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.


Sunday, April 27, 2008


Here's an entertaining idea from those wacky Dutch!


Dutch Cyclists Want Airbags on the Outside of Cars

Posted April 24, 2008 by nick
Found in: Automobiles, This and That

Did you know that 60 lives a year could be saved if they just stayed out of the way of those fast moving machines we like to call “cars?”

Well, that’s according to one Dutch study, and it’s not known if the study is only taking into account the region or world or city block, but the point being, people are getting run over.

Now Dutch cyclists are lobbying for automakers to put inflatable airbags on the hood of cars, or exterior airbags, to cut back the number of deaths and cut into the reported 1,500 bicycle/car related injuries every year. One company has already taken a step in the direction. Sweden’s Autoliv has begun to put inflatable bags on their cars that inflates from the bottom of the windscreen.

Now, you know that I'm all for increased safety for cyclists. And while collisions between cyclists and motor vehicles account for the bulk of fatalities, simple falls are responsible for far more injuries. So what could be done to reduce the risks from simple falls?

(Image from webBikeWorld)

This could easily be adapted to a bicycle and would probably mitigate the effects of a front-end collision. It would help if you dropped the front wheel into a sewer grate too. Some would object to the added weight but it probably wouldn't be more than a couple of pounds. But what of the rider himself? Funny you should ask.

(Images from webBikeWorld)

The jacket has a CO2 cartridge that inflates air chambers on impact, protecting the rider's neck and spine. Granted, it's not very fashionable as much as it's utilitarian, but I think we can rely on those nutty folks in, say, Copenhagen to re-interpret it in leather or faux fur, along with matching purses and stylish footwear. Maybe a little something for the ladies too.

Now, I know you're thinking that while personal safety is a priority, the prospect of being slowly broiled and marinated in your own juices inside a jacket like this during the typical Oklahoma summer probably isn't an especially pleasant thought. When daytime highs are around 100F (37.7C) wearing more than a single layer of clothing is almost unbearable. I rode home once when it was 115F (46.1C) and I would have gladly ridden naked except for the possibility of being cooked in the midday sun. (Yes, I know. That's an unpleasant mental image too!) When it's that hot, clothing is mainly about protection from the sun.

So, while I think that attaching air bags to the outside of cars, to the top tube of bicycles, and to the cyclists themselves is a good start, there are a few ideas that could provide even better safety enhancements for all road users.

At first, I wondered about the possibility of constructing motor vehicles from Nerf material or even Styrofoam. Both of them, however, put us right back in the clutches of the international oil companies, something to avoid if possible.

(Image of "The Homer" from CRMDevelopment)

....and then it hit me! Paper mache! Think of it!

(Image of art car at Burning Man from nmpproducts)

A thin layer of paper mache would crumple under impact like, well, paper. This would absorb and dissipate the energy and make crashes more survivable. Cars would weigh less and use less fuel. People would start reading newspapers again because they'd need the paper to patch their cars. It's so easy to fix that even a second-grader could do it, and in fact, we could put those children to more productive work rather than wasting their time and taxpayer's money on education. We just need to be rid of those pesky child labor laws. They'd probably work cheap too. Car theft would be a thing of the past as chop shops were put out of business by second grade body shops.

Even better, we could replace all that road furniture with paper mache. Guard rails, telephone poles, curbing - all could be made from paper. We'd realize the American dream of ending unemployment and we'd make America a better place.

I'm telling you, it's the wave of the future!


Friday, April 25, 2008

Ask Doctor Crankset


(Image from

We join 'Doctor' Wally's radio show already in progress....

Wally pushed the flashing button on the console and said, “Go ahead caller, you're live on the Ask Doctor Crankset radio show!”

“Uh, hi. Your show is about bicycles, ain't it?” They guy sounded wary, his voice bristling with hostility.

“Why yes, it is,” Wally chirped. “We discuss a wide variety of bicycling-related topics, but we welcome all viewpoints. Could I have your name, please?”

“Yeah,” the voice hesitated for a moment. “I'm Larry. I just want to say that we need to stop supporting you anarchist, bike riding hippies with our taxes! Gas is pretty expensive right now and I don't see any reason those of us in cars should put up with a bunch of freeloaders like bicyclists clogging up our roads. And the government wants to put part of OUR money aside for a bunch of rich, white cyclists who don't have real jobs. You commies support this kind of thing because it's another Bolshevik privilege and the cash would be better spent on infrastructure, not the leisure activities of the upper-middle-class. These biking bastards are always out to steal the street and funding from working people who really need it.”

He slammed the receiver down and was gone.

“Wow”, Wally said sarcastically, “That left a mark! I think I may have to go off in the corner to have a good cry.” Wally paused. “On the other hand, I'm tempted to ask if Larry's mom knows her son is an idiot, but that would be wrong. Larry, you're mistaken in thinking that cyclists are freeloaders. We pay taxes just like you do. We have jobs to go to every day, and we choose to go there on bikes. When I checked last, going to work didn't really qualify as leisure time, but it's clearly more fun that driving. Call back if you want to discuss this further.”

Wally's console lit up and he punched the button for the next caller. “Go ahead caller, this is the Ask Doctor Crankset radio show!”


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tulsa Tough Kids Challenge...the bike build

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

Hasty update!

Hurricane Hattie wants to know about the upcoming Road1 classes. There's one this Saturday at the Merkel Auditorium at OSU Tulsa - on the West Bank. Sign up through Tom's.

There's another coming up on June6.

Gotta go assemble bikes!

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.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tulsa Tough Kid's 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.

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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.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Bike Blog Quiz...

Fritz has a link to a blog quiz.

"In honor of the 400th post to his QuickRelease blog, Carlton created the bike blog quiz. See if you can beat my 90% score on the Bike Blog Quiz."

Well, only a namby-pamby 90%! I can beat THAT!, well, actually I can't. I only scored an 80.

Congratulations on 400 posts, Carlton!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A pleasant Hell

(Image from Hearing Voices)

Number One Daughter has a sales meeting tomorrow morning at a restaurant along 71st Street in Tulsa. Yes, 71st Street with every big box store known to man on this or any other planet. Wall-to-wall shopping mania that makes everyone crazy.

Daughter was nervous since she's only driven in Tulsa a few times and she's never been alone. She wanted to drive down there today to know where the restaurant is located so there's little chance she'll get lost. Of course I'd help her by riding along. Little did I realize the allure of that shopping mecca, and I sadly underestimated the feral cunning and deviousness of a young woman I've known all her life. Momma came along too, which only compounded the problem.

Oh, finding the restaurant went OK. We located it quickly and found how to get in and out of there using the red lights - a bit of critical knowledge if traffic is heavy on 71st Street.

She asked if I wanted to go anywhere, thereby setting a careful trap for her unwary father. I wanted to look for a helmet light at Sun & Ski, but they were long out of stock.

Pulling out of the parking lot, she said, "Oh, I have to run in to the mall to get some jewelry for work. It'll only be a minute!"

I had that sinking feeling, knowing I'd been duped. I whined and moaned, basically acting like a petulant three-year-old until Mary smacked me on the butt. I straightened up, shut my pie-hole, and walked into the mall with all the cheery demeanor of a condemned man walking to the gallows. We entered through J.C. Penney, but I could have sworn the sign said "Forsake All Hope Ye Who Enter Here!"

Shopping malls bend the very nature of time. We found the store quickly, then time slowed as mother and daughter picked up, examined, discussed, and discarded every movable object on display. If our early hominid ancestors had behaved like that, we wouldn't be here because they would have been a snack for some saber-toothed whatchamacallit. I waited outside as hours stretched to days, days to weeks, and eventually, after a few ice ages had come and gone while dinosaurs prowled the mall, they emerged from the store empty handed.

...and there really are dinosaurs in the mall, because some of them simply can't be people.

If I could have pulled a jury of my peers, other guys standing around waiting for their significant others, I could have pleaded justifiable homicide. But again, I shut my yap and dutifully went along to the next store. This time I played a rousing game of 'Spot the Plainclothes Security Guards' and speculated on possible get rich quick schemes - one of which involved pushing an ice cart around inside the mall selling cold beer to stranded men. I'm telling you, it would be a real money maker!

Eventually they came out of the store with goods in hand this time. I was fuming as we walked back toward the car. Both mother and daughter wanted to wander off looking at more stuff, but I wasn't having any of it. I get two days off every week and there's no way I want to waste my time slouching about in a mall. But I kept the grumbling to myself.

Then Lyndsay turned to me and said, "Thanks, Dad! You're the best!"

That made it all worthwhile.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

360 Sports: New bike shop in Owasso

A new bike shop opened in Owasso today. Jon 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.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Deputies seek safe roads for drivers, cyclists

Here's a heartwarming story from Orlando about a bunch of cyclists who have the (gasp!) audacity to ride side by side in a narrow lane - one that's too narrow to safely share with a motor vehicle. The local deputies want to make the road 'safe' for cyclists and motorists by harassing and attempting to intimidate cyclists, using their authority to move them 'safely' out of the way of motorists.

Hmmmmm.....maybe if there's a double yellow line denoting a NO PASSING zone, motorists shouldn't pass. What a concept!

There's an almost comical quality to this. "We don't want to write hundreds of tickets (because any judge with a functioning brain would toss us out of court) and besides, cyclists have to obey the same laws as motorists, and yield to overtaking traffic. Sure, it's in the vehicle code somewhere. We just haven't found it yet."
About all that's missing is the almost obligatory snipe about wearing 'spandex'.

Watch the video and judge for yourself.


Complaints from drivers sent deputies out with a video camera.According to deputies, the cameras revealed large groups of bike riders -- mostly on weekends -- illegally disrupting traffic.

"Cyclists should yield to traffic that’s stacked up behind them," Lt. Pete Kelting said. "They can move to a single rider formation, which allows people to pass by them safely."

Keri Caffrey commutes on her bike and rides in groups for fun. She admits some riders go too far, and that it's about the law and courtesy."We find a safe place to pull over and let traffic go by," Caffrey said.

But she insists when lanes are narrow, riders do legally get the whole lane because riding on the edge of the road with cars whizzing by is far from safe."If it's less than 14 feet, cyclist or group of cyclists is entitled to full use of lane," Caffrey said.

Deputies insist their mission is to get a safe situation on the road for cyclists and drivers."They need to obey the same rules as if they were driving their own motor vehicle," Kelting said.


Monday, April 07, 2008

The Herd...

Jordan and I were talking about cycling and driving one evening last week. He wanted to know if he could become a League cycling instructor, and I advised that it would be a good idea to have more cycling experience. “How many times did you ride your bike last year?” I asked. “Once or twice?”

That was the extent of his riding last summer, and he only did that because his sister and I were gone. There was no one to drive him to work.

Is it cool to ride a bike at seventeen?” I asked.

He replied, “No, it's not. Everyone drives. They drive to school. They drive to work. They drive to parties on the weekend. I'm the only one who can't!”

I felt overwhelming sorrow at this because it exposed my deficiencies as a parent. I have the audacity to put limits on where and when he can drive. I'm heartbroken at the thought of putting such a crimp in the boy's social life.

Sure I am.

Being a devious parent steeped in Socratic method, I asked, “So in order to express your individuality, you have to dress like everyone else, think like everyone else, and act like everyone else?”

The kid knows when he's about to step into a minefield. His answer was slow in coming, but predictably, he gave a long, drawn-out sigh at the sheer obtuseness of his father, and said, “Uh, yeah. It is.”

So it's a bad thing to split from the herd, be different, and not be concerned about fitting in. There are only two types of animals outside the herd, predators and prey, but the herd is never anything but prey. Be different. Be a wolf.”

(Note to self: Socrates' teaching method wasn't very popular with his fellow Athenians. He had to drink hemlock, remember, and Jordan gave me a look that was pure hemlock.)

Originally, my intent was to write a piece about the astonishing conformity I see in our local teens. They not only avoid thinking outside the box, they don't know the box exists. But a couple of things came up that made me reconsider this piece.

Prosecutor: Tell the court why you think he is a traitor to this country.

Miss America: I think Mr. Mellish is a traitor to this country because his views are different from the views of the president and others of his kind. Differences of opinion should be tolerated, but not when they're too different. Then he becomes a subversive mother..............Woody Allen's “Bananas”.

I work in an industry that's been security obsessed since 9/11. Although reading about security issues is interesting, it's not part of my job. But Bruce Schneier often writes on the absurdities of security theater, measures that don't actually enhance security so much as they give the appearance of doing so. The “war on liquids” is a perfect example. The security services reacted to a perceived threat that later turned out to be largely imaginary, but we've been stuck with the ban on liquids ever since. Are these measures sensible? In a word, no. But if you object to them, you've just left the herd, and the TSA is waiting to pounce.

TSA is fond of saying that their security personnel are trained to spot those “people and things that stand out from the norm...”

TSA's officers have experienced more passengers and bags than anyone else on earth and that knowledge is priceless. They know what doesn't seem right. In a calmer checkpoint environment, hostile intent stands out from the behavior of regular passengers just trying to navigate the system. Behavior detection officers and document checkers will use their training and skills to identify people and things that stand out from the norm and give them added scrutiny.

This story was in the news, so I won't go into detail about it. Just think about what I wrote about being outside the herd, being a non-conformist who doesn't quite fit with the usual societal norms.

TSA posted a story about their “Behavior Detection Officers” making an arrest in Orlando. It should be interesting to see how this develops when they go to court and the defense asks what specific behaviors led to their suspicions. Until now, TSA has refused to describe the criteria for suspicious behavior. Their officers are supposed to be specially trained, and it will be instructive to see how much of the training is actually used. Given their history with such nefarious items as nipple rings, breast milk, and laptop computers, I won't have high expectations. But it may be equally instructive to consider that the other passengers were saying the suspect was acting very oddly and it's highly unlikely that any of them are 'trained to spot people and things that stand out from the norm'.

Then there was the Case of the Terrorist Nipple Rings:

Every time that I think that TSA can't possibly get any dumber, its employees top themselves. Case in point, Woman told to remove nipple rings for SoCal flight:

A TSA agent told a woman she would have to remove her nipple rings if she wanted to pass the security checkpoint. The woman has retained Gloria Allred as her attorney.

A woman was forced by the Transportation Security Administration to remove her nipple rings before she was allowed to board a flight, an attorney said on Thursday.

"The woman was given a pair of pliers in order to remove the rings in her nipples," said Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred. "The rings had been in her nipples for many years."

The original reference was this:

Schneier on Security

We've opened up a new front on the war on terror. It's an attack on the unique, the unorthodox, the unexpected; it's a war on different. If you act different, you might find yourself investigated, questioned, and even arrested -- even if you did nothing wrong, and had no intention of doing anything wrong. The problem is a combination of citizen informants and a CYA attitude among police that results in a knee-jerk escalation of reported threats.

...Of course, by then it's too late for the authorities to admit that they made a mistake and overreacted, that a sane voice of reason at some level should have prevailed. What follows is the parade of police and elected officials praising each other for doing a great job, and prosecuting the poor victim -- the person who was different in the first place -- for having the temerity to try to trick them.

In a society that values conformity “über alles” it can be dangerous to separate from the herd. Those who don't conform, those who are different, those who cannot or will not fit in are immediately suspect, subjected to ridicule, hostility, interrogation, and even arrest on the basis of little more than bias and suspicion. This can be on an organized basis like the illegal attempts by NYPD to suppress Critical Mass, or it can be as simple as a hostile county deputy trying to use his authority to bully a cyclist off the road. It can involve road rage and assault that police refuse to investigate. The message is – you're different and you deserve what you get.

Sadly, too many cyclists view themselves as second class citizens when it comes to using our public roads. The herd mentality is that motorist's rights are dominant and cyclists should simply know their place. In my tortured analogy, cyclists are the wolves. They travel in packs and they're capable of swarming over an antagonistic motorist. Perhaps commuter cyclists are the coyotes since they travel solo and live by their own cunning.

Finally, there's this from Dave Moulton:

...The media reflecting public opinion take on a “Blame the Victim” attitude. Although not in this specific case, but in talking about cycling related accidents in general. Public opinion after a cyclist is killed or injured is often, “He or she asked for it by being on the road.”

...The press and public opinion go hand in hand. The media can influence public opinion, but at the same time, they pander to popular opinion. Newspaper columnists know if they write an anti-cyclist piece it will get the support of the anti-cyclist public, and sell newspapers.

When Matthew Parris wrote in the London Times, advocating decapitation of cyclists with piano wire, there was an outcry from the cycling community, but little support from the general public.

Mr. Parris is not the only one to have written such inflammatory anti-cyclist articles. If these journalists used the words, Black, Jew, or Moslem in the place of “Cyclist” they would have been hauled off to jail.

...There would also be public outcry if there was a racially motivated attack on a black man and the police failed to pursue the matter. Yet in Tucson, Arizona police refuse to pursue a case after a cyclist was struck with a baseball bat. Even though the victim provided a license plate number, and the cyclist’s lawyer knows who the assailant is, and where he lives.

In America a person can no longer attack a black or Jewish person, or a gay guy without serious consequences, these are hate crimes. Why is it then a driver consumed with road rage can take a baseball bat to a cyclist and the police look the other way?

..Viewed in this light, isn’t the whole issue of people riding bikes on public roads a human rights issue? Cyclists are human, and they have a definite right to be on the road. Yet I have never heard of a cycling advocate pursuing it in this light, or a lawyer arguing that a cyclist’s civil rights were violated.

Cyclists, adult cyclists at least, are already outside the herd. Riding a bike on the road is not a socially mainstream activity. Join the wolf pack, or at least become a coyote. Road cyclists have to develop an attitude. No, I'm not saying that we need to be aggressive, arrogant, or rude. We have plenty of people like that already, both on and off the road. Road cyclists have to believe they have just as much right to use the road as anyone else, and they simply must be aware of the laws governing their travel.

Stop caring 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.


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Registration for Tulsa Tough Kid's Challenge

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.

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Braze and Bracket at theTulsa 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.

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Wednesday, April 02, 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


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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Let's make a deal...

Here's a rhetorical question, a cheap device often used to open a discussion where the answer is already known, or at least that how I use them.

Is wearing a professional jersey the mark of a poser?

Number One Son says that doing so is a way of defining oneself as a tool. He says that about wearing a jersey from a cycling team, yet he sees nothing wrong with wearing a professional football jersey with the name and number of a current player. Most football and baseball fans seem to accept this as a normal outward sign of fandom. Remember, 'fan' is merely a short form of 'fanatic'.

Why would cycling fans be any different? In some circles, cyclists who wear team kit are sneeringly referred to as posers and worse. Are they any different from football fans? I don't think so. But it's ludicrous for a two hundred pound guy to wear the polka dot climber's jersey. At least I wouldn't do it because I climb with all the grace and elan of a cement truck with bad spark plugs.

Still, I wouldn't wear a professional jersey from a current team, but I'd certainly wear a jersey from a long defunct one. I consider that doing homage to the history and tradition of our sport. So I'd have no problem wearing that Molteni jersey I discovered at the local Goodwill store...if it fit. I have to admit, though, that those world champion stripes would look a little bit odd on a slightly overweight, middle-aged guy.

Let's make a deal.

Which brings us around to today's idea. Just like it says up at the top, let's make a deal. I'm not going to sell the Molteni jersey and frankly I doubt that Mary would look kindly on it if I were to enshrine it on the wall, so I'm thinking about using it for bartering. And I'm looking to give it to one of you in exchange. Now remember, this is an Italian size XL. I usually wear an XL, but this fits as if it were at least one size smaller. I tried it on and now I know what it feels like to be a sausage. Eventually, the seams would break if I wore it. This jersey is in excellent condition without any signs of wear. It's a synthetic fabric, not wool like the 70s original.

So here's the deal – I like shiny objects, old books, old tools, old cameras, and old bike stuff. Hmmm. It seems the dominant theme is 'old'. If you have some old junk interesting curiosities for trade, write something about them in comments, or use the email contact in my profile. Let's limit this to small stuff that won't cost much to ship, because while I'd love an antique VAR wheel truing stand, shipping one of those cast iron wonders would be prohibitive. If you have a good story to go along with your item, so much the better. If the story is wildly improbable, highly imaginative, and raises suspicions of out and out fabrication, it's better still. Be creative.

This deal is limited to the United States and Canada due to shipping charges. I'll pay to ship my goods. You'll pay to ship yours. Deal? My family members are prohibited from participation, as are any employees of CycleDog International – a corporation bent on global domination, various extraterrestrials, and Dr. Walter Crankset, including all his aliases.

If this turns out to be popular, I'll do it from time to time as things appear in the thrift store and local garage sales.

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