Sunday, December 01, 2013

I-229 Major Investment Corridor Study: Get Involved

I got involved.

Today I visited the website for the I-229 Major Investment Corridor Study then I clicked on the Get Involved link.

Then I got involved.

Well, actually I left my name, address and a bunch of text in the form. But I thought the text was important, in the sense that relatively few people involved in the study will offer the same thoughts I do. And heck, even though the game is rigged, there's no way cyclists and win if they don't play.

I like to play.

Here are the comments I submitted:

Please include Cliff Ave in the study: because the Cliff Ave interchange is so similar to the Minnesota Ave interchange I am surprised that it is not being included in this study. I understand there may be vehicular factors that logically cause its exclusion, however the issues faced by pedestrians and bicyclists are the same as Minnesota Ave interchange.  Consider bike & pedestrian volume and crash data in your analysis, please.

Minnesota Ave & Cliff Ave proximity to bike trail: please recognize and plan to include better movement or access from north of I-229 to the bike trail south of I-229. I-229 blocks a major path of desire for non-motorized access to the city's best and more frequently used park feature. Fix it. Add width to the outside lanes on Minnesota Ave. Add better sidewalk visibility and controls.

Bridges: add pedestrian bridges over I-229 south from West Ave, south from Phillips Ave, and east from 35th St. It’s hard for me to believe justification exists for the pedestrian bridge west from Teem Drive over I-29 that doesn’t exists for any of these three possibilities.

It's free! Get involved.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Goodbye Walker Guy

A The MinusCar Project hero has died. Most people would know him as the guy they see walking all the time in the 49th St & Kiwanis Ave area. His fatal injury at 57th & Western is a reminder to me that the work of making streets more safe for riders and walkers is not only good for people who own $3000 bicycles - it is also work necessary to do for voiceless people who own shoes.

I consider it likely that this summer’s reconfiguration and added capacity of the 57th & Western intersection may have been enough to confuse a guy who'd walked through that intersection 1,000 times before. Sure, they say he was crossing against a light – as a guy who’s done a fair bit of transportational walking in this city – to me, crossing against a light means quite a few more things than simply, he was doing it wrong.

How we build our streets matters. To most of us it matters because we want to get to and from work as fast as possible because driving sucks do badly. To people like David, streets matter because walking itself is what brought him life.

To people like me it matters because a person cannot have life and liberty if the consequence of pursuing happiness is so high.

To Kevin Rogers, James McInnes and now David Stitt – I toast you all and continue to believe you all deserved better.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pop Quiz

You're sitting at a very large round table with the White House appointed Federal Highway Administrator. Also at the table are the highest level of state and local transportation officials. You are a transportation hobbyist, a dude who rides his bike around, and maybe you're the only one there that isn't in a suit.

You get one question.

What do you do?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

South DaCola's "Riverdale Park Chain of Death"

Plopped in my inbox was a request for comment regarding a post, "Riverdale Park chain of death" by the very famous South DaCola blogger. The post identifies the very legitimate concern of a chain being placed across a road in Riverdale Park. A road very popular to riders accessing the bike trail loop.

Telling is Detroit Lewis' response when informed via an anonymous comment that the chain had been removed. "That’s because the [Argus Leader] was going to do a story about it." No, it's because you posted about it on your blog. Dude, learn to declare victory. You deserve it.

Here's the Argus Leader blogger reportage about the situation: "Chain across trail alarms cyclists"

A side note: the reporter also did a nice write up of our coming Falls Area Singletrack trail building effort: And in other bike trail news

Here is my full original response to the full content of South DaCola post:

Thanks for the link to that post. I read it with interest. I have not heard anything about that chain at Riverdale Park or anyone running into the chain.  Surely an invisible chain across a path of desire is a hazard and ought to be remedied. It's only a concern to me if parks refuses to remedy it. It is my experience that they are responsive to issues like this.

Hopefully the person who ran into the chain did the responsible thing and reported it to The City. Also hopefully the person who ran into the chain did it within the hours of operation of the park - hours that tend to be during daylight. Hopefully the person who ran into the chain, if it was night, was riding with proper lights, fore and aft.

As far as the bike friendliness of the city goes: I ride a few thousand miles each year within the city limits and I rarely have bad experiences. Most bad experiences come from sidewalk riding or riding on the road unpredictably or too far to the right.

As far as The City receiving awards: the League of American Bicyclists awarded Sioux Falls the Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community award a few years ago. The City applied for this award. The League reviewed the application. The League invited the local cycling community to weigh in on the application. The League selected Sioux Falls as a winner. This award is up for renewal right now and the same process is being followed.

The best way to make the city more bike friendly for local riders is for local riders to become involved in making the city more bike friendly. The City planning department meets regularly with riders to get input and feedback about city government bicycle plans and efforts. Most of the riders willing to put time and effort into a bike friendly Sioux Falls go to these meetings.

The local bike club Falls Area Bicyclists (FAB) is in need of board members and regular members who are willing to put effort in to making Sioux Falls more bicycle friendly. The FAB board is poised for radical change this fall and can use the help of a few energetic people.

The worst way to make the city more bike friendly for local riders is for local riders to go out riding thinking someone else is doing the work...

If you'd like more commentary please call me.

Michael Christensen
League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructor #2540
SECOG Metropolitan Planning Organization Citizens Advisory Committee Vice-Chair
Falls Area Singletrack, treasurer
South Dakota Bicycle Coalition, treasurer

Monday, July 01, 2013


Bicycles May Use Full Lane

I was out and about today during rush hour. I missed a turn and found myself trying to cross 41st Street on Spring Ave instead of the nearby controlled Norton Ave intersection.

It quickly became apparent that it would be more safe to turn right than to try to cross five lanes of traffic. So I joined the Avid Drivers of 41st Street Traffic.

In this sort of situation two things are paramount. Predictability and visibility.

The picture above is from a few minutes later at 37th & Minnesota Ave. When that light turns green what is everybody going to do? Who's turning right? Who's going straight? Would you bet that rider's life on it? Some drivers would - but really most drivers just plain can't see him.

Here's my view of 41st Street. I'm about 5 car lengths from Minnesota Ave. This is my second light cycle. By now I've had time to meet everyone around me. We've posed for photos, given each other nods, talked up our kids.

Even the driver way up there across the intersection that might possibly be crossing my path when they turn left has gotten used to the idea of me being there.

And then, as if to affirm my visibility Falls Area Singletrack board member and friend Brad, two cars ahead stuck his head out his window, turned around, and waved hello.

Use the full lane. Visibility matters.

Incidentally I got to wave back at Brad when I turned left and passed him at the Phillips Ave intersection. Rush hour traffic is great because everybody moves slow.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Learning To Ride

The Boy 15 and I have been practicing our urban riding a lot this summer. Lots of people learn to ride when they're 5. Kids in my house don't learn to ride until after Driver's Ed and a whole bunch of stopping at red lights and stop signs. Plenty of right and left turn signaling. Controlling and sharing lanes - only when it's safe - and the occasional negotiation with a driver.

This route features lots of residential roads, some 40 mph arterials, some multi-use trail and a little bit of playground. There's a full service bike lane and some shared bike/car parking pavement markings.

There is gravel in the intersections, water in the corners, and cracks in the street.

Also, he's becoming quite the riding buddy. He's learning when it's cool to ride close and when it's not.

Bike it!

My Strava KOM is also here - so we do get to race to a summit.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Helmet Skills 101

Do you wear your helmet backwards? I'm looking at you well known local Tour daKota rider from a few years back.

What if the local news were to do a story about some neat cycling thing and there you are... the daily news getting it backwards?

In Smart Cycling classes we start at the beginning - we put our helmets on right and adjust them to fit all proper like.

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Tale of Two Walgreens

Just rode through the Walgreens Rx drive-thru with the family to pick up a prescription. When the transaction was complete the pharmacist wanted to add another comment.

Considering the spectacle of four people on bikes at the pharmacy drive-thru window I steeled myself for what I thought would be the inevitable "please don't bike in our drive up."

Instead he offered - next time you bike through you can push that button to call us. Our sensor only detects cars.

"41st and Louise says don't bike in their drive thru", I said.

"I don't care about them", he said.

"Neither do I." I'm a big fan of my neighborhood Walgreens.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

It's On: Cycle Smarter with Smart Cycling

The League of American Bicyclists says:

"Traffic Skills 101 (TS101) gives cyclists the confidence they need to ride safely and legally in traffic or on the trail. Through TS101, students learn how to conduct bicycle safety checks, fix a flat, on-bike skills and crash avoidance techniques. We recommended this class for adults and children above age fourteen. The curriculum is fast-paced, nine-hours, and prepares cyclists for a full understanding of vehicular cycling."

City councilor Greg Jamison says:

League of American Bicyclists: Smart Cycling: Traffic Skills 101

League Cycling Instructor & Falls Area Bicyclists Advocate of the Year: Michael Christensen

NO COST: thank you Center of Hope for not charging me for the space.

The nine hour class begins Friday, June 7 from 5pm to 8pm and continues Saturday, June 8 from 9am to 4pm.

Downtown Sioux Falls at the Center of Hope, 225 E 11th St Suite 101, Sioux Falls, SD 57104 - see map.


Bring a bike and a helmet - it's required.

We'll spend time in a classroom.

We'll spend time in a parking lot doing bike handling.

We'll spend time on the streets practicing lane positioning.


Join us in the class - e-mail Michael at

Friday, May 17, 2013

Bike To Work Tips

I use these. 

Also, after taking the photo put them back in your bag so tomorrow you'll be able to use them again.

Oops. Hope all my meetings are phone calls today.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Visibility & Predictability Statement

I read this statement to the Citizen Advisory Committee of the Metropolitan Planning Organization. It went ok. Maybe this statement has a brighter future than I thought...


In light of a recent well reported incident involving a bike rider and a truck driver I’d like to take a few minutes of your time and remind you of a few things about safe bicycle riding.

First, people on bicycles fare best when they act like and are treated like drivers of other vehicles. The two major factors that go into people on bikes acting like vehicles are riding visibly and riding predictably.

A person on a bicycle that is stopped at an intersection or riding down the road is most safe when they have positioned their body in the lane similarly to where they would be if they were driving a car. This position communicates the future direction of travel - predictability - and allows the rider to see and be seen by all other drivers on the road - visibility.


People might ask - what about riding to the right? Indeed the law requires riders to ride to the right when it’s safe. The law describes many situations that are not safe, including when a lane cannot be safely shared side by side with another vehicle. How wide is safe? Drivers vehicles are at least 7 feet of width, riders are 3. Add some space to the drivers left to keep away from cars, add some space to the drivers right to keep away from the rider. Now we’re over 14 feet - most lanes in the city are 10 or 12 feet wide and not safe.

People might ask - what about riding on high volume roads? High volume roads are intimidating to many. However, high volume roads can limit the speed and sudden movements of drivers. A competent, visible and predictable rider can often intermingle with traffic more easily in high volume situations.


I have two requests...

First, please be supportive of safe, responsible and legal cycling. Do this in your conversations with citizens. If a person complains to you about all the nasty bicycles - ask questions. Find out if the complainer is talking about visible and predictable cycling. If they are, respond informatively. This costs nothing and contributes to the well being of the community.

Second, it is an institutional design choice that the only way to get into the city from the south and west is by travelling on high volume arterial roads. You are people who can begin to change this. If you need help imagining something different consider the 12th and 18th Street bridges over I-229 to the east or the pedestrian bridge over I-29 in the northwest.

Mostly though, I ask that you be supportive of predictable and visible cycling.

Thank you.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

100 Eyes on Bicycle Safety

A few days ago I sat down with Argus Leader Managing Editor Patrick Lalley and talked safe bicycling.  Here. Now. For your viewing pleasure...

Watch live streaming video from sdpolitics at

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bicycle Law Revisions: (sub)Standard & 3ft Minimum

I recorded this quite a while ago and kept it private because I didn't like a bit of it. Today I watched again and my standards must be lower so I'm publishing it. The proposed laws I talk about are now REAL laws.

It's a narrated bike video journey on west 26th Street, Louise Ave and 41st Street. In it I demonstrate lanes that are wide enough to safely share and lanes that are not.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Day 10 of #30DaysOfBiking

Today's ride was adventuresome.

It was so bad, what usually takes me 25 minutes took 45!

The ice was thick, but really only the first 1/10th of an inch on the road matters.

I shot a Vine.

While I was stopped and posting it a dog walker approached. It was my city traffic engineer! He's managing a 24 hours a day crew right now. Sounds like traffic signals don't like the weather either. It's never bad to be a face for city officials to think of when they're thinking of road users, eh?

The bike trail surface proved more predictable than roads - which is to say for 20 minutes I rode knowing the slightest error would dump me on the pavement.

Still I averaged 10mph which is fast enough to actually get somewhere.

I saw two separate bike tracks - I was not alone.

Riding in this was extreme, no doubt. I didn't fall and dabbed a few times. The Pugsley tires are 4 inches wide and not studded. It's important to keep centered over the top of the bike. I don't expect to turn with any speed, not even small adjustments. Wind and cambered surface can push me in directions I don't want to go, but I accept that until I can scrub enough speed to make a course correction.

If the windspeed would have been more and the temperature less I would not have ridden.

Happy 30 Days of Biking. It really is joyful.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Substandard Width Lanes

South Dakota law says a rider can move from the right-hand curb or edge of roadway when the lane is substandard width.

South Dakota law defines a substandard width lane as a lane that is too narrow to safely share side by side with another vehicle.

The question at hand; what is “too narrow?”

Determining too narrow is more of an art than a science.

If the driver or rider is drunk, texting, sleeping, talking on the phone, or fighting with the kids in the back seat there’s not enough pavement in the world to make a lane wide enough to safely share side by side with that vehicle.

Speed plays a role too. It is much easier to share a lane side by side with a car going 20mph than a car going 80mph.

The ability of a rider to ride predictably straight also plays a role.

Let’s see if we can find an empirical width. In feet. Something we can put a tape measure to.

1. How many feet do you need to your right between you and the curb to feel like you’re riding safely?

2. How many feet wide are you?

3. How many feet do you need to your left between you and a passing car?

4. How many feet wide is a passing car?

Typically when these four numbers are added together you’ll get between 14’ and 18’. The bike safety experts I know will readily agree that a 14’ lane can usually easily be shared side by side with a car.

Fact: MOST South Dakota lanes are 10’ or 12’. So, which lanes are too narrow to safely share side by side by a bicycle and a car? MOST.


Here’s how I apply this to the way I ride.

I look ahead as far as I can see and pick the left most lane position that will afford me safe passage by any obstacles to my right. Most often it’s a parked car so leftward enough to safely pass if the car door opens while I’m riding by.

Any driver that sees me immediately realizes there is not enough space in the lane to pass me. Expectations are set.

When I become aware of a driver behind me I evaluate the situation. Can I safely move to the right to give the driver more space to pass? When can I safely move to the right to give the driver more space to pass?

When I can move right, I do move right.