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Car-Free World
alternative transportation news & views

December 24, 2002
Email | BicycleAustin.info
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Research/Tips: Mike Dahmus, Austin Chronicle, Eric Anderson, Ken Marsh, America Bikes
Contributors: Barry Stephens   Editor: Michael Bluejay

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Contents
From the Editor

Website redesigned

Did you miss the article?

Austin News

We lose on Shoal Creek

Gardiner's family sues

Triggering traffic signals

Mayor's race

Austin Bike Summit 2003

Regional News

GetOutOfTheBikeLane.com

Moving by bicycle

U.S. News

SUV's get tax deductions

Haiku contest

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Car-Free World, a publication of 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 600 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
Website Redesigned 

     There are hundreds of pages of content on BicycleAustin.info, and it's a challenge to organize it in a way that's easy to navigate. But I keep trying. Around summer you might have noticed the last major redesign I did, getting rid of the frames, and putting the main menu on top of every page. I didn't get much feedback about that, except that Kit O'Connell wrote in to suggest I read a book about web design.

   So anyway, I've redesigned the site again, have a look. My goal was to make it super-easy to find everything, and to make the pages load very quickly. This probably doesn't work with older browsers (Netscape 4), and I've been too scared to try it after all the work it took to do the redesign. I'm open to suggestions if you have a better idea for the navigation system, but bear in mind that I won't put in any menu system that adds more than 5k per page. I don't want to force readers to sit around waiting for pages to load...


Did you miss the article? 

      Wouldn't you know it, one of the only times the site has gone down in seven years was right after I sent out the last newsletter with a bunch of links into the site. In case you couldn't access the Why No Justice? article you can access it now.

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Austin News

We lose on Shoal Creek

      It's legal for cars to park in most bike lanes in Austin. Around 1998, city planners started the process of quietly banning parking in bike lanes on various roads around town, one street at a time. In July 2000, the City unveiled a plan to ban parking in the bike lanes on Shoal Creek, by having parking on only one side of the street, and wide, car-free bike lanes on both sides.

Is it any surprise that that didn't happen? Two and a half years later, after the plan went through several major revisions, we're not getting real car-free bike lanes on Shoal Creek after all. We DO get some space on each side of the road (there's a 10-foot wide space, and we can use whatever's leftover after cars park), though it won't be signed as a bike lane, it won't be striped to separate it from parking, and the amount of roadspace we get isn't NEARLY as much as we would have had in the original plan. All so that cars can continue to have unlimited parking on BOTH sides of the street. In Austin, it seems that unlimited parking for cars always comes first.

When this process first started, bicycle activist Mike Dahmus objected to the idea of getting the neighborhood to approve the plan, saying that the neighbors shouldn't have veto power over public roadspace. Nearly three years later, seeing the end result, it looks like he was right. And it doesn't end there. As Dahmus recently pointed out: "And, by the way, the decision to screw us on Shoal Creek was applied as a precedent to the decision to screw us on Bull Creek."

There's more to the story, of course. (more to the story)

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Gardiner's family sues

      Two years ago UT Professor William Gardiner died while bicycling downtown, presumably because he crashed after hitting one of those big temporary metal grates in the road that accompanies roadway construction. The news now is that Gardiner's family is suing the construction company, Tri Dal Excavation and Utilities. (more)

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Triggering Traffic Signals
by Barry Stephens

      ABSTRACT: Last month I began riding a bicycle regularly for exercise.  I ride mainly at night and in the early morning when there are fewer cars on the streets.   I was getting frustrated with traffic signals not changing for my bicycle so I made some attempts to solve this problem.

First I found out everything I could about traffic sensors, and found how best to position my bike to trigger the sensor. I also experimented by mounting magnets to my bike, and tested them at 43 Austin intersections.

During the testing I tried very hard to get the traffic signals here in Austin to trigger, but found that they would only change for a bicycle about two thirds of the time. This means that if you are riding a bicycle in Austin,  one out of every three traffic signal sensors will not change the light green for you. (see article, with pictures)

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Mayor's Race

      The first candidate to throw his hat in the ring for the mayor's contest is former City Councilmember (and former mayoral candidate) Max Nofziger. Nofziger is widely perceived to be a bicycle supporter (he appeared in the local documentary Bike Like U Mean It and he does in fact ride a bicycle), but we're not convinced. With three terms on the City Council he had ample opportunity to do something -- anything -- for cyclists, but didn't. (Unless you count the Veloway, a racing loop for competitive cyclists on the outskirts of town which is useless for anyone actually trying to get around Austin by bike.) He's also a vehement critic of light rail, which most cyclists seem to support. This will be an interesting race to keep an eye on.

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Austin Bike Summit 2003

     Two years ago the Austin Bike Summit was attended by over 70 bicycle advocates, neighborhood representatives, parks and trail supporters. Now it's happening again for 2003, probably February or March. Contact to get in on the planning.

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Regional News

GetOutOfTheBikeLane.com

    The name of the site says it all. A Toronto cyclist is publishing photos of vehicles parked in the bike lane on his website. (visit the site)


Moving by Bicycle

      An Ottowa cyclist moved all his belongings across town, including the furniture, entirely by bicycle. (I did this myself a few years ago, but neglected to take pictures.) See the photos on his website.

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U.S. News

SUV's get tax deductions by Danny Hakim, New York Times

DETROIT, Dec. 19 - Dr. Tedd March and his partners know a good deal when they see it. He and his fellow internists who share a practice are taking advantage of an odd confluence of tax breaks to buy giant sport utility vehicles, with a healthy subsidy from Uncle Sam. "I have one partner who just did it with a Suburban," said Dr. March, a 42-year-old physician in Monroe, Mich., about 30 miles south of Detroit. He said he planned to buy a Lincoln Navigator next month, "and I have a third partner who's going to buy one the year after."

    The tax deductions - a combination of longstanding provisions in the tax code and breaks instituted after the 2001 terror attacks to spur the economy - are available only to small-business owners and the self-employed. ...

    All together, an eligible buyer of a 2003 Hummer H2 could deduct $34,912 of the $48,800 base price in the vehicle's first year of service, according to tax rules. (more)

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Haiku contest

      America Bikes, a national advocacy group lobbying for safer streets, is asking cyclists to submit haikus telling Congress why they should fund safe roadways. (visit America Bikes).

We feel obligated to point out that these aren't actually haikus, but in fact senryus.


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That's all, thanks for reading!