Category Archives: Everest Challenge

Learning from Trails

“It is sometimes assumed, explicitly or unconsciously, that an individual’s tendencies are naturally purely individualistic or egoistic, and thus antisocial…But there is no ground for any such view. Individuals are certainly interested, at times, in having their own way, and their own way may go contrary to the way of others.  But they are also interested, and chiefly interested upon the whole, in entering into the activities of others and taking part in conjoint and cooperative doings.  Otherwise, no such thing as a community would be possible.”
Democracy and Education by John Dewey, p. 23, The Echo Library 2007

“Boulder’s multi-use paths work just like our roads.”  —The Way of the Path, Boulder, Colorado

Bicycling on trails and shareduse paths is great fun.  I used to take the beautiful path along the Truckee River in Reno as part of my commute.  Listening to the water flowing from Lake Tahoe gushing through town was a perfect way to start and end my work day.  Here in Albuquerque I try to incorporate the Rio Grande Bosque Trail into many of my rides, even if it means adding some extra distance.  These paths create ready access for citizens to high quality experiences.

When I talk to people there is a strong sense that the calmness of the trail is one of the key elements making for an attractive journey.  The first concern is always regulating the fastest vehicles, bicycles, to make sure they don’t take away from others’ experiences.  That makes sense to me because the level of service a road, trail or pathway provides is not about top speed, but comes from an inclusive sense of the whole experience of all users.

Applying this perspective to roads is helpful.  The FHWA says, “For most of the second half of the 20th Century, the transportation, traffic engineering and highway professions in the United States were synonymous. They shared a singular purpose: building a transportation system that promoted the safety, convenience and comfort of motor vehicles.”  Because of the way the built environment was constructed, many people have dropped the notion that walking and bicycling matters.  But evidence has shown that walking and bicycling does matter, and must be taken seriously.  We’ll have better roads when we take into account the experiences of people who are walking and bicycling there, and by promoting safety, comfort and dignity for all.

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/guidance/design.cfm

bandelier-grazing

Deer along the trail at Bandelier National Monument

Making Peace with the Bicycle

Italian-radio-station-nominates-the-bicycle-for-the-Nobel-Peace-Prize

In Italy a radio station has nominated the bicycle for the Nobel Peace Prize.  Good idea.

Around the World by Bicycle

Ride your bicycle in unity
think of physics and glide gracefully on
the world’s a sheet and you a joyous globe
see the faces of friends
on every street
you are familiar in every city
around the world this currency is known
bicycling is a common language such as music
spoken quietly by God’s ear
you are home be one

Side Path Bicycling

Bicycling is one of the least understood forms of transportation.  From the perspective of safety, it is often perceived to be better off bicycling on a side path rather than on a road.  But this is not necessarily the case.  Using education to inform travelers of the hazards to consider may help us make adaptations for safer behaviors, and assist us with making more informed choices.  Here are some things to look for related to side path bicycling safety from The AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities:

  1. Motorists may not see the bicyclists in both directions when turning across the sidepath
  2. Bicyclists crossing intersections at intersections may be at unexpected speeds (speeds faster than pedestrian speeds), which may increase crash frequency
  3. Motorists waiting to enter roadway may block the sidepath crossing
  4. Stopping the bicyclist at cross-street driveways are inappropriate and typically not effective
  5. When sidepath ends, one direction of bicyclists will be going the wrong way
  6. A sidepath may need additional road crossings
  7. Signs posted for roadway users are backwards for contra-flow riders
  8. Barriers are sometimes needed to keep roadway traffic from conflicting with sidepath cyclists, which may obstruct view of each other
  9. Sidepath is sometimes constrained by fixed objects
  10. Some bicyclists will use the roadway instead of the sidepath because of operational issues described. Furthermore, some states prohibit bicyclists using roadway when sidepath is present
  11. Bicyclists can only make a pedestrian-style left, which will increase crossing delay
  12. Bicyclists may not be in the view of drivers turning left or ride from adjacent roadway/driveway
  13. Bicycle-motor vehicle crashes may still occur at sidepath crossing locations
  14. Signs and markings have not been shown to be effective at changing road or path behavior at sidepath intersections

Sidepath conflict diagram AASHTO

Reference:  https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/publications/separated_bikelane_pdg/page18.cfm

Roadway Safety Culture Conference Nov. 5-6

I was browsing the FHWA’s Planning resources and found this upcoming conference.  Here’s the registration link.  When we get organized, partner up and decide we are going to do something about an issue, we make progress.  Here in New Mexico our Dept. of Transportation is working on “retooling” itself to “improve safety for all system users…provide multimodal access and connectivity for community prosperity and health…and respect New Mexico’s cultures, environment, history, and quality of life” to meet these goals set forward in the 2040 Transportation Plan.  By tapping into these national resources, learning about organization transformation, and building interdisciplinary and interagency networks, plus forging public private partnerships, we can accelerate progress on increasing roadway safety.  We’ll get immediate and much more satisfactory results by coming together and focusing.  Here’s more information on the conference:
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High Level Champions for Bicycling

After the final no there comes a yes
And on that yes the future world depends.
No was the night. Yes is this present sun.
                          –Wallace Stephens

Change can come quicker than we think with the right kind of leadership, approach, discipline and solutions to see changes through.  We have to keep urging our leaders to move bicycling and walking forward.  But if we want America to be leading and innovating transportation solutions, we must also get going ourselves and lead the way.  This requires action.  It can’t wait.

Health, transportation, and energy are all interconnected.  Transportation is right up there with energy for carbon emission sources.  From the EPA’s US Sources of Greenhouse Gas.

US Greenhouse Gas Emission sources by sector 2013

I’ve noticed similarities in the way we talk about energy and transportation.  In energy we note how small the proportion of energy that is produced by renewable resources is, just as we note how transportation is dominated by the automobile.  We can think of this as how imbalanced our energy and transportation portfolios truly are,  increasing our sense of urgency to incentivize simple, low cost solutions.  Once we convert to systems that support renewable transportation and energy, the sources of power are free.  Fully utilizing renewable sources to their potential empowers the roll they play in advancing society.  This strategy of inclusion with an emphasis on diversity has been a huge factor in advancing American society.

The reasons we have to do this are clear.  Carbon emissions are a real problem, a problem we have to face.  The problem with cars goes beyond carbon.  The carnage is beyond bearing.  We are losing nearly 40,000 lives every year in the US due to car crashes, and over 2 million people are injured or disabled.  Car crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans traveling abroad, and crashes are the leading cause of death among young people ages 15-29, and the second leading cause of death worldwide among young people ages 5-14.  The problem of excluding walking and bicycling is most deeply impacting vulnerable populations including young people, who for the first time in a long time have lower life expectancies.

What I see are the brightest leaders adapting and understanding, such as the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim.  He sees that this is a time of transition.  He’s trying to get everyone onboard. This kind of adaptation means we are all having to reeducate our selves, because things are changing so rapidly.   Jim Yong Kim has a five year old son and his vision for the world involves seeing the world through his son’s eyes, also through the eyes of the regular person who uses public streets to get to work each day.    Jim Yong Kim on changing transportation:

We [the World Bank] have evolved over time. We have an evidence based set of deeply held values.  Ending poverty, boosting shared prosperity.  Evidence is good you need to include people.  You need to include women.  The evidence is overwhelming we have to do something about climate change.  For us, working on transport is part of this morale responsibility we have to cities of today and the future generation.”  –Jim Yong Kim, World Bank President

He goes on to say in this interview that “if you do green transportation right, it pays for itself in terms of human health and well being, as well as economically and environmentally. It’s a win win win” and “the Introduction of bus rapid transit lanes is dramatically part of the win win win situation.”  What I see developing here is a framework that changes the way we do things.  It is developing quickly and we need to accelerate it more.  We need local leaders and residents to step forward and show how bicycling and walking makes going green rewarding and affordable.  Unleashing the power of renewables is a natural and creative way to live, a good way to exercise our common human traditions and be healthy and share in prosperity.   We are surrounded by an abundance of resources including one another.  Let the breeze, our lungs and legs, the sun and surface winds do the work for us, and share in the harvest.

Flower opening

References:

Statistics on the casualties of road crashes are from the Association for Safe International Road Travel.  http://asirt.org/initiatives/informing-road-users/road-safety-facts/road-crash-statistics

Jim Yong Kim’s quote is from the Shaping the Future of Urban Transport event from the 10th annual Transforming Transportation conference, hosted by the World Bank and EMBARQ .

The childhood obesity epidemic was reported in the NY Times in 2005.

Artists are increasingly shaping the way we perceive the environment.  Check out the events at 516 ARTS in Albuquerque this coming week http://www.516arts.org/ including
http://www.516arts.org/index.php/programs-link/68-events/444-talk-public-art-and-activism-between-climate-culture-and-informational-space

The World Bank has programs focusing directly on improving road safety, and designing sustainable cities:
http://www.wri.org/news/2015/07/release-report-provides-urban-design-recommendations-healthier-cities-fewer-traffic
http://www.wricities.org/
http://www.wri.org/our-work/project/embarq

And the World Bank has this Conference:
http://www.transformingtransportation.org/
Thursday January 14 – Friday January 15, 2016, World Bank Headquarters, Washington D.C.

Dr. Jim Yong Kim is the first medical doctor to be head of the World Bank.  He protested the World Bank when its policies were failing in the early 1990’s.  Now he’s President of it.  Now that’s an adaptive organization!
“Health is not an expense but an investment.”  — Jim Yong Kim, Aspen Institute interview
on transforming development

Crest Fiesta

While Mai took our guests to the balloon ascension this morning I pedaled the back road from Albuquerque that runs between the Sandia and Manzano ranges and then on up the Sandia Crest.  Bicycling truly is renewable transportation.  It’s a special kind of renewable power that is human sourced.  The more you use it, the more power you produce.  My rides lately have been shorter with work and family priorities, and I noticed the Crest was harder with less practice.  It was a good day to take it slow, be social, and explore the colors, sights and sounds of Fall.

big sky

line up

Crest Fall showing

There are people from all over the country visiting New Mexico this week for the Balloon Fiesta, and many are checking out the other attractions as well.  I saw so many out of State plates today.  At the base of the Crest in the piñon forest people were gathering pine nuts.  I’m guessing most of them were locals.   At the observation deck at the top people were climbing out of their cars stiff legged, yawning and stretching tight backs, arms in the air, loosening up for the final wind up the walking path that leads to the top of the Sandia Crest.  Almost every trip with a car or bike is finished off by walking.  And so it is on the Crest way up above 10,000 feet.

mi happy road

tall lady

the grove

As always people at the top are eager to talk.  As I was sipping a coke, taking in the scene and putting on my SESES wool jersey, and arm warmers, I met a gentlemen from Detroit who loves Trek bikes.  He owns a couple.  I asked if he had heard of the slow roll rides founded in Detroit and indeed he had.  I would like to get some of that good vibe going in ABQ.  I know a lot of neighborhoods are doing walks together, and hosting farmers markets.  Let’s bike together too.  I met a woman who asked me how the descent was, and if the brake pads got hot.  I said oh, the brakes take it no problem, bikes weigh nothing next to cars.  You could do it too.  She smiled.  People are curious about riding.  Walking at the top people say good idea to ride your bike up, the descent must be fun, the hard part is over, kids say wow.  Everyone smiles.  It sure is a lot of fun riding with an open canopy and intermingling with the trees and people.    Everyone I talked to was having a good time.  I was too and let people know the biking here is great, try it out.  What a great way to take in the colors.  I am grateful for the Crest road to bicycle on.  Every day the Crest is a Fiesta, or wherever you decide to take a ride, ¡Fiesta!

view

thrust bundle

Fall color bloom

covered

Designing and Educating for Bicycling

Every effort to promote bicycling hinges on a clear understanding of how bicycling works in the context of the overall transportation ecosystem.  The guiding principle for bicycling is commonly referred to as vehicular cycling.  A more modern term is bicycle driving.  It is the basis for safe coexistence with traffic and conforming to the rules of the road.   If you’ve ever operated your bicycle on an ordinary residential street, going with traffic, then you’re already doing it.  Bicycle driving is what is taught in the Safe Routes To Schools curriculum, and every other bicycling education program.   Complete Streets is the design aspect for bringing bicycling into the mainstream by designing streets for bikes.  The educational component is bicycle driving, and it instills confidence for people to be fully empowered to use bicycles to travel anywhere.

The Bike League’s curriculum and all bicycling education programs are designed “to create a mindset that bikes are treated as a vehicle” (from becoming an instructor).  This mindset instills a sense of proportional responsibility and is the basis of appropriate relationships for bicyclists to all kinds of traffic and traffic control devices.  This mindset shared by all sets the tone for great streets and trails.  On the multiuse trail this principle guides bicycles to yield to pedestrians and equestrians, gauging travel speeds accordingly.  On the road the bicycle driving principle means the most predicable, safe, and visible way to move is with the vehicular traffic flow.  Even when there is physical separation between motorized traffic and bicycle traffic, such as with a protected bike lane, the motions of the two traffic streams must always be coordinated and mutually aware.  This is especially true at intersections, driveways, and parking zones when traffic mixes and the cooperative environment depends on predictable movements, communication, awareness, negotiation, and common rules to which all traffic adheres.  Complete Streets policies support design environments that welcome bicycle traffic and lower traffic stress so that people have a better chance to positively orient to the road with whichever mode they choose.  A Complete Street is as an inclusive place and built on the underlying structure of relationships between varying types of traffic.  Traffic skills education is a complimentary factor that facilitates pleasant travel by fostering order and raising awareness.  Design and education work in tandem to promote good bicycling.

Most people have some reservations about bicycling because they are not clear how bikes fit in.  Forward looking solutions include education for drivers to respect all kinds of traffic, and treating bicycles as an equal vehicle, welcoming diversity.  Most bicycle traffic occurs on roads without a designated bicycle facility such as a bicycle lane.  A regular travel lane needs to be at least 14 feet wide for it to be safely shared side by side by a car and a bicycle.  Seeing bicycle traffic using a general travel lane may look different than what we are used to.  I trust we are acclimating to bicycles as a normal component of traffic and civic life in the mainstream, just like we are welcoming diverse religions, cultures, and lifestyles.  Change takes a new attitude, an open mind, and in the case of roads, traffic calming and the conception of an inclusive space.

Bicycles are good for the transportation ecosystem.  As we design and educate better for bicycles, include bicycle traffic in our engineering metrics and traffic flow analysis, and we learn more about what bicycling can do for us and we do it more, things are going to get a lot easier, safer and more attractive.  The quicker we can make these changes, the sooner we can move ahead.  In the Southwest, Utah and Colorado are already in the bike friendly top ten.

For understanding bicycling, I’ve benefited from the generosity of the creator of azbikelaw.org.  For the last two years, Ed has suggested reading related to bicycle law, roadway design, engineering, and traffic behavior.  He has a “do it yourself” entrepreneurial attitude and continues his education, applying critical thinking and analytical skills to practical experience to spur progress.  Ed responds cordially to questions, and links people to resources.  Always there to foster more informed dialogue.  Some of the lessons were tough, like the lessons from a cyclist who was killed by a hit from behind on a charity ride in Cornville.  Ed’s analysis and documentation is brave and courageous, like the novelist Cormac McCarthy’s willingness to tell the story of violence in Western culture and its continuum past to present.  AZ Bike Law is my August 2015 Bike Org of the Month.  Thanks for your diligence and enthusiasm Ed.

bmufl-addition

Please be kind to persons bicycling, walking, rolling, driving autos and commercial vehicles.  Drive with care and caution.  Forgiveness and understanding.  We are all learning.  Gracias!

long Crest road

Achieving World Peace Through Bicycling

It was an incredible week of bicycle racing in Richmond, Virginia culminating in Peter Sagan storming to victory in the road World Championships.  Post race Sagan declared bicycling is a force for bringing the world closer together and said he was largely inspired by the refugee crisis.  My favorite image from the World Championship races is this one of the winner of the Women’s road race crossing the finish line unbelievingly.  Her expression is incredibly touching.

Elizabeth Armitstead winning Worlds, in the moment. Picture from cyclingnews.com

Elizabeth Armitstead winning Worlds, in the moment. Picture from cyclingnews.com

I blogged about Peter Sagan last November.  He’s right up there with Merckx, Lemond, Indurain.  The cycling legends.  Why?  You can’t exactly put your finger on it.  He’s showing us something new, ways of riding cycling has never seen before.  He’s so good at everything.  We all knew he could sprint, but then this year in the Tour of California he won the time trial and finished sixth on the difficult stage that concluded with an ascent up monstrous Mt. Baldy.  Sagan finishing 3rd in the sprint on stage 8 to secure a few bonus seconds that delivered overall victory for him and his team in the General Classification.   He excels at entertainment too.

To understand Sagan in context, you have to remember he’s not even a road bicyclist.  Sagan is a mountain biker.  He just happens to be good at the road, too.  If he can deliver on world peace like he can deliver in bicycle racing, I’ll be writing more about him.   He already has stated his intentions of bringing the world closer together through sport, and I believe he is going to do it.  Sagan is flamboyant and charismatic.  Great performers have those qualities plus talent, skill and determination.  They like to show off.  They like to share.  Show us peace.  Inspire good will.  Let the reign of bicycling bring peace, prosperity and health for generations.

The next generation currently competing

The next generation at the Tour of Utah’s Kids Race

Credits:
I like to use my own photos for my blog posts but for this one, I needed some outside sources.   The first photo is from cyclingnews.com and the second one is from https://www.tourofutah.com/about/mike-and-the-bike

Clarifying That Bicycles May Use Full Lane

A published study uses empirical evidence to show that the “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” sign works better than the “share the road” sign for raising the perception that bicyclists are an expected presence on the American road.  While “share the road” was a well intentioned campaign, the ambiguity of the message decreased effectiveness.  Clearer is safer.   Here’s the study:  http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0136973

mutcd_full_lane

The Bicycles May Use Full Lane sign is a standard sign in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.  It may be used on any road regardless of speed limit.  It explicitly states a principle that is essential for the safe operation of a bicycle, and improves relations between bicycle and motorized traffic by educating the public that the road is designed to serve bicycle as well as motorized traffic.  For guidance on deciding when you should use the full lane, see this piece, “Where to Ride on the Road“.  It is from the excellent resource at azbikelaw.org/  and collates the best advice on choosing positioning from leading bicycling authorities.

The key is a person bicycling has a right and responsibility to decide for themselves where to safely position on the roadway.  Fundamentals of bicycle driving include being predictable, visible, following the rules for drivers, anticipating and avoiding hazards.  It is common for operating conditions to necessitate that people bicycling use the general travel lane.   This sign affirms that right.  The study says that “The Bicycles May Use Full Lane signage showed notable increases in comprehension among novice bicyclists and private motor vehicle commuters, critical target audiences for efforts to promote bicycling in the USA”.   It also draws attention to the web of benefits that a growing understanding and a healthier practice of bicycling allows us to connect to, including realizing greater transportation efficiency and cost savings, increased health, reduced stress on the road, greater mobility freedom, the satisfaction of using our bodies, the independence of self reliance, and a higher quality, more attuned life.

References:

Once again, here’s the study:
“Bicycles May Use Full Lane” Signage Communicates U.S. Roadway Rules and Increases Perception of Safety
More from azbikelaw.org on sharing the road.  This is where I first saw the study (Thanks Ed!):
http://azbikelaw.org/whats-wrong-with-sharing/
The study was done by researchers as NC State University.  They are conservation biologists & “work to unravel the drivers of environmental behavior on which global sustainability depends.”  Bicycling is the most integrative, multidisciplinary, holistically beneficial activity on the planet.
http://www4.ncsu.edu/~mnpeters/
A related post on the “Sharrow” lane marking:
http://azbikelaw.org/bicycles-may-use-full-lane-slm-mutcd-updates/
A related misperception is that bicycles may not delay traffic.  In fact New Mexico is one of 42 States that make it explicit impeding laws only apply to motor vehicles.  This means that people bicycling are permitted to move at speeds that are fitting and natural for their bicycle travel.
http://www.cazbike.org/bicycles-are-not-motor-vehicles-and-why-it-matters/