Arizona Road Cyclist News
J
ack Quinn, Editor

 © May 21, 2010

Published every other Wednesday and sent out by E-mail free of charge. To modify or cancel your subscription, click here.

This issue is not only late being sent out and short, it is also mostly written by other people. Instead of writing, I have been spending much of my spare time this week in front of the TV watching the Tour of California stage race. I did not take the time to research cycling rides and races coming up, but I hope that feature will be back in the next issue.

In this issue:
     Motorist to be Sentenced for Killing Cyclist
     Landis Admits Doping -- Implicates Armstrong
     Tucson Makes List of Top Ten Bike-Friendly Cities
     Tour of California on Versus & the Web
     Motorists and Cyclists -- Sharing the Road
     SouthWest Bicycles Cycling Club by Teresa Filleman
     Feedback -- Our Readers Respond
     About Arizona Road Cyclist News

Motorist to be Sentenced for Killing Cyclist

Some of you may remember that cyclist Michael Gray was killed while riding on Maricopa Road south of the Metro Phoenix area in April of 2009. Mr. Gray was reportedly riding to the right of the fog line when a car swerved into him causing fatal injuries. The driver of the vehicle that killed him, David Wiechens, was suspected of driving under the influence and, after much legal maneuvering, later pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter, a class 2 dangerous felony, which carries a minimum sentence of seven years, a presumptive sentence of 10.5 years, and a maximum sentence of 21 years in prison. Pending more legal maneuvering, his sentencing is scheduled to take place at 8:30 a.m. on June 18 in Maricopa County Superior Court. If you would like to read up on this case, you can do so on the Arizona Bike Law Blog by clicking here.

Landis Admits Doping -- Implicates Armstrong

Professional cyclist Floyd Armstrong was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France victory after being accused of and convicted of doping. For years, Mr. Landis maintained his innocence and has invested large sums of money in his defense, most of which was contributed by people who believed in him. Now that the statute of limitations is about to run out on his offence, he has admitted to spending 90,000 a year on dope. He claims to have begun doping in 2002 while riding with the U.S. Postal Service Team headed by Lance Armstrong. Mr. Landis also accused riders David Zabriskie, Levi Leipheimer, and Lance Armstrong of doping and implicated Johan Bruyneel, who is Armstrong's longtime coach and presently the coach of the Radio Shack team, for which Mr. Leipheimer and Mr. Armstrong ride.

In an impromptu press conference yesterday, Lance Armstrong maintained his innocence, pointing at Mr. Landis's long history of lying, both to the press and under oath. Mr. Armstrong claimed that Mr. Landis had contacted the promoter and chief sponsor of the Tour of California threatening to make his allegations public if the Tour did not permit him and his team to compete. Obviously, he was not invited to ride in the Tour.

Mr. Armstrong's statements yesterday were not the first time that Mr. Landis has been accused of blackmail. Former Tour de France winner Greg LeMond also made that allegation. When Mr. LeMond was scheduled to testify at a doping hearing against Mr. Landis, Mr. Landis reportedly had one of his associates telephone Mr. LeMond and pretend to be an uncle who threatened to be at the hearing to talk about pedophilic acts, that the uncle had reportedly perpetuated against Mr. LeMond when the latter was a child. Instead of being intimidated, Mr. LeMond testified and revealed the attempted blackmail during his testimony.

I have no way of knowing whether Lance Armstrong, David Zabriskie, and Levi Leipheimer ever doped or not, but I do know that Floyd Landis's reputation for veracity is nonexistent. Unless he offers some evidence to back his allegations, I think they should be regarded as one more in a long series of lies that Mr. Landis has uttered, and Floyd Landis admitted to ESPN.com that he has no such evidence. Pat McQuaid, president of the International Cycling Union, refuses to believe anything that Mr. Landis says.

In the meantime, an arrest warrant has been issued for Floyd Landis in France, where he is accused of involvement a computer hacking incident involving an anti-doping lab that had conducted tests on Mr. Landis's urine samples. I agree with Johann Bruyneel, who was quoted in the New York Times as saying that "[Floyd Landis] needs to seek professional help, and by that I don't mean lawyers."

Tucson Makes List of Top Ten Bike-Friendly Cities

Bicycling Magazine recently ranked the USA's 50 most bicycle-friendly cities. I don't know what the criteria were for the rankings, but obviously weather didn't play a major part, because Minneapolis came out on top followed by Portland, OR, Boulder CO, Seattle, and Eugene OR in that order, all places that have lousy cycling weather during much of the year. The only Arizona city to make the top ten was Tucson in position number 9. Phoenix/Tempe were ranked together in position 15, and Scottsdale was number 20.  (I disagree with this relative ranking as I live in Phoenix but find North Scottsdale to be more bike friendly.) According to Bicycling the five worst cities to cycle in were Fargo, ND, Anchorage, Baltimore, Little Rock and Rochester NY. (I have no plans to move to any of those cities in the near future.)

To see the complete list, click here.

Tour of California on Versus & the Web

There are three days left in the Tour of California, the USA's most prestigious professional bicycle stage race, and the final hours of each stage will be broadcast live on Versus, a premium channel on satellite and cable networks. with a recap later in the day. For those who don't have access to Versus, the live broadcast can also be viewed on the Tour's Website. The hours of the live broadcast are:

     Friday:  2 to 4 p.m.
     Saturday: 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
     Sunday: 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

If you are setting your video recorder, my advice is to set the recording to end a half hour later than the scheduled end of the broadcast, as the stage could end later than anticipated.

To watch the race live on the Web or to view video highlights of each stage after it is over, connect to the race's Website.

http://www.amgentourofcalifornia.com/race-live/video.html

Motorists and Cyclists -- Sharing the Road

Several news organizations have taken note of cycling's increasing popularity, but unfortunately, the slant taken by many of those media has been to exaggerate a supposed conflict between motorists and cyclists. I bicycled 15,000 miles last year, and yes, I did have a handful of unfortunate incidents with motorists, but I found the large majority of motorists to not only be tolerant of cyclists but to even go out of their way to share the road by sometimes insisting that I take the right-of-way, even when it legally belonged to the motorist. After all, almost all adult cyclists also drive motor vehicles, and about 1/4 of motorists also cycle, so many of us have a foot in both camps.

Perhaps we in Arizona are lucky, because visiting cyclists from other parts of the country often remark on how friendly Arizona motorists are to cyclists compared to where they come from. Maybe the conflicts between motorists and cyclists are worse in other states.

National Public Radio has aired at least two programs in the past two years on cycling that, in my opinion, unduly concentrated on the motorist-cyclist conflict, and of course, John Hook showed his lack of knowledge of cycling's place in the traffic mix on a talk call-in show on Phoenix radio station KTAR a few weeks ago.

CNN is one of the latest news organizations to join the fray with a Web article headlined "Drivers, bicyclists clash on road sharing." You can read the article by clicking here.

SouthWest Bicycles Cycling Club by Teresa Filleman

The following guest article was written by Teresa Filleman about SouthWest Bicycles Cycling Club, a West Valley club that is very welcoming to new riders. -- Jack Q.

Have you heard of the SouthWest Bicycles Cycling Club (SWBCC)? You are probably not alone! SWBCC was founded just 10 months ago by Jeff Morris, one of the owners of SouthWest Bicycles and Teresa Filleman, a casual cyclist who believes in encouraging riders new to the sport and using her own cycling to raise money for charities. Together, Jeff and Teresa envisioned a cycling club that would offer organized rides to the casual cyclist and encourage people to get active, stay active, meet new people, and ride to benefit others.

SWBCC officially launched its membership drive in August on 2009, and has grown to just over 100 members in less than a year. Members and visitors have met other riders with similar interests and enjoyed casual cycling in a non-competitive, encouraging, and well-organized environment. Our no-drop rides are designed to promote a love for casual, recreational cycling with routes designed for the novice to experienced riders. We host Thursday novice rides, Saturday rides suitable for novice through advanced riders and Sunday Intermediate to Advanced rides. You may check out our club calendar at www.swbcc.org. Click on the calendar tab.

Many of our club members joined the SouthWest Bicycles team for the Phoenix Tour de Cure(www.diabetes.org/tour ) in March 2010. Our 44 members raised over $17,000.00 for the American Diabetes Association. At last count, SWB was the largest team and raised the most money for the cause!

In October 2009, the SWBCC together with SouthWest Bicycles, Peoria hosted the Trek Women Breast Cancer Awareness Ride in Peoria, AZ. We had a phenomenal turn out for the event’s first year in the Phoenix area, and look forward to seeing more riders this year making it an even greater success. Mark your calendars for Saturday, October 9, 2010 for the 2010 Trek Breast Cancer Awareness Ride. All riders are welcomed! You can find more information on the club website at www.swbcc.org. Registration is due to open very soon.

SWBCC endorsed the International Ride of Silence on May 19th. This is the first time the event has been endorsed in the West Valley and we are thrilled that our membership took the initiative to launch the west valley ride for such an important cause; sharing the road and remembering and honoring those cyclists who have been injured or killed on our roadways.

The club tagline is “Cycling for a Cause”. Therefore, SWBCC teamed up with the Plus3Network so that all of our membership may log their rides and other activities to raise money for a cause – literally turning “sweat equity into social capital.” Anyone can join Plus3. We invite you to check out www.plus3network.com for more information on how your activities can be raising money for a cause.

Our membership has logged over 3000 road biking activities and over 5000 TOTAL activities since June of 2009 on the Plus3Network. These activities generated over $500 for various causes just by logging our efforts!

So the next time you see a SouthWest Bicycles jersey out there, please say, “Hello!” We are out there making a difference in our own lives and the lives of others. Visitors are always welcomed on our rides, so check out our club calendar (www.swbcc.org ) and plan on joining us when you are in the west valley or stop by one of the SouthWest Bicycles Shops (www.SouthWestBicycles.com ) and ask for more information or send an email to info@swbcc.org. We’d love to meet you for a ride!

This is what some of our members are saying about us:

I am so glad that I joined your club. Meeting new people and learning new routes has enriched my cycling experiences. Thank you!

Thanks to Southwest Bicycles Cycling Club, they got me on my bike on my days off and opened me to new routes!

I feel super fortunate that I found your group - without the group I guarantee that I would never be near as fit as I am now (even though I've got a ways to go still!)
 
The group's welcoming attitude has made all the difference for me, too - I so appreciate it! You & the club have added to my life (and my health) so much that I really consider becoming a part of the club as a sentinel point in my life!

Thanks so much for your encouragement! I think the club rocks ~ and I am so glad that I joined. It has been super for me!

Many, many thanks to all my rider friends through the Southwest Bicycle Club. You guys are so wise, helpful and just generally awesome!

We've seen parts of the valley on our "cycles" we haven't seen since we've lived here for over 20 years. It's all good!

Feedback -- Our Readers Respond

I received several E-mails in response to the last issue of Arizona Road Cyclist News I would like to note that the readers' express their own opinions, which are not necessarily the opinions of this newsletter.

Speaking of conflict between motorists a cyclists, reader George Brunell sent us this E-mail about an article published in a little-known newspaper called the North Scottsdale Times.

Jack: I certainly enjoy reading your news and tidbits and picking up on the cycling banter.  However recently came across a blurb in the North Scottsdale Times, May 2010, that sadly comments on the recent death of Cindi Holub.  The article laments that “While the law does state that drivers are to give bicyclists a 3-foot birth (berth), it rarely happens, especially when it comes to giant garbage trucks.  How about repealing the law and keeping bikes on the paths where they belong?”

Thanks,
George W. Brunell, CR
This E-mail from Mike Sturgill came as a response to the article we published stating that Arizona is one of the more dangerous states for cyclists.
Hi Jack,

I read your email with interest every week. You talk about the most deadly states for cyclists this week. Sometimes these types of "raw" statistics leave people believing that cycling is a dangerous endeavor. In raw terms, cycling is not dangerous. When compared with activities that the general public sees as benign (football, baseball, basketball, soccer), cycling is quite safe. Or, if you compare it to activities that the population participates in without undue fear (driving, walking), it is very safe.

I wonder if painting the picture of the dangers of "life in general" and comparing that with cycling might help people put these tragedies in context? Here is a link to some pretty good data. For example, there were 120 "pedestrians" killed in AZ 2008 and 632 "automobile" fatalities", compared to 19 cyclists. Do we tell our kids not to walk because it's dangerous? Do we ever think driving is dangerous? Yet 10x and 33x, respectively, more people die in those modes of transportation than while cycling.

http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/States/StatesCrashesAndAllVictims.aspx

I've read more detailed reports specifically about cycling fatalities (I don't have the reference at hand, but the author was Richard Moeur) and the overwhelming majority of the deaths have occurred when the cyclist was doing something illegal, such as riding against traffic, riding while intoxicated, riding on a sidewalk, riding on a limited access highway, etc. I think that education about safe cycling practices coupled with the education of vehicular drivers (both bicycles and passenger vehicles), will further our cause much more than fear.

Some educational resources:

http://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/usa/index.htm

http://www.richardcmoeur.com/bikestuf.html

http://books.google.com/books?id=GbmCFx-tzxMC&pg=PP1&dq=cyclecraft&ei=6g0ES6nFMILklQT18qWbDw#v=onepage&q&f=false

http://books.google.com/books?id=0n2t7P1v2M8C&dq=Effective+Cycling&ei=oAsES8z6DJWQlQS36fSJDw#v=onepage&q=&f=false

Please don't take this wrong, I am extremely conscious of what can happen when a car interacts with a bike. We lose. I ride 12-15k miles per year and I see all kinds of stupidity. But taken in whole, cycling is, statistically, safer than taking a shower.

Mike Sturgill

Finally, this E-mail from reader John Brush was inspired by our article John Hook's KTAR call-in segment about cyclists.

I just finished listening to the recording of the John Hook/KTAR radio segment concerning cyclists and the road, and also reading Teresa Filleman's (of the Southwest Bicycles Cycling Club) response to it.

I'm not certain that anything done by anyone on either side of the issue is going to make any minds change. Hook, from his remarks, seems to have encountered some bicyclists he felt were where they shouldn't have been. His tone of voice and choice of words were borderline derisive but given both his experience (and lack thereof) I really can't blame him for being a tad sarcastic, and given the open-mindedness of today's general public I'd hardly expect anything different than what he served up.

I don't know where he was when he had his experience but I've seen pack mentality exhibited by competitive cyclists for awhile, and there are plenty of examples of what's angering the automotive public happening every day.

Many of us have experienced aggressive cycling from the point of view of the cyclist. I posit that it's easy to rationalize your behavior as a cyclist from a cyclist's point of view, and it's not always easy to understand how cycling is viewed from a point of view other than that when your mind is conditioned in one direction. I've watched for decades as packs of - and individual -  competitive cyclists (myself being one of them) put themselves in harm's way by moving out from the right side of the road, riding aggressively through intersections, and making snap decisions which laws to obey...and which to ignore. This happens both by choice and chance, but it's been clear to me that the point of view of the motorist isn't the first consideration when your heart rate - and your speed - increase.

When I began competitively cycling, there was a distinct pattern to competitive training rides. You rode as far to the right as possible, with a constant echelon/rotation either to the right or the left. There were never more than two lines of riders, one moving forward and the other moving back and falling in behind. The space between the handlebars of the riders moving in either direction could be measured in inches. This practice was observed even during the warm-up miles. It served a few different purposes - it kept you in tune to rotational etiquette, you weren't overworked, and it kept the riders to the right side no matter how many lanes were available.

And it wasn't until you got out to the wide open spaces then the hammer was dropped. What occurs on Via Linda in midtown Scottsdale on a regular basis - well, that wasn't done. Christ, there's traffic in there, did you want to get killed?

John Hook's not interested in riding a bicycle. He's interested in hearing a cacophony of people who think bicyclists have attitude problems and don't know their place on the road.

He - and they - aren't interested in what we're legally entitled to, or why we wear what we wear.

They just see us as a nuisance, and are going to cherry-pick problem occurrences as long as they keep occurring.

Bike people need to work on the public relations angle in the trenches. That means riding like they're serious about keeping everyone on the road happy about everyone being on the road, i.e. riding defensively.

Until the John Hooks of the world see that their minds won't change.

John Brush

[Editor's note: Regarding John's remarks about riding as far to the right as possible, the word in the law is "practicable," not "possible." Additionally, cyclists are not only legally permitted to but are actually encouraged to take over a traffic lane if it is too narrow to safely share with a motor vehicle. Page 18 of the Share the Road pamphlet and the online Bicycling Street Smarts published by the Arizona Department of Transportation both point out that riding to the right in a lane that is too narrow to share and riding as far to the right as "possible," that is, hugging the curb while cycling, are dangerous.] 

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Jack Quinn, Editor