Bad Reporting of a Serious Crime

We appear to have a single witness suicide swerve in Mebane this weekend.  A single witness suicide swerve is a catch-all description where the only living witness's account of a crash is taken as gospel.

A 23-year-old man bicycling on Lebanon Road near Mebane died Saturday after he was struck by a vehicle, the State Highway Patrol said.

Ian E. Terrell of 1627 Foxfire Drive, Mebane, was riding about 2 p.m. on the east shoulder of Lebanon Road two miles east of Mebane when he swerved into the roadway and was struck by a vehicle, telecommunications supervisor John Swinney said. Orange County dispatchers said Terrell died at the scene.

Swinney said he did not know the name of the driver of the vehicle. He said the accident is under investigation.

We have some negligent reporting on what appears to be negligent driving.  Lebanon Rd does not have a shoulder therefore Ian Terrell could not be riding on it.  All the reporter had to do to debunk the witness testimony was pull up the road on Google maps and check the street view.

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We Need More Lerts

This graph from GraphJam.com is amusing for its accuracy although I think the first data point is a little high and I rather hope the last data point is on the low side.

On Yer Bike!


Tire Recall--Schwalbe Ultremo "R"

Schwalbe Tires has issued a recall of the Ultremo "R" racing tire.  Follow the instructions to the right to determine if your tires are affected and what to do to remedy the problem.  Strangely enough the CPSC has not yet reported this recall at this time.

On Yer Bike! (Assuming you aren't using Ultremo R's)

Friends in High Places

There's a bike commuter in the the White House.  James L. Jones is the current National Security Advisor.
James L. Jones, looks for rare opportunities to ride his bike from his McLean home to work at the White House. On occasion, he has pedaled back across the Potomac River for lunch.
Thanks to Washcycle for the scoop.

On Yer Bike! (That's an order)



As a cyclist I have numerous reasons for enjoying summer even in the south.  My main reason though is summer vacations.  Not mine, the vacations everyone else is taking.  Once Memorial Day passes there is a marked decline in motor traffic volume.  This was VERY true when I lived outside the District of Columbia and is appearing to hold true here in Greensboro, NC.  With the lighter traffic motorists generally become a bit more tolerant of delays (of course there are always exceptions) and are not inclined to "buzz" cyclists and make other less than safe manuvers to get around them.  Most of my mileage accrues during the early hours of the day when it is relatively cool so when I am finishing up I am mixing it up with other commuters like myself.  

BTW--If you want really quite roads, try riding at 3:30AM.  I had to do that last week for work, over a 8.5 mile route through the middle of Greensboro and through downtown I saw a grand total of four moving motor vehicles, none overtaking me.


Takoma Park MD PD Gets It

Press release about a recent left cross crash.

Bicyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.
On Yer Bike!


Ride of Silence 2009 Post Ride Report

Greensboro held its 3rd annual Ride of Silence earlier this evening.  There were about 200 cyclists in attendance and the Greensboro PD provided escort with motorcycle and bicycle patrol men.  The route ran just under nine miles and took 80 minutes to cover.  The shot above was taken on Aycock St from near the back of the pack.  I forgot I had my camera until this shot so missed a better one a few miles back where I was on top of a hill with the peleton stretched out before me to the crest of the next hill.

On Yer Bike!

The CPSC is Busy

Trek, Cannondale and Norco all have recalls.  Trek and Cannondale are from a third party fork that can become misaligned without warning.  The Norco is on mid to high end downhill frames that can snap in two.  One broken collar bone has been reported so far in that case.
Remedy: Consumers should stop riding the recalled bicycles immediately and contact their dealer to arrange for a free repair.
On Yer Bike!


On Yer Bike!


It's About Time

We are finally going to see some action on the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards.  Obama has set a new policy that targets 39 MPG for cars and 30 MPG for light trucks (SUVs and Pickups) for an overall average of 35.5  MPG.  This is 0.5 MPG better than the Congressional target of 35MPG that was to be met by 2020.  Obama's standard is to be met by 2016.  There's not to many vehicles out there at this time that meet this challenge so the automakers will be hard pressed to make the deadline.  EVs (Electric Vehicles) and PHEVs (Plug-in Hybrids) could help but either they will need to make huge breakthroughs in cost or be sold at a loss to allow the sales of full size SUVs and big bore V-8 muscle and sport cars like the Mustang, Camaro and Corvette.

A second piece of the new policy is a GHG (Green House Gas) limits.  These are closely linked to fuel economy in gas and diesel burners but indirectly in EVs and PHEVs.  It will be interesting to see how vehicles of those types are treat by this policy given that although they may have no direct emmisions, the generation of electricity does have a carbon footprint depending on the source of power.

A point that hasn't been addressed is the increased use of bio-fuels.  With world food prices near all time highs it seems almost immoral to devote large quantities of grain production to bio-fuel such as the current 30%.   June 2009 National Geographic Magazine  Add this to recent findings that simply burning biomass is more fuel efficient than rendering for fuel and the case for bio-fuels gets mighty week.  More developement is necessary into solar power, including wind, to get around this energy crisis before we have global famine on our hands.  An African famine IS a global problem.  Famines cause wars and at least one African nation is nuclear.

On Yer Bike!


Get Lit

The NC Legislature has been polishing the bicycle light statute.  Reflectors will no longer be enough on the rear.  Now a light (no color specified) visible from 300 feet from the front will be required and a red lamp visible from 200 feet under "normal atmospheric conditions" will be de riguer during "the period from sunset to sunrise on a street, highway, or public vehicular area."

This has passed the State Senate, assuming it makes it through the House and across the Governor's desk it goes into effect on 1 Dec 2009.

My only question is:  What is a "public vehicular area"?

On Yer Bike!

Check Your Folder

Latest CPSC Recall

Yehuda Moon Returns!

From the Yehuda Moon blog:

Yehuda Moon returns June 17, 2009. Dailies will run Monday through Saturday featuring Yehuda and the whole gang at the Kickstand. A fuller Sunday strip will run as well, featuring Joe King. More details shortly. 

I will likely fill in the blank dates if I find time along the way (and maybe even a few before the restart date).

On Yer Bike!


Rough Pavement Detection

A recent report from AASHTO spells out how expensive it is to forgo maintenance on roads.  I'm not sure how they evaluate roads now but it doesn't seem to work well enough to stay ahead of the ravages of weather and other damaging effects on the road surface.  If the manor of inspection involves driving around and looking at the road surface then I can tell you why the small defects aren't picked up--the inspectors are too far away to see the defects when they are cheaply treatable.  When driving you can't see the road that is close to your vehicle if you are looking forward.  The closest you can see is about 20-25 feet away, far enough away that small cracks are not visible. 

 Walking the roads is not practical, only 1.5-2 miles of road per man-hour can be inspected that way because in most cases the inspector would need to back track down the road to view the opposite side lanes. 

 A potential solution--inspectors on bikes.  Bikes are sufficiently fast enough to inspect 5-6 miles per man-hour while getting a very direct view of the road surface.  They can easily be configured to carry whatever measurement equipment might be needed to analyze a given surface, even lighter vehicle mounted equipment could be attached to a trike if a more stable platform is needed.  Also, a bike or trikes sensitivity to road surfaces won't mask rough roads from the operator like a motor vehicles suspension would.

Isolating the inspectors from the roads may be part of the problem with our deteriorating roads.  Let's get the inspectors closer to the inspected--On Yer Bike!


It's Bike To Work Day!

Time for me to get to the Dowtown Greensboro Refueling Stop.

On Yer Bike!

Gas Vs Diesel

Gasoline appears to have lost its biggest advantage over diesel in the US--Price.  Diesel is no longer the red-headed step child of fuel options here.  It used to be the fuel was more expensive, the engines were smelly and cost more too.  Now the engines cost more but are so much more efficient that the cost differences can be made up in fairly short order.  VW has a new TDI for the Golf that gets 65MPG with 89HP.  Apply some basic hypermiling techniques and you have a car getting 80+MPG with little effort (I hypermile whenever possible and routinely see numbers 20% higher than EPA estimates--get one of the competitive hypermilers in this car and I wouldn't be surprised to see 100MPG).

The smell issue has been conquered too in the latest generations of diesels.  Particulate filters in the exhaust system capture the worst pollution, improved combustion techniques minimize pollution levels in the first place.

Diesel also appears to be better suited to bio-fuels.  Conversion of used cooking oil and the like to diesel has become so common place there are commercial DIY kits for the process.


No Ordinary Seamen

We've all heard the tales of Capt Sully landing his crippled bird on the Hudson last January.  Here's a story about more heroes from that day that helped the good Capt keep a blank slate on the death tally.

ABC Quick Check

The League of American Bicyclists has a handy checklist to go over before every ride.  It's pretty much the same for any vehicle but it always helps to review.
  • A is for Air pressure.  Also check the tire tread and sidewall for damage.
  • B is for Brakes.  Make sure you have 1/4 inch of brake material and your brake lever engages the brakes with an inch or more of travel before it touches the handle bar.
  • C is Chain and all the things it touches.  Make sure nothing is loose on the crankset or cassette.
  • Quick is for Quick Release Skewers.  Make sure they are closed snugly with the lever positioned so as to avoid snagging roots and branches.
  • Check is for systems Check.  Make sure shifters and brakes are working properly and there are no loose parts anywhere on the bike.  Pay especial attention to all parts during the first few miles of the ride before you starting tuning out odd noises.
On Yer Bike!

Get The Picture?

On Yer Bike!


Ride of Silence-Greensboro, NC

  • Wed May 20
    • 5:30PM Registration
    • 6:15PM Ride Start
  • Where: Greensboro, NC 400 N. Elm Street
  • Description:  A short, easy, silent ride to recognize those who have been hurt or killed while bicycling.
    • Wear a red or black arm band if you know someone who has been killed or hurt.  See www.rideofsilence.org and www.bikegso.org for more details.
    • Social event to follow ride in the Wrangler Parking Lot.
On Yer Bike!


New Urbanism

I'm not only about cycling...I also aspire to a greener environment which dovetails nicely with cycling. Another topic that dovetails well with both a greener environment and cycling is urban planning, a subject the county planners seem to have slept through in school if they even went to the classes. Here's a little video on "New Urbanism":

On Yer Bike!

It's Bike Week

And here in the Piedmont Triad region we have a full slate of events.
  • Monday, May 11
    • 7am – 9am
      • Bicycling in Greensboro Refueling Station
      • Where: Spring Garden Bakery, 1932 Spring Garden St.
      • Description: Stop for juice, water and snacks to fuel yourself for your bike to work. This event is free.
      • www.BikeGSO.org
    • 9am – 11am
      • Fallen Law Enforcement Ride
      • Where: Stop at Greensboro Governmental Center at 9:30am
      • Description: A group of Charlotte area police will ride over 400 miles to Washington, DC, to recognize fallen law enforcement officers. Route passes through Asheboro, Randleman, Greensboro, Burlington and north to Virginia.
      • www.biketoDC.com
    • 7:30pm – 9:30pm
      • Beginners Bike Repair Workshop
      • Where: Cycles De Oro, 1410 Mill St., Greensboro
      • Description: Beginners bike repairworkshop to include changing flat tires, proper inflation, lubing chain, basic gear shifting theory & practice, and road side emergencies.
      • www.cyclesdeoro.com
  • Tuesday, May 12
    • 7am – 9am
      • Friendly Bike Refueling Station
      • Where: Friendly Bikes, 2823 Spring Garden St., Greensboro
      • Description: Stop for juice, water and snacks to fuel yourself for your bike to work. This event is free.
      • www.friendlybike.com
    • 7:30pm – 9:30pm
      • Moderate Skill Level Bike Repair Workshop
      • Where: Cycles De Oro, 1410 Mill St., Greensboro
      • Description: Moderate skill level bike repair workshop that includes gear and brake cable replacement & adjustment, bearing play adjustment, more extensive varieties of lubrication.
      • www.cyclesdeoro.com
  • Wednesday, May 13
    • 7am – 9am
      • PART Refueling Station
      • Where: UNC Greensboro Traffic Circle, 1400 Spring Garden St.
      • Description: Stop for juice, water and snacks to fuel yourself for your bike to work. This event is free.
      • www.partnc.org
    • 7:30pm – 9:30pm
      • Bicycle Movie Night
      • Where: Cycles De Oro, 1410 Mill St., Greensboro
      • Description: Bike Movie night in vacant space next door. Free with popcorn & lemonade, door prizes from vendors, bring a lawn chair.
      • www.cyclesdeoro.com
  • Thursday, May 14
    • 7am – 9am
      • REI Bike Refueling Station
      • Where: REI @ Friendly Center, 3334 W. Friendly Ave, Suite 140
      • Description: Stop for juice, water and snacks to fuel yourself for your bike to work. This event is free.
      • www.rei.com/stores/108
    • 7am - 9am
      • Bryan YMCA Refueling Station
      • Where: Kathleen Bryan YMCA, 501 W. Market St, Greensboro
      • Description: Stop for juice, water and snacks to fuel yourself for your bike to work. This event is free.
      • www.bryanymca.org
    • 7:30pm – 9:30pm
      • Advanced Bike Repair
      • Where: Cycles De Oro, 1410 Mill St., Greensboro
      • Description: Advanced skill level bike repair workshop that includes spoke replacement and basic wheel truing, replacing bearings in hubs.
      • www.cyclesdeoro.com
  • Friday, May 15--National Bike to Work Day
    • 5am - 11:59pm
      • Discounted Bus Fare on Greensboro Transit Authority
      • Where: Any GTA Bus Route
      • Description: Secure your bike to any GTA fixed route bus then board and receive a half-price fare: just 60 cents!
    • 7am – 9am
      • Downtown Burlington Bike Refueling Station
      • Where: J and L Bicycle 216 E. Front St., Burlington
      • Description: Stop for juice, water and snacks to fuel yourself for your bike to work. This event is free.
      • www.JLBicycle.com
    • 7am – 9am
      • Downtown Greensboro Bike Refueling Station
      • Where: Governmental Plaza @ Greene St.
      • Description: Stop for juice, water and snacks to fuel yourself for your bike to work. This event is free.
      • www.tinyurl.com/gdotbikeped
    • 7am - 9am
      • Bicycling in Greensboro Refueling Station
      • Where: Total Wine, 2976 Battleground Ave.
      • Description: Stop for juice, water and snacks to fuel yourself for your bike to work. This event is free.
      • www.bikegso.org
On Yer Bike!


Lock It Up

How come US papers don't do useful how-tos like the UK's Guardian does?  Today we have this nice list of items to check off when locking up your bike.
  • Use a lock the is commensurate with the value of your bike.  They suggest a lock that is worth 10-20% of the bikes worth.  That would mean $200-300 on the low end for either of my bikes and I can't imagine the weight of such an expensive lock.  The locks I use are valued around $60 and I've purchased one each for home and work so I don't have to carry it with me.
  • They also suggest using two locks at once--One U-Lock and one chain.  Each requires a different tool set to defeat which reduces the chance the thief will be equipped for the challenge.  London must be a tough city to ride a bike in.
  • Use the lock properly.  Leave as little slack as possible to take away leverage for the thief.  Also, don't leave padlocks in a position where they are resting on the ground.  This makes them vulnerable to a sledge hammer.  Also, lock to an object a thief can't just lift the bike and lock off of like a bollard.  Tory leader David Cameron just had the second bike this year stolen because of a miscue like that.
  • High value bikes are a target.  Don't park in the same place every day and park near someone with a better bike if possible.
  • Uglify your bike.  Even if the thief sees through the camouflage it lowers the resale on the ride making it a less tempting target in the first place.
  • Invest in a folding bike that you can take with you into the office.
On Yer Bike!


Oh, The Shame!

The 2009 rankings for Bike Friendly States are out from the League of American Bicyclists and North Carolina ranked number 20.  In the top half but a plummeting drop of seven from last years ranking.  Looking at the summary sheet we can tell the tale of the tape that was generated from the linked questionnaire.

  • Legislation--NC is tied at 19 with Minnesota, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Kentucky and Florida.
  • Policies and Programs--NC shined here tied for 7 with Arizona, California, Michigan and Vermont.
  • Infrastructure--Tied at 14 with Minnesota.  I wonder about this one--I have ridden in several states ranked much lower (like NY at 42 and Ohio at 35) where the roads in general were much more conducive to bicycle travel.  I suspect there is a separate-path bias in the LAB formulas.
  • Education--Another shining star at 11 tied with New Hampshire and Missouri.
  • Evaluation--Here is one of the two ranks were NC gets hammered: 46, tied with Tennessee and Alaska.
  • Enforcement--My pet peeve and where NC is ranked worst, dead last, albeit with lots of company.  Tennessee, Virginia, Connecticut, Montana, New York, Alabama, California, Oklahoma and Arkansas all join North Carolina in the cellar.  It doesn't matter how good the legislation is if their is no enforcement.

On Yer Bike!

Triggering Lights

It happens all the time. You roll up to a signalized intersection but you are without motorized escort to trigger the light sensor. What to do? Some would say treat the light as a stop sign because it failed to be triggered by your bike--But is this true? Did your bike fail to trigger or where you out of position to trigger it?

From my experience in GSO, the lights that aren't on timers (most if not all downtown lights are on timers) are triggered using quadrupole loop magnetic induction sensors. If one of these is functioning correctly it will pick up a bicycle (with the possible exception of bikes with carbon frame, wheels and spokes--they still have steel in the chain) from its steel or aluminum content most notably in the wheel rims.

The trick is to stop your bike on the center pole of the two loops where the detection is strongest. This works great when the loop was installed after the latest asphalt layer was put down but what about when the loops have been covered by later construction like at the confluence of Parkway, Eugene and Bessemer on Bike Route 9? I have had ample opportunity to experiment with that intersection because it is on my commute. I have found in this case you want to stop roughly four feet to the right of the painted lines that separate off the left turn lanes. This would be approximately the center of the lane if the right edge wasn't flared to accommodate right turns.

I have one question for those in the know around here. Who do I need to contact for a sensor that is clearly non-functional? The east bound loop on Bluford at the intersection with Dudley has never worked for me in six months. The west bound loop works so I know the signal is loop controlled.

On Yer Bike!


Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

It appears the cyclist fatality issue isn't as bad as put out by the NAO (National Audit Office).  2004 was a statical anomaly that makes more recent data appear far worse than it actually is.

On Yer Bike!

Why is This Happening?

Apparently all the new safety features in motor vehicles are doing their jobs.  Even though more motor vehicles are hitting the roads, total road deaths are going down.  That's the good news.

In Great Britian and in the US bicyclists deaths are on the rise or holding steady.  In researching this article I was pleasantly surprised to see the US was improving slightly--The last few years had shown the same pattern GB is now experiencing.  Now I'm really interested to see what the 2008 and 2009 numbers will be.  But back to the point--It seems to me that motorists are getting complacent in their cages.  The personal risk of driving is reducing because of all the technological improvements and this is causing some to pay less attention to guiding their vehicle safely as they are distracted by all the other things their lives impose on them.

One safety feature I would like to see implemented is a localized cell phone scrambler that engages when a car is in motion.  It has been long established that phone conversations, whether hands-free or not, are a major distraction to driving.  This could most easily be enabled on a GPS capable phone--Once the phone is moving at faster than 10KPH (6.4MPH for the metric challenged) shut off the radio until speed drops to near stopped pace for over a minute.  The delay is to prevent excessive battery usage from frequent on/off cycles and to insure the vehicle is parked rather than temporarily stopped in traffic.  This could more effectively be enabled with an RF scrambler built into the vehicles (keyed to the shifter in automatic transmission vehicles, to the parking brake in stick shifts) but this has huge potential for undesired effects if not implemented perfectly.

Does anyone else have ideas for improving the safety of road users who aren't encased in a steel cage?

On Yer Bike!


Safety in Numbers

It's stories like this that can almost get me to back "butts on bikes" bicycle advocacy.  I have strong issues with creating separate facilities for the same purpose (delivery of people and goods) which goes against the "paint and path" efforts.  I do not view the bicycle as a recreational toy but as a transportational tool.


The trend is clear, with areas popular for cyclists tending to be safer on average, with the differences sometimes significant. Top of the list is traditionally bike-friendly York, where around one in eight commuters cycle to work and 0.1% are badly hurt in accidents each year. Not far down the road, Calderdale, West Yorkshire, a district centred around Halifax, is at the other end of the scale. Here, fewer than 1 in 120 commuters use bikes, and those that do face a danger level 15 times higher than in York.

The phenomenon of safety in numbers – the name given to a new CTC campaign – can be seen throughout Europe. Other figures compiled by the organisation show that in Denmark, top of the continental league for cycling, the average person rides over 10 times further than his British peer every year but runs only 20% of the risk of being killed.

"It's a virtuous circle: people feel safe, they know a lot of people who also cycle and say, 'it's OK, get out there. It's even a pleasant way to get around,'" said Peck. "They're much more likely to get on a bike if they know, say, a friend or neighbour who cycles."

"It shouldn't be a fringe sub-culture, just for the cyclists you could call the urban guerrillas. You'll never have ordinary people cycling if that's the image they see."
On Yer Bike!


Helmets vs Pets

Let me preface:  I wear a helmet whenever I ride, even on my recumbent trike where it is nearly impossible to fall off.

Copenhagenize is always good for a laugh when they go on an anti-helmet rant, after all they are all about style over speed.  Today they found a new issue for hyperbole.

On Yer Bike


Just Say No--To Being a Bike Ninja

I really don't know what they are thinking. I'm talking about the cyclists that go out in low light and night conditions with no active or passive (read reflectors or reflective clothing) lighting. In Portland a bus driver has spoken up in a local paper about the improvements he has seen in the past year with cyclists lighting up for visibility.

Motorists are conditioned to look for large fast moving objects. To compete for limited attention span cyclists need to stand out and when light conditions diminish lights are the best way to get attention.

When twilight has passed in the evening then reflectors and reflective clothing become very effective as they perform a sort of "light judo" using the power of the motorized vehicle headlights to reflect back to the source. But don't be fooled into thinking reflectors alone will make you visible, they only work when a light source is aimed directly at them, a condition that might not occur until too late when rounding curves or approaching intersections.

On Yer Bike


Honor the Stop

The biggest problem I have seen in Greensboro, and I have commented on it before in other forums, is the apparent inability of any local road user to honor stop signs and red lights.

Some cyclists make the excuse that by blowing stops and reds they stay clear of motor traffic. This is generally not true. In the case of red lights they just make the motorists pass them again and again which compounds the irritation factor. In the case of stop signs it is merely a flaunting of the traffic code, pure and simple. Motorists waste more energy on complete stops than cyclists when everything is taken into account.

Motorists, on the other hand, have some truly dangerous habits in this part of the country. I can't recall when I last saw a motorist stop at a stop sign unless they were in imminent danger of a collision and sometimes not even then. Then there are the right on red crew--How many people around here stop before evaluating whether it is safe to proceed as dictated by the vehicle code? If I were to sit at any corner where right-on-red is allowed (and a few where it's not) I'll bet the numbers would be similar to the rolling stop numbers.

What would help would be if the local LEOs cared about "road crime". Prior to this latest economic downturn they would use the excuse that they didn't have the resources to pursue these issues. It seems now they have stepped up excessive speed patrols now that the local coffers are empty but what happens when the economy recovers?

As a good conservative (therefore no longer Republican) I say we need to take the matter into our own hands and start policing ourselves. Whether motorized or in an HPV, stop at reds and stop signs. Honor the Stop.


Share the Trail

From WashCycle we have this link to the Arlington, VA Courtesy Campaign.  Some common sense rules of thumb for cyclists and pedestrians to interact on shared trails.

Viral Videos

I'm sure many of you have seen the viral video where erstaz police are handing out helmets and hugs to unsuspecting cyclists.  This was put out by a Danish motorist group trying to highlight FUD about cyclists on the road.  The people at Copenhagenize the Planet have a counter video now.  Mind you the people at CtP have great disdain for helmets so take this video with a grain of salt.

Welcome to Bike Month!

The Piedmont Triad Council of Governments has a whole laundry list of activities for this month starting today with Shop By Bike in the GSO Downtown area tonight.  I will be working at the GSO Downtown Refueling station on May 15, Bike to Work Day.

On yer bike!