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Friday, April 18 2014 @ 06:10 PM UTC
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For the price of a mile of highway, you too can have a bike-friendly city

Biking ElsewhereBy Elly Blue, The Guardian

Cars. They're noisy and ugly. They smell terrible and cause disease on an epidemic proportion. They move way too fast, take up an extraordinary amount of space, are a leech on the economy, and have a propensity to run people over, especially kids. What's to love?

For one thing, there's money. Cars are a major source of household debt – and unlike other investments like houses, they depreciate, costing more the longer you own them and the more you use them. For most US families, car ownership is one of those damned-either-way propositions. According to the federal Consumer Expenditure Survey for 2012, the average US family of four spends about $10,000 a year on transportation – more than they spend on food. This isn't reasonable or affordable. But the alternative can be far worse, depending on where you live, work, send your kids to school, school, shop, get healthcare, go to church, and all the other things we do in our daily lives.

Then there's the cost of roads – building and maintaining them. Our gas taxes cover this, is the myth. Unfortunately, this hasn't been true since 1956, ...

As I've written elsewhere, emissions from cars are implicated in nearly all the chronic diseases that are currently hurting our population, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and even autism. That's to say nothing of the other health impacts of a car-oriented society, such as the lack of opportunities to exercise, zoning that encourages big box businesses and fast food consumption, stress, and social isolation and depression (pdf).

[B' Spokes: I really wanted to copy the whole thing, it's that good.]
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Cycling gunman robs pedestrian in Glen Burnie

Biking in the Metro AreaBy By BEN WEATHERS, Capital Gazette

Anne Arundel County Police are searching for a man on a bicycle armed with a gun who robbed a pedestrian Wednesday night.

He is black and in his late teens, about 6-feet tall and weighs between 160 and 170 pounds. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, dark pants and a ski mask over his nose and mouth. [on a black and red BMX style bike]

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Metro Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-866-7LOCKUP or by texting “MCS” plus a message to CRIMES (274637).
[B' Spokes: Not that far from the B&A trail so cyclists may want to be on the look out as well.
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Distracted Driving Is Claiming the Lives of More Pedestrians and Cyclists

Biking Elsewhereby Angie Schmitt, Streets Blog

Pedestrian fatalities attributed to distracted driving increased significantly between 2005 and 2010. Image: Public Health Reports

Total traffic deaths have declined nationwide in recent years, but the same has not held true for the most vulnerable people on the streets: cyclists and pedestrians. In 2011, 130 more pedestrians were killed in traffic than the year before, a 3 percent increase, while 54 more people lost their lives while biking, an increase of 8 percent. The same year, overall traffic deaths declined 2 percent.

As for the reasons why, good data has been scarce, but that hasn’t stopped major media from blaming victims for “drunk walking” or “distracted walking.” Now a new study published in Public Health Reports, the journal of the U.S. Public Health Service and the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General, reveals that distracted driving — particularly driving while texting — partially explains the rising death toll.

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Md. State Police make 1,400 stops in 'move over' crackdown

Biking in MarylandPIKESVILLE, Md. — Maryland State Police made more than 1,400 traffic stops in one day during a crackdown on drivers who fail to move over or slow down for emergency vehicles.

Police say about 1,411 traffic stops on Monday led to 335 citations and 484 warnings for violations of the move over law.

[B' Spokes: Now if we could only get similar action and news coverage over enforcement of our 3' safe passing law or our crosswalk laws or... Something that affects them they enforce, if it affects others, who cares. :/ Seriously?]
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Biking Elsewhere-> According to a Sept. 19th StreetsBlog article, "The question isn't whether your city can afford to build high-quality bike infrastructure anymore, say our friends at the Green Lane Project. It's whether your city can afford not to. The Green Lane Project has been working with the Alliance for Biking and Walking on a study examining the different ways protected bike lanes help local businesses. Blogger Michael Andersen classifies the economic benefits into four basic categories:
Protected bike lanes increase retail visibility and volume...
Protected bike lanes make workers healthier and more productive...
Protected bike lanes make real estate more desirable...
Protected bike lanes help companies score talented workers..."

from CenterLines, the e-newsletter of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking.
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The Safety Paradox: How an Irrational Culture of Fear Endangers Us All

Biking ElsewhereBY Chris Bruntlett, Hush

The United States Postal Service caused an uproar earlier this month when they released a series of stamps designed to encourage physical fitness among their nation’s chronically inactive children. In the end, they were forced to destroy the entire run of fifteen stamps over outcry about some of the ‘unsafe’ activities that they depicted. These include the wild and irresponsible acts of performing a cannonball into a swimming pool, doing a headstand without head protection, and skateboarding without kneepads.

In reality, there is far more safety in numbers than Styrofoam, which is why cities around the world with the highest cycling rates are also the safest, irrespective of helmet usage. Furthermore, the mistaken sense of invincibility provided by safety gear drastically changes the dynamic between road users, and not in the favour of the cyclist. Armoured cyclists have been statistically documented to indulge in ‘overcompensation’, taking additional risks, riding quicker and more recklessly than they otherwise would. Similarly, in a scientifically proven phenomenon known as the Mary Poppins effect, motorists also conduct themselves differently around cyclists dressed in protective equipment, leaving less space when passing, and travelling notably faster around them.

Once, just once, I’d like to see a police or medical professional courageously call for the taming of the bull in society’s china shop, not just the bubble wrapping of our fine china.

Underlying each and every one of these issues is an obesity epidemic that shows no signs of slowing down. 93% of Canadian children do not get the recommended hour of daily physical activity. One in three are either overweight or obese, a vicious cycle that proves difficult to break as they enter adulthood. By 2040, almost three quarters of Canadian adults will be overweight, significantly increasing their risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and costing us over $100-billion per year in treatment and accommodation. Sadly, this generation of children will likely be the first in the history of Western Civilization to live less healthful and shorter lives than their parents.

Despite all of this, the message from our so-called ‘health authorities’ is broadcast loud and clear: you are safer at home on the couch than exercising outdoors without the obligatory padding. The remote possibility of a traumatic injury trumps the overwhelming chance of a lifestyle disease, every single day of the week. They may mean well, but by fixating on the emergency room, these fear-mongering, headline-chasing ‘experts’ perpetuate a safety paradox, which makes matters much, much worse.

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Another cyclist dies because North American trucks don't have sideguards

Biking ElsewhereBy Lloyd Alter, Tree hugger

I wasn't going to write about this. It's just another cyclist killed in Toronto by a truck, where the 25 year old woman was pulled under the wheels of a trailer and had her lower body crushed and took almost a week to die. There are only so many posts you can write about the need for sideguards on trucks, about how little they cost and how easy it would be to do yet the government doesn't demand them, even though in Britain they reduced deaths by 61%. Even China insists on them. I was looking for analogy; Toyota is recalling millions of cars right now because there might be spiders in the airbags even though nobody has been hurt, but are they recalling trucks even though dozens have been killed? Of course not.

B' Spokes: there is also the commercial driver training that is woefully lacking in detail on common mistakes drivers of large trucks make and what should be done to compensate.
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Biking in BaltimoreB' Spokes: One of the things I really enjoy seeing in bicycling advocacy are solutions that address issues and accommodate everyone. How many businesses would like less obstacles to make it easier for motorists to get to their business? I think a good many and that's what Bikemore as put forth.

Wait, what? Cycling advocates are for more car friendly street designs? In a way yes but a better term would be more of a main street that accommodates everyone than a highway that stresses throughput of just motor vehicles. Or to put it another way succinctly: a successful place = lots of people milling around, an economically stressed place = lots of cars zooming by and not stopping.

Check it out:
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The most common damage to cars is from shopping carts and car doors in parking lots

Biking in MarylandB' Spokes: I made up that headline to point out the absurdity of this quote:

"Michael Jackson, director of bicycle and pedestrian access for the Maryland Department of Transportation, said the most common cycling injuries statewide result from people falling off their bikes. Most of those injured are men above age 40, Jackson said."

If there is some such statewide report I have not seen it and that in itself is worrisome. I do however recall some study done somewhere of emergency room visits that had a similar conclusion but I question the methodology of the survey. For example I wonder if the following qualify for just "falling off a bike":

* Wheel trapped in hazardous storm grate
* Back tire slid out from a narrow approach to a driveway with a bike unfriendly lip
* Trying to turn on a trail that does not have the proper turning radius
* Trying to ride on a shoulder and suddenly the width disappears (very common on right turns)
* Getting the wheel trapped by exposed railroad tracks
* Poles and bollards placed in the middle of the trail.
* Cracks in the pavement along the seam between two panels of asphalt
* Riding as far right as possible (That's what the law says right? - While too many think that's what the law says, it is in fact not what the law says.)

Well that paints a completely different picture and gets to the point I would like to make:

Stop blaming the victim!

Sure cyclists should be trained to avoid these things but does this list even exist in training materials for cyclists? That to me is a big issue, we pretend that these things do not exist or that cyclist can "easily" avoid them. But the fact is these things are treated as some sort of oral tradition that cannot be written down or worst as some sort of hazing ritual. But worst of all for the same money these things could and should be completely eliminated but instead the state implies that it is the cyclists fault.

Now getting to my headline, imagine a deadly car crash, and not only deadly the crash involves some issue that you as a driver care deeply about, drunk driving, speeding or some such thing. And a spokesperson for the state in response to this tragedy "The most common damage to cars is from shopping carts and car doors in parking lots."

That's a little outrageous in my book. Initially I was not going to say anything as the article goes into other things so this could just be a reporter issue picking the wrong quote to highlight but I saw another blog pull this quote out so I thought I would address it here.

The New York Times had this bit of info:

"She and her colleagues reviewed hospital and police records for 2,504 bicyclists who had been treated at San Francisco General Hospital. She expected that most of these serious injuries would involve cars; to her surprise, nearly half did not. She suspects that many cyclists with severe injuries were swerving to avoid a pedestrian or got their bike wheels caught in light-rail tracks, for example. Cyclists wounded in crashes that did not involve a car were more than four times as likely to be hurt so badly that they were admitted to the hospital. Yet these injuries often did not result in police reports — a frequent source of injury data — and appeared only in the hospital trauma registry."
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Why Bicyclists should be allowed on some trails in some Wilderness*

Biking Elsewhereby Jim Hasenauer, Wilderness Bicycling

Mountain bicycling is a human powered, environmentally sustainable, outdoor recreation that is compatible with the philosophy, history and future of Wilderness. Mountain bicyclists are drawn to wild places, to exploration, to self sufficiency and to traveling under their own power through challenging terrain.

The ban on bicycles in Wilderness is philosophically and historically flawed. It harms a significant number of bicyclists who are being discriminated against. It weakens the environmental and outdoor recreation communities and therefore reduces protection of wild places. Lifting the system-wide ban and creating regulatory language that would allow bicyclists on some trails in some Wilderness is the best public policy.

Historical Justification

Some people think that bicycles are banned from Wilderness because they are machines, but the legislative and regulatory history does not bear that out. Bicycles are machines, but (as is discussed on this site) only in the way that oarlocks, hiking poles, ski bindings, some climbing equipment, kayak rudders or even soft-soled shoes are. They lever human effort, but ultimately they are human powered, not “propelled by a non-living power source” as 1966 Wilderness regulations define “mechanical transport”.

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Maryland should adopt the Idaho stop law.

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The state should support what kind of bicycle facilities?

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