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There’ve been previous updates on this but I just wanted to refresh y’all.  I saw these bicycle signs pop up in German Village yesterday and I was thrilled.

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More of these will continue to be installed along with the bike symbols on the ground to guide you on where to stop your bike at intersections.  Once you place your bike ontop of the symbol on the ground, it acts as a detector to change the light.  The city of Columbus’ Public Service Dept. plans to install both the signs and bicycle signals on the ground when you place a 311 request.  This is why it is so important to utilize this easy service-request system (http://311.columbus.gov/).  Our streets cannot get better unless we ALL are proactive in making them better.  I recently placed three requests through 311 and one of them is already in progress.

Next subject.

People constantly ask me ‘where is the best and safest place to ride my bike?’  The honest answer is, is that there is no real answer but there are better practices than others.  I tell people that if there are multiple travel lanes going in each direction, I always take the far right lane b/c there’s still another full lane(s) of travel.  Now, what about a street like High St.  There’s one travel lane, sometimes a dedicated left turn lane, and a far right lane that has buses, right turns, and now – parked cars.  Engineers reinforce that this lane can be ‘shared’ and let’s face it, most drivers DO want us on the most far right lane as possible, so they can continue about their destination, not having to slow down.  The fact is, is that that far right lane is 12ft wide (I counted) and clearly NOT enough for both a bike rider and an open car door to safely exist together.  Take a look at the pics below:

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Many car windows these days have tint to them leaving it as either a guessing game or a ‘Hail Mary’ for us bike riders riding in this lane.  As you can clearly see, there’s a variety of width of these cars.  I don’t care what people say, this is clearly not enough room.  I’ve been door’d and I’m still intimidated at times.

We learn in drivers education to be ‘predictable’ when driving.  Having drivers be able to anticipate your next move is both courteous and safe.  You dont want a driver to abruptly turn right and not signal or a car to change lanes with out adequate space and time.  The same goes with us on bikes.  We want drivers, buses, and walkers to be able to anticipate our moves.  Weaving in and out of lanes isn’t predictable.  I would rather anger the driver behind me b/c I’m slow and predictable than create this bike rodeo of weaving in and out of lanes and parked cars.  I know it’s engrained in us (slower traffic stays right) but when it comes to safety, drivers are just going to have to deal.  I hope these images help along with my quasi-clear explanation.  Again, its really difficult to answer b/c there are so many different levels of confidence when riding however, I hope these images give you a better idea of why its always not in the best interest to appease the cars behind you and for you to maintain the lane until the far right lane frees up for you to move into.

Be safe and keep riding.

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This is going to be my one and only blog written about helmets.  This topic, in my personal opinion is a waste of my time but I feel the need to balance current statements that have been made regarding a recent photo that was taken and published in the Dispatch:

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As many of you know, the three of us just recently executed our first and very successful statewide ‘Ohio Women’s Bicycling Summit.’  This was the photo published  in the Dispatch and you can imagine the comments and judgments that took place once this photo was released.

Only in America does it seem like there’s this war regarding helmets so let’s stop and figure out why.  Why do we wear helmets?  We wear helmets for ‘protection,’ right?  Who are we protecting ourselves from:  drivers and our cities that have been built to solely accommodate the automobile.  If you wear a helmet – you’re a safe bike rider.  If you don’t – you’re reckless.   I’m as safe of a bike rider as they come.   I wear a helmet about 98% of the time I’m on my bike so when I make that CHOICE to not wear a helmet, why do you take it upon yourself to judge me and reduce my safe bike riding; because I don’t conform to your standards?  Just because I don’t wear a helmet, that doesn’t make me more reckless of a bike rider or less credible of a bicycling advocate.

The staunch opponents out there need not be so quick to judge and think about a few things:

  1. Helmets help save lives, however, they do NOT prevent crashes from happening.
  2. We need to stop wasting time on the ‘blame game’ of who is and who isn’t wearing helmets and move forward to trying to change our infrastructure and slow down our streets.   The only way to change behavior is to change the infrastructure.   When you slow down a street with traffic calming elements, road diets, bicycle infrastructure, and pedestrian infrastructure – it not only increases livability within the street, it increases more walkers and bikers which in result increases safety and decreases crashes.
  3. Steve Barbour, Michelle Kazlausky,  Dr. Deborah Ehrlich and William Crowley are just four folks that come to mind whom all except Dr. Ehrlich were fatally hit AND were wearing helmets.  Dr. Ehrlich barely survived.  She was right hooked by a semi.  Again, infrastructure.

The focus must be moved to redesigning and changing our infrastructure which slows down cars and safely allows all users to move about.  Are you going to stigmatize me and anyone else who hops certain lights b/c they don’t detect us?  Do you know that if an intersection goes through two cycles w/out detecting a bike rider, we are legally allowed to hop the light or are you going to immediately make the judgment like most ppl do that I am a reckless rider and not take into consideration that our infrastructure has been built solely for the auto?   If you’re unwilling to see that ‘we’ a car-centric country has created these dangerous cities in which people die and that it is the way our cities have been built and not whether someone is wearing a helmet or not then I’m happy to be your scapegoat.

I’d like to also insert that in 2008, 4,387 pedestrians were killed in traffic and nobody is suggesting for them to wear helmets.  Where is the outrage in pedestrians being killed by motor vehicles?  It’s an increasing epidemic and yet there has been no public outrage.   Bicycling needs to be seen as both safe and fun and that everyone can do without special clothing or gear or feeling the need to ‘armor’ up (perfect example here – a national bicycling webpage:  http://www.peopleforbikes.org/blog/entry/send_a_pro-bike_letter_to_your_local_newspaper).   Over the age of 18, we as adults have the ‘choice’ to either wear a helmet or not.  I don’t need to feel looked down upon or targeted should I choose on rare occasions to not wear my helmet.

Before you continue to waste both my time and yours judging me on the basis of my not wearing a helmet during a photo shoot, use that energy and write a letter to your local representatives advocating for safer bicycling infrastructure and enforcement of lowering our traffic speeds within our cities.

From 1997-2006, there have been 424, 840 motor traffic fatalities (NHTSA), maybe drivers should start wearing driving helmets:

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This is in fact an actual helmet for driving.  When a bicyclist is fatally hit or seriously injured, the first question asked shouldn’t be, ‘was she/he wearing a helmet?’  It should be about the environment of where the accident took place.  Did you know that the majority of accidents happen in urban main arterials of cities? (NHTSA)  This leads me to once again acknowledge infrastructure.  Our inner- city streets are nothing short of inner-city freeways; five lanes across, no less than 12ft lane width, infinite sight distance, and let’s not forget the timed traffic lights working as an accomplice to speeding and safety concerns.

Our society has become fat and lazy when it comes to putting cars in their place.  Tailgating on freeways going 75mph is the new ‘black.’  Complete stops have become ‘rolling stops.’  ‘Stop bars’ aren’t paid attention to and if a crosswalk is more than six feet deep, that apparently gives a car permission to stop INSIDE the crosswalk and we continue to let this happen.

We need to move beyond whether a person on a bike was armored up with a helmet or not.  Once you understand that it’s not about the helmet – that it’s about our unsafe infrastructure then maybe you’ll put forth your efforts to creating a more ‘people-friendly’ city.  Hopefully soon, our cities’ infrastructure will be balanced enough to where you may walk out of your house, hop on your bike and in mid-riding say to yourself, ‘I forgot my helmet.’  We need to encourage, not discourage.  Our cities need the voices of people who ride bikes to unify and fight as allies, not judgmental enemies.  Again, this post is written based upon my personal opinion, on my personal blog and nothing more.

Be safe and keep riding.

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I’ve been sexually harassed, I’ve had a water bottle thrown at me, I’ve been driven off the road, I’ve been hit, I’ve been door’d, I’ve been cut off and this past weekend, I can add that my life was threatened-verbally.  I was riding east on Gay St. with a friend.  Gay St. is a two-way street; one travel lane in each direction and I maintained my lane.  A pick-up truck behind me was revving his engine; speeding up and slowing down to get my attention and probably to get me to move to the right but I had no intention b/c I had every right to maintain the lane.  At the red light, he sped up beside me, proceeded to spit on me and said I should ‘share the fucking road.’  I said, ‘how do I do that, I am legally allowed to take this ONLY lane?!’  He continued to be antagonistic, wanting me to ‘hit’ him.  I said, ‘I’m not going to hit you.’  He said, ‘I’ll end your life, you white bitch.’

A few more words were exchanged, the light turned green and since he was finally ahead of me, he was able to again maintain his driving cadence of 25 mph as oppose to my 15 mph.

I got home and couldn’t shake this particular instance.  I’ve had ppl intimidate me with their cars and I’ve never had anyone verbally threaten that they’d end my life.’  I rang a friend of mine who really helped me put this situation into perspective.  I could have handled the situation differently and I was beating myself up for it.  But, my friend told me that that person was my teacher – teaching me how I can improve myself the next time b/c there WILL,  inevitably be a next time.  Thank you, JLa.

I’ve written a ‘Will’ in case I die and its b/c I ride a bike.  How many drivers have written a ‘Will’ b/c they drive a car?  I bet I could gamble and say ‘not a whole lot.’  I constantly think and obsess over WHY, we are in such hurries that when we are slowed down, it infuriates us.  Why, as drivers, when we are slowed down, we have such anger and violence within us that we want to kill, intimidate, drive off the road, spit and harass.  How did we become so disconnected with each other and we don’t see the ‘human being’ component.

I am a daughter, a twin sister, an aunt, a cousin, a best friend, a human being.  When did we as human beings become so transparent that our destinations became more important than the safety of human life?  You’re wanting to END MY LIFE b/c I slowed you down for less than two minutes?  Let’s take a moment and really digest that sentence b/c that’s what I deal with on a regular basis.

Why is it drivers have more patience for school buses or public transportation buses when they make frequent stops yet they are ready to cut off and /or harass a person on a bicycle?  What is the difference?  The operator in any of these mode of transport is still a human being so why the fortitude with one and not the other?

Our streets began with people owning the streets – not cars.  Now, driving has become such a part of our DNA that this sense of entitlement and ownership has taken over our streets and our neighborhoods to where people will kill over it.

I’m willing to die in order to change this mentality.  I have been brought up to be a leader, not a follower.  Streets are suppose to be mini theaters- acting out life experiences and this can’t happen when cars control streets.  Families should want to take their kids on walks after dinner.  Families should want to sit on their front porch or stoop and talk to neighbors about how ridiculous ‘Honey Boo-Boo’ really is.  Nobody wants to do this when their front yards are three lanes wide and cars speeding at 40 mph.

I look forward to the day when we realize that some congestion isn’t always a bad thing and that life WILL NOT END if you have to slow down.  I look forward to the day when more people see change as a good thing and not fear it and react recklessly.

 

 

 

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Its been three weeks since my last confession.  Oops, I mean post 🙂  Sorry ya’ll.  I’ve been uber busy with three big projects and a handful of little ones.  I can’t help but to have my hands in as much possible – all things bikes.

One of those little projects is, beside my monthly ‘2 Wheels & Heels’ ladies ride, I thought it would be really beneficial to organize intimate rides with ladies that can make it, and experience current infrastructure that’s already laid on ground.

For a couple years now, I continue to reinforce to our city engineers that when bicycle infrastructure is designed, they need to keep in mind – women and children.  If you design a street with women and children in mind, they will ride it and so will everyone else.  If you do not, then the street needs to be redone until this can happen.  City streets are viewed as ‘safe’ when you have families, women, and children safely riding in them – with big smiles on their faces.

My first intimate ride was the Hilltop Bike Lanes.  I ride these all the time b/c my schools are located in the Frankliton and Hilltop area.

I received great feedback from the eight ladies that rode with me.  Signage in the intersections of the entrance / exit ramps by the freeways, better guidance from bike lane to sharrows, green paint usage, etc.  Eight ladies that ride when they can.  No professionals in planning, bicycle advocacy, engineering – just eight of the many ladies I’ve come to know that love to ride and want our streets to be safer and equipped with better / more smartly designed infrastructure.  Some of these women have kids and while they themselves would ride some of the infrastructure in some places, they would never bring their kids to ride on some of these streets.  We need to change that.

We need to have streets designed for EVERYONE in mind.  Our next ride will be Tamarack Circle and the infrastructure that’s been recently built there.  If you’re interested in partaking, write a comment or send me an email.  My email address is under the ‘About’ tab of my blog.

 

I thank the ladies that participated in this ride and look forward to the next ride with another VERY useful and open discussion.

Be safe and keep riding.

 

 

 

 

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This past Sat. was Gallery Hop and what a fantastic day / evening it turned out to be!  I spent most of the day in the sun and loved it.  I met my friend John down at Paradise Garage where we obtained a hefty amount of signatures for a current campaign I’m working on called ‘Connect the Core.’  It is a campaign to accelerate on-road bicycle infrastructure (bike lanes, dedicated bike lanes, etc) throughout our urban core.  When obtaining signatures, I was surprised at how many folks didn’t necessarily ‘ride’ frequently yet they were very willing to sign the petition in support of the campaign.  I was also focused on gaining ‘family’ signatures b/c I really want to work towards getting more families and women on the roads, feeling confident and secure.  If you’re in support of roads safer for ALL users go to http://www.considerbiking.org, click on ‘Get Involved’ up at the top and you’ll see ‘Connect the Core’ right after that.

Now, while obtaining signatures, I was able to capture a few fun pictures of other riders enjoying the evening.  I also rolled up to Gallery Hop in style as you will see in a couple of the pics below 🙂

A big group of BMX riders during G-Hop.  I didn’t get all of them but here’s a group of them.

Josh and girlfriend Rachel enjoying the weather and stopping by to say ‘hello.’

‘Bike thieves shot on site.’  I had to photo this up close.  I’m not sure I’d shoot them, I’d rather u-lock them in the face.

A friendly gent showing smiling big for the camera.

This is my Sophie, pre-take off to G-hop.  I had my six pack holder all ready.  My good friend Russian bought me New Belgium (I’m a fanatic for their beer) and Emily and Dan of Paradise Garage are fans as well.  Nothing like sharing a couple beers to people who really appreciate beers 🙂

The six-packer hold held up fantastic.  My sister-n-law bought me this.  I mentioned it to her a long time ago and she remembered!  I love it!

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Some lovely photos of bicycle riders this morning, heading to classes I’m guessing.  I missed a few riders in the downtown area but oh well.  I believe it’s going to be a pretty mild weekend so enjoy it!  Hop on your bike, head to the Audubon or tonight at the Columbus Museum of Art, they are hosting Game Show this evening, should be a good time especially if Hostess with the Mostess – Susie Starliner is on mic!  She rocks the house and I may even have a little crush on her.

Keep riding and making our streets VIBRANT!

 

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Wanted to post this.  Last night we had our second meeting revolving around one of our initiatives:  Connect the Core.  The Bicentennial Bikeways Plan has streets in the downtown slated to be looked at for bike infrastructure in 2014 or beyond – that is UNacceptable.  What we’re doing is accelerating the plan by organizing like-minded people who want to see our streets safer for all.  We’re looking at getting on-street bike infrastructure on 8 streets in our downtown core ( 4 east/west streets; 4 north/south streets).  If you’re reading this and you’re thinking to yourself, ‘I don’t need bike lanes, I think we  should ride with traffic.’   You should also know that the 64% of people who support biking and WANT to bike do not b/c of lack of infrastructure.  This isn’t about you, its about those 64% who want to bike but won’t.  Those people ARE the mode shift that we need and want.  We are the 15th largest city in the United States.   We are also the 15th largest city without bike lanes in their downtown core.  The 14 other larger cities ahead of us all have downtown bike infrastructure.

We’ve barely publicized our Connect the Core initiative and already we have over 800 signatures of people who support and want bike lanes and other on-street infrastructure.  If you’re interested in becoming involved / attending our next meeting, shoot me a response – we’d love to have you!  Folks are REALLY excited about this initiative and we’re really looking forward to leading.

We can’t be a viable, liveable and bikeable city if people don’t want to bike downtown OR walk.

Keep riding!

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