Sunday, March 30, 2008

Out For a Sunday Ride

I bought my cameras to help prosecute crazy drivers who run cyclists off the road, but they also come in handy for goofin around on group rides too.

It was a little cloudy but no rain, which made for a perfect day for nice easy 45 miles in Waukesha with Ron and a cast of thousands, O.K. a cast of 8 others. The 9 of us got off to a slow start thanks to Gus's flat, but after that no problems. No crazy drivers was an added bonus. Thanks for the ride everyone it was great.

I didn't have a lot of time so the video is just whatever I had on the handheld camera cut together chronologically. It's a little long, but I didn't have time to cut it proper like. Maybe next week when the wife's busy with work.
Enjoy, and thanks again for a fun ride.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


The benefit of the doubt:
Unfortunately, Ms. White SUV will not be issued a citation. I won’t say I’m happy about it but I’m O.K. with it. I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to Officer Morris of the New Berlin Police Department. She handled the incident. She is also the officer who handled the first ticket I’ve successfully pursued.
After carefully reviewing the video, she couldn’t be sure that the distance between the SUV and me was less than 3 feet. I still disagree, but I’m giving Officer Morris the benefit of the doubt. I’m happy to do so because of the professional manner in which she handled this incident. I followed my wife’s advice and tried to see things from the other person’s point of view. I think Officer Morris did the same when I left her with some things to consider (the size of the mirror considerably lessens the distance that is evident on the video between the wheels and me.) should another incident like this present itself to her. I believe she will consider this point along with all the pertinent info as she did this time. She also believes that Ms. SUV will not make such a dangerous pass again. That is all I really wanted in the first place. Thanks Officer Morris, you are a good cop.

The benefit of the wind:
I missed the Ronsta ride on Saturday, so I went solo. I was hoping for a little benefit from the wind on the way back from my 76 mile out and back to Union Grove, but it wasn’t to be. It was a draw as far as the wind was concerned. I did get a little shelter from the wind when Russell and his band of merry men came by on 7 mile road. I became the caboose on their train for about a mile, then turned south for my solo headwind slog. It was a good ride, albeit a little slow, but hey it’s base miles, right?

The benefit of friends with good eyesight.
Or good memory I guess . It’s been so long since we’ve seen Ty and Christine, that they almost didn’t recognize us in the parking lot of Mayfair Mall. Christine did, and it turns out they were having dinner at the same place we were so we caught up on all the Alterra news and gossip. Great to see you guys.
P.s. It’s not only cars that don’t look out for bikes, a dumb deer almost got t-boned on Wednesday. It’s at the end of the Russell video.
P.P.s. There may be some big news coming soon about how to make drivers aware of the 3 foot passing law. Stay tuned.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Shock, Then Sadness, Then Anger

I was making the blog rounds, and as always, Fixedgeargus was first on the list. I was shocked to read this. It started out as shock, then turned to sadness that Brandon had to go through this, then it turned to anger. How in the world does anyone hit a kid with a car and just drive away?

First of all it is illegal:

It doesn't matter to me that she stopped and gave out her phone number. She has an obligation to make sure he is o.k. and assist him if he's not. It seems clear that he was NOT o.k.

But beyond the criminal aspect, it's morally reprehensible to hit a kid on a bike with a car and just leave him there! When you go through something like this your adrenaline is pumping and you might be in shock. You can't know for sure if you're injured.

I hope that Brandon recovers from this quickly and the woman who hit him pays for his medical bills and a new bike. Whether she deserves criminal prosecution is up to law enforcement, but it seems to me that she did not fully live up to her obligations under the law.

Get well soon Brandon,


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Another Ticket? Update

Some folks have pointed out that it is hard to tell from the video exactly how far the SUV is from me. I've added a still frame from the video as well as a shot that shows my position relative to the line and the wider shot. In the still shot I've added red lines to illustrate approximately how far the tire of the SUV was from the line. My hand/handlebar was directly above or a few inches to the left of the white line and her mirror extended about 8-10 inches to the right of the where her tire ends. The white line is approximately 5 inches wide. That puts her tire about 30 inches from the white line. Subtract the 8-10 inches for the mirror and the 4-8 inches for my arm/handlebars and her car was 12-18 inches away from hitting me. That is well below the statutory minimum of 3 feet, or 36 inches. I've also been asked about the audio of the woman yelling at me. I'm waiting on that for the time being. Check back though I may have it up soon.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Another Ticket?

It looks like another motorist who doesn't want bikes on the road might be getting a ticket.
Tuesday I was buzzed by a woman in an SUV, who waited at the next stop light to yell at me for being on the road. She thought I should be on the shoulder, which by the way, was full of sand and glass. She claimed, according to the police officer who took the complaint, that she gave me 6 feet of space as she passed. You be the judge, well at least for now, she may face a real judge later.

I have to get back to the New Berlin Police officer. She was awesome to deal with. I'm not saying she was great to deal with because she said she would issue a ticket, I'm saying it because she didn't immediately say she wouldn't. I'll keep you all updated.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Teaching The Cops The Law

After far to long off the bike due to the crud that's goin' around, I rode north on Sunday for a nice easy spin.

Little did I know that I would get "buzzed" by johnny law. It was a Brookfield cop on Pilgrim Rd at Burliegh. It wasn't the worst buzz I've ever gotten, but hey it was a cop, they are supposed to know better, right? Well we know that's not always the case. Notice that there was also oncoming traffic at the time he made the pass. Um officer, that too is against the law. But so is passing a cyclist closer than 3 feet.
So I called and talked to a Sergeant, who, after my repeated explanations of the incident, asked me why I kept referring to 3 feet. He wanted to know if there was something in the law that specified 3 feet. I told him which statute it was and asked that he inform this officer as well as the other officers under his control about the statute.

I decided to follow up with the Chief on Monday, but he was on vacation so I talked to the Assistant Chief. I brought him up to speed on this incident and he said he would look into it. He called back a few minutes later to inform me that the statute he found only referred to bikes having to give 3 feet of clearance when passing someone. I told him the proper statute and he then agreed to inform his officers of the law that, even he and his Sergeant were unaware existed.

Are police officers not trained before they become police officers? Do they not at least need a basic understanding of the laws they are sworn to enforce. I could understand if they said, "oh yeah that 3 foot statute, I think I remember that, let me double check." But to almost universally hear, " is there some statute that says 3 feet?" just boggles the mind.

Good Lord people, this isn't some obscure law prohibiting spitting on the sidewalk on Sundays, it's part of the basic traffic laws. And even the police are breaking this law.
I plan to follow up with the Chief when he gets back from vacation, let's just hope until then the Brookfield Police Department gets a better understanding of the law.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Outrage and Compassion

Someone wrote me and asked how best to channel our outrage at events like the California crash.

This is a very good question. I've been working through that very issue every time I'm involved in an incident with a motor vehicle. I try to not get "outraged" I try to teach the motorist how dangerous their behavior is.

In cases like this one, though, I think some outrage is justified, and I think we need more outrage from ordinary people who aren’t cyclists. In some of the initial reports I read, the press questioned why the cyclists would be on such a "dangerous" road or if they were riding 2 abreast.

There should be some outrage that those are the first questions asked, not what the hell was the deputy doing on the wrong side of the road. So some of the outrage should be directed at the press for their biased reporting. If the deputy had run down a couple kids in a residential neighborhood it would be on the national news. But because he mowed down a couple cyclists in the prime of their life, it's relegated to the local media and the bike blogs.

The outrage should be directed at the department the deputy worked for to insure this doesn't happen again. Reports I've seen say this deputy plea-bargained his way out of a drunk driving charge in 2001. I think this is a valid question to raise, "is this type of person we want patrolling our roads?" It may well be the answer is yes. But until someone other than cycling advocacy groups start asking these questions, I think some outrage is understandable

We need some of that outrage directed at the CHP for the way they are running their investigation. They failed to do a blood test on the officer involved because they didn’t suspect alcohol or drugs. They didn’t suspect, but they didn’t know for sure, so they just left it at that, they didn’t make sure. This is after all a man who plea-bargained his way out of a drunk driving charge once already, and has now killed 2 people. I’m not saying alcohol was in any way involved here, but if the investigating agency isn’t even willing to do the most basic of tests to find out, I think they deserve some outrage.

I think the best way to positively channel our outrage is to contact as many people and agencies as possible. To let them know that something needs to be done to prevent this from happening again, or happening at all in our area and to insure that justice is done in this case, whatever that might be.

But more importantly than outrage, we need compassion for our fellow man. We should all be outraged not because 2 cyclists are dead for no good reason but because 2 human beings are dead for no good reason and another life is forever changed. We all need to understand when we are on the road that it is an awesome responsibility and others lives are at stake. We all need to make sure we do what we can to look out for each other whether we are in cars or on bikes or on foot.


Sunday, March 9, 2008

More Cyclists Die, More People Blame Cyclists

First and foremost, sympathies to the family and friends of the victims who died and to the victim who survived. There are differing reports, some saying one death others saying 2.

This time it happened in California, and from all accounts that I've read so far, the cop who struck the cyclists crossed the center line and hit the bikes while they were on (their) right hand shoulder, or at least on the right hand side of the road. In spite of that fact, the articles and some of the comments I've read so far question whether the bikes were riding 2 abreast or why they were riding on "such a dangerous road in the first place".
I've just watched the raw video of the scene from KTVU tv and this guy drove completely off the other side of the road. It wasn't a particularly twisty section of road either, and he came to rest off the road in the ditch with a bike under the car! And people have the balls to question the cyclists??
There needs to be more outrage about incidents like these. Cops ask me all the time why I ride with cameras on my bike. One reason is so if or when someone plows me over like this everyone will know the truth.
I'm praying for all involved

Friday, March 7, 2008


Just got this little tidbit in my email:
"Bikesafer" at the end is about as stupid a statement as I can imagine coming
from someone who would ride in that kind of weather. Sadly, I find it just too
bad that you weren't hit. The biking world would be better off without you, even
if you are really as cool as you must think you are."
If this is the way any true cyclist feel about other cyclists, we have a lot farther to go in our fight for equal rights to use the roads than I thought. Granted this is another in the long line of anonymous comments, so I can only hope this not from a fellow cyclist. Although, I'm not sure which is worse, a fellow cyclist who wishes me dead by the hands of an errant motorist, or a motorist who wishes me dead at the hands of an errant motorist? Either way, I'm safe for a few more days while I recover from the crud that's going around, then it's back out on the road with the crazy people, motorists and cyclists alike. I hope we can all agree we are better off with no one getting killed out there, regardless of our opinions on the subject of bicyclist's rights.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Powerful Mach V

Watch as Jeff pretends he is a cartoon hero. This does an o.k. job of showing the speeds we were going. It sure was fun.

Monday, March 3, 2008

2 Extra Wheels

I rode around on 4 wheels this weekend instead of 2, although there was that one crash where I got 2 wheels off the ground, but that's another story.
I took my nephew and his folks to Minneapolis this weekend to celebrate a few birthdays by going go karting. Now I'm not talking about the kind of go karts that putt putt around at mini golf places, these get up to 40 mph. That may not sound like much but when you go 40mph on a 350 meter track it feels quick. I should have a movie up soon and maybe even some lap times.

I highly recommend it if you haven't tried it. There's a place in Chicago and 2 in Minneapolis. The place in Chicago you have to 18. The place in the cities, you only have to be 13 or 15 and a certain height. What a blast.