for the Bike Rodeo
Just when you thought that life wasn't worth
living any more, fun returns to Austin. The
rodeo from San Francisco graces us with their
presence again later this month. The rodeo features
crazy homemade bikes featured in stunts, tricks,
and comedy. There are also rides for the kids (such
as a merry-go-round made of bikes, and a
bike-powered Ferris wheel), live music, and what's
a rodeo without beer? The event is free (but not
the beer), and it will also be your last
opportunity to pick up an adult
tricycle since Jeremy and I will be selling the
few we have left at the event.
A week before the rodeo there will be a benefit
to help pay for the rodeo, given that the rodeo
itself is free and all, and after the benefit there
will be another 2:00 AM Moonlight Bike Cruise. If
you missed last month's bike cruise, this will be
your last opportunity to go on a big bike ride at
night through the city until next year. Here are
Sun., Oct. 12
Room 710 (710 Red River)
Sun., Oct. 12
2am (technically Monday
Sun., Oct. 19
3pm to Dusk
Café Mundi (1704 E. 5th)
- CAMPO to
decide on raiding bike funds
You may remember how a few issues ago we asked
you to write to CAMPO representatives to ask them
not to raid the limited bike funding and divert it
to projects to benefit motorists. Dozens of you
used the cute little response form we provided, and
we ran your comments in the
July 16th issue of Car-Free World. As a result
of this campaign (well, we don't really know if
that was the reason, but we can dream), CAMPO put
off their decision about whether bike funds until
Well, now it's later. On Nov. 17th CAMPO is
expected to take up the topic again. So it's time
to write in again. The Austin Cycling Association
has come up with their own web-based response form
for some reason, so now you have two choices of
forms to use to tell CAMPO to preserve bike &
If you'd like to make your voice heard even
more, a rally is being planned for 5pm on November
17 at the Joe C. Thompson Conference Center, 26th
St. (Dean Keeton) at Red River on the UT Campus.
The hearing will start at 6:15.
SUV drivers exempt from seat belt
As long as Indiana drivers spend
the extra $9 on the "truck" license plate for their
SUV's, they don't have to wear seat belts.
Well, at least this is the only special
privilege that the government is awarding to SUV
owners. Whoops, it looks like we spoke too
breaks for SUV's
You can get a special tax break
for buying an SUV. The catch? You have to buy a
really big SUV. Is this really as retarded
as it sounds? Absolutely.
All we can do is shake our heads and think to
the end of the decade when oil shortages will make
ridiculous deals like this one a thing of the past.
Unfortunately it's not the past yet. (more)
would $87 billion buy?
But hey, tax breaks for SUV owners is a drop in
the bucket compared to President Bush's $87 billion
funding request for continued operations in Iraq.
What else could $87 billion buy? Well, according to
for Consumer Justice, $87 billion...
- ...is more than the combined total of all
state budget deficits in the United States.
- ...is roughly the total of two years worth
of all unemployment benefits.
- ...is enough to pay the 3.3 million people
who have lost jobs $26,363 each.
- ...is more than double the total amount the
government spends on homeland security.
- ...is seven times what the government spends
on Title I for low-income schools.
- ...is more than ten times what the
government spends on all environmental
So why do we mention this in Car-Free World?
Because $87 billion is also:
- ...forty-three times what the federal
government has spent on bicycle and pedestrian
enhancements since 1991 (less than 1% of federal
- ...seventy-three times the minimum necessary
to save Amtrak train service.
- ...enough to build a 20-mile monorail or
light rail system in every American city the
size of Austin or greater, with $67 billion left
over (give or take a few billion).
- ...enough to buy every single man, woman,
and child in the United States a bicycle, lock,
helmet, and lights. And a Slurpee. And a
- ...enough to pay busfare for every working
American for every working day for an entire
year, with enough left over to save Amtrak,
quintuple spending on bike & ped
improvements, and build several monorail systems
throughout the U.S.
We're not shortsighted enough to think that the
$87 billion (were it available to us) should go
only to transportation needs and not to other
domestic needs. The point is just that when the
government says they don't have the money for bike
lanes, safety enhancements, and mass transit (or,
for that matter, education, employment, health, and
the environment), they're lying. As long as the
government is willing to take on a large amount of
debt, it can afford anything. So why are they so
willing to take on this debt for a foreign war,
rather than helping us here in our own country?
Hey, Uncle Sam, remember us? You know, the
killed by drunk driver
I'd always considered Ken Kifer my spiritual
brother on the web. We offered a lot of the same
kind of things on our respective websites, like
pages about how to fix flat tires and illustrated
guides to not getting hit by cars, as well as a
shared philosophy about web design (keep it simple,
avoid Java, plug-ins, music and blinking crap). If
you'd been to only one biking site on the Internet,
there's a good chance you were at his or at one of
So I was shaken to learn that Ken was recently
killed by a drunk driver while biking on a county
road near his home in Alabama. I didn't know him
well, but we'd exchanged some emails, and like I
said, he seemed to be my biking brother on the web.
Ken was also an expert on cycling safety. So if it
could happen to him, it could easily happen to me
-- or any of us.
Ken died when a drunk driver crossed a lane of
traffic and hit him head-on. The driver has been
charged with murder. (Whew, I guess in some ways
Alabama is a little more progressive than
Ironically, one of the pages on Ken's site --and
one of the things I disagreed with him about --goes
into great detail to try to prove that bicycling is
safe...at least as safe as driving a car, if not
more so. The main basis for this argument is that
some statistics show cycling to be safer on a
per-trip or per-hour basis. But that's a ridiculous
way to compare cycling to driving, at least for
transportation purposes. The only fair way to
compare them is per-mile traveled, and doing it
that way even Ken's own statistics show that
cycling is twice is dangerous as driving. This
makes sense intuitively, because for cycling to be
a similar risk as driving then cyclists would have
to be no more likely to be involved in collisions,
and no more likely to suffer injury when they
ARE involved in collisions. Obviously this is
not the case.
On the local email list many cyclists picked up
the "cycling is safe" mantra, but if bicycling is
truly so safe, then why the hell are we lobbying
for roadway improvements to make cycling safer in
the first place? Sure, I advocate cycling, but I'm
not going to deny that by choosing to cycle you
engender some risk. Of course, it is kind of
hard to encourage people to do something you admit
is somewhat dangerous....
Fortunately a number of people have stepped
forward to offer to maintain Ken's site, which his
family has agreed he would have wanted.
all, thanks for reading!