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Bicycling Vegas Style

Bridget – from Las Vegas

I used to spend the majority of my free time in the gym. I would finish work at 5:00 and go straight there. I generally wouldn’t arrive home until after 8:00. Sadly, I didn’t even enjoy my time there. It was claustrophobic working out alongside some many other sweaty people. I wanted a break from this hamster wheel of existence, but I couldn’t figure out how to get my exercise in a different way. Although I had heard of those who run outdoors or ride bikes through the city, these activities seemed dangerous to me. Fortunately, a move to Las Vegas changed my habits.City bike woman

Until I moved, I didn’t realize how much an individual’s place of residence can affect exercise habits. I never thought moving to Vegas would turn me into a proponent of outdoor fitness, but it did.

Upon first moving to Las Vegas, I figured I would have difficulty even getting a minimal amount of outdoor exercise. My notion of exercising outside in Sin City entailed drunks stumbling along the downtown strip. Fortunately, the city proved me wrong.

If a picture of the Las Vegas strip is firmly planted in your brain, it might be difficult to recall that the city lies at the center of the Mojave Desert. This natural wonder features miles of scenic bike trails, and I love exploring them. Of course, getting lost out there would be a travesty, so I use this amazing website to locate and navigate safe trails and help me get back home in one piece.

Did you know that Las Vegas has been named one of America’s Cycle-Friendly Cities? This acknowledgement from the League of American Bicyclists has come after the city spent half a million dollars on bike racks and lockers for the downtown area. Additionally, the city now boasts 390 miles of bike lanes.

Visitors can benefit from the fitness culture in Las Vegas as well. A search on this amazing resource will help you find activities and accommodations at hotels that cater to your individual fitness needs. Today, the city contains many hotels that feature great gyms for guests and provide a broad menu of fitness amenities. While staying here, you’ll also find that guest services at most hotels will be happy to point you toward nearby outdoor fitness venues.

Any fitness buff knows that exercise is only a part of the overall fitness picture. In Las Vegas, many healthy food and drink options have also become available. Juice bars can be found in any corner of the city. Those looking for vegetarian options and other healthy food choices will find a variety of restaurants available in most neighborhoods here, including downtown. It might seem hard to believe that Sin City has a healthy streak. Why not plan a trip here so you can see it for yourself?

Terry – from Reno

Wow, you’ve got to admire the enthusiasm of the recent convert! Bridget sounds like she just joined the Chamber of Commerce and drank the cool aide. That makes me smile. So much energy!

For me the best thing about Las Vegas is the people who are making Las Vegas a great place to ride. In particular, I’m thinking of Lisa Caterbone, Ron Floth and James Little.

Lisa Caterbone runs http://bikinglasvegas.com/. The site is a one stop shop at the intersection of Las Vegas and Bicycling. There’s a ride calendar, maps and cue sheets and a picture gallery with some great videos. Lisa has really done something special for Vegas cycling. Check it out.

Las Vegas bicycle jerseyRon Floth is the Bicycle and Community Outreach Coordinator for the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (whew, that’s some title). Ron is the liaison between the RTC and Las Vegas Bicyclists. He’s the “go-to-guy” if you’re a roadie and have a bone to pick with the RTC in southern Nevada. The RTC is a key player in keeping Las Vegas a Bicycle Friendly Community.

James Little is head of the Las Vegas Valley Bicycle Club. Find them at http://lasvegasbikeclub.org/. There’s a potluck dinner on January 9th and plenty of rides on their website.

Bicycling is great in Las Vegas because people make it great!

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bicycle loop detector

Three bills important to Nevada bicyclists are before the legislature in this 2013 legislative session. If you’re a bicyclist, a quick note to your Assembly Member or Senator, voicing your support, will make a difference when they are deciding how to vote. The first to be heard is…

AB117 – Left Turn on Red

Isn’t it frustrating to be waiting for a green arrow so you can make a left turn and you discover that the detector loop hasn’t recognized you? What do you do? If you’re like me, you wait to see if it’s going to pick you up on the next cycle. Sometimes I wiggle around to try to make it see me. Then, if I don’t get a green, I “run” the red light, violating the traffic law and risking a citation.

It turns out that motorcyclists have this problem, too. It’s not the mass of the vehicle or the weight that triggers the signal, I’ve recently learned. It’s the metal surface area and orientation of that metal that triggers the detector.

AB117 addresses those legal issues. Here is the formal title on the bill:

Title: “AN ACT relating to rules of the road; allowing a person driving a motorcycle, moped or trimobile or riding a bicycle or an electric bicycle to proceed through an intersection against a red traffic signal in certain circumstances; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.”

Essentially what it says is that it will now be legal to ride through a red left turn signal that has failed to detect you if 1) you have sat through two cycles of the light and 2) you have yielded to all of the other traffic. Probably the most important aspect of the bill is that it clarifies who is responsible in a collision. Since the bicyclist or motorcyclist riding through the red left turn signal is always required to yield to other traffic, in a collision he or she is always at fault.

AB117 will be a law that makes legal what all safe cyclists do already. That is a good thing.

Please send a note of support to the Chairs of the Senate and Assembly Transportation Committees and your representatives:

Assemblyman Richard Carrillo, Chair – Richard.Carrillo@asm.state.nv.us

Senator Mark A. Manendo, Chair – Mark.Manendo@sen.state.nv.us

Find out who represents you here – – http://mapserve1.leg.state.nv.us/whoRU/

All you need to say is something like this, “I’m a bicyclist in ____________, Nevada. I support AB117 and urge you to vote for its passage”.

Here’s another way, through the system, to express your opinion – https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/Opinions/77th2013/A/

Here’s a link to the full AB117 – http://legiscan.com/NV/text/AB117/id/741841

And here’s a link fpr advice on triggering the light – http://youtu.be/Sj-mNB6dLkk

(Next up is AB145 – Complete Streets)

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raindeer

Happy Holidays!
Your friends at the Nevada Bicycle Coalition

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The conventional wisdom assumes that massive transportation projects are far more economically strategic than bike lanes. But the release of two studies from two very different cities – Portland, OR and New York City – reveals that bicyclists and pedestrians may spend more than their peers who arrive at the same neighborhoods via automobile or public transportation.

Whether businesses reached out and made their locations more bicycle friendly, or streets were redesigned to include bike lanes, the overall outcome has been increased spending in local neighborhoods. Shoppers who arrive in urban neighborhoods via cars may spend more in one sitting–but overall those who arrived on foot or by bicycling spent more month to month. The results indicate that neighborhoods and business districts that seek a healthier bottom line should work with municipalities and support such features as protected bike lanes, bicycle racks and pedestrian safety improvements.

A study that New York-based Transportation Alternatives completed demonstrates the positive impact of bicycling in Manhattan’s East Village. Newly created bike lanes on First and Second Avenues led to a sharp increase in bicycle ridership in the study’s focus area. Such improvements are particularly important to women because they are less likely to commute by bicycle if a route lacks dedicated bicycle lanes. The result is a 24 percent rate of residents bicycling in their neighborhood; the average in all of New York City is only one percent. But those who traipse about the East Village by bike spend the most week-to-week at an average of $163 a week. Car users, on the other hand, fall behind with average expenditures of $111 a week.

Kelly Clifton, a civil and environmental engineering professor at Portland State University, found similar conclusions in her study of bicycling trends in the Rose City. Portland is one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the U.S., but business owners often have the perception that auto access equals dollars–and anything that possibly impedes auto access, capacity or parking will hit their revenues. Clifton, through surveying residents at various neighborhoods throughout the city, found the opposite. While customers who drive to various establishments may spend more money per visit, bicyclists visit the same venue more often, and spend more overall.

The findings of both surveys, particularly the one in Portland, show that bicycling is a win-win all around. Such benefits as exercise (in a country with a morbid obesity rate) and reduced emissions are obvious. But as is the case with many business initiatives with a focus on sustainability, targeting, welcoming and marketing to bicyclists makes solid business sense. The lessons of neighborhoods in cities from Fresno to Missoula, and neighborhoods in cities with established bicycle networks in Chicago, is that welcoming all visitors, instead of excluding some, strengthens communities–and bank accounts. The business case for bicycling has become an even easier one to make.

From GreenGoPost.com

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Reno Bike Project is calling it the “3 Sweet Feet Ride”. I’ve been calling it the “Bicycle Awareness Ride”. Whatever you call Saturday’s mass of bicyclists, it’s going to be fun and could be a really important event for the future of Reno & Sparks bicycling.

We have plenty to celebrate:
• Reno/Sparks was just named a bronze level “Bicycle Friendly Community”
• Nevada law now requires motorists to give bicycles 3 feet of space when passing from behind
• A motorist who causes injury to a bicyclist or pedestrian faces the increased penalties of a reckless driving offense, including possible loss of license, community service and jail
• Nevada law now prohibits hand-held cell phones and texting by motorists, reducing driver distractions

Not only will we be celebrating these accomplishments, we’ll be sending a message to motorists that they must share the roads with bicyclists and that the rules of the road have changed.

Come ride with us on Saturday, October 1st!

Start / End – Reno City Hall Plaza, 1st Street and South Virginia Street, Reno

Route – we’ll ride mostly on 4th Street and Prater Way to Sparks City Hall at a leisurely pace and return mostly on Victorian Avenue and the Truckee River Bike Path: 8 miles total.

When – Assemble in the Plaza from 9:30 to 10:30 and get a chance to thank the bicyclist friendly politicians who made these new laws possible. Teresa Benitez-Thompson, author of the law that increased penalties for injuring a bicyclist, plans to ride with us.

Park a few blocks away and bicycle to the Plaza or park in the Cal-Neva garage.

Wear your “3 Feet Please” jersey or t-shirt, if you’ve got one.

Win a jersey! The first 50 bicyclists to arrive at the plaza get a ticket to win a “3 Feet Please” jersey (that’s 50 chances to win one jersey, better odds than the casinos offer).

Rules of the Road – no streets will be closed and no special police escort is planned, although I expect them to be keeping an eye on us. I promised we would obey all of the rules of the road:
• Bicyclists have all of the rights and duties of motorists
• Ride no more than two abreast and single file if to do otherwise impedes traffic
• Obey all traffic signs and signals

Have Fun!

Hope to see you there!

Terry – 775-287-7142 for questions

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Riding with the flow of traffic

About 50% of all bicycle crashes involve falls, often caused by road surface hazards, like potholes, loose gravel, cattle guards, storm grates, etc. Another 33% involve animals, other bikes or something besides a motor vehicle. Only 17% of bicycle crashes involve motor vehicles.

Yesterday I saw 3 separate bicyclists riding against traffic on Reno’s Mill Street in a 3 minute period. No doubt they chose that side because they felt safer facing traffic or crossing Mill was inconvenient enough to keep them there. Here is a breakdown of the causes of bicycle-motor vehicle collisions, the 17% of all crashes:

Who is at fault?

Action

%

Bicyclist Wrong-way riding facing traffic

14%

Bicyclist Left turn from the right side of the road

11%

Bicyclist Failure to yield from driveway

9%

Bicyclist Running a stop sign or signal

8%

Bicyclist Swerving in front of car *

5%

Total Bicyclist

47%

Motorist Left turn in front of the bicyclist

13%

Motorist Right turn in front of the bicyclist

11%

Motorist Running a stop sign or signal

8%

Motorist Opening car door into path of bicyclist

7%

Motorist Failure to yield from driveway

6%

Motorist Didn’t see the cyclist *

3%

Total Motorist

48%

Undetermined

5%

* Cyclists hit from behind are included here

It seems to me that if I avoid road surface hazards, don’t crash into another bicyclist or curb, don’t do those things on the top of the list, and look out for motorists doing the things on the bottom of the list, I can be pretty safe on my bicycle.

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The Weapon

“…to teach them a lesson”. That was Dr. Christopher Thompson’s motivation for purposely injuring 2 bicyclists on July 4, 2008 on Mandeville Canyon Road in Brentwood, near Los Angeles. In November a jury convicted him of mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon, battery with serious injury and reckless driving causing injury. He faces 10 years in prison.

Prosecutors alleged that Thompson stopped his car after passing the two cyclists and shouting at them to ride single file. The cyclists testified that they began maneuvering to ride one after the other when they noticed Thompson’s car approaching fast behind them but that the driver passed dangerously close before abruptly stopping.

Ron Peterson, a coach for USC’s and UCLA’s cycling team, was flung face-first into the rear windshield of the doctor’s red Infiniti, breaking his front teeth and nose and lacerating his face. Christian Stoehr, the other cyclist, hurtled to the sidewalk, suffered a separated shoulder.

A police officer testified that Thompson told him soon after the accident that the cyclists had cursed at him and flipped him off, so he slammed on his brakes “to teach them a lesson.”

So, who learned a lesson in this?

Mandeville Canyon Road is a popular cycling route and the location of frequent confrontations between recreational bicyclists and the motorists who live nearby. Bicyclists report frequent threatening motorists. Motorists report bicyclist blocking the road, making rude gestures and spitting on them. Dr. Thompson surely learned that he can’t let his temper get the best of him when he’s behind the wheel. Peterson and Stoehr learned that the seeds sown by rude bicyclists can be reaped by any cyclist with the bad luck to be on the wrong road at the right time. As a result, Peterson now wears false teeth and can’t feel the end of his nose.

Let’s hope that the Mandeville Canyon motorists and bicyclists learned some lessons, too. The lesson for me is that I’m extremely vulnerable when I’m on my bicycle, vulnerable to unforeseen “accidents” and vulnerable to retribution for the sins of my fellow bicyclist. The smart thing to do is to actively promote safe and responsible bicycling and patient motoring and hope people get it before it gets me. What goes around does comes around.

(Thanks to the LA Times, Nov 3 edition, for much of this story)

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