Monday, February 21, 2005

February Critical Mass and other bike news

February Critical Mass. Union Square North, 7:00pm 2/25/05.
Open to all bicyclists, inline skaters, skateboarders and other forms of non-polluting transportation. Meet at Union Square and join in a slow paced ride through Manhattan.

In other bicycle related news: 6 time champion of the Tour De France, Lance Armstrong has announced he will compete in the 2005 Tour and attempt a 7th victory.

In Kentucky, 59 year old cyclist, Billy Burks is made as hell and going to take it, to the White House…on his bike even. Former US Marine and two time President Bush voter is outraged at the possibility of privatizing social security and believes the US troops have been in Iraq far too long. This carpenter and freelance landscaper left Mayfield, Kentucky on a bike with $50 a tent, sleeping bag and enough food to last four days. He is well experienced in getting by on minimal goods for long cross-country bike treks. His goal is to get to Washington and tell the president exactly how he feels. “When 9/11 happened, we're not going to sit by and let something like that happen to us," Burks said via cell phone. "But the way I feel now is, Mr. Bush has got what he sent the troops there for. We've got Saddam Hussein out of power, Iraq had their election, and that's great, but now it's time to bring them home."

Burks said he is hopeful that the president will take more time to study plans for changes in Social Security. He is uncertain exactly what changes should be made to strengthen the system for future generations, but he is distrustful of the stock market.

"The stock market could go broke overnight and a person could become homeless at the snap of a finger," Burks said.

During the early 1990s he bicycled around the country, stopping to work at odd jobs when his money ran out. Touched by the homeless people he met on the trip, he then walked across the country in 1995, spending time in homeless camps and shelters to help raise awareness of the plight of the homeless.

This story comes from reporter: By Byron Crawford The Courier-Journal

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050220/NEWS0103/502200363/1059/news01

Bicycle Safety Bill Stalled On Utah's Capitol Hill


The driver of an SUV who hit and killed a bicyclist in Big Cottonwood Canyon last fall, today was charged with negligent homicide. Meantime, new legislation inspired by this case may now become law. John Daley has more from Capitol Hill where this bill had been stalled.

That bill would require motorists to give bicycists a 3-foot gap when passing, on a road wide enough for that. It easily passed in the Utah House but was in limbo in the Senate. Late this afternoon, a compromise bill emerged.

25-year-Josie Johnson, a graduate student at the University of Utah, was killed last fall when she was biking up Big Cottonwood Canyon. She was on the far right of two uphill lanes when she was struck from behind by a car. The driver, Elizabeth Deseelhorst, wife of the owner of Solitude Ski Resort, pleaded not guilty today to negligent homicide charges.

The case has galvanized bike riders who went to Capitol Hill for new legislation which would require drivers to give bicyclists a three-foot berth when passing. The bill breezed through the House, but got stuck in the Senate, in part because some in the GOP majority worried bicyclists might abuse the rules.

Sen. Chris Buttars/(R) West Jordan : "YOU'VE GOT A CERTAIN TYPE OF BIKER. THEY'LL DRIVE FOUR WIDE ON THE ROAD. OR THEY'LL DRIVE RIGHT UP TO THAT LINE AND IF YOU HAVE SERIOUS TRAFFIC COMING IN THE OTHER DIRECTION, BETWEEN TRUCKS AND EVERYTHING ELSE. I THINK IT'S GOING TO HAVE TO BE RETHOUGHT."

Bicyclists, including Josie Johnson's brother, say they're frustrated.

Ken Johnson: "I DON'T SEE THAT THIS BILL HAS ANY HARM OR GIVE AN ADVANTAGE TO ANY GROUP. THE ONLY THING I THINK IT WOULD DO IS AVOID ACCIDENTS LIKE THE ONE THAT HAPPENED TO MY SISTER."

John Weis: "ONE THING I'VE LEARNED WHILE UP THERE IS THERE ARE A LOT OF MISPERCEPTIONS ABOUT BICYCLE LAW, ABOUT WHERE THEY CAN BE AN CAN'T BE."

Late today, a compromise bill emerged, which would back new education but perhaps strip the three-foot buffer.

Sen. Curtis Bramble/(R) Utah County: "WHAT WE'RE LOOKING AT IS A SUBSTITUTE BILL WHICH WOULD PROVIDE A BICYCLE SAFETY AWARENESS CAMPAIGN."

Elizabeth Deseelhorst declined to comment about the case today. Her attorney says she's sick about what happened, but he says this case should never have resulted in a criminal charge.

http://tv.ksl.com/index.php?nid=39&sid=151467