I’d like to sell you a bridge…O’Canada!

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Burgoyne bridge St.Catharines Ontario

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Canadian Engineering. The struggle is real.

 

Douglas Bruce Ford, Jr. is a Canadian businessperson and politician in Toronto, Ontario. Ford was Toronto City Councillor for Ward 2 Etobicoke North in Toronto from 2010 to 2014 at the same time that his brother, Rob Ford, was mayor of Toronto. Wikipedia

Robert Bruce “Rob” Ford is a Canadian politician and businessperson who is a Toronto City Councillor. He was the 64th Mayor of Toronto, serving from 2010 to 2014. Prior to being mayor, Ford was a city councillor. Wikipedia

Car centric societies have no business engineering bicycle specific infrastructure. They aren’t qualified. You can not live your entire life driving a car and think that your engineering degree makes you fit to design bicycle specific infrastructure. You can’t do it. It’s like hiring someone who only walks, and has never driven, to design the roads you drive on. You would consider them unqualified, no matter how extensive their engineering knowledge or how many framed bits of expensive paper they have hanging on their wall.

You have to feel bicycling.

Local cycling advocate Tyler P. wants to ride his bicycle. He has a job, he goes to school, he shops, pays taxes, and is an all around responsible person.

He is a first class citizen being treated with second class status.

Because he rides a bicycle.

Toronto a.k.a. ‘Car’onto thanks to politicians like the “Ford’s” is vastly lopsided in its engineering practices. These engineering policies affect the entire province of Ontario, including the city of St. Catharines in the Niagara region.

Tyler P. has been actively reaching out to the local administration in the Niagara region and asking them for

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Legally it’s “Shall” but that’s a whole ‘nother blog.

These are temporary signs that he is asking to be placed until the new construction is complete.

As it stands now. There is a 1.2 meter sidewalk and the city of St. Catharines is asking cyclist to dismount and walk their bicycles across a bridge.

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Looks like someone wanted to be cute and put a little blue hat on the cyclist.

It’s a long walk.

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All bridge photo’s courtesy of Tyler P.

Bicycling for transportation is fun. It’s also healthy, good for the environment, and easy on the wallet. The number one response from cyclists when asked why they enjoy cycling is “FREEDOM.”

You can’t get that with a car, even if you made it 100% free in every aspect you would still be hemmed in, limited, and stuck in traffic. That is the nature of autos.

Car centric societies are jealous of the freedom which cycling brings and it’s why people blame cyclists for their traffic problems, try to pass laws restricting them, and gamers design infra which hems cyclists in on every side.

Why can’t he just ride in the lane?

Well he can. Legally in St. Catharines, and all of Canada, Tyler’s bicycle is a vehicle and he is legally allowed to occupy the full lane of travel. Which is why he is asking for the sign. Tyler knows what he can do. That’s not the problem. The problem is that people driving autos will make his life a living hell for exercising his rights. Because they are

  1. Uneducated on the equal status of bicycles as vehicles.
  2. Educated by auto ads that their auto is “like a family member,” and we all put our family before strangers.
  3. Car culture breeds lazy, distracted, and passive driving.

Namely tyler doesn’t want to be harassed.

 

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There is plenty of space for Tyler on the road. There is little space for pedestrians, Tyler and his bicycle.

There has been Twitter mention to the authorities in charge of this project to take into consideration the needs of the cyclist before after the construction is completed. As it stands now the bridge is being built to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists as an afterthought.

There is a real problem with bicycle infra that project engineers, city planners, and cycling advocates like to pretend doesn’t exist.

All transportation engineers put every measure into insuring that autos can operate at maximum speed with safety. They put very little of this same safety culture into bicycle design. Everyone assumes all cyclists are going to operate at super slow speed. I can tell you from experience that cyclists do not, and most will not, operate at the speeds for which you are designing their infra.

You create unsafe places for cyclists, pass laws mandating that cyclists must use these unsafe facilities, and then scratch your heads and conduct million dollar research studies to figure out why cyclists keep dying after all that effort.

Go ride your bike! 

I’m talking to you transportation engineers.

In the meantime. Can we put a little lean on the people in charge of the Burgoyne bridge in St.Catharines, Ontario and get Tyler P. the help he needs in creating space for cycling?

You can contact them here. Niagara Region
And here.
the construction firm
the region is like the county
the mayor who seems responsive at times
Alan Caslin

Please be aware that:

Feb 19
Tyler P.
When it’s done it will have painted lanes at the edge

And on a highly trafficked bridge some paint on the road is completely unacceptable. If a cyclist can be harassed for safely controlling their lane. Then the city has a moral responsibility to create a protected space. Not just from auto’s but from the debris that they push into bike lanes. (It’s why I prefer to cycling in the travel lane. Those nice people in their autos keep them swept clean.)

Please contact the names listed and go to their FB page.

Nicely! Ask them to support cycling.

Do it for yourself, Do it for cycling, Do it for the environment, But above all!

Do it for Tyler!

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Steady there. Once false move and it’s a head under a tire. #ForTyler

Now I know

Now I know. Being on the edge isn't safer.

The image at the top is what happens when cyclists ride on the edge of a highway. This is our story on how we learned the easy way to stay safe.

When I first started out, I didn’t have a clue but now I know.

I know that the biggest problem with getting people to accept cycling as a viable means of transportation is not a lack of bike lanes. It is instead the human condition. What we lack is knowledge and critical thinking skills. This idea that you have to be “fearless” to ride a bicycle on certain roads is complete bunk. Knowledge of the laws and why we have said laws or rather the lack of such knowledge is far more crippling to cycling than the lack of bike lanes.

How can I be so sure?

Because I was faced with the choice of keeping my kids locked up and confined to a small town. A town which doesn’t have a single movie theater, museum, or anything remotely kid friendly for entertainment. A town that moved it’s one form of entertainment a.ka. the local library, and put it so far out of reach that we had to ride our bicycles through a high-speed road where dump trucks were accessing the entrance to the local rock quarry. A town where there isn’t a single bike lane and all roads are driven at 35 mph or greater regardless of signage. A town where a family of five burned up in a fiery high-speed crash and a pedestrian was mowed down while crossing her residential street to visit a neighbor.

My choice was to educate my children on how to safely group ride from one town to the next.

In the beginning they were nervous and my youngest said she was down right scared. I told her that if we decided it was too scary we would turn back and go home.

So we discuss our route. I explain where we are going to ride on the shoulder and I explain where we are not going to ride on the shoulder. I explain the different movements that vehicles make and discuss driving theory 101 with them.

We pretend to be people driving cars and one of us pretends to be on the edge as a cyclist. They get a first person experience in a closed environment and learn about why people drive the way they do and how we can prevent common mistakes.

We start out.

The first thing we do is turn onto the shoulder at the junction of Wichita lane and U.S. 27. Very quickly we approach that section where riding on the shoulder is no longer safe. Motorists go flying past us at full speed. 60 mph + onto the off ramp. We are not a part of traffic. We are irrelevant to them. We stop and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait. It starts to get tense. Sitting still while cars go flying past you is very uncomfortable. There on the edge my daughters fear rises as motorists blindly fly by, her anxiety climbs. I’m feeling it too. As soon as it is clear, we dart across the on ramp and continue on the shoulder. Things go well. My daughter starts to feel better and before we know it we are now at the off ramp. This is the junction where U.S. 29 meets U.S. 27. It is important to note that these ramps are marked as 15 mph. However they are engineered in such a way that you can take them at full speed and take them at full speed the locals do.

We all stop in the center “no mans” land. It was the shoulder but now it is an island of doom. Cars are whizzing past us on both sides. The break comes sooner than last time and we make our way onto the road. This time we do something different. We ride the travel lane. The shoulder here is like all the other shoulders covered in rumble strips, broken glass, gravel, bits of metal shards and other garbage strewn across it. The travel lane is smooth and worry free.

As we bike down the high-speed road I ask my daughter how she feels. “This is a lot better than the shoulder” she says, I was surprised. Shocked really. I was sure that she would “feel safer” on the shoulder. My daughter explains: “When I was on the shoulder all these cars were just whizzing by us like weren’t even there. Once we were on the road it was like they saw us and a lot of people slowed down and passed us at slower speeds. I didn’t have to worry about someone running into us”.

We ride the travel lane over to Etter Dr. and after we make it through the intersection we move back to the shoulder at my request. Both kids were asking why we had to be on the shoulder. My son was saying “Come on mom. We can be in the travel lane. Let’s just move over.” I was determined to keep us on the shoulder and we kept on going. Right up until we came to Raising Cane’s. This is another section of road where the engineers designed a nice high-speed right turn. My fear is that someone will take that right turn at typical speed and plow right into us. So we waited and waited and waited and waited for traffic to clear. Then we carefully navigated the rumble strip and we rode the travel lane. Once again the anxiety that had been building in the kids quickly dissipated and even though we were honked at and screamed at by passing motorists. Everyone enjoyed their ride in the travel lane. People in cars noticed us. They slowed down to normal speeds and acknowledged us with honks and screams. We shook our heads at the sorry ass motorists and kept on biking.

We went through the intersection and just like before, we signaled and moved onto the shoulder. Same thing again. Ride the shoulder, anxiety increases, fear mounts, and then we come to an area that is no longer even remotely safe to be in so we move over to the travel lane and the anxiety decreases, the fear disappears and we are safer than we were before.

Motorists are anxious. They don’t like us to be in the travel lane. They honk at us. Scream at us. Call us idiots. But we are not idiots. We feel safe and carefree in the travel lane. It was after all built and engineered for traffic. The rules of the road are dictated by the lane. We are following the rules of the road and it feels good. My daughter laughs. My son shrugs his shoulders and rolls his eyes. Life is good.

As we wait at the light that intersects Business U.S. 27 from U.S. 27 I ask them if they want to move over to the shoulder after we get past the on ramp. They say “NO”. We are safer here in the lane they insist. I shrug and say o.k. but inside I am bursting with pride. My kids are smarter than Andy Clarke of L.A.B. infamy and Carl Overton of Lexington who at 30 something is afraid to ride his bicycle on anything other than 25 mph roads.

Cars drive past in the left lane. We ride on in the right lane. My kids are practically bouncing up and down on their respective seats. “This is fun!” my daughter screams at a motorist who aggressively honks as they pass us. They flip her the bird. She laughs and flips them the bird back. “Fuck them” she says. I chide her on her language. “They flipped me the bird first.” she says. We agree to let it go and continue our ride.

We make our first pit stop at Catnip Hill Road. We stop at the BP and get sodas. We talk about the route so far. We discuss how we felt on the shoulder as opposed to the travel lane. My kids are practically walking on air. They high-five each other and shout “We are riding the travel lane.” and off we go.

We take a left from Catnip Hill Road back onto U.S. 27 and this is where the safety of the travel lane is re-enforced into our mental psyche. As we are riding along a motorist comes flying out of a local strip mall shopping center and slams to a halt right on the shoulder. You can see from the tire marks on the pavement that this is normal motorist behavior. My son says “Good thing we weren’t on the shoulder”. My daughter says “Yea, they would have hit us for sure.” We ride on.

As we continue down U.S. 27 I point out the potholes, rumble strips, and broken pavement. They point out the rocks, gravel, and broken glass. We all agree that the travel lane is best.

We had a great time in Lexington and half the fun was traveling there. We rode back home without incident and on the way back my daughter said “I can’t believe I was afraid to ride my bike.”

Fear for fears sake

or

Fear of the unknown

Propaganda fueled rhetoric about making cycling safer isn’t helping anyone. So shut up and put up. If you can’t ride the ride then you have no place deciding what is or isn’t safe.

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There are not any side roads to get to Lexington. All of the roads are high speed roads. So we pick the one that takes us directly to our destination. It also has the added benefit of being a multi lane road.
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We are traveling from Nicholasville to Lexington. U.S. 27 is the safest and most direct route.
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Nathan has his back to the camera. Elena is looking out towards Main St. in Lexington.
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Elena. Bicycle adventurer. She loves exploring the town on her bicycle. She says “Sidewalk riding isn’t safe.”
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Nathan. He likes to visit his friends. He gets around on his bicycle. Nathan says “Who needs a car when you have a bicycle?”

Has the Jessamine County Attorneys office embraced the Sovereign Citizen movement?

Cyclist Cherokee Schill on her work commute

Has the Jessamine County Attorneys office embraced the Sovereign Citizen movement?

A lot of people viewed my case with a flawed assumption. They erroneously believed “If the police are ticketing you, you must have done something wrong.”

The #BlackLivesMatter movement has shown that often the police will use made up excuses to pull you over and then kill you. If you are white the police still use made up excuses to pull you over and, instead of killing you, they write you bogus tickets.

Since 2009 there has been a movement on the rise. A dangerous, corrupt, fanatical, wide eyed, foaming at the mouth movement.

I, unwittingly, ended up getting a taste of this movement. The focus of the article, written by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is on Sheriffs department. I can personally attest that this movement doesn’t end with your local sheriffs office. The #SoverignCitizen movement has also had a huge impact in the local police force and in the Jessamine County Attorneys office.

They pick and choose which laws they wish to follow. All other be damned.

I recommend reading – Poison Tea: How Big Oil and Big Tobacco Invented the Tea Party and Captured the GOP

Jessamine County attorney Brian Goettl and his staff have been known to operate outside the law. Brian Goettl is a Tea-Party Republican, he holds an elected position. At what point do we say “Enough is Enough”?

I strongly urge you to #VoteEmOut!

Cyclist Cherokee Schill on her work commute
There is a huge rumble strip to my right and this truck is on my ass. Making it doubly dangerous for me to move anywhere but forward. It is NOT illegal in Kentucky for a cyclist to operate a bicycle on the road. Brian Goettl told me I was “Morally” obligated to ride the white line. He himself admitted that I was not required to operate on the shoulder. But he still went ahead and prosecuted me for exercising my legal right to the road and to be safe. 

 

 

Tokenism & Moral Licensing

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to·ken·ism
[ˈtōkəˌnizəm]

1. the practice of making only a perfunctory or symbolic effort to do a particular thing, especially by recruiting a small number of people from underrepresented groups in order to give the appearance of sexual or racial equality within a workforce.

The fruit of moral licensing is hypocrisy.
When I first took up cycling for transportation, I was vastly naive about the realities of humanity. I’m not naive anymore.

Trump has fired his campaign manager. Some reports are that the kids didn’t like the campaign manager, some reports that Trump is changing direction, and some reports that Trumps candidacy is in disarray.

Trump is the king of notably offensive token gestures. Taco Salad in Trump tower being only one of many.

But how does tokenism reflect on the situation at hand?

Trump needs the endorsement of the Republican demi-gods as much as Hillary or Bernie do from their own Democratic demi-gods. Object to that idea? Then change the primary process to reflect the will of the people.

I suspect this is a strategic move to sooth the ruffled feathers of the GOP in as much the same way as his Q&A session was with the religious right. Oh who are we kidding. The GOP has become the religious right and we’d do well to remember that.

Conservative motorists and conservative cyclists were the push behind crucifying me for legally and safely cycling on a public roadway.

What if Trump, after all his “winning”, ends up losing the primary?

The question I would ask myself is “who would the GOP chose to take Trumps place?”
If the religious right refuse to christen him with the GOP nomination then who will they pick? I suspect we haven’t heard of him if he does, in fact, exist.

I personally don’t know. But if you have any thoughts on the subject I’d love to hear them.

Trump is as notorious for his xenophobia and racism as he is for his sexism.

So let’s talk about women.

Women in cycling is not the gender barrier breakthrough that anyone could hope for and in the world of cycling advocacy; a few token black people advocating for or cycling isn’t any better. We need more blacks competing in the Tour de France. We need women in there too. Our diverse cultures are not represented in the cycling world and you can see that best in Cycling magazines. Our cycling magazines are still predominately male and white, just look at the advertising, and our large advocacy groups are made up of the same vanilla male types. Sarah Goodyear of City Lab writes about “The Surprising Diversity of the American Cycling Community,” you’d thing the problem of encouraging non whites to cycle is over. Sorry Buttermilk. It’s only begun. It’s only begun because Marshal Taylor was not given the respect he deserved as a black cyclist and too few blacks know of his existence. I want you to be mad and fired up if you’re not a white male, and even if you are, I want you to get out there and demand your right to cycle and be a human being. Ultimately that is what we all are, human beings.

Racism and sexism are on the rise in America and the rest of the world.

Blatant racism is easy to spot and easier to confront. Casual racism is not. It is often inherent and we feel morally justified when we practice it because after all we don’t support racism. The same is true of sexism. For this topic I want to hand the reins over to a man. Not because he’s a man but because he is qualified to to talk about this and has done so eloquently. It’s 30 min long and worth every minute.

Does that open the world up for you?

I certainly hope so. Because the rest of this wont make sense unless you heard the podcast and more importantly took it in.

To defeat racism, sexism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and all other isms and phobia’s we need a bridge. We need someone who reflects our values, who get’s us, and represents those people whom we need to hear our message. To a woman listening to another woman complaining about the glass ceiling, she get’s it. But to a man with sexist leanings, it sounds like bitching. Take that same man and let him hear the same thing from another man and he gets his “aha” moment. We need ambassadors to bridge the gap and to bring us over the chasm of the various societal ills.

If Hillary Clinton wins POTUS it could very well be the door closing and locking the rest of us out. If Trump wins POTUS it will be a disaster. But if we could get Bernie Sanders in and he were to build that bridge, the next woman to run for POTUS would have the platform to forever throw open the doors of diversity and welcome all of us in.

Women who bash men for supporting Bernie are just as bad as men who bash women for supporting Hillary. Anyone who supports Trump is either not paying attention, brain dead, or wants to watch the world burn.

Bicycles are the means to a better future for everyone. Even those who will never ride a bicycle.

In much the same way that Bernie is encouraging people to run for office and take over our local politics. I have encouraged (for anyone who has followed me on twitter) cycling advocates to get into open positions with the transportation cabinet both locally and nationally.

I’ve never asked to be the representative of cycling. Nor have I asked to be the face of cycling for transportation. What I’ve asked is to be supported by everyone, cyclist or not, who supports freedom, civil liberties, and respecting others. Sadly rape culture exists in cycling advocacy beyond high vis. clothing and victim blaming for not wearing a helmet. There is this thing called consent and no one asked me if I consented to being thrust into the spotlight like I was. Yes, I did want people to be aware of my situation. But I wanted them to know about it so that they would help pressure the police and county attorneys office to stop harassing me. I wanted to be in the crowd. Not the leader of the crowd. Consent isn’t just a teenage male issue. Women struggle with the basic concept of consent as well.

The sexism I’ve come across in the cycling community has been astounding. I can feel empathy for Hillary Clinton on that count. As someone who has been disenfranchised by her and her husbands conservative placating policies, I can not and will not accept her nomination for POTUS. If you heard the podcast then you will understand my concerns on a deeper level. I’ve met a lot of women who want a female president but not Hillary for that female president. It’s OK to pass the baton to someone who is capable of ethically uniting everyone. I believe that doing so will not only break the glass ceiling but will tear the door blocking us from diversity off its hinges.

I am not the belle weather and neither is Hillary.

We must unite to defeat Trump but we must also unite to protect more than women. We need to unite to protect the diversity of humanity which also represents women.

Hillary Clinton is not as strong as her supporters are making her out to be. I am very concerned if Trump does and does not become the official nominee of the GOP. There are so many variables to the Trump situation and I won’t be able to focus on his weaknesses, mainly because he as so many, until I know for sure that he clinches it. But if Hillary gets the nomination I can accurately predict that it will be a nightmare four years and she could end up impeached like Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president.

I’m also asking you to start a bike group in your local area. Make it a social bike group. Ditch the male roadie culture and start one of your own. Be women on bikes. Be women of color on bikes. Be anyone who isn’t a white male on a bike. But above all find your bridge makers and join the local politics. Make positive changes. Focus on Education, Legislation, and Infrastructure in equal measure. We need that perfect storm to establish a cycling culture to rival all others in America.

I wish it were in my lifetime that the glass ceiling was smashed to bits and the door barring diversity was ripped off its hinges but if we all work together then it will be in our children’s lifetime and that is good enough for me.

 

 

 

 

 

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Tactical Urbanism: Let there be light

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Tactical urbanism is an umbrella term used to describe a collection of low-cost, temporary changes to the built environment, usually in cities, intended to improve local neighbourhoods and city gathering places.

Capitalism, Consumerism, and Auto Culture.

They all have at least one thing in common.

 

People.

Not just any people, these organizations are made up of people who get to decide, for us, what best suites the majority of people. If it doesn’t serve their bottom line of profit or enhance consumption, then it isn’t in their best interests and they will not pursue it, even if it means some people will suffer for their inaction.

That’s fine if we are talking about window dressing or paint color. But when people have the potential to be hurt by their inaction it is time to take action.

Priority and safety is the focus of moving auto’s from point A to point B. This is a huge financial drain on us and on our cities. Worse, those who directly benefit from increased auto use are the people who operate auto corporations, not the people driving on the street.

Street lights help people feel safe and that this is a direct benefit to the user. No one wants to jog along a dark street. Better street lighting encourages nighttime driving. Well lit streets give a community a feeling of ease and a sense of safety. Though there are some studies which show that increased lighting on well paved area’s doesn’t increase safety. But tell that to someone fumbling around in a dark parking lot or trying to make out street signs as they look for their friends house at 2 a.m.

Trails which move people on foot, bike, or wheelchair do not see the same safety measures given to those systems which have the greatest benefit to auto’s and those who directly benefit from selling you an auto. The real problem, as I see it, is incomplete or one sided education of our urban planners. People who don’t use the very trails they design or if they do use it, they don’t use it in the way that those most vulnerable are using the trails. Mainly during low light conditions. Students, working families, and/or anyone else who is tied up with the day to day cares of this world have the evening to enjoy the trails. Early morning commuters who want to enjoy a stress free commute, deserve quality trails. So why should they be left to stumble around in the dark?

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The post on the right.

When you have exhausted every avenue available to you. When your words fall on deaf ears. What is there left to do?

Shall we fold our hands and say “At least I tried.”

Did you try?

Is it possible that there is something more you can do?

Enter Tactical Urbanism.

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Creating safer communities through direct involvement.

When you’ve been told that the cost of installing lighting along the trail is too expensive. Or you’ve been told that it just isn’t feasible. What you are really hearing is “Your concerns are not important.”

But your concerns are important. You as an individual are important, both to yourself and to someone else. Taking a positive step to help those in your community is an act which is both selfless and selfish. By taking an active part in your community you are bettering it not only for yourself but for all of those around you.

Sometimes our city planners need us to show them the way. It’s not that they can’t figure it out. It’s that they don’t have the motivation to do the research that we have done.

Tactical Urbanism is one positive and friendly way to show them just how easy it is to install some lights.

I highly encourage you to take an active role in the betterment of your community. You can learn more about tactical urbanism from the original creators through this link: Here.

People need to feel connected to their community. This connection creates, not only a sense of belonging but also, a sense of responsibility. When people take responsibility for their community the direct benefit is a safer community. Isn’t that what we all want?

Women, Freedom, and Bicycles.

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I came very close to going to prison. Not because I had done anything wrong by cycling on U.S. 27, but because the system is flawed. It works for those who have the money to buy the right connections.

Purvi Patel and I were in the same boat but for different reasons. Her story could have very easily been my story. I’d had two late term abortions due to severe fetal anomalies. Even writing the last part of that sentence sits wrong with me. I shouldn’t have to include my private medical information so that you’d feel empathy for me instead of disgust. But there we have it. Rape culture and victim blaming.

I can’t speak for Purvi Patel’s legal council or the laws that were used to charge her. I’m not familiar with either. What I can speak about with confidence is the mixed reactions people had when her story broke. Some people felt empathy, while others wanted to crucify her. I recall trying to raise awareness about her story and a woman wrote to me saying that “she dumped the body in a dumpster!” as though that should seal her fate. It reminded me of the pseudo cycling advocates who say “She’s cycling on the road!” as though that was all the evidence they needed that I was doing something wrong.

I’ve worked in a hospital before as hospital staff. My first experience with hospital waste came from my first summer job I had before college. I was working for the college laundry and we serviced the hospitals dirty linens. The stuff you find in there is shocking. The stuff you see in a hospital is shocking. But it’s only shocking to the people who live in suburban and urban bubbles. People whose closest foray into the medical world is watching edited for T.V. medical dramas don’t understand. Real life is much messier and less black and white.

So they judged her without knowing her and they prosecuted her with barely a peep from Civil Liberties giants like the ACLU.

Recently I saw an article declaring high speed internet in rural locations as our next civil liberties crisis. I thought, wow! What a crock of shit! Huffington post highlighted a story about a man who was struggling to earn enough through his online business to support his family. This has the ACLU galloping to fight for “justice.” Internet is important and it’s a great tool for learning but there are other avenues and no one is having their freedoms destroyed because they can’t connect at speeds greater than 25mbps.

Meanwhile Purvi Patel might very well languish in prison for 20 years because she felt conflicted about a pregnancy, shared those feeling via text msg, and had a miscarriage that was probably more of a relief for her than it was a loss. Then she put the already dead fetus in the trash. Much the same way that your local hospital does. Though most have their medical waste incinerated to prevent biohazards from getting into the environment. It’s all very regulated.

My first late term abortion I opted to have my pregnancy induced. It was just a matter of time and time wasn’t on my side. The baby had at this point died in utero and I was becoming sick. Every woman is different and every woman’s body handles a dead fetus differently. Maybe Nicholas was alive right up until the birth and they told me they couldn’t find a heartbeat to help me feel better. I don’t know. What I do know is that he was dead when he came out and I got to hold a 25 week old fetus in my arms. They are fragile as spun glass. Very tiny too. In fact the anti-choice posters they wave at Planned Parenthood don’t look like 6-12 week old fetus’. They look more like my son Nicholas at 25 weeks. Which is to say that those people are lying to you. They are lying to you when they tell you that Purvi Patel’s baby was born alive. They will feed you half lies and tell you that they are semi truths while denying that a half truth is a whole lie.

Much like this picture of me here.

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*That’s me. Before I learned lane control. I was getting a lot of close in the lane passes. 

The picture is carefully taken to show you what looks like a nice wide shoulder. Looks pretty smooth too. But it’s not and the broken white line you see to my right is the beginning of a turn only lane. The same turn only lane that I used to illegally cycle forward through and almost got killed on one occasion. So I stopped and tried riding further right only to find that the motorists were taking the right turn at such high speeds that they didn’t see me and I almost got killed again. So I said fuck it and started riding in the lane. Where it was legal and safe. Besides broken glass, rumble strips, pot holes, right turning motorists (at high speeds), and intersections. I still had to deal with people rolling coal on me and throwing things at me. One person even tried to run me over while I was attempting to merge onto the shoulder. They passed me on the shoulder and almost struck me. So I said fuck it! I’m not breaking any laws by staying in the right hand lane and that’s where I’m safe, so that’s where I rode.

If you didn’t know all that just looking at the picture would make you question my “morality,” which is an absurd thing to do but it’s what humans do and we as a species are absurd.

The courts didn’t have a legal leg to stand on but with an inept conservative Republican, who is also a Lexington KY road cyclist, for an attorney. One who specialized in contract law and had never conducted a courtroom trial, I was screwed and I knew it. People ask me why I didn’t ask for a continuance when the ASSistant C.A. Eric Wright introduced a new charge at my trial. Mostly I wanted my relationship with my attorney to be over but also because I felt bad for the people who had paid air fare to come out and defend me. I really just wanted the whole thing to be over. I knew my attorney wasn’t prepared to represent me and I knew I was going to lose on those first three tickets. I wanted to win. I wanted to win so bad I could taste it. But the odds were stacked against me and I knew it. Filing an appeal was my next option but the new attorney I hired, thanks to all of your generous donations, advised against it. As did Ohio bike lawyer Steve M. He knew that the case was poorly represented and Steve had given it his best but there was only so much Steve could do with the local attorney who sat through the whole trial like a bump on a log. The guy who filmed my news segment, the one from which the picture is taken and my local attorney are tight. Both cyclists. Both men. They are not bad people. What they are is really out of touch people. People who think Trump is going to make America Great again or that Hillary Clinton has a fighting chance against Trump. They are really out of touch with working class Americans.

My new attorney said we had two options, file a mistrial due to incompetent legal counsel. Which I didn’t want to drag Steve’s name into. Or accept a plea agreement. The plea agreement was only accepted by me because I did not admit to any guilt. That was my one stipulation above all else. Jude Booth had already ruled my cycling on the road was legal.  The City of Nicholasville agreed to drop all charges, have the first three tickets expunged from my record and the fines waived (taxpayer dollars down the drain), and all I had to do was agree to not cycle on U.S. 27 for two years. We threw in that the police had probable cause to pull me over. But I didn’t give a shit about that because the U.S. Supreme court later ruled that cops can pull you over if they “think” you’re breaking a law but you’re not actually breaking a law. Meaning that the cop could think you’ve broken a law or he can make up a law and that would count as probable cause. Like I said the whole system is fucked up. So I gave them probable cause and agreed to not cycle on U.S. 27 for two years. Since U.S. 27 runs directly through downtown and I knew that the county attorney and his crew were as corrupt as fuck. I had no choice but to move away. I couldn’t go to my bank or the grocery store without using U.S. 27 and you know they’d throw my ass in jail for breaking the plea agreement if I said or did anything they didn’t like. Even though I wasn’t cycling on the main road to Lexington it was still U.S. 27 and I didn’t trust those fuckers.

But I would have fought and continued fighting if I wasn’t pressured into moving to Louisville. I really did want to fight but at the same time I didn’t because I was so overwhelmed and tired. Having someone constantly telling me to move and even going so far as to tell us to stay with them was enough to influence my decision.

I think Purvi’s legal team really didn’t have a clue as to how to defend her but I do know they put more effort into it than my local attorney did.

I also know that the same type of people who think I’m against bicycle infrastructure are the same type of people who think that Purvi Patel threw a live infant in the trash. Ignorant, out of touch, privileged, mostly male but some women too, and they are all assholes.

The environment that we are currently living in is so geared away from freedom and the people who live in it are so apathetic that they can’t even get 100k signatures to free Purvi Patel BUT! they get over 100k signatures to ask for the freedom of a man who strangled and killed a woman. 

He might very well be innocent or he may be guilty as hell! But the fact that the New York Times wrote an extensive article showing that Purvi Patel did NOT kill her baby and that it WAS dead before it ever came out of her vagina is still not enough to garner enough interest to reach more than 18k signatures.

As a woman who was getting a lot of hate from the Mountain Biking community, male auto drivers, and an unwarranted amount of hate from the “progressive” male dominated Democrats of Lexington KY; I knew my pooch was screwed. That and I was fucking tired. Tired of the hate, tired of the controversy (where none need exist), and above all else tired of the attention and people hanging on my every word.

I fought Nicholasville KY because I wanted to keep my home and my kids. I wasn’t looking to be the face of cycling. It wasn’t a stunt to bring attention to cycling or even VC cycling. The VC cyclists were the only group that said “Fuck yea! You have the right to cycle anywhere the hell you want!” That and that alone is what attracted me to them.

As I got to know some of them I realized that the group was comprised of assholes too. Just a different kind of asshole. So I dropped out of the group. No one got a hold of me or brainwashed me into Cycling Savvy. I approached it from logic, the law, and personal experience.

I fantasized about a bikeway that had bike lights and riding on a trail with no fucking self entitled motorists.

I hate bike lanes. Not because I hate bike lanes but because the overwhelming majority of them are crap. Pure fucking crap. I cycle less here in Oregon because of them. I still only cycle for transportation. But If I can take the bus, I so will. I still get harassed for lane control. Even though it is specifically legal to control a lane here in Oregon.

Sometimes I see the bike lobby much the same way I see the “right to life” lobbyists. Always crying about life and how precious it is until the life that matters isn’t one they are particularly interested in.

Abortion without apology and Cycling without apology. They are both our civil rights.

Self autonomy and freedom!

Vote Bernie Sanders!

 

*Before I learned about lane control I cycled on the right third of the lane.

 

 

Bicycle Parking

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I wrote a blog about how people should operate vehicles in parking lots. You can read it here.

In some areas it is next to impossible to find a place to lock up your bicycle. Pleasure cyclists, occasional cyclists, and roadies rarely have kickstands or Dutch locks. My bicycle has both. It’s better than sliced bread. Seriously.

If you’ve been frustrated by your plea’s for bicycle parking falling on deaf ears, never fear, I have a solution for you.

One of the easiest ways I’ve been able to draw attention to the disparity in bicycle parking facilities is by using the parking facilities already present.

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Instant bicycle parking. Just add a lock and a kickstand.

If you don’t have a kickstand on your bicycle, well, you’re screwed. Unless you can find someone who has a sturdy bicycle, with a kickstand, and is willing to let you lean your bicycle on theirs.

This “lack of bicycle parking facilities” protest is better when it’s done with friends.

Some people will say that they feel bad, taking up so much space. Screw them! I don’t see too many motorists torn up about taking up a full parking spot, especially to haul just one person. Why should you care if you are taking up a space to haul one person? It’s almost like some of you cyclists aren’t really cyclists. Some of you are so apologetic for cycling, you remind me of a beaten animal who slinks back to its abuser and apologetically licks the abusers hand. Seriously! Get some PRIDE! Show a little backbone! You’re a cyclist! Motorists should be falling over backwards THANKING YOU!

Cyclists are awesome.

We don’t tear up the roads we travel on. We don’t spew toxic chemicals into the air. We don’t run down your family pets as they cross the road. Hell! We save the pets motorists dump on the side of the road!

 

So stop feeling guilty for using a parking space. You are not a second class citizen. You deserve convenient and secure parking.

What’s more Pedestrians deserve the sidewalk. Nobody wants to trip over your bicycle(s) as they try to navigate the, often, too narrow sidewalk.

No person in a wheelchair should have to struggle to get past your bicycle as it blocks the sidewalk.

As a cyclist I believe it is our duty to look out for pedestrians.

Here is a possible kickstand solution for you roadie types.

http://upstandingbicycle.com/upstand-bike-stand/

You’re welcome!

A simple U-Lock works or you can add a Dutch style bicycle lock to your bicycle. Not recommended for the roadies. Your cycling bro’s will totally laugh at you (but inside they’ll be jealous).

*Legal note:

Some towns have passed ordinances making it illegal to park a bicycle in an “auto” parking spot. Most have a clause about this ordinance only applying if there is a bicycle parking facility. Read and know your state, county, and city laws. Civil disobedience is a beautiful thing.

 

Speed: There is never an excuse for speeding

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By now you should know that calling a crash an accident is a way of moving liability away from the person driving the vehicle.

Reading an article in CNN Money, I see a correlation between litigation and blaming the inanimate object. (Yes, you can draw an analogy about guns here too.)

There isn’t any such thing as an accident when it comes to auto collisions. Wet roads are no more to blame for your lead foot than an app is to blame for this horrific collision.

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Your steel cage is no match for the speed of the idiot behind the wheel.

“The plaintiff, Wentworth Maynard, was merging onto a four lane highway outside of Atlanta, Georgia when his car was struck “so violently it shot across the left lane into the left embankment,” his lawyers contend.”

 

Choices:

Everything you do is about choices. We make choices everyday. We choose to oversleep an alarm because we chose to stay up late. We choose to linger in the shower and we choose to speed under the false assumption that we can “make up time.”

When cycling advocates are educating you about light signals and how traffic is engineered to operate at a set speed, you chose to ignore us.

We make many minute and seemingly inconsequential choices everyday.

Which weighs more? A ton of feathers or a ton of bricks?

They both weigh the same. A ton. But the volume of feathers to create a ton is vast compared to the volume of bricks to equal the same tonnage.

Each feather is a seemingly inconsequential choice that you made throughout your day, week, year, and life. But when that ton of feathers hits you, it’s going to feel like a load of bricks.

Manufacturers and corporations make choices too.

I’m not saying that corporations don’t have a part to play in the choices we make. They most certainly do.

Snapchat chose to put out an app with the ability to capture your speed while using the app.

Auto advertisements show people driving in ways that are patently unsafe and they choose to pay a lot of money to have these ad’s placed during prime viewing times.

Here’s a scenario: You can read it in full detail here.

You’re driving down the road in your car on a wild and stormy night. The weather is like a hurricane, with heavy rains, high winds, and lightning flashing constantly. While driving, you come across a partially-covered bus stop, and you can see three people waiting for a bus:

  1. An old woman who looks as if she is about to die.
  2. An old friend who once saved your life.
  3. The perfect partner you have been dreaming about (your “soulmate”).

Knowing that you only have room for one passenger in your car (it’s a really small car), which one would you choose to offer a ride to? And why?

You can believe that you are limited by your choices or you can think outside the box.

We need to emphasize critical thinking skills when educating drivers and cyclists.

We also need to emphasize that speeding, distracted (any distraction) driving, and driving drowsy or drunk are choice’s and there isn’t ever an excuse for the choices we make. We are to blame when we make bad choices.

I mention the above scenario about the bus stop because I was confronted by an Atheist (I’m one too). He said that I was on some high horse and that there were definitely excuses for speeding. He then brought up a real situation in which he believed that his mother was dying and he sped to the hospital. He was pulled over and given a speeding ticket.

He then went on to justify his speeding by admitting that he was so distracted by his distress over the idea of his mother dying without him that he failed to notice the speed limit sign.

I tried to reason with him logically about public spaces and how his actions have direct consequences for others on public roads. He refused to acknowledge anything I was saying and launched into a personal attack instead. I saved the conversation and will present it in another blog at a future date. But for now, know that two of the deadliest weapons in history, the automobile and the gun, have even critical thinkers blathering emotionalism when it comes to their cherished beliefs. It truly defies logic.

There isn’t ever an excuse to justify speeding. Much like there isn’t an excuse to justify shooting someone who is unarmed. Corporations and manufacturers have a responsibility to the public at large. Snapchat has no excuse for putting out an app that encourages users to speed. Users have no excuse for choosing to use the app or for speeding.

When your choices affect others, you are duty bound to consider the consequences of your actions!

Public roads are shared space. You are required to share public roads with large vehicles, small vehicles, slower vehicles, and people on foot.

 

 

 

Motorist Awareness Wednesday: Parking Lots

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No.

This is not a diatribe of vitriol aimed at the auto industry and their mechanised efforts at turning the world into one big patch of asphalt. (The auto industry is trying to turn the world into a giant parking lot. In case you didn’t know.)

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Less car = more shoppers!

No.

This isn’t a tree hugging, left leaning, liberal agenda designed to shame you into freeing up precious public space. (Though you should)

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Once you figure out how to unfold it, it’s cake to ride.

Yes.

This article is a refresher on a long standing law. One which the majority of the world has forgotten about. (Not entirely based on this picture.)

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Two auto’s can not legally share a lane.

Do you remember Extremist thinking is hurting cycling? If you have forgotten or if you have never read it, please do so. Now.

I’m basing this on KRS 189.00 (Kentucky Revised Statutes section 189 Rules of the Road). Your state will have similar statutes as these statutes are from the Uniform Traffic Code.

In the definitions of KRS 189.00 we see that a parking lot falls under the definition of a highway.

(3) “Highway” means any public road, street, avenue, alley or boulevard, bridge, viaduct, or trestle and the approaches to them and includes private residential roads and parking lots covered by an agreement under KRS 61.362, off-street parking facilities offered for public use, whether publicly or privately owned, except for-hire parking facilities listed in KRS 189.700.

A PARKING LOT IS  A HIGHWAY.

Every parking lot is governed by the same rules of the road that you obey on any other highway. You can be ticketed for breaking the speed limit in a parking lot. You can also be ticketed for driving on the wrong side of the road and failing to yield. In fact, anything you can be written a ticket for on a road, you can be given a ticket for in a parking lot.

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This is a highway.

KRS 189.390
(6) The speed limit for motor vehicles in an off-street parking facility offered for public use, whether publicly or privately owned, shall be fifteen (15) miles per hour.

In a parking lot you drive on the right as per KRS 189.300

You are not allowed to operate over 15 miles per hour. This is for the safety of pedestrians and people trying to park.

If it’s illegal, it isn’t safe AND if it’s legal, it is safe. This is the foundation of good laws. Bad laws discriminate. Good laws keep you safe without infringing on the rights of others.

Each parking space is a lane. It is intended for one vehicle. Stay in your lane. Vehicles come in all shapes and sizes. Some vehicles will not take up as much space as a huge SUV. That’s ok. That parking spot is theirs even if they don’t occupy every square inch of it.

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Occupying a full lane. What’s more wasteful? The auto taking up the space of 12 bicycles while carrying only one person? Or the bicycle carrying one person and leaving room for 11 more bicycles?

The center travel lane is well… a lane. Seems rather redundant but some people need that extra explanation. The center lane is an unmarked highway lane. So you follow both KRS 189.300 and KRS 189.310.

You drive on the right and give half the highway to oncoming traffic. You will operate as close as practicable to the right hand curb or boundary of the highway. You only need to be over far enough to allow passing traffic reasonable clearance. If you swap paint, one of you wasn’t over far enough.

RIGHT OF WAY!

When you are pulling out of a parking spot, you do not have the right of way. Think of a parking lane as though it were a side street entering into a main road. Imagine you have a stop or yield sign.

The person traveling on the main road may stop and yield to allow you to pull out. This is operating with due care.

KRS 189.290 Operator of vehicle to drive carefully.
(1) The operator of any vehicle upon a highway shall operate the vehicle in a careful manner, with regard for the safety and convenience of pedestrians and other vehicles upon the highway.

Driving across parking lots, that have vehicles parked in them, isn’t safe. There could be someone traveling up the road and you wouldn’t see them in time to prevent a collision. Follow the flow of traffic and observe ROTR (Rules Of The Road) statutes.

A lot of cyclists feel safe cycling in a parking lot.

A parking lot has hazards and shouldn’t be treated as a free for all.

Some people will use a parking lot as an example of the most dangerous portion of a road. They are right.
You have so much going on in a parking lot that if you aren’t paying attention you could get seriously hurt or worse.
People driving cars have double duty when in a parking lot. Pedestrians already present have the right of way. First come, first served, and duty of care. You don’t have special rights because you are in an auto. Public highways are level playing fields. You have to drive appropriately for conditions.

Above all else remember this.

PARKING LOTS ARE NOT A NO MAN’S LAND OF FREE FOR ALL’S! 

 

 

 

 

Mortality Monday: Our love affair with death.

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“We, collectively, are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.” – President Obama

Fallen comrade.

Some people like to play war. It’s their idea of fun to dress in camo, paint their faces, and run around using combat techniques. This can be seen mostly in the wildly popular paintball fields.

But our shared roads are not war zones or recreational war games. Our roads are public spaces and they should be treated as inclusive zones of human compassion and courtesy. Not war zones that we battle our way across or through.
With war there is death and the industry which has arisen out of that inevitable trip we all must take, but not before our time.

People appear to really enjoy death.

We get very emotional over death, are moved by death, and we are (sometimes) spurred into action because of death. Passionate volumes are written to the departed. People mass together and go for rides memorializing the dead. It’s macabre. Especially when you consider that we rarely do anything, if we do anything at all, to prevent death in the first place.

Why are we so inspired by death?

Death defying stunts don’t thrill us because we watched someone make it through alive. They thrill us because we might actually get to see someone die.

We’ve been outraged over the death of our loved ones for over a hundred years. We’ve offered our condolences, our thoughts, and our prayers.

But when it comes to making real and effective change we suddenly remembered that we have pressing business to attend to somewhere else.

Your “thoughts” should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your “prayers” should be for forgiveness if you do nothing – again.

— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) December 2, 2015

Life, celebrate it.

Losing a loved one is tough and it isn’t my intention to diminish the pain felt by those who must pick up the pieces and carry on after someone has had their life tragically cut short.

What I am suggesting is that we start celebrating life by taking action to protect the life we currently have.

I don’t want to see another ghost bike or white cross on the side of the road. I don’t want to participate in the “Ride of Silence.”

I want to see us focusing our energy on positive life affirming initiatives which promote the safety and well being of everyone.

EDUCATION.

There is plenty that we can do to help those who are alive and uninjured.

The first thing I want to do is encourage you to TAKE THE LANE!

The shoulder is not intended for travel, it is not continuous, and it is an EMERGENCY LANE!

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Skid marks. 
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The shoulder is gone!

I’ve ridden my bicycle on Versailles Rd (You can watch here) both on the shoulder and in the travel lane. When I used the travel lane I took an assertive lane position. I also used my rear light for added “eye catching” visibility, both on and off the shoulder. I didn’t feel safe either on the shoulder or in the lane. This is one of those monster roads which have no business existing. It was designed for high speed auto use only. Yet you will see pedestrians, cyclists, and horse and carriage on this road. Un-equitable use of public tax dollars.

Drivers are educated to swerve to the right and off the road to avoid a collision. They are also educated to pull to the right to take a call or make a text on their phone. Or if they are having a personal emergency. There are all kinds of distractions and the brain is not capable of handling more than one task at a time. You may look but you won’t see what is off to the side of you. Drivers are educated to see what is in front of them. Our brains are just not evolved enough to handle multi tasking in an auto.

When people take the time to accept responsibility for their own actions and stop blaming others for their faults, then we will have safe roads for all.

Until that time we need to educate people that the roads are public space and all users should be treated with equity.

When you are driving in the presence of a pedestrian or a cyclist, MOVE OVER AND SLOW DOWN! 

Give cyclists and pedestrians a Brake.

Legislation.

We have no problem understanding who’s at fault when a motorist rear ends another motorist. It’s a no brainer really. The person who hit the other vehicle is automatically found at fault. But when it comes to a motorist rear ending a cyclist. Well that leaves everyone scratching their heads or blaming the cyclist.

By educating cyclists to use safe cycling principals and to operate with the flow of traffic we are eliminating the prejudice that is inflicted on cyclists. When legislation exists which puts drivers in the position of having to prove that they did everything they could to avoid a collision with a pedestrian or a cyclist then we will have equitable legislation. The 1900’s approach of blaming the pedestrian or the cyclist is as old school and as prejudiced as Jim Crow laws.

Education isn’t victim blaming. Because drivers have to take an education course to obtain a license we assume that the driver is more educated than the cyclist, when the reality is that the opposite is true. By having mandatory education in schools and mandatory education on how to operate around cyclists in drivers training, we will effectively flip our way of thinking.

Infrastructure.

During the 1990s a new approach, known as ‘shared space‘ was developed which removed many of these features in some places has attracted the attention of authorities around the world.[25][26] The approach was developed by Hans Monderman who believed that “if you treat drivers like idiots, they act as idiots”[27] and proposed that trusting drivers to behave was more successful than forcing them to behave.[28]Professor John Adams, an expert on risk compensation suggested that traditional traffic engineering measures assumed that motorists were “selfish, stupid, obedient automatons who had to be protected from their own stupidity” and non-motorists were treated as “vulnerable, stupid, obedient automatons who had to be protected from cars – and their own stupidity”.[29]

Reported results indicate that the ‘shared space’ approach leads to significantly reduced traffic speeds, the virtual elimination of road casualties, and a reduction in congestion.[28]Living streets share some similarities with shared spaces. The woonerven also sought to reduce traffic speeds in community and housing zones by the use of lower speed limits enforced by the use of special signage and road markings, the introduction of traffic calming measures, and by giving pedestrians priority over motorists.

Shared space isn’t a new approach. But it is one which we seem loath to accept. Much like we hated the idea of sharing toys in kindergarten.

Not all space should be considered “shared” space except when there isn’t any other alternative. I’m thinking of rural roads and dense urban landscape as places which by default must be shared.

Places where we can have “Bikeways”* are places where we have the space to design infrastructure which equally caters to the specific needs of pedestrians and cyclists.

I never ever want to see a painted bike lane on the edge of a 55 mph highway. Like the one they talked about when I was being harassed by motorists and police for legally and safely cycling in the right hand lane of U.S. 27 in Jessamine Co. Kentucky.

*Bikeways: Unlike Bike lanes, Bike paths, and Cycle Tracks; Bikeways are mini highways for the exclusive use of cyclists. Bikeways are built to the same exact engineering standards of safety and rules of the road as a traditional public access highway. They are protected from auto traffic much like a Cycle Track but unlike Cycle Tracks they do not contra flow. There is plenty of urban space for Bikeways.

Bikeways have specific light cycles giving cyclists right of way at intersections. Unlike the average bike lane where most cyclists are victims of right hooks. The Bikeway also accounts for cyclists who need to make a left by giving them right of way during specific light cycles to make a protected left turn, much like a motorist has a light cycle to make a left. This is not to be confused with the Dutch approach of the pedestrian cross where the cyclist waits, moves forward, waits again before finally completing their left turn.

NO MORE DEATH.

Celebrate life and actively support those who are safely cycling on public roads. Even if it looks weird to you.

 

Take an education course.

Click here: Cycling Education

 

 

 

 

Taxing churches, Drivers rights, and sharing the road

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We’ve seen a huge influx in religion based politics and it hasn’t been to the benefit of anyone but a select few. There is a call to tax the churches and make them start paying their share. After all they are enjoying both the privilege of tax free and playing politics. You can’t have both. Right?

The old way of thinking was that if churches were taxed then the big bad government would tax them into oblivion and we’d end up with an atheist/ communist dystopia. So by not taxing the church we are in fact nurturing freedom of religion.

But we’ve seen a huge influx in political religion, or is it religious political? Either way it’s bad.

The rights of all individuals are being infringed upon by a noisy religious minority.

This is really frustrating to people like John Oliver, who did a brilliant segment on taxing churches.  John’s argument is superb, witty, and clever. He pulls no punches and makes it clear that not taxing these churches is a detriment to society. But he is wrong.

This church wants to be taxed.

We absolutely should not tax churches. Not because of their fears of being regulated out of existence by big government. (Which is a false fear), But because once that genie is out of the bottle, there is no getting it back in.

When any group accepts a tax exemption, it agrees to play by certain rules and accept a certain degree of oversight. Federal law actually makes it more difficult for the IRS to audit churches than other charities. In addition to this modest “no electioneering” rule, for example, tax-exempt groups cannot collect money for a “charitable” purpose and then use it all for the personal benefit of the director and her family (or the pastor and his family). Do you seriously believe that the IRS and possibly even criminal investigative bodies have no right to try to scrutinize possible misbehavior?
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn is executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and a longtime civil liberties attorney.

Tax exempt means that churches don’t get to play openly in politics. You should not ever hear your pastor preaching from the pulpit and encouraging you to vote for a specific candidate. Churches don’t get to raise funds for elections and etc.

We do see religious leaders trying to skirt the fringes of the law and stick their fingers into the political honeypot. We’ve seen religious people taking our Civil Rights and twisting them out of existence. How or why we are allowing the meddling that we see today, I don’t know. I’m sure someone can explain it. But that doesn’t mean we open the gates of hell and give church’s legal political rights. The separation of Church and State is too vitally important to start taxing churches. Pastors, in case you weren’t aware, do pay taxes on their income. (I could flesh these thoughts out more but I’m going to leave it here for now.)

I use this example of Church and Taxes to illustrate a finer point.

Just because it seems to make sense doesn’t mean it’s logical or right or safe.

Drivers rights.

Minnesota is one of 13 states that makes refusing a breath test a crime. In 2014, there were more than 25,000 DWI arrests in Minnesota, and an estimated one in seven Minnesotans has a DWI. Via: CBS Minnesota

Drunk drivers are the scourge of our public right of ways. ( I say public right of way because if I said “Highway” you would think I’m referring to asphalt. A river is also a highway. Drinking and operating a boat is illegal.)

Highway: Public Right of Way commonly used for travel.

When you are operating a vehicle, you have a responsibility to operate carefully and with regard for other road users. Drinking and driving is showing a complete lack of regard for anyone but yourself. So is speeding and/or texting while driving. In fact anything you do in your car that takes your focus off of not killing yourself, your passengers, or anyone else on the road is a completely selfish act.

Operating a motorized vehicle is a huge responsibility. One which we take for granted. Much like churches being tax exempt keeps “church and state separate,” is taken for granted.

We see all the bad that comes from people driving drunk and we think that this gives us the right to take away the constitutional rights of drivers. It doesn’t.

Police are still duty bound to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of the people they are investigating. Any breach of this duty and bad things happen. If the Supreme Court rules that it’s legal to suspend constitutional rights because “driving,” then we have a real problem on our hands. There wouldn’t be anything to stop them from searching your backpack or saddlebags as you bike commute around town. Refusing an unreasonable search would be enough to land you in jail.

Cyclists and Drivers have a real opportunity to come together on this one. Your Constitutional rights don’t evaporate once you get behind a wheel.

The Minnesota case is interesting and I believe that the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in the favor of the defendant. Or at least I sure as hell hope so.

That doesn’t mean I’m in favor of people driving drunk or about to drive drunk.* What it means is that I am in favor of cops following the law and not acting like they are somehow magically above the law because they have a badge.

Suspending someone’s Constitutional rights because they are operating a car is a slippery slope and once that genie is out of the bottle…Well you know the rest.

There is this niggling thought in my head that the auto industry and the government have a symbiotic relationship. Like drugs and needles. To inject the drug you need the needle.

We have a lot of drugged out people wanting that next injection.

Government bailouts of the auto industry. Increased spending on widening roads. building new roads, while the infrastructure we currently have is crumbling.

The best way to eliminate drunk driving is to yank licenses. It isn’t a right to have a license. It is your right to travel. But how  you travel is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

Why we need to focus on sharing the road.

Part of sharing the road entails creating safe places for people to operate vehicles which are not autos. This can be through infrastructure but it can also be through education about cyclists right to use the roads we already have. Public transportation is another way we share the road. It serves the greater good to invest in public transportation, sidewalks, and low speed roads designed with bicyclist and pedestrians as priority.

Giving people choices on how to get from point A to point B is good moral governance. It gives the court options on how to deal with DWI or DUI offenders that it normally wouldn’t have. Good judges want to help people who appear in their court. Good prosecutors do not want to keep seeing the same people over and over again because they have a problem that is bigger than them. There are bad courts** out there too but I’m going to write this under the hope that they are few and far inbetween.

We don’t need to have the government strip away our Civil and Constitutional Rights away because we are auto dependent. We need to get away from our auto dependency and our abusive supplier. But to do that we need some serious rehab in the way of sharing the road.

 

 

*(I pissed off my then husband because I called the cops when he drove drunk to go get more beer. The police took the information I gave them and didn’t do anything about it. My ex made it to the store and back without killing himself or anyone else. Which just goes to show that stupid is often rewarded in society.)

**Nicholasville Kentucky, Judge Oliver, the County Prosecutor and his entire staff. These are a shining example of bad courts. My crime; being too poor to afford a car and riding a bicycle for transportation to and from work. 

 

 

 

 

Why Lane Control?

You are the first thing an overtaking motorist sees.
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Make sure you are the first thing an overtaking motorist sees.

The right third of the lane is the most frequently used portion of a roadway by the average to novice cyclist. By average I mean anyone who has not had any formal education on the legal requirements and safety benefits of lane control. Many a cyclist can be considered superior in all aspects of cycling and still be average to novice in respect to controlling the lane.

IS IT LEGAL?

Our first concern would be the legality of lane control. Is it legal to take up a large portion of the road?

The answer is yes.

There are two places in Kentucky Revised Statutes that we can look to for guidance.

The first is KRS 189.340 (6) (a)

(6) Whenever any roadway has been divided into three (3) clearly marked lanes for travel, the following additional rules shall apply:
(a) A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as may be practical entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from that lane until the driver has first ascertained that the movement can be made with safety;

If there is a lane, KRS requires you to occupy as much of it as may be practical and you can’t leave that lane unless it is safe to do so.

The second is KRS 189.310 (2)

(2) Vehicles proceeding from opposite directions shall pass each other from the right, each giving to the other one-half (1/2) of the highway as nearly as possible.

If you are on a two lane road half of that highway is yours. The other half belongs to oncoming traffic. No one to the rear of you has the right of way or priority.

KEEP RIGHT?

A lot of people will point to KRS 189.300 and declare that any vehicle moving slowly upon a highway HAS to keep as far right as possible. But this isn’t what the statute says. I wrote an in depth analysis of KRS 189.300 Extremist thinking is hurting cycling. Please read it.

CHANGE LANES TO PASS.

Kentucky has no specific minimum passing distance. The reason Kentucky doesn’t have a minimum passing distance is because Kentucky requires all vehicles to occupy a lane of travel and when passing we “CHANGE LANES TO PASS.”

If there is a marked lane of travel, you operate in the adjacent left lane for passing. If it is a two lane highway, you pass to the left of the highway as described in KRS 189.300 and if you are on a completely unmarked highway, you still pass on the left side of the center of the highway.

When I was a little girl, my mom left the county clerk’s office after obtaining her Kentucky drivers license. My mom was visibly upset. I asked her what was wrong. She told me that the test was too easy and it must have been written for the hillbillies. She went on to explain that as she was coming out of the clerk’s office two men were waiting, next to a pickup truck, for their sister. The sister had passed my mom coming out of the clerk’s office crying. The two men said “you failed the test again?” My mom said “Those are the people we are sharing the road with.”

I mention this anecdotal story because Kentucky’s statutes are not hard to understand. The reason why the Bike League (League of American Bicyclists or L.A.B.) wrote a blog about the terrible condition of Kentucky’s laws is because they are so simple and to the point. Traffic laws which are complicated are more dangerous than those which are simple. Driving is tough. It requires your full attention. The majority of us do not operate with the intent of hurting someone and if you have to second guess yourself or stop and think “is this legal?” Someone will get hurt. For more detailed thoughts on this read “Traffic: Why we drive the way we do and what it says about us.”

Ok, it’s legal to occupy a full lane. But is it safe?

That is the question Judge Booth asked us to answer at my trial. It was a really complicated trial with all sorts of interesting plot twists. Though not interesting to me, more like frustratingly exhaustive.

Judge Booth had ruled that my operating on the roadway was legal. This was when the county attorney wanted to ban me from the road. She ruled against him. The question she asked us to visit at, what was supposed to be, my jury trial in front of her was “is it safe?”

We didn’t get to have that jury trial. I talk more about that in my book.

For now let’s answer the question.

IS IT SAFE?

You always want to be the first thing a motorist sees when they look up from a distraction, when they are trying to merge in and out of traffic, or when they are passing a slower moving vehicle.

I don’t want to discuss all of that here. At least not yet.

The first thing I want us to focus on is this. “If it’s legal, then it is safe.”

Traffic laws weren’t written to annoy or inconvenience anyone. They weren’t written for auto’s or invented at the time of the automobile. Traffic laws have been around since people were free wheeling around in chariots. Those babies could fly, but taking a corner. Yikes!

Traffic laws were written to keep public space orderly, courteous, and safe.

You stop at a stop light because it is safe.

You operate at speeds appropriate for road conditions because it is safe.

You do not leave injurious items on the highway because it isn’t safe to operate a vehicle through shards of auto glass after a collision.

All of these are statutes written in KRS 189.000, take some time and sit down and read through them. Read the definitions. There is a lot to learn there as well.

LANE CONTROL. 

The scientific principle behind the safety of lane control.

It’s starts with understanding the limits of our peripheral vision.

Make a thumbs up gesture with both hands. Place them side by side at arms length. Pick a thumbnail to focus your gaze on. I typically ask people to look at their left thumbnail. Holding your left arm stationary, move your right arm out slowly to the right. Keep your eyes focused on your left thumb nail. With your peripheral vision look at your right thumbnail and once you can no longer clearly make out your thumbnail that is the limit of your peripheral vision. It isn’t as wide as you thought.

When you are operating a motor vehicle, you are focused on many different things. You might look down to see what rolled across the floor. You might look down to pick up your coffee cup. You might look down to adjust the MP3 player. You might look over your shoulder at the occupants of the rear seat.

All of these things take your eyes off the road.

The first place you look when you are undistracted is directly in front of you. Because that is where your brain has been trained to expect another vehicle.

Not on the edge of the lane.

When a cyclist is occupying the primary lane position, much like a motorcyclist does, they are placing themselves where you will see them. They want you to see them and respond. The appropriate response is to lower your speed limit. Start checking your mirrors and prepare to change lanes and pass.

All of your attention is on the road.

That’s why we control the lane. We want you to be aware of us. This is for our safety and for your convenience. If you had to explain to an officer why you struck us with your vehicle that would be one hell of an inconvenience. Don’t you think?

NOT SO FAST.

Now you might be thinking that a cyclist who is riding on the edge might have played some part in the collision which took them out. That would be a huge mistake. See the same statutes which give a cyclist the legal right to occupy a lane also require you to not hit anything with your vehicle.

So when a motorist in front of you suddenly slows down. Your first thought should be “Why?” and to expect something to be in front of them that you can’t see. If you read KRS 189.300 and 189.310 then you know that passing another vehicle isn’t a right.

You don’t have the right to pass someone and you are under the obligation to not hit other vehicles with your vehicle. When you rear end someone it’s your fault. Period.

CyclingSavvy

There has been a whole lot written about the safety of lane control. You can read about it on the FAQ page of CyclingSavvy.

Share this with a friend. It will hopefully save their life.