Author of Blog: Daniel Day
New Post once a month.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Cyclist In Suits, San Antonio Needs you to attend / What's Happening....

Every two years here in Texas, the State Legislature holds it's session.  And every two years, BikeTexas ask people from all over Texas to come to Austin and lobby for a better bicycling state.

Back in 2009, I was a member of this group that went to Austin and we convince all the state Legislators to pass the "Safe Passing Bill" which the governor, Perry, the same one celebrating a rail connection to DFW, veto it.  Now you might say, hey we lost, but did we.  Today That Same law is now a City Ordinance not just here in San Antonio but also in New Braunfels and several other communities all across the state. 

Today, I am asking all of my readers here in San Antonio to take time out on March 30th and go to Austin wearing your best Sunday clothing and go knock on the door of our local State Senators and Congress people. Your presence with BikeTexas at the State Capital will send a message that we want a better bicycling State, and a better bicycling San Antonio. 

Two weeks to go until we speak up for people who ride bikes!
Group photo from Cyclists in Suits 2013
Cyclists in Suits - Texas' Bike Lobby Day
Join us in Austin on March 30
The time is almost here-- register now to attend Cyclists in Suits-- Texas' Bike Lobby Day! On March 30, people from around the state who ride bikes will flood the Capitol to visit every legislative office. 

Already registered? Great! We can't wait to see you in Austin. In the meantime, spread the word to all your friends who ride bikes!

The day in Austin begins with a briefing from BikeTexas staff about current bills in the legislature related to bicycling. We review materials that ask for support for specific legislation, then break into teams and head out to visit every office. With your help, your elected officials will know that there is a powerful bike lobby in Texas.

We'll have lunch in the Capitol Grill (please anticipate about $10 for lunch) during our lobbying time and take a picture on the Capitol steps before heading back to the BikeTexas office for a celebratory happy hour. Don't miss out! Register now.

Buses will be available from many cities on Cyclists in Suits day--indicate your interest on the registration form. We may also be able to line up Austin home stays for those coming from places that are farther away than is pleasant to drive in one day.

There is no cost to attend Cyclists in Suits, thanks to generous support from Richardson Bike Mart, Bicycles Inc, and Hans Johnson Company. (There may be a fee for transportation to/from Austin.)

We can't wait to see you in Austin on March 30! Register now to attend Cyclists in Suits and be sure to share this email with all your friends who ride bikes! Learn more here.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

2000 Bicycles Stolen

On a Friday Morning I got tagged in a twitter feed from the Rivard Report about stolen bicycles in San Antonio.  In this story, they reported that over 2,000 bicycle were stolen last year. Now these aren't Huffys being stolen, but high end bicycles that someone had to dole out $300 plus to buy. Now I never had a problem about this because I knew that nobody would find my bicycles if they ever got stolen, so It was up to me to keep my bicycle from being stolen in the first place. I began to think like a thief and made sure at least on my end that no matter what happens, I would still have a bicycle even though I might not have a seat post or any lights left.  So here's some advice that I use everyday, even when I take my bicycle out and to other cities. 

1.   Nobody is going to stop the bicycle thief.:
If you think a passer by is going to stop someone from steeling your property, well I have some terrible news for you, nope.  I encounter some punk trying to steal a Mongoose at the Central Library like 5 years ago right in front of several people. As a matter of fact, at the same rack that you see as the backdrop to this blog  I was the only one to stop him and get the bicycle back to the proper owner.  The owner had purchase his lock from a dollar store and the thief was using some wire cutters from the same store.  I chased down the thief up to Savings and Main Ave before I lost my breath and he got away.  I haven't seen the guy since and chances are I'm not going to be around when someone steals your bicycle, so don't expect some passer by to defend your property.

Casey Neistats, a guy made famous for getting a ticket for not riding his bicycle in the bicycle lane in NYC, made another film about on how easy it is to steal a bicycle. He stole his bicycle not just in plain site, but in plain site in front of a police station and he only got caught when he took a power tool to stealing his own bicycle. Folks, nobody is going to stop someone from stealing a bicycle, so do what you can to make thief work to get your bicycle because I know you worked hard to get it.

2.  Make sure your lock cost at least 10% of the value of the bicycle.
Now this is hard for all of us, because the reason why we're riding a bicycle in the first place in San Antonio is because we can't afford a car.  We're glad to have gotten a damn good bicycle, but we're always broke and to people like us, well $80 is like two weeks worth of groceries.  Finding the money for a good lock is pretty hard to find, but it has to be done.  In the story, they mention Abus locks which is one I happen to have.  In San Antonio, make sure your lock is at least an rating of 7 or above.  Kryptonite also has a rating system as well and for their rating system, 6 and above.  Also make sure that you have a cable and I'll point out why you should have one a little later.
Image 37-1  Source: Rivard Report

3.   Always lock up your wheel and frame.
This is very important that everyone does where ever they lock up their bicycle.  You need to lock up your wheel and frame together.(Image 37-1)  Even when you come to a bicycle rack that only supports the wheel, (Image 37-2) then you better find a way to lock up that wheel or when you come back, you might no have a whole bicycle to ride home on.  Now this is where the Cable comes in handy for you might find that the only place to lock up your bicycle is at one of these wheel racks and well, you better make sure that your bicycle wheel and frame are both locked up.  Now I don't have a cable at the moment, but I do have a chain and I use it to make sure that both wheels and frame are always locked up. (Image 37-2)
"“The important thing is to make your property less appealing, less accessible to the thief, than your neighbor’s property, the guy’s property next door,” said Sgt. Javier Salazar, a San Antonio Police Department spokesman who I interviewed at the recent Síclovía press conference at the Tripoint YMCA. “That may be a cold way of looking at it, but it’s reality. The thief is going to look for the path of least resistance. If your bike is better protected than the next guy’s, so be it.”" Source: Rivard Report
Also, when you lock up your bicycle, make sure that nobody can move it.  If someone else can come by and move your bicycle, chances are they can steal it.  Hal Ruzal from Bike Habitat NYC can show anyone how to properly lockup  their bicycle and in the Video below, he'll do just that.  Also at the end of this post, you'll see another video explaining how to properly lock up your bicycle as well as a lesson on what not to buy when it comes to U-locks. 

4. Always take your lights off. 
Now you have your bicycle locked up, now it's time to take all the lights off as well as panniers and anything that can grow legs without you looking.   This also includes your helmet so make sure
it all goes with you. inside.

5.  Lock it up close to the Entrance
Where ever you choose to lock it up, try if possible to lock it up at the entrance of the building your going into.  Not everyone has a bicycle rack at the entrance your going to, but if the rack happens not to be on the same side of the building where the entrance is, then don't lock it up there.  Never, ever lock it up a bicycle  to a rack that is not on the same side as the entrance is.  If you happen to lock it up on a pole, make sure you cannot lift your bicycle up and over and remove it from that pole.  Also make sure the pole is securely in the ground and keep the bicycle away from the parked car.

6. When you get home, bring the bicycle inside. 
I don't know how many times I heard over Facebook that someone got their bicycle stolen off their porch.  I wonder why they never brought the damn bicycle inside because I always bring my bicycle inside when I get home.  I remember as a kid of getting my bicycle stolen off my deck. So after that, I simply brought my bicycle inside.  Now this doesn't stop thieves at all for I also heard that some bicycles got stolen after their homes where broken into.  Now I cannot help that, but I can always make some work for the thieves trying to steal the joy of two wheels, so if you don't bring it inside, don't complain that your bicycle was stolen outside on the porch.  But if you do bring it inside and are afraid of home break ins, take advice of number 6.

6.  When there's no place to lock up  your bicycle, Lock it up to itself. 
When I go inside a place where there's no place to lock up your bicycle, then I take out the U-lock and lock up the wheel and frame together.(Image 37-3)  Now Kryptonite doesn't recommend this, however but I do because I've heard several people getting their bicycle stolen when they went in for a quick Gatorade. I go to a lot of convenience stores and I can tell you that having my beloved bicycle locked up is just like taking the keys out of the ignition of a car. You don't leave your keys in the ignition when you go inside, you should do the same to your bicycle.  Now I do this because a lot of bicycles that get stolen is because someone rode away with it.  This method won't stop someone in a pickup truck, but when they get home, they'll have their work cut out to get that bicycle ready to be resold.

7.  Lock your bicycle up on the VIA bus.
Now remember, VIA doesn't want your bicycle being locked to the rack and for good reason because VIA has more problems with people leaving their bicycles on the bus then they do with theft from the bus and at the end of the day, they don't want to have to bend over backwards to get that bicycle off the rack so it is free the next day.  But that doesn't stop you from locking your bicycle wheel and frame together like I mention in number 6.  This is something I do all the time I ride the bus.  I've heard several stories of people getting their bicycles stolen on the bus, stories ranging from falling asleep on the bus and being left with a huffy to seeing someone take it off the rack and rode away with it while watching people get aboard the bus downtown.  So I do the same thing when I go into a convenience store, I lock up the wheel and frame together.  Now you might not think this doesn't prevent the bicycle from being stolen but back in April 2014, my bicycle was almost stolen on the Lineup.  As usual, the 12:30am lineup was being held up and as I sat down and started to stare at my phone, a guy wearing white and grey all over, came up and started to take my bicycle off the bus's bike rack but because I locked up the wheel and frame together, he eventually gave up and started to go after the other person bicycle which wasn't locked up.  It was after about a minute or two of trying to take my bicycle off the rack that he started to go after the other person bicycle which wasn't locked up. That is when the bus driver notice that the bicycles on the rack was being stolen. Remember, nobody is going to stop your property from being stolen, and she honked the horn and alerted us that our bicycle was being stolen.  The thief walked away very fast and if that wasn't the last bus out of downtown, I would have gone after that thief, but I was tired from work and wanted to go home.

8.  Put down Identifying marks.
When bicycles are made, they're pretty much the same with the same type of paint scheme.  So make your bicycle yours by putting a few dings and stickers on it.(Image 37-2)  This will help you identify it when you need to the most.  Also SAPD is going to hold an event called “Engrave and Save” on Saturday March 28th and I expect everyone to go to this event.  
"NEWSWIRE: Saturday March 28th, detectives from SAPD’s Central Property Crimes unit and SAFFE officers will host an “Engrave and Save” bicycle ID initiative in front of the Central Substation at 515 S. Frio St. from 8 a.m. to noon. Riders can sign a waiver and and get an “owner-supplied number” engraved on the underside of bike frames at no charge. SAPD will retain a copy of the waiver, in effect, registering your bike in the event of a future theft and recovery."
This will be posted at the top of my blog and if any more info is coming my way, I'll let you know.  Now another thing you can do is copy the serial number which is located underneath the pedals on the frame of the bicycle.  Keep a copy of the serial number with a picture that is no less than 2 months old of your bicycle in your wallet at all times so if goes stolen, you can post it on the twitter feed with photo and with the serial number to the police and to the national site that tracks stolen bicycles, bikeindex.org

Now there are several videos out there on how to lock up your bicycle properly including a diagram that is posted (Image 37-1) Make sure you watch all those videos and get a good lesson on what not to do when locking up your bicycle.  The videos that are all posted here are called in order:  Bike Theft 2012, How to Properly Lock Your Bicycle With a Bike Lock (with Hal Ruzal from Bike Habitat NYC), How to lock your bike securely, and finally How to Break a Masterlock U-Lock bicycle lock.  All these videos will help you out in making sure your bicycle stays yours and not someone else.

37-1:  A diagram on how to show you to lock your bicycle up properly.  Can be found by clicking here.
37-2: A picture of my bicycle locked up at a wheel rack where it is virtually impossible to properly lock up your bicycle.
37-3: A picture of my bicycle of what I do every time I put it on the VIA's bus bicycle rack or go inside a convenience store.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Green Lanes in SA are a Joke

I've been hearing about the new green lanes around town and frankly, I'm not impressed at all. If you want to know why it's because I've ridden on better green bicycle lanes in Austin. (Image 36-1) Let me remind people that a green square box isn't a bicycle lane (Image 36-2) for it to be a green lane, well, the lane should be painted entirely green. So far the places that have gotten the "Green Box Treatment," are W Commerce St From Elemendorf Lake to out pass General McMullen and N Flores between Euclid, and Fredericksburg Rd. And I'm pleased to report they also have the green dash lines now.

N Flores St has always been on the list of the Bicycle Master Plan to get a bicycle lane. For the most part, they did a decent job and they only put in the dash green lanes in only after I brought up the issue at the February BMAC meeting. Now I understand that green paint is expensive, but I wouldn't be bitching if they didn't put down the dash lines of green paint in the first place. 

Traffic now moves slower now and for the most part, nobody is parking in the parking lane which allows us cyclist to keep right further away from moving traffic.  (As a matterof fact, I recommend that people ride in the parking lane in Iowa St Bike Lane, a Double Edge Sword.) But when it came to the intersections of  Fredricksburg RD, they decided to keep the same old thing, two lanes of car traffic. (Image 36-4) Their excuse is that there's sufficient vehicle traffic to warrant the two lanes instead of just having a single car lane with a bicycle lane on the right hand side.  I watch traffic here and it would have been safer for all if they never kept the two turn lanes.  Also not putting in that 4ft bicycle lane would have been a better choice and instead started the bicycle lane closer to the right turn lane from southbound Fredricksburg Rd.  I wish this city would stop thinking that 4ft bike lane are acceptable when it should be a minimum of 5ft.
The same excuse is used to justify the number of turn lanes that are on northbound N Flores at W Euclid.(Image 36-5) Not only is there a right turn lane, but there is also a left turn lane as if their is enough traffic volume to justify this left turn lane on to Euclid which just happens to be a regular neighborhood street without double yellow lines. The other problem is that going southbound, it forces people on bicycles to dangerously merge with traffic, (Image 36-6) defeating the purpose for having the bicycle lane in the first place. If they really wanted to do it properly, they would have nixed the northbound left turn lane and just had the two lanes going north having the right hand lane just being a right turn lane except bicycles.  The Same for the southbound lanes, instead of having these two lanes, how about having one lane merging across W Euclid with the same old two lanes down N Flores southbound. 

But if you really want to know why they did this stupid design here, (Image 36-5, 36-6) because cars are more important then people on bicycles.  Actions speak louder than words to me and what these actions are telling me that the movement of cars is more important than people. It tells me that San Antonio's actual position on bicycles is that bicycles are for recreation, not transportation for if the City of San Antonio was really for a better carbon free future, they would have designed it without the ridiculous turn lanes left and right, north and south. And lets leave the useless Sharrows out of this conversation. 

W Commerce St on the other hand is an okay job.  This is definitely a place where bicycle lanes are needed and belong.  They're wide enough west of Elmendorf Lake but I do have some issues at W Commerce St and Gen. McMullen. Yes it's a big place and the traffic volume deems it necessary to have right and left turn lane, but I felt pretty uncomfortable on that bike lane waiting for the green light. Also it's just too narrow just waiting there and maybe in the future, the city of San Antonio can actually put in a Protected bicycle lane like the ones they have in the Netherlands and Austin, TX for there's plenty of right of way available to put one in on both sides. 

Also if you happen to be riding westbound on W Commerce St and you come to the intersection where Old Hwy 90 West splits off south and W Commerce St continues, Please put out your left hand and signal to all the motorist that your making a left turn regardless whether your going on Old Hwy 90 West or strait on down W Commerce. The people driving cars are not going to be able to reading your mind and if they just happen to be going strait, they'll run into you.  Like in the green bicycle lane in Austin,(Image 36-1) the city of San Antonio did a good job here.  I can only hope that they extended it further along both W Commerce and Old Hwy 90 West past San Joaquin (Image 36-9) and fix the problems between the one way sections of W Commerce and the bridge that crosses Elmendorf Lake.

36-1: Picture of the Green painted bicycle lane crossing Guadalupe just north of W 45th St viewing North
36-2: Picture of the Green bicycle lanes without the green dashes across Poplar viewing South
36-3: Picture of the Green Bicycle lanes N Flores St after my complaint to BMAC at W Cypress St viewing North
36-4: N Flores St at Fredricsburg Rd viewing south
36-5: N Flores St at W Euclid Viewing North
36-6: N Flores St at W Euclid viewing South
36-7: W Commerce St At Gen. McMullen viewing East
36-8: W Commerce St At Gen McMullen viewing East right before the right turn lane cutoff.
36-9: Old Hwy 90 West At San Joaquin viewing Southwest.\

P.S.  It is also noted that The Alamo Bike Shop is the first of such shops to have a bicycle lane right out in front.