Monday, November 30, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mayor Tommy Battle plugs "Shop Huntsville First" campaign for the holidays

Kind of like "Buy Local Huntsville" ,but not really. "Please support Giant Box chains" as long as they are in Huntsville and drive your cars to them. At least these stores are not recieving a generous tax break at the expense of schools, roads, bike lanes, sharrows, public transportation,sidewalks and all those luxury items the dead beats of Talabama don't deserve. Another 20 years and it will be bearable here. As a local busines owner I would be highly insulted by your Mayor not mentioning :
Lee's Car Wash
Bicycles Etc.
Outdoor Omnibus
Garden Cove
Pane e Vino

From the Huntsville Times, Which I am so glad for all the front page news on twilight or moondogs or whatever movie that is. We are a serious country with serious movies.

HUNTSVILLE, AL -- Mayor Tommy Battle is urging local residents to do all their holiday shopping in the city.

Local stores "hire your friends, they hire your neighbors," he said at a morning news conference. "They're the ones who support this community, and we want to invest back in those who invest in us."

Battle made his comments hours before tonight's annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Bridge Street Towne Centre, which marks the beginning of the local holiday shopping season.

He also urged people to "get away from Internet shopping" and spend their money in brick-and-mortar stores across the city.
"This is the only time you'll ever hear in Huntsville, Ala., that we say cut off your computers," Battle said.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Veronica Moss Visits Times Square

11.8% of all traffic fatalities in America are pedestrians. You think they give a shit about bikes?

Bicycle Education: So Much More than Safety

Wow!!!!! I can hear the heads exploding now:)

Published November 16, 2009 by C.I.C.L.E.
By Shay Sanchez

C.I.C.L.E.’s latest workshop, Creating Great Places to Bike!, marks the first in a series of workshops that will take a look at the bicycle facilities and policies that make our cities pleasant (and safe) places to live and ride.

C.I.C.L.E. has targeted education programming as one of our primary strategies to boost the rate of city bicycling in the Los Angeles area. There’s a good reason for this too. In our many outreach efforts, we’ve learned that many of the barriers that keep people from getting on their bikes are easily addressed through hands-on and personalized instruction and education. read more here

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monte Sano resident worried about safety of bicycles and cars on Bankhead Parkway

From Huntville Times

HUNTSVILLE, AL - Bankhead Parkway is a popular route for local bicycle riders, but it has Ruth Ann Haymes worried about how safe it is for cyclists and motorists sharing the road.

Haymes, who is 82 and lives on Monte Sano, said that several times she’s had to stop her car to avoid a head-on collision with another car passing a bicyclist on the mountainous, curvy road.

“I’m 82 years old and really don’t want to get hit head on,” she said.
Bankhead Parkway has a double-yellow line from about Tollgate Road to the top of the mountain, which means passing is prohibited. Many a motorist going up the mountain behind a bicyclist will be waved around by the biker, Haymes said.
But, she said, the yellow line makes that illegal and blind curves make it hazardous.

There are few, if any, places for a bicyclist going up the mountain to pull off to the side to let vehicles pass.
Haymes wants to know what the police have to say about the situation.

Lt. Mark McMurray, supervisor of the Police Department’s Special Services unit, which includes the Traffic Task Force, said police can ticket a motorist for passing with the yellow line on Bankhead.

“If we’re there to see it,” he said.

Bicyclists have a right to be on the road, he said, and are supposed to ride as far to the right as possible.
McMurray said the Bankhead lanes are only about eight feet wide, and have no place to pull off the road because of a deep ditch on the side.

He said a motorist who passes a bicyclist on Bankhead should stay at least 3 feet from the biker.
“Use common sense and good judgment,” McMurray advised.

Friday, November 13, 2009

An Open Letter To Governor Charlie Crist and the Florida Department of Transportation

Has anyone considered starting a letter writing Campaign here?

Dear Governor Crist,

As you may know a recent report produced jointly by the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and Transportation for America has shown that the following four metropolitan areas within Florida are the most dangerous cities for pedestrians in the United States.

1. Orlando-Kissimmee, FL

2. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL

3. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL

4. Jacksonville, FL

The report titled “Dangerous By Design” concludes that Florida roads are dangerous for pedestrians because they have generally been designed to speed up -not slow down-traffic. read more here

William Lind: A Conservative Voice For Public Transportation

From Streetfilms
Political conservative, transit advocate, William Lind provides his views on how "liberal transit advocates" can build bipartisan support for public transportation (okay, just rail) in terms that conservatives can relate to. read more here

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rebel Without a Car

Whistleblowers Say Oil Reserve Numbers Deliberately Inflated to Avoid Panic, Appease the US

Apparently the IEA was concerned that reporting the true reserve numbers would trigger a buying panic.

World oil reserves are far lower than officially reported, the situation far more serious than publicly admitted, and we're already past peak oil. That's the word from two anonymous IEA whistleblowers, The Guardian reports. To add insult to industry, the figures were deliberately massaged, at least in part, to appease the United States:

Apparently the IEA was concerned that reporting the true reserve numbers -- and keep in mind that determining oil reserves is as much art as science -- it would trigger a buying panic.

The US enters the picture encouraging the IEA to underplay the rate at which oil fields are being depleted -- something which the IEA has admitted in recent months is occurring more quickly than previously acknowledged -- while at the same time overplaying the possibility of new large discoveries.

Indeed, when one does the math on how much recent new oil finds, touted as 'huge', actually add to world reserves, the result is usually in days or weeks of additional world supply, not months, still less years. read more here

L.A.’s Draft Bike Plan Enters “Civic Enragement” Phase

From Streetsblog Are they being negative or are they concerned citizens?

LA's Draft Bike Plan is a huge document of thin ambition, that relies on controversy over process to distract from the fact that it lacks vision, it lacks substance, and it lacks the teeth necessary to bring about any change

The Draft Bike Plan was released last week, an hour before the end of day on the eve of furlough Friday, giving city staff the opportunity to "drop and run" and providing a three-day cooling off period before they had to answer for the long overdue, hotly contested and controversial document.

Commissioned in December of 2007, the Bike Plan is part of LA's Transportation Plan which is an element of the city's General Plan. As the consultants so eloquently explained during the community workshops during March of 2008 that kicked off the Bike Plan process, the Bike Plan is a critical funding document that must be updated in order to qualify for funding. As for positioning it as a powerful visionary document with implementation teeth, city staff have never expressed such ambition. read more here

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dangerous By Design

Huntsville 2nd most dangerous city in Alabama for pedestrians

Yesterday I went for a walk and within 1 block of where I live in 5 points I was almost side swiped by a student driver. Then two blocks later I was almost backed into by a motorist who could not take the time to turn her head around. I slammed my hand on her trunk to startle her and hopefully wake her up.

This is a bit unrelated,but I would like to say to those who want to focus their time policing the homeless, working poor and veterans who ride their bikes. Why not start with your kids, parents and friends and when you teach these entitled motorist how to use a turn signals, not run over pedestrians, not drink and drive, not speed through my neighborhood and not drive while talking or texting, then you can go and comment on others who really pose no threat to you.

Since tuesday is Veterans Day maybe take a minute and ask yourself why a city that profits so much from the arsenal and war can not find the know how to provide usable sidewalks for those who come back disabled. Is the solution in this city to just act like they are invisible too? I have a hint putting a yellow ribbon on your car is not the answer.

Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Pedestrian Deaths (and Making Great Neighborhoods)
In the last 15 years, more than 76,000 Americans have been killed while crossing or walking along a street in their community. More than 43,000 Americans – including 3,906 children under 16 – have been killed this decade alone. This is the equivalent of a jumbo jet going down roughly every month, yet it receives nothing like the kind of attention that would surely follow such a disaster.

Children, the elderly, and ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented in this figure, but people of all ages and all walks of life have been struck down in the simple act of walking. These deaths typically are labeled “accidents,” and attributed to error on the part of motorist or pedestrian. In fact, however, an overwhelming proportion share a similar factor: They occurred along roadways that were dangerous by design, streets that were engineered for speeding cars and made little or no provision for people on foot, in wheelchairs or on a bicycle. read more here

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cyclists' rights focus of city ad campaign

Council to consider $158K DOT grant to fund most of effort

Bicyclists have rights, too.

That's the message behind a yearlong advertising blitz the city of Huntsville plans to roll out in early 2010.

Largely financed by a $158,000 Alabama Department of Transportation grant, the educational campaign comes on the heels of three cycling fatalities in the city since September 2008.

The City Council will consider the grant agreement at tonight's meeting, which starts at 6 in City Hall, 308 Fountain Circle.

Jamie Miernik, who commutes by bike to her job on Redstone Arsenal, said she hopes the ads promote more respect and understanding for cyclists who ride in traffic.

Rolling billboards attached to city buses will try to hammer home the point "that bicycles are vehicles, they're allowed on the road," Miernik said Wednesday.

"There's a percentage of drivers out there that really think bikes are not safe to be on the road with them."

James Moore, a senior planner with the city, said the ads need to be compelling enough that drivers can't ignore them.

"I'm hoping to make the buses loud, so to speak, so that it generates some interest," he said Wednesday. "It's trying to bring awareness and wake the drivers up."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Brookside housing

To be fair, I was very harsh.
From Huntsville Times

I am writing this letter in response to the article "Housing Authority shows plans for Lowe Mill area" published Oct. 28.

I am concerned about the impression this article gives when linking Lowe Mill - the artist community - with the Huntsville Housing Authority's plans to tear down the Brookside neighborhood.

I have worked at Lowe Mill for over three years and have driven my car or ridden my bike down Brookside Avenue hundreds of times on my way to work.

I have been greeted with waves and smiles by neighbors who are peaceful, quiet and longtime residents. I feel these lovely people are becoming the victims of injustice and gentrification.

I, myself (a white woman), have been asked if I would move to a house in the Lowe Mill neighborhood. In the past, I would have answered in the affirmative. It would be great to live close by and I enjoy working in the neighborhood.

However, as to whether I would move into a house in a newly developed Brookside - even if it meant convenience and being closer to my community - "NO!" I don't want to be a part of a "development" that will cause the exact opposite to occur to the majority of the former residents - inconvenience and loss of community and their homes.

Please note that there are those in the Lowe Mill community that seriously object to the plans for the Brookside community.
Grace E. Billiter
Huntsville, 35801

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Physician accused of deliberately injuring two bicyclists is convicted

A physician accused of deliberately injuring two cyclists by slamming on his car's brakes on a narrow Brentwood road was convicted Monday of mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon and other serious criminal charges.

Dr. Christopher Thompson, 60, slumped forward and held his face in his hands after the verdicts were announced in a courtroom packed mostly with supporters and cyclists.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Mary Stone, who prosecuted the case, asked for Thompson to be jailed immediately, calling him a flight risk and a safety threat to cyclists. read more here

Victory for Omaha Cyclists!

From Bike Omaha

Great news from Ben about his court appearance today!!

The man that physically assauled Ben after a car vs. bike road rage incident last spring was conviced today of FELONY assault and ordered to serve 90 days in jail. He is also required to complete anger management training.

The man's son (who was actually driving the car, following the orders his dad was giving him to force Ben off the road...and to pull over so that dad could get out and confront Ben) was ordered to get drivers ed training.

The man charged tried to get away with lying about Ben's reaction and tried to claim that he was provoked, but thankfully all of the witnesses were able to clearly refute that.

Here is the icing on the cake ... and bless Ben's heart, he totally gets that this is the biggest victory of all, even though he had to endure what he did ... the judge totally affirmed Ben's rights as a cyclist and actually referred to his preferred mode of transportation as a "two-wheeled vehicle." AWESOME!!

So - first and foremost: major kudos to Ben for keeping his cool in the first place in the face of felony behavior. Kudos to the witnesses that came forward and to OPD for understanding his rights as a cyclist that day; and kudos to the judge. A victory for all Omaha cyclists today!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Alabama has Lowest Taxes in the Nation

Could this also be why Alabama is last in every other category?
From Leftinalabama

Alabama has Lowest Taxes in the Nation

Yep. We're 50th! Even though we're already the lowest in the nation, mark my words, Republican candidates next year will be running on a platform of lower taxes. What goes along with being 50th in taxes is being at the bottom in every measure of public services, too. Schools, roads, public health -- you name it, we're at or near the bottom. It isn't because Alabamians are too dumb to do better, it's because we collectively don't have the resources to do better. We're holding our economy together with the equivalent of baling wire and duct tape.
Bob Riley says the low tax rate is a big draw to get retirees to move to Alabama. That's true, but is it really a good thing? Especially when you consider that many who graduate from college in Alabama leave the state to pursue careers. Retirees don't have much interest in schools or jobs. I'd rather have those young people stay in this state, work and raise their families here, myself. And I totally agree with Rep. John Knight:

read more here

Other Alabama Facts:

1:5 Alabamians Live Below Poverty
Nearly one in five Alabamians live below the federal poverty line, which is $21,203 in household earnings for a family of four. US Census Bureau

2nd Largest Income Gap

The gap between Alabama’s richest and poorest families is the second largest in the nation. Our richest families’ income increased 43.7 percent from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s, while middle-class families’ income only went up 25.3 percent, and the poorest families did not see a significant increase at all. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

41.4% High School Dropout Rate

Alabama ranks 42nd in the nation in per capita income. And nearly 60 percent of the state’s income gap with the nation can be attributed to our high school drop out rate, which was 41.4 percent in 2007. Southern Education Foundation

3rd Most Obese State

Alabama is the third most obese state in the country and has the fourth highest rate of diabetes among adults. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Kaiser Family Foundation