Paul Andrews

Posts Tagged ‘Bicycling’

If it was wrong, it was done by a “cyclist”

In Bicycle advocacy, Obama Bikes on January 14, 2010 at 2:47 am

Two of today's most famous motorists

“That was no lady — that was my wife!” goes the old joke. We think of it sometimes when we read yet another news report identifying an errant rider of a bicycle as a cyclist.

You know how it goes: Cyclist Robs Bank. Cyclist Charged With Indecent Exposure. Authorities Say Cyclist Killed While Turning Left in Front of Truck (Police continue investigation).

And why not? Labeling someone a cyclist is simply a shorthand reference point. It’s quick and easy. It fits in headlines better. No harm is intended.

But harm is conveyed. By indiscriminately labeling every human on a bike a “cyclist,” media (and police, whose reports often initiate the description) lump real cyclists with yahoos who haven’t a clue what they’re doing. By doing so, they provide an easy excuse for marginalizing, ridiculing, hurting. killing and even hating cyclists.

They also deprive conscientious cyclists, the class of rider deserving of the label, of the ability to be taken seriously. Laws protecting cyclists become harder to pass. Courts side with anyone, even drunk drivers, over cyclists.

It’s classic stereotyping, as with race, gender, religion, sexual preference. It’s even a way of profiling: When someone, especially a cop or a motorist, sees someone on a bike, he or she automatically assumes the rider is going to do something wrong, crazy or stupid.

Case in point: The recent death of a 68-year-old man on a bike in San Mateo CA. Nearly all news reports termed him a “cyclist,” but we noted one account with interest: “At the time he was hit, the man was wearing a dark blue jacket,  dark green pants with a brown belt, and brown shoes.”

Not exactly riding gear, would you say?

And how about this article, where an 8-year-old boy is identified as a “cyclist”? The boy is nearly killed when his father’s attention wanders while the offspring rides into a crosswalk. The “cyclist’s” sin: He remained on his bike.

“The easiest and safest option would have been to direct the child to walk his bicycle across the intersection. This would have made the child a pedestrian and given him the right of way afforded by the crosswalk…”

So, to clarify: If you ride a bike in a crosswalk, you are a “cyclist” and can therefore be mowed down with impunity. If you walk your bike, you are a “pedestrian” and are afforded the full rights and protections thereof by the state.

One might argue that every rider of a bicycle is by the mere act itself a “cyclist.” We beg to differ:

It’s also clear that media conveniently omit the bicycle as an identifier in cases where it would have the dangerous side effect of promoting cycling’s cause. One can Google all one wants and never find, “Cyclist invents theory of relativity.” Or “Cyclist Elected President.” (Actually, in the case of avid mountain biker George Bush, we’ll take a pass.)

There are signs of progress:

“SUMTER, S.C. — Authorities say a 49-year-old man was killed when he was struck by a truck as he … was riding his bike southbound on the northbound shoulder of S.C. Highway 441.”

A true cyclist would not be riding against traffic on a highway shoulder.

And in this case, the individual of interest was a suspected felon on a bicycle, not a “cyclist”:

“The clerk at the Spinx store told deputies a man came to the store on a bicycle and loitered in the parking lot for some time …”

Perhaps it’s asking too much of the non-cycling world to identify only people acting responsibly while riding bikes as cyclists. Pending such enlightenment, and in an effort to expose and underline the imbalance, we will adopt a policy of referring to everyone who drives a vehicle as a “motorist.” To wit:

“Motorist cheats investors of $50 billion in history’s biggest Ponzi scheme”

“Motorist drives SUV into rock after wife attacks vehicle with golf club”

“Motorist denies soliciting undercover cop for sex in Minneapolis airport men’s room”

Kind of rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

Transportation Summit This Friday in City Hall

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Commuting, Obama Bikes on August 3, 2009 at 3:24 am

Calendar time: At City Hall this Friday a transportation summit will look at Puget Sound’s future transportation matrix, and how bike and other alternative forms will figure in. Here’s Cascade Bicycle Club’s take. Please come and share your views!

Town Hall: 
Visioning the Puget Sound Region’s Transportation Future. 
Part III – State and Federal Perspectives

Friday, Aug. 7, noon – 1:30 p.m.

City Hall, Bertha Knight Landes Room

5th Avenue between Cherry and James St.

Two months ago, Cascade Executive Director Chuck Ayers drew applause at the first of three town halls when he shared an uncomfortable truth: we will not see much progress on transportation in the next 30 years without dedicating far more resources to transit, bicycling and walking. Simply widening highways is the wrong path. Cascade has reached out to our representatives for a new federal transportation bill that will help meet our needs for more bikeable, walkable communities.
Join our legislators and policy staff for a discussion on what it will take at the federal and state level to address our transportation challenges. This is your chance to ask the tough questions to:
• Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, 10th Legislative District, Chair of the Washington State Senate Transportation Committee
• Representative Judy Clibborn, 41st Legislative District, Chair of the Washington State House Transportation Committee
• Sheila Babb, Deputy State Director, Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
• Jennifer Ziegler, Executive Policy Advisor on Transportation, Office of Governor Christine Gregoire

As always, feel free to bring your lunch.

This town hall series is brought to you by 
Transportation Choices Coalition, Futurewise, WashPIRG, Sierra Club Cascade Chapter, Bicycle Alliance of Washington, Cascade Bicycle Club, Seattle Transit Blog, Feet First, Commute Seattle and Zipcar

Daily Roundup: Green bikes, Bellevue racks, BC Bike Race and more…

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Commuting, Bicycling, Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking on June 29, 2009 at 10:04 pm “With a $225,000 state trips-reduction grant, organizers handed out 200 free bikes, some gear and training lessons. About 265 people, who enlisted through 25 employers from King County, joined the program, which began last August.”

Seattle Times: New bike racks in downtown Bellevue. Believe it or not, bike rack shortages are the single most annoying thing about riding in any downtown.

Bicycle Retailer: REI Awards $10,000 to Adventure Cycling. Onward with the Sierra Cascades Bicycle Route!

Biking Bis: Louisiana governor signs 3-feet-please law, something Washington State, the No. 1 bike friendly state in the union, just can’t quite get done, alas. The Bicycle Book is here!

If you don’t cycle, you might not get why bike lanes need to exist on streets paralleling bike paths. Here’s why, from and the Seattle Dept. of Transportation.

Bike magazine is covering the epic BC Bike Race

So is the Norona Life blog.

More bikes than cars in Amsterdam.

A cop driving a cruiser hits a cop riding a bike. All I wanna know is, was a citation issued?

SF v. Portland: Who’s the Cyclingest of Them All?

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Commuting on June 29, 2009 at 2:37 am

San Francisco bike policy is picking up momentum. Mayor Gavin Newsom, a true progressive who’s running for governor, is a big bike booster. The city Planning Commission and MTA (Municipal Transportation Agency) just gave thumbs up to the SF Bike Plan, prompting this observation from Newsom:

“Already 6% of our commuters are bicyclists; that’s more than any other city in America. We know when we add a bike lane we see about a 50% increase in use. Fifty-four percent of  greenhouse gases are transportation related, the tailpipes of these cars you see behind you. Even those of us who are not bicyclists will get the benefit of this because of the air we breathe and the benefit of the example that we will leave to our children to get more physically active as well and to look at bicycling not just as recreating but as a pragmatic way of getting to and from places of work, to and from places we need to go.”

So I guess the burning question of the day is: Does SF now trump Portland as the most cycling-centric city in the U.S.? I’m assuming Newsom’s stats are correct but wonder if Portland isn’t actually ahead (here‘s an unsourced citation putting Portland at 6 percent mode share; cites 8 percent in this post last fall). My home base of Seattle isn’t too shabby in the commute department btw. Cascade Bicycle Club, which it should be noted is the nation’s largest local club, estimates commuting at a respectable 4.2 percent.

Having bike commuted in San Francisco as well and ridden in Portland, my observation is that Portland is by far the easiest to get around in, but it’s also the smallest and most compact. So the stats may not be the whole story.

More SF links from Streetsblog:

Mayor a yay and nay.

Dancing, make that cycling in the streets over MTA vote!

This day in drugs (again)

In Bicycle Racing, This Day In Doping on June 12, 2009 at 4:00 am

Thanks to for bird-dogging the cycling-illegal substances links.

Self-injecting blood cheats pose a real problem for testing. This is where the cyclist freezes his own blood, saving it for a later date, and injects it on race day. Doing this with someone else’s compatible blood is generally detectable. With his own blood, well, that’s where it gets tricky. Supposedly technology is on the way to assist in this process.

Laurent Fignon, recently diagnosed with advanced cancer, on a possible link between doping and his diagnosis: “In those days everyone was doing it.” Really? Because Greg Lemond beat Fignon in the closest Tour ever, 1989, by 8 seconds. And Lemond is the guy who keeps agitating to clean up the sport without ever having acknowledged doping himself.

Bernard Hinault (without acknowledging doping himself), in Velo News: “The French have taken as much as the others. What is not normal is that they are not treated in the same manner as other sportsmen.”

Daily Roundup: Naked Bike Day approaches, Spokane approves master plan, Gary Fisher cancer surgery and more

In Bicycling, Daily Roundup on June 9, 2009 at 10:13 pm
Oui, bicyclettes sont belles!

Oui, bicyclettes sont belles!

Spokane has approved its Master Bike Plan. Hooray!

Gary Fisher, the Legend, just got operated on for a spot of skin cancer. He’s tweeting that everything’s fine. We wish him a full and speedy recovery! Portland’s World Naked Bike Ride, expected to draw 3,000 barebackers, is this Saturday. As is Vancouver’s. Folks from Seattle are expected at both events, since Seattle’s naked ride doesn’t happen till July 11th. Seattle btw is the naked pioneer here, what with the annual Fremont Solstice Parade naked cyclists as well as:

“Seattle was the second city to stage a WNBR event in the world, the first WNBR-affiliated city to organize a day ride, the first city to work with city officials to make the ride a success, the first city to stage its body painting parties in public parks and the first city to have Yoga in the Park stretching sessions in public parks by certified yoga instructors.”

Northstar at Tahoe opens Friday! A month after Whistler. How can that be? Ah, priorities, priorities…

Trek recall: Bikes with JD Fork suspension — 7300, 7300WSD and 7500, all 2009s — are accidents waiting to happen. Take ’em back!

Mountain Bike Action interviews Aaron Gwin, the DH phenom who finished an unheard-of 10th last year in his first World Cup race ever. He’s America’s best current hope in the big rig category, dominated by Brits, Aussies and Kiwis to the point ya can barely unnerstan what da blokes is sayin.

Bike World News: To Astana team leader Alberto Contador as the Tour de France approaches, Lance Armstrong is “just another member of the team.” Ouch! You dunna wanna talk about the King that way, he’ll bite ya!

Pedalpalooza starts Thursday in Portland! Opening night features “Traffic Calming.” Would love to be there for that. If there’s anything I’m in favor of on my bike, it’s calm traffic.

BikeSharing Blog: In Paris, the bike sharing program still brings smiles.

Daily Roundup: SF safety clicks, Peaty interview, Amphibious bike

In Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking on June 5, 2009 at 8:21 am

Kind of a light day for news, so here’s some weekend reading…

San Francisco Chronicle: “When bike-skills instructor Bert Hill quizzes students at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s ongoing Urban Cycling Workshops about the frequency of bicycle fatalities in the city, he says guesses generally range from five to 20 a year. In reality the rate is less than two – which is two too many, but low in relation to the 40,000 cyclists and 128,000 bike trips recorded within San Francisco each day. “I’d rather be a bicyclist than a pedestrian in terms of safety,” he says. “And the dangers are easily predictable. That’s why skills are important.” Good piece on bike safety, putting the issue of riding in the city into perspective.

BIKE magazine interviews Steve Peat on how he’s managed to have such a killer season with a newborn at home. If Peaty can just win the worlds this year his career will be truly complete.

I can see the application for an amphibious bicycle, I guess, but as a Seattle-based rider most of my life I’ve had enough water-bike encounters not to seek them out!

National Trails Day is tomorrow, there’s Indie racing in Leavenworth and BMX at Sea-Tac! Have a great weekend!

Daily Roundup: LA rescinds bike licensing, Seattle Livestrong, STP sold out! Whistler report, Sotomayor likes bikes, REI recall

In Bicycling, Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking on June 4, 2009 at 7:27 am

Cascade Bicycle Club says STP is sold out but sends you here for tickets. Three bills sounds a bit steep but it is for a good cause.

Seattle P-I: Livestrong Challenge, in Seattle June 21, looking for volunteers.

Signs of progress: Contra Costa Times reports that Los Angeles rethinks bike fees.

Great roadtrip odyssey to Whistler on PinkBike: For orientation, these guys came from Vancouver Island. The referenced Mt. Washington and Cumberland, despite what they sound like, are not in the U.S.

Another great sign for bikes: The Supreme Court nominee rides! “She’s a bicycle rider, I’m a bicycle rider. We talked a little bit about our favorite routes.”

Bicycle Retailer: “The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with REI, has announced a voluntary recall of about 260 Novara Triofo 2005 bikes.” If you have an REI Novara bike circa that year, check it out on the CPSC Web site or contact REI.

Daily Roundup: Bike Business Forum, 22 percent bike funding? Shimano sales tank, Bike beats subway in NYC, Rider Down update

In Daily Roundup, Rider Down on May 27, 2009 at 5:49 am

Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club will hold a “Bike Business Forum” hosted by Costco, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Starbucks, Group Health, Vulcan and Seattle Children’s Hospital at 11:30 a.m. next Wednesday (June 3rd) at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute downtown. John Mauro, the club’s commute director, will give a brief presentation, followed by discussion centered on shaping a regional bicycling agenda. Should be interesting… Survey shows public support for increasing bike transportation funding from 1 percent to 22 percent, along with increases for other transit options. (Thanks to Republican John Bailo on the Cascade bike forum.)

Bicycle Retailer: Shimano sales down 18 percent last year, 19 percent for Q1. Oof!

Lost in the Ozone: Bike beats subway, taxi, in New York City rush-hour race. This reminds me of a similar event I participated in as a reporter for The Seattle Times back in the early 1980s. In a race from the U District to City Hall during the morning commute, the van pool won, but cyclists (including me) beat the Metro bus. Not sure if a single occupancy vehicle was in the mix back then (I don’t recall one), but today I bet a bike would beat a car. Watch out for bikes. Apparently police, not having issued a citation at the time, are investigating the death of a cyclist run over by a semi in Minneapolis last week. “A semitrailer driver had began to make a wide left turn at the intersection of Park Avenue and E. 14th Street and hit a long time cyclist with its back tires. A witness said that the bike had been stopped at the light and like the semi began to go forward when the light changed. The semi then turned and unexpectedly drove over the rider.” My wife was involved in a fender bender recently where a car making a right turn hit her as she was going forward in the inside lane. The investigating officer told the driver, who claimed that my wife was not driving in a “real” lane, that any vehicle colliding with another while making a turn is at fault (barring extremely unusual circumstances). Let’s hope justice is done in this case.

Bike to Work Day Seattle 2009 in 3 minutes

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Commuting, Bicycling on May 18, 2009 at 9:47 am