Do you have Siblings? Are you Awesome?

More questions!!!!!  Huzzah!!!

Do you have siblings? If so, where are you in the order and are you close with them?

Yes! I have one older sister and she is prob one of the most badass people I know, so we’re pretty close. She’s super-smart, & I’ve always looked up to her. In high school, I pretty much wanted to BE her. For Christmas one year she told me to buy her a Bad Religion album, and I had never heard of them before, but I knew I liked it because she did, even though I was slightly worried that it was devil music. Also, one day she came home with an album from a couple ska bands nobody had ever heard of. One was called Slapstick that pretty much rocked my world even though they used the f-word more times in one song than I think I’d ever heard my entire life. And she kept talking about some little opener ska band with a girl singer named No Doubt.

Also, she rides this:

So that pretty much confirms her awesomeness.

OK. Next question:

Are you as awesome in real life as you are in print? How can we tell?

Sadly, no.  This is as good as it gets. In real life, I’m all awkward smiles and uncomfortable pauses.
Thanks for the questions! Keep them coming!!!

Tour de Taco: Recap

CycleFest 2011: Tour de Taco was a smash hit!  Thanks to everyone who came.  I think everyone had a good time.  We had a great turnout of about 20 people, including notable bloggers Ed, John, Julie, and Katie. I met a few new people and I hope everyone walked away with a few new friends.  Nobody died or had heat stroke or anything, and only one persons bike broke (but nothing a quick stop at a hardware store along the route to get some superglue & duct tape couldn’t fix).

Here are a few photos from the event (most of the photos are by my friend Stephanie):

We hope to see everyone again next year for a new route and new adventures!!

Bikes and Peds Sharing a Path?

Another question!!!  I’ve been sitting on this one for a couple weeks now.  Sorry it’s taken me so long to answer.

Hi, Reuben! Since you are a biking expert and seem willing to answer questions, I have one concerning biking in the suburbs. Are there rules or etiquette – either written or unwritten – about bikes and pedestrians sharing paths? I feel much safer on pa

Great Question!  It looks like the last part of the question got chopped off!  OOPS.
The answer is YES!  There are rules and etiquette for bikes and peds sharing the same paths.  Here are a few things to remember:
  • All paths (including sidewalks not in business districts) may be shared by bikes and peds.  Some paths are completely unmarked, some have simply a dashed line down the middle, and others attempt to separate bikes from peds using a solid white line.  Whenever there are lines on the paths, you should always follow them.  That being said, plenty of people don’t follow the lines, and often even if the people are, their dogs aren’t.  Most paths, are a little bit of a free-for-all.
  • The guiding principle when riding on a shared path is to always protect the most vulnerable users.  So experienced cyclists should yield to kids on bikes, and cyclists should always yield to pedestrians.  Faster traffic must slow to accommodate slower people on the trail.  Slower people (bikes or peds) should be aware that they are slower and try not to impede traffic, but they shouldn’t do anything to compromise their own safety or traveling experience.  When an experienced pedestrian (like a very quick jogger or something) encounters a kid on a bike – common sense should prevail about which user is more vulnerable.
  • Traffic control on paths should generally mimic traffic control on roadways – if the path is marked with lanes, everyone should stay in their lane and there shouldn’t be any problems.  Where there are no lanes (which is most of the paths), pass traffic moving in the opposite direction on the right, and traffic moving in the same direction on the left.
  • It is generally considered courteous to call out “On your left.” to pedestrians or cyclists ahead of you before you pass them just to give them a heads up that you’re there.  This is especially helpful on narrow paths where you’ll have to pass them closely.
  • If you’re on a trail, and someone from behind calls out “On your left” and wants to pass, move as far to the right as it is safe to ride as quickly as possible.
  • It is generally frowned on to pass a pedestrian going WAY faster than they are walking.  It can be a little bit startling to the pedestrian.
  • Some of the regional trails have a 10 mph speed limit, although I’ve never heard of them being enforced.  I have, however, seen cyclists given tickets for not stopping at stop signs where regional trails cross roadways
  • Whenever an off-street path crosses a roadway, cyclists must treat the crossing as though they were a pedestrian.  This includes following traffic signals, and waiting for motorized traffic to stop before proceeding through a crosswalk (marked or unmarked).
  • Several suburban communities do not recognize regional trail crossings as crosswalks, so vehicles are not required to stop for cyclists or pedestrians waiting to cross.  Even though some of the trail crossings look exactly like crosswalks (painted lines, curb ramps, etc.), they aren’t.  If you ever encounter a crosswalk next to a sign that says “This is not a crosswalk,” then you are on your own.  I have no idea what these communities think is supposed to happen at these crossings.  These crossings are entirely inconsistent with engineering and traffic control standards (I’m glaring in your general direction, St. Louis Park…).

Anyway, I guess that’s it.  Hope this was helpful!

Ask Me Anything!!!

Bicycle Pac-Man

I know y’all are wondering, “Hey, how was Tour de Taco?”

It was awesome!!  I’m gonna write a post about it when I get around to it sometime next year.
In the meantime, I wanted to let y’all know about another sweet biking event: Bicycle Pac-Man, the brainchild of Abby & Erika (the peeps I stole the idea for Tour de Taco from…).  
It’s exactly what it sounds like: It’s the old-school arcade game, except in real life, and everyone is on a bike. and the neighborhood is the game board.
And some people are dressed like fruit:
Here’s what Abby & Erika say about Bicycle Pac-Man at Socializr:

It’s summer – let’s wear costumes and chase each other on bikes.
Also there will be eating sandwiches, delicious beverages and cake.

Saturday July 24th 4pm

Our house

Rain or Shine!

Feel free to bring friends – RSVPs help us have enough food.

Sounds like fun, yes?  Get more details (and the address) at the Socializr event page!

Question Marks, Melanie’s Foot, and Cyclists Elbow

More anonymous questions!!!  Keep ’em coming!

Why do you like question marks so much?

???????????????????????????? I don’t understand the question.

What happened to Melanie’s foot?

She broke it.  Playing Tennis.  I used to think that tennis was a mamsy pamsy game for wussies or people who like watching women in short skirts.  But it’s serious business, y’all.  Mel is out of commission for a few more weeks, it seems.  I’m just hoping she can still get on a bike for Tour de Taco.

Is there a cycling equivalent to tennis elbow, like bicycling elbow? If so, I think I have it.

I’ve had quite a few injuries of sorts from cycling.  A few years ago, I used to get a really sharp pain in one of my knees any time I tried to ride.  I just rode anyway, though.  I don’t know about elbows, but I’ve had all sorts of weird things with my wrists.  And my two littlest fingers go a little numb just about every day.  Padded gloves help a lot.  Good luck.  I don’t know much about injury prevention…

Ask Me Anything!!!

Rice Creek Water Trail

The Rice Creek Water Trail is a 23 mile chain of lakes along Rice Creek between Lino Lakes and the Mississippi River.  Mel and I decided we wanted to canoe Lower Rice Creek, which is the portion of the water trail between Long Lake in New Brighton and the Mississippi River.

The Rice Creek Watershed District recommends that the river is “canoeable” if the water depths (measured in Mounds View) are above 8.3 feet.  Today, water levels were at about 8.07 feet, technically “not canoeable.” [Note that this water depth measurement does not mean that the creek we were canoeing on was 8 feet deep.  It means that somewhere else in the watershed district (wherever they take the readings) it was 8 feet.  Most of the creek we saw was less than a couple feet deep.]  But we decided to take our chances, and found conditions to be fantastic.

This might have been my favorite canoe trip in the metro area so far.  Rice Creek seems to be moving a little bit more quickly than the Rum River, for example.


At one point, Melanie announced that she couldn’t paddle anymore because it hurt her foot too much, so I became her chauffeur.  I don’t know, though… I think it might have been a trick.

I’m not gonna try and map our canoe route down Rice Creek, but here’s the approximate route I biked back to Long Lake to get the car.  While we were canoeing, we noticed a lot of folks cycling along what looked like a pretty neat bike trail through Locke Park.  I tried to take that trail back, but took a couple unfortunate wrong turns and got lost, so I just stuck to the streets.

View Larger Map

Cyclefest 2010: Tour de Taco: Final Route

I hope y’all have saved the date for Cyclefest 2010: Tour de Taco on July 17th!!!  The route and stops along the way have been determined.  Keep reading for the full details:

We will meet at 3400 15th Ave S (a.k.a. Powderhorn Park) on Saturday, July 17th, 2010, at 11:00 AM.  We’ll cycle as a group to the following locations:

What is it?  Cyclefest 2010: Tour de Taco is a bunch of normal peeps who happen to enjoy 3 things: Bikes, Ice Cream, Tacos.  We will meet at Powderhorn Park, then zig-zag on bikes across South Minneapolis stopping at a couple of our favorite locally owned ice-cream and taco joints.  At each stop, we eat ice cream & tacos, chat it up, and take a break.  Then we ride to the next treat.

Who is invited? Anyone! Everyone!  Invite your friends! In a bold move, I’m encouraging my social circles to collide for one day only.  So whether I know you from school, church, the interwebs, or somewhere else, it doesn’t matter.  Hopefully we’ll all meet some new people and make some new friends.

What cycling skill level is required?  The official route is 14.2 miles long, the majority of which utilizes off-street trails.  Families & kids are invited and encouraged.  If you don’t think you’re up for the whole 14 miles, let me know, and we’ll make arrangements for you to complete only the portion of the route you’re most interested in.  Maybe you just meet us at the first stop, ride with us to the second stop, and head home from there (or maybe you meet us at Lake Calhoun, ride with us for tacos, then head home after that… or whatever…)   The full route and each of the stops can be found here.

Bring a friend and a bike!  See you at 11:00 AM.

Bicycle Helmets

(Image from
( I’m a subscriber. You should be, too. It’s only $3/month.)

In a comment on another post, loyal reader Ren asked why Mel and I don’t wear helmets when we ride our bicycles. The cycling community is heavily divided on the issue of helmet use. Generally, this is an unproductive debate, and I stay away from discussing helmet use as much as possible. But people ask me often enough why I’m not wearing one that I’ll take Ren’s bait and try to clearly state my stance on bike helmets:

I’m not anti-helmet. I don’t have any problems with people who wear helmets. I’ve never tried to convince anyone not to wear a helmet. I own a helmet. I even wear a helmet once in a while.

I believe in wearing safety equipment appropriate for the activity, and some types of cycling are inherently more dangerous than others. Cycling in heavy or high-speed traffic, mountain riding, or competitive cycling would probably all convince me to wear a helmet. But I don’t consider my typical riding habits to be a risky activity. It’s not extreme or high-paced, and I don’t feel the need for safety equipment.

Plus, like Dottie, I love the feeling of the wind blowing through my hair, and wearing a helmet would rob me of this beautiful pleasure.

Yes, I know that people die while riding bicycles. Yes, I’ve heard the stories of strange accidents on recreational trails that may have been prevented with a helmet. No, I don’t dispute studies that show that cyclists wearing helmets are less likely to die from head trauma than cyclists without helmets. No, I don’t think I’m invincible. Yes, I’ve been hit by a car before. Yes, I realize that nasty accidents can happen when you least expect them to – even when you’re being extremely careful.

Still, I don’t feel compelled to wear a helmet when I’m riding slowly on recreational trails with very limited interaction with cars.

Some of you are thinking, “That’s stupid. You’re gonna risk splattering your brains because you want to feel wind in your hair???”

Yes. I hardly consider it a greater risk than not wearing a helmet while riding in a car. I know many of you will disagree with me, which is fine.

I’m following the Danish model of cycling, where everyone rides a bike, nobody wears a helmet, and nobody considers cycling a risky activity.

So how about you? Do you wear a helmet?

Why do cyclists ride right on the line instead of in the bike lane?

New question asked anonymously:

Why oh why do those who ride bicycles in Utah ride ON the line that separates the traffic lane from the bike lane? Do they WANT me to hit them?!

Great question!  The short answer is that they probably ride on the line because they don’t feel like it would be safe for them to actually ride in the middle of the bike lane.

Here’s the long answer:  Not all bike lanes are created equal.  There are a lot of bike lanes on roads that are simply unsafe for cyclists to use.  There are a few reasons why a bike lane might be perceived unsafe by cyclists:

  • Insufficient Width –  Most design standards specify that bike lanes should be at least 5′ wide, though some standards allow for 4′ width lanes in some cases.  Still in some cases, I’ve seen bike lanes as narrow as 3′.  If a bike lane is perceived to be too narrow by cyclists, they will not feel safe using it.  In some cases, even 5′ or 6′ lane widths aren’t enough to make a cyclist feel safe depending on other factors.
  • Gutter Seam / Storm Drains – The seam between the concrete gutter and the asphalt roadway usually poses a significant hazard to cyclists because this is a very common place for potholes to develop and because there is often an elevation difference of 0″-4″.  Unfortunately, this seam often falls right in the middle of the bike lane (2′ gutter pan with 4′ or 5′ bike lane…).  If there’s an unsafe seam down the middle of a bike lane, cyclists will often hug the outside edge of the bike lane, placing them right about on the line like you mention.  Also, storm drain grates pose significant safety to cyclists as well and will be avoided by cyclists.
  • Adjacent Parking – one of the biggest threats to cyclists on urban roadways is the threat of being doored by a parked car.  On a lot of streets, the bike lane is sandwiched between general purpose lanes and a parking lane.  This  configuration can make even very experienced cyclists nervous.  Doors open without warning, and this configuration often places cyclists right square in the “door zone.”  In this case, cyclists will often try to stay as far away from the parked cars as possible, pushing them closer to the line.
  • Not Actually a Bike Lane – Sometimes areas on the roadway are mistaken for bike lanes when it’s actually just a “clear zone” mandated by many design standards.  Sometimes, these clear zones turn out to be great places to ride a bike, so they are easily mistaken for bike lanes.  However, these clear zones tend to disappear and reappear without warning, or have other design aspects (like rumble strips) that make them an unsafe place for cyclists.

Anyway, those are a few reasons why cyclists will choose to hug one side of a bike lane.

Now, as you clearly point out, this is a poor place for a cyclist to be.  It’s not particularly safe for either you or the cyclist.  Obviously, the best solution is for engineers to design better bike lanes that cyclists will feel comfortable using.  In the mean time, though, it presents some special challenges for everyone.  As a cyclist, I really hate riding on roads like this because there’s no great option.  If I ride in the bike lane as it was designed, I feel like I’m placing myself at risk.  If I hug the edge of the bike lane, then I’m being really ambiguous about my intentions and I make drivers angry.  If I ignore the bike lane completely and ride right down the middle of the general purpose lane where I feel the most safe (which is my preferred option in this situation), then drivers stuck behind me are thinking, “Hey, There’s a bike lane right THERE!!!  Use it, Ass Hole!!!”  And that creates all sorts of bad feelings between drivers and cyclists.

So what should you do if you’re driving down the road and there’s a cyclist hugging the white line? Throw your empty McDonalds cup at the cyclist and give him/her the finger.  The same thing you’d do if there wasn’t a bike lane at all.  1. If possible, change lanes to pass.  2. Pass only when you can leave at least 3′ between your car and the cyclist.  3. Become a bicycle advocate in your neighborhood and encourage elected leaders to construct new and better bike lanes (hate cyclists?  This is the best way to get them the hell out of your way, btw…).

Thanks for the great question!!!

Ask Me Anything!!!