Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Tuesday Musette

My Life of Grime

The Bianchi developed a layer of grime over the winter. It looked so bad I had to go by a car wash on the way home last night to use a pressure washer to remove some of the gunk. Here’s the good news/bad news: Pressure washers can remove layers of crusty dirt very easily, but they cannot remove stubborn chain lube.

I’ve been using Amzoil’s MPHD for a couple of years. It’s an industrial wax-based lubricant that costs much less than the boutique products, but it has a brownish color that shows up well against chainrings. I normally wipe down the rings after applying lubricant, but it’s difficult to reach the inner surfaces and the stuff accumulates there. The pressure washer wouldn’t lift it.

Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe that’s a very good quality for a lubricant applied to a bicycle chain that’s exposed to all sorts of weather. But I’ll have to disassemble the drive train soon and get that stuff off with some solvent. One joy of riding a fixed gear – my other commuter bike – is that it’s much easier to clean. But it too is showing a waxy build up. I may be spending Saturday in the garage.

Tom’s Bicycles (LINK)

Tom Brown is a good friend. I’ve bought a couple of bikes from him. He called after the shop closed and we had a long talk about bikes, politics, work, and his website. One idea was to have a page of used bikes he has in stock, although at present, he has none. Since I’m the bike guy at work, people ask where they can get a good bike, and a web page of used ones would be a draw for any shop.

Tom’s a big supporter of Freewheel, the annual, weeklong ride across Oklahoma. Every spring, he’s publicized the training and seminar series. This year, a skills clinic will be offered along with a training ride. He posted this:

Hope I haven't lost you yet, 'cause there's an interesting addition to the "seminar" series this year. Tom is working with some of our
local area League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors to be on hand at the March 26th 15-mile Tulsa Bicycle Club FreeWheel training ride to assist new and experienced riders in road riding skills including, but not limited to, maneuvers like the quick turn, rock dodge and emergency stop. Look for more information on the web site related to this unique opportunity to improve your cycling skills.

(Ahem) I am one of the instructors, of course. We decided that Sandra is the Goddess of Tennis Balls, since she has all the halved tennis balls we use for classes. But if we’re going to do this in the proper spirit, I think we should all have similar lofty titles. I don’t think I’m eligible for god status, though. Demi-god maybe.

Meeting at Owasso

Last Friday, I met with Ana Stagg, Director of Public Works, and Eric Wiles, Economic Development Director. I’d contacted them about the INCOG bicycling subcommittee and since I live in Owasso, I’d like to see some cycling awareness developing there. I’ve met with them before. Actually, the first time I contacted Ana, she seemed a little defensive until I pointed out that I’m certainly NOT an adversary. I’m not going to tell her how to do her job. All I want is to see cyclists included in long-range planning.

I told them of the ‘Bicycle Friendly City’ status that LAB promotes so well, and said that it’s an indicator of the quality of life in a community. This issue – quality – is a huge factor in attracting new residents and businesses.

The Owasso area is growing rapidly. There’s an opportunity to see cyclists included as a normal, expected part of city transportation. One of my goals is to see that cyclists are so commonplace on our roads as to be unremarkable. And I’m fond of a tool analogy: Use the right tool for the job. By that I mean that we should use motor vehicles when necessary, but if a trip involves a run to the grocery store for milk-and-bread-and-eggs (an every other day occurrence in our house) maybe a bicycle is a better ‘tool’ for the task. The problem is that there’s no place to park a bike. In fact, other than the schools, there are no bicycle racks in the entire town.

I told them of the Louisville public art/bicycle racks and they seemed interested. There may be some interest in including bicycle parking in commercial planning also. The sticky point is funding. Isn’t it always? They’re going to pursue some ideas in that line. I’m not a money guy, so please don’t ask about funding. I have no idea how it works.

We talked about signage too; Share the Road signs and the like. There’s nothing in the budget to do this at present, but it’s something to consider in the next one.

There’s a lesson in this for anyone considering bicycling advocacy. Well, actually there are several lessons. First, nothing happens quickly in government. We plant some seeds and hope that in a couple of years they’ll develop. It can be frustrating to see little apparent progress, but when we look back over several years, we can see that the initial effort paid off. The budget process sees that any new project cannot come on line for at least a year. Patience, grasshopper.

Second, there’s no substitute for a good working relationship with the bureaucrats and planners. Again, this takes time to develop. Everyone who attends a meeting wants to see that hometown become a better place. We may have differences about how to accomplish that, but never lose sight of the overall goal. Treat differing viewpoints respectfully and try to develop a cordial relationship. That ‘personal touch’ goes a long way toward furthering your goals.


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