Thursday, September 18, 2014

Big Guys in Big Trucks

I had a most excellent exchange with a big guy in a big truck during tonight’s ride. I was stopped at a red light in the left portion of the straight lane. I do this to allow drivers the right on red.

Big Guy in Big Truck pulls up and stops on my right. In situations like this I generally look left to avoid open window commentary.

"Nice night for a ride," said the amicable fellow. I readily agreed because it indeed was.

"Man these lights are long." I thanked him by noting that I was glad that he was there to activate the light. They don’t usually change for my bike.

"That’s bullshit," said the empathetic fellow. I readily agreed because it indeed is.

My spidey sense began to tingle so I asked him, “you turning or going straight?” I enjoyed a moment of terror as I realized the implications of asking a big guy in a big truck such a loaded question.

"Straight. I know you are too. But I’m pretty sure I’ll beat you off the line." I suggested he might be surprised, which ensured he WOULD beat me. Which is good because we avoided the conflict that inevitably would occur if he hadn’t.

I failed to give him the hour lecture about laws and predictably and safety. But we both left happy. I like being happy.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sioux Falls Bicycling - Growth, But Who's Paying Attention?


When we met I made a claim that more people ride bicycles for transportation than ride public transportation. Knowing how much effort you have put into public transportation of late, I asked for a little more consideration for bicycling.

Councilor, as an MPO Urbanized Development Commission member you're familiar with the 2014 Sioux Falls Metropolitan Area LRTP Market Research Study.

Attached are two graphs from that study. Graph_1 shows 12% (compared to 2% for public transportation) of the surveyed "normally use [a bicycle] to get to/from work, school or other frequently traveled destinations." Graph_2 shows transportation modes to destinations from 1999 to 2014. Bicycling has increased from 3% to 12%. Public transportation has decreased from 4% to 2%.

I have supported my claim and suggest again that more dollars and time be provided to improve bicycling transportation.

Thank you.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

McGovern Middle School - No Sidewalks

Sioux Falls' freshly minted middle school opened this week. With no sidewalks.

Let me say that again. No sidewalks.

And the comments from the principal are priceless.

" the meantime we're trying to problem solve and trying to figure out how to best bus 100% of our student population."

"Principal Emanuel wants all students to be safe and if anyone is walking to school, wants to find out why. We would definitely want to work with the family find out what's going on, did the child miss the bus? Just what's going on," she said"

I have a few thoughts about what's going on.

Here's a link to KDLT's article on the matter.

City Council 140805: Scott says...

After a fatal car/bike crash and some other car/bike & car/pedestrian crashes some in the bicycle riding community approached the city council about creating safer conditions on the roadway for everyone. Scott stepped up to the podium and said he's a traffic engineer & a rider and likes the things we're all saying...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Play In the Street With Me!

Come out and play in the street with me this weekend! Thursday 6p to 9p, Friday 6p to 9p and Saturday 5p to 9p we're running through the entire League of American Bicyclists Traffic Skills 101 course.

Best of all, it's FREE thanks to our host Spoke-n-Sport.

Classroom sessions, two sets of parking lot practice, an evaluated in the city ride to put it all into practice and a test.

Come join us. Make a move toward being a confident rider of bicycles. Ride visibly, predictable, courteously and safely.

Contact Chris ((605) 275-2453 | to get on the the list of attendees. Tell him The MinusCar Project sent you.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

City Council 140805: Marilyn says...

After a fatal car/bike crash and some other car/bike & car/pedestrian crashes some in the bicycle riding community approached the city council about creating safer conditions on the roadway for everyone. Marilyn stepped up to the podium and said!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

City Council 140805 Part 3: Katie says...

After a fatal car/bike crash and some other car/bike & car/pedestrian crashes some in the bicycle riding community approached the city council about creating safer conditions on the roadway for everyone. A woman named Katie stepped up to the podium and made an argument!

Saturday, August 09, 2014

City Council 140805 Part 2: Chris says...

After a fatal car/bike crash and some other car/bike & car/pedestrian crashes some in the bicycle riding community approached the city council about creating safer conditions on the roadway for everyone. Chris Parsley stepped up to the podium and made a case for a bicycle dedicated bicycle planner. Watch...

Friday, August 08, 2014

City Council 140805 Part 1: An Atheist Invocation...

After a fatal car/bike crash and some other car/bike & car/pedestrian crashes some in the bicycle riding community approached the city council about creating safer conditions on the roadway for everyone. The council meeting was historic in that, for the first time in most people's memory, a freethinking person gave the invocation.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

City Council: Public Input: 8/5/14

I claimed my 5 (or six) minutes of public input before the city council meeting tonight to give a message or two. The text I presented from is here...


Council. Mayor.  I’m Michael Christensen and I need help with bicycling in Sioux Falls. I have two messages for you tonight.


On street riding, if done predictably, visibly, safely and courteously is far safer than sidewalk riding. Sidewalk riding can be safe if the rider rides at pedestrian speeds so that it’s easier to meet the legal requirements to stop at all intersections and yield to all traffic in the intersection. At pedestrian speeds it’s also easier for the rider to acknowledge the reality that at every intersection and every driveway there could be cars coming from up to four directions with drivers that are looking on the road for cars not on the sidewalks.

City government must stop believing that sidewalk riding is safer than on-street riding. Any discomfort with this message, due to driver inconvenience, driver or rider incompetence, or anything else, is a fear you must resolve for yourselves. I pledge to you, I am here to help. But it must be resolved.


This city experiences a fatal car/bike crash roughly every three years. I'm sure every time this happens the question is raised, “what is the city doing to improve safety for bicycling?” Currently the response has been to defer the question to Sam the Planner. To be sure Sam is great and the information he provides about safe riding is solid. But Sam has done his job. This is the current bike plan. Seven years ago Sam wrote it and you approved it. You'll approve another later this year. It's time to open the plan...oh, here's my name -- I sit in a lot of transportation planning meetings. I’ve helped with a lot of plans. It's time to stop planning and start implementing.

I propose my city government do the hard work so that the question, “what is the city doing to improve bicycling safety?” can be answered like this…

We are educated.

• We have key traffic engineers, police officers, and planners that have been through training and understand what visible, predictable, safe and courteous riding looks like.
• We understand the predictable, repeatable and avoidable physical hazards of sidewalk riding and the legal hazard as well.
• This knowledge is reflected in the information we provide the public, the facilities we build on the streets, and the traffic and roadway plans we develop.

We educate.

• Together our police, planning, traffic engineering, health and parks department provide
  o three free opportunities each season through three different community centers
  o for adults to learn how to ride safely on the streets and on the sidewalks. *******
  o We have similar age appropriate classes for children.
• Also, we've produced a series of PSAs that we refresh annually and release each Bike Month showing our expectations for safe, law abiding riding, and safe law abiding driving.

We enforce.

• Each year since the previous fatality we’ve issued
• more tickets to drivers for crosswalk, sidewalk, stop sign, and texting violations and
• more tickets to riders for crosswalk, stop sign, and wrong way riding violations.
• This has contributed to less car/bike and car/pedestrian collisions.

We provide a safe and functioning on-street riding environment.

• All of our on street bicycle facilities (sharrows and bike lanes) take into consideration the very real danger of encouraging on-street riders to ride to the right of potentially right turning vehicles.
• We're three years into a 5 year program to convert all actuated traffic signals to a new technology that allow bicycles to be detected. When the program is complete, riders on low volume neighborhood roads can expect to be able to safely cross higher volume higher speed roads without exhibiting unpredictable (red light running) behavior to drivers.
• We make it clear through signage and other ways that predictable, visible, safe and courteous riders are welcome on our roadways.

Our Mayor is engaged.

• Our mayor understands that the pursuit of happiness has a lot to do with mobility, therefore…
• Once a month our mayor rides to work so that he better understands the roadway experiences of citizens that day after day use bicycles for transportation.
• Once a month our mayor walks to work 1.5 miles on Minnesota Ave so that he better understands the roadway experiences of citizens that day after day walk for transportation.

Finally, our money is where the growth is...

• We recognize that the 2014 Long Range Transportation Plan Market Research Survey shows a citywide increase from 1999 of 400% for bicycling and 500% for walking. Therefore, spending has risen accordingly for bicycling and walking related transportation needs: street, traffic engineering, planning, etc.

Thank you for your 5 minutes. I invite council to engage me further on these matters at any later date.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sioux Falls 2014 Police Reported Car/Bicycle Crash Data

3/11 - probably a sidewalk rider, riding with traffic.

4/15 - sidewalk rider, riding against traffic.

4/21 - sidewalk rider, riding against traffic.

4/26 - sidewalk rider, riding with traffic.

5/5 - young sidewalk rider, riding against traffic, driver backing into driveway.

5/25 - sidewalk rider, riding against traffic.

5/27 - sidewalk rider, riding against traffic.

5/28 - sidewalk rider, riding against traffic, transitioning to riding against traffic on street.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

New Bike Trail Access Points!

The paving of additional bike trail access points have been observed on the westside bike trail this week.

Pavement (in the red circle) from the trail to the Johnny Carino's parking lot allows formal and convenient access by bike to businesses west of Louise in the Meadows on the River area. This also removes a barrier of entry for bikes into the Meadows on the River east of Louise Ave by providing formal access to the Shirley Ave & Louise Ave intersection. This enables bike access to the full extent of the Meadows on the River area while avoiding the 25,000 vehicles/day Louise Ave.

Pavement (in the red circle) from the trail to 43rd Street allows formal and convenient access by bike to the businesses in the area of the Empire East Mall. Additionally this removes a barrier of entry for bikes into the Empire Mall area by providing formal access to the signalized intersection with Louise Ave between 43th St and 47th St.

Thank you Mayor for looking to improve trail access. Thank you planning office for working with your bicycling stakeholders and city departments.

It's amazing what 40 feet of asphalt can improve for healthy errand running and improved economic opportunity. How about 80 feet next time?

Saturday, May 03, 2014

JohnnyRandom Bespoken in Vermillion

Remember the viral video from YouTube?

Your chance to see Johnnyrandom LIVE and FREE is going to be in Vermillion next weekend.

Here's the poster:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Video Shooting

Last week we shot some safe biking video for use in various places. I'm not completely sure of all the intended uses. It was fun setting up for avoiding door zones and avoiding right hooks.

Here is the merry band of riding actors:

Saturday, April 19, 2014


40,000 people drive by this every day. Because they're in a car they don't get to see it.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

"Just Turn Right"

There’s plenty of hand wringing in my city about traffic lights that don’t detect bicycles. Maybe the hand wringing is more about what to do in the case of a red light that won’t change to green. We’re good people. We don’t want to be scofflaws.

One common answer to this problem is to “just turn right.” Here are my 4 favorite arguments against "just turn right."

1. Red lights that need actuation are almost always lights that govern intersections where a lower traffic volume road is crossing a higher volume road. This type of intersection is just the sort that attracts riders who prefer the relative peace of low traffic roadways. The invitation to “just turn right” is often an invitation to leave a 2,000 vehicle per day road and join a 30,000 vehicle per day road. This is unacceptable.

2. In the circle below is the intersection of Dardanella Road and Marion Road. A rider approaching from the west to cross Marion Road must wait for the light to be actuated. The "just turn right" solution follows the red line, a distance of approximately 5 miles to go a net 50 feet.

3. Below is the intersection of Grange and 12th Street. A rider approaching from the north to turn left for some Black Sheep Coffee must actuate the light. A "just turn right" solution is not legal because turning right from the left lane is not legal and crossing two lanes of roadway to turn right is not safe.

4. Below is the intersection of 12th Street and Main Avenue. Main Avenue is one way from north to south. Riders approaching from the east must actuate the light. A “just turn right” solution here is not legal because riding the wrong way on a one-way is not legal.

Speaking of scofflaw. It's written in city ordinance: "Every person driving a bicycle shall have all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle by this Code..." I assume working traffic controls are a right that drivers expect.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Car Insurance Milage Based Discounts

Yay! StateFarm finally has mileage based insurance rates discounts! Based on the information on this webpage, the less I drive the greater my discount.  The piece of resistance would be if my car travels only 500 miles a year I could save up to 45% of my premium.

$106 dollars a year. Cool! Unfortunately, my cold harsh reality is I can expect to maybe qualify for a $77 annual discount.

StateFarm receives mileage data from the OnStar service. Assuming my car is OnStar equipped (it is) and I already subscribe (I don't) I'm good to go. Sign me up, right? The least expensive rate for OnStar requires a 3 year commitment costing $166 annually. Woops! I can save $77 a year on insurance by spending $166 a year for OnStar?

Let's say I already shell out $166 a year for OnStar, enjoying all their services and diagnostics and what nots. That would seem to make sense right? I already have OnStar, I already enjoy it. Now I'm getting $77 bucks back for my auto insurance because of it.

Win win win, right?

Not so fast. As I decrease my driving I'm far less likely to need automatic crash response, emergency services, hands-free calling, roadside assistance, remote services and vehicle diagnostics. So the value I get from my OnStar service decreases as I get more I get from my discount.

I have a solution!

StateFarm should get my mileage from the NSA. They likely have that information through my cell phone anyway. I think it's about time the NSA gives me something back!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Moving the Ball Forward

met with FAST (Falls Area Singletrack) Monday night. We're looking at doing some community building things before spring.

Today at Chedds good things happened with FAB ED (Falls Area Bicyclists Education Committee). We talked about...wait for

We have a cool logo.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Attention: I-229 Exit 5 (26th Street) Crossroad Corridor Study

Today I delivered this to planners and consultants associated with the I-229 Exit 5 (26th Street) Crossroad Corridor Study project. If you find yourself nodding as you read it jump over to, leave a supportive comment, and Get Involved.

Local riders will want to pay particular attention to the proposed changes proximity to the bridge in Riverdale Park.


At the January 15 Study Open House there was an invitation to provide ideas and thoughts about ways to provide access to Rotary, Pasley Park, and the bike trail. Just in case nobody reads past the first 10 sentences I’ve summarized my thoughts as succinctly as possible at the beginning.

  • You must preserve the bridge that connects Riverdale Park with the bike trail near I-229. I fear that interchange option 5A overlooks this.
  • 24th Street provides excellent access to the bike trail and parks without the need to utilize 26th Street.
  • A 26th & Southeastern intersection with increased capacity and efficiency is mostly only attractive to people in cars.
  • I propose a pedestrian bridge and multi-use path connecting the area around 33rd & Yeager Road to the bike trail bridge over the river near the Tuthill Lift Station.
  • This pedestrian bridge provides some useful hidden benefits.
First and of primary importance – your option 5a for the interchange concerns me greatly because I fear losing an important bike trail access point. There is a bridge crossing that connects Riverdale Park to the bike trail. Your exit ramp begins near the footing of this bridge. You must not remove this bridge. It would be a step backward to infringe on people’s ability to get to the bike trail.

The red line indicates existing trail adjacent to the bridge footing. The yellow is the beginning of the proposed exit ramp.

Now consider for a moment 24th Street and the way it enables pedestrian and bicycle access to Rotary and Cherry Rock Parks because of the bridge at Riverdale Park. The neighborhood north of 26th Street can access the bike trail without the adventure that is 26th Street, I-229 and Southeastern Drive.

 The red lines indicate 24th Street east of Cliff Ave to the bike trail.
As a walker I cannot view increased efficiency and capacity at any 40,000 vehicle per day intersection as an improvement. 41st & Louise is hardly enjoyable. The improved 57th & Western intersection killed arguably our city’s most experienced walker in its first months. As a bicycle rider I would much rather navigate a congested 26th & Southeastern area because drivers must be alert and paying attention to their surroundings. I certainly heard clearly one meeting attendee mirroring the common mindset that unregulated right turns off I-229 and onto Southeastern would serve people well. This is a nightmare for anyone not surrounded by 4,000 pounds of glass and steel.

Second, I propose we mirror the function of 24th Street to the south of 26th Street. Do this with a pedestrian bridge and multi-use path connecting a point somewhere in the 33th Street & Yeager Road area to the bike trail bridge over the river near the Tuthill Park Lift Station.  A pedestrian bridge here would allow access to Tuthill and Pasley Parks from the west. The neighborhood south of 26th Street would benefit directly.

The red line indicates my proposed pedestrian bridges over I-229 and asphalt multi-use trail connecting the bridge to another bridge by the Tuthill Lift Station.

There are three additional less obvious benefits from having a pedestrian bridge.

The neighborhood directly west of Lincoln High School would benefit. Between Arcadia Road & 38th Street there is a signal protecting pedestrian crossing of Cliff Ave. The synergy of the Cliff Ave crossing and the Interstate crossing is the sort of “connection making” that planners and engineers should dream about.

Walkers and bicycle riders currently achieve access to the bike trail and Tuthill Park by navigating the horrible unfriendly interchange that is Cliff Ave and I-229. With this bridge the park system could be shared with residents in this part of the city without directing them through the convergence of Cliff Ave, 41st Street, and I-229.

Access to the river park system along the southern portion of the I-229 Corridor is woefully insufficient. A bridge would dramatically improve the situation. It’s time to continue to increase lower traffic volume crossings of I-229.  There are existing crossings at 6th, 12th and 18th Streets. Travelling further south there is not another opportunity for pedestrian and bike friendly crossing except for the new bridge connecting Solberg and Tallgrass Aves.

Please, let’s not miss this opportunity to advance our friendliness to people who would like to travel by foot and bicycle.

Thank you.


Michael Christensen
MPO Citizen Advisory Committee Vice-Chair
League Certified Cycling Instructor
Falls Area Bicyclists Education Committee
Sioux Falls Bicycle Committee Member