Colorado and Arkansas join the e-bike bill party

Words by Jeffrey Stern

Joining California, Tennessee and Utah, Colorado and Arkansas became the fourth and fifth states respectively to define the three different classes of electric-assist bikes.

Many e-bike manufacturers are pushing for the classification system as a way to standardize regulation in the industry because of the gray area in which these bikes sit. In some states, they are technically illegal.

Earlier this year, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said, “As e-bikes grow in both the commuter bike space as well as the mountain biking arena, we wanted to be sure the thought leadership for this segment of the industry resided in Colorado.”

By signing House Bill 17-1151, the state of Colorado is doing just that. The bill helps define the various levels of e-bike assistance depending on whether the electric motor fixed to the bike assists while pedaling and the top speed that can be reached.

Although only applicable to e-bikes ridden on the roads and bike paths, the new state law requires all e-bike manufacturers to label their bikes in such a way that allows local government agencies to identify the various classes. The new bill does not provide management of e-bikes ridden on mountain bike trails throughout the state.

Photo: Leslie Kehmeier

Photo: Leslie Kehmeier

Section one of HB 17-1151 defines the three classes based on top speed as well as when the motor assists the rider—while pedaling or independently. Section four requires all e-bikes to comply with the federal consumer product safety commission, lays out the labeling obligation of the three classes for manufacturers and prohibits users from modifying their motors without acquiring the appropriate label. The last section of the bill speaks to the helmet requirement for all riders younger than 18 and also prohibits a person under the age of 16 from riding a class three e-bike, except as a passenger.

This is also the section of the bill that gives local government agencies the authority to “allow or prohibit the use of specified classes of electrical assisted bicycles on pedestrian paths and bike paths.”

The Arkansas HB2185 is similar in structure to Colorado’s bill. PeopleForBikes, the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association and many local retailers came out in strong support of both bills and continue to work hard on legislation in other states. Larry Pizzi, head of the BPSA’s e-bike committee told Bicycle Retailer, “At long last e-bikes are really gaining the momentum we need them to. This is more great news on the BPSA and PeopleForBikes e-bike front. Colorado is really important. The bill got tremendous support there. We’re stoked we can put one more important state in the bag.”

Photo: Leslie Kehmeier

Photo: Leslie Kehmeier

Reports suggest that at least another half-dozen states have bills in progress including Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, New York and Wisconsin.

For more information on e-bike laws in your state, visit


Interview: Ted Rogers of Biking in LA

Words and photos by Chris Klibowitz

According to a 2008 report by the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Work Bureau of Street Services, “With a street network comprised of approximately 6,500 centerline miles of streets and 800 centerline miles of alleys, the City of Los Angeles not only has the largest municipal street system in the nation, but also the most congested.” Cycling with the city limits can be so daunting, that most who make it a regular practice are looked upon as crazy. Even crazier are those who fight against the engrained car culture, for those who chose to ride in LA. Ted Rogers is one such crazy person—the man behind the popular website Biking In LA—and boy does he have his work cut out for him.

What is your place within the cycling community?

A voice crying in the wilderness.

What was going through your head when you sat down at your computer and started your original blog in 2007?

I looked around Los Angeles at what was going on with bike lanes and bike safety and I thought, “we’re all getting screwed.” It was an outgrowth of my fall at the beach—I ran into a swarm of bees, lost control, wiped out, and spent a couple nights in the intensive care unit. I realized at that point that I was closer to dying than to being born, and if I wanted to accomplish something, I need to do it now. Everybody wants to change the world. I realize that I can’t change the world. I just don’t have that power. But what I can do, is I can change Los Angeles. I can make it safer to ride a bike in Los Angeles. I discovered that there were a few other people that were also as angry as I was, and it just snowballed from there.

The early posts dealt with things like poorly designed bike lanes, and telling personal stories and experiences. Is that what you’re still doing?

Rule number one was always that it was not about me. It’s about bicycling. Everything I do is in furtherance of bicycling, bike safety, somehow. I wrote it as a personal blog for about six years, and I had a feature at the bottom where I would link to stories about bicycling that I found online. That was my education in traffic planning and bike safety—I didn’t know squat when I started. I had to learn, so I went online and found all these stories and read them and figured others would be interested too. Gradually, the links started taking over, and I finally said, “Let’s make this a news site, rather than just my own opinion. I’ll keep throwing my opinion in there, because that’s who I am, that’s not gonna stop.”

Ted Rogers

At some point after that switch happened, you began to report on—and tracking—cycling deaths in the area. How did you become the unofficial keeper of that information?

I’m the death master of Southern California cycling. I’ve been accused of having a morbid interest in death. But it’s actually just the opposite: I’m obsessed with safety. I want everyone who leaves on a bike ride to come back home again in one piece. A lot of advocates say you shouldn’t focus on that, you should talk about all the good things and get people to ride their bikes. To me, that’s like a realtor selling you a house without telling you about the black mold in the basement, or that it was built on a Native American burial grounds. If you don’t know the problem is there, you can’t fix it. First, any one who dies on a bike should be remembered. Second, the reason I started keeping count, was that nobody—no government agency in southern California at that point—could tell you how many people died in their jurisdiction while riding a bicycle or crossing the street. They didn’t know.

Seems like something they should all know.

Something every government should do. They can’t provide for safety for anyone unless they know what is happening on their streets. So I got in their face, I said, “This person died in Newport Beach. That person died in Los Angeles. Here’s where they were. This is what happened. Pay. Fucking. Attention.”

Are they paying attention now?

They are paying attention now. If someone is killed on a bike, it usually makes the news somewhere. I take some of the credit for that, but there are other advocates who are raising a stink too. We forced the newspapers to pay attention, and the newspapers force the governments to pay attention. If it wasn’t for people like me saying, “this can’t go on,” then it would still be going on. Well, it is still going on, but at least they know there’s a problem.

So, do you still think Los Angeles going to change?

L.A. is a tough nut to crack for bike advocacy. In San Francisco, if they say, “Here’s a problem, we need a hundred bicyclists to turn out,” then a thousand will turn out. In L.A., if you say, “Here’s a problem, we need a hundred bicyclists to turn out,” then ten will. I have no idea why that is, and it’s been driving me crazy for years. The one thing that really bothers me now, is we are seeing a lot of very experienced bicyclists saying, “Enough. It’s just not safe on the streets, I’m done.” That’s really disturbing. We can’t lose those people. They’re the committed cyclists and if they’re walking away, it means that we have failed. Still, I think things are going to move forward. L.A. has adopted a Vision Zero plan—which I advocated for—with a goal of no fatalities by 2025.

What would make you happy to see accomplished in 2017?

More protected bike lanes. But we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Yes, bikes lanes should be protected, but we need more bike lanes, period.


Video: Mechanics of Mobility with World Bicycle Relief

World Bicycle Relief is a global organization working to mobilize people in the developing world through the power of bicycles. The goal is to create a world where distance is no longer a barrier to education, healthcare or economic opportunity. So far, the organization has provided over 340,000 Buffalo Bicycles to students, healthcare workers and entrepreneurs across Africa, Southeast Asia and South America, empowering individuals and entire communities.

To sustain the impact of these life-changing bikes, World Bicycle Relief recruits one field mechanic per every 100 bicycles distributed. Mechanics learn assembly, maintenance and repair as well as basic business, marketing and management skills. Each mechanic also receives a full toolset, including new wrenches, a bicycle pump and branded World Bicycle Relief overalls. One toolset can be donated for just $50.

“From a sustainability perspective, World Bicycle Relief believes that dropping thousands and thousands of bicycles [into a country] without a plan for maintenance is a recipe for disaster.” – Brian Moonga, Country Director, Zambia

Watch the video to learn more!


National Bike Summit Recap Part 3: Jamie from The City of Fort Collins FC Bikes Program

This is the final installment of the National Bike Summit Recap. We highlighted a tiny fraction of the organizations and people that attended this year’s event. Again, the role that these organizations play in bicycle and pedestrian safety is extremely important. So go support your local bicycle advocacy group; become a member, volunteer, go to an education class, attend and support hosted events.

Our last Q&A is with Jamie from The City of Fort Collins FC Bike Program. Jamie hosted a sessions called “Bicycle Friendly Driver” a successful education class that she hopes to share to the masses. The “Bicycle Friendly Driver” class teaches what is legal or illegal with photo reference, it teaches and emphasizes little things that can be done to prevent injuring a pedestrian or cyclist; open your car door with your right hand (makes you look over your shoulder), slow down and pass with care, what are the passing laws, etc. This is a program that Jamie and her colleagues have taken to the Fort Collins transportation service and has taught all the drivers how to be a “Bicycle Friendly Driver”, they have taken this to trucking companies, sanitation companies and more. Everyone who passes receives a sticker for their vehicle, and a certificate to show off. I’m sure we’ll hear more on this program’s success in the coming years.


Go here to read the Part 1 with Kyle from the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition and go here to read Part 2 with Julie from Bike PGH.

Bike Summit Attendee: Jamie Gaskill-Fox
Organization: The City of Fort Collins FC Bikes Program


Tell me why did you attended the National Bike Summit? I attended the Summit because I was invited by the League to do a session on the Bicycle Friendly Program that we developed and have been implementing in Fort Collins since December 2015.

What are some easy ways for people to get involved and support an organization like yours? 1) Ride your bike and do so in a safe and lawful manner.  Be the example – the more of us who are positive examples on a daily basis, the safer we will all be and the more support we will have in the long run. 2) Vote to support sustainable transportation. Our programs won’t exist without the support of voters. 3) Volunteer with our organization – we’re always looking for more awesome Ambassadors.  Ambassadors help educate others about safe cycling and encourage others to ride. Plus, Ambassadors help reinforce the positive cycling community.


Why should people support organizations like yours? The work that we do makes roadways safer and easier to travel for ALL people. Our programming also helps meet much larger strategic goals such as climate action goals and reducing traffic congestion.

What was your #1 takeaway from the Summit? Even though there are great things happening across the country in regards to making our communities better for bicycling, we are at a critical time when we need to reflect on what we want the future to look like for people who ride bikes and to make it happen.. We need to find new ways to reach people through each of the 5 (now 6) Es. and engage them in a way that  spurs them into action.  Change is good – just as long as we grab it by the handlebars and steer it the way we need to go to make a better biking nation.




Brompton Launches New and Improved Urban Bike Challenge for 2017 Season

As urban cycling continues to grow dramatically in popularity, Brompton, the iconic folding bike manufacturer, is launching a new and improved version of their two wheeled scavenger hunt. With events planned in five major cities across the U.S., each event will test cyclists to the max on their local knowledge, teamwork and creativity.

Available to everyone on a bike, no matter the age or experience of cycling, the Urban Bike Challenge is a bicycle scavenger hunt run via a unique mobile app. Participating in teams of two to four cyclists, the challenge will be won by the team that scores the most points. Points are awarded through the app in a variety of ways, including visiting locations, completing tasks and solving clues at locations.

“With more than 1.6 million cyclists in New York City alone, urban cycling has rapidly become a mainstream activity in U.S. cities. For Brompton, we’ve always been about celebrating everyday cycling, and the Urban Bike Challenge is a great way for both experienced cyclists and those new to urban cycling to have fun and explore their city,” said Katharine Horsman, General Manager, North America at Brompton Bicycle. “So, whether you’re an everyday commuter or a weekend recreational rider, we encourage you to sign up for a fun day of riding in the city.”


The Urban Bike Challenge series is presented by Brompton and sponsored by Ortlieb and costs $20 per entry. The series will run across the U.S. with events in:

To sign up, please visit here for San Francisco and here for Los Angeles. Sign up for New York will be available in June. Additional partners and locations, including Chicago and Washington, D.C., will be announced in coming months.

The top prize for each city will be a set of Ortlieb Bags for each winning team. The prize for the most creative team in each city will be a set of Tracer Nutcase Helmets.

“Cycling in the city can have the reputation of not being a lot of fun,” said Zack Stender, owner of Huckleberry Bicycles. “But this challenge shows off the fun factor of urban cycling, allowing people to check out areas of the city often inaccessible to other forms of transport while enjoying a day out riding with friends.”


National Bike Summit Recap Part 2: Julie from Bike PGH

For the National Bike Summit Recap, we are highlighting some of the amazing organizations and people that attended this year’s event. The role that these organizations play in bicycle and pedestrian safety is extremely important. Go here to read the Part 1 Recap.

Bike Summit Attendee: Julie Mallis
Organization: Bike PGH, Pittsburgh, PA

Bike PGH Logo

Tell me why did you attended the National Bike Summit? I wanted to meet with other youth bike educators and LCI’s (League Cycling Instructor), connect with other women in the industry, discuss and challenge the equity of the work we all do, lobby our state senators for people-centric safer streets and to bike around DC! Being around a lot of bike advocates is empowering and fun!

What are some easy ways for people to get involved and support an organization like yours? Thanks for asking! It’s easy, you can: 1: Donate or become a member. You can become a monthly sustainer or contribute annually, 2: Get your business involved with supporting bicycling, 3: Volunteer at our big events like OpenStreetsPGH or parking bikes at the bike valets.

Why should people support organizations like yours? We are a membership-based organization and we need the support and participation of the community to keep up the work! Our organizational focus is on advocacy, community, and education. We work for policy change and transformation of our urban core by inspiring and advocating within communities to achieve bikeable/walkable streets. As we work together for safer streets, we also host large community events like OpenStreets that reimagine how a street could be used. We provide accessible education programs and printed resources for youth and adults to learn online or on-the-saddle bike safety and tips. There are a number of ways in which someone can support or participate in this work!

What was your #1 takeaway from the Summit? Youth are the future of bicycling and we must centralize their voices and experiences in advocating for safer streets. The Engaging Youth in Advocacy and Education was my favorite session. It was hosted by young people from Philly’s Cadence Cycling and Neighborhood Bike Works, Arlington’s Phoenix Bikes and DC’s Gearing Up. Everything the youth had to say was on-point, inspiring and direct. “Just because I’m a youth, doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m talking about” – Theo of 


Look forward to one more National Bike Summit attendee posts !



National Bike Summit Recap Part 1: Kyle from the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition

The National Bike Summit is a yearly advocacy event held by The League of American Cyclists. The point of this event is to gather bicycle advocates to coordinate and extend their voices to Capitol Hill and be able to attend sessions to give organizations the tools they need to make a difference within their community and beyond.  The hope is to work together to advance the cycling movement as a united front.

Advocacy is not exciting to everyone. There is a lot of legislation talk, accessing state funding, bond money, fund raising, rumble strip and chip seal discussions, lobbying, non-lobbying, federal advocacy and much more. There are times when my eyes glaze over a little and I just want to run into any battle, sword in the air ready to strike. Action first, talk later, me angry, me use fist… you get it. My point is it takes a very dedicated and patient individual to stand up and fight for cycling/pedestrian infrastructure and safety.

Almost every state attended The Bike Summit. Some states had multiple people to march on the hill and make the case for infrastructure funding to their State Senators and Representatives. Some states had only one representative and sadly, some states were not in attendance at all.

Listen, I’m not going to stand up here on this website soap-box and shake my finger at anyone or anything for my concern of lack of attendance. That’s not going to help. Instead I want to share with you the people I met, why they attended, how easy it is for you to get involved and hope that they can encourage you to go out and contribute to your local bicycle advocacy club (or start one!).

Bike Summit Attendee: Kyle Lawrence
Organization:  Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition, Harrisonburg, VA


Tell me why did you attended the National Bike Summit? I have attended the summit for the past 7 years and think it is important to travel to Washington DC and to the halls of Congress. For us, it is part of a comprehensive strategy to connect with our local, state, and national representatives

What are some easy ways for people to get involved and support an organization like yours? Our organization is membership centered and the easiest way to get involved is to join or come meet us at one of our events or rides to learn about how bicycles can improve our community. We aim to grow the number of smiles and high-fives in our entire community. Like every bike/walk organization, our work touches on a number of aspects involving transportation and land-use planning, education, encouragement and more. Joining any organization is usually step one. Whether you join or not, you should come out to a trail work day, go on a group bike ride, or grab food and drink with us at our monthly social. Above all, you can bring your ideas and energy to our efforts. All groups want and need is new inspiration, high energy and diverse interests. An honest desire to have fun and improve the community are always welcomed with open arms.

Why should people support organizations like yours? Bicycling and walking are mere tools to build stronger and happier communities. We all walk at some point and likely it could be easier and more comfortable. Our organization aims to do the same with bicycle riding. Whether you decide to bike or not, we aim to make it easier and more comfortable to navigate the spaces between the buildings. We believe safer and more comfortable cities grow more smiles, break down barriers, and make our communities happier and friendlier places to live, work, and play. The bicycle just happens to be a nice way to make it all happen. If you believe in strong, friendly communities, you’ll believe in our work.

 What was your #1 take-away from the Summit? Traveling to Washington DC every year allows me to see the progression in bicycle infrastructure across the District. The first year I attended the Summit, the bicycle lanes in the center of Pennsylvania Avenue were brand new. Since that time, the infrastructure around the city has grown for bicycle riding. Now the District can boast cycle tracks, bike share, and a burgeoning collection of Multi-Use Trails throughout the region, including in the heart of the District. I’ve gotten to watch the progression of the Metropolitan Branch Trail and the Anacostia Trail all wrapped up by the Capital Trails Coalition. Washington DC is an example of the growing national movement for more bicycling and walking. Seeing that around the Summit each year is inspiring and powerful.


Keep your eye out for Part 2—more stories from all over the United States of advocacy groups and state organizations looking to grow cycling safety!


News: PDW donating 100% of sales to ACLU

Between February 7-14th, Portland Design Works (PDW) will be donating 100% of its sales to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

As PDW states, “The bicycle is a simple tool—a couple of circles and triangles that enable self propulsion. But those of us that ride them know that they’re more powerful than their design suggests. We know that the bicycle can power revolutions—those in our legs, in our hearts and minds and in our communities. We’ve witnessed their positive impact in the past and are hopeful for the change they will bring to our future. Bicycles are machines of freedom.

The American Civil Liberties Union is also a machine of freedom, a non-partisan organization that works to protect and defend the rights and liberties which have been guaranteed to us in our country’s Constitution. In support of the important work the ACLU is doing we’re donating 100% of our sales to the ACLU for the next week—Tuesday, February 7th thru Tuesday, February 14th.”

PDW co-founder Erik Olson says, “Normally our charitable contributions are aimed at efforts to get more people out there riding bikes, but these aren’t normal times. We have to do what we can to ensure, like we recited in grade school, ‘liberty and justice for all.”

What can you do? Just buy something from PDW, and they’ll donate that money to the ACLU. It’s a win-win. Or, you can choose to donate directly to the ACLU Foundation.




League of American Bicyclists awards 42 Bicycle Friendly Businesses

We all know and understand the vast benefits that cycling can instill upon our personal fitness, communities and environment. In an effort bolster and expand cycling’s positive influence on society and the environment, The League of American Bicyclists has recently expanded its Bicycle Friendly Businesses (BFB) program. Comprised of nearly 1300 businesses in 49 states, the BSB program works with businesses ranging from local mom-and-pop companies to Fortune 500 corporations to, “[recognize] their efforts to encourage a more welcoming atmosphere for bicycling employees, customers, and the community.”

Bicycle Friendly Business - Facebook

Facebook is a Platinum-level member of the Bicycle Friendly Business program.

In announcing forty two new and renewing business in the BFB program, League Executive Director Alex Doty praises the efforts of business that actively appreciate the importance of relevance of cycling. “As these businesses make bicycling a safe and convenient option for transportation and recreation they play a vital role in transforming our nation into a safer, healthier and more sustainable place to live and work.”

Standing Stone Brewing

Standing Stone Brewing Company is a Silver-level member of the Bicycle Friendly Business program.

Business can be awarded four levels (bronze, sliver, gold and platinum) of recognition, depending on their commitment to the promotion of cycling for employees, customers and community. Businesses of any shape and size are welcome to participate. Examples of companies in the BSB include:

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – Memphis, TN
A new Silver-level member of the BSB, St. Jude offers a Bike to Work Day, group rides and a bike share program. Lindsey Swann, Wellness Program Manager explains, “St. Jude values its bicycle-friendly initiatives as important to employee recruitment and retention. It encourages healthy living; mental and physical wellness; employee morale; stress-relief and productivity.”

University of Minnesota
By subsidizing bike share membership, offering financial incentives for cycling commuters and cycling support services on-campus, the University of Minnesota is a returning Platinum-level member of the BSB. According to Steve Sanders, Alternative Transportation Manager, “Employees who bicycle are valued, and our team activities have increased camaraderie and cohesion in multiple units of the University. The University is a better place because of our support for all aspects of bicycling.”

Here’s a PDF listing all of the new and renewing BSB companies, and this PDF lists all Bicycle Friendly Businesses across the country.

If you’re curious to find (and support!) local businesses in your area that are cycling-friendly, the League of American Bicyclists has created a really cool interactive map to help you identify those companies. Click here to check it out.


League of American Bicyclists certifies 100 new Bicycle Friendly Businesses

Courtesy of the League of American Bicyclists


Today, the League of American Bicyclists has awarded 100 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Businesses [pdf] in 31 states and Washington, D.C.

With this announcement, the program has grown to include 1,050 visionary local businesses, government agencies and Fortune 500 companies [pdf] from across the country that are changing the script on what it means to provide a top-notch experience and atmosphere for employees and customers alike. There are now BFBs in 47 states and DC. Rotating Mass Media, parent company of Bicycle Times and our sister magazine, Dirt Rag, is proud to be a Gold Level BFB since 2013.

The new Platinum-level BFBs certified this year are Sonos Inc. of Santa Barbara, California, Partners for Active Living from Spartanburg, South Carolina, Quality Bicycle Products West from Ogden, Utah, and Trek Travel from Madison, Wisconsin.

“The business community’s investment in bicycling is playing a central role in making the country a safer, happier, and more sustainable place to live and work,” said Amelia Neptune, League Bicycle Friendly Business Program Manager. “We applaud this new round of businesses for leading the charge in creating a bicycle-friendly America for everyone.”

Bicycle Friendly Businesses encourage a more bicycle-friendly atmosphere for employees and customers alike. BFBs attract and retain energized, alert and productive employees, while decreasing healthcare costs.

The Architect of the Capitol, which employs 2,300 staff and oversees the maintenance and operation of all congressional buildings and land throughout Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., received a Bronze award this round.

The government agency, among other advancements, has been working collaboratively with the Congressional Bike Caucus to share information throughout the Capitol campus, and has helped to restart the Federal Interagency Bike Working Group as a means to share best practices within the federal community.

“We are so pleased to make the U.S. Capitol campus a more welcoming place for biking commuters and the visiting public,” said Architect of the Capitol, Stephen T. Ayers. “It is rewarding to be recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Business and to know that we have a passionate group of employees who implemented a cohesive program to achieve this recognition.”

Hewlett Packard has about 1,900 employees at its Fort Collins, Colorado, location. The new Bronze-level awardee hosts lunch-and-learn seminars on site, focusing on bicycling tips, such as winter riding, basic rules of the road and more.

“HP takes great pride in supporting community wellness and environmental protection,” Hewlett Packard in Fort Collins said in a statement. “We are proud to be part of the movement to make bicycling fun and safe for everyone.”

To apply or learn more about the BFB program, visit


Cycling isn’t dangerous, people are dangerous

His name is Mark Angeles.

He was 22.

Mark’s name shouldn’t be worth a mention in Bicycle Times, not because he wasn’t worthy of recognition—in fact he was recognized as one of the most distinguished students in his class at Reed College—but because he should be just another happy cyclist celebrating his graduation last week and the onset of summer.

Instead Mark is yet another cyclist killed by a driver in broad daylight. He has become something no cyclist wants to be: a statistic.

The ghost bike placed at the scene of Mark

The ghost bike placed at the scene of Mark Angeles’ death.

In what has been a particularly disheartening month for cyclists here in Portland, Mark was killed May 27 by a tow truck driver turning left in front of him, the third such “left hook” in the past few weeks.

On May 10, Alistair Corkett, a bike shop employee and budding racer had his leg severed when he was hit by a driver turning in front of him, and on May 22 David Garcia received a critical head injury when a driver turned left in front of him.

After Mark’s death on Wednesday of this week, two other cyclists were seriously injured later that same day, another Thursday, and another today in the same intersection where Alistair lost his leg.

In a twisted turn of irony, Mark’s death came less than 24 hours after the mayor of Portland, Charlie Hales, hosted a Twitter “town hall” to answer questions about bicycle safety and infrastructure in the most “bike friendly” city in America, a title that has come into some well-deserved criticism in the past few months.

On its face the city seems to be at least trying to stem the bloodshed. It has adopted the Vision Zero project, an international effort to create road networks with zero fatalities or serious injuries. It was created in Sweden in 1997 and became popularized after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio embraced it in 2014.

The Vision Zero program is simple: “No loss of life is acceptable.” At least that is a universal truth that we can all agree on, right?

Maybe not.

Mayor de Blasio’s steadfast dedication to safe streets in New York has been vilified by the local transit union, who has made it more than clear that they are unhappy that city bus drivers have been prosecuted for hitting and killing pedestrians. Since last year Six bus drivers have been arrested for violating a right-of-way law, but the Transit Workers Union Local 100 says they should be exempt from the law that makes it a crime to fail to yield and strike pedestrians or cyclists who are rightfully crossing a street with a signal.

“Bus operators should not be held accountable,” TWU 100 President John Samuelsen told CBS New York. Five of the six incidents that warrant arrest under this “unfair” law resulted in a pedestrian death. Talk about unfair.

Now never mind that the very existence of such a law seems outrageously unnecessary—how can it be that hitting a pedestrian who has the right of way isn’t already a crime?!—the union believes bus schedules are more important than safety, and has gone so far as to file a class action lawsuit against the mayor and city to revoke it.

While that nonsense works its way through the system, some folks are taking a stand against it. A couple here in Portland have decided to fight fire with fire by forming a political action committee to take an active role in fighting what they describe as “traffic violence apologists.” Instead of working within the system, Chris Anderson and Amy Subach say they will use any means available to expose and even replace politicians and other public figures that they believe are making streets unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians.

The self-appointed Vision Zero PAC will work nationally to challenge legislation, expose hypocrisy and debunk victim blaming. On its website it has a form that allows users to “nominate a future loser,” and it is offering a $200 reward for a photo of any New York City council members who oppose Vision Zero texting or talking on the phone while driving, which both violate New York state law.

So where does that leave us? Will cities embrace safety measures to allow its citizens to move about without the risk of loss of life? Hopefully. Will cars continue to hit and kill cyclists and pedestrians? Absolutely. Is there anything you or I can do about it? I don’t know.

I’m not afraid to admit that I feel unsafe nearly every time I ride a bike. It’s rare that I can make it from A to B without a car brushing past me too closely or even worse, deliberately swerving, honking, or harrassing me in some way. I hardly ever ride road bikes recreationally any more because of it, and even transportation riding has become less enjoyable. I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels this way.

Within 24 hours of Mark’s death a ghost bike had been placed at the intersection where he died with a growing collection of flowers, photos and handwritten notes. I went to visit it yesterday and left feeling heartbroken and terrified. Not a quarter mile away I stopped at a four-way stop—much to the dismay of the men in a truck going the opposite way who had waited, assuming I would run the stop sign. After they waved me through I waved back and their reply succinctly summed up the attitude that is leading to injury and death.



Video: ‘Conquering the Cycle’

For a lot of kids growing up in poverty, the world they know is only what’s directly in front of them. Pittsburgh attorney Mark Rubenstein was seeing young adults make the same mistakes and commit the same crimes as their parents and grandparents. He knew that if he could only expose them to the wider world it would give them a greater perspective on what they could achieve in life.

In 2006 he founded Pittsburgh Youth Leadership, a non-profit that would take at-risk kids from the city on all-expense-paid bicycle tours. Along the way the teens have learned invaluable leadership skills, perseverance, teamwork and how to challenge the world around them.

Since then the group has racked up more than 137,000 miles through 44 states. This summer the organization is planning a 3,000-mile journey from Oregon to New Jersey and filming a documentary of the trip. The film they hope to create a long the way, Conquering the Cycle, will hopefully inspire more teens to challenge themselves and reach for their dreams.

If you’re inspired by how far they’ve come, you can make a donation to Pittsburgh Youth Leadership on its website.


50 Bikes for 50 Kids program helps kids and adults become cyclists

Photos courtesy of the North Natomas Transportation Management Association.

Donate a bike to a child and they will love to ride it, but teach a child how to build and maintain a bike and they will become a cyclist forever. That’s the mission behind the 50 Bikes For 50 Kids program, founded in Alaska and now in California. The annual event matches 50 local youths with teams of volunteers to assemble a bicycle for each child on the team. The volunteers aren’t bike shop owners or mechanics, rather they are local citizens who are often mechanical novices. Prior to the event, they meet with trained mechanics who show them the basics and then check their work for safety after the bicycle is complete. As it’s being built, the volunteers pass along this newfound knowledge to the kids who get hands-on lessons in mechanical skills, teamwork and cooperation. To participate, the kids are nominated by local youth organizations based on their trustworthiness, responsibility and other qualities.


The event began in Anchorage, Alaska, where it matched 251 kids with bikes. The extra was a student who wasn’t selected but heard about the event and attended anyway. The volunteers were so impressed with his enthusiasm they purchased a bike for him to work on. For the past three years the workshop has been held in Sacramento, California. There 647 volunteers have donated 2,391 hours of their time. Each year the event improves, with a new skills course added to the 2015 event held on January 15. Once their bikes were completed, students could learn basic bike safety with some on-bike practice.


The funding for the event has evolved over the years but the intent has stayed the same: an opportunity for organizations and businesses to help make cycling a part of a child’s future. A total of 48 organizations, businesses and individuals donated in some way to the 2015 event. The Specialized Community Grant Program and the Natomas Bike Shop subsidized the bicycles so sponsorships could be “sold” for $250. The bikes were actually valued at more than $400, and included were donated helmets and bike locks.

To learn more, visit the 50 Bikes for 50 Kids website.


Third World Bicycle Forum to be held in Medellín in February


In February 2011, a man who grew impatient waiting for a passing Critical Mass ride in Porto Alegre, Brazil, sped his car into the crowd of cyclists, injuring more than 30 people, several of them severely. It was even captured in a (graphic) video. A year later, cycling advocacy leaders from around the world gathered in Porto Alegre to memorialize the anniversary of the attack and push forward an agenda to create safer streets for all users in all cities.

After a one-year hiatus, the third Foro Mundial de la Bicicleta (World Bicycle Forum) will be held in Medellín, Columbia, from February 26 to March 1. Attendance and participation is open to anyone. The theme for 2015 is “Ciudades para Todos – Cities for All,” an agenda that goes beyond just bicycling and includes safe, sustainable mobility for citizens of all the world’s cities. By creating a unified voice to lobby against the motorized transportation networks given favorable treatment, the Forum hopes to inspired local, regional and national authorities to reimagine how people get from A to B.

Scheduled to appear are a who’s-who of international cycling advocates, including Lotte Bech of the Danish Cycling Embassy; Enrique Penalosa, the former mayor of Bogota, Columbia; and Janette Sadik-Khan, the former commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation.


Alliance announces 2014 Advocacy Award winners

allianceEach year at the National Bike Summit the Alliance for Biking and Walking announces its winners for the Alliance Advocacy Awards, a way to recognize exceptional groups and individuals who lead in advancing active transportation in North America.

The Alliance received 210 nominations for the 2014 awards, and the final winners were chosen by a panel of past award winners, leaders in the industry and Alliance staff. The People’s Choice Award winner was, of course, chosen by a vote.

Click here to see the winners

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