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Archive for the ‘Random Thoughts on Biking and the Environment’ Category

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Bike Portland.org is keeping tabs on the ongoing story of a new transportation bill that will be outlined on Thursday. According to Bike Portland.org, U.S. Congressman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) is expected to release a white paper outlining his plans for the forthcoming re-write of the federal surface transportation bill (Oberstar is Chair of the House Infrastructure and Transportation Committee).

The current bill, passed in 2006 and known as SAFETEA-LU, will expire on September 30th. Many bicycle and sustainable transportation advocates are eager for a glimpse at what’s on Oberstar’s mind. They hope he makes good on the positive signals being sent from U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, that this bill will chart a new course for America’s ailing transportation system.

LaHood has been talking up “livability” and “sustainable communities” for months now. In a blog post today, he outlined six “livability principles” that will guide how the Obama administration approaches transportation.

The #1 principle on that list? “Providing more transportation choices.”

“We have a window of opportunity to think differently about transportation and propose bold, new approaches to improve the livability of our nation’s communities.” U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood

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The Pedalers for Progress asked me to share an article they ran accross in an Idaho newspaper called The Idaho Statesmen. I can’t reprint it in it’s entirety so I ask you to go to the link to read the entire article. However, there are a few segments that I will share from Colleen LaMay’s article.

BY COLLEEN LAMAY – clamay@idahostatesman.com

The death of cyclist Kevin Pavlis along Hill Road last week doesn’t help, said Joe Savola, husband of Kristin Armstrong, gold medal winner at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“What he was doing is what we do on a daily basis,” Savola said. “We ride right by where he got hit.”

With three bicyclists killed in crashes with cars in the past month, Armstrong and Savola talked Tuesday to the Idaho Statesman about safety for bicyclists and motorists. They emphasized that they were making no judgments about what happened in the deadly wrecks or who was at fault.

“There are mistakes on both sides, but let’s have a little tolerance,” Savola said.
Motorists and bike riders alike can make mistakes on the road, but it is bicyclists who pay, not motorists in the wraparound armor of their cars. “The motorists are the ones that have the loaded gun,” Savola said.

10 TIPS FOR DRIVERS
1. Different but equal: In all states, cyclists are deemed by law to be drivers of vehicles and are entitled to the same rights on the road as motorists.

2. Patience, not patients: You may need to wait until it is safe to pass a bicycle. Don’t tailgate. In conditions where there is not enough room for cyclists to ride to the right, they are allowed to ride closer to the lane of traffic, and sometimes even in the traffic lane.

3. A passing grade: Don’t pass cyclists until you can see that it is safe to do so. Allow ample space between your vehicle and the bicycle. If you pass too close, the drag from your car can cause the rider to swerve out of control.

4. The right behavior: Watch out for cyclists when you turn right. A bicyclist may be to the right of you and planning to go straight at the same intersection. Do not speed ahead of bicyclists thinking you can negotiate the turn before they reach your car. Cyclists may be going faster than you think, and as you slow to turn, they could crash into the side of your vehicle.

5. To the left, to the left: Also look for cyclists when making a left-hand turn. Cyclists who are traveling straight through the same intersection from the opposite direction may be going faster than you realize.

6. A back-up plan: When backing out of your driveway, always look to see if someone is in your path.

7. Parking: After parallel parking, make sure the coast is clear for opening the car door to exit. Make sure there are no cyclists riding alongside your car or fast approaching. By using the rear view mirrors and by turning around, a driver can spot approaching cyclists and prevent disaster.

8. Respect: Cyclists help the environment with each revolution of their wheels by opting to ride rather than drive. Do not resent them.

9. Honking: If you need to honk your horn to alert cyclists that you are about pass, do so at a distance. Otherwise, the noise can cause cyclists to lose their bearings.

10. Try it, you’ll like it: If you can’t beat them, join them. Riding is good for you and good for your environment.

Source: http://yieldtolife.org

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The Pedalers for Progress received a letter from a good Minnesota friend on Friday. Jacob Quarstad had met with Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office before leaving on the trip to solicit support from the Senator. After the appointment Jake reported that the meeting went well. Today, the Augsburg Pedalers for Progress received this letter in the mail.

Thanks to Minnesota’s only Senator at the present time, Amy Klobuchar, and to her staff for supporting the P4P’s while on this journey and in the work they do after reaching their destination.

Klobuchar_Letter

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Pedalers for Progress contacted MPR to see if the audio interview conducted with Jacob Quarstad last Wednesday and aired last Thursday was available online. Unfortunately the interview did not make it on line, but thanks to Tim Post, Higher Education and Transportation new reporter for MPR, he supplied us with a transcripts:

Four students from Augsburg College in Minneapolis begin a nearly two-thousand mile bicycle trip to Portland Oregon this morning.

The students plan to research the laws and infrastructure Portland officials have used to make that city one of the most bicycle friendly places in the nation. They want to see whether Minneapolis officials could take some of the same measures.  Student Jake Quarstad says the group expects a challenging trip, from the prairies of Minnesota and South Dakota to the mountains of Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon.

“Seeing the mountains, as treacherous as they may be, will be a Godsend after a few days on the prairies.  Almost everyone we speak to thinks we’re crazy going into both a head wind and a cross wind actually.  It will be slightly miserable, but we’re prepared for that.

Quarstad expects the trip to take about 40 days.  The cyclists will return to Minnesota by train once their research is done.

Four students from Augsburg College in Minneapolis are starting out on a nearly two-thousand mile bike trip to Portland, Oregon this morning.

21-year old cyclist Jake Quarstad says the point of the trip is to research how city officials have made Portland one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the nation, and whether Minneapolis officials could take some of the same measures.

“What laws and infrastructure changes that have taken place there has been been fiscally responsible has had positive economic outcomes and is most applicable to Minneapolis.”

Quarstad says the four cyclists will travel west from Minneapolis through South Dakota, Wyoming, and Idaho before reaching Oregon. He expects the trip will take about 40 days.  The group plans to return to Minnesota by train.

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Tim Post

Reporter/Minnesota Public Radio

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Twin Cities Streets for People had a nice post today on the Pedalers for Progress and embedded the documentary video in that post.

Check it out. It’s really a pretty cool site. I didn’t know anything about it but will make sure I bookmark it. Hopefully you will also!

I think if we are to truly fulfill the Pedalers for Progress’s hopes and dreams for this trip, we all need to see their journey as a learning experience for each and every one of us. Not just for the young men on this trip. Keep asking questions about why we do things the way we do and why we’re so stuck in the same patterns. It might not be just about bikes but about traffic, cars, fossil fuel or sustainability issues. We all need to rethink what we’ve come to know as the norm.

I received a couple of great emails today at the Pedalers email address. One of them is from a Norwegian woman who graduated from Augsburg in 1984 and has a connection with a woman who has worked with bicycle advocacy and policy in Portland for years. I will continue to stay in touch with her and get the boys to make that connection. Thanks Beste!

I had another great email from Alisa,  a young woman who is a 2007 Augsburg graduate. She biked with two other Augsburg graduates down the Mississippi River from Lake Itasca to New Orleans just last fall.  Thanks Alisa and more to come on this!

Brian Quarstad

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May 14, 2009 – MPR

bikesandcarsCathy Wurzer, and Ken Paulman, of Minnesota Public Radio have a story out today stating that despite an increased number of cycling fatalities on Minnesota roadways in 2008, it may actually be getting safer to ride a bike.

“When we compare the 1990s to the current decade … the number of crashes between bicyclists and motorists is actually going down,” said Shaun Murphy, who coordinates non-motorized transportation for the city of Minneapolis.

Go here to read the story and listen to the audio.

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