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Posts Tagged ‘bicycle’

One of my favorite sayings is, “Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity or ignorance.” This moral came to mind recently on a bicycle ride with some friends.

My wife and I were riding in the neighborhood with a new rider, one with a family where every member at least owned one bicycle. When my wife and I stopped at an intersection with a stop sign, this surprised new rider asked, “Why did you stop?” To us, the obvious answer was, “There’s a stop sign”.

I had always assumed that bicyclists coasted or “blew through” stop signs because they didn’t want to lose any momentum, they were feeling rebellious or otherwise just found it inconvenient to obey the law. It never occurred to me that they might just not know that the road signs for motorists also applied to bicyclists.

The Nevada revised statutes say, “Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway has all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle ….” Obviously, there are some provisions that are specific to just bicyclists and some that apply only to motorists. Generally though, the Rules of the Road apply to bicyclists as well as motorists.

That means stopping at stop signs, at least to the extent most motorists do in my neighborhood, by which I mean slow to a crawl and yield before proceeding. That means stopping at red traffic signals and waiting until they turn green.

Why is this important? Very, very few bicycle motor vehicle collisions happen because the bicyclist has ignored a traffic signal or stop sign. It’s not a safety issue. Why it’s important is that it is a matter of etiquette.

Society’s relationships and interactions are lubricated by etiquette and no more so than when operating a motor vehicle. Every motorist knows the Rules of the Road, a kind of etiquette, follows them and, as a result, everyone gets to where they are going without crashing into each other. When a bicyclist uses poor highway etiquette, he’s rude. When bicyclists ask for a little more space on the road, be it a bike lane or a 3 feet passing rule, motorists remember being treated rudely and are less likely to give up a piece of the road, to which they wrongly or rightly feel solely entitled.

So… the message here is, “Don’t be rude on the road.” Vehicle rules apply to bicycles, too.

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Light rail is coming to Reno! Well, almost light rail. This is light rail on rubber wheels and paved roads. Kind of “light-rail-lite”.

The Washoe Country RTC is introducing an express bus service between the downtown 4th Street station and Meadowood Mall, named “RTC Rapid”. It will ride in “bus only” lanes on South Virginia Street and stop at fewer stations than the regular bus, named RTC Rapid Connect. The South Virginia corridor has the most heavily used city buses in Washoe County.

The South Virginia corridor also is heavily used by bicycle commuters. So, where do the bicyclists go if a whole lane is designated for exclusive use of RTC buses?

I talked with Sgt. Stegmaier of Reno PD yesterday. We identified 4 choices:
1. Bikes and buses share the lane
2. Bikes ride next to the curb
3. Bikes ride in a bike lane left of the bus and right of the other traffic
4. Bikes are prohibited.

Bikes riding next to the curb would conflict with the bus at every bus stop, with the bicyclist in danger of getting squeezed. The plan is to construct nicely coordinated bus stops that allow easy bus entry and exit and a bike lane there, in the few places where there is enough room, would conflict with this plan.

Bikes that ride between the bus lane and the other traffic lane would be vulnerable from both sides. A real bike lane would be required for bicyclist safety and there’s not enough room for one in big parts of the corridor.

Prohibiting bikes would be an enforcement nightmare.

So, the RTC met yesterday (7/13/11) and decided to have the “bus only” lane be a “bus and bikes, only” lane. It will soon be signed like that, I’m told.

This makes sense to me for two reasons: 1) bicyclists in general go where they find most convenient and safe, regardless of law and signage, and 2) the “bus and bikes, only” lane will be empty when not occupied by a bus. Besides, trying to control bicyclists is like herding cats so it’s safer to adapt the environment to them.

Here’s a link for more information on RTC Rapid – http://www.rtcwashoe.com/RTCRAPID/documents/RTC.RAPID_brochure.pdf

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The 3 Foot Passing Bill, SB248, was passed by the Legislature, signed by the Governor and will become the law in Nevada on October 1, 2011. It’s pretty simple really. Motorists must pass a bicyclist no closer than 3 feet.

Here’s the language in the bill:

Legislative Counsel’s Digest:
Existing law prohibits the driver of a motor vehicle from overtaking and passing a bicycle or an electric bicycle unless the driver can do so safely without endangering the person riding the bicycle or electric bicycle. (NRS 484B.270) This bill requires a driver of a motor vehicle to overtake and pass a bicycle or an electric bicycle proceeding in the same direction by: (1) moving the vehicle into the immediate left lane, if there is more than one lane traveling in the same direction and it is safe to move into the lane; or (2) passing to the left of the bicycle or electric bicycle at a distance of not less than 3 feet from the bicycle or electric bicycle.

Critics say that it’s nearly impossible for traffic police to enforce this law. For me, feeling how close the FedEx trucks come when passing me, requiring a motorist to not pass “unless he can do so safely (current law)” must be not nearly specific enough. So it’s about education, not enforcement. So how will motorists get educated about this new law?

Get one at 3feetplease.com

You can help promote awareness of the new law by wearing a “3 Feet Please” t-shirt or bicycle jersey. They’re available at http://www.3feetplease.com, $15 for the t-shirt, $60 for the jersey, short or long sleeve. The jerseys run just a little bit small, so if you wear a loose fitting medium, this one will be fitted. If you put “GoNV” in the discount code box, $5.00 of your purchase will go to the Nevada Bicycle Coalition to help promote safe bicycling in Nevada and more bicycle friendly legislation in the future.

Here’s a link to the new law – http://www.leg.state.nv.us/Session/76th2011/Bills/SB/SB248_EN.pdf

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Looking at all of this snow got me search the Web for ideas for winter bicycling. I found this on the NPR.org site to share with you, from a 2007 blog posting by Jill Horner. Look out for those moose holes. – Terry

Jill Homer of Juneau, Alaska, is training to ride 350 miles in the human-powered Iditarod. The race, which starts in February, follows the same route used by the famous dog sled teams.

People sometimes say, “Wow, riding a bike on snow — that’s great. But how does it work?” Snow-biking can be different from regular cycling, so I’ve compiled a list of 10 tips for riding a bike on snow.

1. Think surface area: If you’ve ever used snowshoes before, you know that all that mass at the bottom of your feet can mean the difference between coasting atop power or wading knee-deep in it. Snow bikes work they same way. They incorporate wide tires with a flat profile in order to distribute bulk (you) as evenly as possible, allowing for maximum floatation.

2. Fat is the new skinny. As long as there have been bicycles, there have been weight-weenie types trying to shave grams off wheels. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see a spoke-free wheel sporting tires as thin as razors. But once you slice into snow, skinny tires might as well be razors. Snow-bikers know that fat means float, and have been developing bicycles to accommodate increasingly larger wheels for years. I predict that not too far in the future, someone will build a bicycle frame with room for motocross tires. Look for it.

3. There is no shame in walking. Cyclists hate to admit when they come to a hill or an obstacle they just can’t conquer. I have seen cyclists blow out their knees and face-plant over logs just to avoid suffering the indignity of getting off the bike and walking. Snow-bikers have no such pretensions. We know that bikes are not ready-made for snow, and vice versa. If snow is too soft, or too deep, or too wet, we simply step off and amble along until we can ride again. We learn to enjoy it, like walking a dog, but without the constant slobbering.

4. When in doubt, let air out. Often, snowy trails are what we would call “marginally ridable.” By letting air out of tires, you can increase the surface area and improve your floatation. Sometimes it means riding on nearly flat tires at a pace a snail wouldn’t envy, but, despite what I said in the previous paragraph, it’s still better than walking.

5. Learn your snow types. It’s been said that Eskimos have dozens of different words of snow. Snow bikers also understand the myriad varieties: powder, sugar, corn, hard-pack, sandy, slushy, and so on. Each type comes with its own challenges. But understanding the nature of the white stuff you are trying to ride atop, you can adjust your riding and wheels to meet the conditions.

6. Don’t be disappointed when you fail to set a land-speed record. Snow, like sand, puts up a lot of resistance, and snow bikers are not known for their speed. I have often heard accounts of cyclists who said felt like they were careening down a hill, only to look down and see they hadn’t even breached the 10 mph barrier. In snow races, 10 mph is considered fast. Eight mph is average. Six mph is respectable, and four mph isn’t uncommon. When asked to describe the nature of the 2006 Iditarod Invitational, which was plagued by cold temperatures and fresh snow, third-place finisher Jeff Oatley said, “It was about as intense as a 2.5 mph race can be.”

7. All brakes are not created equal. When contemplating what brakes to put on their bikes, cyclists have all kinds of reasons to choose between disc or rim. But snow bikers, who often find their rims coated in a thick layer of ungrippable ice, have the best reason of all: Rim brakes could mean an icy death by gravity. Go with disc.

8. Re-lubricate and be free. There is nothing that will slow down a snow biker faster than having their hubs freeze up, which is always a possibility when the mercury drops below zero. We have to lube up our moving parts with a special low-temperature grease, sold widely in cold regions like Fairbanks and Minnesota.

9. Stay away from moose tracks. Common injures for road cyclists include road rash and head injuries. Mountain bikers have problems with broken collar bones and bad knees. Alaska snow bikers are always being tripped up by the deep, narrow holes moose leave when they walk through the snow. Avoiding these minefields will help curb post-holing injuries like broken ankles.

10. Stay away from dogs. We talk a lot about fear of angry moose, grumpy bears and rabid wolves, but our most likely animal to have a dangerous encounter with remains the sled dog. They approach so quickly and quietly that we sometimes don’t even have time to jump off the trail. A collision can be disastrous — imagine tangled lines, confused canines and a lot of sharp teeth. Add to that an annoyed musher who’s likely packing heat, and you stir up the kind of fear that convinces snow-bikers to give those racing puppies a wide berth.

Jill Homer blogs at Up in Alaska.

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New Right Turn Signal

New Right Turn Signal

AB247 becomes Nevada law on October 1, 2009. Here’s the gist of it:

 

Legislative Counsel’s Digest:

Existing [Nevada] law provides that every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway is generally subject to the provisions of chapter 484 of NRS which apply to drivers of vehicles. (NRS 484.503) Existing law requires the driver of a vehicle to signal an intention to turn from a direct course continuously during not less than the last 100 feet traveled in a business or residential district and not less than the last 300 feet traveled in any other area. (NRS 484.343) Section 2 of this bill exempts the operator of a bicycle from these requirements and instead requires the operator only to signal his intention to turn at least one time, unless the bicycle is in a designated turn lane or when safe operation of the bicycle requires the operator to keep both hands on the bicycle. Existing law provides for the methods of giving signals by hand and arm. (NRS 484.347) Section 3 of this bill authorizes an operator of a bicycle to signal for a right turn by extending his right hand and arm horizontally and to the right side of the bicycle.

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bike-lane-example-w-treesThe League of American Bicyclists recently published a list of $2.18 billion worth of proposed projects for bicycle facilities to be potentially funded by the economic stimulus package. To my mind, these kind of projects fit perfectly because they are both a way to stimulate the economy and to address our long term need to become more energy independent. The heck with the plug in hybrid… bicycles take no fuel at all. No transportation is greener than a bicycle, except maybe Huck Finn’s wooden raft.

So how many of those projects were on the list from Nevada? Zero, nada, none. Is this caused by a lack of imagination or is this just another example of Nevada being on the bottom of all of the good lists and top of all of the bad?

In any case, the train is leaving and we’re going to left at the station.

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Reno’s most popular bike route is about to get a makeover.

Mayberry Drive is by far the most popular bicycle route in the Washoe Valley. Hundreds of bicyclists use it every week, both to commute to and from work and shopping and for recreational rides to lovely Verdi. Not to be overlooked, it is a key piece of the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway, a project enthusiastically supported by the City.

When we’ve ask for a bike lane in the past, the answer from local government has always been 1) “Is it in the long term plan” and 2) “we only put bike lanes on existing roads when they are being widened or otherwise refurbished if there is enough room”. Well, Mayberry Drive meets both of these criteria and it’s time to step up to the plate and put down some paint.

RTC has drawn up plans for a 3 lane solution and a 4 lane solution. The “3 lane solution” has one travel lane each direction, a center turn lane, bike lanes and parking. The “4 lane solution” has 2 travel lanes each direction, parking where needed and intermittent bike lanes.

The Reno City Council will meet at 6:00pm on August 20th in the Council Chambers in Reno City Hall, 1st and Virginia Street, to discuss and decide which solution they want Public Works to implement.

The Nevada Bicycle Coalition strongly supports the 3 lane solution. The 3 lane solution is the only solution with full bike lanes from 4th Street to McCarran. In addition, this configuration is noted for having a traffic calming effect, slowing motorists to a less frantic pace. Full length bike lanes and slower motor traffic both improve the safety of bicyclists on Mayberry and encourage more people to give bicycling a try.

The RTC has some concerns that traffic volumes in 5 to 10 years may require a 4 lane configuration, especially if they can’t get their funding situation fixed in November. Fortunately, roads are slurry sealed every few years and each time RTC will have the opportunity to propose a new configuration for the pavement stripes. It’s just paint…

The Nevada Bicycle Coalition urges all bicyclists in the area to attend the meeting and be counted in favor of the 3 lane solution.

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