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Thursday
Nov302006

Kiawah Island Bike Ban: Part 2


Apparently I made a wrong assumption when I saw the above sign, (See my previous post and the comments.) although I am not clear what assumption I was supposed to make. A sign that has a picture of a bike with a big red circle and a red line over it, still means “No Bikes” in my book.

I am told Kiawah does encourage bicycles; the ban on a stretch of road, that just happens to be the only way to get onto the island, is only temporary (Until a bike path is built.) to protect residents and visitors from themselves.

Another local blogger went to the trouble of finding a copy of the Kiawah bicycle ordinance on their website. In a meeting when the proposal was first put forward, Mayor William G. Wert made the following statement:

"Mayor Wert stated bike traffic has increased on the Kiawah Island Parkway and there have been two incidents wherein bike riders have been sideswiped or bumped by motorists. Mayor Wert stated he had personally seen children with training wheels on the roundabout and Parkway, as well as children being pulled tandem behind bicycles. It is a dangerous situation, he believed, and safety for residents and visitors is paramount. Mayor Wert stated he is asking Ms. Rucker and attorney Rhoad to put together an ordinance for the next council meeting for review, including some fines. Until the bike path is built, the Town will put signs up prohibiting bicycle riding from the main gate out to Freshfields on KIP. The signs will be made and erected this week and the ordinance will provide fines of $100."

End of statement. This is from a town that is "Bike Friendly?" I hope they never get un-friendly.

Banning bicycles from a section of road because cyclists have been hit by cars, is like banning pedestrians from walking downtown after dark, because some of them have been mugged.

Also you can go to just about any town in the USA and see children riding bikes where they should not be. Parents are ignorant if they do not train their kids in road safety, but banning all cyclists because of this is just plain wrong. If this was done everywhere, no one could ride a bike on the road again.

Bike paths are not the complete answer; bike lanes that are part of the road are better. With a separate bike path you get cyclists going in both directions, with runners and pedestrians all using the same path.

People on bike paths still get hit at intersections because inexperienced riders do not look behind them and blow right though the intersection without stopping.

The motorist turning right is supposed to yield but does not see the cyclist because they are on the bike path off to one side. With a bike lane that is part of the road or even no bike lane the cyclist is right in front of the driver and the motorist is aware of them.

A better set up is a bike lane that is part of the road; clearly marked and no more than three feet wide. Any wider and it becomes a receptacle for glass and trash swept from the road by passing traffic, and a separate sidewalk for runners, walkers, and children.

The real answer to road safety is education, education, education; both people who ride bikes, including children, and people who drive cars.

I wonder in Kiawah Island’s case, if a “Share the road” or a “Bikes on Road” warning sign would have been a better approach, instead of a temporary bike ban.

Tuesday
Nov282006

You can't get to Kiawah Island on a bicycle


Much of the coast of South Carolina is made up of tiny islands. Like Kiawah Island just south of Charleston and like many of these islands there is only a single access road.

This road is barred to bicycles as I found out when I rode my bike over there last Friday. There is a big sign spelling it out in black and white (and red) in a manner that even a cyclist who can’t read would understand.

Kiawah Island was named after the Kiawah Indians, a friendly tribe of Native Americans who once lived there. They traded with, and helped the early European settlers in the 1700s.

Now Kiawah is an exclusive golf community and has some of the most expensive real estate in South Carolina. The natives are no longer friendly; at least not towards bicycle riders, it seems.

Are they afraid that hoards of Lycra clad bike riders will terrorize their town, eating all their food? Then I read the fine print at the bottom of the sign.



“Bike Permit Required.” So that’s it. Maybe the Mayor has the bike rental business all sewed up and doesn’t want people bringing in their own bikes.

Presumably, one would have to ride into town to get a permit, and I wondered would I be arrested the moment I rode past this sign? I took a few pictures, turned around, and rode home.

The journey means more than the destination, I always say. It was a beautiful sunny day, close to 60 degrees, and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride there and back.

On the way home, I paused for a moment to take in the view from the Stono River Bridge, and took a picture of the river and the surrounding wetlands.

[Click on the picture to view a larger image. Use the back button to return.]

If Kiawah doesn’t want bicycles, oh well, it’s their loss. They might consider this for a TV ad campaign.

“Come to Kiawah Island. Bring your American Express and bring your car; because we don’t accept Visa, and we don’t allow bicycles.”


Tuesday
Nov212006

Positive Thinking

I was watching a story on TV recently about a young female soldier in Iraq who received serious head wounds from a roadside bomb. She miraculously survived, due largely to some skillful surgery by a field surgeon.

In telling her story she started out by saying while in Iraq she got up every morning and thought, “Is today the day I will die or be seriously injured.” That day came when an unarmored truck she was in, was blasted by a roadside bomb.

Even in a situation as fraught with danger as our military faces in Iraq, a person cannot live their life in fear. How is this all relevant to you and me riding our bikes every day? There are no roadside bombs to deal with, but every vehicle that passes is a potential bomb in what it could do to us.

But again a person cannot live their life in fear, and we cannot go out every day and think “Is today the day I will get hit.” Because trust me, hold that thought long enough and you will get hit. That is the way the Universe works, whether you believe it or not.

Most people believe in the power of positive thinking and know that good things come to people who think that way. We should also know that, unfortunately, a negative thought works too. The good news is that a positive thought will always erase a negative one. The danger is in constantly holding on to the negative.

Every time I ride my bike, or even when driving my car in rush hour traffic, I tell myself, “I am safe; nothing will happen to me.” I believe it, and therefore I am protected.

Another way to look at it is, even with all the crazy drivers out there, doing crazy stuff like talking on their cell phones and not paying attention, the chances of that person doing something stupid at the precise moment he or she passes you is still pretty remote. What I am saying is that the odds of you being hit by someone, or not, is in your favor.

It was just about a year ago when Jim Price, of Littleton, CO was riding in a bike lane when a 17 year old who was driving and text messaging on his cell phone drifted over into the bike lane and struck Jim, seriously injuring him. Later that day he died of his injuries.

Even with someone doing something as foolhardy as this and not paying attention to the road ahead, what were the chances that the 17 year old would wander into the bike lane at the precise moment that Jim Price was there? Jim was probably the only cyclist out there on that particular stretch of road for miles.

Had the driver wandered off course a split second earlier or later he would have missed Jim and there would have been no accident; just another close call. I am not speculating why this happened, only asking, what were the odds that Jim Price would be hit that day?

To sum up what I am trying to say here: Enjoy riding your bike and don’t live in fear. Convince loved ones and those around you that you are safe, so they are not holding negative thoughts through fear.

Tell yourself constantly, “I am safe, I am protected” believing it and knowing that the odds of you being hit are remote. Don’t let close calls phase you; close calls tell you the positive thinking is working.

Wear highly visible clothing, place yourself where you can be seen, and be predictable; give clear signals. And remember, shit doesn’t just happen; negative thinking causes shit to happen.

Sunday
Nov192006

KOF: Kind of Funny


I kept seeing the abbreviation KOF on Classic Rendezvous Bike List. Not knowing what it meant I was puzzled when I saw it linked to my name.

So I had to email my friend Dale Brown, webmaster of the CR site and ask, WTF does KOF mean?

Dale emailed back with the answer “Keeper of the Flame.” Referring to those responsible for keeping alive the craft of building hand brazed bicycle frames.

As I retired from framebuilding in 1993 I fail to see how I can be referred to as KOF; my flame has gone out and there is not even a spark to light it.

However, I got to thinking maybe there is another meaning in my case. When I had my framebuilding business in California, I operated a strict no visitor policy.

The reason was simple. Framebuilding is a very labor-intensive business, and when people came to visit, they were not content with the two-cent tour and then leave; they wanted to hang out for most of the day. Result, no work was done that day.

Moreover, if I allowed one visitor I would have to allow everyone, which could amount to several each week. Customers would not be pleased if their order was delivered late and would hardly accept the excuse, “I had a lot of visitors this week, so your frame didn’t get finished.”

Building frames paid the bills; giving tours of my frameshop did not. It was hard to explain this to someone who showed up at my door, uninvited, especially if they had driven a great distance to see me.

I have received hate mail from at least one person who still holds a grudge after he was refused entry to my shop in the mid 1980s. Even though I have since tried to explain the situation and apologized for my rudeness.

So I guess in my case KOF should stand for Kranky Old Fart or maybe Kicker Out of Frameshop.

Thursday
Nov162006

Don Tate: Cyclist


[Click on picture to view an enlarged version.]

When a bike enthusiast emails me I add the name to my “Bike List.” I have 126 email addresses on the list now. Occasionally I send a group email out when I have something to announce. I try not to do this too often as everyone, including myself, gets too much junk email; I have no wish to add to the problem.

I sent out such a group message last Sunday to announce the first anniversary of my Bike Blog. Some of the recipients emailed back to say they enjoy reading the blog. One email in particular from the wife of someone on my list, touched me deeply; here is an excerpt from the message:

"My husband Don passed away Dec 15, 2005 from neuro endocrine cancer. He enjoyed reading your blogs and hoped to ride his bicycles again. Don bought his first "real" bike when he was fifteen years old from money saved from his newspaper route. He always said cycling was in your blood; it became a passion that carried with you through out your whole life. For Don, this was true. Even though he couldn't ride while he was undergoing chemo, he would sit in his bike room (a designated bedroom in our home, "because his bikes were too precious to him to be left in he garage") and plan cycling trips."

Fuso owner, Don Tate had first contacted me in January 2005. Among his collection of memorabilia, he had a copy of a souvenir program/magazine from the 1985 Coor’s Classic Bicycle Race. It had a full page color ad on the back cover for my then new Fuso frame. The ad is pictured at the top of this blog; it featured a picture of the first Fuso (# 001.) built the year before in 1984.

Don asked me if I would sign his copy of the magazine for him. He subsequently mailed it to me and included a very nice glossy copy of the ad for myself. This was greatly appreciated as I had lost my copy of this particular program.

Don’s statement that cycling is in one’s blood is very true; it is something intangible deep within the psyche of the cyclist. We can’t explain it but we all know it is there. Because we share this thing, whatever it is, we feel connected in some way.

It is more than just a group of people sharing a common interest, like playing golf, or collecting Baseball Cards. Although we could never describe what it is we experience when riding, we automatically know that another bike rider knows, and that creates a bond between some of us.

I say some of us because this is something different from a runner’s high, which is an adrenaline rush, newcomers to cycling do not always get it right away; a few never get it. Wrapped up in the materialistic, they see the bike as an art object, or thing of beauty; never realizing that the true beauty is in the ride, not just in the metalwork and paint.

There is a definite physical connection between rider and the bicycle; the machine becomes an extension of the rider. Then there are psychic connections not only to the bike but also to the elements like the wind, whether it is a head wind or tail wind. There is a connection to the terrain also, uphill, downhill, or even a fast stretch of smooth, flat road.

I never had the privilege of meeting Don Tate face to face, shaking his hand, but I feel I knew him. I knew of his connection to his bike and to cycling. Because he also rode one of my bikes, and because there is a part of me in every frame I built, I felt an added connection, which is probably why I was so deeply touched his wife’s email and its content.

Some of us believe in a Heaven, or afterlife; I believe this journey we call life has to lead to something. Maybe it will include cycling, or maybe the feeling we get when riding is what we will feel all the time.

That would be Heaven.