Tips: Patrick Goetz, Fred Meredith,
Michael Zakes, Dan Connelly, Dick Ryan, Jeff Thorne
Contents From the Editor General Honkies Regional SPAIN: Naked
rides TORONTO: Critical
Mass photos AUSTIN: CAMPO's
raiding of bike funds Classifieds Car-Free World, a publication of and
©2003 by BicycleAustin.info,
covers alternative transportation, especially
bicycling. No, we're
not naïve enough to think that everyone can do
without a car, but we do feel that people could
certainly use cars a lot less, which would result
in cleaner air, fewer deaths, stronger communities,
and a better quality of life. 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
SPAIN: Naked rides
TORONTO: Critical Mass photos
raiding of bike funds
Car-Free World, a publication of and ©2003 by BicycleAustin.info, covers alternative transportation, especially bicycling. No, we're not naïve enough to think that everyone can do without a car, but we do feel that people could certainly use cars a lot less, which would result in cleaner air, fewer deaths, stronger communities, and a better quality of life.
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.
inventory at Waterloo ships to the 48 states for $40. Just
click to order. Inventory as of Oct. 5, 2003.
All bikes subject to prior sale, limited to stock
on hand, not responsible for typographical errors,
prices may change without notice, batteries not
Waterloo ships to the 48 states for $40. Just click to order.
Inventory as of Oct. 5, 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.
From the Editor
As usual, the big update on CAMPO's planned raiding of Central Texas bike funds is at the end of this newsletter, but here's a summary:
In our last issue we reported on anti-car and anti-war signs being put up along California's freeways, which are chronicled on NobodyDied.com. (See example at right.) We neglected to mention another fine site chronicling these signs: FreewayBlogger.com.
This is what I get for doing some of the calculations in my head. In the last issue we reported that investing the money saved by not having a car at 8% from ages 25 to 67 would yield over a million dollars. In fact, it would yield 2.3 million dollars! (Okay, so inflation reduces that to about $638,000 in today's dollars. It's still a hell of a lot of money.) In this issue we'll look at how fast a car actually goes after you convert money into time.
I'm doing a cross-promotion with my friend Michael Shackleford, better known as the gambling expert the Wizard of Odds. Some of you will be surprised that I have a friend who's proud to profess his right-wing politics but hey, I don't tell you how to choose your friends. Anyway, I'm mentioning his newsletter in my newsletter, and he's mentioning mine in his. The Wizard's News contains gambling tips, exclusive online gaming offers, and news about Vegas. It's a complement to the top-rated website WizardOfOdds.com. You can sign up for The Wizard's News here.
Cycle Messengers for World Domination (CMWD) had this to say about the zombie film 28 Days Later:
Car addiction a threat to children
A website called TheAnti-Drug.com parodies anti-drug materials by pointing out the addictive nature of automobiles and their threat to human health, especially where children are concerned. The feature "Kids and Cars: Not a harmless high" includes testimonials such as these:
Our favorite bit was the commercial "Okay" about how drug money funds terrorists, cleverly edited to be about how oil money funds terrorists. (see MPG commercial)
One thing that got me into anti-car activism was the 1996 case in which bicyclist Tom Churchill was killed by a drunk driver. The driver got no fine or jail time, and not even a traffic ticket for his crime. I came to find out that this case wasn't unusual -- motorists are less likely to suffer a penalty if they kill a pedestrian or cyclist instead of another motorist. I started keeping track of some of these cases, documenting them on BicycleAustin.info and reporting about them on the radio program I hosted at the time. I got flack for saying that the lack of justice for cyclists was a civil rights issue, and more than one person thought I was going "too far" by seeing persecution wherever I looked.
But the truth is that the injustice is there whether we admit it or not. I'm simply one of the people who's pointing it out. And I believe more firmly than ever that when your killer is less likely to be penalized because group you belong to (e.g., blacks, gays, or pedestrians & bicyclists), that's exactly what a civil rights issue is.
When the driver who ran a red light and killed cyclist Ben Clough in Austin didn't even get a ticket for her crime, more than one cyclist here opined that the best way to avoid getting a ticket for running a red light was to kill a cyclist while you're doing so. The thing is, it's not just happening here. A new study by the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition in California claims that three out of four at fault drivers were never even cited for hitting and killing pedestrians. (The study also showed that 22% of fatal pedestrian crashes involved hit and run drivers. It's sobering to look around and think that 22% of the people you see around you wouldn't even stop if they hit you.) Similar story in New York: RightOfWay.org reports that drivers are at fault in 70% of cyclist deaths and 92% of pedestrian deaths there. And 74% of them didn't even get a traffic ticket. (Incidentally, Right of Way also reports that in over 90% of pedestrian fatalities the driver is male. So much for the stereotype about incompetent female drivers.)
The fact that injustice is widespread isn't surprising. I explore the reasons for this in my Why no justice? article, but the main reason is simple enough: The cultural bias against non-drivers, conscious or subconscious, is all it takes to keep the various actors in the criminal justice system from aggressively prosecuting our killers.
I gave up aggressively researching injustice cases years ago because it took too much time and frankly I wasn't seeing that it was making any difference. Maybe I made a few more people aware of the problem, but the problem was still there. These days I usually update the No Justice? section of the website only when someone forwards a case to me that's already fairly well documented in other media. Seeing this research by the East and West Coast groups validates the message I've been preaching, but it puts me in a conflicted position: On the one hand I'd like to feel good that my claims about cycling injustice have been substantiated credibly by others. But can I feel good knowing that the existence of injustice is very real and widespread?
So what to do? I don't have any easy answers, but I have a suggestion for where to start: The next time a cyclist or pedestrian is killed by an at-fault motorist in your community, do something about it. There are many things you can do, limited only by your creativity. In St. Louis, people are painting entire bicycles solid white and leaving them at locations where cyclists have been killed by cars. (website) This doesn't bring back the dead, and it doesn't guarantee that the motorist faces justice, but it's a bold interjection into a culture that turns a blind eye to the carnage caused by cars. We can't open the nation's eyes about this overnight, but we can open them one person at a time.
In a previous issue we reported on one rider's attempts to use magnets to trigger traffic light sensors. In response we got this message from an engineer who designs traffic light sensors:
Thanks again to Graham for the useful info.
We've heard of plastic wheels but not plastic frames. Maybe we're just behind the times...
Remember the Kyoto treaty to curb greenhouse gases to end global warming? Well, thank the U.S. for effectively killing it. While 120 countries ratified the treaty, it can take effect only when approved by enough countries to account for 55% of 1990 emissions. Without Russia (17.4%) or the United States (36.1%), where the Bush administration rejected the treaty, the deal is sunk.
No one has to point out the irony about the countries most responsible for global warming being the ones who won't help clean up the mess. (more in the NY Times article)
A recent reports shows that SUV's are deadlier to child pedestrians by about 18%. Does this really surprise anyone? (source: NTSA) And when ranking the safest places to drive among industrialized countries, the U.S. has been steady slipping and is now in ninth place. (Common Dreams)
In the last issue we reported on how much money you could have by investing the money you would have spent on a car. ($2.3 million if you invest your savings at 8% from ages 25 to 67). We also showed how if you convert money into time, the typical American spends three months each year just to pay for the car. Drive to work, work to drive.
Another way to convert money into time is to figure out the average speed of a car after accounting for the time needed to earn money to pay for it. The average speed for an urban auto is 25.6 mph (source). Based on a 7-mile one-way commute, that takes 137 hours a year. Once we add in the 517 hours required to pay for the car, we have 654 hours total, which brings our average speed down to 5.35 mph -- slower than a bicycle.
By the way, we know our source for the average speed of urban autos is weak, though the 25.6mph does seem about right, maybe even generous. If anyone has a better source, we'd love to see it.
In an earlier issue we reported on the mass of crazy Spanish bicyclists who took the streets stark raving naked in broad daylight. Here's another site covering the phenomenon.
TORONTO, CANADA: Excellent Critical Mass photos
As the webmaster for a directory of Critical Mass websites around the globe (CriticalMassRides.info) I've seen plenty of sites offering CM pics, and most of them are fairly uninspiring. But these photos from Toronto made me as excited as a little girl: Toronto CM pics.
CAMPO, the regional mobility authority (RMA) for Central Texas, has been planning to raid some of what little funding is set aside for bike/ped projects and spend it on amenities for cars instead. They'll make their decision at the Monday, Dec. 8th meeting, at the Thompson Conference Center at UT (26th & Red River). Meeting starts at 5:45pm but it'll be a while for them to get to this item, #4 on the agenda.
Recently CAMPO posted a PDF document on their website detailing exactly how they intend to steal the bike funds. You've gotta hand it to them, at least they're doing this in broad daylight. Here's our summary of their proposal.
In the table below, the green rows show projects that will likely be funded no matter what. The gray rows are the bike/ped projects on the chopping block, and the red row is the roadway project they want to spend the money on instead.
The first thing you might notice is that bike/ped raiding or no, there's a fair amount of bike/ped project funding here. But that's deceptive, because this table covers only one source of CAMPO funds. When we consider all of CAMPO funds, bike/ped projects get less than 1% of total funding, according to an estimate by UTC commissioner Mike Dahmus.
The next thing to notice is that CAMPO doesn't have to cut all the bike/ped projects to build their road. They're trying to cut $4,950,850 of bike/ped projects to build a $4,100,000 roadway. But there's plenty of money to build one of two sidewalk projects slated to be cut and still build their roadway anyway. Do they want to cut the extra sidewalk project out of spite?
So what is this "Upper Boggy Creek Bikeway" they want to cut? Oh, nothing much, just a path that would run alongside the railroad tracks from around 12th St. in East Austin all the way up to Airport & Lamar! (more on the bikeway) Seriously, this would provide an incredible, safe route across town, linking the east side with the west side, and would be one of the most important bike projects ever built in Austin.
If they don't cut it, that is. I'm starting to think that maybe we should appeal to CAMPO using a different message. "You hate all those bicyclists on the road, and who can blame you? Obviously they're not real Americans. So why don't you build this piddling bikeway for them, so when they use it there will be fewer of those pesky cyclists on our roads?"
Let's talk about the roadway projects. The "ITS" stands for "Intelligent Transportation Systems" and includes such thing as loop detectors for triggering traffic signals, traffic light synchronization, and signs that indicate if there's an incident up ahead or a detour due to construction. Okay, we're not gonna complain about that. What we are gonna complain about is the $4.1 million they want to spend on FM 2769 instead of bike/ped projects. The plan here is to turn a two-lane undivided road into a four-lane divided road -- all 3/4-mile of it. That's right, 3/4-mile of roadway compared to miles and miles of sidewalks and bikeways.
There are some other interesting things in that PDF file about the planned funding raid. First. they printed the name of the 160+ people who sent in the email form asking for bike/ped funding to be saved. Whoo-hoo! Bet you didn't know that the fact that you spoke out would be a part of the public record, and available on the web no less. (I didn't.) I also note that CAMPO listed the person's email address instead of their name, presumably when a person didn't give their name. Bad move, because spambots will now lift those addresses from CAMPO's file and add them to junk mailing lists. Interestingly, my own name didn't make the list of commenters. I wonder if only a few of us got snipped or whether a bunch of us didn't make it. Finally, all four letters that CAMPO received on the subject were printed in the packet. Maybe next time we do a campaign we should send letters by postal mail instead....
In our last issue we said that Karen Sonleiter was the only legislator to respond to our request that CAMPO not raid bike/ped funds. In fact, Sonleiter was the only one to respond by email, but state Senator Gonzalo Barrientos responded by postal mail, saying, "As I am a long-time advocate of a multimodal approach to transportation, I intend to support continued allocation of 15 percent of STP MM money for bike/ped."
And as long as we're quoting people, here's another sample comment that a reader sent to CAMPO with our form:
If you live in Central Texas and haven't yet let your legislators know how you feel, please use our handy form to do so. The ACA removed their form because the public comment period was over, but we think you should be able to talk to your legislators whenever you want, so our form is still up.
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That's all, thanks for reading!