Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Riding Two Abreast

(Image from the Pennsylvania Bicycle Drivers Manual, an excellent resource.)

A discussion of state and local laws that pertain to bicycling is a standard part of any Road1 course. As part of the bicycling education effort here on TAObike, this may become a regular feature. Brian Potter and I were specifically asked about the 'riding abreast' portion of Oklahoma's bicycling law, and we solicited Gary Parker's input for this post also. Now remember, none of us are attorneys. We merely watch them on television until they get boring. We're League of American Bicyclists instructors, and as such we teach 'best practices' that conform to the law.

There's a great deal of confusion and misinformation regarding bicycle law in Oklahoma. Partly, that can be attributed to the fact that state law and local law may differ on some points. But on riding abreast, both Oklahoma and Tulsa law agree that it's a legal practice.

As in every discussion of our legal rights, there's also the counter balance of responsibilities. The two go hand-in-hand.



    [b]Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.



Persons operating bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast, except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

This is unambiguous language prohibiting cyclists from riding more than 2 abreast. Some misread this and interpret it as a prohibition against riding 2 abreast, forgetting that it actually says “more than 2 abreast” provided the riders are on a roadway. Strangely, this law allows more than two abreast riding on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. So it would be legal (but rude and perhaps dangerous) to ride three abreast on the River Park trail, for instance. Keep three abreast in mind because we'll return to it momentarily.

But why would cyclists want to ride side-by-side? Wouldn't single file be safer, not to mention more convenient for motorists? I'll preface this by stating that as far as I'm aware, there are no crash statistics available that show rates for single-file vs two abreast riders.

First, here's a brief explanation of lane positioning and Oklahoma's three feet law. Again, these are worthy of detailed discussion, so this will be merely an overview. Cyclists should ride in the right-hand tire track. This means they have a third of the lane to their right and two-thirds to their left. Most lanes in Oklahoma are 12 feet wide, so a cyclist would have 8 feet to his left (from his tire track or the center line of his bike) out to the center line on the road. A bicycle is approximately 2 feet wide, so if his tire track is 3 feet from the right hand road edge, the left side of this handlebar is 4 feet from that edge. Overtaking traffic must give a cyclist 3 feet of clearance at a minimum, so a single cyclist takes up 7 feet of road width. That leaves 5 feet of usable width for overtaking. If a motorist wishes to pass safely and legally, he must straddle or cross the centerline when opposing traffic permits. Make no mistake – it is ALWAYS the responsibility of overtaking traffic to do so safely. So in a typical Oklahoma lane, a motorist must cross the centerline in order to pass safely whether there is one cyclist on the road ahead or two cyclists riding side-by-side. The passing situation does not change with the number of cyclists present.

To some it will seem counter-intuitive, but riding side-by-side benefits both motorists and cyclists. Two cyclists are more visible to an overtaking motorist, so it's more likely he'll slow down and pass safely. And if a group rides 2 abreast, its total length is halved. Six cyclists occupy as much space as a single motor vehicle when they're side-by-side, meaning that an overtaking vehicle spends less time in the opposing lane. What some motorists see as an unnecessary obstruction actually makes the road safer for both cyclists and motorists.

But what of those situations where cyclists are riding 3 or more abreast on the road? While it may appear to be illegal from a motorist's perspective, what may be happening is a lone cyclist is passing two others. Speed differences are often only 2 or 3 miles per hour, so passing can take some time and distance. Most cyclists realize that if they're caught up in a large group riding 3 wide or more (as is common in bicycle racing) the cyclist in the middle has nowhere to go if something happens just ahead. Even a casual observer at a race can see the chain reaction in a big group as a single rider causes many others to fall. For that reason alone, riding three or more abreast can be very dangerous and is deservedly illegal.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tulsa Tough Kids Challenge: the bike build

This is only a small portion of the bikes we assembled. All three hundred were assembled in a little under four hours. I was one tired puppy when we finished!

Local cycling personality and perpetual office-seeker Paul Tay, with Chuck Davis, owner of Oklahoma Velo Sports, and Gary Parker.

Nice bike, eh?

(CycleDog photo. See Flickr for the full set.)

Ren asked for thoughts about yesterday's bike building event.

When I got home from work, I spent some frantic minutes putting my toolbox together. Right before an event like this something always goes missing. Last night, it was the Y tool. Someone who looks a lot like me manages to misplace tools with depressing frequency.

I asked Jordan to come along. He wanted to borrow the car and go to church. Since I was using it, he couldn't. But he readily agreed to help out with building bikes. As it turned out, I glad he did.

We arrived at the warehouse in a pouring rain, hustled inside, and set up the work stand. Within a few minutes, we began assembling a multi-speed Trek mountain bike. I cut away the zip ties, rubber bands, and paper wrapping while Jordan removed small parts from the box and got the front wheel ready. A spot of grease went onto the seat post and it went into the frame, then the whole assembly went up into the stand. Jordan installed the pedals with a long 15mm combination wrench. I installed the handlebar and adjusted the front brake. I checked the derailleurs and the rear brake, and then the bike went down onto the floor. We tightened the pedals firmly and inflated the tires. Jordan rode the bike over to the storage area, then returned with another unassembled one.

That was the sequence we followed during the four hours it took to assemble 300 bikes.

Jordan said we did eight bikes but I didn't keep count. These Treks arrived in good condition. That is, there's little to do other than put them together and adjust the front brake after the cable is installed. I adjusted just one rear derailleur and encountered one bike with a brake problem I couldn't fix with the tools available. It had a burr inside one of its cable ferrules that caused the brake to stick. A few passes with a needle file would have fixed it, but my needle files were safely tucked away in my tool box at work.

Richard Hall arrived and set up his work station next to mine. We shared some tools. I had to show him a couple of antiques out of my tool box – an ancient Campagnolo T wrench and an equally ancient Campy 'peanut butter' wrench. He got a kick from the sticker on the back that says, “One wrench to rule them all and in the darkness bind them.” The funny thing is – whenever I slide that 15mm box end over my finger, I become invisible. What's up with that?

There was one minor annoyance when another mechanic began working just a few feet behind me, leaving little space for Jordan and I to work without bumping into him. Now, the warehouse is roughly 100,000 square feet. There's no reason to set up in close proximity to another person, particularly when that person is using a utility knife (as Jordan was) for opening boxes. Every now and then, I threw something over my shoulder. Yeah, it was wrong, but...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tulsa Tough Kids...

Kids1 Presentations

Monday and Tuesday evenings, the Tulsa LCI group did Kids1 presentations at Webster High School and Carver Middle School in Tulsa. Actually, we're offering an amalgam of Kids1 and Kids2 in the League of American Bicyclists curriculum because the kids who attend these events will receive new bicycles through the Tulsa Tough program. We want them to be prepared to ride safely.

The LCI group consists of Ren Barger, Gary Parker, Brian Potter, and me for these events. We followed the Crime Commission's “Safe Escape” program which teaches kids how to avoid abduction. Safe Escape is a free presentation they offer to any interested organizations in the Tulsa area, and to be blunt, it's a tough act to follow. We're bland and boring by comparison.

Watching Gary and Ren work with the kids is always enjoyable. They both have the light touch that develops almost instant rapport. Brian does the 'expert instructor' role, and I provide comedy relief. I'm lucky to have straight guys like these.

We watched 'A Child's Eye View' which is a short video on cycling safety produced by LAB. Gary asks the kids to watch for the mistakes the kids in the video make, and they're on it like hawks. He doesn't tell them what to look for – he merely asks, “What did you see?” The kids don't miss much. They tell us of a kid riding on the wrong side of the road, running stops signs, riding without a helmet, and riding out onto the street without scanning for traffic first. Honestly, they didn't miss a single mistake.

I was lucky to have Jordan along on Monday evening. On the drive to Webster, I told him to expect a question about how taking Road1 and learning the rules of the road helped him when he took his driver's license test. Brian called on him during the lecture and Jordan responded very well. Afterward, six or eight kids gathered around to ask him more questions. The LCIs are impossibly old by kids standards, but Jordan is closer to their age and easily approachable. I think he was a bit surprised by the attention.

Today (Wednesday) we get to assemble those new bikes – all 300 of them. Last year, we had an enormous group of mechanics, box haulers, pizza technicians, and other support people. The team assembled 200 bikes in about 90 minutes. I'm hoping it goes as quickly tonight.

In May, we'll do the skills and drills portion and the kids will get their new bikes and helmets. That will be intense because we'll have 3 classes each day. After that, there's a planning meeting for the tech support staff, and the two-day Tulsa Tough event itself. I've been having short nights and long days already, and I'm only peripherally involved in the Tough. Those more centrally involved must be working their butts off!

So if you participate in any of these big events, whether it's a local charity ride or a big racing weekend, take a moment to thank the volunteers. And don't be surprised if you find one of us fast asleep in a chair during a quiet moment.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tulsa Tough Kids Events


The first of the Tulsa Tough Kids Challenge events will kick off on Monday, April 21st.

Tulsa Tough Children’s Hospital Tough Kid’s Challenge

The Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis has once again provided the opportunity for kids to win a free bike, helmet and t-shirt through Tulsa Tough. This year 3rd, 4th and 5th grade-aged children are eligible for the program. To receive the bike children must complete a Safe-Escape class conducted by the Crime Commission along with a bicycle handling skills class conducted by the League of American Bicyclists. Kids will then pick up their bikes at the Skills and Drills class and are required to participate in a Tulsa Townie ride on Sunday June 1st at Tulsa Tough. All kids events are free. Parents are encouraged to ride with their kids by signing up for the Townie ride.

Register online at or call the Crime Commission at (918) 585-5209.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A near miss...

The lunatic is in my head

You raise the blade

You make the change

You rearrange me 'till I'm sane....Pink Floyd “The Dark Side of the Moon”


The first thing I remember is lying on the gurney. A nurse said I could go home. She ordered a wheelchair to take me out to the car, but when I stood up, the room went white. Voices seemed to come from farther and farther away.

The next thing I remember is being wheeled into a hospital room. Mary said I had a seizure in the ER, so they wanted to keep me overnight for observation.

Hours earlier, I'd left work on my bike, riding north on Mingo Road. It was July 2nd, a nice summer day. I had my new Giant CFR, a bike I normally didn't ride to work since it didn't have a rack or fenders, but on a gorgeous day like that I wanted the 'go fast' bike. I had less than 600 miles on it.

The following came from eye witnesses and police reports. I have no memory of these events.

Just south of 76th Street, a car bumper hit my back wheel, went through the seat stay, and hit my left leg. The passenger side mirror hit my leg too. Witnesses said that I never let go of the handlebar as the bike and I rolled over. I hit the pavement with my head and right shoulder and rolled diagonally across my back and onto my left hip. My helmet was flattened on the right side. I had a concussion, extensive road rash, and a broken left leg. Owasso police and paramedics were there in a few minutes. They transported me by ambulance to a landing zone, where a Lifeflight helicopter took me to the hospital.

The driver who'd hit me was a real stand-up kind of guy. He tried to convince the police that his girlfriend was driving. Of course, he didn't have a license or insurance. His car had an expired tag and was worth less than my bike. I'm sure he would have fled from the scene except for the witnesses. Eventually, he would plead guilty to three offenses and pay a $750 fine. This may have been the third or fourth time he buzzed by very close, as I have a vague memory of a similar dark-colored car doing this in the days before the crash. There's no way to know for certain.

After my overnight hospital stay, I went home with a pair of crutches and a cast. Let me say this about concussions – they're not entirely bad because they make watching daytime television more enjoyable. Folding laundry was fascinating too. All my highs and lows were gone. I didn't get excited. I didn't get depressed, and I had the patience of a Buddha. My doctor warned that there could be lasting effects, and for a while I had difficulty reading aloud, following conversations, or writing without transposing letters. How much of this was due to the impact and how much was merely my increased awareness of everyday mistakes is something I'm unable to determine.

When the cast and crutches were gone, I started hobbling along the sidewalk with the aid of a cane. I met my kids coming home from school and walked a little bit farther every day. Months later, I was back on the bike, commuting to work.

If there's a lesson here, it's this – we can influence people without ever exchanging a word. All those parents and teachers around the school watched my slow recovery. Some thought I'd never get on a bike again, so they were astonished when I showed up on my commuter one afternoon and every afternoon thereafter. Months later, one of them told me that he'd thought to himself, “If he can do it, I can do it.”

One final thing. Susan asked for “close calls” stories. This one is more accurately a near miss, as in 'he nearly missed me'. Statistically, getting hit from behind is fairly rare. Just my luck.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

360 Sports: a new bike shop in Owasso

A new bike shop opened in Owasso today. John Ray, owner of 360 Sports, will be interviewed for CycleDog and TAOBIKE in the near future. He has a variety of bicycle types including, road, hybrid, triathlon or TT bikes, mountain, and comfort models. I got my first close up look at an Electra Amsterdam, a very nice commuting bike.

Some floor space was devoted to cycling clothing and there's even (gasp!) a dressing room! In all my experience of bike shops, I believe this is a first.

There really wasn't time to do an interview today since the shop was busy. So I'll get that done later next week. Brian and I talked about doing interviews as a regular feature on TAOBIKE, and I'm looking forward to it. This will be more about the people who own and run the shops rather than an overview of their products.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Who Needs BikeEd?

Oklahoma needs informed citizens--and especially, informed bicycling advocates. Most people involved in cycling do not have even a passing understand of the bicycling laws in their state and local communities. Many people still cling to dangerous misconceptions about cycling that reduce their enjoyment and their safety while riding.

People who need bicycling education:

  • Cyclists: cycling club officials, ride leaders, local and state advocates, commuters, tourists, racers, exercise enthusiasts--anyone who rides a bike on a roadway, especially those who want to mentor and guide others
  • Motorists: teenagers and new licensees taking drivers ed, DUI perpetrators, city bus drivers, community and civic groups, neighborhood associations, soccer moms
  • Pedestrians: Trail users, joggers, stroller pushers, roller bladers

The 4 E's of Cycling Advocacy--Enforcement, Engineering, Education, and Encouragement--also tell us who needs bicycling education.

  • Enforcement: highway patrol officers, city police, county sheriffs, district attorneys, judges
  • Engineering: transportation planners, ODOT and city public works engineers,
  • Education: Phys Ed instructors, Drivers Ed instructors, middle school and high school students, college students,
  • Encouragement: community leaders, churches, civic organizations, charities, volunteers

Education serves as encouragement. Want to sponsor a law enforcement officer, transportation planner, elected official, or other public figure for BikeEd Road 1? This is an excellent way to improve cycling conditions and make friendly connections in the community.

Road 1 is the basic adult course and assumes reasonable skill in the fundamentals of balancing, steering, and braking.

Kids 1 is for parents of younger children who don't know how to ride.

Kids 2 is for youths old enough to bike on their own--to school, to see friends, to the corner store, to soccer practice or piano lessons.

BikeEd for Motorists is a short seminar to improver cyclist-motorist relations and general awareness of good bicycling practice.

Visit TAOBike's education pages for more info.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Tulsa Tough Kid's Challenge Registration

Registration for the Tulsa Tough Kid's Challenge opens tomorrow, April 7th. Children in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade can receive a free bicycle, helmet, T-shirt, and instruction by completing the Tulsa Tough events. Please note that registration is on a first come, first served basis, and that children registered after the initial 300 will be added to a waiting list.

(From the website)

The Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis has once again provided the opportunity for kids to win a free bike, helmet and t-shirt through Tulsa Tough. This year 3rd, 4th and 5th grade-aged children are eligible for the program. To receive the bike children must complete a Safe-Escape class conducted by the Crime Commission along with a bicycle handling skills class conducted by the League of American Bicyclists. Similar to last year, kids will then pick up their bikes on Saturday and participate in a Tulsa Townie ride on Sunday June 1st at Tulsa Tough. All kids events are free. Parents are encouraged to ride with their kids by signing up for the Townie ride.

1. Register on this website.

2. Attend one of three Safe Escape/Bike Ed trainings

Join KJRH anchor Russ McCaskey, Sports Anchor Jason Shackleford and the team from the Crime Commission at one of these presentations:

April 21st 7:00-8:30pm Webster High School 1919 W. 40th St. Tulsa
April 22nd 7:00-8:30pm Carver Middle School 624 E. Oklahoma Pl. Tulsa
April 28th 7:00-8:30pm Memorial High School 5840 S. Hudson Ave Tulsa
Parents are encouraged to attend with their children.

3. Attend one of the Skills and Drills Classes!

Certified instructors will be on hand to teach children bicycle riding skills. Classes are available as follows:

Saturday, May 10th at the Space Center III,
8:30AM Helmet Fitting, Bike Fit/Check, 9:00-11:00AM Skills and Drills Class 1
10:45AM Helmet Fitting, Bike Fit/Check, 11:15-1:15PM Skills and Drills Class 2
1:00PM Registration, Helmet Fitting, Bike Fit/Check, 1:30-3:30PM Skills and Drills Class 3

Sunday May 18 at the Space Center III,
12:00PM Helmet Fitting, Bike Fit/Check, 12:30-2:30PM Skills and Drills Class 4
2:15PM Helmet Fitting, Bike Fit/Check, 2:45-4:45PM Skills and Drills Class 5
4:30PM Helmet Fitting, Bike Fit/Check, 5:00-7:00PM Skills and Drills Class 6

4. Participate in the 8-mile Tulsa Tough Tulsa Townie ride on Sunday June 1 at 1PM!

The Tough Kids Challenge, presented by The Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis, is designed to encourage physical fitness and introduce youth to lifelong health activities.

Registration is on a first come, first served basis. Children registering after the initial 300 will be added to a waiting list. The actual bike each child receives will be based on their height and availability, bikes will be available at the Skills and Drills class.

Registration opens Monday, April 7th.

Braze and Bracket at the Tulsa Bicycle Club

The Tulsa Bicycle Club graciously hosted Brian and me as “Braze and Bracket” with Mike Schooling as the ringmaster of our improvised circus. We talked about a program called “Go by Bike” designed to encourage people to use their bicycles for utility and commuting, rather than just recreation. This was all loosely based on the ideas in the Clif Bar 2 Mile Challenge.

In all seriousness (seriosity?) we know that speaking to a bike club is preaching to the choir. They're already experienced and knowledgeable cyclists, but we want them to be a resource for others who are less knowledgeable. Rising fuel costs always put more people onto their bikes in an effort to save money. We want those knowledgeable club cyclists to be informed enough to answer simple questions, yet aware of other resources like the LCI group where they can find information in depth.

All in all, it was an interesting hour that went by too quickly. We used a who-what-when-where format that encouraged questions. Ringmaster Mike kept us on track, because otherwise we would have rambled on far longer.

We also talked about the Tulsa Tough and the kids BikeEd events associated with it, and upcoming Road1 classes on April 26th and June 6th.

There was some discussion of the construction at the Haikey Creek bridge (the locally infamous 'FEMA' bridge) and I used that as a springboard to solicit information for the INCOG bicycling advisory group. It's simply not possible for the committee members to be aware of details on every trail and roadway cyclists use throughout the INCOG service area, so we rely on individual cyclists and clubs to provide us with that information.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Tulsa Tough Bikes and Kids

(Forwarded from Adam with his permission to use contact information)

The Crime Commission and Tulsa Tough has secured a location at the Space Center at 38th/Memorial. The facility is a large 10,000 + square foot warehouse with plenty of room, electricity, and restrooms. It will provide enough room for bicycle storage, an assembly party, and skills and drills class. The warehouse location is a secured and safe environment for many young kids that will be eager to learn about bicycle safety and proper riding! The skills & drills Kids 1 is scheduled for Saturday Mary 10th and Sunday May 18th. We will need all the help we can recruit from LCI's and any experienced volunteers that would like to assist. I anticipate we will need around 25 adults.
Please contact me ASAP.

Adam Vanderburg


Reporter and Photographer have trouble keeping up...

Nice shots of River Park trail and the pedestrian bridge.

> Tulsa World reporter Matt Gleason and photographer James Plumlee try
> to keep up with the Eugene Field Elementary Bicycle Club. Watch as the
> pair struggle to pedal bikes designed for third grade girls.