on the Cascade club forum.

 

Daily Roundup: Wood wheels, new national high school MTB org, outrage in L.A.

In Bicycle advocacy, Daily Roundup, Interbike 2009, Mountain Biking, Obama Bikes on October 5, 2009 at 1:44 am

No one knows bike technology better than Seattle’s Ric Hjertberg. So when Ric goes from carbon fiber (FSA) to wood fiber (Ghisallo), you know something is afoot. The media missed the story at Interbike 2009, but Ric brings us up to date on his blog, Wheel Fanatyk.

BikeRadar: On the heels of a rippingly successful high-school mountain biking program in northern California, a new National Interscholastic Cycling Association has been formed. Quote: “Cycling’s been around for over 100 years, but only now is it becoming a high school sport.” Congrats and best of luck to Matt Fritzinger, NorCal league founder and executive director who is the driving force behind NICA.

We haven’t spoken with Fritzinger, but there’s certainly potential for NICA in the Pacific Northwest. Already we’ve noted a biking (repair) class in Bellingham High in the shadow of nationally recognized mountain-biking mecca Galbraith Mountain, and Issaquah (Duthie Hill), Renton (Lake Sawyer), Seattle (Colonnade) and Federal Way (Sea-Tac) all have strong youth mountain biking populations.

Kids all over are gathering informally to build ad hoc stunts and structures and otherwise grow the sport. If NICA can formalize a lot of the random and impromptu energy that goes into mountain biking as an “extracurricular” activity, we could be on the cusp of a whole new level of participation.

This will be intriguing to watch.

One more reason to avoid L.A.: Not having a bike license in Santa Monica can get you thrown immediately into jail … and subject to a $1,000 fine. Note the disparity between bike licensing and car tab penalties. Even driving without a driver’s license has no minimum penalty.

If you steal a bike in Grants Pass, OR, you apparently are in a world of hurt.

This Day in Doping: Humanplasma says OK, we fess up … to tax evasion. But we never helped anyone dope, even the cyclists who say we did. From Bicycle.net.

More kudos to Tyler Farrar, who won it all in Franco-Belge.

Thule T2 rack failure: Company responds helpfully

In Equipment reviews, Mountain Biking on October 5, 2009 at 1:25 am

To its credit, Thule has responded to the case of Andrew Sell, who lost a bike off the back of his vehicle when the rail it was mounted to slid off the strut on his T2 rack. We ran a post on Andrew’s mishap and documented similar episodes from other mountain bikers.

Here’s the message Andrew posted to the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance list:

Thule got back to me yesterday, they have sent me a digital claim form to fill
out and are willing to pay for all bike damage and by the sounds of it replace
my rack.

I am waiting for my buddy to get a repair estimate from Downhill Zone in the
U-district.

I was also told that as of 6 months ago they are including a bolt stop at the
end of the rack to prevent bike carrier jettison.

Kudos to Thule for taking responsibility, but we still feel the company should do a general recall on the T2 rack.

The “bolt stop” on the main strut (backbone) that Andrew refers to is, on the T2 rack I bought just last month, simply a tiny Phillips screw. If the rail (spar) is loose enough to work its way to the end of the strut, it’s going to be loose enough to rock past the Phillips screw head.

The inadequacy of the Phillips screw and other deficiencies in the rack prove the need for a redesign on several fronts. In the interim, a recall to prevent Andrew’s (and others’) misfortune from repeating itself for countless others is the only decent course for a responsible company.

Daily Roundup: Lance’s coyness, Tyler rools! Fixie Love and more

In Bicycle Racing, Daily Roundup, Interbike 2009, Lance's Chances, Mountain Biking on October 2, 2009 at 2:19 am

Well now Lance has himself in a pretty pickle. With the Tour of California moving to May to avoid the freezing wet of last April’s racing, Lance now has to decide between the Giro d’Italia and the Tour d’Cali. I’m sure his heart is in California but he has Team Radio Shack to think about, and all the big bucks that go with Euro racing. So he’s being coy. First he’s not gonna do Cali, only the Giro. Then — UPDATE! — he says he’s mulling things over. OK by us if he keeps us guessing, long as he comes down on the side of the Golden State.

I know it’s possible to love a bike, and in fact it’s possible to love several bikes at once. I love all my mountain bikes, for instance. I will never love a fixed gear bike, but am not opposed to fixed-gear relationships and in fact support affording fixed-gear lovers the same rights and benefits as all bike owners. So when I read a syrupy encomium to the fixie, I do not disrespect. I link.

Turner was showing a prototype of its DW-Link RFX long-travel trail bike at Interbike 2009, but to me it looks like the thing still needs work. Strange that it’s taking so long, too. We know Dave wants to get it right, but there’s gotta be some subtext here. Licensing? Flat market for hi-end 6-inch bikes? Design tweaks? Whisper in our ear, we won’t say where we got it from…

This Day In Doping: Thomas Dekker is tossed off Team Silence after his B test shows positive. Dekker says it was a one-off mistake he apologizes for and WILL NEVER DO AGAIN! Why are we so uncharitably skeptical? Well, for one, there’s the issue of who sponsored Dekker. To cleanse itself of the embarrassing association with an admitted doper, Silence is changing its name to … Omega Pharma! That’s right, a drug company is financing a pro cycling team. And you wonder why it’s so dang hard to clean up this sport:

“Silence, which is part subsidized by Belgium’s national lottery, has changed the name of its main sponsor on several occasions in recent years. It was called Davitamon from 2005 to 2006, Predictor in 2007 and Silence in 2008 and 2009. All three names are from products among those made by the pharmaceutical company Omega Pharma.”

More kudos to Wenatchee’s Tyler Farrar, who on Thursday won the opening stage of the Circuit Franco-Belge, then followed it with another win Friday. With “fastest human on wheels” Mark Cavendish out for the season, Farrar stands a great chance of racking up some impressive wins.

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