Monday, December 28, 2009

Homeless in Gadsden The homeless: Our neighbors

In every place that some call home, there are others who have no home, and the experience for those who don't can vary from place to place, said Gene Champion.

“That's the thing about being homeless: You have to travel a lot,” said Champion, who lives under a bridge on U.S. Highway 431 and carries all his ragged worldly belongings — blankets, clothes and a tent — in the baskets of a bright pink bicycle.
More than 80 years old, Champion has lived the homeless lifestyle periodically throughout Alabama. He thinks some cities are more conducive to that life than others. His favorite is Dothan, where he plans to return by Christmas since he thinks he'll find work there. He hasn't had much luck finding employment in Gadsden the last three months.
“If your work plays out in one (city), you have to go to the next (city),” Champion said.
The lack of work isn't the only reason he's leaving, though. He said it's hard to find a good place to camp without being disturbed and asked to move. He's also been struck three times by moving vehicles while riding his bike.
Although job markets, camp sites and attentive motorists may be more abundant in some places than others, Champion's hand-painted “HELP” sign on the back of his bicycle seat evokes assistance from people in Gadsden and “coast to coast,” he said.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

US states could make it illegal to harass cyclists

Laws forbidding the harassment of cyclists could make it into the statute books if plans in Mississippi and Los Angeles come to fruition – following in the wake of similar legislation passed in other US states and cities in 2009.

Mississippi cyclists have been pushing for such bike-friendly legislation for three years, and next year they anticipate success at last. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, a similar law seems to be making steady progress ahead of a crucial vote in January 2010.    

If passed, the Mississippi bill will give riders protection from harassment by motorists, but it will also set out responsibilities for cyclists, such as using hand signals, having the proper equipment (ie. lights) and not riding more than two abreast.

Rich Adair, former president of the state's Jackson Metro cycling club, said harassment was common. "We're competing for the same space, and cars see us as competition," he said. "We have a problem with cars swerving at us or having items thrown at us."
One criticism of the proposed law is that it would fail to define a legal minimum passing distance – something that is already in force elsewhere in the US  (see below).

Los Angeles City Council's transportation committee has also been considering a 'bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance', which is likely to be voted on in January 2010. read more here

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Risky cycling rarely to blame for bike accidents, study finds

Cyclists disobeying stop signal or wearing dark clothing at night rarely cited in collisions causing serious injury

A tiny proportion of accidents involving cyclists are caused by riders jumping red lights or stop signs, or failing to wear high-visibility clothing and use lights, a government-commissioned study has discovered.
The findings appear to contradict a spate of recent reports speculating that risky behaviour by riders, such as listening to music players whilecycling, could be behind a near 20% rise in cyclist deaths and serious injuries in the second quarter of this year.
The study, carried out for the Department for Transport, found that in 2% of cases where cyclists were seriously injured in collisions with other road users police said that the rider disobeying a stop sign or traffic light was a likely contributing factor. Wearing dark clothing at night was seen as a potential cause in about 2.5% of cases, and failure to use lights was mentioned 2% of the time.

read more here

Monday, December 14, 2009

Please sign Complete Streets Petition For Huntsville

Please consider signing this petition to have the City of Huntsville adopt the Complete Streets Policy. As you may or may not know Huntsville is the 2nd most deadly city in Alabama for pedestrians.  Lets make the streets here safe for all!!

The streets of our cities and towns are an important part of the livability of our communities. They ought to be for everyone, whether young or old, motorist or bicyclist, walker or wheelchair user, bus rider or shopkeeper. But too many of our streets are designed only for speeding cars, or worse, creeping traffic jams.

Now, in communities across the country, a movement is growing to complete the streets. States, cities and towns are asking their planners and engineers to build road networks that are safer, more livable, and welcoming to everyone.
Instituting a complete streets policy ensures that transportation planners and engineers consistently design and operate the entire roadway with all users in mind - including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

more info can be found here

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Huntsville's Green 13 Council hears suggestions at town hall meeting

HUNTSVILLE, AL -- Like the space projects Huntsville is best known for, Saturday's town hall meeting with the Green 13 Council included a historically successful approach  getting a lot smart people in one room to figure out how to solve a complex problem.
The problem in this case is finding sustainable approaches to building, transportation, energy and the environment and developing an education and communication strategy to spread the word.
The Green 13 Council was established by Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle in May. It is charged with producing a report by February for the mayor and City Council with recommendations on how Huntsville can become a national leader in green initiatives.
The town hall meeting Saturday at the City Council chamber drew nearly 100 people. Rodney Pennywell, who chairs Green 13, and members of the group outlined the steps they have taken to have their report ready by February.
Along with plenty of research and meetings, they have looked at plans other cities have adopted. The plans drawn by the City of Chattanooga drew special praise from several Green 13 members, who also stressed they were committed to providing ideas that can be implemented.
The second half of the two-hour session was a public comment period. Several cyclists thanked Battle for making a commitment to promoting cycling and protecting cyclists. Their ideas included more bike racks in public places, a revision to the city ordinance that bars cycling on city sidewalks and adoption of a "Complete Streets" policy. read more here

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Green Council Town Hall that needs to hear from the Biking Community

We need to have a big turnout to this. Most people here think we need more recreational facilities for cyclist instead of addressing commuter cycling issues. The fact that they are talking about Complete Streets is a good start and the Mayor is much more involved with this council. Otherwise you can wait another 20 years for the current plan.

From Robin Cox

I am forwarding an invitation and asking you all (those that have the ear of the cycling community here in Hsv) to come along and/or send representatives to the upcoming town hall meeting next Saturday at 1pm at City Hall Auditorium. Its an opportunity to make/reiterate points of improving cycling and walking in our city as a function of the sustainability council's recommendations that are being formulated and will go to the mayor's office in February 2010.

There is a transportation sub-team working on those recommendations now and they need to hear from the bike community in a unified voice. See for background. It is my opinion that we need some benchmark data on the numbers of cyclists - commuters vs. recreational riders and some goals for the future. Infrastructure to support those numbers will need to come through planning/engineering efforts. The Built environment team is proposing smart growth/code changes and I would like to see complete streets suggested/adopted or at least mentioned!!

Please feel free to contact/call me if you have questions or need further assistance. Please note the new address here in the heart of Hsv. One day I hope to be able to safely cycle for all my needs! Meridian street and Oakwood leave a lot to be desired at this point, though!


BASC Meeting Tonight 5pm

Come on out and see where we are with the public input and other issues.
What: BASC Meeting
When: Tuesday, 08-December, 2009
Where: 308 Fountain Circle (in GIS Building meeting room)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Xmas Parade 2009

Thanks Jacqy and Greg!!!!

Traffic volume on Bailey Cove Road raises question about bike route


HUNTSVILLE, AL - A couple of safety issues are on Carolyn Respess’ mind when she's driving in Jones Valley.

“I have driven Four Mile Post for twenty years and it seems the last ten I have noticed a rusty, curled up cable sticking out on the Aldridge Creek bridge concrete roadway on the north side and do not know what its purpose is there,” Respess said in an e-mail.

“My big concern is now that the road is a bicycle pathway, should a biker have to ride so close to the bridge curb, the person's bike would get tangled in the cable, and injured or fall into the path of a car going west. I am surprised that a biker has not written you about this.” read more

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cycling the Christmas Parade

Saturday Dec 5th is cycling the Christmas Parade we are meeting at the parking lot across from the Clinton Street Post Office @ 11am.

We are also looking for people who can ride with a kid. If you have a trailer this would be good too.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ian's bike stolen

Ian's bike was recently stolen. It's a sorta metallic blue Schwinn road bike from the 70s. It has nice tires, I think Continental. I don't remember the specifics on the bike. It was last in the Olde Towne/5 Points area.

Protect Insurance Companies PSA