Monday, May 7, 2012
I had an interesting bit of mild incivility this morning. I was riding my big Dutch bike to work when a red pickup truck buzzed me. I didn't yell, I didn't raise my arm in either wtf or one-finger salute gestures, and I didn't try to catch up to him for further discussion. I just shook my head in frustration.
A little further up the road, I saw a State Trooper had his lights flashing and had pulled over a different pickup truck heading the opposite direction. Strangely, they were stopped in the left lane against the raised median rather on the shoulder on the right side of the road. As I got closer, the red pickup pulled behind the State Trooper. I hadn't yet made the connection, because it had been a few minutes since I was buzzed, there was no incident, and I was over it. No harm, no foul, I'm not gonna let it ruin my day. I actually thought the driver in the red pickup knew the driver in the white pickup and stopped to help.
The driver of the red pickup got out, walked up to the Trooper and started talking to him. Then I noticed the driver was looking over at me, and gesturing and pointing at me as he spoke with the Trooper. It was then that I realized he was the guy who buzzed me.
I pulled over to the shoulder on my side of the road, waited for a few cars to pass and walked my bike over. I was on the right side of this conversation and with a State Trooper there, I was willing to take my chances. As I approached, the driver was walking back to his truck and he said to me, "you can talk to him." So I went up to the Trooper, who was still writing a ticket for the guy in the white pickup, and asked him if there was any problem. He said, "No, not at all, you're good," and sent me on my way.
I do honestly wish I'd had a chance to engage with the motorist. I know it makes no difference 99% of the time. But it would've been a pleasure to make my point about state law and, hopefully, have that point reinforced by the State Trooper. Maybe then the message might've sunk in a little more.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
With all due respect to the deceased, and his family and friends, I think their billboard's message falls flat for a number of reasons.
First is the obvious irony in conveying this message via a medium that is expressly designed to distract motorists. Adam Little was struck and killed by a distracted motorist. Sure, there would've been something on this board regardless, this is perhaps better than a commercial message, and there are, of course, no bicyclists on I-85, but still...
By saying "he's not just a cyclist slowing you down," (emphasis mine) the billboard is stating that he is a cyclist slowing you down. This billboard is telling motorists that cyclists are road users who are hindering traffic. This is a divisive message, likely based on the author's apparent cyclist inferiority complex. It separates "cyclists" from "traffic" based on speed, and positions cyclists as being a problem ("slowing you down"). This is absolutely the wrong message for an advocacy group to be sending. Cyclists are an established part of traffic that are to be respected as other components of traffic.
While I expect that one goal of the sign is to honor the memory of Mr. Little and personify cyclists by showing his picture, I would suggest that a more effective image may be one of a motorist successfully passing a cyclist on the road. A clear and obvious illustration of the right way to interact with cycling traffic on the road. Perhaps something like this picture from Paul Dorn's "Bike Commute Tips Blog.". An image like this clearly shows expected traffic behavior in a form that can be readily understood in the extremely brief time that a motorist has to view the billboard.
Lastly, I think in order for behavior modification messages like this to be effective, the target audience has to understand how they are part of the problem and have at least a passing interest in changing their behavior. An example is "stop smoking" messages. Smokers know they smoke and probably understand that smoking is dangerous. I think this sign, though, is like "Baby on Board" signs in that it's trying to get people who generally think they are behaving safely enough to behave more safely. My sense is that people viewing this billboard will understand the message, but feel that it doesn't pertain to them.
I applaud the efforts of the family and friends of Adam Little to turn their tragic loss into action in support of the cycling community. But I fear their efforts, based on the cyclist inferiority theory, risk having an outcome that is 180 degrees off from their self-stated goal of "mak[ing] motorists aware that cyclists have the same rights as any motor vehicle on the road." I welcome the Adam Little Foundation to the NC bike advocacy community and encourage them to pursue relationships with existing cycling advocacy groups such as CABA or NCATA to pool efforts and leverage best practices.
Update: Just noticed in a tweet that the Adam Little Foundation is indeed engaged with CABA at some level. Good on ya!
Monday, February 20, 2012
I passed tweets with Durham attorney and NC Senate candidate Kerry Sutton (@KerstinWSutton) last Thursday and wanted to share my additional thoughts with her in more than abbreviated 140 character bursts.
I am a middle-aged white guy.
I am also a fan of Mike Woodard. Through my volunteer work with Durham's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, I met Mike and have had the opportunity to speak with him on occasion. In many ways, I feel like my views on how Durham should evolve have an ally in Mike Woodard.
The back story:
I greeted the news of Mike Woodard's candidacy for the NC Senate as both good and bad. Good because I will be thrilled to have his views represented in our state legislature and bad because I was hoping someday he would be a mayoral candidate in Durham.
I learned of Mike's candidacy from Lisa Sorg's Thursday post on the Independent's "Trianglulator" blog entitled "Mike Woodard, Kerry Sutton running for Durham state senate seat." In speaking to his credentials, Mike implied that his work in city government is good experience for a roll in state government, saying, "I know the range of issues the Legislature deals with, I can hit the ground running." When commenting on representing the Person and Caswell county constituents in the new Senate district, Mike commented;
"There is a lot of sharing between Durham and Person counties in terms of economic development and jobs. And there's a strong Person-Caswell link. I can be an effective advocate for them."
On reading the article, though, I had the sense that the sole basis for Kerry Sutton's candidacy is that she is a woman. The article says;
"Sutton announced her intention to run last December at the urging of several women activists. 'one of the main things that gets to me is the phenomenal and disturbing dearth of women in the Legislature and government in general,' Sutton told the Indy today. 'I can be an asset to the Legislature. I’m not afraid of the old boy's club. [...] I think people need to consider if we need more of the same in Raleigh. If anybody looks at the Legislative pictures, they'll see middle-aged and retired white guys. I don’t think that what's the people of North Carolina need. [...] The way the Legislature is set up discourages women, single mothers like me and people who aren’t financially well off. I see myself a little closer to the ground than the average legislator.'"Differentiating yourself from your opponent solely by stating that you're not a "middle-aged white guy" is sexist. Technically, it's racist and age discriminatory as well, but the pictures on KWSutton.com that I assume to be of Ms. Sutton lead me to believe she's as middle-aged and white as I am, so I further assume that she doesn't see these attributes as negative factors in Mike's candidacy any more than they are in her own.
Based on that, I tweeted on Thursday, "@KerstinWSutton, it's sexist 2 differentiate frm @MikeWoodard saying NC doesnt need anothr mid-aged white guy in NCLeg. goo.gl/I6EJx," to which Ms. Sutton replied, "@binghypo in 2012 we ought not have to beg for diversity of any type in any place, let alone in our governing bodies."
That brings me to today, and my desire to comment on this in more (*way* more, apparently) than 140 characters.
She's right, of course, about begging for diversity. But, in the few quotes in Sorg's blog post, one would think Ms. Sutton is herself begging for diversity. She was not quoted as citing her experience or understanding of the constituency. She was not quoted as downplaying the implication that mere physical attributes may make her better than her opponent. Quite the opposite. She was quoted as touting those physical differences and implying that her being a woman would make her a better state Senator than any male candidate.
That is sexism.
And, if that's the basis for why you are asking people to vote for you, that is a "beg for diversity."
I share what I believe is at the core of Ms. Sutton's comments. I truly believe that society benefits when our elected officials represent the diversity of their community. But more importantly, we need leaders who are passionate about supporting and improving their communities. We need leaders who are honest. We need leaders who are willing to learn about the lives of their constituents, particularly those consituents who are in different life circumstances, so that the leader can understand how to effectively represent all their constituents' needs. And we need leaders who will not try to divide the community based solely on physical characteristics.
Fortunately, people who could be those leaders walk among us, in *every* community. All of us need to find and support those leaders, regardless of their physical attributes. By doing so, we can have the diversity in goverment for which I think Ms. Sutton and I both yearn, without needing to beg for it and without needing to draw differentiation among candidates based solely on physical attributes.
I don't think I live in the new district Mike and Ms. Sutton are running to represent. But were I a constituent, you would've lost my vote already, Ms. Sutton - not because I am a Mike Woodard fan, but because your approach is 100% wrong. Asking voters to support a candidate solely because they are a [insert sex/age/race/religion here] is wrong.
[Update: According to a neighbor, apparently I do live in District 22 and will have the opportunity to not vote for Ms. Sutton. Goodie.]
Sunday, August 21, 2011
It's simple, fill a Mason jar half with oatmeal and toppings, which for me meant a little sugary stuff, some cinammon, and raisins. You can do that part anytime... you know, like the night before, or as you're packing your panniers. At breakfast time, you simply fill the jar with boiling water, shake and steep for 15 minutes.
It worked like a charm. This will get a shakedown run in October when we take a family camping weekend, and will definitely be added to the arsenal of S24O / Bike Overnight breakfast options.
Originally spotted on Lifehacker (follow their link for the true original source), and thanks Daniel for the great tip! http://goo.gl/1qb7n
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Monday, May 2, 2011
As a tall guy, I was looking forward to giving it a shot. But, as you can see from the pic, even though the bike is tall, its actually sized for someone a lot shorter than me. Its amusing being on a tall bike that's actually too short for you.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Durham is the home of one of the finest coffee roasters in the country, Counter Culture Coffee, and I am fortunate to pass within a mile of their roastery on my daily bike commute.
One of the things I enjoy most about bike commuting is the ability to take in my surroundings at a pace that allows me to enjoy them. And, the wonderful smell of Counter Culture's fresh roasted coffee is absolutely part of that. A few times a week I roll by at roasting time and ride in a coffee cloud for a few minutes. Its pretty wonderful.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
My trip across the Triangle with beer strapped to my bike reminded me of this wonderful Erroll Morris commercial from a few years ago. I love the implicit messages in this commercial as much as the explicit.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Saturday, March 12, 2011
The bike commuting community in the Triangle is small enough that I feel like I know a decent percentage of the group. So it always makes me happy when I see someone I don't know headed to work by bike.
I've seen this gentleman before, but never spoken to him. So, I chased him through three lights the other morning to say "good morning." Having seen him before, I asked how long he'd been bike commuting. Despite his old school pants-tucked-into-socks look, I was still surprised by his answer - 25 years!
As we rolled our separate ways, Mr. Old School kindly offered me a few words of encouragement. Right back at ya, my two wheeled compadre, keep on keepin' on.