Category: advocacy

Next up in our commuter profiles is Rick Martin:

Rick Martin

How long have you been a bike commuter?

Since 1987

Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?

I got a DUI and I haven’t driven since. My daily round trip commute is 70 miles to work. Takes about 2 hours. And hill, hills, hills!

part of the route

How does Bike Commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)?

I’m in the best shape ever, I save around $300 in gas alone and I just couldn’t see it any other way.

What do you do for a living and in what city do you bike commute?

I’m a sous chef at a golf club and I commute in Portland, Oregon…until I leave the city limits!

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

I have a old Trek touring bike for around town, a IRA RYAN CYCLES 29’r MTB and I commute with a titanium Airborne road bike, and now I’m riding a brand new IRA RYAN road bike! He was featured in Bicycling last month with other Portland frame builders!

Ira Ryan

Any funny or interesting commuting story that you may want to share?

I had a guy w/ three children chase me about 3 miles because he didn’t believe I should have been on the road. He tried to door me, run me over, etc. while his kids kept telling their dad where I was hiding, plus the words he was saying to me and threatening to beat me! Crazy road rage for sure!

What do people (coworkers, friends) say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?

Close friends think it’s awesome, others………….uuhh……..are you insane? I get it all……

How about bicycling advocacy? Are you active in any local or regional advocacy groups!

The destination:

Anything else that you want to share with us?

The thing is…I’m training for the Race Across America and this commute keeps me in check! I’ll be doing the race in 2009 and if anyone here wants to ride with me on my commute this is where I ride…….north Portland I take Interstate Rd. to the Sellwood bike path to River Rd. then to Oregon City to 213 to Molalla! Very hilly and relentless. I can always make it more if you want……..50 miles? 80? Keep the rubber side down!!

We’d like to thank Rick for sharing his photos and profile, and we wish him luck in next year’s RAAM.

It seems like every day there is another news article stating that with the escalating gas prices and the surge in bicycles on the road, friction between motorists and bicyclists has skyrocketed. Surely, you’ve read such articles in places like the New York Times, Reuters newswire, The Wall Street Journal and a variety of other sources.

(photo from Taiwanderful)

Many of you have probably read (and responded) to such articles and discussion topics on a variety of bicycle-friendly blogs. Perhaps the most reasoned response I’ve seen comes from Paul Dorn of the excellent Bike Commute Tips blog. Check out his coverage of this issue and his thoughtful responses to this “media frenzy” by reading his article.

Another impassioned response to this media-driven “phenomenon” can be found on the Austin Cycling News blog. Writer Adriel (a frequent commenter on our site) breaks the argument down and provides some stirring rebuttals to the various “claims” of these news articles.

Put me in the “skeptic” camp…while I believe that more bicyclists are on the road and that many of them could stand to build up their skill levels a bit (something we’ve discussed before), I refuse to believe that there is a sudden rise in bike vs. car tensions. Conflict sells in the media, and with all those new bicyclists on the streets, there are a lot of “unseasoned bike commuters” out there who may perceive yelling and shouting from motorists as a terrible new development. Most of the more-experienced bicyclists out there know that this is par for the course, for the most part.

I certainly have not experienced any increase in the number or frequency of bike vs. car conflicts around here…nor have I seen a dramatic uptick in the number of bicycles on the road. But, as always, I’d like to hear your thoughts on these matters: is this all a bunch of hype to help sell newspapers? Have any of you experienced a rise in tensions on the road? Is there really a rise in these kinds of conflicts, or have a couple of highly-publicized confrontations (such as the New York and Seattle Critical Mass run-ins) put a biased spin on the public’s perception?

A friend just forwarded me a link to a resolution adopted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, held in late June in Miami, Florida.


Exciting news…perhaps politicians will really start to get on board with this and realize that bicycling is one of many great solutions not only to ease traffic congestion on U.S. roads, but also as a solution to America’s obesity epidemic, general quality of life decline and other facets that we commuters all know and love about riding a bike.

Read the full text of this inspiring resolution by going to the U.S. Mayors Conference website.

What do you think about this? Are we really going to start seeing accelerated improvements on our streets? As always, we welcome your comments and thoughts.

On July 25th, a historical event took place here in Tampa — the city’s first Critical Mass ride. Our sister city on the other side of Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg, has had a CM ride for at least a year now…but like so many bike-friendly things, the folks on the Tampa side of the Bay lag behind.

Our friends from the Tampa Bicycle Co-op helped get this event up and running. Well over 50 cyclists showed up, from kids to mothers, senior citizens, punks and everyone in between — a nice mix from all cycling disciplines. The ride began at the Lowry Park Zoo and the route took the group from there to Channelside, Ybor City and other city highlights before looping back.

The group begins to gather and tires are pumped…
a little pre-ride maintenance

We had to wait out a bit of rain before getting underway — and that was a good time for the group to mingle and catch up with each other. I ran into some familiar faces and met a bunch of new folks (even some faithful readers!). When the thunder and lightning died down, Co-op cofounder and CM ride “leader” Lily Richeson said a few words, encouraging participants to be friendly and courteous to motorists, to be safe and to have FUN. Then we were off.

Florida Ave.

The chosen route was a good one — multiple travel lanes in both directions. That way, the group could use a full road lane and still leave at least one other lane for cars. This seemed to work out well, and we didn’t have any incidents. In fact, I was surprised at the positive reaction from motorists; we got a lot of “hello” honks, whistling and cheering from passing vehicles. Who knows? Maybe we blew their minds — Tampa motorists are notorious for not really knowing what is going on around them. Perhaps they thought we were some sort of Tour de France parade or something!

(photo by Inertialily)

And now for a little commentary: As you can see from the photos, the group took up an entire lane. Is this in violation of Florida’s “two abreast law? Yes. At intersections with stop lights, did “corking” take place to keep the group together? Yes. Did we stop at every stop sign? No. Is the world going to come crashing to a halt because of this? Absolutely not. Naysayers can say what they want, but it has been my experience that in EVERY group ride, club ride and charity event I’ve ever ridden in for the past 25 years (literally HUNDREDS of rides), the very same actions take place. These “bendings” of traffic laws are not unique to Critical Mass rides, despite the many negative press articles about CM events. In some circumstances, bending the rules keeps the group together, thereby safer. Think of it as one really l-o-n-g vehicle than 60 or more individual vehicles.

Does it make me uncomfortable to bend (or break) traffic laws? Sure it does…nevertheless, I strongly feel that this group didn’t go out of their way to interfere with traffic flow like so many other CM rides I’ve heard about do. There was plenty of hand-waving and shouts of “thanks” in spots where traffic was briefly held up to allow the group to pass through major intersections, and I feel that motorists probably appreciated that if they gave it any thought. Bottom line is — I firmly believe this group is on the right track in terms of road behavior. Certainly, as the subsequent monthly rides attract more and more cyclists, there will come a time when things could get out of hand — it takes only one stupid incident to ruin the “vibe” for everyone. Let’s pray that the organizers (whose hearts are firmly in the right place) continue to encourage participants to get out there and do the right thing — otherwise, motorist hostility, police crackdowns and all those other negative aspects come into play.

rain rollin'
(photo by Inertialily)

I’m already looking forward to next month’s ride!