If the newsletter below doesn't appear to be formatted properly (or doesn't appear at all), you can read the newsletter online at: http://BicycleUniverse.info/newsletters/2004-04-20.html
Contributors: Dave Westenbarger, Lane Wimberly Editor: Michael Bluejay
Mailbag AMSTERDAM: Cops
target thieves with GPS bikes Car-Free World, a publication of and
©2004 by BicycleUniverse,
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.
target thieves with GPS bikes
Car-Free World, a publication of and ©2004 by BicycleUniverse, 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.
Waterloo ships to the 48 states for $40. Just
click to order. Inventory as of April 4, 2004.
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 April 4, 2004. All bikes subject to prior sale, limited to stock on hand, not responsible for typographical errors, prices may change without notice, batteries not included.
We have around 100 new subscribers since the last issue, thanks to the fact that I finally realized that since Car-Free Austin became Car-Free World, I can promote it on my other sites like BicycleSafe.com and CriticalMassRides.info. (Duh.) So people have been signing up at a steady clip now. To all new subscribers, welcome!
Help me name BicycleUniverse
.info makes more sense because it's not a company, but then again maybe .com is so ubiquitous that people don't think of ".com = company" anyway. Oh, and if I went with .info, then I'd make sure that .com would still work. I just need to know which spelling I should use to promote the site.
That's where you come in. Vote for .com or .info and help me decide. As usual a random winner from those voting who will get their choice of a super-reflective strap-on triangle, or an email account at BicycleUniverse.info/info, BicycleSafe.com, or CriticalMassRides.info. (Cast your vote.)
I have no idea where else to put this, so here's a cute video of a doggy riding on a skateboard.
In our last issue I ran a letter from a cyclist who canceled his subscription because he felt that my reporting about at-fault motorists was wrong, and because other cyclists ride too many abreast and ride at night without lights. (Why he thought I would support poor riding techniques is beyond me.) Regarding that complaint and my response to it Lane Wimberly writes:
Fair enough. If the reader weren't a cyclist I might have gone further and pondered whether he gets that upset with inconsiderate and unsafe motorists too. But since he's actually a cyclist and his gripe is with the anti-car bikers, that's what I addressed.
In fact, my fantasy is that the next time CAMPO or the City Council wants to deny funding to cyclists because some cyclists run red lights, I want to be there to enthusiastically scream, "I couldn't agree more!" And then show a homemade video of motorists running every single cycle of a red light at some prominent Austin intersection 20 times in a row, and then ask, "Since road users who run red lights don't get funding, when can we expect funding to be cut for new highways?"
Of course the irony here is that it was CAMPO member Senator Barrientos who implied at a meeting that he wouldn't support increased bike funding because cyclists run red lights, and then a while after that the good Senator was arrested for drunk driving.
Regular readers know that we've often covered that curious intersection of nudity and bicycling. Well, now all hell is breaking loose. Cyclists in Zaragoza, Spain who have had huge naked bike rides with hundreds of riders for the last few years, have put out the call for cities all over the world to hold their own ride, and several cities have already signed on. The Spanish cyclists are riding on June 19, and most of the rest of the world will be riding on June 12.
Subaru is tweaking some parts of the Outback sedan and wagon car this year to meet the specifications of a light truck, the same regulatory category used by pickups and sport utilities. Why? Largely to avoid tougher fuel economy and air pollution standards for cars. (full article from NY Times, subscription required)
The resistance continues! Here's yet another site devoted to critiquing that scourge of responsible transportation, the SUV. They offer news, articles, and even "One less 4WD" stickers. The site owners are cycling around the world to spread their message. (visit...)
Bishop Thomas O'Brien got off with just community service for his crime of killing a pedestrian in a hit and run. Now, motorists getting off the hook is nothing new, especially when they enjoy a high social status. But this particular case is especially interesting since the criminal in question is a supposed defender of morality. That being the case, shouldn't he have owned up to his crime, pleaded guilty, and accepted his punishment? Almost as disturbing as the original crime is the fact that he didn't admit his mistake and accept the consequences. We would obviously prefer this of everyone who knows their own guilt, but we especially expect it from a man of the cloth. (more...)
What do you get when you combine poor architecture with American consumer culture? You get James Kunstler's wrath, that's what. Each month Kunstler serves up a scathing indictment of (usually suburban) architectural inanity. The most recent installment shows a bike lane inexplicably striped through a gravelly non-paved surface, sandwiched between asphalt and concrete, and leading directly to a drainage grate, (more...)
As an aside, Kunstler got fairly defensive when I asked whether his use of the term "faggotry" was the gay slur it sounded like.
Dutch couple Dick Verschuur and Els Schaap spent an amazing three and a half years bicycling around the world, covering a whopping 47,000 miles. Their trip covered four continents, 41 countries, and 18 U.S. states.
But it doesn't end there. As a result of their experiences in cycling through poor countries they've decided to sell their home, get back on their bikes, and raise money to help the needy. The excerpted and condensed interview from their newsletter is quite powerful:
Dick: We were born in The Netherlands and because of that, simply because we were born here, we have had the chance and the opportunity to travel around the world. In the western world we have the sheer luxury to choose to do what we want. The painful thing is that people in the countries where we travel through ain't got no chance at all.
A child, born in Mali, Senegal , on the Bolivian altiplano or in the mountains of Peru, in Guatemala, Nicaragua or El Salvador doesn't have a chance. If their parents can't afford to pay for them to go to school then the only chance they've got is to be a goat herder or shoeshine boy. As a cyclist you meet children like this, you stop, have a talk, you smile and take a picture,
And then you ride on. That's how it goes. And back home, when you show your slides, you friends and family applaud for the beautiful pictures you took. That makes you think.
Els: We are cyclists but we travel through the world like any other tourist. We see, enjoy and move on. Very egocentric. We support the local economies rather than spend our money with western travel agencies but basically we act like normal tourists... we move on.
Dick: There have been many times that we felt really bad about what we saw. Especially with children. We have seen so much shit with children that it made us ashamed to be white at times. But the stupid thing was that we felt even more ashamed when we cycled into people who were doing something about it. People who have left their homes and all the luxury in it to go out in the third world to make a difference in the life of these children. People who don't talk about how sad the situation is, but do something about it...
Els: On moments like those our conscience really started to bother us, much more than on the moments when we were confronted with the children. In those moments you feel really small.
Dick: You start thinking about what you can do to help. Because you've got the time, and in your panniers is sometimes enough money to get all the children of a little village like that through high school -- if you consider that in most countries the costs of a year in high school is the equivalent of twenty five dollars.
But... we moved on... and on... and on. We thought that something was terribly wrong. The world was wrong and we saw it was wrong but we weren't doing anything about it. When we started talking about it we both agreed that it wasn't the right thing to go freewheeling through this world and take pictures and show them at home just to collect the applause. What would be the point of that? That you show other people how good a cyclist you are? That you can take a picture?
Els: The conflict in our hearts got bigger and bigger and somewhere in South America we agreed that we would somehow do something about it. But what? We didn't want to run a school, or build a clinic, or start an orphanage. Both of us lack the specific skills to do a thing like that. So what we finally thought we could do is this: Fundraise! From now on we are going to fundraise the money for small educational projects in the third world. We are firm believers in the power of education. We think that children with an education have a bigger chance in this world than the children without. We want to help the people that start these projects. We want to help them be successful.
Dick: From September 2004 on we will be traveling through the world doing fundraising. We will forsake our home and belongings and start a life on the bicycle. On our journey we will give slide shows and talks about how it is to go through the world on a bike, how it is to live from the contents of eight panniers. We will do this on exactly the same way as we've been doing this in the past four and a half years but with a big difference... from now on we won't have the safety net of our home and we will not do it for our own pleasure but do it with a purpose.
More on Dick & Els' plans
Dave Westenbarger writes:
Anyone who deplores sprawl should be *required* to accept a certain amount of increased density near where he or she lives. Not necessarily on his or her own lot, or even street, but somewhere in the neighborhood. There are plenty of places those extra people could go where they'd hardly be noticed at all (like garage apartments).
AUSTIN: Hit & Run, Cyclist Beaten, and Density in Cherrywood
Police blow off hit & run victim? Cyclist Michael Passman tells his story of his being hit & run'd, the easy identification of the vehicle and the driver, and being blown off by both a police detective (who said that the motorist wasn't at fault because he didn't see Passman) and the driver's insurance company, Allstate (who said that Passman was partially at fault simply because he was riding a bicycle). (more...)
Both positions are not unusual, but they're still disturbing if true. Of course the motorist didn't see Passman, that's why he hit him. But if you run a red light because you didn't see it that doesn't mean you don't get a ticket. Apparently being an inattentive driver only gets you off the hook if you injure a cyclist as a result.
Interestingly, the victim himself insisted
to us that "the more accidents with serious injuries happen
when the cyclist is at fault," though this is not true so
far as we know, and Passman could provide no evidence to
support his claim when we asked for it.
Cyclist beaten. Somebody (or somebodies) broke every bone in cyclist Andy Whitelock's face in a brutal assault. (more...)
Police in Amsterdam announced a plan to catch bike thieves by using GPS-equipped bicycles as bait. (more...)
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