Sunday, February 28, 2010

Little Over a Month Left

The sun is beginning to set on this little project with just over a month to go until I have experienced a year of carfree living. Its been a roller coaster, but I wouldn't change a thing.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Some Haiku Therapy

Thanks to a co-worker for this suggestion.

Pedal, pedal, skid
Eating exhaust at the light
Swallowed by metal.

Out the door, crisp, clean
Sunrise lighting Lolo peak
Great start to the day.

No oncoming traffic
Honk from behind to move over
Receive finger, rude!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Finally Some Friday Humor...

Monday, February 22, 2010

I am Jack's Utter Lack of Surprise

Me: Describe incident to police officer
Officer: "There aren't cameras out there to get a license unless you went through a bank drive- through or Target parking lot. Next time call immediately."
Me: disappointment
Officer: "Do you ride a lot around here?"
Me: "Yes"
Officer: "Don't expect this to be the last indecent like this."


Sunday, February 21, 2010

I was Almost Killed Last Night Because of a Bunch of Redneck Fucks

If your a cyclist then you've had your run in with cars in some sort of situation. But has anyone out there every been chased down by a large pickup full of drunk rednecks? Well thats how my night ended... getting chased by a bunch of rednecks in a large pickup for the hell of it and almost getting killed in the process. As I sit here this morning my hands are still shaking.

It was late, almost 3 am and I'm pretty sure that I could make it home from a friends house up the Rattlesnake without running into any traffic. I was well lit with a headlamp and numerous blinking lights so I was easy to spot on my fixie. Heading west through downtown I turned off of Spruce onto Alder because its a quite street right along the train tracks. As I pass an intersection I turned my head to see a truck still about 20 feet from the stop sign, my headlamp pointed me out nicely.

"Get him!" "Woof... Woof!" "Where you goin' boy?"

All of a sudden the engine revs and the tires sequel and the hunt is on. I didn't have time to think of what to do, the adrenaline just kicked in and I was off pedaling as fast as I could. I rode through the cobblestone street where the Farmers Market is held in the summer and hopped up onto the sidewalk as if that extra 4 inches of cement would be an adequate buffer between me and the lifted truck.

"Woof, Woof, Woof!" "Run 'em down!"

I pass the old train depot and they are right on my tail by then, having blown through a stop sign. They're yelling, I'm going balls to the wall and I'm facing a choke point and I know if I continue into the street ahead of me I'm fucked. I quickly turn in the side parking lot of the depot, they shoot past, and I double back onto Higgins thinking maybe they'll continue on... but they don't.

As I turn I hear "Want a beer!" screamed out the window and an empty beer can hits me on the leg. I speed off and gain some space on them as they try to turn around. The gap doesn't last long and I turn onto Pine before their grill almost makes contact with my back tire. The sound of the V-8 is deafening. They were going fast enough that the truck goes wide on the turn and I hop back up on the sidewalk because I can keep a few cars in between them and me.

Turn right... another right into the alley, their not far behind. My only advantage is my agility and I'm trying to use that as much to my advantage as possible.

"Knock 'em down!" "Yeahhhhhh!" "Get em!" "How you like your bike now!"

Again they come within inches of me, this time pulling up beside me and trying to push me into the dumpsters at the end of the alley. Their timing was just a little late as I clear the alley, sharp right this time staying on the sidewalk.

"You fucking almost had him!"

They express their disappointment by hurling more beer cans. Another right back down Pine. I pedal as fast as I can to create a gap and cross in front of them and the truck revs and lurches forward in pursuit but misses. I make it down Ryman next to the court house were the street has been confined to one lane. This is my chance... they turn down Ryman. I make it half way down the block, skid, and make it on to the sidewalk and double back and take off. They're trapped... no room to turn around.

Left, right, left onto Spruce across Orange... another right, left. No sign of them, I can't hear an engine. I finally look around having kept my eyes looking straight ahead through the chase.

With the adrenaline subsiding a can feel my heart pounding, I can feel it in my ears. I'm still paranoid so I'm taking a drunkard's path home making lots of turns. I do this for maybe ten minutes before I finally make it home.

Getting home the adrenaline high is no more, I collapse, shaking, not believing what just happened.

I felt like I had just been hunted for sport. Like I'd been persecuted and violated just because I was on a bike. I'd never felt these feelings before. Maybe they had just been fucking with me, but in the moment it sure felt like they were trying to kill me. WTF? This is Missoula, its a liberal college town, not Laramie Wyoming.


I realize that I am at least partially responsible for the events that happened. I made a bad decision to be out on my bike when I ultimately shouldn't have been. I placed myself in that situation which, had I made better choices, wouldn't have happened.

After having a day to reflection everything and having actually gotten some sleep I would like to add some thoughts. I now feel that they most likely weren't trying to kill me, but probably just trying to knock me off my bike so they could kick the shit out of me. Something similar happened to a friend's boyfriend a few years back in Missoula when some drunks in a pickup chased him and his friends down, knocked two cyclists off their bikes and proceeded to send them to the hospital.

In the moment it was all just so intense, but if they had really wanted to run me over I think they would have. They probably had lots of fun... I'm still shaky. I've gone to the police, see here for results.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Unusual Traffic

I've had some unusually high traffic counts on this site the last several days and looking at the stats Blogger provides the reason for it is.... that damn picture of the Amtrak train.

People must really love trains because I've had upwards of 200 hits just from google image searches. From now on... every post will be started with a picture of a train.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ecotopia... Random Bicycle Crap Fridays

I recently started reading the classic environmental polemic Ecotopia written by Ernest Callenbach. Its got a lot of amazing ideas and innovative design techniques for urban centers. I'll get into those in longer posts later, but for now I'll just give a teaser related to bicycles.

"Ecotopians setting out to go more than a block or two usually pick up one of the sturdy white-painted bicycles that lie about the streets by the hundreds and are available free to all. Dispersed by the movements of citizens during the day and evening..."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Let Your Voice be Heard... Support Additional Rail Lines

An online version of the Restore the North Coast Hiawatha petition created by students at The University of Montana is now available on MontPIRG’s website. The petition was started in support of Amtrak’s passenger rail study and Senator Jon Tester’s push for reinstatement of the line. The original petition garnered over 1200 signatures in a matter of only a few weeks of gathering in Missoula. The first set of petitions will shortly be delivered to Senator Tester in Washington D.C.

It is the purpose of the online version to garner wider support for the rail line outside of Montana and to let our United States Senators know that the people demand more transportation options. The line connects many important cities in the region including Seattle, Spokane, Sandpoint, Missoula, Helena, Bozeman, Billings, Bismarck, Forgo, and many more. The restored line would be an important step in reducing green house gas emissions, providing transportation options, and offering vital economic infrastructure.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

No TIGER Money for Missoula

The US Department of Transportation just released the winners of the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants and Missoula was not on the list. For a look at the full document and listing of all the winners click here.

Montana didn't completely lose out on the funding however, as two projects in Western Montana are getting the go ahead. The projects in Whitefish and Lake County are recieving a combined $15.5 million in federal grant dollars.

Accord to @T4America there were a total of 1400 applications and $60 billion in funding requests. Missoula had applied to use the money mainly for investment in sidewalk, river trail, non-motorized road crossings, and intersection safety infrastructure improvements that would have taken care of several years worth of improvement projects.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Run in with the Cops

When I say "Run in," I mean that I was almost run over by a Missoula city police officer.

Turning north onto Higgins to cross the bridge at 8:30 this evening I had the road all to myself... that is all but the police cruiser sitting in the middle of the right most (my right) southbound lane. He was just there, unmoving, doing what... I didn't know. Unmoving until he quickly flipped a u-turn into my path, hit the lights, and stopped only feet in front of me.

Now it wasn't too close of a call, but I still had to perform some serious braking in order to not hit the police cruiser... which would have been a bad move since I had no idea what was going on.

As soon as the cruiser flipped around and came at me my heart leaped and my mind immediately went to, "am I well enough lit?" I was well lit (blinking white in the front and two blinking red in the back) and riding additionally in a bright area. Unfortunately my buddy Mikey had recently informed me of the lighting related laws for bicycles in Montana which include solid light in front, pedal reflectors, wheel reflectors, etc.

I was thinking that this officer not only almost hit me, but was also going to stop me and ticket me for my lighting issues.

Luckily that didn't happen... as the officer hopped out of the cruiser quickly apologized and proceeded to tell me to "get out of here." For he was on his way to talk to an apparent drunk on the side of the road that I had failed to see. He meant business too... dismissing me, removing his flashlight, and very sternly yelling for the man to take his hands out of his pockets.

After all that in only a matter of a few seconds I was just happy to be on my way and glad I hadn't been run over by a cop.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The view from Portland

My feet hurt... thank you Portland. Four days of a carfree mini vacation using a walking/transit combo put a lot of miles on the feet. Still tired from traveling today and then immediately diving into work back in Missoula so this post will be short and quick... for some great thought provoking writing check out @Urbanophile's arguement for fare-free transit, which would be perfect for Portland, and this article that shows that being sighted close to transit is saving homes from entering foreclosure.

Enjoy the pictures... I'll write more on Portland later... especially the Hipster economy.

Plane from Seattle --> Portland. A little greenwashing? I think so

You know your entering a different world when there is bicycle parking at the airport terminal.

My ride from the airport awaits.

On-street Bicycle parking at Powell's Books

Portland does a great job of using public (park) space to accentuate the utility and connectivity of the various rail lines.

Only in Portland

Another innovative urban design... this time add green infrastructure and reduce rain water runoff.

Building with both wind turbines and solar on the roof.

Making it that much easier not to own a car.

And finally the beer... my god the beer. A little nitro never hurt anyone... and anyway can't get this shit in the stores. Don't worry Kettlehouse, your still the beer I hold dear... though I think I'll miss Amnesia.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I'm Busting... Busting I Tell You

I'll be making a pilgrimage to the liberal/bike mecca of Portland, OR. Actually I'll be visiting my fiance, Ashley, in Portland where she is doing her last clinical internship for physical therapy school.

Unfortunately I will be flying. I originally said said I would only fly for a family emergency. Well... this kinda is, since we haven't seen each other in a month and a half. I wanted to take a combo of bus and rail, but given the fact that we only have a weekend together, I'm flying instead. At least I can feel a little less guilty because I'm not producing as much CO2 as if I were driving to Portland.

I highly doubt I will be posting anything for the next several days, but expect something come Monday on my experience/thoughts on Portland.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Missoula Residents Show Up to Support Active Transportation

Missoula has started the long and arduous bureaucratic process of updating one of its many long term plans. And this time its an update to the non-motorized transportation plan and recently Missoula's Office of Planning and Grants (OPG) held a community workshop to get input from Missoula citizens. And the general message from the good people of Missoula was for the city to finish the trail/sidewalk/bike lane system.

Missoula's planning apparatus (and I use that term half jokingly because we are a small community that gets a lot of planning done on limited resources) has in recent years really integrated collaborative planning into the process and this time is no different. Collaborative planning aims to be as open and inclusive of different interests and community groups as possible to allow a wide variety of input to be included in the planning process.

And from the parts of the process I have been involved in... there is a lot of input coming in. Transportation is one of those topics in Missoula that really brings out a lot of people and groups. The advisory committee alone has close to thirty people (from various city/county departments, nonprofits, community groups, and business organizations) in attendance guiding the process.

The community workshop was pretty interesting to watch play out. The night it was held was cold and snowy, yet about 2/3 of people biked and most of the rest walked. With perhaps upwards of 60 or 70 people in attendance, everyone worked through a series of group oriented activities. Of course everyone's favorite involved drawing on a map of Missoula.

And once the individual groups had finished their discussion and mapping each shared their results with the entire workshop.

Out of this event came a lot different input but the general themes included:
- improved connectivity
- finish the trail/sidewalk/bike lane network
- reduce posted speed limits, at most 35 mph
- improve street lighting
- implement our complete streets policy
- focus transportation more on safety than traffic flow

Friday, February 5, 2010

Hit n Run by Txt Message... Random Bicycle Crap Fridays

I came across this text on the Texts From Last Night Blog where a person self incriminated a hate crime against a cyclist using their vehicle:

"running late. just ran over a dude on a bike"

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Winter Bicycle Maintenance FAIL

Today was finally the day I got around to doing a little winter maintenance on my fleet of bikes. I don't have enough space to allow for a dedicated "bike garage" area for a bike stand and such, so I had been putting off working on my bikes for various reasons... bad/cold weather, bad lighting, too late, too tired, yada yada yada. Really these were all just excuses to put off something necessary.

Finally, today my day ended early enough, the sun was shinning, and I was in a good enough mood that I felt like tackling the rust and crud that had built up over the last three months of winter riding. I had not completely neglected my obligation to my stable, as I had prepped all three bikes for winter weather conditions.

But apparently that didn't matter for the poor bike pictured above. That sad chain is on the used mountain bike I purchased this summer. After taking it out on the trails a few times over the summer I had put it away in its stable (by that I mean the back yard) for most of the fall. It was only when the weather turned really bad and the roads extremely icy that I once again graced its saddle. For about two weeks during this winter's worst conditions I made good use of it, but as soon as the weather turned and the ice melted I once again ignored the poor thing. Sitting unnoticed in the corner of the backyard ever since, it wasn't until last week that I found the copious amounts of rust on the chain.

And so today was the lucky day that my bikes got cleaned up in the hopes of continued good weather and being able to show off their shinny parts in the morning glint off the sunrise. With copious amounts of beer, chain cleaner/grease, sweat, and music I got down to the work. And lets just say that the levels of rust seen on the chain above requires a lot of chain cleaner to get rid of (hide from view). I'll also mention that the liberal application of industrial cleaners and beer make for an interesting buzz.

Of course all these concerns about keeping my bikes clean and in good operating condition could be addressed if I had a convenient space to perform maintenance. I don't think I could ever reach the perfection of Doug from Minnesota that has been cleaning his bike every day after his commute home, but at least I wouldn't be embarrassed by riding a dirty bike everyday.

Or I could just be like the guy that took the photo below... and I could simply start bringing my bikes inside and sleeping in the same bed. But that would become complicated trying to figure out a rotation a la Big Love to share equal time with three bikes so as not to make one jealous.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Stupid Inflammatory Comment of the Day

This quote comes from Sgt. Tom O'Brien up in Ontario Canada in a recent op-ed.

...bicycles in London should generally disappear after the first few days of snow and not reappear until the drains are filling with melt water... I am amazed why anyone would jeopardize their lives by riding on icy, slippery roads where any miscue could lead to a nasty fall or worse."

Thanks for the concern officer, I just hope you don't start enforcing that opinion like officers have started enforcing imaginary laws in Texas to get cyclists off the street.
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