Saturday, April 29, 2006

Report: March 13-April 23

Trips -
MinusCar: 43
Multi-occupant Auto: 51
Single occupant Auto: 27

I’ve been slacking off on these reports since mid March. I’ve been a little bit frustrated with my recent results. Those weeks at the end of winter were pretty rocky too. So here’s a big report to get me caught up. It encompasses the past six weeks.

My Car Miles: 245
My Bike Miles/Hours: 318.2/21.3

Friday, April 28, 2006

Someone Gets It In the Senate

Pop Quiz: which US Senator said these words about high gas prices on April 27th?

“[The truth is] there probably aren’t a lot of short term solutions to this problem.”

“The bottom line is that the United States, which has about 3% of the oil reserves in the world, consumes 25% of the oil. We are not going to be able to pump our way out of this problem.”

He gives three reasons why we need to ween ourselves off oil. His final one: "oil is a major contributor to global warming. It’s helping us along the road to global catastrophe." Yes, it’s his last of three, but at least it made the list.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

KSFY v The MinusCar Project

Something pretty bizarre happened to me today. I was checking out the local television news before supper tonight and their obligatory high gas prices story segued into a story about a guy, right here in my town that has chosen the bicycle as his primary form of transportation.

Get this; the fourth paragraph, “That decision came last January, when Mike says he realized global warming and climate change were real problems. He decided it was time to make a lifestyle change.” This guy sounds a little like me!

He even runs a blog called The MinusCar Project.

Quick Notes

Red Light, Missed Chance – in January I mentioned my not so secret desire to someday be cited for riding through a red light. Yesterday morning I dutifully waited at a red light I often enjoy. It wasn’t until I saw a police cruiser that I remembered that this red light doesn’t turn green for bicycles. By then it would have been illegal AND unsafe to ride through. So I didn’t until the officer had gone by.

Red Light, Shared Frustration – on the way home as I waited for clear passage at another red light that doesn’t change for bicycles a motorcycle approached on the other side of the intersection to turn left. That rider parked right on the sensor. My custom at these lights when there are vehicles present is to wait and let them trip the light. We both waited through a couple cycles of the walk/don’t walk sign. Finally the motorcyclist shrugged at me and performed his left turn on red. I agreed and performed my crossing on red as well.

Are the Times Changing? – this morning as I waited amongst heavy traffic for a light a guy in a minivan next to me said, “Hey, can I ask you a question?” The light turned green and I had to slow down to wait for his question. “Where did you get those full length bike pants?” Ummmm…that is very likely to be the first time someone in a car has said something to me that wasn’t an instruction! I can only conclude that I must have been looking pretty good this morning.


I celebrated my 21st birthday tonight with my good friends /kt and DDD. There are 51 years of friendship between me and those two guys. If you're good at story problems you might be inclined to think I'm lying about my age so here's proof.

(Yes, that's what cake looks like to a cell phone. No wonder cell phones keep getting thinner!)

Previous to the cake, we went to the local iteration of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. Good shows if you like that sort of thing. And still pretty good if you don't.

After that we hit Johnny Carino's for appetizers and beverages. Did you know they stop serving food at 10pm? Did you also know that they happily bring you beverages before they tell you they're not serving food? Yeah. They will.

So we self corrected and went to Granite City for food. They made us cake. We had fun. I missed The Guy With the Pink Bike for a moment.

Thanks for the perspective boys. You're the best!

Monday, April 24, 2006

12-Year-Olds vs. Police Cars

My previous post "Sidewalks & Cycling" led to some interesting comments which led me through some pretty enjoyable thought exercises.

Referring to the 12-year-old kid cited for failing to yield to a vehicle, an anonymous commenter lamented, "Does anyone really think it was his fault?"

In my response to my friend Michael's push back about $100 oil I suggested the transportation infrastructure was good enough, a better and cheaper place to start would be by creating more attentive, patient, and sober drivers.

After all, cars don't kill people, people kill people.

So here’s the question that came to mind as I was dodging cars on my way home from work today:

When the 12-year-old ran into the police car, was the police officer dividing his/her attention between the road and a cell phone?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Sidewalks & Cycling

So much to write about…so little time.

September 4, 2005 I described my reasons for why I choose not to ride by bicycle on sidewalks.

Monday night I pointed out the (un)happy article “Reasons why we have sidewalks” in the University of South Dakota’s student newspaper.

Tuesday afternoon the author of the offending article left me a pretty nice response attached to the post as a comment.

Tuesday night a 12-year-old on a bicycle ran into a police car that had turned into his path, was cited and will be required to attend a bicycle safety course.

Yes, that’s right, riding a bike on a sidewalk, crossing the street in a crosswalk, collides with a police car that turns into his path, and it’s his fault. Why?

According to this news account he was cited for violating this law: “a person driving a bicycle upon a sidewalk shall stop before entering a crosswalk or highway from a sidewalk and must yield to all traffic therein.”

Do you get that? It can be argued that any contact, ever, between a vehicle and a bicycle coming from a sidewalk into a crosswalk, is the bicycle rider’s fault, because of failure to yield.

Add to that, this part of the same ordinance: “a person driving a bicycle upon a sidewalk shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian.”

Put these two laws in a pot and mix ‘em up and what do you have? A good argument that any bicycle, ridden on a sidewalk, has no rights. Any contact between the bike and a pedestrian is the bike’s fault for failure to yield. Any contact between the bike and a vehicle is the bike’s fault for failure to yield.

Sidewalks do not support efficient use of the most efficient vehicle in existence.

Do I think that 12-year-old should have been riding on the road? Not the one he got hit on, but maybe there could have been an alternate choice.

Do I think the car culture needs to change so that the 12-year-old can ride on the road? Yes.

Do I think the car culture will change? Well, there are a lot of reasons I hope for $100/barrel oil.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

For Want Of A Car

It started Sunday with the disappearance of half my keys…the house key being one of them. The house key isn’t all that important to me right now because The Wife is always home before I get there. She usually lets me in.

Yeah, I said always. By always I mean always, except for when she’s not.

The Wife called me today to let me know she’s heading into a late meeting so I’ll need to pick up The Boys. Not a problem, that routine is well practiced. Depart work early enough to ride home, switch to The Car, and do the pick up loop.

Part way home I realize I don’t have a house key. Fine, I’ll pick them up and we’ll wait in the car, out of the cold, wind and rain until she arrives. Ah, the car…by car I mean The Car, the one safely locked inside the garage. The garage being included in the list of things I currently lack a key for.

Hear that? That’s the sound of the MinusCar Soundtrack switching from symphony to jazz.

Initially I changed course to theft The Wife’s car. That ended up being a time waster (more bike miles!) because 1. bike transport becomes more difficult without a key to unlock the bike transport mechanism, 2. thefting that car requires a return trip to retrieve The Wife…not congruent with The MinusCar Project.

Bike to daycare, leave bike behind, ride cab with The Boy 4 to school, linger at school as long as possible by playing Lego’s with The Boy 8 and watching The Boy 4 beat a first grader three times at Connect 4 (he had help; first grader was sporting but not pleased), shorten the walk home by counting concrete squares, lots of concrete squares, just as The Boy 4 settles in for a ride on the shoulders The Wife appears for the save.

Funny thing about MinusCar…community returns.

I have a full set of keys again.

A State University Education

A funny thing happened in the college town of Vermillion this week. An Assistant Editor of the Student Newspaper published an invitation for cyclists to ride on the sidewalk. That an a few other tidbits. Here:
I don't think I'm the only one who wants to run over the fellow on the bike riding in front of my car down Clark Street.
[That bike] can't go as fast as my Monte Carlo and if you give me a look for following too closely I might have to prove it.
I've never actually love tapped your 10-speed. But, believe me, I've thought about it. I dream about it every time I get stuck behind you when I'm late for class.
Next time I see one of those guys go through a stop sign, I'm going to follow them and run them over.
Pretty neat huh?

The article is here. The author's e-mail address is published with the article too.

If you send her an e-mail be sure to mention that you agree cyclists should properly stop at red lights and stop signs.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Cuba, Community & Solutions

My daily blog round-up led me to an article about what has occurred in Cuba after the fall of the Soviet Union. The fall left Cuba with 50% less oil imports and 85% less trade. Apparently the average Cuban lost 30 pounds – how long ‘till we can market that as a diet, The South South Beach Diet?

Seriously, this is exciting stuff…I like the hopeful parts.

Thanks Sasquatch & Nathan!

The original article appeared in The Permaculture Activist.

The article was reprinted by the Energy Bulletin and Global Public Media.

The articles rely heavily on the story told by a soon to be released documentary film: “The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil”.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Sick One Gets It Too

The Boy 4 came up sick today. I took the call at work, hopped on the bike to retrieve The Wife's car, and recovered The Boy 4 from the floor of the preschool director's office. On the way home he suggested we leave The Wife's car with her and walk the rest of the way home...roughly 4 1/2 miles.

Ummm...yeah, while that sounds like a great idea I think it might be a little too much for a sick 4-year-old.


He get's it. I like that.

MinusCar Saturday

Saturday morning I replaced The Boys desktop PC with an inherited laptop. I re-wired my desktop PC and household entertainment center so that the unnecessary components could be completely turned off with a power strip. I also unplugged all my recharging power transformers and created a re-charging station. It’s not much but it didn’t cost me a darn thing either.

Oh, and I reconfigured all the household PC’s to hibernate when the power button is pushed. This gives me all the energy savings of a power off without the hassle of a reboot. It’s not much but it didn’t cost me a darn thing either.

That afternoon The Wife needed to work a few hours and The Boy 8 had a party to go to, all downtown. We parked at The Wife’s work and quickly decided we’d kill the 30 minutes to party time by walking to it. That was The Boy 8’s idea. I think he might know what’s up.

On the way we balanced on every retaining wall we could find. We surveyed the damage that skateboarding does to the walls too. We were pleasantly surprised to find the SF Fire Rescue ladder truck (with ladder extended) on display, and stopped to explore the truck and chat with the nice firemens.

After leaving The Boy 8 at his party The Boy 4 and I were left to wander around downtown. We explored for awhile, hit a few locally owned shops, checked out some sculptures and 3 hours later we ended up all together back at the car.

If I was willing to drive more I could have experienced 42 miles of driving and come home and gotten an hours worth of work done while The Boy 4 watched TV or something.

Hmmmmm…I kinda like this MinusCar Project thing.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

George v Paris Roubaix

For 200km George Hincapie had one of the lightest strongest steerer tubes technology could buy. With 45km to go, George had two(!) of the lightest strongest steerer tubes, he just couldn't find a way to make either of them work while still remaining competitive in a world class race.

DNF. Bummer. 364 days till next P-R.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Paris Roubaix v George

My favorite professional bike racer George Hincapie rides his favorite race Paris Roubaix tomorrow. He finished 2nd last year. He's finished top ten most of that past 10 years.

Go George!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Small Wind

The Other Tyler Hamilton types on his keyboard and broadens my world again. Over at the Clean Break Blog he talks about "small wind" which is residence-scale wind energy.


He claims that the growing interest in helped Southwest Windpower in Flagstaff, AZ attract an $8 million venture capital investment.

How is your portfolio doing?

It turns out there's even a dealer in my state (the other side).

Remember the good old days before cable television when people had large antennas hanging over their homes? Yeah, there's probably one in your neighborhood still attached to the home belonging to everybody's least favorite neighbor.

Honey? How would you like to be everybody's least favorite neighbor?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Mood: Elevated

I rode to lunch today. I went to KFC, two blocks away from work, and grabbed two Buffalo Snackers. I had to get them to-go because I was running out of time. It took me almost an hour to ride those two blocks. I musta got lost.

The TransitLibrarian clued me in to a "Make Your Own Ad" Contest that Chevy is running for their new Tahoe. Many of the "good" ones have magically disappeared but here are two that seem to have staying power:

"Notice what's missing? Nobody's walking..."

"Like this snowy wilderness? Better get your fill of it now..." (sorry mom. Bad language at the end of this one.)

The Boys played outside in the sun today. It was obvious that The Boy 4 had a long winter. Smiles all around, thank you very much.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Climate Change In the...Everywhere

Yo Dick. This isn’t your grandfather’s energy crisis – first off, New York Times Foreign Affairs Columnist Thomas Friedman was on NPR’s Fresh Air March 30th. The main topic was the situation in Iraq. Buried at the end (unfortunately) of the interview Mr. Friedman rants on current energy policy. It is very good. Here is a snippet (mp3), but go and listen to the whole thing. (Thanks to The Dad for the snippet and the alert.)

Clif Bar - why CyclingNews removed the Climate Neutral Sea Otter Classic article I don't know. I discovered a suitable replacement at Bicycle Retailer. Their claim that a $2 Cool Tag offsets 300 miles of car travel is interesting. I think The MinusCar Project will celebrate climate neutrality on its first anniversary.

NativeEnergy - the money from Cool Tags purchased from Clif Bar goes to NativeEnergy an organization that is helping to fund the St Francis Wind Farm in South Dakota. If you go to their website please realize the frustration you feel is due to a very poorly designed website.