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I submitted this OpEd for consideration near the beginning of May 2017, in recognition of National Bike Month. It appeared on-line on May 19th, making it the third such OpEd of mine the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has been good enough to publish. Others preceding it were as follows:

2010:  “Help the planet: Ride a bike”

2016: “Bike Month is every month”

A unicyclist crossing Delmar Blvd.                      P-D photo by Robert Cohen.

This latest OpEd (please see below) includes a reference to bicycling-related issues concerning the tracks embedded in the road for the new trolley line installed in the Delmar Loop in University City, which have concerned me.  Can bicyclists coexist with trolley rails? U. City takes a look is a related story, published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on April 28th, featuring the accompanying photo. at right.

National Bike Month: A chance to review bicycle history and challenges

By Martin Pion May 19, 2017

Nick Kasoff shown controlling the curb lane on W. Florissant Ave., Ferguson on October 8th, 2014.                                            Helmet camera photo by Martin Pion

Before automobiles became ubiquitous, leading motorists to view public roads as primarily for them, there was the horse-and-buggy and the velocipede. The latter, more commonly known as the bicycle, remains the most efficient means of personal transportation ever devised.

Today’s motorists don’t realize that we can thank the “Good Roads Movement” for the modern smooth-surfaced road system we all enjoy. The League of American Wheelmen, founded in 1880 and now called the League of American Bicyclists, spearheaded this effort in the 19th century (in the U.S.), propelled by the bicycle’s popularity as an affordable means of independent mobility.

At that time the most popular bicycle was the solid-tired high wheeler, also called the “boneshaker,” because roads were often so rough. (The cobbled streets of Laclede’s Landing in downtown St. Louis provide a modern-day taste.)

Illustration of 1885 Rover “Safety” Bicycle

A major advance in bicycle technology was the Rover Safety Bicycle, invented in England by J.K. Starley in 1885, and similar in many respects to the modern bicycle. It had a simple diamond-shaped frame and two wheels of equal diameter with the rear one being chain-driven. The pneumatic (or air-filled) bicycle tire, invented in 1888 by John Boyd Dunlop, a Scottish veterinary surgeon, was another major invention.

These details are taken from a wonderfully illustrated 53-page book, “The Story of the Bicycle,” by British publisher Ladybird Books Ltd., which is still available from amazon.co.uk (online at tinyurl.com/kjqd7jn). As this book describes, early cyclists faced challenges besides poor roads. Carriage drivers used horsewhips on cyclists daring to pass them, and children enjoyed poking a stick through a bicycle’s spokes, causing a “header” over the handlebars.

Today’s cyclists still face numerous challenges. Increasing motor vehicle usage was accompanied by discriminatory bicycle-related laws. Missouri’s mandatory side path law prohibited a bicyclist from using the road when an adjacent usable path was present. It was repealed in 1995, thanks to the efforts of sponsor Sen. Larry Rohrbach of central Missouri.

Michael Hoeferkamp

The Missouri Bicycle Federation assisted by contacting legislators and presenting testimony showing why bicyclists are compatible users of the roadways. Michael Hoeferkamp, a cyclist and attorney working in Missouri Senate Research in the state Capitol, drafted the legislation, assisted by other board members.

Missouri’s remaining major discriminatory law is the “Far To the Right” law, which requires cyclists to stay as far right as practicable (or safe), with some exceptions. My own city of Ferguson took the lead on this issue by repealing it in 2012, but disappointingly, so far no other municipalities or the state has followed suit.

Bicycling made the front page of the Post-Dispatch on April 28 in a story by reporter Mark Schlinkmann. The story was titled “Can bicyclists coexist with trolley rails? University City will study several options, including a bicycle ban.Sinan Alpaslan, University City’s public works and parks director, was quoted as saying that “a ban on bikes in the Loop was among various ideas his staff would examine.”

Joe Edwards with model tram

Ralph Pfremmer, Trailnet

The suggestion of a ban generated significant opposition, according to the story, including from Joe Edwards, the Delmar Loop entrepreneur who proposed the trolley and now heads a commission that helps oversee it, and Ralph Pfremmer, Trailnet’s chief executive officer, a local bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group.

As a bicycle commuter since 1970, and League of American Bicyclists cycling instructor since 1997, I was concerned by this proposal from the start because of the real crash risk posed by embedded trolley rails, and communicated my concerns early in 2015 to Loop Trolley personnel. Although I received polite replies, my concerns were not resolved. If your bicycle wheel gets caught in a trolley rail line it will result in an instant crash because one cannot steer from side to side to maintain balance. John Forester, the father of modern bicycling science and best practices, called this a “diversionary type fall.”

A potential solution was Alpaslan’s suggestion in the story of applying a rubberized substance in the gap in the rails.

If it works this may be the answer. Prohibiting bicyclists from this important public thoroughfare is not.

Martin Pion of Ferguson is a scientist and cycle commuter,
and a certified League of American Bicyclists cycling instructor.

Prepared and first posted Wednesday, July 16, 2003,
by Martin Pion, Conservion – Think Bicycling!
6 Manor Lane, Ferguson, Missouri 63135.
tel: 314/524-8029 fax: 314/524-8129

[Given the length of time that has elapsed from the original post in 2003 until the current date, March 17th, 2017, some information is now obsolete, particularly contact information and listed organizations. Some notes have been added where appropriate.]

Susie Stephens

Table of Contents

Anniversary update
Introduction
Donations in Memory of Susie Stephens
Links to Tributes
What Happened, According To The Police Report
Current Status of Police Investigation
Current Status of Charges Against Driver
What Can YOU Do?
Motor Vehicle Injury and Fatality Statistics for St. Louis City

Anniversary update

On February 27, 2003, St. Louis City Counsellor Mr. John Bouhasin* sent a brief response to a fax requesting information on the current status of proceedings in traffic court against Michael W. Wamble, the charter bus driver charged in the death of Susie Stephens. Mr. Bouhasin wrote that Wamble: “pled guilty. paid minimum fine $500.

According to an attorney for the family, Wamble’s guilty plea helped Susie’s family reach a resolution of the civil suit with the other parties involved. With the case behind them, there is a degree of closure, allowing the family to move forward and continue to the extent they can the work that Susie was doing. The attorney added: “She was an amazing person and since (her death) IÕve learned what an incredible person she was and what a terrible, terrible loss this is.”

*Tel: 314/622-4566; fax: 314/613-3183; e-mail: bouhasinj@stlouiscity.com.

Introduction

There has been considerable local interest in the tragic death of Susie Stephens who was known personally to several individuals who are active cycling advocates. I don’t believe I ever met Susie but it is obvious from the various tributes posted on the web that she was a warm, outgoing, energetic person who touched many lives for the better, and her loss is deeply felt.

The purpose of this site is to provide details of what actually happened that day in the hope of helping to ensure justice prevails in what appears to have been an avoidable fatality. I would like to acknowledge help with the initial review of the scene of the crash from Mike Murray, a keen bicycling advocate and road racer, and chair of the state Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee of which I’m currently vice-chair.

My personal view is that this is not being prosecuted forcefully enough. A municipal traffic court, at which a judge deals with traffic tickets and minor traffic offenses, is not the right venue when it involves the death of a pedestrian in a crosswalk returning to a hotel and being run over from behind by a bus. City Attorney Jennifer Joyce should take a leaf out of St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Jim McCullough’s book: several years ago his office charged the driver of a motor vehicle with involuntary manslaughter after running into a cyclist from behind and killing him. There were no witnesses at the crash scene and no alcohol or drugs involved, but this charge was brought based on the material evidence at the scene. There appears to be more than enough factual evidence to bring a similar charge in this case.

Donations/Contributions in Memory of Susie Stephens

Members of the family suggest that donations be made in her name to one of the following organizations: Bicycle Alliance of Washington, Methow Conservancy, and the Thunderhead Alliance (now known as the Alliance for Biking & Walking.)

In addition, Susie Stephens’ father, Bob, has just written advising me of the establishment of The Susie J. Stephens Foundation, P.O. Box 18853, Spokane, WA 18853. Bob can be contacted at secrets@iGlide.net. [Note: This e-mail is no longer correct, as of March 17th, 2017. There is reference to a Susie Stephens Scholarship Fund here though: http://www.apbp.org/?page=Susie_Stephens]

Links to Tributes

Listed below are several organizations of which I’m aware remembering Susie. If you have a link you would like added please e-mail me.

St. Louis Critical Mass, St. Louis, MO
Methow Conservancy, Winthrop, WA
The Thunderhead Alliance, Washington, DC
Bike Belong, Washington, DC
Bicycle Alliance of Washington

[Please note that the above contains some obsolete listings, as of March 17th, 2017.]

What Happened, According To The Police Report

The police report contains the following detailed drawing of the crash site (204K), showing the probable track of the right front tire of the bus as it approached the front of the Adams Mark Hotel “consistent with tire print and roadway scrape” marks. It also identifies with a solid line “scrape mark on roadway made by victim’s metal buckle.” Where Susie came to rest is also indicated as under the rear right wheels of the bus. Finally, witness “Ortiz,” waiting in her car at the red light while the bus was turning in front of her, is also noted. susie_police_dwgPolice report drawing

Views of the crosswalk are shown below looking east down Fourth Street towards the hotel on the left. This would have been Susie’s view as she was waiting to cross back to the hotel on her return from Kinko’s where she had gone to make copies for the conference she was helping organize, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service.

In the first photo both the traffic signal and pedestrian crossing signal are red. The second view shows the signals after they’ve changed to green and white respectively, indicating that both vehicles and pedestrians may cross. These lights change from stop to go simultaneously. (The south leg of The Gateway Arch is just visible on the right in this photo.) A yellow topped fire hydrant is just to the left of the ramp leading to the crosswalk.

4th_stop_xwalk_E1ai

Left turn signal and ped. signal both red at 4th St. xwalk

4th_go_xwalkcar_E1a

Left-turn signal green and ped. xg. signal simultaneously white

The first view below is looking west from the corner of the hotel along Fourth Street. Note the taxi rank occupying the lane nearest the right hand curb on the north side of the street, which causes vehicles turning left onto Chestnut to go in a wide arc. The second view is from the corner adjoining the fire hydrant towards the front entrance of the Adams Mark Hotel which was the final destination of both the bus driver and Susie.

4th_go_xwalkcar2a_W

Looking west from corner of Adams Mark Hotel

viewtohotel0489

View from corner fire hydrant towards the front entrance of the Adams Mark Hotel

The final view below is from the front of the hotel looking southwest towards the intersection of Fourth Street and Chestnut Street and the corner from which Susie would have stepped off on her return to the hotel. In the foreground are faintly visible in the photo red marks painted on the pavement showing the location of the front wheels and axle of the bus after it had stopped.

viewfromhotel0488

Looking S-W towards the xn of Fourth St. and Chestnut St.

susieroute

Police Officer Carl Fortner of the St. Louis Police Department, assisted by P.O. Kevin Mueller, apparently prepared the Incident Report. The following summary precedes the details of the investigation into what the report describes as a case of suspected involuntary manslaughter.

SUMMARY: Victim Stephens was crossing North 4th St at Chestnut when she was struck by a charter bus, owned by the Vandalia Bus Company, that was making a left turn onto North 4th Street from Chestnut. The victim apparently was knocked to the pavement and was subsequently run over by the rear wheels of the bus.

The report contains the following account of an interview by P.O. Fortner of Michael W. Wamble, the driver of the chartered bus:

I then proceeded to interview the bus driver, Michael W., about the accident. Michael W. advised me that he is employed by the Vandalia bus line Company as a bus driver and that he has been so employed for about a year and a half. Driver, Michael W. stated that his job was to pick up and convey guests to and from the Adam’s Mark Hotel to the America’s Convention Center where a convention was being held.

Michael W. stated he was returning to the Adam’s Mark Hotel to pick up guests who were on their way to the Convention Center. As he approached 4th St. on Chestnut, the traffic signal turned red and he stopped at the light. His bus was in the second lane from the left at the crosswalk. Upon the traffic signal cycling to green he indicated that he looked to see if any pedestrians were crossing the street. Not seeing anyone he looked to see if the northbound 4th St. traffic had stopped at the traffic light at Chestnut.

He then proceeded in making his left turn, when the top of a persons head suddenly appeared just to the left of the front center portion of the bus, just below the bottom of the windshield. Michael W. stated that he never saw (that) the person until then and didn’t know where the pedestrian came from. Further stating the person must have been crossing the street and was so close that he was unable to stop the bus before striking the person. Michael W. couldn’t say which way the person was walking, if the person was in the crosswalk or if the person was a male or a female. [my emphasis added]

The report goes on to describe an interview with motorist Sara Ortiz who was stopped on Chestnut Street at the signal when the bus turned in front of her. The report states in part:

….she wasn’t really paying attention to what was going on around her, as she was just sitting at the light as she often does when going to work. Further that after she stopped her car she caught a glimpse of a bus coming off of Chestnut and that it appeared to be making a wide left turn onto 4th St. Ms. Ortiz further states she thought she saw a woman on the right side of the bus 10′ to 15′ from the curb by the hotel. At first she thought the lady was walking west across the street but then realized she was on the ground. Ms. ortiz states she didn’t see the bus knock the lady to the ground, but she is certain that she saw both sets of back wheels run over the lady. However, she was not certain if the pedestrian was in or near the crosswalk or which way the lady was going since she didn’t see her walking. [my emphasis added]

When asked if she saw the woman in front of the bus at anytime, she indicated that she believes the first time she saw her she was on the right side of the bus. Again indicating she wasn’t paying that close of attention to what other people were doing around her.

When asked if she heard anyone say anything immediately after the accident, she informed me she heard a middle aged white male say “I can’t believe that, I was walking right by her when it happened.” She wasn’t certain if the man meant he was walking in front or behind her or if he had just passed her. [my emphasis added]

He was described as a white male, middle aged, slightly overweight, having sandy or blonde hair and a mustache. She wasn’t sure of the clothing the man was wearing but didn’t believe he was wearing a suit or uniform.

The man mentioned by Ms. Ortiz, who was apparently walking near Susie when she was struck, has not been identified. The report mentions that the driver submitted a blood and urine sample for a substance abuse check. No signs of alcohol use by the driver were detected during his interview by police, and “his actions, speech and breath appeared normal.”

Current Status of Police Investigation

The police report was completed prior to April 1. While the police report runs to no less than 23 pages and appears to be very thorough it has a significant omission: there is no reference to a witness at the scene who was unloading a delivery vehicle in front of the Adams Mark Hotel at the time of the accident . He was not interviewed by police before the report was released but has been interviewed by the family’s attorney and could be an important witness to events surrounding the accident. It is possible that this witness’s statement will be added later. When City Conselor, Mr. John Bouhasin, was asked if the investigation was complete he responded that he could not comment, which is apparently the routine answer.

Lt. Michael Siemers (tel: 314/444-5700, e-mail: mjsiemers@slmpd.org), in the crash reconstruction department, advised me he had tried to contact the missing witness and had even provided a 24-hour beeper number, but has never received a call back. He added that his department uses the terminology “crash” rather than “accident” to describe this kind of event, even though as in this case there was no apparent damage to the bus. However, both the public and media still tend to use the latter term, which is sometimes construed to mean it was an unavoidable event.

Current Status of Charges Against Driver

St. Louis City Assistant Circuit Attorney, Mr. Robert Craddick (tel: 314/[622-4941) was good enough to provide the following information. He said he was asked by the police department to review the evidence within 24 hours of the accident, a charge of involuntary manslaughter being possible if alcohol or illegal drugs were found to be involved. The suspect agreed to a blood and urine test on the day of the accident, March 21. The police report doesn’t mention the results of those tests but it is understood they were negative and no further action was taken by Mr. Craddick.

City Counselor Mr. John Bouhasin (tel: 314/622-4566; fax: 314/613-3183; e-mail: bouhasinj@stlouiscity.com) kindly provided the following information concerning the disposition of charges against the driver:

The suspect, Michael W.Wamble, 46 years old, has been charged with failing to yield to a pedestrian and is due to appear in municipal court before a judge on May 28 at 3:00 pm. The location is courtroom 4, 2nd floor, 1430 Olive.

Mr. Wamble will be asked to plead guilty or not guilty. If he pleads not guilty there will be a trial. If he pleads guilty then the possible punishment at the judge’s discretion is $0-$500, or 0-90 days in jail, or both. Other charges could be brought but it is not clear at this time if any will be brought.

Bill Howells, vice-chair, St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation and I attended the above hearing. Also present were lawyers for the family which is considering a civil suit: Mr. Jason M. Whalen, attorney with Eisenhower & Carlson, PLLC, 1201 Pacific Avenue, Suite 1200, Tacoma, WA 98402. (tel: 253/572-4500; fax: 253/272-5732; e-mail: jwhalen@eisenhowerlaw.com), assisted by local attorney Mr. James Dowd of Dowd & Dowd PC, Bank of America Tower, 100 N Broadway, St Louis, MO 63102 (tel: 314/621-2500; fax: ; e-mail: jdowd@dowdlaw.net).

Covering the hearing from the media were reporter Mr. Tim Bryant from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (tel: , and reporter Mr. Mike O’Connell from CBS-KMOV Channel 4 News (tel: 314/444-6353; fax: 314/621-4775; e-mail: moconnell@kmov.com).

Surprisingly, the defendant was not present, and his attorney admitted he had not read the police report yet. Despite that the defendant’s attorney said his client would plead not guilty since there were no witnesses, a statement disputed by both the family’s civil attorney and the facts in the police report. The upshot was that a “continuance” was obtained, i.e. the hearing was postponed until Thursday, July 18 at the same time and venue.

What Can YOU Do?

If you feel the driver deserved a more serious citation, e.g. for assault or involuntary manslaughter, call, write or fax Ms. Jennifer Joyce, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney, tel: 314/622-4941; fax: 314/622-3369; 1320 Market St Room 330, St. Louis, MO 63103. Send a copy of your correspondence to the St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation

(Note: I have found Ms. Joyce elusive, having left repeated messages with her office which have gone unanswered, so you may find a written communication more effective.) [After I wrote this a contingent of us from the then St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation met with Ms. Joyce, who stepped down St. Louis Circuit Attorney at the end of 2016.]

On May 15, 2002, The Riverfront Times published a good article by William Stage which can be viewed on the web titled “One False Move.” Write a Letter to the Editor expressing your concern for the levity of the charge against the bus driver and/or other issues you feel need to be addressed. Send it to this e-mail link for feedback on this story.

If you live in the City of St. Louis contact your city alderman. Russ Willis advised me you could find e-mail addresses etc. for them on the web at [updated: http://tinyurl.com/k83ksp7 ]

Motor Vehicle Injury and Fatality Statistics for St. Louis City

The following motor vehicle accident injury and death data for the City of St. Louis were downloaded from the Missouri Department of Health’s web site at http://www.health.state.mo.us/MICA/nojava.html (MICA=Missouri Information for Community Assessment).

Motor Vehicle Traffic Injury Statistics – Motor vehicle accidents for 2000

Total number for year 2000 = 5,755; Rate per 100,000 population = 1,623.4

Pedestrian = 386 (Male = 242; Female = 144); Rate = 110.0
Bicyclist = 77 (Male = 70; Female = 7); Rate = 21.4
Motorcyclist = 67 (Male = 63; Female = 4); Rate = 19.0
Car/Truck /etc. Occupant = 4,801 (Male = 2,193; Female = 2,608); Rate = 1,352.6

Death Statistics – Motor vehicle accidents for 1998

Total number = 53; Rate per 100,000 population = 15.6

235. Motor vehicle traffic accident involving collision with train = 0
236. Motor vehicle hitting other motor vehicle or object = 25
237. Motor vehicle traffic accident involving collision with pedestrian = 13
238. Motor vehicle traffic accident involving collision with other vehicle or object = 12
239. Motor vehicle traffic accident not involving collision on highway = 2
240. Motor vehicle traffic accident of unspecified nature = 1
241. Motor vehicle nontraffic accidents = 0

N.B. #238 may include deaths resulting from motor vehicle collision with a bicycle but this is not specifically noted.

***********************************
Copyright © Martin Pion <mpion “at” sign swbell.net, Conservion, 2002
The above material may be used freely for non-commercial purposes with attribution to Martin Pion, Conservion.

This excellent PowerPoint presentation was created and given by Karen Karabell on August 20th, 2015, at 4240 Duncan Ave, St. Louis, MO 63110, part of the Cortex Innovation Center in the Central West End. About 25 people attended and afterwards there was a lively discussion, which isn’t recorded here. A presentation transcript with selected screen captures follows the video recording below.

Description: Karen Karabell is a dedicated, enthusiastic, and motivated CyclingSavvy instructor in St. Louis, Missouri. On August 20th, 2015 she gave this enlightening half hour slide presentation at the Cortex Innovation Community, near her home.
Karen shows how our public roads were not built for cars but for travel, in the early 1900s primarily by horse and bicycle, and only later dominated by motor vehicles.
While her focus is on bicycle transportation, she is not anti-car, arguing that her choice to drive a car or a bike on any given day shouldn’t change how she is viewed by other road users. Nor how she herself prefers to use the road.
“People will choose bicycling when they feel expected and respected as a normal part of traffic,” Karen says.
Karen, and people like her, are already doing so.
A relevant peer-reviewed paper, “Promoting Equality through Bicycling Education in the U.S.,” published in January 2016 in the Institute of Transportation Engineers Journal, can be viewed and/or downloaded here: thinkbicyclingblog.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/promoting-equality-through-bicycling-education.pdf
Note: Most of the presentation slides are the work of gifted graphic designer and experienced cycling educator, Keri Caffrey, of Orlando, Florida. She and Mighk Wilson co-founded CyclingSavvy in 2010, now a key part of the nationwide American Bicycling Education Association, on-line at abea.bike, which became a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) in 2015

Transcript of Karen Karabell’s bike ed PPT presentation on 2015-08-20, with elapsed time noted at intervals below.

Karen Karabell at the lectern, after welcoming the audience, introduces the subject with an opening slide on the screen behind her:

Thank you for being here. My name is Karen Karabell. I’m a traffic cycling educator, which is a new line of work in the 21st century. I’m here in the spirit of this community: How can I help you to travel safely by bicycle should you so choose. And if not, to increase your understanding of the dynamics at play today on our public roadways.

I want to start with the context. Our streets are a public way. Without question, our network of roadways is by far our largest public property. Our roads have been used for centuries not only for travel but for socializing, commerce, and play.

I have a question for you? Has the street changed, or have our beliefs changed? There are still people alive today who remember when motor vehicles were a strictly regulated minority in the interests of public safety. It wasn’t until the 1930s and 1940s, and more so in the ‘50s and ‘60s, that motor vehicles became ubiquitous, pretty much overtaking our public roadways. This is less than 100 years.

I want to talk a bit about the U.S. traffic system. The U.S. traffic system is a marvel of elegance and simplicity. It’s deeply ingrained in all of us. For example: we know to stop on red, go on green. The U.S. traffic system is very safe, not perfect, we have a long way to go to reach Vision Zero: zero fatalities. But the U.S. traffic system is very safe. You know this if you’ve ever lived in what shall remain unnamed a number of other countries on the planet. One thing you observe when you come back here is: driving in the United States is boring! Boring is good, right? Boring is safe, when you’re talking about transportation.

What most people don’t know is that the U.S. traffic system was created before motor vehicles were common. 3:02 min.

brief-history-of-the-road

Brief History of the Road

This is what our streets looked like when our traffic system was created.

dominant-vehicles-newcomers-in-1900-slsh

Dominant vehicles & newcomers in 1900

This is what vehicles looked like when our traffic system was created.
Does anybody know what a “scorcher” is?

the-scorcher-crop-slsh

The Scorcher!

Scorchers! They were stereotypically young men who rode their bicycles at breakneck speeds with reckless disregard for everyone else. At the turn of the 20th century scorchers, among others, were causing chaos and a lot of crashes on the roads and it led to a public outcry that somebody needs to do something!

William Phelps Eno was a New York city businessman. The Institute of Transportation Engineers – whose new president, by the way, was just elected [and] is from St. Louis – is an international organization of scientific and educational association of transportation professionals. The Institute of Transportation Engineers made this man its first honorary member. Eno is called the father of traffic safety because he invented pretty much everything that we take for granted today in our public roadways. For example, Eno invented the stop sign, the one-way street, the pedestrian crosswalk, the traffic circle. He created the world’s first traffic plans for the city of New York in 1903. He also created the traffic plans for Paris, Brussels, and many other cities around the planet. He invented drivers licenses, and he invented license plates for automobiles. What is one thing the father of traffic safety never did?
He never drove a car. He never learned how to drive. He died in 1945 [and] never learned how to drive.

People who say that our rules of the road are for cars are just wrong. The rules of the road are not based on speed, they’re not based on size, they are based on another S word. Does anybody know what that is? Safety! Can anyone tell me why we have our rules of the road? The rules of the road are designed to keep a bunch of independent moving parts from crashing into one another.

rules-of-movement-1-slsh

Rules of Movement

Perhaps the most important thing Eno did was apply the rules of movement to our public roadways. He didn’t invent this but he applied these ideas to the roads: drive on the right, pass on the left; use destination positioning; first-come, first-served. We’re gonna talk more about this. Yield before making lateral moves. You yield before entering a road where others have the right-of-way. 6:28 min.

Listen! [Emphasizing with arms.] If this is news to any of you, I am not driving home with you tonight! [Chuckles from audience.]

What does first-come first-served mean? If you’re first you have the right-of-way. Let’s see what this looks like.

[Animated graphic showing bicyclist being passed by motorists who then queue at a stop sign. The bicyclist then passes them on the right until she reaches the intersection.]

I hear some of you laughing. I have a question for you: Who else has the right of way? How about all those motorists who safely passed her, and now she’s going to make them all pass her again?! It is very bad form to make a motorist pass you twice.
[Pointing to her husband, Harold.]
My husband is laughing. [Karen pointing to two in the audience while laughing: “You’re right, you’re wrong.”]
I’m only going to talk for about half an hour then the rest is for Q and A.

My husband pointed out: “You know, bad form is actually the least of her worries,” but we’re not going into the weeds right now. The point is, respect goes both ways, right? Cooperation and courtesy are the hallmarks of the U.S. transportation system.

So I hope that at least one of you by now is saying: This is all well and good. I get it. We are equal on our public roadways. We are most definitely not the same. [Emphasizing with arms.]

No question. Not the same.
Middle-aged woman on bicycle! [Placing both hands on chest below neck to indicate herself.
Gesturing to imaginary person to her left and waving to him.] Cute guy in Hummer!
Yeah, not the same, not the same, that’s for sure!

We have a new way of thinking about cyclist behavior. Before I talk about this I want to make three points:

The first is that the father of traffic safety moved pedestrians out of the street. He moved pedestrians onto sidewalks because pedestrians have different operating characteristics than drivers.

Point number two: Motorists have pretty standard operating characteristics compared to bicyclists. Motorists are big, and motorists are fast.

The third point is that the father of traffic safety defined who a driver is more than 100 years ago. We still use that same definition today in all 50 states. Cyclists are drivers because our operating characteristics are most similar to others who use wheels to get around. But on this behavior spectrum, which is a new way of thinking about cyclist behavior, we are the only ones who can exhibit a variety of behaviors.

cycling-behavior-spectrum-slsh

Cycling Behavior Spectrum 10:14 min.

We have what we call driver behavior, which you can see is driving your bicycle in the road like other drivers drive their vehicles. Edge behavior is riding on the edge of the road; we going to talk more about this. Pedestrian behavior is what? In Missouri “Pedestrian behavior” is illegal in business districts; not illegal in other areas.

Pedestrian behavior, riding on the sidewalks, is actually by far the most dangerous kind of behavior because motorists aren’t expecting fast-moving objects piloted by people on sidewalks. 11:00 min.

So I want to talk a little bit more about edge behavior now the you’re familiar with this concept. When you’re out, observe where most cyclists ride. They ride on the edge of the road. I think you’ll notice that’s your observation. On the face of it there are two good reasons for this: one is courtesy – nobody wants to be in the way. The other is fear. Cute hummer dude is texting on his cell phone now and he might not see me. I’m gonna get on the edge of the road!

So, what we discovered, as traffic cycling educators, is that safety as a cyclist is a product of your behavior. And your behavior influences your worldview and the stories that you tell. If you ride on the edge of the road you likely have a number of dumb motorist stories.

Here’s a common one from a cyclist point of view. The cyclist says: “I’m just riding along and this stupid motorist cuts me off and turns right in front of me!” So, think of this from the motorists point of view. The motorist probably says about that cyclist: “She rode up in my blind spot as I was turning right. I couldn’t see her. I almost hit her.” 12:34 min.

When cyclists are hit you often hear what a tragedy it is for the cyclist and his or her family. You know, motorists have to live with this for the rest of their lives too, and motorists don’t want to hit cyclists. So I want to talk to you about the bike lane that gave birth to CyclingSavvy.

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Edge Conflicts 13:00 min.

CyclingSavvy is new. It’s about five years old now. It was founded by two people. One is a transportation planner; the other is a graphic designer – both of them longtime bicycle commuters. This is Edgewater Drive in Orlando. It’s very similar to our town’s Delmar Loop. A highly desirable street: lots of people want to go there for a lot of reasons. The graphic designer put her office on Edgewater Drive in part because of this bike lane. Then she started using it. I want to tell you her story, but first I want to show you a few seconds in the life of Edgewater Drive. [Shows video clip of cars driving down road with a bike lane alongside curbside parking.]
Where is all the action on this road? Turning off; coming on. Well, it’s on the edge of the road. Where’s the bike lane? On the edge of the road.

So, like most cyclists, Keri, the graphic designer, had her share of dumb motorist stories, yet on this stretch of road she found that her negative interactions with motorists increased exponentially. She even got hit by a car once, though it didn’t change her behavior at the time. But as time went on she grew weary of white knuckle bicycling, like OK, who do I have to watch out for now; who’s going to kill me next. 15:23 min.

I mean, she was at the end of her rope, and she loves bicycling. She didn’t want to give it up, but she was frustrated, she didn’t know what to do. She got online and she Googled “What color can I paint this bike lane so these stupid motorists will see me?” And as will often happen when you’re on the Internet you might end up in a place that you don’t expect to be.
She came across a site run by what she describes as a group of “grumpy old men,” who said: “We never have these problems. Here’s what we do.”
What they do is: They take their place in traffic; they don’t violate other people’s right-of-way; they stop at traffic signals; they practice what we now know is called “driver behavior.” And she’s reading it and it sounds scary to her. But, she’s frustrated and she decides she’s going to try it. So she goes out the next day. And then she does it again the next day. And the day after that. And she feels like she has stepped into an alternate universe. All of those motorists who were so stupid have suddenly become really smart!

It was this epiphany that led to the strategies that are the basis of CyclingSavvy. This bike lane can be useful. We show people how to use it safely. It’s not within the scope of this presentation to discuss that, but CyclingSavvy is all about strategies.

For example, we know that motorists don’t want to be behind cyclists: we call it “Must pass bicyclists syndrome.” In St. Louis this is comical. “Must pass bicyclists syndrome.” I’ll be moving along, motorist comes up behind me, goes around me, stops at the red light, I pull up right behind him. But that’s okay: “Must pass bicyclists.” You know, honestly, I don’t want motorists behind me, not for any length of time. I wear a helmet because of the excellent mirror that’s attached to it. It’s really easy to see with this mirror what’s happening behind me. You know, if it’s safe I’ll wave motorists around and they’re so grateful: they’ll always give me a full lane change. 18:01 min.

Another thing we hear from people is: “I’d like to try bicycling but I don’t wanna use …” fill in the scary road of your choice. And this is a real issue. We have tons of preferred routes all bisected by big arterial roads: Kingshighway, Hampton, Hanley, Brentwood, Olive, Page. I mean, you know: Name your road. “I don’t want to ride on that road.” So we teach people how to get intimidating roads all to themselves for the short amount of time they need to connect to their preferred routes. There is nothing scary about empty pavement. That’s me on empty pavement three years ago with longer hair in a suburb of Detroit.

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Karen lane-control on empty road 19:00 min.

[Pointing to slide: Cyclist in pink shirt hauling trailer on empty 4-lane plus CTO lane road.]

My husband wanted to go to Detroit that summer to celebrate his birthday by riding his bicycle around the motor city.
[Karen put hands on hips to imply this was an in-your-face intention on his part.; then pointing to slide] I’m towing the suitcases in which we pack our bicycles. By the way, folders fly free on Southwest.

[Positive response of appreciative “Ohs” from audience.]

So we get to the Detroit airport on a Sunday morning and you can’t take public transit downtown on a Sunday: it’s impossible. And we didn’t even really consider a cab because it’s expensive: thirty miles is an expensive ride. And we had all day, so we decided to ride! And when we left the airport we stopped at a gas station, like all good Americans, and we got drinks and a map, and we asked a local how should we go downtown? And the guy said, “Oh, no problem, take Eureka.” That’s sort of like saying to someone who comes to Lambert Airport in St. Louis with their folding bicycle, “I need to go to South County mall. What route should I take?” “Oh no problem, take Lindbergh.”

And really, as it turns out, it was no problem. We had this road to ourselves at least half the time we were on it. The motorists who encountered us on these emptier stretches saw us from so far away they didn’t even take their feet off the gas to change lanes to pass. But we weren’t using Eureka to connect to a quiet route of which we had no knowledge. We were going all the way downtown. And if you’re on the road like this for any period of time you will encounter traffic, especially in an area where a lot of people want to be. Think Lindbergh and Lemay South County mall. And actually we were in Taylor, Michigan, a suburb and there’s this big shopping mall at this intersection. And we’re in traffic with everyone else, and somebody honks at us, and another person curses at us. And we never escalate: we always wave back with all five fingers. You want them to keep their bad karma all to themselves. As it turned out, in this shopping mall we had a place we wanted to go too. So we pulled into the parking lot and a police officer pulls in right behind us.

Slide: Stopped police car & Karen standing alongside [please see below]

They’ve called the police on us! I think she said: “I received two calls saying you are impeding traffic.” I said: “Officer, we are traffic.” And she said: “Well, they were afraid they’re going to hurt you.”

I’ve been riding my bicycle for decades. I promise you I know when somebody is using his or her weapon as a terrorist device. I mean, never once did my husband and I feel like we were in any danger. You know, we’re just in traffic like everyone else. All it was is bigotry. You know, it’s prejudice against bicyclists on the road. It’s like: “How dare you ride your bicycle on this road!” I would like to propose a 21st Century response when people call 911 on bicyclists who are using the road. 23:00 min.

[Karen, pretending to be police dispatcher speaking into telephone to motorist.]

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“Please hang up and DRIVE” 23:37 min.

Police Dispatcher: “911. What’s your emergency?”
Motorist: “Officer, there’s a bicyclist on the road!”
PD: “A bicyclist on the road ma’am. Is the bicyclist riding on the road?”
M: “Yes!
PD: “Oh, that’s good. Ma’am, do you not know how to change lanes to pass?”
M: “Excuse me!
PD: “Ma’am, do you not know that bicyclists are the reason we have paved roads in America?”
M: “What…”
PD: “Ma’am, will you please hang up your cell phone and drive?!”

[Chuckles from audience.]

So, the officer was very kind. She knew we were tourists; she didn’t want to alienate us. She said “You can’t use Eureka. Go over and use this big road that doesn’t have a shopping center on it; you’ll be fine.” And she was right. Not only were we fine, we had the time of our lives. I promise, you will never enjoy a city as you can from the seat of your bicycle.

My husband likes to take lots of photos and we took our time stopping all along the way. But the day was wearing on and I wanted to get to the hotel and soak in a bathtub. So I’m nagging: let’s go, let’s go! But I had to stop and take this photo. We were crossing a pedestrian overpass and I said “Gotta stop!” [Photo shows very congested road below.]

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Traffic on Michigan 10 24:33 mins.

I took this photo because I wondered: Did any of those people call the police on their fellow road users?!

[Chuckles from audience.]

Sunday afternoon on the Michigan 10 in Detroit.

I want to finish this presentation by answering the three questions that comprise the description of it.

The first question is: How do we turn the perceived disadvantages of bicycling on the road into strengths?

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Exposed & Slow

The disadvantages are that we’re slow. I promise you that even Lance Armstrong is slower than every motorist out there. We’re exposed. We don’t have steel around us. We don’t have air bags. But I want to ask you, can you think of what might be the advantages of being exposed and slow?

[Waving arms and inviting audience to respond.]

Come on. Tell me the advantages.
(Incomprehensible: “.. you can stop sooner.” (sic))
“You’re less of a threat to others than you are in a car.”
“You’re providing a good example for the children that are inside the car that are looking at the bicyclists.”
Eli Karabell: “Severe awareness of your surroundings.”

26:23 min. [Eli continued for about 40 secs. until Karen intervened at 27:12 min.]

So the point you made and elaborated on: My son was coming home late at night that night, but no matter how tired you are you’re alert when you’re on your bicycle. You’re not going to fall asleep riding your bicycle, so you’re alert.

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The Advantages 26:23 min.

Let’s see what else there is: No blind spots. You know, motorists have blind spots. Bicyclists have 360° situational awareness. Can stop quicker; better reaction time. The one thing that’s not on this list is that motorists tend to operate conscientiously around us when were on the road. It’s simply our job to be visible and predictable, so that we’re easy to see.

We also, in CyclingSavvy, help people understand what causes crashes so they can avoid them.

And before I show you this I want to ask. A show of hands please: how many of you have been in a crash on your bicycle all by yourself, nobody else was involved, and your bike went “Oops!”

Slide: Common Crash Types 27:29 mins.

[Missed roughly a minute during battery exchange.]

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Comparing believed safe vs believed rude 27:43 mins.

This is why we teach safe traffic cycling. What? What is it? News flash: It is not necessary to punish motorists to encourage bicycling.
Can bicycling become an everyday alternative to motoring?

So, the 21st century transportation revolution is well underway. I don’t know whether it includes bicycling or not. If you are transportation professional there is so much happening, your head is spinning on some days. For example: driverless cars. What will Uber and its cohorts mean for transportation? Transit apps. A real-time transit info. on my smart phone has already changed my life. All kinds of things going on. Still, in this country it is so easy to be a motorist in most parts of the nation and it is not cost-prohibitive. So your crystal ball is as good as mine.

I know two things:

Only bicycling offers the freedom of mobility to individual destinations in the way that motoring does, from point A to point B. Bicycling might be superior because I don’t have to find a parking place for my ride.

[Pointing to bike folded up neatly on the floor.]

The other thing I know is this. If we want bicycling to become normal we will no longer have bicyclists. I don’t go into my garage on any given day and [while pointing first right and then left] look at my car, and look at my bike and say: Gee, will I be normal today and use my car? Or will I be a bicyclist?

[Gesturing to herself with both hands]

I am not an “ist.” I’m a human being trying to go somewhere like everyone else. I know how to be a first-class citizen, whether I’m using my bicycle or my car. But because I know this, I choose the vehicle that best serves that day’s transportation needs, and more often than not it’s my bicycle, because I don’t need my two ton land missile to go most of the places that I go. 30:23 min.

[Slide changes from Karen with trailer to i am traffic with mother and child giving R turn signals while controlling the curb lane.]

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i am traffic slide

So, in CyclingSavvy we solicit feedback from our participants. We send out a survey when they register before they’ve taken CyclingSavvy. After they’ve been through a workshop we send them another survey. We want feedback to hear about their experiences; to improve what we do.

We hear two things consistently from almost every student: the first thing is, CyclingSavvy has made me a better motorist. And the second thing we hear is: I’m more likely to use my bicycle instead of my car! [Karen throws both arms up in the air in triumph.]

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Karen Karabell

People will choose bicycling when they know where the dangers are and are not. When they are encouraged to acquire the knowledge and skill to operate safely no matter where they choose to ride. People will choose bicycling when they feel expected and respected as a normal part of traffic. Thank you!

[Accompanied by a little bow, with hands together like a supplicant, followed by audience clapping.] 31:45 min.BR>

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Carl Icahn photo

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Carl Icahn 2016

Carl Icahn was featured in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial (Monday, December 26th, 2016) after he was tapped to advise president-elect Donald Trump on regulatory reform. I suspect that anything he proposes will be directly for his own benefit. He stripped TWA (Trans World Airlines) of it’s most valuable assets for his personal gain and helped to drive it into the ground. The St. Louis Magazine recounted its demise in a July 28th, 2006, story by Elaine X. Grant, which includes the following observation:

“Ask any ex-staffer what went wrong with the airline, and you’ll get one answer: Carl Icahn, the corporate raider who took over TWA in 1985 and systematically stripped it of its assets.”

The story suggests it’s more complicated than that, and perhaps it is, but I believe Icahn played a major role in TWA’s eventual demise.

I could fly by TWA directly from Lambert-St. Louis International Airport to London’s Gatwick Airport to visit my late sister Lilian, who then lived about 25 miles south of the airport near the seaside town of Brighton, Sussex. My last flight to Gatwick Airport was in February 2002 at the start of a two week visit to family and friends, bicycling the six miles from my home to Lambert Airport to start my journey. (This followed TWA’s third and final bankruptcy and subsequent absorption by American Airlines.)

Today, there is no direct flight from Lambert-St. Louis International Airport to the London area. In fact, there’s no direct flight to anywhere in Europe from St. Louis anymore, to my knowledge.

Following is the account of my 2002 flight and approximately 30 mile bike ride from Gatwick Airport to my niece in Hextable, Kent, on the very first day of my two week trip, plus an update:

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Photo of official Ordinance Survey map of South East England with pushpins corresponding approximately to the photos below.

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Enlargement of above photo showing locations described in the following account.  The bottom left orange pin marks the start from Gatwick Airport, Sussex. The top right orange pin marks the destination in Hextable, Kent. Intermediate red pins relate to places noted in detail in the text: Horne, Blindley Heath, Oxted, Westerham, Pilgrim’s Way (above Brasted), and Swanley. Numbers 5a and 6a without pins are also referenced below.

Left St. Louis on Sunday, February 17, 2002 at 7:20 pm as scheduled. The female captain of the plane we flew on gave the following somewhat jocular commentary shortly before take-off:

“We’re flying on a Boeing 767-300. Folks, tonight we’re going to depart runway 12-left here in St. Louis. We’re going to be taking off at a takeoff weight of 326,000 lbs. Folks, when we leave the concrete we’re going to be doing 175 mph. Once we get the gear and flaps up we’ll pick the speed up to 280 mph and at 10,000 feet the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) says I can go as fast as we want. We’re going to put the pedal to the metal; cruise on over to London doing approximately 500 mph. I’d like to thank you for flying with us this evening. We certainly appreciate your business here at American. Welcome aboard!”

London-Gatwick Airport, England

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Seven hours and 43 minutes was the estimated time to get to London and we arrived almost precisely on time.

Arrival at London-Gatwick Airport at 9:40 am on Monday, February 18, 2002. Bike unpacked after retrieval from carousel.
(To make the bike as flat as possible the handlebars had to be turned 90 degrees to the frame. The front wheel was also removed and placed alongside before being packed into a heavy-duty oversize plastic bag purchased from American Airlines before the day of the flight.)

I set off at around 10:30 am with some trepidation as regards the roundabouts in the vicinity of the airport, but they turned out to be relatively easy to negotiate with little traffic on them at that time of day. My first stop was Blindley Heath, Surrey, roughly 12 miles from the airport, but I wasn’t able to keep track of the distance because my odometer wasn’t working!

My only real problem was due to following a sign for Blindley Heath at a Y-junction which actually took me through Horne (#1), so that I ended up north of my intended destination instead of south of it, adding maybe a mile to the journey.

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Len/Banisters Bakery 101-015

Banister’s Bakery in Blindley Heath (#2)

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Martin-Banisters crop 101-0154.jpg

I arrived at about 11:45 am at Banister’s Bakery, Blindley Heath, where I was due to meet Len Smith. I was delighted to find Len waiting for me there with his Hetchin bicycle. Unfortunately, I’d kept him waiting for some time, since he’d set off at about 8:15 am and arrived well before me.

Len was nice enough to pose while I took his photo with his bike alongside Banister’s Bakery. Len returned the favor by taking a photo of me. It was sunny with a slight southerly wind and about 50F, according to the thermometer attached to my rear pannier rack. It was warm enough not to need my hood up.

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Lost battery stop in Oxted (#3)

Len heard something fall from his bike bag and we stopped for him to check, which was an opportunity for me to take a bite of an energy bar and drink of water. Len found that his bag had an open pocket and evidently a couple of batteries had fallen out going over a bump. Len walked back up the road but never found them. When asked, Len identified the place as probably Oxted, which was on the way to Westerham.

Tudor Rose cafe, Westerham (#4)

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Tudor Rose cafe 101-157.jpg

A stop for tea and marmalade on toast in Westerham. Warm enough to dine outdoors. Gentleman stops to inquire about Len’s bike, and admire it as a quality vintage Hetchin bicycle. Len told me that this was a popular place for cyclists to stop.

Tudor Rose café/MP 101-157.jpg Westerham

Tudor Rose café/MP 101-157.jpg Westerham

Enjoying the sun and tea outside the Tudor Rose café, with Len taking this picture of me below with my camera.

I didn’t realize it until Len pointed it out but on the green in front of us was a bronze statue of Sir Winston Churchill, which we went over to view.

Winston Churchill’s statue on the green with the Tudor Rose Café in the background. Churchill had lived near here at Chartwell, his country home, now owned by the National Trust and open to the public. The inscription reads “CHURCHILL  1874-1965.” (I found interesting YouTube videos featuring Chartwell after posting this blog.)

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Westerham High St near the Tudor Rose café

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Withington High St 101-0161.jpg with Len posing with bikes

I asked Len to pose with some of the old buildings on the high street as a backdrop before we set off to the right on the road out of town just in front of this nice pedestrian area.

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Part of our journey was along this farm lane, which was fine until we met a tractor coming the other way. The farmer never slowed as we scrambled to flatten ourselves along the wall to get out of his way!

Pilgrim’s Way (#5), which runs along the South Downs above Brasted.

Pilgrims in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (which I had to study for my high school General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level exams in England in 1952) would take this road to Canterbury from London. We saw little motor traffic since this road is now parallel to the M25 motorway (equivalent to a U.S. interstate), which can sometimes be seen in the distance. Len said this road is popular with cyclists, and we did see a few during the ride. In fact, one cyclist passed us going so fast I felt like we were almost standing still.

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LullingstoneSilkFarm 101-0164.jpg

Lullingstone Castle silk farm (#5a)

This was supposed to be a view of Lullingstone Castle silk farm in the distance, with Len kindly posing in the foreground. Unfortunately, although I could see the turreted castle-like house in the distance, in the photo it’s obscured by the hedge! (Lullinsgtone Castle (#5a) appears on the map above, a little below Swanley (#6) and just below the words ROMAN VILLA, but isn’t marked with a pin. The silk farm reportedly closed in 2011.)

At this point we are not too far from Swanley, which is the largest town on our route before our destination in Hextable.

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Sutton at Hone (#6a)

We’re close to our destination in Hextable when we stop here. St. John the Baptist Church of England in Sutton at Hone is visible in the distance, where Len told me later that his son got married. (Sutton at Hone can be seen on the above map just a little east of Hextable, immediately below Hawley.)

The lane on which I’m standing was sealed off following construction of the M25 about 15 years ago. Before he retired, Len mentioned that he and others were allowed to participate in time trial races on the M25 before it was opened to traffic.

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101-0169 Family photo, February 2002
Nicola, James, Kim with Andrew

Arrival at Nicola and Kim’s house: 101-0169

Greeting party in Hextable! Nicola, James, with Andrew on Kim’s shoulders, with my bike just showing behind. In the two previous family photos I took Andrew had been too shy to look at the camera and all I got was the top of his head.

I finally had to pretend I’d finished taking photos to get him to look up! James is approaching his 7th birthday while Andrew had turned 4 years old in November.

Len lives just two doors up the road on the right.”

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Christmas Day 2016 
Andrew, 19 & James, 21

The two young boys are now young men, as shown in this 2016 Christmas Day photo from my Nicola.

A Sad Postscript: 

I learned earlier this year from Nicola that Len Smith had passed away in July, 2016, on his 85th birthday following a short illness. He was buried at St Paul’s Church, Swanley Village.

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Len Smith in February 2002, aged 70

Nicola wrote in part:

“I have some sad news for you about Len. He passed away last Thursday in a hospice. It’s a shock.

He didn’t suffer for long and was riding his bike still until recently. I believe it was stomach cancer.

Anyway, he was kind to our family and a great neighbour. He leaves his wife Betty who will have difficulty managing on her own at home now so not sure what will happen.”

Note: The following OpEd appeared in both the print and on-line versions of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Tuesday, May 17th, 2016.  Other similar OpEds I’ve written that I can recall appeared in the Post-Dispatch in May 2000 and May 20, 2010. The 2010 OpEd was titled Help the planet: Ride a bike. I posted it on this thinkbicyclingblog with this great Earth Day cartoon by then Post-Dispatch editorial cartoonist, R J Matson.

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Matson Earth Day cartoon, April 22, 2009

Bike Month is every month
Safe riding: Educate motorists and cyclists about the best methods to share the road.

Martin Pion headshot polling Place 2010 sh red_5099by Martin Pion

May is National Bike Month, a time to celebrate the most efficient mode of personal transportation ever devised and promote its beneficial societal use year-round.

Recently there has been a resurgence in bicycling, prompting recreational trails development and bicycle lane striping, in which Great Rivers Greenway plays a major role locally. Yet, despite these efforts, less than 1% of Americans choose bicycling for transportation, compared to a European country like Holland (26% of all trips). Part of the problem is that America is car-centric, but in urban and suburban areas, a bicycle is still often an option for shorter trips.

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Dr Andy Cline

Dr. Andrew Cline and I examined this in a peer-reviewed paper titled “Promoting Equality through Bicycling Education in the United States,” published in the January 2016 Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) journal. Of note is that the Dutch stress bicycle education from an early age, and not just constructing bike facilities.

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Mighk Wilson

Mighk Wilson, American Bicycling Education Association (ABEA) executive director, has said that cyclists need to know how to ride safely on-road no matter what transportation engineers design. A unique opportunity to learn more will be ABEA’s Bicycling Education Conference in St. Louis, October 14-16, 2016 (information at abea.bike/programs/iat2).

Maximizing bicyclist safety in the U.S. means, among other things, eliminating laws that discriminate against cyclists, something which my own City of Ferguson was first in Missouri to address. In 2012, Ferguson repealed its ordinance, based on Missouri state law, referred to as the “Far To the Right” law (section 307.190 Riding to the right, required for bicycles and motorized bicycles), which generally required cyclists to ride as far right “as safe.”

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Martin Pion points to a new larger BIKES MAY USE FULL LANE sign in Ferguson

The new Ferguson ordinance now permits a cyclist to control the curb lane on four-lane Florissant Rd., for example, to maximize safety. BIKES MAY USE FULL LANE (BMUFL) signs, and on-road “sharrows” (officially called Shared Lane Markings) alert motorists to this new regulation. (Ferguson Public Works Director, Matt Unrein, approved a larger sign, newly installed in this March 21st, 2016, photo in which I’m pointing to it.)

It may be counter intuitive, but riding far to the right actually increases crash risk, one cause being right turning overtaking motorists. Signage like Ferguson’s encourages lane control and cooperative behavior.

As noted above, bicycle safety education is important, and the nation’s best program is called CyclingSavvy, which Wilson helped to launch.

Karen Karabell head

Karen Karabell

In 2011, St. Louis resident Karen Karabell established a local affiliate called CyclingSavvy St. Louis which offers a comprehensive three session course aimed at teaching the skills and knowledge needed for confident and safe on-road bicycling. GRG provides generous support for classes in St. Louis City and Ferguson (details on-line at tinyurl.com/gpgcutt).

Shawn Leight

Shawn Leight

Some groups advocate primarily for bike facilities while others stress bike education. In early 2015, I was introduced by Karen Karabell to Shawn Leight, a leading local transportation engineer (since elected ITE Vice-President), who expressed a desire to reconcile these two groups by accommodating both. The following examples show how to help achieve this goal:

* How to improve W. Florissant Ave. “Great Streets” Plan. This video, showing the destruction following the shooting death of Michael Brown, recommends adding on-road BMUFL signage and sharrows to a St. Louis County proposal for a separated mixed-use path along this four-lane road in Ferguson and Dellwood.

* New Parking-Separated Bikeway, St. Louis City, 2015. This features a bike ride along downtown Chestnut Street’s new bikeway with a return along four-lane Market Street. The bikeway should be balanced by adding BMUFL signage and sharrows to Market Street. In the video Karabell commented that other drivers may turn in front of you when you are in a bike lane and cyclists should be aware of this.

* Safe Cycling 4 Kids: 10-year-old Theresa shows how. A 10-1/4 year old demonstrates competent traffic cycling in Ferguson after proper instruction in this detailed blog featuring a video.

We should encourage soundly based bike education while alerting motorists and cyclists to the risks inherent in most bike facilities.

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New signboard: 24″ x 24″ top and 24″ by 10″ bottom

This morning Ferguson replaced a small motorist advisory sign at the southern city boundary on S. Florissant Road with a larger more prominent one, as shown in the figure at right. This comes several years after the original sign was installed following approval by then city manager, Mr. John Shaw. Shortly afterwards, Shaw concluded that the sign was too small to be noticed by passing motorists.

Earlier this year the new Assistant City Manager, Mr. Matt Unrein, approved the installation of a larger sign on a trial basis, the sign being obtained by Martin Pion from Missouri Vocational Enterprises in Jefferson City.

I wrote about the original sign in November 2012: New “Bikes May Use Full Lane” signs in Ferguson to aid cyclists, followed by a story by then St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, Paul Hampel: 2012-12-03 P-D: “Ferguson street signs mark safety advance for bicyclists”.

The old Bikes May Use Full Lane (BMUFL) sign was 12″ x 18″, which is also the size of a NO PARKING ANY TIME sign, like the one shown in the photo below taken at the northern city boundary on N. Florissant Rd. The new sign (above) is almost four times the area of the old sign.

BMUFL &amp; bus_red_1270

NO PARKING sign above same size (12″ x 18″) BMUFL sign
on N. Florissant Rd. near the northern Ferguson city boundary

The new high reflectivity replacement sign is in two parts to make it more versatile, the upper signboard being 24″ x 24″ while the lower one is 24″ x 10″. The photos below were taken during removal of the old sign and its replacement by city employees Dennis (on ladder) and Mark, followed by a photo Dennis took of me posing under the new sign.

Preparing to remove old sign

Preparing to remove the old sign

Final adjustment of new signs

Final adjustments to new signs near the southern city boundary. Looking north along S. Florissant Rd. adjoining the BP gas station at the corner of Woodstock Rd.

Dennis and Mark pose after installation

Dennis and Mark pose after installation

Martin Pion points out new larger BMUFL sign

Martin Pion points to new larger BIKES MAY USE FULL LANE sign
Photo by Dennis B., Ferguson Public Works Dept.

[P.S. As I was heading home following the sign installation I decided to stop by the Ferguson Bicycle Shop and talk to owner Gerry Noll. This meant changing lanes from the curb lane to the inside lane in preparation for a left turn onto Suburban Ave. Merging after a safe gap, a left-turning motorist caught me up and quickly lost patience, gunning his engine to merge right to pass me, then left again only to get stopped at the traffic light ahead.  I caught up with him shortly afterwards and we turned left after being stopped for a few seconds. C’est la vie!]

This is a look back in the (rear-view helmet-mounted Third Eye bicycling) mirror, to when I was tricycling to work at McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co. every workday year-round, starting during a sizzling hot summer in 1980 through mid-1991, when I took early retirement to start a home-based business.

Pion on trike 1987

Martin Pion on his trike outside his home, September 1987
Wayne Crosslin, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

I don’t recall how it came about but St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, Leo Fitzmaurice, ended up doing a story about me which included the photo above of me on my trike outside my home in Ferguson. The story is pasted directly below. I’ve corrected some errors it contained in comments following it.

Please either click the link Cyclist Peddling Safety P-D Mon Sept 7, 1987 to read the story pasted below, or press Cd+ when using a Mac to enlarge this page. Use the back button, top right to return to page.
Cyclist Peddling Safety P-D Mon 1987-09-09 rev-1
Cyclist Peddling Safety P-D Mon 1987-09-09 rev-2
Cyclist Peddling Safety P-D Mon Sept 7, 1987-3 rev

Post-Dispatch Story Corrections & Additions:

  • “Pion … has been a cyclist since childhood.”
    Growing up, I did sometimes bicycle  with friends to such places as parks that were too far away to walk. But I left my bike behind after moving to London when I was 15, and I didn’t resume cycling again until I was around 34 for environmental reasons, when I committed to bicycling to work daily.
  • “In recent years, he has preferred a tricycle because of its greater stability and better traction on pockmarked roads.”
    A three-tracked tricycle is actually inferior to a single-track bicycle on pockmarked roads since it’s harder to dodge potholes, etc.
  • “His blue tricycle, about the weight of a 10-speed bicycle.”
    Having an additional rear wheel and a rear axle does make it heavier than a bicycle. However, since the frame is made from Reynolds thin-walled bicycle tubing, that helps to keep the total weight down to 35 lbs. (That’s before adding the bike tools plus the change of clothes I used to take to work each day in the case on the back.)
  • “The Pions were living in Harlow, England, … when Martin Pion designed the tandem tricycle.”
    It wasn’t my design but one offered by Ken Rogers who built tricycles.
  • “the advantage of brakes on each of the rear wheels – more effective, he says, than brakes on a bicycle’s single wheels.”
    On the tricycle in the photograph, which was originally bought for my wife, the dual braking is all on the front wheel, and is very effective. On a bicycle this arrangement would be dangerous, however, because of the risk of being thrown over the handlebars during heavy braking. That’s never happened on the trike because of the extra weight on the rear wheels.
  • “She (his wife) thought she had silenced me, but I found how to manage it,” Martin Pion said jokingly.”
    That was a reference to a much earlier conversation with my wife, whom I was trying to persuade to start cycling in England. She said if I could find a tricycle for her, she would consider it, and to her surprise I found one advertised in the Exchange & Mart, which is what subsequently led me to choose a tricycle to ride to work too.
  • “A bicycle’s one advantage is turning at a high rate of speed, Pion says.”
    I was referring to the tendency for a tricycle to tip when turning, due to centrifugal force, which has to be countered by physically leaning in the opposite direction. Thus, when turning right one has to also lean right. Clearly bicycles have other advantages as well, one being lower weight, noted above, and narrower overall width, which on my trike is 24″ at the rear.
  • “Pion has had no accidents involving motor vehicles when cycling. One of his three mishaps on a tricycle occurred when he rode down a hill too fast, a second when a dog crossed his path, and a third when he rode on ice-covered Airport Road and overturned.”    
    The first was actually when I was riding down Airport Rd. on my way home from work, shortly  and a motorist was breathing down my neck as I approached a traffic light just beyond the I-170 underpass and started to turn left. Instead, I continued in a straight line as my inside wheel skidded from under me. On a bike I’d have skinned my left leg and arm but the rear axle held me off the ground. Oncoming traffic already stopped at the stop light continued to wait patiently even after the light changed, giving me time to right my trike, collect the front lamp that had flown off, and then cross the road in front of them. From that experience I learned a lesson: try not to allow a motorist to intimidate you or dictate how you behave.
  • “when a dog crossed his path” mentioned above as the second occurrence was actually a Doberman Pinscher which dashed out from a residential front yard and leapt on me as I tricycled past, knocking me over onto one arm, causing bursitis which took months to heal.
  • “when he rode on ice-covered Airport Road and overturned.” wasn’t quite accurate either. After a heavy snowfall I decided to turn right out of McDonnell Douglas instead of left as usual, and that took me over train tracks which, of course, I didn’t detect until finding myself falling over. However, I wasn’t moving very fast and was able to just put a leg on the ground to steady myself and continue once upright again. That particular evening traffic was backed up in both directions and essentially stop and go. I was able to move into the opposite lane on two-lane Frost Ave. in Berkeley when the road was clear, pass platoons of cars, and then merge back in again. Instead of a 30 minute journey it ended up taking well over an hour but I was still much quicker than a colleague who had left earlier than me by car.
  • The last page is titled “Cyclist Lists The Rules For Safety In Riding.”
    Back in 1987, I was still practicing John Forester’s recommendations for lane positioning at intersections: “The rule of thirds,” Forester called it.  Over time, I concluded that it was safer to exercise lane control whenever possible, certainly at intersections and on multi-lane roads.
  • What is cyclist Karen Karabell doing amidst a lot of heavy traffic and slushy snow?!

    Brentwood &amp; Eager 52d0be422b181

    All photos are by St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer
    Robert Cohen <rcohen@post-dispatch.com>

    Scary stuff? It certainly looks like it as Karen Karabell waits on her bike at a stop light signalling a planned left turn from Brentwood Blvd. onto Eager Rd. in St. Louis County.

    PD_photographer_Robert_Cohen_crop red_4841

    Robert Cohen
    Photo: Martin Pion

    Veteran St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer, Robert Cohen, took the above dramatic photo of Karen Karabell on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Cohen and fellow photographer, Jim Forbes, were following Karen by car as she biked from the Clayton Metrolink station on a shopping trip in Brentwood, returning home via the Brentwood Metrolink station.

    When I asked Karen what she was thinking when this photo was taken she replied:

    “I was as calm as could be. Safe traffic cycling skills are often counter-intuitive. While this looks unusual to an untrained eye, using “driver behavior” truly is the safest way for a cyclist to navigate this intersection.”

    The photo, one of several taken along Karen’s route, accompanied a front-page story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch headlined Complete Streets bike-friendly plan hits bumpy road in St. Louis County.

    A recent heavy snowfall made it look challenging but the photo is deceptive, as will be evident from reviewing the entire series of photos below. First, here’s a map showing Karen’s route, followed by the first photo in the series as Karen alights at the Clayton Metrolink station:

    Map Clayton for KK bike ride 2014

    Karen’s bike route from the Clayton Metrolink station to her bank
    and Trader Joe’s, returning via the Brentwood Metrolink station.

    Karen arriving Metrolink on way to bank etc 52d1a40ede98b

    Caption: Central West End resident Karen Karabell arrives at the Clayton Metrolink stop, on her way to do bank and grocery store errands on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014.
    Photo ref: 52d1a40ede98b

    Karen after arriving at Clayton ML en route to bank etc

    Caption: After arriving at the Clayton Metrolink stop, Central West End resident Karen Karabell heads down Central Avenue, en route to bank and grocery errands on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014.           Photo. ref: 52d1a40e41f71

    Karen’s comment:
    “Before we left the Clayton Metrolink station, I stood with Post-Dispatch photographers Robert Cohen and Jim Forbes by Jim’s car parked at the curb on Central Avenue to discuss my route. I explained that I would be turning right onto Shaw Park Drive, [A continuation of Forest Park Pkwy] and then left onto Brentwood Boulevard. My first stop was at BMO Harris Bank. They intended to follow me to the bank, with Jim driving and Robert shooting photographs.

    I got all the way to the bank without them behind me!

    I was surprised, because I thought I had been very clear when describing my route. I parked my bike and went inside to make my deposit. When I came out, they were waiting in the parking lot.

    So much for motor vehicles being more efficient than human-powered vehicles in an urban setting!”

    Karen passing Galleria en route to Trader Joes  52d1a40cce384

    Caption: Central West End resident Karen Karabell passes the Galleria, riding on Brentwood Boulevard en route to a Trader Joe’s shopping trip on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Karabell rode Metrolink from home to the Clayton stop and used her bike the rest of the way.           Photo ref: 52d1a40cce384

    Karen:
    “I am on Brentwood Boulevard, in the right of three travel lanes going south alongside the Galleria. Robert and Jim are keeping pace with me in the middle of the travel lanes. If you look closely, this photo shows me monitoring conditions in my rearview mirror. We have lots of motorists stacked up behind us as we “block” two traffic lanes for Robert to take photos of me! I keep expecting someone to get impatient and start honking, but nobody does. I am amazed, and gratified to again confirm my belief that St. Louis motorists are some of the most courteous on the planet.

    When they are satisfied they have enough photos, Jim and Robert zoom ahead to wait for me to arrive for my left turn onto Eager Road.”

    Karen mentioned to me that she and the Post-Dispatch car were occupying two adjoining lanes going at about 12mph while traffic patiently waited behind. And there was a lot of traffic because this was the first day the road was clear after St. Louis County plowed it.

    Brentwood &amp; Eager 52d0be422b181

    Caption: Central West End resident Karen Karabell makes a turn signal while waiting at a stoplight at Brentwood Boulevard and Eager Road on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Karabell rode to her bank and Trader Joe’s after taking Metrolink from home, getting off at the Clayton stop and biking the rest of the way.       Photo ref: 52d0be422b181

    Above is the photo originally shown at the top of this blog with Karen signaling while waiting at a stop light. I’ve restored the original caption.

    Return via Brentwood Metrolink 52d1a40d9c1e2

    Caption: Central West End resident Karen Karabell hoists her grocery-laden bike to the Brentwood Metrolink stop, heading home after running errands in Clayton and Brentwood on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014.           Photo. ref: 52d1a40d9c1e2

    Karen’s comment:
    “I’m hoisting my bicycle and $100 worth of groceries onto the unshoveled sidewalk to trudge to the Brentwood Metrolink station. “This is the hardest thing I’ve done all day,” I complain to Robert (Cohen).”

    After the story was published Karen wrote to a Post-Dispatch reporter to express her appreciation and discuss bike-related issues:

    Karen Karabell <kkarabell@gmail.com>
    To: Steve Giegerich <SGiegerich@post-dispatch.com>
    Jan 10, 2014 6:26 am

    Subject: After yesterday’s photo shoot, I want to offer 15 more words

    Hi Steve,

    Hilary, your photo editor, chose to follow me on my rounds yesterday. She sent Robert Cohen and Jim Forbes (as photographer & driver) to meet me. Brentwood Boulevard from downtown Clayton to Trader Joes was my main route. As usual, it was a totally uneventful and courteous ride. There was not a hint of incivility from the motorists sharing the road with me (Robert & Jim can confirm). There was one thing special: Those guys turned my ordinary errand-running and shopping trip into especially great fun!

    On the phone Hilary asked me why I was against the Complete Streets ordinance. Our streets are already complete, I responded. This was reaffirmed yesterday—as has been the case on my many thousands of cycling trips. But I never clearly expressed this to you, so want to offer the below 15 words, in the hope that you might find them useful clarification for this side of the story:

    For cyclists, our streets are complete — and a lot easier to use without bike lanes.

    Thanks,

    Karen

    BACK STORY TO KAREN’S BIKE RIDE TO BANK & TRADER JOE’S

    In December 2013, I learned from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of efforts by St. Louis County Council to enact a Complete Streets ordinance. The name “Complete Streets” conjures up rosy pictures of all road users being treated equitably but unfortunately, for cyclists, Complete Streets typically boils down to promoting bike lanes.

    Bike lanes may sound like a good idea, and they have a lot of support from those who view them as encouraging cycling or improving safety. However, my experience is that they complicate car-bike interactions where they’re potentially most dangerous – at intersections – so I’m generally opposed to them.

    Consequently, I decided to speak out against this Complete Streets bill during the public portion of a regularly scheduled weekly meeting of St. Louis County Council on Tuesday, December 3rd, and invited other on-road cyclists to join me. A number did, including Karen Karabell, her husband Harold, and son Eli, all three of them cycling to that first meeting, and numerous meetings following, from their Central West End home. I drove to the Council meeting from Ferguson, accompanied by Nick Kasoff, another experienced on-road cyclist who lives near me.

    Karen is a highly experienced certified CyclingSavvy Instructor (CSI) who runs CyclingSavvy St. Louis, after first becoming certified as a League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructor (LCI) like me.

    I posted all the relevant public comments of that December 3rd, 2013, council meeting here:

    2013-12-03 “Complete Streets” bill attracts public opposition at council meeting

    Note: After posting this blog I received several e-mails with both useful suggestions for additional cold-weather clothing and a hark back to someone else’s cold weather clothing experience. I’ve added that information at the end of my original blog below.

    February 10th, 2016, wasn’t a very inviting day to bicycle to the Whistle Stop in downtown Ferguson, which I often frequent for brunch during weekdays, but I decided to make the trip anyway, since it’s only a little over a mile away down Florissant Rd. However, if there’s one thing I hate it’s getting cold so I dressed warmly, starting with thermal underwear and extra-long wool socks. When I finally arrived at my destination the only thing that was cold were my fingers, having worn lined gloves over my glove liners instead of the mittens I’d taken in reserve, which are more bulky.

    Pion bike 25F day return sh P2100163

    Return home with light snow falling.
    Photo: Joyce Pion

    Pion -60F windchill Feb 81b

    “February 1981. -60F windchill!”
    Photo: Joyce Pion

    It started to snow on my return trip home with the air temperature still hovering around 25F. The windchill temperature when cycling was estimated as ~15F. My wife, Joyce, was good enough to shoot some photos of me in my cycling gear, the one I’ve posted above probably being the best.

    Afterwards I decided to photograph and identify everything I was wearing, something that would have been useful to do in the past when I was still tricycling to work daily at McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co., roughly 4 miles away. That’s something I never did, and the only record I have is another photo taken by my wife on a bitterly cold day when my fingers and toes were getting cold even before I’d covered the 1/4 mile out of our subdivision. That photo is shown above right with my wife’s shadow visible on the snow in the foreground. By the time I arrived at work both my fingers and toes were numb and I thought I’d gotten frostbite. I’ve never cycled in such extreme temperatures since.

    BASE & MID LAYER

    underwear slsh P2100165

    Thermal underwear and underpants

    1. (At left) Duofold “Two-layer fabric” thermal underwear.   USA

    UndershiDuofold_inner_layer_0501sharpenrt and long johns bought many years ago. With perforated inner layer to wick moisture, as shown in the close-up below left.

    2. (Above bottom left) Travel Smith underpants 100% Coolmax polyester.  USAneck warmer_5373

    3. (Right) Neck warmer 100% acrylic (no brand name).  Japan

    4. (Below left) Extra-long socks. (No ID but believed to be wool or wool blend.)

    socks &amp; pants sm slsh P2100166

    5. Performance Technical Wear cycling pants.

    45% Polyester/35% nylon/12% Lycra/8% polyurethane. Back 39% nylon/46% polyester/15% Lycra.  USA

    6. (Below right) LL Bean shirt 100% cotton.  Chinashirt slsh P2100167

     

     

    sweater sm slsh P2100168

     

     

     

    7. (At left) LL Bean sweater 90% wool/10% nylon. USA

    OUTER LAYER

    outwear inc boots red P2100169

    8. (Top left) Bell Image Pro helmet with plastic visor.  USA?

    Third Eye mirror attached to visor.  USA

    9. (Top right) Performance bicycling cap 20% acrylic/80% wool.  Italy

    10. (2nd row) Performance ski mask.
    Shell 70% chloroprene/30% styrene butadiene rubber. Lining 100% polyester.  China

    11. (3rd row left) Polartec glove liners 64% polyester/24% nylon/12% Spandex (Unknown)

    12. (3rd row right) Nashbar gloves – Saucony Thinsulate. Leather palm. Shell leather 100% nylon. Lining 100% polyester.  Sri Lanka

    13. (Above bottom row) Bates Floaters leather boots. Pure wool pile inner.  USA

    outer jacket and mittens slsh red P2100170

    14. Lands’ End outer jacket with attached hood. Shell and taffeta lining both 100% nylon/mesh 100% polyester.  China

     

    15. Spare mittens. Very warm but no material or country of manufacture ID.

    FEEDBACK:

    Harold Karabell, who’s a cold weather bicyclist living in St. Louis’s Central West End, responded: “Indispensable to my own cold weather commute are BarMitts, which provide warmth for my gloved hands that no combination of gloves/mittens/underliners can offer.     Plus inexpensive Uvex safety googles to protect my face and glasses from the wind.” Adding later: “The safety goggles work surprisingly well.
    Without them, I’d be a teary-eyed, frozen mess after only c. one mile of riding into a cold, strong headwind.  … My glasses stay reasonably fog-free, perhaps because I don’t cover my mouth and nose completely.”

    Jason M. wrote: “BarMitts are available for drop bars, and I can attest to their functionality.  A good buy!”

    I’ve added screen shots captured from the above linked pages below:

    BarMitts

    UVEX goggles 

    Former committed St. Louis area bicyclist, Bob Soetebier, (until sustaining major injuries in a solo bike crash) responded: “The coldest temp I ever rode my bicycle in was 0 degrees F…with sun and no wind.  Wore 6 layers of clothes; glove liners, three-fingered gloves and similar over mitts; gaiters and shoe covers with pedal toe covers…even put plastic bags over socks in between; full face mask over a balaclava.  Added some sheets of newspaper between the chest layers, too.”

    Bob later clarified that the six layers of clothes were on his torso with 3 layers on his legs to allow for relative freedom of movement. He also wore vented snow-goggles which, unfortunately, I never discovered during the time I was tricycling daily to work.

    Bob added a link to this post on his own website at the end of his Bicycling section: http://www.bikebob.org/0Bicycling.html.

    This paper appeared in the January 2016 ITE journal, with the first page as shown below, and may be reviewed and/or downloaded by clicking the following live link:

                Promoting Equality through Bicycling Education in the United States

    Promoting Equality through Bicycling Education cover

    Martin Pion headshot polling Place 2010 sh red_5099

    Martin Pion

    Andy Cline head dark sh

    Andy Cline

    The paper was authored jointly by myself (Martin Pion), living in Ferguson, Missouri, and Andy Cline* from Springfield, Missouri.
    *Andy Cline is Associate Professor of Media, Journalism & Film at Missouri State University.

    I received the following e-mail from Marianne Saglam (pron. “salem”), Communications and Media Senior Director at the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, September 23, 2015:

    “Good news, your paper has been accepted to ITE Journal.”

    Finally, ITE had accepted a paper for publication in its prestigious international journal on a different subject to the norm, and probably one unthinkable just a few short years ago. This followed a three-and-a-half year effort and three previous rejections by peer reviewers.

    A draft of this fourth paper was originally submitted for peer review on July 17, 2015. A final updated version after numerous revisions was submitted on Nov. 18th, 2015.

    Three earlier draft papers with somewhat similar themes (except perhaps the first, which directly challenged current orthodoxy) were submitted in September 2012, August 2014, and January 2015, and all were rejected by reviewers. However, in the case of the third submission, two of the four reviewers recommended acceptance if proposed changes were made. This was substantial progress, both previous submissions having been rejected unanimously, the first by five reviewers who all criticized it mercilessly.

    That first draft was started in late February-early March 2012, shortly after I had become a member of ITE, and took six months to complete. I approached the task based on a naive view of what would be acceptable to transportation engineers, the paper being titled:

    Bicycle transportation promotion should focus on age-appropriate bicycle education instead of bike lanes.

    One of the subsequent reviewers commented dryly:

    “If one accepts the premise that there is nothing traffic engineers can do to affect driver or cyclist behaviors, and that education is our only hope for increasing bicyclist safety, than I guess the conclusions are more or less supported.”

    And it’s true that that is pretty much the conclusion I’ve reached after 45 years experience as an on-road transportational bicyclist and, since 1997, with the additional advantage of having taught many others how to ride safely on-road as a certified cycling instructor. (I’ve found that there is nothing like teaching a subject to really learn it well oneself!)

    This certainly wasn’t my view when I first committed to bicycling to work daily at ITT’s Central Research Lab. in England for environmental reasons. Unable to find any good information on how to bicycle safely on-road, I resorted to subjective instinct and became a strong advocate for the partially completed local cycleway system which entirely segregated bicyclists from motorists in many places.

    My views didn’t change much until several years later, after accepting a new job at the former McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co. (now part of Boeing) in the St. Louis area in 1980, following a job transfer to the United States in early 1977.

    John Forestert head 1st CS D2 Feb 2013 DSC00031

    John Forester
    Feb. 2013

    That was when I was first introduced to John Forester’s book Effective Cycling, my first edition being published by MIT Press in 1984. It analyzed the causes of bike crashes and car-bike collisions, and showed how they could be mitigated or avoided with cyclist knowledge and behavior, plus knowing the commonest motorist errors and learning how to respond. Forester combined two different disciplines which uniquely qualified him in reviewing this subject: he was both a Professional Engineer (P.E.) and an M.Sc.

    To me, one of his most revolutionary ideas at the time was the recommendation to exercise lane control when a poor sightline did not provide a clear view of the road ahead, such as a bend or brow of a hill.  I thought this would be pure suicide but I found it worked! On a blind right-hand bend on my way home from work one day I checked behind that I could safely move left, gave a hand signal, and then merged to control the lane and, voila, the motorist arriving behind politely waited until I moved right so that he could pass safely. To me that was a revelation.

    It’s worth noting that, while Forester is best known for  Effective Cycling, intended for the layman, I found his book Bicycle Transportation – A Handbook for Cycling Transportation Engineers to be valuable for the more technically minded.

    Lewiston headshot cleanedup 1988

    Diana Lewiston
    circa 1988

    Another person who has influenced me, and is featured in the ITE published paper, is Diana Lewiston, who originally assisted John Forester and then went on to create her own bike education curriculum which she taught to 13-year-old middle schoolers in Palo Alto, CA, from 1980 thru’ 1991. One novel idea was her use of walkie-talkies attached to bicycle helmets or headbands, enabling her to communicate with students as each navigated a difficult intersection, for example. (Her students were encountering radio interference from baby alarms in nearby homes and I assisted by obtaining and installing a component to change the frequency.)

    Karen Karabell is also featured in this paper. She has become a leader in adult bicycle education locally, promoting a soundly-based program called CyclingSavvy which she first offered in metro St. Louis, Missouri, in April 2011, and which was started several years earlier in Orlando, FL, by Ms. Keri Caffrey and Mike “Mighk” Wilson.

    I’m grateful to Karen for introducing me to Shawn Leight in early 2015. Shawn is a highly regarded and very experienced transportation engineer and Vice President of CBB Transportation Engineers & Planners, who in July 2015 was elected to serve as 2016 ITE International Vice President.  One of Shawn’s goals is bringing together the major factions in the bicycling community who are currently at odds – those who favor bike infrastructure such as bike lanes, and those like me (and Karen) who prefer being treated as equal users of existing public roads – by accommodating all cyclists.

    in his genuine desire to understand all viewpoints, Shawn met Karen & me over lunch in January 2015 for a wide-ranging discussion on bicycling and transportation.

    Shawn, Martin & Karen at The Boathouse Jan. 29, 2015_3858

    Shawn Leight (left), Martin Pion, & Karen Karabell at The Boathouse in
    Forest Park, St. Louis, on Jan. 29th, 2015

    Shawn was very helpful subsequently in critically reviewing several draft papers and providing insightful, detailed and constructive criticisms and suggestions. He made clear that these were his own thoughts, and not made in any official capacity, or would necessarily gain the approval of reviewers, since he wasn’t involved in that process in any way.

    I have no doubt that Shawn’s responses were very helpful in shaping the final published version of this paper. And they were generously provided at a time when he was heavily involved in traveling the country soliciting support for his ultimately successful bid for the position of ITE International Vice President. (Please see http://www.shawn4ite.org for Shawn’s illustrated web page.)

    Historical review of paper’s progression

    I became a member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers in February 2012 with the idea of submitting a paper on the transportation subject I knew best: bicycle education.  I felt that it would be valuable to share some of my experience, acquired over 40 years, with professionals who are among the most influential in shaping the on-road environment.

    Marianne Saglam online photo crop

    Marianne Saglam, ITE

    The response to my first inquiry as to how to proceed, dated March 6th, 2012, came from Marianne Saglam, Communications & Marketing Senior Director. She was helpful, and has remained so, despite the repeated rejections of my subsequent draft paper submissions following ITE Journal peer review. I’m grateful to Marianne for the patience she has shown over the years.

    Below I’ve described the progress of this effort preceding the final publication of the fourth version of this paper, starting at the very beginning.

    First paper: Submitted September 10th; Rejected December 18, 2012

    I started work on this paper in around February 2012, the original working title being:

    The bike lane explosion is based on a myth: The “ABC” designation of cyclists. Bicycle transportation promotion should focus on age-appropriate bicycle education instead of bike lanes.

    The ABC designation noted above had first been proposed in a report by Bill Wilkinson et al for the FHWA called Selecting Roadway Design Treatments to Accommodate Bicycles, Report No. FHWA-RD-92-073, January 1994.

    Wilkinson’s report estimated that only 5% of of the bicycling population were in Group A – Advanced Bicyclists – described as experienced riders able to operate under most traffic conditions and just needing sufficient space on the roadway or shoulder to minimize passing or overtaking conflicts. Group B – Basic, casual riders, and Group C – Children, pre-teen riders, made up the rest, preferring low-speed, low traffic-volume streets or designated bicycle facilities.

    While not that report’s primary purpose, the ABC designation subsequently proved highly influential after these designations were incorporated into the 1999 update to the “Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities,” published by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

    I had concluded from my on-road training of young cyclists in 2000, coupled with knowledge of Diana Lewiston’s successful training of hundreds of twelve and thirteen year olds, that what was hindering on-road bicycling was knowledge and not the lack of suitable on-road facilities. Yet the ABC designation ignores that and, in addition, this idea has been perpetuated to support and emphasize a facilities approach to bicycle transportation.

    This first paper was formally accepted for ITE review by Marianne Saglam on September 10th.  On December 18th I received a rejection notice, which at the time was an immense disappointment.

    In 2013, an edited version of my original paper was accepted by ITE’s Pedestrian & Bicycle Council just before the September 10th deadline.

    “Bike Lane Myths vs Equality, Education, and Engineering” – ITE Ped/Bike Council Fall 2013 E-Newsletter

    It was subsequently published with the above title on October 3rd in the Fall 2013 Newsletter and is posted on my thinkbicyclingblog at the above live link.

    Second paper: August 4, 2014 – October 23, 2014

    In 2014, I worked on a second version of the original paper retitled:

    How Bicycle Education Can Enhance the American Transportation System.

    The ABC designation and its criticism, which was featured in the first paper, was dropped. Instead, the paper referenced a March 2013 ITE Journal article on the Dutch bicycle system and drew comparisons and contrasts with U.S. practice. Robert M. Shanteau, Ph.D., P.E. was added as a coauthor after he provided a useful reference to a relevant on-line video, Bicycle Training in the Netherlands. A screen capture from the video of 12-year-old children being tested on their bicycling knowledge and proficiency was subsequently added to the paper.

    I didn’t record a start date but a first draft was e-mailed to Marianne Saglam on August 4th, followed by a revised version on August 13th. Marianne confirmed it’s formal receipt on August 24th and it was sent out for peer review on September 23rd.

    This second paper was also formally rejected in an e-mail dated October 23rd, 2014, followed by the three reviewers’ rejection comments.  The first reviewer in particular provided an extensive analysis, writing:

    “More discussion of bicycle education goals, strategies and outcomes would be needed to make a compelling paper.”

    “The author’s premise, that everyone would be comfortable riding a bike in heavy traffic if only they had some on road cycling training is controversial and not supported by any evidence. Again, I agree that education is a good thing, and it undoubtedly would even convert some noncyclists to cyclists. But it is very egotistical of the authors to think that “everyone” is like they are.  Even if one accepts the argument that “everyone” could be taught to ride safely and be safe in heavy traffic, it does not change the fact that many people would still simply choose not to bicycle at all if it means sharing the lane with traffic.”

    Following the above reviewers’ responses, attention turned to addressing their concerns in a third paper.

    Third paper: Submitted Jan. 27th, 2015 – Rejected May 13th, 2015

    The third draft paper had the following two alternate titles:

    Age-appropriate bicycling education complements efforts to accommodate safe on-road bicycling

     Age-appropriate bicycling education deserves more attention in the United States

    This draft paper included several paragraphs I had invited from Andy Cline based on a personal bike tour he’d undertaken in central Amsterdam, Holland, in early June 2012, and then posted about in detail on his blog. [Please see AMSTERDAM: MY BIG TAKE-AWAY and video Surrendering the Streets.]

    On Jan. 14, 2015, I e-mailed the draft paper to Shawn Leight who had kindly agreed to review it before formal submission.

    Prefacing his initial response, Shawn Leight wrote in part:
    “For full disclosure.  I do sit on the ITE International Board of Direction.  I am a Candidate for ITE International Vice President.  I do not, however, have any interaction with Marianne Saglam’s paper review committee. The opinions expressed below are my own.  I am NOT speaking on behalf of the Institute.  Any suggestions that I provide are my suggestions and the paper review committee may agree with my thoughts, or they may not.”

    Shawn then went on to provide robust arguments in support of both infrastructure improvements and bicycle education, pointing out that if I’m not “advocating for mandatory bicycle education and licensing in the United States … those who plan, design, and manage the transportation system need to strive to accommodate all.  We cannot pick and choose to provide infrastructure for some and disenfranchise others.   It would be irresponsible for us to ignore riders wanting to use these facilities.”

    Shawn continued:
    “There is a relatively simple solution.  It does not have to be “either or”.  We have plenty of roads in our urban areas to accommodate the preferences of all riders.  Not every road needs a cycle track or a bike lane.  We can provide bicycle infrastructure for those who prefer to use it and at the same time provide roads without bicycle infrastructure for riders such as yourself who prefer to ride in the traffic lane.  Many roads can do all.”

    Shawn’s reply contained detailed criticisms, and suggestions for omitting what he felt were unsupported assertions. (That included the newly-added sections by Andy Cline on his Dutch cycling experience, but it was agreed to drop them.) This process was repeated several times, a final version being completed on Jan. 23rd, and formally accepted for review by Marianne Saglam on Jan. 27th, 2015.

    On May 13th, 2015, a formal rejection letter was received from Marianne Saglam, but for the first time two of the four reviewers suggested approval after addressing detailed issues, and Marianne invited submission of a revised version addressing those issues.

    Fourth paper: Submitted July 17th, 2015 – Initial acceptance Sept. 23rd, 2015. Final version Nov. 18th, 2015, following numerous revisions.

    This paper ended up with the title:

    Promoting bicycling education in the United States in the context of “Equality”

    I proposed the idea of adding “Equality” to the subject to broaden the paper’s scope and introduce a concept not typically touched on in such papers. Marianne Saglam responded positively the same day, writing: “I think that could work.”

    This subsequently led to the word count exceeding the 3,000 word limit and Shawn Leight again assisted by reviewing and proposing edits to several versions in July 2015, the final word count being reduced below 2,800.

    The draft went through numerous additional iterations, at least 16 by my count. In October 2015, Bob Shanteau requested removal of his name as a coauthor, to which Andy Cline and I regretfully agreed, although an acknowledgement was later added to the published paper.

    The paper was tentatively scheduled for inclusion in the December 2015 Journal but instead was published in the January 2016 edition.

    Shawn Leight

    The one person receiving no acknowledgement in the paper itself is  Shawn Leight , but as indicated above, I’m personally indebted to him for both the time he was willing to devote to reading and analyzing numerous drafts, and for his thoughtful and very helpful critiques.

    Thank you again Shawn!