Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sad Bike

When I see a bike that's been stripped, and then I see that 'abandonded bicycle' notice that Ddot slaps on, I have to wonder: what happened?

I guess the scenario is fairly obvious: thieves strike, owner comes back to see that thieves struck and figures "to heck with it" and leaves bike to the elements (along with a not inexpensive U-lock).

But, when did the thieves strike? How obvious would it look to someone passing by that this isn't the owner at work? When asked, does the thief claim, as the Grinch told Cindy-Lou-Who-who-was-only-just-two, that the bike just doesn't work right and they're taking the parts back to Santa's bicycle workshop for repair? Could the whole mess have been avoided by a second lock securing the rear wheel to the frame? And do bikes get lonely when left like that? (I still get choked up whenever I think of the Velveteen Rabbit, or the Island of Misfit Toys)

Just wondering...

What She Said...

Here's the story from WTOP on what women have to say about why they use a bike--or don't-- at the National Bike Summit .

I arrived just as the forum was breaking up this week. You'll hear from 3 presenters and two women I caught up with on the streets of DC as they commuted from work and ran errands in their neighborhoods.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bikes and baby wipes and your commute to work...

What in the world do bikes and baby wipes have to do with commuting in the Washington, DC region? Plenty, if you follow the arguments of urban planners and cycling advocates who say women are important to making biking a bigger part of our transportation infrastructure.

Here's the formula: more bikes = fewer cars jockeying for your space on the road (and that coveted parking space). But, advocates say, until more people see biking as viable, we're all doomed to gridlock. So, how to get more people biking? Convince them it's not just economical and fun, but safe. How do you that? Show them how many women are out there, pedaling to work, social events, even parent-teacher meetings.

Think of women as the reverse of the canaries in the coal mine. Historically, canaries were used as sentinels in coal mines: sensitive to toxic gases, they were indicators of danger in the mines. But in cycling, the presence of women biking on the road is seen as an indicator of just how safe it is.

Sound nutty? Not according to the crowds who attended the National Bike Summit here in Washington, DC. Studies often cite the gender split when it comes to traveling on two wheels: more men (in and out of lycra) are hitting the road on bikes in the U.S.  But there is a growing movement to get the ladies out there.
Olga Lopez, DC resident and bike commuter with her Jamis Explorer (Photo by Kate Ryan)

Take a listen to WTOP today (Saturday) where you'll hear from some of the women who presented at the bike summit, and you'll hear from some women who hop on a bike every day to get around.
Lisa Vandehaar on her Specialized. She commutes to DC from Alexandria. Listen to her tell you about her "Miracle Mile". She'll explain.

Oh, and about the baby wipes?

You'll hear that connection in the audio portion of the story, which I'll post here later. For now, check it out as it airs real-time on WTOP,  103.5 FM, your-traffic (and yes cyclists, that includes you) and-weather-together station.

Special thanks to all the women who let me snag them as they went about their business by bike and to those at the National Bike Summit who made time for me during their very full days at the summit.  

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Small Act of Kindness

When you hear bad news, it can shake your faith, whatever form that takes.

When you see how some people respond to that bad news, it can help restore your faith.

After the last police officer and reporter had left the crash scene where 31-year old Nelvis Suyapa Garcia was killed, a man, his wife and three kids gathered at the site. Just an hour earlier, Garcia's weeping husband knelt and prayed and planted flowers in the ground at the base of a utility pole.

Now, as the light of the day was fading, this man and his family walked the scene--but not as curiosity seekers. I watched as the man knelt at the little roadside shrine and placed something of his own there. It was a candle. A candle he lit for Nelvis Garcia, a woman he'd never met. He didn't know it, but like his own wife, Nelvis was the mother of three. When I asked him about why he came, and why he brought the candle and struggled to keep it lit, he said it wouldn't bring her back, but he wanted to do something.  "It could have been me. It could have been any one of us."

As he gathered his family around him, and turned to walk back to his house, he put his arm around his wife. They took just a few steps like that when drew her even closer, and held her tight all the way home.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Police Want Your Help

This is not a bike-related post, but it is road-related. And you might be able to help police figure out just what happened.

The facts as they are known:

31 year old Nelvis Garcia is driving on Randolph Road at around 3:50pm Wednesday, March 7th. A silver car comes up behind her blue Nissan Altima. Her car may have been clipped. Suddenly she's going sideways, the car flips and comes to rest along the roadway in front of a church at 800 Randolph Road.

Montgomery County police believe a silver car was the one that came up behind hers. They have no further description other than 'silver car'. Police believe that the silver car may have been racing with a green-and-white Mini Cooper. Both of those vehicles sped from the scene.

Nelvis Garcia's husband visited the crash scene and talked to reporters, as did his sister. You'll hear them here through an interpreter.

If you saw something, or know something about the incident, police want to hear from you. You'll get the Collision Reconstruction Unit at 301-840-2435.

Her husband:

Her sister-in-law:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bikeways, Personnel Profiles and More..

Maryland's Department of Transportation announces 20 winners of bikeway grants. It's part of an overall plan to help improve bike infrastructure across the state. In this case, $2.5 million dollars will be divided among projects in 10 counties. See the press release here .

DDOT tips its hat to staffers who walk the walk, ride the ride, and proudly proclaim they go car-free on a daily basis. Are you joining the ranks of those who are ditching cars? Is it gas prices, insurance costs, an effort to get fit or just a way to break free of traffic?

And in the 'burbs, inquring minds (ok, the foks at Arlington County's Department of Transportation) want to know: what do you want to see in the way of parking at the Village at Shirlington? They're asking for your opinion.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Update on Hit and Run Case

The trial for Christy Littleford, the woman charged in the death of 29 year old Natasha Pettigrew, a Green Party candidate and avid cyclist is scheduled for 9 a.m. March 20 in Prince George's County Circuit Court. Pettigrew was killed while cycling in September of 2010.

Charges against Littleford are outlined here. Her defense attorney is named as Joseph Vallario who happens to be the Chair of the Maryland General Assembly's House Judiciary Committee . Kennis Henry, Natasha Pettigrew's mother, has testified before Vallario's committee to toughen the state's vehicular manslaughter laws. The bill was successful.

A Cluster of Hot Topics

...but in the middle of it all someone who's been seriously hurt.

Check out DCist's coverage of the investigation into crash involving a cyclist, a red light, and the citations issued to the cyclist--including one for failing to wear a helmet.* While the comments heated up over everything from whether DC police understand basic traffic laws to helmet use to approaching a red light to positioning yourself alongside a truck, reporter Martin Austermuhle brought everyone back to this; there's a young man in the hospital with serious injuries. And the DCist story includes this , an area where donations can be made toward Shawn Streiff's recovery.

*So what is the law on helmet use and cycling in DC? Here's the Metropolitan Police Department's page on the law. I tried clicking on the link to read the law itself, but got this. But it doesn't' take long to find more on cycling laws here. If you hate clicking links: in DC minors under age 16 are required to wear helmets when cycling, skateboarding, using a scooter--and here's one that was new to me--when using a sled "or any similar device".