Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Kidical Mass Arlington Halloween Ride

Kidical Mass Arlington Halloween Ride - the details are up! 10/27 5:30pm FreshBikes Arlington (Quincy & Wilson). Details:
Tricks courtesy of N. Jackson St. Treats courtesy of FreshBikes.
That's right, Kidical Mass Arlington keeps rolling on through the Fall!  Thanks to sponsorship from FreshBikes, we're having an AWESOME Halloween ride - with lots of treats.

When: Sunday, Oct. 27, 5:30pm
Meet (and finish): FreshBikes Arlington (3924 Wilson Blvd; Arlington, VA 22203)
(Plenty of parking in the lot).
Route: 3497262

The fun continues once we return to FreshBikes: we'll have candy, juice and hot chocolate (assuming we can figure out some logistics ) for our own little Kidical Mass Arlington Halloween Party.  Come in costume and enjoy some time to mingle with fellow family bikers.

Note: this is an EVENING ride -- you should have lights on your bikes, especially if you're planning to bike home after the festivities.

Special thanks to FreshBikes for the treats!  Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Combined Federal Campaign

The CFC is underway (even though I have not heard that much about it this year). According to the CFCNCA catalog, the following bicycle related organizations are participating in CFC (in no particular order):

LEGAL NAME: Washington Area Bicyclist Association
Advocates for safe cycling conditions, promotes bicycling as healthy and sustainable transportation, provides bicycling safety information, and educates youth and adults in safe cycling.
PHONE (202)518-0524
5 DIGIT CODE 93587

LEGAL NAME: USA Cycling, Inc.
Dedicated to advancing the development of cycling; training coaches and athletes (including Olympic team); sponsoring competitions/events; promoting proper cycling techniques; supporting sports science technology.
PHONE (719)434-4200
5 DIGIT CODE 10293

LEGAL NAME: Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
Converts thousands of miles of unused railroad corridors into public trails for walking, bicycling, hiking, skating, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, wildlife habitats, and nature appreciation.
PHONE (866)202-9788
5 DIGIT CODE 10641

LEGAL NAME: Pedals for Progress, A New Jersey Nonprofit Corporation
Promote self sustaining businesses. We collect/recondition used bicycles and sewing machines/ship them to developing countries where they become effective tools for self-help.
PHONE (908)638-4811
5 DIGIT CODE  12261

LEGAL NAME: League of American Wheelmen Inc
The League of American Bicyclists (Wheelmen) promotes cycling for fun, fitness and transportation, and works through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America.
PHONE (202)822-1333
5 DIGIT CODE 11563

LEGAL NAME: Bikes for the World, Inc.
Mentoring youth and engaging adults, promoting an environmental ethic and international awareness, through collecting donated bicycles for productive use by the poor locally and globally.
PHONE (703)525-0931
5 DIGIT CODE 21964

LEGAL NAME: Adventure Cycling Association
Promoting environmental and personal health by inspiring people to travel by bicycle for fitness/fun/self discovery and advocating for better cycling conditions since 1974.
PHONE (406)721-1776
5 DIGIT CODE 10054

LEGAL NAME: Bikes Not Bombs, Inc.
BNB uses donated bicycles as a tool for empowerment in our youth leadership programs, international development projects, and vocational training center and retail shop.
PHONE (617)522-0222
5 DIGIT CODE 12431

LEGAL NAME: World Bicycle Relief
Provides bicycles and trains mechanics to service them in Africa to improve healthcare delivery, help children attend school, and improve economic development. Builds independence, livelihoods.
PHONE (312)664-3604
5 DIGIT CODE 95568

LEGAL NAME: Bike & Build, Inc.
Through service-oriented cycling trips, Bike and Build benefits affordable housing and empowers young adults for a lifetime of service and civic engagement.
PHONE (267)331-8488
5 DIGIT CODE 80303

LEGAL NAME: Bikes Belong Foundation
Encouraging children to bike while making bicycling safer. Building a mutual respect among motorists and cyclists ensuring safer routes for everyone to ride.
PHONE (303)449-4893
5 DIGIT CODE 54808

Monday, October 21, 2013

Be. More. Visible.

With the falling of autumn leaves comes the shortening of daylight and commuting after dark.  Now is an excellent time to invest in and enhance your visibility.  My rule is that the right number of lights is one more than I have.
Everyone should have front and rear lights (this includes joggers who increasingly use head lamps).  Lights are measured in lumens; but don’t assume that the brightest light is the best light.  Bright lights are good for dark trails but provide high contrast between what is lit and what is not - making it hard to see outside of the beam of light.  I ride with two AA powered LED headlights that help define me as a bike and provide sufficient light on an urban trail.  Strobe or flashing lights are commonly used for safety to ensure that bicycles are seen by cars.  But strobe lights should not be used on trails where they blind oncoming bicycle traffic.  Please set your lights to solid, and point them down at the ground in front of you (not into oncoming traffic's eyes).  If you ride with strong lights, consider dimming or placing your hand over the light in the presence of oncoming traffic.
Be visible from the sides as well.  Side visibility can be provided by reflectors, spoke lights, and ankle lights.  Research has found that one of the strongest indicators to a car that what is in front of them is a bicycle is ankle lights or reflectors.  The circular motion of the ankle is an immediate tell of peddling.  There are also fun computer-enhanced spoke lights that turn your wheels into electronic art.
How good are your reflectors?  Here is a simple test: take your bike out at night and take a flash photo.  Any reflector on your bike should light up in the photo, showing you what you would look like in the headlights of a car. Of course I have a rear reflector, but I also have reflectors in my tire sidewalls.  Capital Bikeshare bikes have these and they are brilliant. I also place reflector stickers on my helmet.
Finally, your high-visibility clothes aren’t worth anything at night.  Research has shown that once the sun goes down, hi-viz is as dark as any other part of your clothes. Use lights and reflectors for visibility after dark.

Monday, October 14, 2013

We can never have enough of nature #coffeeneuring #4

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms… We need the tonic of wildness… At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be infinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature… Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed... Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders…. We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep.  I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of people to elevate their lives by conscious endeavor.  It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do.  To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts…. You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this." - Henry David Thoreau

Springfield > CCT > Vienna > WAD > Custis > Home (28 miles) 
McCoffee in Vienna because the indie coffee shop I know there did not appear to be open.
McCoffee Mocha in McVienna

Saturday, October 12, 2013

I. Just. Want. a Damn. Cup. of Coffee!! #coffeeneuring

It rained and in rained and it rained.  Until we had gone quite insane.

The puppies awoke and began to chatter.  The hound dog awoke and felt obliged to let me know that the puppies were chattering.

Fine. If I get out early, there will be no one else on the trail.  Except for all the other people who believed, if they got out early, there will be no one else on the trail.

Someone drove off the GW and smashed in to the MVT boardwalk under the TR.  There is pebbles of safety glass everywhere, along with tire tracks carving up the embankment. The MVT is in bad condition (this very spot had just been smashed by a tree) but I dont suppose this will be fixed till after the shutdown.
MVT under TR
I had set up my ride with RidewithGPS and my Garmin.  Still at novice at using this feature.  Enjoyed the ongoing chatter of my GPS:  BLEEP ("Off Course").  TWERL: ("Course Found").  BeeP: (telling me to take a turn that I cannot identify because I left my glasses on the counter at home).

Made it to Misha's in Alexandria.  No seats inside but there was a wet plastic chair outside.  I was already wet.  While I sat there and enjoyed my Mocha and Scone (noooooo, it wasnt a milk shake.... sheeeeeez!), look what some a$$clown tied to my bicycle.  I guess my bicycle looks like a good hitching post.
I love Labradors! (Misha Mocha on my Bike Rack)
Made it through Cameron Run up to Holmes Run, and then lost the course on the Garmin. Not sure what I was suppose to do, but I knew how to get back on course.  Holmes Run looked like it might pose some difficulties.
Holmes Run
Apparently they had opened up a new trail in Holmes Run that connects it to Columbia Pike.  This is a good thing.  But the stream crossings look like this, and that's a bad thing.

I lugged my bike over several stream crossings until I got to one that looked like this.  The jogger I was next to and I agreed that water gushing down the trail, instead of being in the stream, is generally not a good thing.

The jogger turned around, but home for me was forward.  I soldiered on and discovered the source of the water - a fountain of youth it was not.

Tell me now; does that not somehow remind you of a Dalek.  When I got upstream of this park feature, I, um, took an impromptu bath in cleaner stream water, washing off whatever that was.

Made it home and took a nice shower.  A really, really nice shower. 26 Miles total.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ray LaHood Speaking at GMU Arlington Oct. 16

Ray LaHood will be speaking Oct. 16 at GMU Arlington Campus.  LaHood was the former head of the Department of Transportation under the Obama Administration and was responsible for advancing smart transportation and livable communities ideas, including supporting bike transportation.

Register now!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

W&OD Alert :: Bluemont Park :: XC Championships Later this Afternoon

@WashLeeXC tweets
Arl. XC championships at Bluemont 5-6:30 tonight. Police directing traffic on W&OD but pls be alert.
Please be alert and courteous 

Monday, October 7, 2013

What are you afraid of?

In 2011, in the United States
  • There was 32,367 traffic fatalities;
  • There were 677 cyclist fatalities as a result of traffic incidents;
  • The leading causes of death among adults age 45 to 64 was
    • Cancer 32%
    • Heart Disease 21%
    • Accidents 7%
    • Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases 4%
    • Liver Disease 4%
    • All other causes 32%
  • There were 6 terrorist fatalities.
There is a lot of bad shit going down.  And the bad shit gets on the headlines of mass media, who replay the video over and over and over until the images are burned deep into our psyche.  It breeds fear and it breeds hysteria.

And it breeds an environment where in the face of bad shit being replayed by mass media, something must be done. And frequently while something must be done, it isnt the right thing, and it doesnt make things better.

But here is what didnt make it to the 3 minute sound bite at the top of the hour: Cyclist Struck on Route 50; Van Strikes Boy on Bicycle in Pottstown; Driver Cited After Hitting Man on Bicycle

If we must do something, let's do something about the greater risk. First, let's be damn sure that do-something-security-theater doesnt make us less safe (placing obstructions in traffic in the name of fighting terrorism that do little to help but do lots to make the road less safe). Second, let's worry about what should be worried about.  You are 5333 times more likely (did I do the math right?) to die in a traffic accident than to die as a result of terrorism.

Sez to me, if we must do something, then we must focus on making traffic safer.

Sources: 2011 Motor Vehicle Accidents, Overview, DOT; Terrorist Deaths, Injuries, Kidnappings of US Citizens, State Dept. 2011; Integrated United States Security Database (IUSSD): Data on the Terrorist Attacks in the United States Homeland, 1970 to 2011; National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, A Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Center of Excellence, Based at the University of Maryland; Deaths in the United States 2011, NCHS Data Brief; Death rates from terrorism, United States and Israel, 1985-2013

"The Internet is not Facebook." One more time, with feeling, "The Internet is not Facebook." #bikedc

There are several hundred thousand federal employees in the Washington, D.C. area.  There are lots more state and local government employees.  There are school employees.  There are employees at large firms and corporations.  There are employees at universities.

And you know what these employees have in common?

They are behind firewalls and screening technology.  And for lots and lots and lots of them, it blocks their access to social media.  This means a huge, I mean HUGE portion of the audience of bicycle organizations (bike shops, bike advocacy groups, bike social groups, people who organize bike rides) cannot see posts you place only on facebook.  If the place you upload information about your bike group is Facebook - you are missing your audience.

Do yourself a favor.  No, do me a favor.  And do Betty a favor.  And Jorge.  And Sam.  We want to see the latest exciting information about your group.  But if you upload it only to Facebook, we cant.

The Internet is not Facebook.  If you would like people to see your post, put it on your website or blog.

Tornado Warning. Flash Flood Warning. #Coffeeneuring Warning. Puppy Warning.

The Non Essential Coffee Club met at Java Shack in Arlington (which has an interesting history) this morning, attempting to woefully pretend that we had somewhere to go and something to do.  After a long and detailed deliberation, it was concluded that it was best just to go home and take a nap.

Strategizing to have non-essential coffee clubs until the end of the #GOPShutdown, I was informed that only two non-essential coffee's per week count.  Damn You Keeper of the Coffeeneuring Rules! ;-)

On the way home got some additional supplies for our new chicken coop.  Arlington has long debated the propriety of residents having chicken coops in their back yards.  Our chicken coop has very peculiar chickens in it.
Foster Puppies through Lost Dog Rescue
The Few. The Proud. The Non Essential
Probably about a ~4 mile round trip ride.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

In Which We Go #Coffeeneuring

Ever since Jon Boehner declared that my riding a bike to work is non-essential, I havent actually ridden (didnt want to violate any federal laws).  But late Friday night Rep. Eugene Meyer from Dayton, Ohio introduced legislation allowing all non-essential federal employees to ride their bicycles again.

Ready to start Coffeeneuring!  Hitched a ride down to the Hybla Valley Petsmart Lost Dog Rescue event while shuttling a foster dog (who got adopted today, YAY!). Got kicked out of the car and told to ride home.

This destined me to Del Ray and St. Elmo's Coffee where, in compliance with the rules, I had a very nice cup of hot coffee, even though it was 85 degrees and humid.  Now a smart person would observe that Dairy Godmothers was right next door and Dairy Godmothers serves excellent milk shakes - a preferred drink when it is 85 degrees out.  But no, what you see in the picture is definitely a cup of hot joe - and not possibly a cold milk shake.  

The nice thing about being in Del Ray is you can head north along Mount Vernon Ave to 4MR, avoiding the MVT which as we all know is closed.  Worked my way to may favorite spot along the 4MR, the Shirlington Dog Park, where puppies were frolicking.

22 mile ride. Tomorrow, Monday Non-Essential Coffee Club at Java Shack.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Changes needed to the Bike Commuter Subsidy

From one of the great local volunteer bike advocates Dana Bres:

Last week I spoke with Representative Moran's staff about some changes that I feel are necessary with the bicycle commuter subsidy.

At the core, we need to do more to encourage all cycle commuting, full time and part time.

As you know, employers are authorized (but not required) to provide a tax-free commuter subsidy to cyclists. At present, the subsidy is capped at $20 per month and recipients are prohibited from receiving both the traditional transit subsidy and the bike commuter benefit. 

Representative Mike Grimm (from New York) has introduced HR 2288, the Commuter Parity Act of 2013 that sets the maximum parking and transit subsidies at the same level. The act also raises the bicycle commuter subsidy to $35/month. Unfortunately, the act still leaves the language in the IRS code that keeps the either/or nature of the benefits.

This bill has been cosponsored by 40 members of Congress including:

Rep Connolly, Gerald E. [VA-11] - 6/11/2013 
Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] - 6/14/2013 
Rep Wittman, Robert J. [VA-1] - 7/31/2013 

Rep Norton, Eleanor Holmes [DC] - 6/14/2013 

Here is my ask.

With a minor change to the bill, we can change the authorization to allow bike commuters to be eligible for both the transit and bicycle subsidy, an approach that would encourage part time bike commuting and multi-modal commuting. I propose to change the (A) and (B) in para (f)(2)(A) below (deleting the text in red and adding the underlined text).

Please write your representative and ask them support the bill and offer the change as a friendly amendment. Note that I couldn't find anybody from Maryland that is cosponsoring the bill.

The link to the bill in Thomas is:|

Please not that I am sharing what I sent my elected rep for your information and that I am doing this as a private citizen. I ain't lobbying.

Bicycle Commuter Subsidies

The current authorization for a Bicycle Commuter Subsidy requires an either/or decision by the commuter. Either they take the bicycle commuter benefit or the mass transit subsidy. For all but a few, selecting a single commuting mode is simply not an option, particularly bicycle commuters.

House Resolution 2288, the Commuter Parity Act of 2013 that makes changes to the Bicycle Commuter Subsidy. Because of the wording of the bill, it continues the limits on the promotion of multimodal commuting as is the case for so many bicycle commuters. H.R 2288 does not specifically establish the simultaneous eligibility for both the mass transit subsidy and bicycle commuting reimbursement. Eligibility for multiple forms of transit subsidies (with a common cap on the aggregate benefit) would encourage greater use of non-automobile forms of commuting.

The currently authorized Bicycle Commuter Subsidy is capped at $20 per month but it denies eligibility for other commuter mass transit benefits during that month. In the Washington, DC area, a typical commuter eligible for $150 transit benefit for the metro would be denied any of that in exchange for the current $20 bicycle benefit. Allowing eligibility for both forms of subsidies (subject to individual and aggregate limits) would encourage commuters to become bicycle commuters.

Because the Bicycle Commuter Subsidy would come out of the total eligibility for the transit subsidy, this change would be cost neutral for the employer. Because federal agencies typically take unused transit subsidies back at the end of each month, regular bicycle commuting would actually reduce an agency’s costs because the subsidy is much lower.

Changes to H.R 2288 are modest, and are shown below 

(a) In General- Subsection (f) of section 132 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended to read as follows:
`(f) Qualified Transportation Fringe-
`(1) IN GENERAL- For purposes of this section, the term `qualified transportation fringe' means any of the following provided by an employer to an employee:
`(A) Transportation in a commuter highway vehicle if such transportation is in connection with travel between the employee's residence and place of employment.
`(B) Any transit pass.
`(C) Qualified parking.
`(D) Any qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement.
`(2) LIMITATION ON EXCLUSION- The amount of the fringe benefits which are provided by an employer to any employee and which may be excluded from gross income under subsection (a)(5) shall not exceed--
`(A) $220 per month in the case of the aggregate of the benefits described in subparagraphs (A) and (B) (A), (B) and (D) of paragraph (1),
`(B) $220 per month in the case of qualified parking, and
`(C) $35 per month for qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement.
`(3) NO CONSTRUCTIVE RECEIPT- No amount shall be included in the gross income of an employee solely because the employee may choose between any qualified transportation fringe and compensation which would otherwise be includible in gross income of such employee.
`(4) DEFINITIONS- For purposes of this subsection—

`(F) QUALIFIED BICYCLE COMMUTING REIMBURSEMENT- For the purposes of this subsection, the term `qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement' means any employer reimbursement for reasonable expenses incurred by the employee for the purchase of a bicycle and bicycle improvements, repair, and storage, or bikesharing program, if such bicycle is regularly used for travel between the employee's residence and place of employment.