Car-Free World
alternative transportation news & views

May 7, 2003
Email | BicycleAustin.info
Read Back Issues
Subscribe | Unsubscribe

Research/Tips: David Foster, Patrick Goetz, Dave Dobbs, Jeb Boyt, Lane Wimberly, Ken Marsh, Mike O'Shea
Contributors: Fred Meredith, Mike Dahmus, Lauren, Michael Zakes   Editor: Michael Bluejay

Contents
From the Editor

Trike update

.

Regional

Austin: Political Pedal

Austin: Death of the local bike movement

San Antonio: Thong-clad cyclist annoys park-goers

Texas: Bicyclists to be driven off the road by redistricting.

New York: Bike Loop around Manhattan

China: What's it bicycling like in China?
.

General

Fuel economy hits 22-year low

National survey of bicycling and walking: no surprises

City, suburban designs could be bad for your health

Dealing with aggressive motorists

Lance Armstrong pushes SUVs

Are bike lanes always the answer?
.

Classifieds

Bikes for sale
.

Car-Free World, a publication of and ©2003 by BicycleAustin.info, covers alternative transportation, especially bicycling. We're not opposed to cars, we're opposed to the car culture. CFW is published sporadically, and may be discontinued at any time without notice. We currently have over 700 subscribers. Here are links to subscribe or unsubscribe.

Articles are by the editor if uncredited. Articles by others may have been edited for grammar, clarity, conciseness, superstition, or just for the hell of it.

From the Editor
Trike update

     Most of the trikes are officially sold or spoken for. I'll be sad when all the trikes are gone and this project is over, but I'll be happy that I got trikes out into the world.

    The most common question I get from people interested in the trikes is, "How long do think you'll have some left?" Folks, if everyone who asked me that had already got one we'd be nearly sold out a long time ago. I figure they'll be all gone in one or two months tops, but I will not make any guarantees. If you miss getting a trike, it's not my fault. :)

    For more info check out our trike sales page. And one last thing -- if you happen to see a genuine Worksman trike anywhere for less, I'd like to know about it! :)

back to contents

Regional News
AUSTIN: Political Pedal
    In 1997, following the fact that a drunk motorist who killed a cyclist didn't even get a ticket for his crime, David Foster organized a bike ride to give local elected officials an opportunity to show support for bicycle transportation, and to provide an opportunity for cyclists and elected officials to share concerns and ideas. The ride, which became known as the Political Pedal, has happened in Austin every May since then, with incumbent councilmembers and candidates participating in the ride. Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) has also participated. This year's ride is scheduled for Friday, May 16, beginning at 8th and Congress at 4:30 PM. Riders will go to the Capital for a few short speeches, then proceed to an as yet undetermined site for a Bicycle Happy Hour. Doggett has once again agreed to participate, and council members and other elected officials has been invited. (Contact: david-k1971-foster@austin.rr.com))

AUSTIN: Death of the local bike movement?

    Ten years ago, there was no practically no bicycle movement in Austin. There was no Critical Mass, no city Bicycle Program office, no radio show, no Yellow Bike Project, no Bicycle Month celebration,and no website. Then suddenly, within four years, we had all those things. Each new milestone and project seemed to spawn another.

    And now things seem to be dying down again. Reportedly only three people showed up for the last Critical Mass ride. And this May is the first time in years that a Bike Month program hasn't been actively planned and carried out.

    Why did this happen? Well, it's common for activists to move on. (For me, faced with the need to earn an income I've limited my activities to maintaining the website and publishing this newsletter. Others have limited their activities or dropped out altogether.) But usually those who move on in some movement are replaced by a new, often younger, more enthusiastic crowd. It just didn't happen in this case.

    Things aren't completely dead, of course, but it's nothing like the glory days of the mid-90's. And there's no reason it can't happen again, if some committed people decide to throw themselves into it.

    Below, Eric Anderson shares his frustration with the fact that the community failed to put on a Bike Month this year.

To my knowledge there will be no Bike Month Full Moon Bike Ride. In fact, there will likely not be any Bike Month events this year other than a probable Wheatsville Bike Swap (date unknown) and the Political Pedal ride.

I am sorry to share this depressing reality of our Austin bicycle scene, but leading bicycle organizations have not regarded Bike Austin! Month events as a priority, in spite of their past participation and some great ad-hoc community leadership by people like Katherine Otto in particular.

I am perplexed by the disinterest of Austin bicycle organizations in such a no-brainer as an annual celebration of bicycling. No wonder achieving barrier crossings of 290 or 183, finishing the Pfluger Bridge, or a Nueces Bike Boulevard (etc., etc.) all remain distant goals fraught with imponderable complexities, rather than immediate priorities backed up by a broad-based coalition of bicycle, neighborhood and accessibility constituencies.

Someday perhaps this will all change, finally allowing Austin an honest claim as a top-rated bicycling city. Until then, we can look forward to an ever plummeting modal-split and ever more circular conversations.


San Antonio: Thong-wearing cyclist annoys park-goers
    Readers of this newsletter know of my interest in that strange intersection of bicycling and nudity. Here's another case of those concepts colliding, courtesy of the San Antonio Express news:

San Antonio Park Police have received several complaints over the past month about a man who cruises on a bicycle wearing only shoes and a thong -- a swimsuit or undergarment that doesn't cover the buttocks. Though he appears nearly naked from time to time, Joseph Gottschalk is legally covered. According to state law, no offense is committed if the man has 'his anus and genitals' covered, Castro said. Which the thong does, if nothing else. Gottschalk, 52, an unemployed truck driver who dabbles in carpentry, is aware of his rights and compares riding nearly naked to driving the maximum legal speed limit. (read whole article)


Texas: Bicyclists to be driven off the road by redistricting
    It's an old political game: Politicians redraw the district maps to secure their power. If Party A is in power and Party B has a large base of support in a certain area, then Party B draws a line right through the middle of it when redistricting to break it up. Presto: The supporters of Party B in that area have now been divided into two separate districts, diluting their voting power.

That's what the Republicans are doing right now in the Texas Congress. Austin's U.S. representative, Democrat Lloyd Doggett, may soon be out of a job. That's too bad, because Doggett has been a strong supporter of bikes, riding with cyclists on the Political Pedal rides, and even riding his bike to work at the Capitol in Washington. And the Texas legislators about to redistrict him into oblivion are those like Republican Senator Jeff Wentworth, the subject of an ethics investigation, who in the last session introduced a bill that would have banned cyclists from the roads in certain conditions and which would have required cyclists to wear slow-moving emblem triangles. (The bill died in committee, thankfully.) (Read an article about the redistricting mess)


NEW YORK: Bike Loop around Manhattan
    From the New York Times: "In its modest way, it has been a quest as irrepressible as sailing a ship around the globe. New York's Magellans on bicycles have long yearned to complete a loop of Manhattan Island. The chief obstacle has always been that Manhattan's shores, unlike those, say, of Paris, were designed for commerce and commuting, and only in a few patches for pleasure. But slowly, the city has been hacking out a trail from the jungle of piers, railroad tracks, highway ramps, factories and scrap heaps that ring Manhattan. By this fall, the Department of Parks and Recreation hopes to carve out (or in parts mark out) a 32-mile circuit that will take bikers from the Battery up the West Side, past the George Washington Bridge almost to the northern tip of Manhattan, then down the Harlem and East Rivers and back to the Battery." (read whole article)


CHINA: What's it like to cycle in China?
    Riley Geary shares his experiences on the Chinese bicycle culture of a two-month trip there. He describes what kinds of bicycles the Chinese ride, how they ride in traffic, how they deal with repairs, and more. An interesting look at Chinese bike culture. Read the article at: Chinese Bicycles and the Cycling Experience.

 

back to contents

General
Fuel economy hits 22-year low

   U.S. fuel economy hit its lowest point in 22 years. While it may be tempting to blame the big bad George W., that would be lazy: Bush is simply continuing the policies of the Clinton administration. Fuel economy improved under Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush Sr., and then came to a grinding halt with the Clinton presidency.

   It's also tempting to lay the rest of the blame on the automakers. But the fact is, they make more efficient cars, Americans just aren't buying them. Ultimately, the largest share of the blame must go to those buying and driving the inefficient cars: the citizenry.

   Here's a New York Times article on this topic.


National survey of bicycling and walking yields no surprises

    A new survey by the U.S. Department of Transportation finds that Americans don't walk or bicycle very much. Fewer than 30% of Americans ride a bike even once during the summer months. (read the article)


City, suburban designs could be bad for your health

From USA Today:

Why don't Americans walk anywhere?

Old answer: They're lazy.

New answer: They can't.

There is no sidewalk outside the front door, school is 5 miles away, and there's a six-lane highway between home and the supermarket. Many experts on public health say the way neighborhoods are built is to blame for Americans' physical inactivity -- and the resulting epidemic of obesity. (read article)


Dealing with aggressive motorists

advice from the email list

Michael Zakes writes:

When motorists honk or yell at me, I wave at them like they're my best friend that I haven't seen in years. The more they honk, the more I wave. if nothing else it confuses the hell out of them since they aren't getting the desired response of pissing me off.

Lauren writes:

That's a great tip, thanks. On Friday on my way home from work I got honked at for being on the road, so I grinned and waved happily. This morning on my way to work a passenger in the car passing me yelled out the window for me to get off the road and onto the sidewalk. Again, I smiled happily, yelled hello, and waved vigorously.

I felt good and arrived at my destination relaxed and calm. This solution is great, especially for those situations where you really don't get an opportunity to inform and educate anyway. If a car is moving past me at anywhere from 30-45 miles per hour, I only have a split second to make an impact, so it's not realistic for me to start my dissertation on cyclists' rights and the law. It's much more fun for me to enjoy myself, and also cause them to wonder - just why is she so happy when I yelled at her...hmmm...maybe there is something to being a crazy cyclist!

Fred Meredith writes:

If the motorist is still within earshot after they yell at you, then smile, wave, and shout, "Hey, say Hi to your cousin, I haven't seen (him or her) lately." It might drive them crazy trying to figure out who you are and how you know them.

Personally, I have tried to curb my habit of giving the finger or any negative gesture to a motorist who is in my way or seemingly acting like a jerk. What if I flip the bird and then realize it is my aunt, uncle or cousin. That might be embarrassing.


Lance Armstrong pushes SUV's

In a move that doesn't surprise us at all, sports cycling celebrity Lance Armstrong is getting $12 million to push Subarus, including SUV's. (read article)


Are bike lanes always the answer?

Bike advocate Tommy Eden is pushing for bike lanes to be striped on the major downtown streets of Guadalupe and Lavaca in Austin, Texas. Here at Car-Free World we like bike lanes, if for no other reason that we know that more people would ride bikes if there were more bike lanes. But these posts to a local email list show that even cyclists have some reservations about bike lanes -- both on these streets specifically, and in general. This is certainly food for thought for those advocating for bike facilities elsewhere.
Questioning the safety of bicycle lanes   by Fred Meredith, May 1, 2003

You may FEEL safer, but it may be a false sense of security. The only thing that is going to actually make you safer on those streets is how you and the other road users behave....

If the bike lane is painted to the intersection, are you going to stay in it if you go straight across the intersection?

What should the car turning at that intersection do? Should he/she come over into the bike lane to make the turn? Do they know that?

Are you going to stay in the bike lane if it is right next to parked cars [any one of which could open its door in your path]? If cars are parked on the left side of a one-way street and there is a bike lane on the left side, are there special considerations you should keep in mind?

Why is the bike lane any safer than being out in the middle of the traffic lane? There are lots of other lanes for the rest of the road users, why shouldn't you have one? If you feel unsafe in a traffic lane, then maybe you need more experience/practice/or something. Maybe less paranoia.

Questioning the importance of bike lanes on Guadalupe & Lavaca   by Mike Dahmus, April 30, 2003
[This is what Mike Dahmus submitted to the Austin City Council.]

I'm a part-time cyclist and part-time driver who sits on the UTC with Tommy, and I respectfully disagree with his position on bicycle lanes downtown. Due to work and childcare issues, I won't be able to speak at the meeting. I believe the position I hold represents fairly well the perspective of the cyclists who operate outside the immediate center-city area, as well as the perspective of cyclists who also drive. I would wager that relatively few of those people will be able to speak at the meeting either; and thus, you may be getting a fairly non-representative sample of opinion. My bicycle route to work currently takes me down Guadalupe in the morning and up Lavaca in the evening; so I feel quite qualified to assess the route's usability compared to the suburban routes I've had to take to work at various times.

More in-depth discussion why I think this is a bad idea was already posted to the austin-bikes list, and is available upon request; I have condensed to the essential minimum here:

1. The bicyclist in question (whose death is the impetus for this move) was riding on the sidewalk, even though he was supposedly an expert cyclist. We cannot protect cyclists who ought to know better from their own bad decisions. Additionally, this was at night; and he may not have had lights.

2. Guadalupe and Lavaca's automobile traffic is currently slow enough that most national bike facilities experts would not recommend even a wide outside lane as an appropriate bicycle facility, much less bike lanes. Traffic is held to a maximum of 25 mph (usually much slower) by signalization; which is a perfectly adequate speed for adult cycling in traffic.

3. Bike lanes on one-way streets with short blocks present additional problems with turning at intersections (not my contribution; but I think it's a valid issue).

4. Nearby parallel routes exist with very light automobile traffic (nearby meaning less than 3 blocks away).

5. Our city's bicycle funding and 'attention' should be spent where the biggest problems are - the outlying parts of the city of Austin (where parallel routes as in #4 are miles rather than blocks away).

6. More practically, it is a bad idea to push for a plan which results in the loss of a car lane or a parking lane downtown; this will result in backlash which could impact other, more worthy, bicycle projects in the future.

As a cyclist and a driver, I ask you not to support a move which would install bicycle lanes on Guadalupe and Lavaca.

Thanks for your time,

Mike Dahmus

back to contents

Bikes for Sale

Free bike ads
Ads are FREE for individuals and run for at least four months or until you tell me to remove it. Please keep it to four lines, don't write a novel. :)

Adult Trikes for sale. Genuine Worksman-brand adult tricycles starting at $290. Heavy duty, 450-lbs. payload capacity, made in U.S.A. click to see
 
2002 Giant Rincon: 17" Frame (Red). In good condition. Entry level Shimano components. Will include new brake cables. $150 tjauyuencheung@y.....com 10-02
 
Zullo steel racing / track bike, 56 mm frame, all Campy parts, derailer gearing but has one-speed dropouts for fixed gear conversion, in good shape expect for torn decal, $250. info@10-02
2001 model Marin Larkspur. 17.5". Aluminum frame, Shimano components, lock, lights, shock seat post. Great transportation. Recently purchased for $350 (have receipt), will sell for $250. Excellent condition, like new. 512-476-2887 or 512-689-9266. bryon@grandec...net10-02

 

Used inventory at Waterloo Cycles
Inventory as of April 13, 2003. All bikes subject to prior sale, limited to stock on hand, not responsible for typographical errors, prices may change without notice, batteries not included.
ATB/Mountain Bikes
  • $199 Cignal Ranger 20"
  • $229 Diamondback Sorrento 16"
  • $369 Haro Extreme Comp 19.5"
  • $399 KHS Montana Comp 19"
  • $399 Diamondback Response 14"
  • $549 Kona Lava Dome 20"
  • $699 Cannondale F400 21"
  • $699 Kona Sex One 20"

Road Bikes
  • $ 99 Alpine Sporten 15"G
  • $549 Fuji Opus III 49cm
  • $269 Schwinn 454 53cm
  • $399 Specialized Allez 53cm
  • $549 Bianchi Campione 54cm
  • $499 Specialized Sirrus 58cm
  • $599 Diamondback Expert 58 cm
BMX/Kids' Bikes
  • $99  Schwinn Aerostar
  • $129 Diamondback Impression

Easy Street Recumbents

Recumbent bicycle sales, service, and rental for Austin. Free Urban Cycling classes with your purchase of a bike. click to visit


  back to contents

That's all, thanks for reading!