Monday, March 31, 2008

Take the lane (Revised)

By Brian P and Ed W...

One of the primary concepts in BikeEd is lane-positioning. A cyclist should always maintain a safe distance from the gutter pan or parked cars, a minimum of 3 to 4 feet. And motorists in Oklahoma are required to provide at least 3' passing distance when overtaking a cyclist. A little math tells us that if we add 3 feet from the gutter pan, 2 feet for the cyclist, and 3 feet for the minimum safe passing distance, we get 8 feet. Most cars are at least 6 feet wide. Therefore, a shareable lane can be no narrower than 14 feet. Keep in mind that in Oklahoma, lanes are rarely wider than 12 feet. That's where defensive lane-positioning comes in.

(Image from Bicycling is Better, with an excellent discussion of lane positioning.)

"Taking the lane" increases safety and visibility. Both new and experienced cyclists are often reluctant to try this. It seems counter-intuitive that by moving further to the left, one decreases the risk of collision, but when cyclists try the technique, they're astonished to discover how effective it is. Lane positioning communicates whether it's safe to pass or not. When a cyclist is in the middle of a narrow lane, he's telling drivers behind him that there isn't sufficient space to share the lane side-by-side, and that they'll have to yield to traffic in the adjacent lane before overtaking. When the cyclist moves further to the right, he's indicating it's safe to overtake. A cyclist should NEVER ride too far right (i.e., hugging the fog line, the curb, or even the gutter pan) because it invites motorists to 'sgueeze by' in the lane regardless of safety. On a 2-lane road, the passing motorist might be forced to choose between a head-on collision or running over a cyclist. In short, improper lane-position is a good way to get squeezed off the road.

Earlier today I read a comment by 'Siouxgeonz" on "Commute by Bike" about her introduction to lane-positioning. (Her own blog is "Urbana-Champaign Bicycle Commute".) Here's what she had to say:

I was reluctant to claim the lane at first, in a huge part because so many of the people who wrote to say it was the right thing to do seemed to emphasize "making a statement," and I so much don't want to make a statement that people can talk about in my eulogy...Now, I cringe whenever I hear somebody say "but I worry about the one who doesn't see me" and hugs the line, because so many more people *don't* see you when you're doing that. It's a perceptual thingŠ

I, too, learned to take my lane with a baptism in fire on a busy road...Two of us were riding and my friend noted that the drivers were buzzing by awfully closelyŠ which (my silly verbal mind; it takes words to make anything happen) made me think "oh, yea! I've read that if we move outŠ" so we did.

Danged if suddenly the drivers didn't get a whole lot better at giving us room! Instant education! And we weren't dead center; just crossing into that "you're in the car part" threshold.

We stopped for a bite to eat, and when we started riding again, the drivers forgot how to pass us again. Oops, make that we were too far to the right, because as soon as we nudged out againŠ the drivers got better. Amazing how educable they are! (Used by permission of Siouxgenoz.)

Some cyclists think that it's rude or arrogant to take the lane. Some think the practice antagonizes motorists unnecessarily. My response to that it is simple. Safety always trumps convenience. Nothing in the law requires anyone on the road to do something they know is unsafe, and hugging the fog line or gutter is definitely not safe. Yes, overtaking motorists may have to slow down and wait to pass. The law requires them to do so. A cyclist who asserts his lane position increases everyone's safety. Stop worrying about impeding traffic and realize that you have a right to use the road in safety and comfort the same as any other road user.

Friday, March 28, 2008

INCOG BAG meeting


(This will be posted to NewOBC, CycleDog, TAOBIKE blog, and the Tulsa Now forum later today.)

25MAR2008 5:30P

Josh, Lisa, Tom, Patrick, Brian, Gary, Me...Monica arrived later

The original bicycling subcommittee had an organizational document describing their purpose. Do we have a similar document describing our goals and mission statement? We are attempting to locate the original. (Found a draft of the original on Wednesday, 26MAR, and it's been distributed.)

This committee represents an opportunity for a fresh start. This is not an official subcommittee of INCOG per Patrick.

We are the cyclist's voice, but do we have a role in planning?

We are to be proactive. Of local enhancement projects, 8 of 20 are funded. Public Works establishes a priority list. We want to bump projects up the list. For instance, the Mingo Valley Trail has been funded and that lead to neglect of other trail projects as money flowed to Mingo Trail. Patrick – we need signage and road markings and that money can go much farther than trails, increasing visibility of cyclist and cycling.

The Delaware bike lane was a joint effort of TU and Public Works.

Tom – we need to put ourselves forward as experts. Bicyclists need smooth streets, signage, and signals that react to their presence. City of Tulsa has a roadway design specification manual drawn from a variety of sources including ODOT and AASHTO. Can we get copies of this? Can we get copies of the AASHTO manual? One advantage of a regional Comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan is that it provides consistency from one municipality to the next. The rules and designs do not change as you cross from one jurisdiction to the next. INCOG has a facilities plan and a Master Trails Plan, but not a Comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan. City of Tulsa is motivated to pursue bicycle related projects, but regionally is questionable.

BAG needs to develop a document supporting the use of enhancement funds to hire a consultant for Comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan. Could Street Smarts be included as part of the master plan? It would include all the LAB E's: Education, engineering, enforcement, encouragement, equality, ...I forget the rest!

P. fox proposes committees to (1) become proactive in priority capital projects and funding of enhancement projects, and (2) improve on the current encouragement programs like BTW, trip tracker. Needs corporate help with promotion re: wellness, green issues, funding for radio, TV, newspaper ads. INCOG is promoting Ecology and Environment with Green Traveler program, ride share, mileage tracker. Summary page gives monthly totals and other information. Monica pointed out that unless corporations have a person tasked to collect the data, it falls through the cracks. We need to promote via other venues, Sustainability Tulsa, Wellness, Typros, health agencies, greens.

Monica - What are the benefits of logging all that information? Unless a company designates someone to compile it, the data will be lost.

Josh brought up the bike bus concept, an idea that deserves more promotion. Link up via Green Traveler?

Could we develop a new Corporate Challenge – pitting companies against each other for numbers of employees using bicycles for commuting and their mileage? We could publish a monthly list of winners in newspaper.

Safe Routes to School. Owen Elementary received funding from the state for projects. 100% of students live within 1.5 miles and there is no bus service. Lots of car traffic as a result. Intent is to promote kids walking and bicycling to school. Of $200K capital projects money, $20K goes to encouragement. PFox local coordinator for the project.

Community Cycling Project – money is available, yet no contacts have been made.

Open house on rail projects, 24APR. Where? Rail blog on line. GET URL

PFox needs help with: Enhancements and Bike to Work.

I agreed to help with writing BAG documents and whatever else need verbiage churned out. (More dummy me.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

In It for the Money! (Part 1)

Wheels. Pedals. Sweat.

Wind and rain. Wind and sun. More sweat.

Did I mention the wind?

Which came first, the challenge or the love? Doesn't matter. Can't separate the two.

I sold my first ten-speed, a Huffy, for $15 when I was twelve. Dad said I should ask for $15 or $20, so that's exactly what I put on the sign: "Bike for Sale. $15 or $20." He saw the sign as he turned into the driveway that evening: "So, son, which price do you think they'll choose?" Yeah, OK. I've always been monetarily challenged, at least mentally.

Six years later, my one true love moved across the country to attend college in my town. I bought her a bike. We broke up about the same time. Go ahead and say it: monetarily and romantically challenged.

Two thieves in Austin, or the same thief twice, absconded with two of my bicycles on two separate occasions. Steal my unchained bike off my porch once, shame one you! But twice? I know, I know--monetarily, romantically, and common-sensically challenged. (And for the mathematically challenged, that's not FOUR bicycles--just one per occasion.)

Unwilling to be bikeless, I spent $315 on a Peugeot Triathlon, a pump, and some pertinent parapharnelia. It rode like a rail. I was hooked, completely hooked. And these confounded contraptions have been costing me cash ever since.

Well, that is until I replaced my geriatric Mercury Cougar with a lean, mean LeMond Alpe d'Huez. 853 Reynolds steel. I'm a sucker for the steel rail appeal. But sucker or no, according to the "Real Costs of Car Ownership" calculator, I've saved approximately $47839.74 since the summer of 2001.

So when people ask me, "Why in the world do you ride a bike? Why don't you own a car?" I fib (just a little bit) and tell them it's all about the money. Guess it's time to address those other challenges now.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tulsa Tough: a paradigm shift

Let me say at the outset, I have a very small role in this. The meeting I'm about to describe is just one small part of a larger effort to bring the Tulsa Tough to area cyclists. My part in that is to assist with the BikeEd program that provides bicycles and education to local kids. I'll very likely help to assemble those bicycles and I'll be out on the road somewhere providing mechanical help along the tour routes. But there's more to the Tulsa Tough, especially the racing portion of the event, and I know very little about that.

So, with those caveats in place, I'll forge ahead.

I experienced a paradigm shift at this meeting. It's always a little bit disconcerting when it happens, but this was a revelation. The sponsors and supporters for the Tulsa Tough are Saint Francis Hospital and the Sports Commission, as well as the area hotel and restaurant association, and many others. That's hardly a revelation. But the idea that hit me, 'gobsmacked' as the Brits would say, is that the Tulsa area has arrived as a cycling city. There's a tsunami of cycling consciousness that joins government, businesses, and individuals, highlighting this city as a cycling mecca. You may think that's an overstatement, yet it's undoubtedly true. We are no longer struggling toward a goal. We've attained it. Sure, there's much more to do, but this was an enormous hurdle to overcome.

We met at Malcolm McCollum's law offices on Friday. Malcolm is one of the Tulsa Tough organizers, a 'big wheel' in the organization. Brian Potter, Gary Parker, and I are League Cycling Instructors. Ren Barger is an LCI too, and she's the coordinator for the Community Cycling Project. Adam Vanderburg, owner of Lee's Bicycles, is the driving force behind the Little 100 race for area schoolchildren. Adam agreed to be the contact person for this group, effectively our committee head. And Carol Bush is the executive director of the Crime Commission.

Having the Crime Commission on-board with the Tulsa Tough and BikeEd may require some explanation. We're working in conjunction with the Carol and the Crime Commission (and as Dave Barry would say, that sounds like a good name for a rock band!) by offering both bicycling education and Safe Escape. The latter is a national program that teaches children how to avoid abduction, empowering both kids and adults. It's a natural fit with BikeEd The program takes 1 hour and is aimed at both parents and children in grades 3, 4, and 5. Three weeknight presentations will be offered at Webster, Carver, and Memorial schools.

The classroom portion of the BikeEd presentation will be offered the same night as Safe Kids. We'll do helmet fitting, watch the LAB video, and get started with the introductory material. Parental participation is strongly encouraged because we can educate both kids and parents.

The 'skills and drills' portion of BikeEd will be offered on 2 weekends, May 10th and May 18th. The venue will be announced at a later time.

Jim Beach is organizing the Tulsa Townie, a short ride through Tulsa for the non-lycra crowd and the 'graduation' exercise for the kids. The Townie and all other tours will leave from the West Bank festival area this year.

We will have 300 Trek bicycles for the kid's giveaway. In order to receive a bike, they must attend the Safe Kids program, both elements of the BikeEd program, and ride in the Tulsa Townie. Just like last year, the bikes will be available for pickup the day before the Townie. Since these bikes are more complicated than the Schwinns we had last year, the assemblers will need to receive some training. Time and place for that will be announced.

Tulsa People will put out a guide to Tulsa Tough venues for spectators.

We discussed the probability of scheduling conflicts between these events and various other cycling-related events in May. The month is packed full of tours, meetings, seminars, and two holidays. While we attempted to minimize conflicts, it's simply not possible to eliminate all of them. This is a big concern, partly because we don't want to draw people away from their plans, but also because we depend on volunteers to help. As I'm fond of saying, trying to keep a big group of kids focused is like trying to herd cats. It can be stressful and exhausting, but the bottom line is that it's still a whole lot of fun!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesday Musette, 11MAR2008

The last couple of days have been very busy. I'm excited to share this information will all of you because these 'happy accidents', when all the good stuff seems to converge at once, happen very rarely.

Patrick Fox/info re Google Maps

Patrick Fox, Multimodal Transportation Planner at INCOG, caught this one I'd missed.  It's from the National Bike Summit that concluded last week.  Patrick said:

hey Ed...

Check this out...

From Streetsblog:

One of the more intriguing stories at yesterday's National Bike Summit in Washington D.C. came from Nicole Freedman, who was appointed Boston's first bike czar last September. A planner and one-time professional cyclist, Freedman was charged with building a bike network out of nothing, in a city routinely ranked among the nation's worst for bicycling, on a shoestring budget.

Well, you know what they say about necessity. Freedman invented a rather ingenious method of planning a bike network. Her team created a modified Google Map that enables cyclists to log on and trace the routes they ride every day. Watch the data pile up, and voila -- sensible bike routes. "We found out where the actual desire lines are," she said. "Using existing technology was great."

In addition to figuring out where to stripe lanes, Freedman is using Google Maps to rate streets on bike-friendliness. "Anyone can go onto Google and rate a road," she said. "Is it good for beginners or just for experts?" The results will be reflected in Boston's first official bike map, which Freedman touted as an example of the city's strategy to personalize bike education and training. (Did I mention they're starting from scratch?)

Total cost? Next to nothing. "Basically the public is creating the map, and the sponsor will print," she said.

Update: While trying to track down the Google Map, which reader Eric Fischer links to in the comments, I found this explanation of how riders use it from Boston blogger Velo Fellow.

Let's be clear – this is a free resource that we can use to determine routes used by real cyclists, rather than lines on a map drawn up in a planning office somewhere. A tool like this is very beneficial to area cyclists, INCOG, and our bureaucrats and politicians. It supplies genuine data, not assumptions or conjecture, and that's precisely the kind of information necessary to serve area cyclists.

Trail updates and Green Traveler

(This is part of an e-mail Patrick Fox sent out regarding trail connectivity with the AA Maintenance Base. Used with permission.)

As far as completing the Mingo Valley Trail, that trail is either constructed or funded to be constructed from 91st Street South to I-244. The un-constructed portions of the trail, which are generally between 81st St. South and 41st Street South, and between Admiral and 244, are being managed by the City of Tulsa Public Works department. I believe that they are currently in the final design phase with anticipated construction to begin in 2009.

North of I-244 the trail is planned to follow Mingo Creek past the Airport to connect with Mohawk Park, with a potential for a spur west towards the American Airlines facility. That extension North of 244, however, is not funded. We generally rely on either Federal Transportation Enhancement Funding and/or private charitable funding to pay for these amenities. The Enhancement Funds have paid for the Mingo Valley Trail to this point, with the matching funds (20%) coming from the city capital improvements fund.

Another project underway is the construction of the Mohawk-Owasso Trail which originates on 76th Street North in Owasso, travels south on Mingo to 66th Street North, then follows 66th St west to Memorial, where it again turns south until the Trail intersects with Mohawk Park. From that point trail users can access the park and its facilities, or travel through the park to the North side of the Airport boundary, near American. What has been completed to date is all of the survey work and some preliminary design work for the project. Construction of the project should move quickly now that the field work is complete.

I also want to let you know about Tulsa’s “Bike To Work” Program. This is an annual event, which roughly coincides with our Ozone Alert Season. The kickoff is in May, during National Bike To Work Month. Our event extends through the Ozone Alert Season and ends in mid-September. The event is designed to encourage people to ride to work when they can. The incentive, other than personal satisfaction and exercise, is that we provide an online miles ‘Tracker”, in which participants can log the number of miles they commute each week. We have two to three Bike to Work “get-togethers” in which we reward the participants who have ridden the most miles throughout the season with prizes, gift certificates, etc. Plus, we usually spring for coffee and bagels. It’s a good opportunity for cyclists around the region to get together and talk about cycling and cycling issues. The Bike to Work info can be found at:

Another ‘green’ alternative to biking is sharing rides with other American Airlines employees. INCOG sponsors a website named Green Traveler,, which provides instant online access to locating potential carpooling partners.

Anyone who has computer access can fill in their commuting schedule in just a couple of minutes. They can limit matches only to fellow workers who work the same shifts they do. In a few seconds they can get e-mail contact information on other American employees near them who would like to carpool. Phone numbers and specific addresses are kept private until participants decide to give those details to potential ride partners. Sharing rides saves money, expands commute options, and is good for the environment. Not only is less fuel consumed, but cutting down on the number of vehicles on the highway reduces auto emissions that contribute to air pollution. Using is a great way to go green!

Tulsa Tough update

(From Adam Vanderberg, owner of Lee's Bicycles.)

I received a call today from Malcolm McCollam about the Tulsa Tough Kids Challenge this year. They have partnered with the Crime Commission on their Safe Escape program. Safe Escape is a very successful community program to teach kids on how to protect themselves from predators. The program is very well attended! Tulsa Tough wants to give away bikes to these kids (3rd through 5th graders.) but we need a bicycle (education) element to the program. I'm thinking a Kids 1 course might be the perfect curriculum for this age group but we need LCI's to teach and was hoping for some support from our local professionals.

I'm told that there will be 300 Trek multi-speed bicycles equipped with hand brakes this year. Assemblers will have to receive some training. Of course, I've already volunteered to provide mechanical support on the tour route and I'll undoubtedly be there assembling kid's bikes when the time comes.

Go Green and Get Lean

Our internal newsletter, Crib Notes, is devoted to green issues in the March 11th edition. There's a long article with, ahem, me of all people promoting transportation cycling. I didn't include it here in the musette because of it's length. I'll post it separately sometime tomorrow.


The Tulsa advocacy group now has a page for news and information directed at area cyclists. (LINK) For the near future, I'll be posting news both there and in CycleDog, but CycleDog will remain the sole site for comedy, satire, rants, and other personal observations.

Wednesday night ride Owasso

I think this makes a lot of sense. Our regular Tulsa area Wednesday night ride leaves from the West Bank parking lot near downtown. With the high cost of gas, it's sensible to initiate other local rides that don't require participants to drive to the starting point. So there's a new Wednesday ride leaving from the south lot of the Bailey Medical Center in Owasso starting at 5:30.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

From Quick Release TV...

(Image from

Quick Release TV has an interesting piece on bicycling advocacy, including some video clips. The thought-provoking part, however, was this:


But not everybody agrees that funding advocacy is a panacea.

...Jay Townley told a room full of Britain’s best bike shops that the UK closely mirrored the bike business in the US. This wasn’t a good thing as he revealed that the US bicycle business has not kept pace with the growth of the US economy over the last eight years.

The total US bicycle market in retail dollars has stalled out at $6bn and has been essentially flat for the last three years. 2008 will see a continuation of this flat market trend:

...He complained that the US bike industry doesn’t pull together very well. It might not be able to afford a ‘Got milk‘-style* promotional campaign but it doesn’t even try. Instead, millions of dollars is put into pro bike teams, a marketing expense that influences enthusiasts, said Townley, but not a mainstream audience, which is where market growth will have to come from.

He said too much money is being funnelled into advocacy. He said fifteen years of funding advocacy programmes had resulted in no market growth. He would like to see money channelled into an awareness campaign instead, to influence new people to come into cycling. Obesity is at epidemic proportions but there’s no bike business campaign to explain the benefits of cycling to a mainstream audience.

Here's someone inside the industry saying that our present advocacy efforts are ineffective at getting more people onto their bicycles. This is the same 'heresy' that resulted in my banishment from the Thunderhead Alliance listserve. The vast bulk of so-called advocacy spending goes toward paint-and-pave schemes, bike parking facilities, and other concrete projects. Very little of it supports bicycling education. Townley isn't recommending an end to our present efforts. He's saying we need to establish new priorities and reach out to those potential cyclists behind the wheels of their cars.

Like I said at the start, it's an interesting idea. I'll have to think on it awhile.