How to Not Get
Hit by Cars

An illustrated guide for bicyclists. Might save your life.

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Cheap Airfares

How to find the
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Everything you wanna know.

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Battery Guide

Which battery is best? We cover rechargeable and alkaline batteries to show you what's hot, what's not, and the best way to charge them. (visit now)

Ben Folds Five

The rise and breakup of the world's greatest piano pop band.

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Summer 1998 News Items

(Sorry that you'll have to scroll manually instead of having the titles linked to the articles, but I didn't have time to put all the links in.)

* "Biking in Austin" website overhauled
* 1400 new bike racks to be installed
* Bands: "Bicycle Pilot" & "This Bike is a Pipebomb"
* Bicycle stocks show mixed performance
* Book Review: "Bicycle Commuter" by Trudy Bell
* Bicycle Plan, Pt. II, passed by City Council
* Getting Cars out of Bike Lanes
* Roadway Improvements
* Keith Snodgrass succeeds Rick Waring as Bicycle Coordinator
* Worse turnout on City Councilmember ride this year
* Local Cyclists appointed to City Boards
* Clothing-Optional Rides revived
* Upcoming Bicycle Parade
* New web page for Austin Critical Mass
* Worldwide Critical Mass page established
* "No Justice for Cyclists" documented on website
* Motorist actually charged in cyclist's death!
* Two local bike activists crash with no cars involved
* Jennifer Schaeffer victim of hit & run
* Motorist who hit Andrew Turner & Heather Sealy goes free
* Deaths on Texas highways during recent holidays
* Recliner bikes catching on
* New "automatic transmission" bikes introduced

G E N E R A L .. N E W S

* "Biking in Austin" website overhauled
* 1400 new bike racks to be installed
* Bands: "Bicycle Pilot" & "This Bike is a Pipebomb"
* Bicycle stocks show mixed performance
"Biking in Austin" website overhauled (7-21-98)
The Biking in Austin website has been dramatically overhauled. New content includes:
* "Road Justice" page
* "How Not to Get Hit by Cars", complete with illustrations
* Archived News Items
* Updates to existing content
Also, a new navigation bar has been added to help users find their way around the voluminous content.
1400 new bike racks to be installed (7-21-98)
The City of Austin has contracted with local cyclists David Baker and John Thoms to install 1400 new bicycle parking racks throughout the city. Baker and Thoms are founding members of the Yellow Bike Project, although the Project is completely unrelated to this bike rack installation effort. The downtown racks are green, and the racks in the rest of the city will be regular galvanized metal. The money for this effort came from a grant, not from the City budget. The project started a couple of weeks ago and will continue through October or thereabouts.
Bands: "Bicycle Pilot" and "This Bike is a Pipebomb" (6-98)
Austin is home to a band called "Bicycle Pilot". They performed at Emo's recently with a touring band from Florida called "This Bike is a Pipebomb". I guess this is the 90's answer to "The Cars"...
Bicycle Stocks show mixed performance (7-21-98)
 Change Change
   Current since since Stock
    Price* 1-1-98 IPO** Symbol Company Name
   ------- ------ ------ ------- --------------------------------
    2.69 -10% -43% ATYR -- American Tire Corporation (5-97)
    9.97 18% -59% BSPT -- Bell Sports
   87.75 4% 12% BSPTG - Bell Sports (11-96)
   13.00 -38% 0% BIKE -- Cannondale (11-94)
    7.50 22% -29% GTBX -- GT Bicycles (10-95)
   18.88 34% 18% HUF --- Huffy Corporation
    0.05 -26% -39% WPB.V - World Power Bicycles (8-96)
    4.88 -19% -19% ZAPP -- Zapp Power Systems (6-98)
    22% 145% STANDARD & POOR 500
* "Current Price" is as of the market close on 7-21-98.
** "Change since IPO" is the change since the stock's Initial Public Offering -- the date it first became available. For stocks whose IPO's occurred before 1/4/93, we used the closing price on 1/4/93 to calculate returns to date. IPO month & year appears after the company name for IPO's occurring after 1/4/93.
DISCUSSION: Bicycle stocks, in general, have performed quite miserably compared to the rest of the market. However, individual bicycle stocks often perform well at various times. This means you would not have made money with a "buy & hold" strategy applied to all bicycle stocks, but you could have made money by selectively buying certain bicycle stocks at certain times. Note that Huffy has handily the market average this year, while GTBX has matched it.
ATYR -- AMERICAN TIRE CORPORATION. Has developed a special airless, flat-free, environmentally-friendly tire for bicycles.
BSPT, BSPTG -- BELL SPORTS. Manufacturer of helmets and other accessories. No, I don't know why they have two different symbols either. The two symbols have different prices and different histories.
BIKE -- CANNONDALE. Bicycle manufacturer. Has also recently started making off-road motorcycles.
GTBX -- GT BICYCLES. A bicycle manufacturer.
HUF -- HUFFY. Famous manufacturer of cheap department store bikes. Also makes lawn care equipment.
WPB -- WORLD POWER BIKES. Their only product is a new-fangled crank arm which grows longer on the downstroke for more power and less stress on your knees. They're traded on the Vancouver Stock Exchange. The stock symbol on Yahoo! is "WPB.V".
ZAPP -- ZAPP POWER SYSTEMS. Makes electric-powered bikes and electric-assist motors for existing bikes.
More detailed information about bicycle stocks and other socially-responsible stocks is available at the Socially-Responsible Stocks page.
Nothing herein should be construed as a recommendation to buy, or to avoid buying, any particular stock, or stocks in general.
Book Review: "Bicycle Commuter" by Trudy E. Bell (7-22-98)
review by Chris Symank
Bicycle Commuter by Trudy E. Bell, Ragged Mountain Press/McGraw-Hill Companies Book, Camden ME (1998),ISBN 0-07-005503-3,168 pages
(Thanks to Book People for their gift certificate to Austin Bike Week '98 that funded my purchase of this book!)
For those of you interested in learning to commute by bike and those of you who want some great tips, this is an excellent book. Almost every commuting-related issue is packed into this volume. It is easy to access and to apply to your ride, whether you want to commute once or five to six times a week. Several other topics of interest include selecting a commuter bike, kids on bikes, using bike for errands, choosing routes, bonehead maintenance, emergency roadside repairs, weather, and theft prevention. The illustrations and layout are good, and there are some good references in the back such as reviews of other books and magazines, where to get rain ponchos, and even a synopsis of the Uniform Vehicle Code. The only thing I thought missing was a thorough guide to emergency bike maneuvers, but to really cover such info requires a great deal of pages and can already be found in other books such as Effective Cycling (by John Forrester) and Urban Biker's Tips and Tricks (Dave Glowacz, Wordspace Press Chicago,1997; Note: this book does illustrates illegal and dangerous practices with warning however!)

R O A D W A Y .. N E W S

* Bicycle Plan, Pt. II, passed by City Council
* Getting Cars out of Bike Lanes
* Roadway Improvements
Bicycle Plan, Pt. II, passed by City Council (5-7-98)
The Austin City Council passed Part II of the Bicycle Plan on May 7th. This is a comprehensive plan spelling out specific roadway improvements to improve cycling throughout the city over 1300 miles of routes. Improvements consist mostly of new bike lanes, wide outside curb lanes, and traffic calming measures. This is the first real effort to improve cycling in the city since the early 80's. Implementation of the plan is starting now, and the most important parts of the plan are aggressively scheduled to be completed in six years.
Getting Cars out of Bike Lanes (7-20-98)
The Urban Transportation Commission (UTC) voted unanimously tonight to ban cars from parking in the bike lane on Duval on a trial basis. The ban will be in effect from 7am-6pm, for the next six months. The City will conduct usage surveys to determine whether cycling use on Duval increases, and these figures will be used in determining whether to make the ban permanent. In the meantime, the UTC is also considering recommending that the City Council pass an ordinance prohibiting cars from parking in bike lanes city-wide, 24 hours a day; if that ordinance passes, then the trial run on Duval will become moot.
Part of the credit for this effort goes to local cyclist Michael Zakes (proprietor of Waterloo Cycles), who got appointed to the Urban Transportation Commission to make certain that cyclists' interests were represented, and bicycle vigilante Tommy Eden, who actively lobbied for the change, and to other cyclists, including some Yellow Bike Project volunteers, who spoke to the UTC in favor of the proposal.
There are a few bike lanes which are already designated as No Parking, including those on Nueces and Rio Grande in West Campus. To report cars parked in one of the special No Parking bike lanes, call the Austin Police Department on their non-emergency number at 311. The fine for illegally parking in a bike lane is $40, or $20 of you take advantage of the early bird discount by paying quickly. (For comparison, the fine for running a red light on a bicycle is $200.)
In other bike lane news, the UTC is considering a proposal to change Barton Springs Road from four car lanes/no bike lanes to 2 car lanes/2 bike lanes.
Roadway Improvements (mostly by Public Works Dept.) (6-22-98)
by Tommy Eden & Michael Bluejay
Here are some recent local roadway improvements which are of benefit to cyclists:
* Bike lanes on EACH side of the "drag" portion of Guadalupe
* Guadalupe bike lanes now extend to MLK
* Restoration of bike lane on Exposition to 35th
* Bike lanes on San Jacinto between 26th and Duval
* Bike lanes on S. Congress, south of Ben White (over the objections of TxDOT)
* Removal of a barrier on Loop 360 at Spicewood Springs
* Improvement of signs on RM 2244 (Bee Caves Rd.) to make them more bicycle friendly.
* Bike lanes on Chicon from Town Lake to 6th St., complete with "No parking" signs.
* Installation of a pedestrian traffic signal, curb ramps, and a crosswalk at Morrow and N. Lamar
* Bike lanes on Metric between Rundberg and Rutland. (This was actually built by Dell and later transferred to the City of Austin; bike lanes were included, but the "No parking" signs never were installed, as far as I know.)
* Temporary installation (and subsequent removal due to local employer's objections) of bike lanes on Woodward St. from IH-35 east to Ben White
* Installation of bicycle sensors for traffic signals throughout town

L O C A L .. P O L I T I C S

* Keith Snodgrass succeeds Rick Waring as Bicycle Coordinator
* Worse turnout on City Councilmember ride this year
* Local Cyclists appointed to City Boards
Keith Snodgrass succeeds Rick Waring as Bicycle Coordinator (1-98)
Keith Snodgrass replaced Rick Waring early this year as the Bicycle Coordinator for the City's Bicycle and Pedestrian Program, following Waring's resignation in October of last year. Rick entered the job in '94, as the first director of the newly-created program. During his tenure, the program got Part I of the Bicycle Plan passed by City Council, and did the bulk of the work on preparing Part II of the Bicycle Plan.
Worse turnout on City Councilmember ride this year (5-8-98)
Last year, local cyclist David Foster organized a downtown bike ride and invited local and state officials. Every single last damn one of the current members of the Austin City Council participated in that ride (although at the time, a couple were only candidates for council and not yet elected to council positions). On this year's version of the ride, only three out of seven councilmembers attended &emdash; could that be because last year was an election year and this year was not? In attendance this year were Mayor Pro Tem Gus Garcia, Councilmembers Jackie Goodman and Daryl Slusher, and Texas Land Commissioner and Gubernatorial candidate Garry Mauro. Councilmembers who did NOT participate this year include Mayor Kirk Watson, Bill Spelman, Willie Lewis, and Beverly Griffith.
The helmet ordinance was still in effect at the time of last year's ride, and councilmembers got to witness firsthand how out of control the police were regarding the helmet law, threatening riders with JAIL (not just tickets) for not wearing helmets. The article about last year's ride is archived on the Biking in Austin website.
Local cyclists appointed to city boards (7-98)
After years of attending city planning meetings begging (often unsuccessfully) for city planners to consider cyclists' concerns when designing roadway projects, cyclists are taking another tactic -- getting themselves appointed to those same City boards. Earlier this year, Michael Zakes (proprietor of Waterloo Cycles) secured an appointment to the Urban Transportation Commission (UTC), and Mike Librik (of Easy Street Recumbents) landed a spot on the Parks & Recreation Board. And already we've seen action from the UTC favorable to cyclists, such as a trial ban on parking in bike lanes on Duval, and consideration of an ordinance to ban parking in bike lanes city-wide.

A L T E R N A T I V E .. R I D E S

* Clothing-Optional Rides revived
* Upcoming Bicycle Parade
* New web page for Austin Critical Mass
* Worldwide Critical Mass page established
Clothing-Optional Rides revived (6-21-98)
The clothing-optional bike rides have been revived, leaving from Manor Road Coffeehouse (1809 Manor Road) at 10:00pm every time there's a full moon. Several of the rides have been well-attended and all have completely cop-free, except for some minor hassles from police on the first ride last year. A discussion of what's legal and what's not with regard to nudity (i.e., exactly how far you can go) is available on this website.
Upcoming Bicycle Parade (7-22-98)
by Chris Symank
We are now having workshops and planning for designing human powered parade floats and props at Austin's Yellow Bike Project's temporary location, 419 West Johanna St., Fridays from 4-7 p.m. For more info call me (Chris) at 478-7666. We are still trying to organize a permitted parade for the Saturday before Labor Day. Regardless of whether the parade happens we want to get some human powered floats ready for any event where human powered floats are needed!
New web page for Austin Critical Mass (7-21-98)
The new Austin CM page explains the details of the local ride, and features some historical articles about the police crackdowns of '93-'94, along with tales of how CM'ers won their cases in court or had their charges dismissed.
Worldwide Critical Mass page established (7-21-98)
There are dozens of Critical Mass web pages for different cities around the world that have Critical Mass rides, and now there's a centralized hub that links them all together. The Worldwide Critical Mass Hub has links to all the other CM pages all over the world, as well as carefully-selected links to the best pro-bike and anti-car sites around.

C O L L I S I O N S.. & ..I N J U R I E S

* New "How to Not Get Hit by Cars" website
* "No Justice for Cyclists" documented on website
* Motorist actually charged in cyclist's death!
* Two local bike activists crash with no cars involved
* Jennifer Schaeffer victim of hit & run
* Motorist who hit Andrew Turner & Heather Sealy goes free
* Deaths on Texas highways during recent holidays
New "How to Not Get Hit by Cars" webpage 7-21-98
A new web page graphically details seven of the most common ways that cyclists get hit by cars, and provides specific, detailed advice for avoiding those collisions. This is a far cry from normal Bike Safety publications which focus on such things as making sure you signal turns and wear a helmet. Rather than signaling, you shouldn't be riding in such a way that a motorist would hit you if they didn't know where you were going in the first place! As for helmets, simply wearing a helmet does not magically make you safe, and more importantly, wearing a helmet will do *absolutely nothing* to prevent you from getting hit by a car! Sure, helmets might help you if you get hit, and I wear one myself, but your #1 goal should be to avoid getting hit in the first place. Plenty of local cyclists have been killed by cars even though they were wearing helmets, including Tom Churchill, Andrew Turner, and Thomas Linsley. Ironically, if they had ridden WITHOUT helmets, yet followed the guidelines listed on this web page, they might still be alive today.
"No Justice for Cyclists" documented on website (7-21-98)
Another new web page provides several examples to demonstrate that motorists who hit and maim or kill cyclists in Austin rarely get ticketed or face criminal charges. It further shows that a majority of the serious collisions in recent years have been hit & runs. After reading this page you'll understand why Critical Mass exists.
Motorist actually charged in cyclist's death! (7-5-98)
A motorist hit and killed an unidentified cyclist with his truck in East Austin at night over the July 4th weekend, and then tried to flee. He was arrested and charged with intoxication manslaughter and failure to stop and render aid. On that Sunday he was in jail with $22,500 bail.
We're angry and sad that another one of our own has been taken out by the car culture. We're infuriated that this ups our figure to *71%* of serious collisions that we know about which were hit & runs. (And how many of those 29% who DID stop would have kept going had their vehicles been capable of leaving or if they thought they could get away with it?) It's distressing to look out among a sea of cars and realize that 3/4 or more of the motorists out there are willing to hit us, leave us for dead, and then just keep driving. Although we're angry about these things, we are pleased, and surprised, to see that a driver was actually charged with a crime for hitting and killing a cyclist.
What could account for this sudden change in policy? Are law enforcement officials suddenly tuned in to the idea that cyclists have an equal right to the road? Probably not. In this case, the accident happened on the East side, the driver was Hispanic, and perhaps most importanty, the driver hit a police car a few minutes after he killed the cyclist. The police officer reportedly received minor injuries.
The Austin American-Statesman reported that the motorist is David Rodriguez, 34, or 1311 E. 52nd St. The motorist killed the bicyclist at E. 7th & Chalmers Avenue, and he hit the police officer at the 1200 block of E. 7th. The cyclist had not been identified when the Statesman story ran.
Two local bike activists crash with no car collision (7-21-98)
Two local bicycle activists, both experienced cyclists, managed to crash in separate incidents this month, neither one involving a collision with a car, and suffered substantial injuries. Eric Anderson of the Yellow Bike Project apparently hit something in the road, and flipped his bike. Unfortunately, he was using clipless pedals that his shoes were stuck to, and he took the bike with him when he flipped, instead of just being thrown clear over the handlebars. He broke his hip, spent several days in the hospital, had surgery to insert a metal plate into his hip, will be using crutches for six weeks, and won't be able to bike again for four months. Eric did not have health insurance and his friends are planning to organize some benefits to help him pay the rent while he's unable to work.
In an unrelated accident, Austin Cycling Association President and Effective Cycling Instructor Preston Tyree ran into a low-hanging branch while demonstrating the bicycle lane on Duval for a KEYE-42 news crew. Preston cracked his helmet, was thrown into a utility, pole, and rendered unconscious until he woke up in Brakenridge Hospital, where he spent nearly 24 hours.
Both these incidents are fairly alarming, since they both happened to extremely experienced cyclists, there was no collision with an automobile, the injuries were substantial, and they both happened within two weeks of each other.
Jennifer Schaeffer victim of hit & run (1-98)
Jennifer was struck by a motorist on North Loop while she was biking to work. She was thrown off her bicycle and rendered unconscious. She was taken to the hospital, and was lucky to make a full recovery. Consequence to the motorist: None. The motorist left Jennifer for dead (as far as s/he knew), and didn't even bother to stop.
Motorist who hit Andrew Turner and Heather Sealey goes free (2-98)
Andrew & Heather, who were engaged to be married, were struck by a drunk driver (Melissa Graham, 28) in Bastrop on June 14 last year. Andrew was killed, while Heather suffered massive injuries, including a crushed vertebra, crushed pelvis, broken leg, fractured skull, and brain damage. Graham's blood alcohol level was "well above the .10 level" according to the Bastrop police. Though the police did not determine how fast Graham was driving, they did determine that she never hit her brakes before striking the cyclists. The cyclists were riding single-file on the extreme edge of the roadway, but the accident apparently happened after dusk, and the cyclists didn't have lights on their bikes (although they did have rear reflectors). By the way, we'd like to once again publicly challenge all bicycle shop owners to equip every bike they sell with a white headlight, a flashing red rear light, and a mirror. It's high time that bike shops took more responsibility for the safety of their customers.
Consequence to the motorist: None. The motorist's trial in 2-98 ended in a hung jury. The defense attorney was apparently able to convince the jury that it was the cyclists' fault for getting hit.
A witness to the trial (June Elliott of Dynamic Cycles in Bastrop) said, "It amazed and disappointed me to see the way the rights of the accused compared to the rights of the victims. Melissa Graham [the motorist] sat with her head lowered, crying and whimpering. She was allowed to show her emotions, but at the same time, Andrew's mother and father were not. Mrs. Turner let one tear fall and was asked not to re-enter the courtroom."
Deaths on Texas highways during recent holidays (7-5-98)
In an above article we reported about a motorist who killed a cyclist over the July 4th weekend and then tried to flee. But motorists weren't just killing cyclists over the holiday, they were killing each other. The Texas Department of Public Safety reported on Sunday afternoon that 39 people died at the hands of motor vehicles on Texas roads over the July 4th weekend, which exceeded DPS' worst-case estimate of 30, and had the state heading for a record-breaking number of deaths by the end of the weekend. Over the Memorial Day weekend, nineteen people died in automobile-related accidents on Texas roads. Isn't this kind of ironic? Memorial Day is a day in which we're supposed to honor those who were killed, and how do we honor them? By killing even more people!

E Q U I P M E N T .. N E W S

* Recliner bikes catching on
* New "automatic transmission" bikes introduced
Recliner bikes catching on (3-98)
Recliner bikes (also called "recumbent bikes") are becoming increasingly popular. These are long bikes in which the rider sits in a bucket seat with his/her legs in front (instead of straight down). The steering mechanism can be over the seat or under the seat depending on the bike. The principal advantage of this design is comfort -- recliners eliminate the stress on the neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, hands, and butt. This design has actually been around since the 30's, but when recliners started winning all the bike races, they were banned from racing competitions and so manufacturers didn't want to keep producing them. Since then, recliners have been built mostly by very small companies one at a time, which has kept the costs high, which is why you haven't seen many of them -- until now. Now that Huffy has entered the market (with their "Re-Bike" brand), you can get an entry-level recliner for $329 (and you can get a "good" recliner for as little as $650). This is a stark contrast to the past -- as recently as just a few years ago it was hard to find a recliner for less than $1000. In Austin, some of the more visible bike advocates and personalities ride recliners, including Tommy Eden, Mike Librik, Amy Babich, Jay Beeson, and Michael Bluejay. In fact, Mike Librik and Amy Babich like recliners so much that they've become dealers. Contact them at 453-0438 to check out their bikes, or visit their website.
New "automatic transmission" bikes introduced (7-98)
A new innovation in bicycle design is CSA's "AutoBike", which is a bike that shifts gears for you, automatically. No more manual shifting. Sensors determine how fast you're pedaling and change gears so that you're always spinning at a comfortable number of RPMs. My first thought after seeing this bike was, why bother with automatic shifting? I never thought that shifting manually was any more difficult than using a toaster, and I've never felt that shifting was inconvenient. Well, apparently, that's where I'm wrong, since two of my friends just snatched up a couple of these new bikes and they love them. They're available by mail-order directly from the manufacturer, CSA, for $240, although Heartland America has them for $200.
Are there any problems with these bikes? Plenty. First, it's rarely a good idea to purchase a bike mail-order, especially if it's a specialty bike. Dealing with service, missing parts, warranty issues, and returns is a big hassle compared to being able to just take your bike to your local dealer. And that's even if your mail-order company makes a decent attempt to provide customer service. I read plenty of accounts on Internet newsgroups of customers who repeatedly got busy signals when calling CSA, were on hold for literally hours when they DIDN'T get busy signals, and then found that CSA didn't follow through on refunds or parts replacement after they WERE able to talk to a rep. Customers reported bikes arriving without parts (such as kickstands and manuals), or even arriving broken. Repairs can be problematic because your local bike shop probably won't stock automatic transmission parts.
As for quality, the bike is heavy -- 38 pounds. And with only six gears, it doesn't have low enough gears for steep hills. One customer complained that his front fork was unadjustable -- it had to be either too tight or too loose, and that the metal flexed when the nut was tightened down.
Automatic transmission bikes may be a good idea for extremely inexperienced riders who have no interest in learning how to shift gears, but not this particular model. And it's doubtful that any manufacturer will be willing to charge the $400+ it would take to make and support a quality automatic transmission bike. For the novice rider wanting a comfortable ride without spending a lot of money, a low-end mountain bike with grip-shifters is a better bet.

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