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The Crux

August 31st, 2012 | Author: Sam
Category: Bike Commuting, Getting Started

Tomorrow, Jay Leighter will begin his year of car-free commuting. Although he hasn’t commuted to work by car much in the last year, this year he will attempt to do completely without. He’s also chronicling his efforts on his blog, The Crux. There, you’ll find his written posts and podcasts that he’s recording throughout the year. I’m looking forward to reading about his experiences, and I thought it would be cool to share that with those interested in Omaha Bikes.

Here is his first post, “The Plan.”

The Plan

Posted on
Starting on September 1, 2012, when I travel from my home to my place of employment and back, I will do so without the use of a car. Instead, I will travel primarily by bicycle (a Specialized Crux Elite) and, when necessary, by bus on the Omaha Metro Area Transit System.  This may also occur in some combination in that MAT has in recent years installed bike racks on every bus. I will do so for a minimum of one year until September 1, 2013, my 40th birthday. In addition, I am committing to weekly posts on The Crux about this experience and a summary of the experience after the shock of my 40th birthday wears off.

This blog has three purposes: 1) to track my progress toward this goal, 2) to chronicle the daily obstacles of bicycle commuting and 3) to, hopefully, shed light on the problems associated with urban planning and individual commitment that keep us in our cars. Along the way, I hope to post podcast interviews with roughly a dozen Omahans about life in our city including, but not limited to, the daily commute.

If you live in a city with systems (cultural and mechanical) that afford opportunities for car-free commuting, the impetus for the blog may not appeal to you. If you have a profession that requires a work vehicle, have managed to work out the difficult business of carpooling (more on that later), live in a rural area or work at home, this blog may not appeal to you. Instead, this blog is primarily for those who live in Omaha, or cities like Omaha, where the practice of car-free commuting is available, if somewhat difficult.

Over the past year, I have started commuting by bicycle on an almost permanent basis but, for reasons to be examined in this blog, have driven one of our cars to and from work an estimated 15 times. The point being made here is not necessarily about the ills of cars. Gasoline-powered engines are feats of engineering that impress me and if one is, say, a 390 V8 installed in a powder blue 1973 Ford F-150, I might even express feelings of love for it.

We own two cars and I enjoy having both of them. During this challenge, I WILL drive these cars. The challenge to be monitored on The Crux is the effort to avoid driving a car to work. I’m trying to understand the threshold of acceptability and ease that will allow for a vast reduction in vehicle use for routine trips in my life and, perhaps, the daily lives of others. I want to understand, specifically, the practice of the commute from home to work when a car is not needed but often chosen.

Inspiration for The Crux comes from many places including conversations with family, friends and colleagues who have looked quizzically upon me when I rode in sub-freezing temperatures and 100+ degree heat indexes, who raised eyebrows when I purchased cycling knickers, or who have wondered why I keep a stack of pants and supply of shirts and sport coats in my office (more on wardrobes later). With some training at my disposal, I have an eye and an ear for expressed and implicit normative delimitations and these moments have given me a reason to look and listen more carefully.

Let the looking and listening begin…

Bicycle News Friday, 2012-08-31

August 31st, 2012 | Author: patrick
Category: News

News and stories from the past week in the bicycling world.

Police in Savannah, Georgia note the importance of keeping your bicycle serial number and/or receipt handy in case of theft.

Bicycles aren’t often central to hollywood movie plots, but Premium Rush—in which star Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a talented bicycle messenger—opened last weekend and has been generally getting positive reviews. For another angle on the film’s subject, its star and director gave an interview covering topics such as bicycle culture and “survival skills.”

The movie’s release has also prompted this fun list of the Top 10 Bicycle Scenes and Movies (Kevin Bacon even makes an appearance!).

This article from the Wausau Daily Herald (Wisconsin) looks at the impact of the number of bicyclists on bicyclist safety.

Another new gadget that uses your bicycle’s momentum to generate electricity powers lights and charges electronic devices.

Here is a great story about Bicycle Training Camps, where children with disabilities learn to ride bikes, run by two organizations: Lose the Training Wheels and Easter Seals of Pennsylvania.

Team Amnesia from Omaha made an impression at the Corn Palace Festival in Mitchell, South Dakota, this past week.

Yet another great activity you can do by bike (better than by car?): Birding.

If you just love bikes (which you probably do because you’re visiting this blog) but you HATE pedaling, you might want to check out The Fliz or this thing.

Fort Wayne, Indiana columnist Frank Gray reflects on the need for bikes and cars to share the road, regardless of what the laws say.

Makers of the famous WD-40 (which should not be used on your chain!) are introducing bicycle-specific products (which includes a lubricant that can be used on your chain) after a 12-month R&D period.

Have you heard any interesting stories or news about bicycles? Send a note to info@omahabikes.org.

Grain and Mortar Explains the Omaha Scape

August 28th, 2012 | Author: patrick
Category: Uncategorized

We love the design Grain and Mortar provided for our new website and especially love the animation when you load the home page. Somehow they even got the bicycle wheel rotation to sync up with the linear speed of the bicycle; a rare feat even with modern animation technologies! Cool.

Anyway, Grain and Mortar created more than 3,000 objects for the Omaha scape. They briefly discuss the design on their Chalkboard, here.

Bicycle News Friday, 2012-08-24

August 24th, 2012 | Author: patrick
Category: News

News and stories from the past week in the bicycling world.

In case you have not yet heard, the Omaha City Council voted on Tuesday to approve the Transportation Master Plan (WOWT story, OWH story) which describes a 25-year vision for Omaha to provide a more balanced, efficient, and cost-effective transportation network.

Three large, national bicycling advocacy organizations (the Alliance for Biking & Walking, Bikes Belong, and League of American Bicyclists) announced last week they have decided not to merge after more than a year of discussion.

After debuting last year, an invisible bicycle helmet developed by two women in Sweden is in the news again.

Fargo, North Dakota has added a number of bike lanes, sharrows, and “share the road” signs.

Thanks to two brothers in Los Angeles, you can now purchase “the most popular mechanized vehicle on earth” here in the United States: China’s famous Flying Pigeon bicycle.

Charles R. Wolfe, a writer for the Huffington Post, shares some great photos of bicycles in the urban setting from around the world.

British folding bicycle company Brompton is looking for more acknowledgment of the advanced manufacturing methods helping the company succeed around the world.

On the heels of Omaha passing a multi-modal and balanced transportation master plan, the city of Edmond, Oklahoma is working on a bicycle master plan.

Rockstar Games, makers of the Grand Theft Auto series, apparently have included a lycra-clad, beach-loving fixie rider in recently released promotional images for the fifth GTA installment.

Here is a cheap, interesting DIY solution for cleaning and degreasing bicycle parts at home.

Do small physical barriers between bike lanes and vehicle lanes have any effect on driver behavior? One citizen in Brooklyn decided to conduct a simple experiment to test the effect of separated bike lanes.

Bicycling Magazine explains how insurance companies are starting to offer coverage for bicyclists.

The City of Long Beach, CA is the latest U.S. city to announce a city-wide, 2,500-bike, 250-station bicycle sharing program. This one happens to be privately funded (can anyone say Omaha B-Cycle?)

Global Voices tells the story of a bicicloteca, a bicycle that carries a small library through the streets of Säo Paulo, Brazil.

Finally, some mini bicycle awesomeness courtesy of man in You-Tube video.

 

Have you heard any interesting stories or news about bicycles? Send a note to info@omahabikes.org.

Going for the Gold With a Heavy Heart

August 23rd, 2012 | Author: Jules4110
Category: Activate Omaha, Advocacy, National Bike Summit

This week, the cycling community lost a great friend and advocate, Leslie  Bohm.  There are people who knew and worked with Leslie much more than I did, and you can read their touching sentiments here.  I only knew him for about 4 years; one of the really great things about Leslie was that  he treated you like a dear friend whether he knew you for 5 minutes, 5 years or 50 years.

I met Leslie  in 2008 when Kerri Peterson, Tammie Dodge and I made a site visit to Boulder to speak to people involved with cycling initiatives and to investigate this cool new Safe Routes to School program we wanted to potentially bring to Omaha.  We showed up at Crest View Elementary in Boulder on a chilly October morning.  A bundled, bespectacled man rolled up on his bike and started espousing the awesomeness that eventually became the Boltage program.   After being blown away by the number of kids biked to school in the cold weather, Leslie invited us to a nearby coffee shop so that we could warm up and continue to chat about all things bikes.

Here’s the thing: One of my top 5 Gallup strengths is Learner.  I’m sure that if Leslie were to take the test, his number 1 strength would be Communication.  Give him a topic he was as passionate about as bicycling,  put the two of us together, and we could probably talk nonstop for hours.  I came prepared only to drink coffee and listen; before I knew it, I was borrowing his pen and paper.  I wish I still had the notes I took at that coffee shop.   I can remember very vividly what they looked like: every square inch of that piece of paper was covered in Leslie bicycle advocacy wisdom.  Stars, arrows, underlines, more stars.  I remember saying, “I feel like I’m putting a star next to everything I’m writing down!”

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National Bike Summit March 22, 2012. L to R: Tania and John Burke, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Leslie, Chris Kegel, and Leslie’s wife, Lynn (Photo credit: Leslie via CarePages)

Not long after that trip, Leslie came to Omaha as a last minute addition to the panel that we brought to town to speak to about why Omaha needed to start thinking about becoming more bicycle friendly.   Trek Bicycles CEO John Burke, League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke and Bikes Belong board member Leslie Bohm proceeded to wow a room full of Omaha CEO’s and community leaders.  We were on our way.

Since that time, Leslie has been on call for us whenever we needed advice.  We loved catching up with him at the National Bike Summit every year.  If Communication was Leslie’s number 1 strength, then Positivity was surely a close second.  He never gave up hope that we could make this country more bike friendly.  His wife, Lynn, was quoted in the Boulder Daily Camera this week, saying “He believed through cycling people could be involved in their neighborhoods, have access to each other and enjoy an active lifestyle.”

When we got the word last year that Leslie had been diagnosed with brain cancer, we were devastated.  As we should have expected, however, he never gave up.  His fitness from years of cycling, hiking and skiing helped him endure experimental treatment, and his positive attitude certainly played a role.  When we saw him in Washington last March at the bike summit, his big smile and hugs were as bright and heartfelt as ever.

Leslie’s impact on us from that first chilly day in Boulder has shaped our work as we have worked to make Omaha more bicycle friendly.  When he learned that the League of American Bicyclists had designated Omaha as a bronze level Bike Friendly Community in 2011, he sent a video message of congratulations to us.  At the end of his message  he said, “Congrats on bronze; now let’s go for the gold!”  The Omaha city council voted on Tuesday, the day we learned of his death, to pass the Transportation Master Plan.  That seemed rather fitting … that we were one step closer to gold with that milestone, and a sign that Leslie’s legacy of advocacy will continue.

He will be missed, and our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife Lynn and his two sons, of which he was exceedingly proud, Griffin and Cooper.

 

 

 

 

Transportation Master Plan Passes

August 22nd, 2012 | Author: Sam
Category: Uncategorized

Yesterday, the Omaha City Council voted five to two to pass the Transportation Master Plan that we’ve all been hearing so much about. Channel 6 News reports here. If you’ve not heard so much about it, read more here.

Looking for ways to get involved?

August 16th, 2012 | Author: BikerBob
Category: Uncategorized

If you’re looking for a way to make a positive impact on the state of transportation in and around Omaha, consider attending one of the following events (list provided by Mode>Shift>Omaha).

 

August 20

Mode Shift Omaha meeting, 6:30-8:30pm at UNO CPACS room 208 (see directions below). All are welcome!

 

 August 21

City Council public hearing and vote on the Transportation Master Plan, 2:00pm, City Council Chambers. Let us know if you’re planning to attend.

 

August 22

Metro North Omaha Transit Center Open House, 5:30-7:00pm, Northeast Precinct Station

Community Room, 4316 North 30 St. More info here.

August 24 (Please note date change)

Mode Shift Omaha Transportation coffee chat, 8-9am at 13th Street Coffee & Tea, Guest: Thomas Warren, Urban League of Nebraska.

 

August 28

Public Meeting about Transportation Alternatives, 4:30-8:00pm, Old Mattress Factory – 501 North 13th St. More info here. (Central Omaha Alternatives Analysis Interactive Open House, 5-7:30pm, same location)

 

August 30

Master plan for Historic Boulevard System (Follow-up Meeting), 6:30-8:30pm, Hanscom Park Pavilion, 3201 Woolworth Ave.

 

September 7

Conversations on a Bus Opening , 6 :00-9:00pm, Omaha Metro, 2222 Cumming St. More info here.

September 11

Omaha Bikes Monthly Meeting, 5:30-7:00pm, UNO Mammel Hall Room 228H. More info here.

September 21

Park(ing) Day, an annual open-source global event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public places. More info here.

September 28

Heartland Active Transportation Summit, 7:30am-4:30pm, Swanson Conference Center, located on the second floor of the Institute for Culinary Arts (building 22) at Metropolitan Community College’s Fort Omaha campus. More info here. The early bird registration deadline is Aug. 31.

September 29

Balanced Transportation Advocates Coalition Meeting, 9:00am-noon, UNO CPACS Collaborating Commons, Room 132D. This is a meeting to discuss and start coordinating organizational activities.

Disconditioned?

August 16th, 2012 | Author: Sam
Category: Advocacy, Bike Lanes, Community, Health

I came across this article today on NPR.org that seems to offer a glimpse of the future: doctors prescribing exercise for a disconditioned body. The point: Exercise is a great way to prevent diseases and the medical industry needs to get on the ball about it. Both personal and community approaches can help. Keep biking, folks!

Sam

Should Lack Of Exercise Be Considered A Medical Condition?

Doctors need to prescribe exercise to patients who don't get enough exercise, a Mayo Clinic expert says.

by Eliza Barclay

“You’ve got a bad case of deconditioning,” the doctor says.

Actually, it would be the rare doctor who would say that to anyone. And though it might sound like something to do with hair, in fact, deconditioning is a familiar and more profound problem: the decidedly unnatural state of being physically inactive.

At some point in the last few decades, the human race went from being a species that is active most of the time to one that is increasingly sedentary. The Lancet recently called it an “inactivity pandemic,” responsible for 1 in 10 deaths worldwide. That’s a major shift, and a major public health problem, many researchers have pointed out. Inactivity is linked to heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.

Now Michael Joyner, a physiologist at the Mayo Clinic, argues in a commentary out this month in the Journal of Physiology that one way to deal with the problem is to make physical inactivity a mainstream medical diagnosis. It’s one of the most common preventable causes of illness and death, and Joynes writes, there is “one universally effective treatment for it — exercise training.”

Shots [the NPR series in which this article appears] called up Joyner to get him to elaborate a little more on just why doctors need to get more involved with this problem.

“The entire medical research industrial complex is oriented towards inactivity,” he tells us. Insurance companies will reimburse patients for pills for diseases related to inactivity, but rarely for gym memberships. “Physicians really need to start defining the physically active state as normal,” he says.

Joyner says that he thinks about 30 percent of the responsibility to fight inactivity should fall on the medical community. “Physicians need to interact with patients about being active, and they need to write prescriptions for exercise,” he says.

He points to two of the greatest public health triumphs of the 20th century — improvements in traffic safety and the decline in smoking rates — as models for how we should tackle the inactivity epidemic. About one-third of the behavior change came from individuals who started using seat belts and car seats, and those who quit smoking, and doctors directly influenced that, he says. The rest was up to the public health community — to enact indoor smoking bans and harsh drunken driving laws — that helped support the right behavior.

For inactivity, doctors can push patients to get exercise, and cities and towns can make it easier for them to do it, he says, with more bike lanes and parks that can be an alternative to the gym.

Joyner says he increasingly sees two types of patients in his clinic: the ones who follow health guidelines and keep active; and those whose don’t and see no connection between their behavior and their health outcomes.

“We have to be more innovative and creative to figure out how to help the people who aren’t empowered to exercise for their health,” he says.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/08/15/158831652/should-lack-of-exercise-be-considered-a-medical-condition

August 16, 2012

ALERT: Keystone Trail Closure

August 10th, 2012 | Author: OmahaBikes
Category: Bike Commuting, Bike Route, Trails

The City Parks and Recreation Department needs to close a section of the Keystone Trail from West Dodge Street south to the old Railroad Bridge near Nebraska Furniture Mart. The trail will close on Monday, August 13 and will reopen no later than Thursday, August 16.  There are three areas of the trail where the pavement is damaged enough that it is a safety hazard so they are going to repair these areas starting on Monday.

The map below shows the closure (red) as well as two options for detours (yellow and blue). The detour shown in yellow follows a sidewalk along Rose Blumkin Drive. The detour shown in blue along 78th street presents challenges in the form of hills and lack of sidewalks. Use caution along either detour.

Win a pair of MAHA Music Festival tickets!

August 3rd, 2012 | Author: OmahaBikes
Category: Community, Events

With the MAHA Music Festival quickly approaching (August 11th), we thought we would offer an incentive for one person who has bought an Omaha Bikes membership. To be eligible, simply purchase an individual, family, or advocate membership with Omaha Bikes before 11:59pm on Thursday, August 9th. That is only six days away! We’ll randomly pick a winner from the list of members and notify the person via email. We will have the tickets available for pickup at the Omaha Bikes Bike Valet corral at 67th and Mercy, right next to the concert at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village.

Also, if you’re interested in volunteering for Bike Valet at the MAHA Music Festival, you can sign up here.

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