Interesting Stuff

Ramblings From Guardian

We are back from 10 days in France and frankly find ourselves at a loss for content. Here are some unconnected thoughts and facts:

  • France is outrageously expensive. Mrs. Guardian has a taste for Diet Coke and they go for about US$4 to $5 many places…leading to several tense discussions.
  • US Credit cards with magnetic “swipe strip” don’t work on those toll roads and other automatated credit card locations–French cards have an electronic chip.
  • Flights to the USA have a security check both at the concourse and again at the gate. Some places remove shoes, other don’t.
  • Rains have made Boise look especially clean, green, and inviting. There is certainly no place like home.
  • I joke of having visited the “ends of the earth” at the northernmost TOWN in the world at Hammerfest, Norway as well as the southernmost at Ushuia, Argentina which qualifies me for living in Boise–a place many view as THE END OF THE WORLD. Dave Bieter is less dramatic with his quote, “Most remote city of its size in the USA.”
  • The shoeshine guys next to the “Larry Craig Men’s Room” at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport get a good laugh when you just mention you come from Boise. They would never have been on national TV (“that mornin’ show”) without the senator’s help.
  • The bike issue needs some reporting and discussion. It is much deeper “we all need to get along.”

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Everything in Europe is absurdly expensive…their 20% plus hidden tax (VAT) is a killer and gas is well over $5 a gallon. VAT is the scary idea. Our fine government is making noises about a VAT here to pay for more government free goodies. It is the most insidious tax there is as it covers all and ALWAYS starts small and with a promise of a cut in income tax but always ends up at least 20% and the income tax remains, in the long run, unchanged.

    As to the bikes, I almost his some drifty kid on a bike yesterday. He ran an intersection and was wearing headphones for his tunes so I am not sure he even heard my panicked horn.

    Lets be honest, those things are toys and do not belong on roads. If I tried to drive a riding lawnmower or tractor down Parkcenter drive, I would be stopped. Why do folk on bikes get a pass? I found that the more ‘bike paths’ one creates, the more bikers ride in mobs, at 15MPH on city streets blocking traffic.

  2. I can’t believe people are intentionally running down people on bicycles. The real issue is people in cars do not see everything all the time when behind the wheel. Cell phone usage, texting, eating, small children in the car also are distractions.

    I got tired of all the near misses on my bicycle and decided to try to be seen with a change of clothing. Went to the local screen printer of tshirts and ordered some bright safety yellow/lime colored tshirts. They look terrible but the people in cars now give me a much wider berth on the road.

    People who insist on wearing black or other dark colors early or late in the day or shadows are not helping their situation. They are virtually invisible when in the shadows.

    When I was a kid in the 1950’s the AAA gave bicycle safety presentaions to all grade school kids. Perhaps a reincarnation of this would help in this valley.

  3. The law considers bicycles to be vehicles, and both cyclists and motorists fare best when they are treated as such. Unfortunately there is widespread ignorance of the law as it apples to bicycles. Both cyclists and motorists have an obligation to read, understand, and obey the rules of the road as they actually are, not as they imagine them to be. If all cyclists and motorists took their responsibilities seriously we would have far fewer conflicts and collisions.

    By law bicycles have as much of a right to be on the road as other slow-moving vehicles such as farm or construction equipment. Cyclists are allowed by law to use as much of the road as they believe to be necessary for their safety (even the entire lane in certain circumstances). It is not against the law for a motorist to have to slow down until is it safe to pass a cyclist. By definition it is impossible for a cyclist to be guilty of impeding traffic on any urban road. If you don’t believe me see the Idaho Statutes, Title 49, Chapters 6 and 7.

    I really hope that I am mistaken, but sometimes I get the impression that when some motorists state that bicycles should not be on the road they are not so much concerned with safety nor with what the law says, but rather with their own convenience.

  4. If every cyclist looked at every car with a “what stupid things could that car do?” and every motorist looked at every cyclist with a “what could this wingnut do right now”, we wouldn’t have these tragedies! How about we quit talking about who has what rights and start watching for each other!

  5. I own a SUV and do my share of driving. I ride a bike for exercise.

    Every close call I’ve had on my bike has been due to either a distracted driver on a cell phone or aggressive driving, and those aren’t just problems for cyclists, everyone on the road is at risk.

    I have also observed some rather stupid cycling behavior, riding three and four abreast on Hill Road is obscene…you people should be ashamed.

    For motorists, give cyclists some room and quit using your cell while driving (my cell is ‘off’ while I’m driving). For cyclists, stay inside the bike-lane stripe and give motorists the right-of-way unless they defer.

  6. Two thoughts:
    1. As a rider of both motorcycles and bicycles, I long have had the impression that many drivers simply don’t see anything that doesn’t look like another vehicle to them. Bright-colored clothing and lights can help make riders mover visible to the drivers, but it’s not fail-safe. And riders in dark clothing with no lights and reflectors at night should be charged with attempted suicide.
    2. To get a driver’s license, I had to pass a test about Idaho laws. Kids are offered driver training in many schools, but few if any ever get and rider training or take any tests before riding a bicycle.
    Rider training should be mandatory in all schools, starting in the lowest grades and being repeated every few years through students’ academic lives.

  7. Absolutely right…why should 90% of the population be forced to move like little old ladies because 10% want to play with toys on the roads. Boise does not have a problem yet…wait till the bikers band together in mobs, all dressed in condom suits, and ride at 10mph for miles and miles in the center of the road almost daring the many, many folk putting along behind them, and adding to the areas pollution, to dare to try to pass.

    Put another way, why does the right of a tiny minority trump the right of the overwhelming majority?

    Put a final way, the law, on this issue, is an ass.

  8. Too bad you didn’t make it the the Netherlands. Bike rule over there. The Dutch use bike for 27% of trips vs 0.9% for the United States. Fatalities in the United States is about 5 times than the Netherlands for 100 million km traveled. Injury rates are much higher in the US too.

    This has all the data.

    Drivers need to deal with the fact that bikes have a right to the roads and take care. Cyclist need to exercise care when on busy streets. Together as cyclist and drivers need lots of Education and Enforcement.

    EDITOR NOTE: The GUARDIAN is not some hick from Boise, Idaho! 🙂 Check out prior reports here

  9. About the prices in Europe: Health Care and College are not expensive.

    (Mediterranian, Central and East Europe DON’T have the same prices either)

    Diet Coke for 4 dollars, don’t drink it. Buy water at the supermarket in the corner. Healthier and cheaper.

    Or go out of Paris, London, and traditional destinations.

    My mom spends 50 dollars per month in gas. She has a little Chevy.

    The VAT tax is not 20% everywhere.

    Europe is very diverse. There are poor people too.

    I paid 300 euros for my first year in college.

    What do you prefer?

  10. sam the sham
    Jun 21, 2009, 7:11 am

    Most people who ride bikes also drive in a car (at least once in a while) but not all people who drive a car ride bikes.
    People who ride bikes are not the only people in danger from some of those “I own the road, even the part you are on” kind of drivers…. even people in cars are in danger with those people behind the wheel.

    Europe – wine is less expensive than soda pop and Coke.

  11. Here are my random thoughts on bikes:

    Why is there so much anger in drivers when we discuss the subject of bicycles? Why is there so much anger when bicyclist talk about drivers? Competition for the same space on the roadways? Over crowding?

    If its stupidity, it seems, per capita, there are as many careless drivers as bicycle riders? Drivers can do more damage, quicker.

    Which of us can say they have not done something stupid while driving or riding a bike. There but for the grace of God, we all could be the person who caused a collision of some sort.

    I ride my bike to work most days, year round. Fortunately, I can take the greenbelt for 80% of the trip. If I had to ride on a busy road–I would drive.

    When I am on my bike on the greenbelt I am making more room for all drivers–not to mention health benefits for me–less pollution–less demand for gasoline.

    ACHD needs to make room for bicycles but not on busy roads. It needs to figure out alternative routes–separate but equal?

    Is there any street where bicycles get priority? Not that I know of. There are many low auto volume streets that would make good alternatives for bikes. Why does ACHD not use them to route bicycles away from busy streets?

    Will making more bike paths get rid of bad drivers and bad bicyclist? No! It may get others to ride bikes and leave more room on the roads.

    The ACHD seems to be more interested in keeping cars and bikes on its roads. Bike lanes on busy roads that end just before intersections are not the solution and increase tensions between bikers and drivers.

    Build well thought out, connected bike paths and most bicyclist will use them instead of busy roads. Well, maybe.

    Is there a perfect solution? I doubt it but we could do more? Is it cost effective to encourage bike travel?

    Can we ever fix the traffic problems with more roads? I doubt it.

  12. foundinidaho
    Jun 21, 2009, 11:34 am

    My boss and I had to travel to Europe about five years ago together. I drink, she doesn’t. She was joking by the end that she ought to take up drinking wine because it was just as expensive for her Diet Coke as my Chardonnay.

  13. It baffles me that so many bicyclists risk their lives every day. If they make a mistake they die, if a motorist makes a mistake they die. I don’t ride on any street that has a speed limit higher than 25. I try to take the backroads through neighborhoods or the greenbelt. If there is no bike lane I sometimes get on the sidewalk. The moral? The paranoid survive!

  14. I’ve commuted on bikes quite a bit, and I also avoid major roads. I know the area well enough to get around them, although there are times, depending upon your destination, where it is not possible to avoid them completely. I do not get bikers who routinely ride major roads. I see some on State Street, which makes no sense whatsoever. I have had many close calls, all of which were the fault of drivers not paying attention.

  15. I ridden bikes for over 40 years, when I’m on mine I pretty much presume that I am invisible to cars. I also stay off of major arterials, especially ones with higher speed limits. Just yesterday I saw 4 different cyclists on 2-way 50mph roads that have no bike lanes, forcing cars that were driving at 50mph speeds to swing around them into the oncoming lane. I also saw another bicyclist at the corner of an intersection, still on the roadway, changing a flat tire when a sidewalk was less than 10 feet away that he could have used to get himself out of traffic.

    Speaking AS a lifelong bicyclist, I find this type of behavior by other cyclists not only to be irresponsible and inconsiderate, but extremely dangerous. Sure there are plenty of bad drivers in cars and I make no apologies for any of them, but most of the cycling community in Boise as a whole has a long way to go to clean up their act. Just my personal observation after riding bikes in Boise most of my life.

    Oh, and one other thing. Almost every time someone has something negative to say about the bicyclists in Boise, there is an immediate outcry about how they have all these rights and laws on their side. Just a news flash, all the laws and rights don’t mean doodly if you get hit by a car, you are still injured or dead. Best forget about your ‘rights’ and ride defensively as hell.

  16. sam the sham
    Jun 22, 2009, 10:57 pm

    saw a sign “Boise is Bicycle Friendly”

    which it isn’t, so why the sign?

  17. ADR saw bicyclists ” forcing cars that were driving at 50mph speeds to swing around them into the oncoming lane.”
    Um, no; the drivers chose to head toward oncoming cars. There is an alternative: Slow down until there’s a safe place to pass.
    That’s what I do, and I haven’t hit any bicyclists (knock on wood) or any oncoming cars.
    Yeah, it ticks off the drivers behind me, but tough! They need to learn to respect — or at least tolerate — everyone else on the road, including bikers and those of us who prefer not running over bicyclists (and pedestrians).

  18. David Zarkin
    Jun 25, 2009, 8:36 am

    France: Lighten up if $4 coke was the most you paid for refreshments there. What about air pollution? Everyone driving diesels even though public transportation is great. And how about a waiter shouting at you: “Blouseon” meaning you need to wear a suit jacket. Dinner at 11 pm? No thanks. But the Rodan exhibit, super.

  19. The libs* think Europe is great… but did you know a typical middle class European rents a home and only owns the basics inside plus there clothing… and rides the public transportation. No car.

    Some in Amerika think that is great, but I bet most would not if they’d only look away from Oprah long enough to notice. Time to get to work and earn what we have… and also stop government from destroying what we have (for our own good… so we can live “well”, like a European).

    *Lib = overly smart person with high carbon footprint trying to force others to live “better” lives through high taxation.

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