Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bike To Work Day PSA

The ad for 2009 Bike To Work Day is out. I hear rumors it might even by on television. Thanks you YouTube I don't have to turn on my TV to see it.

Isn't it beautiful!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Attention: Local Cyclists Parallel Painted Lines on the Pavement

The Boy 11 reports that remarkably The Officer visited his classroom Thursday. The Boy 11 also reports he merely considered asking Officer Pottebaum about traffic signals that don't change for cyclsts. That's good enough for me.

I have the following report to make. A couple days ago I saw an e-mail addressed to officials within the city. It said something like this:
"I have three lights that never function correctly: 37th and Minnesota, 41st and West Ave, 37th and Kiwanis. I want to report them as non-functioning."
Today I recieved the following e-mail:
"I came through 41 and West, northbound, tonight. There are two parallel painted lines on the pavement. I believe they mark exactly where the sensor is!"
1. any lines you draw between this blog and that paint are your own to draw. There is nothing official that links point a to point b.

2. if you can name a traffic control device that doesn't detect bicycles please, again, I urge you, go to this webpage and report the intersection using their form.

3. if you can't name a traffic control device that doesn't detect bicycles you really should ride your bike. Find one.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Attention: Local Cyclists

Have you ever found yourself stopped on your bike at a red light wishing it would change but knowing the sensor will never identify your presense?

If you have go here and fill out the form. You will be telling public works and traffic engineering something they might not be aware of at a time when they might be able to hear it.

If you need more context:

A city traffic engineer has increased the sensitivity of a traffic signal sensor along the on-road alternate greenway route. In the city bicycle committee e-mail group Snakebite identified that this begs the question, if it can be done here why can't it be done throughout the city?

I will only publish the words I contributed.

I said this:
Just a moment - I'll piggyback on Chris - "Every person driving a bicycle shall have all of the rights and all the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle by this Code." Assuming drivers of other vehicles can expect working traffic control devices - I suggest that traffic control devices that don't function for bicycles violate this law.

Traffic control devices that fail for cyclists teach cyclists that red lights aren't for them and put them on the slippery slope to bad habits at stop signs.

Traffic control devices that fail for cyclists teach the majority automobile operators that roadways aren't for cyclists.

Traffic control devices that don't work for cyclists put me in the awkward position as a parent as I try to teach my children cycling rules and law. It's never ok to go through a red light, but sometimes there are red lights that never change. The math gets pretty fuzzy pretty quickly here.

Happy Earth Day. Thank you.
And I said this:
Officer Pottebaum:

The more I think about this the more I must respond more broadly.

I dismiss your first two options as unreasonable within both my rightful expectation that the law applies equally to all citizens and because of the frequency with which I am forced into performing them.

In the past four years I’ve logged over 10,000 bicycle miles in your city. In the past two weeks I’ve ridden my bicycle 140 miles inside your city compared to the 1 on my automobile.

Your third option of reporting failed signals to the traffic engineer is what I will do.

Sirs: roughly 100% of your vehicle sensors fail to detect bicycles roughly 100% of the time. You have a systemic problem. Because increased sensitivity has proven to be what is necessary please, increase sensitivity across the city. I would be happy to assist in any way I possibly can with these efforts.

Perhaps better and more intentional attendance at the Sioux Falls Bicycle Committee Meetings is necessary to open up some real dialog on matters important to the bicycling community.

Thank you for your time.

Michael Christensen, local cyclist
Sioux Falls Bicycle Committee - member
Falls Area Bicyclists, Inc, - Treasurer
South Dakota Bicycle Coalition, Inc - Treasurer
Sioux Falls Bike To Work Day - de facto chair
The MinusCar Project – blogger
MPO Citizen’s Advisory Committee - member
MPO Bicycle Plan Committee – member

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Earth Day Everyday...

...but some Earth Day's are more equal than others.

I’ve just come off a beautiful couple MinusCar weeks. 1 car mile driven, 147 bike miles ridden.


Recently a few things have inspired me and this morning I found the icing to go on my cake of inspiration.

The Wheel Revolution blogger checked in with her first post in almost two years. She’s a single mom in Portland. Once upon a time she pointed to these words:
"I believe people that think that the globe is warming because of human activity, specifically carbon emitting human activity, might be right. Because I think they might be right, I think humans need to change. And because I think humans need to change, I think I need to change."
…calling them her favorite words on the Internet. Surely she’s found more interesting words since.

What I learned today is her The Boy (Leo) has Alagille Syndrome. What I also learned is this: “Because Leo loves Portland’s bike culture, we love Leo.”

And because they love Leo the riders did wonderful and amazing deeds. The riders held some stuff in common; some even gave of their possessions and goods to Leo who had needs.

Wow. Her story is here.


And then in two separate places these two sets of inspirational words popped up on the Internets.
"Great stuff, especially his mini Bible study on Jonah, the people of Ninevah, and its relationship to saving our planet. What a great way of looking at this story. What would the general condition of Christianity be if the mainstream modern American church had embraced the story of Jonah, instead of trying to interpret Revelation to fit their needs. Oh well, just a thought."

"He's big into the green movement apparently. I heard that he is friends with some lifelight workers also, but not sure on that. He seems like a rather odd fellow, kind of a fringe type.”

Finally, this Earth Day isn’t going to go by without me restating five core principles that drive The MinusCar Project.

1. Jonah’s three days in the belly of a whale taught him a valuable lesson – proving that one’s form of transportation can matter greatly – “those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good.”

2. Sabbath – imagine millions of people all over the world doing nothing every seventh day. Think of the resources the world would save.

3. Tithing – imagine millions of people all over the world giving away a tenth of everything they earn. Think of the resources the world would save.

4. Fasting – imagine millions of people all over the world regularly fasting. Think of the resources the world would save.

5. Employment – imagine millions of people all over the world quitting their high production jobs and walking around with rabbi. Think of the resources the world would save.

(I said “drive The MinusCar Project.”)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Critical Mass: Reverend Billy For NYC Mayor

November 11 2007 I posted about the Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping.

The Reverend Billy is now running to be Mayor of New York City. The Wall Street Journal featured him two days ago.

"It's hard to argue against the system he envisions.

Think for a moment about what community finance could mean for the nation: Neighborhood banks would lend to local businesses. Profits could stay in the community.

Simply knowing who your customers are and living near them could bring common sense -- the most basic and sound form of risk management -- back to banking.

Sure, it sounds kind of dreamy (OR IT SOUNDS LIKE ADAM SMITH - mc), but such systems are already in place in the neighborhoods large and small. Small businesses thrive, but they are often at the mercy of big banks who giveth and taketh credit according to shifts in economic cycles.

'The Wall Street experience is parallel and equal to the destruction of neighborhoods through chain stores,' Reverend Billy says.
It's the sort of preaching a certain delusional pastor up the street from MinusCar HQ ought to take notes from.

Reverend Billy writes in the Winter 2008 Yes! Magazine:
"What form would the Boston Tea Party take today, against our psychological traffic jam? What is our equivalent to Rosa Parks sitting in the front of the bus?...of Lenny Bruce talking dirty?...of Wangari Maathai lowering a seedling into the ground?"

"Critical Mass...the rides are peaceable assembly. Their free expression comes in an intriguing form-the act of traveling by bicycle up streets and down avenues where defenders of the internal combustion engine have built a think book of pre-emptive, car-friendly laws."
Now there's a Tea Party I'd drink to.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Plain Green 09 Part I

I look the day off work so I could attend the Plain Green 09 conference at the Washington Pavilion. I thought it might be fun to see what these folks are up to.

I judge a "green" effort by how much it consumes. I was impressed. At registration I gave them my name they gave me a badge. Nothing more. No goodie bag. No t-shirt. Not even a folder with a schedule in it.

Contrast that with a Sioux Falls Green Project effort that provided attendees with, yes just what we needed, yet another plastic bottle identifying itself as green.

There was a single centrally located board with the day's schedule. I referenced the program on the website through the freely available wi-fi.

Here are my notes as the day progressed...

The conference's platinum sponsors were SDSU and Koch/Hazard Architects making the conference student and architecture heavy.

First speaker was SDSU President David Chicoine. He's an economist and highlighted an idea from the Economist Magazine that for too long we've privatized gains from the natural environment and socialized the losses. An all too familiar idea that I hadn't heard applied to the natural environment.

The First Keynote was Colorado State University's Brian Dunbar. He's heavily focused on building green schools. I was quite happy to be in the same room with a man who shares efforts with some of my favorite people, most notable Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute.

He highlighted Richard Louv's book Last Child In the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder which seems interesting enough. I once had an eye opening experience as I walked into a wooded area with The Boys in the middle of Spencer Park - soccer games and hundreds of people 100 yards away - and they seemed fearful.

He said, we must "drop the wall between the natural and the built environment." Yes!

He highlighted Happy Feet Plus - the first LEED certified retail store in the country.

He highlighed the famous to cyclists New Belgium Brewing Company. Featuring the quote "making our love manifest" the company has some very lofty sustainability goals and some even more compeling company core values.

Finally, before lunch were much shorter, much less polished, much more passionate talks from Sanaa - of Sanaa's Resturant and Pat Garrity a local foods advocate and farmer from Mission Hill. What I didn't know about Sanaa is she gets her veggies from the Farmer's Market and her back yard is a vegetable garden. What I didn't know about Garrity is for him it's personal - which to me didn't play all that well in that setting. Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life contains the right amount of sugar to make that medicine go down. She brought me around to Pat's way of thinking a year and a half ago.

Next - maybe - Part II - including awards for best presentation and most needed reality check.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Enjoy. Donuts.

Rode for coffee and donuts this morning with some of the usual suspects and a couple surprises.

Adam grew up in Sioux Falls, moved to Denver and discovered bicycling. He's back for Easter and searched The Internets for a group ride. He found one that goes for coffee and donuts.

It looked like this today.

A bit like a donut. Maybe?

...and then I asked him if he knows the one cyclists I know of in Denver. He doesn't. I think that's the only dumb question I asked today.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Community Happening

Sometimes animals don't look either. Tonight as I was riding home two ducks rose from the ground. The first changed course when it saw me leaving me wondering how close it seemed to be to hitting me. As my attention moved to the second duck I realized this one was actually going to hit me. I closed my eyes, turned my head, performed some sort of evasive maneuver, I (yes) ducked, and braced for an impact that never came.

I don't know how close it was because my eyes were closed and my head was tucked. I'm probably lucky I didn't come off my bike. To be fair to the ducks my lighting was truly inadequate for the conditions.


I think I've got this right...

Yesterday evening there were people sweeping roads for imminent first of a monthly series of criterium bicycle races in a northeast industrial park.

Yesterday evening there were people sticking and stamping the spring newsletter of the Falls Area Bicyclists.

This evening there was a planning meeting for the May Bike To Work Day.

This evening there was a bicycle ride hosted by a city planner. We toured the on-road alternate route being created as a way around the soon to be closed-due-to-construction multi-use path.

Tomorrow evening is the first ever run of the monthly Central Plains Cycling criterium. I was going to attend until The Boy 7's next soccer practice landed on the same day.

It's a big week for local cycling.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

1Q 09

This is the forth winter of The MinusCar Project. The Minus Car went 484 miles in the first quarter of 2009. That's 110 fewer miles than 2008 which was the previous JanFebMar low. Another new high in low. I attribute this success to assimilating and solidifying the routine of riding with The Wife and grabbing the bus from downtown to work.

In the quest for the 8-tank-of-gas-year this chart shows I'm right on pace. At the end of last year I lamented a 242 mile February. This year extra miles transferred to March but inhospitable weather in March is better than bad February weather.

I was a little nervous about adding 3 weekly trips to the trainer to the schedule. I'm told that the more meetings a person has the harder it is to enjoy life from the seat of a bicycle. So far I'm winning that battle with my schedule - although I have suffered some pretty chilly walks from shop to gym. That's ok though 'cause I've got the Rocky IV Soundtrack on my iPod.

(heh heh, that sounded like such a good idea I'm actually going to put it on my iPod. "Training Montage" anyone?)

A highlight of this past week was a 26 mile bike day. I headed out to CycleSD's place of employement over lunch. It ended up being a bit further than I expected, plus it was primarily into a decent north wind. I think his address is Sioux Falls but I'm pretty sure I could see the high waters of Fargo from their front door. Next time DW - I'm waiting to meet for lunch to play bicycle courier.


Friday, April 03, 2009

I Support Snakebite!

Sam & City:

Thank you very much for hosting the open house at Oyate Community Center. Unfortunately I was unable to attend but I understand many interested cyclists were there. It sure is nice to see people out learning the process and showing their concern. Thanks for the teachable moment!

Chris Pierson mentioned to me that the current plan for the greenway trail going north from 41st along the country club golf course is to place the asphalt along the down slope on the river side of the dike. I would like to echo Chris’ and other cyclists concern that this is an unfortunate development.

Please change the plan. Put the path on top.

First, when the snow melts and runners, walkers, cyclists are itching to enjoy the first tastes of spring we’re Pavlov’s dogs – we know that the west path clears of snow and dries first. It’s where people go that teaser of a 60-degree day in February to enjoy some of what the city offers.

I agree with my cycling friends that under the new plan snowmelt runoff will subject the trail to icy conditions much longer than necessary.

Please change the plan. Put the path on top.

Second, rider safety, part 1 - ice. It seems I have the same conversation at least once a year. People know I ride a lot. I’m approached often in the spring by someone with a new bike anxious to ride the famed path. Please be aware, the path under the bridges will be slippery. This year a friend new to biking crashed. I said – let me guess, under a greenway bridge? Indeed. Please don’t put that long stretch of trail on the down slope and subject that section to the same icy conditions.

Please change the plan. Put the path on top.

Third, rider safety, part 2 – golf. The number of bicycle safety measures that are counter-intuitive amazes me. Want drivers to stop buzzing you? It’s more practicable to ride further from the curb. I’d like to suggest the counter-intuitive new danger of a down slope path. For the past (has it been?) 20 years golfers and cyclists were aware of each other on that stretch. Occasionally a path user gets buzzed by an errant tee shot; I imagine less often someone gets struck. I strongly suggest to you that putting users out of site of golfers could increase the danger. Golfer’s are surely looking forward to fewer distractions along those holes. Now they will be able to swing away in blissful ignorance of path users. Blissfully ignorant path users, soon can be struck by blissfully, ignorant and anonymously hit golf balls. A plus for the golfer, a minus for path safety.

I’d rather live as a community. A community where path users know that people golf and people who golf know that path users walk, ride, run, skate...

Please change the plan. Put the path on top.

Thank you.

Michael Christensen, local cyclist
Sioux Falls Bicycle Committee - Member
MPO Citizen’s Advisory Committee - Member
Falls Area Bicyclists, Inc, - Treasurer
South Dakota Bicycle Coalition, Inc - Treasurer
Sioux Falls Bike To Work Day - de facto chair
The MinusCar Project - blogger


Yeah, I'm trying out a new signature. Kinda arrogant, no? I'm thinking I'll try it one more time in a letter to a traffic engineer and the city attorney...coming soon. I'll report how it's recieved too - or just check the comments.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

"Room Rage" & "Road Witches"

I've found a new person to add to my "interesting people to watch for" list. This embeded video, similar to a TED Talk is Ted Dewan at the 2006 GEL Conference.

The big payoff line at the end - "...we'll prick some holes in the popular delusion that roads are primarily for cars and not for life."

In my own city The Mayor himself is being forced to testify about our single installation of red light cameras.

January and February this year identified 487 violations. 487 represents more than 8 runs a day. This is 300 fewer than the same time period last year. Even with a 10% drop in travel this still represents a significant improvement.

I really like what this guy is doing. It's a 20 minute video but (look out world!) it's entertaining enough for an 11-year-old. I know because The Boy 11 looked over my shoulder and stayed for the duration.


h/t Tom Vanderbilt, author and blogger at the most excellent "How We Drive"