New York City releases bicycle fatality study


by Frank Steele on Sep 17, 2006 at 8:37 PM

In New York City, StreetsBlog offers an interesting few posts on a new bicycle safety study released last week by New York City. Here’s the full report (PDF file), weighing in at 39 pages, with lots of interesting implications for bicycle advocates in cities around the country.

The city immediately followed up the release of the report with promises of improved bicycle facilities (press release PDF file), including 200 miles of additional bike lanes and routes over the next three years. That’s a huge increase over the 13.6 miles added in 2004, or even over the 46.8 miles added in 2000, the most in the last 10 years.

Charles Komanoff and Michael Smith take issue with the fault numbers in the study over at (longer version from StreetsBlog), having examined the raw accident data for 1996-1998, and found that the proportion of fault for drivers and riders was approximately the reverse of that reported in the new study.

Here’s a look at the three clusters of cyclist deaths in NYC, and here’s an interview with NYC DOT’s Director for Street Management and Safety Ryan Russo.

Also last week, Transportation Alternatives programs director Noah Budnick and NYC DOT commissioner Iris Weinshall discussed the study on the Brian Lehrer Show on New York Public Radio (audio stream | MP3).

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Gridlock v. Hot Chicks


by Byron on Sep 15, 2006 at 8:10 AM

I said to Pam, “this sucks,” as we inched along in traffic. I hadn’t driven a car in over a week and was quickly reminded of the gridlock in downtown Seattle when I turned onto a street full of buses, the occasional car, and nothing was moving. I wished we were riding Bettie right then.

On the topic of gridlock, NYTimes editorialist Carolyn Curiel, recently wrote, “The city has too many cars, and not enough streets and roadways to put them on. There needs to be fewer cars and more cyclists, pedestrians, and mass-transit riders.” Such cities do exit, ones that are not dominated by cars and car culture.

Not only is Denmark a haven for cyclists, but the chicks are hot!

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Seattle to Portland, Ditty Bops Style


by Byron on Sep 14, 2006 at 7:11 AM

STP Giovanni, a Bike Hugger reader and Ditty Bops Fan sent us this ride report. See Bike Hugger meets the Ditty Bops, our Ditty Bops tag, and video.

Abby and Amanda are my new heroes. They ride a steady, easy pace without drafting and go slower when they are tired, sick and sore (like Sunday and Monday) but they just keep going and they never complain, never give up. They always keep their good attitude and are some of the most positive, beautiful spirited people I’ve ever ridden with.

We three were rolling at eight the next morning, riding through the country with the roads mostly to ourselves. The weather was clear and warm and we stopped in Winlock for photos of the World’s Largest Egg. Not that large really but a very nice woman from the town came down and took pictures for us. Amanda couldn’t resist the Woman’s World Log rolling Champions sign so I took a picture of her with her guns. Peaceful, quiet riding with a sense of adventure and an eye kitschy Americana.

We all had Mexican for lunch in Kelso and based on our glowing description of the morning’s ride Boo who drives the van, shoots the video, handles the merchandise and eats really, really hot Thai food decided that she would ride with us after lunch. She only started riding since they were on the tour but she is strong and rides pretty well. Unfortunately from Kelso the route follows Highway 30 all the way to Portland. So while there is good shoulder/bike lane to ride on it’s very loud from all the traffic and the views are pretty much strip malls and light industrial. Boo rode with us about half way to Portland or 25+/- miles before rejoining the van crew who were sleeping under a tree in the parking lot of a shopping mall.

The last twenty-five miles were really, really tough for Abby and Amanda but they rode rock solid all the way to the hotel. They had ridden across the country doing their shows and promotional events for 4,500 hundred miles and then had taken four days off before flying to Seattle to do a show then jump on their bikes for back to back hundred mile days. All that while posing for pictures, shooting video for their documentary, keeping up the blog and doing the cartoons. Now they had a cold, their butts were sore, their knees were aching and who knows what else but never lost their sense of joy and were always on the lookout for something interesting or fun. I’ll ride anywhere, through anything with them.

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Crossing it up


by Frank Steele on Sep 13, 2006 at 9:34 PM

dfL Urban Outlaw Cyclo-cross-dress series

Who could resist San Francisco’s dfL Urban Outlaw Cyclo-cross- dress series? It’s a great way to get ready for cyclocross season, and a chance to show off your best tights under a fabulous little miniskirt.

If you show up in a dress, you save the $5 race fee, and there’s a Hunter frame going to the overall best dressed in the whole series.

You’ve already missed the first date: it was last night, but there’s still a 6 p.m. race September 20th at Crocker Amazon Park, another September 27th – same place and time, and the final race September 30th at 10 a.m. at Golden Gate Park, with a potluck to follow.

Update: Flickr user McBomb has posted photos from last night’s race. Here’s my favorite:

dfL Cyclo-cross-dress race

Also, the Specialized Angel has really let herself go.

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The Hugger gets Made


by Frank Steele on Sep 13, 2006 at 7:42 PM

MAKE: Blog: DIY Sport-utility bike

Phillip Torrone links to the Bettie write-up over at the O’Reilly MAKE: magazine’s blog. It’s great to see so much interest in practical cycling, and I know Byron’s really happy with how the Betty turned out. In fact, his enthusiasm has talked me into giving the Xtracycle a try.

I’m not going to build mine up as a component showcase, though. I’m going to do it a little more like most of the Xtracycles I’ve seen in the wild: on the cheap.

Bettie’s components are pretty nice, so the whole project ran something above $3k. That’s pretty reasonable when you look at it as a car replacement, and around half of it goes into the Stokemonkey.

I think I can get by without the Stokemonkey for my purposes: around town riding, maybe carrying my kindergarten student to school. I’m also saving the frame price: I’m going to put it on a stock Klein Pulse Pro gathering dust in the basement, and leave the stock wheels alone. I’ll probably have to swap the mud tires out, but I’m going to build only that far and see what I think.

Code name: Gary.

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Texas Jack Howell


by Byron on Sep 13, 2006 at 8:30 AM

Texas JackMike Robinson sent an email memorial about Texas Jack Howell who passed on this day in 1997. The email brought back memories of my days riding in the Tri Cities, the missing man ride we did for Jack, and all those guys that talked about the history of our sport, tradition, and paceline tactics.

I remember Jack’s Eddy Merckx MX Leader frame that he got from Markee and how we’d pace each other (also attack each other), at the back, up the hills, and eventually join the group.

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This just in: wigs make cyclists safer


by Frank Steele on Sep 11, 2006 at 1:20 PM

BBC NEWS | Wearing helmets ‘more dangerous’

That’s one valid takeaway from a very simplistic study one rider in England undertook. Dr. Ian Walker of Bath University used an ultrasonic sensor to track how closely 2,500 overtaking drivers passed him while riding his bike.

He found that, when he wore a helmet, drivers cut things more closely, more than 3 inches closer on average. When, on the other hand, he wore a wig, drivers gave him an extra 6 inches or so.

Walker says the study provides some ammunition for the argument that helmets might actually detract from safety in some situations:

“By leaving the cyclist less room, drivers reduce the safety margin that cyclists need to deal with obstacles in the road, such as drain covers and potholes, as well as the margin for error in their own judgements. “We know helmets are useful in low-speed falls, and so definitely good for children, but whether they offer any real protection to somebody struck by a car is very controversial. “Either way, this study suggests wearing a helmet might make a collision more likely in the first place,” he added.

It’s not clear if the study is extensive enough to draw such sweeping conclusions, or if it would apply here in the United States. But we’re already decided: We’re starting a campaign to push for mandatory wig laws for cyclists.

(Via Tag: cycling.)

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Bike Hugger meets the Ditty Bops


by Byron on Sep 11, 2006 at 6:02 AM

Hugger Lover That’s me, Abby, Amanda, and Mark posing together at Seward Park after riding together with a group of cyclists from the Space Needle. We joined the Ditty Bops for part of their ride to Portland on Sunday and saw their packed Saturday night show at Chop Suey.

The Ditty Bops have been touring the country by bike, playing shows, and promoting cycling. Their record company arranged an interview with us the night of the show, but they were tired after driving back from NYC, and invited us to the ride the next day, which was even better. I showed up for the ride on Bettie, gave Greg their piano player and his wife Boo hugga tees, and it was a sunny, beautiful day.

We rode, chatted, and just hung out like any group of cyclists would do. I did ask both of them one, sort-of interview-like question, which was, “would you ride across the country again?” Amanda and Abby both said “yes, but not like that.” They enjoyed touring, but I think the rigors of the tour itself was wearing them out. John, teammate of mine, is riding with the ladies all the way to Portland where they’ll play the Aladdin Theatre in Portland, Oregon tomorrow night.

Later, when asked what the Ditty Bops were like I said, “creative, artistic, cyclists, and just nice girls.”

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Pedal Mowers


by Byron on Sep 09, 2006 at 8:03 AM

In the first few Bettie rides, I joked with Eamon and Pam that you could hook up a push mower to the back of it and ride around mowing your lawn. Well, waddya know, Peter from the Chinook Cycling Club, took this photo of a lawn-mower bike in Walla Walla and there’s a website, a patent, and another photo.

See now, where those are all flawed, is the grass clippings are going to go right into your face. In my Xtracycle version, you’ve got the mower behind you.

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