Paul Andrews

Archive for October, 2009|Monthly archive page

Let There Be Justice

In Bicycle advocacy, Obama Bikes, Rider Down on October 28, 2009 at 9:01 am

I was out of town and unable to attend the Traffic Justice Summit at Seattle’s City Hall a couple of weeks ago, but thanks to great work by the folks at Seattle Channel, a video has been posted on the Web. The presentation also will broadcast on TV via Seattle Channel (21 on Comcast cable) over the next few days (link and showtimes below).

This show is well worth watching, for a penetrating look not only at how the judicial process marginalizes cyclists and pedestrians, the second-class citizens of our transportation network, but at the crushing impact that senseless, careless, negligent actions behind the wheel of a vehicle have on friends and families of those struck down.

The key word here is “justice.” Without a socio-judicial response equivalent to the severe injury or death suffered in a bike or pedestrian accident, there can be no sense of closure from loved ones, and — most significantly — no disincentive for others or even the same perpetrator to repeat the offense.

A horrific case in point was offered at the Summit. A bike rider, Ilsa Govan, told how she had been struck by a car driving on the wrong side of the road. She subsequently discovered that the driver, Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz, had a history of poor driving, and yet had been permitted back behind the wheel of a car time and again.

Eighteen months after her accident, the same driver killed Tatsuo Nakata, a City Council aide, while he was walking across a street in a crosswalk. As Govan put it, the rabbi “is not a bad person. He’s just a bad driver.”

Under current law, about all traffic enforcement officers can do in a case lacking clear intent to harm is issue a traffic ticket, even in the case of death where the victim clearly had right of way. Efforts in Olympia to address the legal discrepancy with “vehicular assault” legislation have stumbled in the past. At the Summit, Seattle city attorney Tom Carr and state senator Adam Kline brought us up to date on renewed efforts spearheaded by Cascade Bicycle Club and its tireless advocacy director, David Hiller, who emceed the event.

If any one segment encapsulated the shame, outrage and agony of the current situation, it was the moving testimony of Michele Black, widow of Ballard cyclist Kevin Black, who was killed by a van driver last February making a u-turn on 24th Avenue Northwest.

The driver was “in such a hurry to get to where she wanted to go,” Michele noted, that she not only ignored common sense and broke the law, she killed a human being. Or, as one of Kevin’s daughters put it in a card “to Daddy” posted at a memorial at the intersection where he died, “ran you over like a speed bump.”

“I want justice for Kevin, and I want justice for every person who has been killed,” said Michele, who had the added horror of coming onto the scene of her husband’s death shortly after the accident without knowing what had happened. “I don’t want another family to feel that pain.”

After Michele spoke, Hiller noted in a choking voice that last year’s legislation “got dropped on the day Kevin was hit. The day sticks in my head as well.”

Numerous other testimonials were offered, including from survivors of car collisions. Congratulations to Cascade and Hiller for putting together a session that was not only informative but struck a human chord as well and was not afraid to confront the pathos and tragedy of loss. As daunting as accident statistics are — and they’re going up as more bike commuters hit the streets and bicycling in general increases as an alternative transportation method and recreational activity — it’s people’s stories like those at the Summit which ultimately drive change.

We’ll keep you posted on legislative efforts in the upcoming session. The Seattle Channel link and showings:

Web link

TV (Channel 21):

Tomorrow, October 29, 2009  5:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 31, 2009  2:30 a.m.

Saturday, October 31, 2009  2:00 p.m.

Sunday, November 01, 2009  11:00 a.m.

Sunday, November 01, 2009 10:00 p.m.

Monday, November 02, 2009 3:00 a.m.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009 9:00 p.m.

Thule responds: No recall planned

In Equipment reviews, Mountain Biking on October 28, 2009 at 1:35 am
Thule's T2 on our Eurovan

With a few mods, we'd love our T2

Thule’s communications manager, Karl Wiedemann, has gotten back to us re our recent reports on T2 rack failures. Essentially what happens is that the outer most tray (spar) slides off the rail (backbone) while the car is in motion, potentially creating all kinds of havoc, from bike damage to collisions with trailing vehicles.

As Wiedemann notes in an email: “We have heard of a few instances regarding the issues you have described with the T2. Our quality testing team has been unable to replicate this scenario in our lab or on our road tests.

“As always, testing is carried out with correctly assembled and installed products. Thule is committed to making products which have the highest safety and quality. Even though we were unable to duplicate the problem, as a precaution, we started installing a bolt on the underside of the T2 last year. This bolt helps to keep the T2 trays on the rack even if the tray bolts were not secured correctly during the installation.
“As with all Thule products, the T2 comes with a lifetime warranty and we stand behind the product 100%. If anyone has an issue with any of our products, they can call our customer service 800-238-2388.”

At Bike Intelligencer, we still think Thule should recall the T2. If we were confident the fix worked as described, we might let the situation stand. But the “bolt” referred to is, on our recently purchased rack, a small Phillips screw. If the bracket is loose and carrying a bike, the screw will do little to prevent the tray from sliding off.

Recalls are expensive. At this point there obviously have been few enough failures, and the failures have caused little enough damage, that it’s been cheaper to warranty the racks and replace or repair damaged merchandise than to issue a recall.

In the case that prompted our initial investigation, the victim reported good response from Thule. The company agreed to pay for approximately $635 worth of bike repairs and replace the rack.

We like the T2. If Thule made the modifications we’ve suggested, we’d love the T2. We hope there will be no more rack failures, and that if there are, damage will be minimal. We’d rather Thule did not take the risk.

Vote for … a cyclist?

In Bicycle advocacy, Obama Bikes on October 27, 2009 at 1:27 am

Should a cyclist vote for a political candidate simply because he or she is a fellow cyclist?

Obviously the answer is no. Otherwise we would have voted for George Bush, an avid and by most accounts fairly adept mountain biker. The problem was, as much as he loved to ride, Bush did virtually nothing to promote, promulgate or even support cycling while he was in office. In some cases he was outright anti-mountain biking, as when he tried to railroad through drilling rights in Moab’s majestic outlands.

It’s been one of fate’s cruelest twists that all our adult life we wished for a mountain biking president, and when we finally got one, it was George W. Bush.

That said, in the case of Seattle mayoral candidate Mike McGinn, we think cyclists voting for a cyclist makes eminently good sense. McGinn is not only a committed rider, he’s a cyclist with a track record of civic commitment, an progressive with an acute understanding of how cities work, and a leader with a vision for a better Seattle.

The case for McGinn is even easier given the utter fecklessness of his rival, Joe Mallahan. Mallahan has not only shown no interest in Seattle governance previous to this race, he has a voting record spotty as an August windshield. We’d rather vote for the nearest sock puppet than Mallahan. Come to think of it, there isn’t much difference between the two.

Kind of lost in the election shuffle this year, because he’s pretty popular and has only token opposition, is bike commuter and incumbent city council member Richard Conlin. I’ve been at civic events where Richard shows up on his bike, wearing biking togs, and delivers his speech/performs his duties as though he were in pinstripes and tie. I like that about him, because it helps to normalize the image of a cyclist as an executive and dignitary. In other words, a helmet and shorts can be just as much of a statement as blazer and slacks.

Although not the cycling fiends that McGinn and Conlin are, Mike O’Brien for Seattle city council and Dow Constantine for King County executive also have proven supportive of bike causes. Like McGinn, they’re endorsed by Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club.

We’re excited to have cycling proponents like these running for office in Seattle/King County. The prospect of having elected leaders who not only understand and appreciate bikes but will go out of their way to further cycling causes is a luxury we’ve never had in Seattle, nor in few U.S. communities anywhere outside of Davis CA and Portland OR. If these guys get elected, get ready to rock ‘n roll … especially roll!

SeattleLikesBikes likes McGinn. Unlikes Mallahan.

Jeff Reifman rips Mallahan a new one (also see Jeff’s amazing report on Microsoft’s $1 billion Washington State tax dodge).

Daily Roundup: Missing Link tomorrow, Ells retreat, Tribute to Rider Down and more

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Commuting, Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking, Obama Bikes, Rider Down on October 26, 2009 at 6:10 am

Tomorrow is “We Are The Missing Link,” a testimonial gathering to get the Ballard part of the Burke-Gilman Trail connected. Meet at Shilshole Avenue opposite 17th, just west of the Ballard Bridge. Yes it’s one ugly intersection. There’s an apres party as well. More at SeattleLikesBikes. You don’t have to bring your bike or even be a cyclist — the trail is for all non-motorized users! Just have a red blinkie and you’re set.

I’m not nor ever have been an Ellsworth owner, although I liked the Truth when it came out. Still, given its manufacturing headquarters in Vancouver, I feel at least geographical allegiance to the brand. And something like this makes me really wish I did own an Ellsworth, especially this time of year.

Rider Down But Only in Body Not in Soul: Mary Yonkers was some kind of cyclist. A wonderful tribute from SF StreetsBlog puts her life, cut short by a careless truck driver, in touching perspective.

NSMB gives trials wunderkind Danny MacAskill a once going-over.

This Day in Doping: Needle marks and double embolism

In This Day In Doping on October 24, 2009 at 8:21 pm

More allegations of doping against Jan Ullrich. More assertions of denial from Jan Ullrich.

“On Monday, German magazine Der Spiegel cited a police investigation report which states Ullrich went to Madrid 24 times between 2003 and 2006 to see doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, the man at the center of the Spanish probe Operation Puerto.”

Belgian cyclist Franck Vandenbroucke died of heart trouble, doctors say, but had needle marks all over his left arm.

This Day in Doping: Team Astana says move along, nothing to see here

In Bicycle Racing, This Day In Doping on October 16, 2009 at 7:45 am

Contador and Team Astana say they have nothing to hide. Quote: “This year’s Tour de France was remarkable for the fact that no riders tested positive during the race.”

Still haven’t heard from Lance on this, but then, he’s no longer with Astana…

Daily Roundup: Weathering the NorCal storm

In Bicycle Commuting, Daily Roundup on October 16, 2009 at 7:43 am

BikeRadar was at Biketoberfest in Fairfax, Marin County, last Saturday too. Great report from Gary Boulanger, the “US editor” with the French name. More than $14,000 was raised for advocacy causes, and a superb time was had by all. You can’t beat October weather in NorCal.

Most of the time, anyway. From the Bay Area, where we’re visiting, check out the links re Tuesday’s mondo typhoon. Ten inches of rain in the Santa Cruz Mountains! People were asking me if it felt like home. I told them that 10 inches of rain in Seattle would be spread out over two months and the sun wouldn’t show the entire time. By Wednesday the sun was back out and things were drying out in 70-degree temps.

Check out the cyclist who almost got crushed by a tree (thanks to for the pointer)

And tell me how this cyclist lived…

Have a great weekend! Ride safe!

Traffic Justice Summit: A great start to a heroic campaign

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Commuting, Obama Bikes on October 16, 2009 at 7:33 am

Good comments queue in the Cascade Bicycle Club advocacy forum re Wednesday’s Traffic Justice Summit in Seattle City Hall. We’ll post a link to Seattle Channel video when it becomes available.

Meanwhile, SeattleLikesBikes notes how statistically, BikesDontLikeSUVs…

2010 Tour de France trash-talking already under way!

In Bicycle Racing, Lance's Chances on October 16, 2009 at 2:22 am

Lance says his main rival in the 2010 Tour de France will be Alberto Contador. Bert says his main rival will be Andy Schleck. The Tour is what, 9 months away? And the gamesmanship is already in full play.

And speaking of being coy, Lance still hasn’t made up his mind whether to race the Giro or Tour of California. So, hey, we’ll do it for him. Lance, you and I both know the Giro would be better training for the Tour. In fact, you might even want to win the Giro, given the fact you never have, it would be a nice feather in your comeback hat, and you and you won’t win the Tour. But you and I also know that Team Radio Shack is an American team, with American sponsors, and skipping out on the “Tour de France” of America — the Tour of California — which deliberately moved back its dates (despite the conflict with the Giro) to accommodate growing crowds and media interest, as well as the weather gods, would be a ginormous snub.

So, decision made: It’s Cali all the way. But for now, keep us all guessing. It’s more fun that way.

Velocide: Death on a bike, even as loved ones testify

In Rider Down on October 15, 2009 at 1:24 am

While loved ones of cyclists killed in car collisions testified at Seattle City Hall yesterday…

A heartbreaking story at Traffic Justice Summit in Seattle

A heartbreaking story at Traffic Justice Summit in Seattle

With a sobering reminder posted outside …

Killed on bikes by careless drivers

Killed on bikes by careless drivers

Cyclists were mourning the death of Mary Yonkers by hit-and-run trailer truck in San Mateo CA. Far away geographically, perhaps, but united in cause. Best of luck to Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club and advocacy director David Hiller as they work in the Washington State legislature to pass a “vulnerable user” law.