Sunday, October 31, 2010

Open letter to the City of Minneapolis

Earlier this week, a cyclist was killed in the recently redesigned bike lane on Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis.

Police said the bicyclist and a Quicksilver Express Courier delivery truck were southbound on 1st Avenue about 2:30 p.m. when the truck turned right, striking the cyclist in the intersection.

The cyclist was in a designated bike lane on the right side of the road as he approached the intersection, police said.

The definition of this type of accident, in cycling terms, is a Right Hook. The fact that it has a name shows that it's something that happens far too often. And in Minneapolis, not only is there the opportunity for a right hook, but a less common left hook as well thanks to several high use bike lanes located on the left side of one way streets. On my commute I ride past the ghost bike for Dennis Dumm, who was also killed by a truck while riding in a designated bike lane.

The City of Portland had a similar issue in 2007, when 3 cyclists were right hooked in designated bike lanes. Two died, and one was seriously injured. This caused Portland to install "bike boxes" at several intersections. A bike box is nothing more than green paint which allows cyclists to pull ahead at a light and have a spot that is visible and out of the blind spot of cars. Do they work?

Increasingly, the answer appears to be a resounding “Yes!” On the heels of that tragic autumn of 2007, there were no cyclist fatalities in Portland in 2008. Since then, there have been some cyclist fatalities in Portland—but there hasn’t been a single right-hook fatality at any bike box. Moreover, a study recently conducted by the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation at Portland State University has confirmed that bike boxes work. Researchers found that both motorists and cyclists exhibit high rates of compliance and understanding about bike boxes, with motorists exhibiting an increase in the rate of yielding, and both motorists and cyclists indicating that they perceive the intersections to be safer with the bike boxes installed.

Minneapolis was voted the #1 cycling city in the United States this year. But, if something isn't done to make cycling safer, something as simple and cheap and effective as a bike box, that designation will seem somewhat hollow.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New link for ya

If you're not already reading The Old 3 Speed Gallery, you should be. And if you have a 3 speed that hasn't been featured there yet, let me know. Somehow I'm now in charge.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I found a quick link to an article about taxes and biking. Most every cyclist has heard the old "bikes shouldn't ride on the road, they don't pay taxes" argument. This short, easily readable argument shows why road costs are actually improved by cyclists.

I think there are probably flaws in this argument. The author states that 6-7% of road taxes are paid by motorists, and increasing cyclists wouldn't amount to a significant decrease in this. And the remaining 93-94% is paid by property taxes and the general fund. But later she says that we would need 12 cyclists for every driver to balance the street budgets. Something's got to give. But it's still interesting.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Bloggy blog blog

It's been kind of a bloggy week this week, almost like the old heyday of the blog. I biked to work all 4 days I went into the office, first time that's happened in I can't remember when. And the day I worked from home I went for a run with the Mrs., so I didn't even slack off that day!

Monday the temp was 42 degrees when I walked out the door. It was a cool morning and I was glad I walked back into the house and grabbed my vest. Mainly because it had my full finger gloves in the pocket, which I stopped and put on about a mile into the ride. And I kept them on the whole way into work. Quite a contrast to Friday, when we had a high temp of 85.

One of the more exciting things about this week was a couple of unplanned encounters. Wednesday I ran into a person on the way home. She was riding along and had just seen a small version of a penny farthing being ridden by a gentleman with a black sweatsuit and jericurl. Oddities abound in the bike lanes of MPLS.

The other exciting bit of news was that I received an unexpected piece of information about my bike via email.

I saw an old bike blog, from 2005, I think. Anyway, you had a Kuwahara bike on there that you couldn't read the model name on. Just wanted to tell you that it's a Pulsar. I just bought one the other day for $25 and have been trying to research what I have when I came across your blog. you may have found that out in the last 5 years, but if not, then now you know.

The post she references is this one, I assume. On reading this post from 2008, I had to laugh a bit because the bike hasn't changed significantly since I posted this. I'd said that I was going to get a better wheelset, but I'm still running the same mismatched wheels I originally mounted. I haven't gotten new brake pads, either. And the Suntour derailleur still doesn't have enough reach to get into the biggest or smallest cogs. But that's the way I've been riding it. Just to show I'm not a complete slug, I have mounted a rack with a homebuilt wooden box for carrying my messenger bag. So all is not lost.

I did some googling and found a few more references to a Kuwahara Pulsar than I'd found from just googling "Kuwahara Bike". But it's still a pretty limited topic on the 'net. I exchanged a couple of emails with Amy and she has promised to send pictures of her find when she's cleaned it up a bit. If/when she does, I'll be sure to post them. And if anybody else has info on the Kuwahara Pulsar, feel free to pass it along. Thanks, Amy!