Some kind-hearted folks are organizing a ride from Baltimore to Annapolis to honor fallen cyclist Larry Bensky.

This is a ride from Baltimore to Annapolis to memorialize Larry Bensky, who as you all know was killed this past Tuesday while riding on Butler Rd. We’re doing this on Monday as it is the last day of the current legislative session and a great and somber opportunity to get bill 461 passed into law. House bill 461 requires motorists to give cyclists three feet when passing. Some say that it can’t be enforced but they’re missing the point. The point is to draw attention to the rights of cyclists and to move one inch, or three feet, towards a better, more civil society. So join us.

Respond to the event on Facebook here.

I can’t make it, since my child is about to be born any day (literally) now.  But if any readers/contributors do and would like to share reflections, stories and photos, please drop us a line.


In the fall, University Parkway was resurfaced (check out the video of it getting eaten).  The blacktop has been nice since then, but it’s lacked markings.  As soon as the weather warmed a few weeks ago, the traffic lanes and bike lane lines went back up.  Today, a crew was out on North-bound West University Parkway, putting in markings within the lanes.  They look fantastic! Many thanks to the work of folks like Nate!

More information about yesterday’s crash that killed one cyclist and left another seriously injured:

Baltimore County police have identified an Owings Mills man who was fatally struck by a car while riding his bicycle Tuesday afternoon near Butler and Falls roads.

Lawrence Bensky, 42, of the first block of Quarterhouse Court was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to the initial police investigation, Faith Frenzel, 64, of the 1900 block of Gravel Road in Hampstead was driving her 2001 Toyota Echo westbound on Butler Road about 4:30 p.m. when she struck Bensky’s pedacycle on the shoulder of the road. The pedacycle became lodged in the front of the car before colliding with Joel Alan Wyman, who was also riding a pedaycle, sending both victims off the road, police said.

Wyman, 45, of the 2200 block of Harmony Woods Road in Owings Mills was taken to Sinai Hospital, where he was in serious condition.

Police were preparing charges against Frenzel, pending the completion of their investigation.

More.

Yes, you read correctly. She hit them on the shoulder of the road. And the police are preparing charges.  I wonder if any will stick?

From The Baltimore Sun:

A car struck two cyclists, killing one, Tuesday afternoon in Baltimore County.

Police said a sedan vehicle struck an adult male on a bike near Butler and Falls roads around 4:30 p.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The other cyclist was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital and their condition is unknown, police said. Police did not have additional information on the victims.

The driver of the car was not injured, police said. Police are still investigating.

(More.)

The comment section, of course, is full of, “I share the road, but not THIS road,” and, “THESE CYCLISTS have a death wish,” crap.  But there are also cyclists, drivers, and people without their heads in….the sand sticking up for all of us.

More, at Baltimore Spokes, also.


I don’t think it’s my imagination that the number of cyclists seems to go up in Baltimore each spring — not merely up from the winter, but up from the year before. I’m sure even non-cyclists have noticed the increase in two-wheeled warriors over the last few weeks (especially the end of this week).

But I was wondering today if this year’s particularly terrible winter might have something to do with an increase in people engaging in outdoor activities in general. Were there folks who thought, “This winter’s been a doozy. I want to get outside more this spring. How can I? Riding a bike would work….”

Or maybe I’m universalizing my own relief that spring is here, matched perhaps only by my last winter/spring in Boston in 2003.

Winter cycling has its own rewards. But spring cycling means more company. (Check out Let’s Go Ride a Bike, for a post about commuting company, and this old NBBB post.)  My co-worker and I went 1/2 way home together yesterday.  And I haven’t been the only cyclist on the Jones Falls Trail at all since spring got here.


I snapped this today after summiting on Charles St. from Penn Station. Cherry blossoms, proof that spring is here. A nice reward for a great ride in the sprinkles.  Hooray for rain rides!

Picture 2

Owings Mills to Hampden

I commute in part because I, like most of you, enjoy the “little adventures” that go along with it.  Yesterday had a couple of nutty back to back incidents I thought I’d share.

Not more than a mile from my work in Owings Mills there is a new bridge being built. The deck is finished, but the paving, lighting and other little details are not. It is a bonus for me because I can ride it without the normal auto annoyances. Often I see skateboarders there. Yesterday there was a little boy (maybe 8 years old) and his mom. He had a helmet on and a bike nearby. As I neared them and announced “good evening”, the little boy looked at me and said, “We know you”. It startled me and I stopped. I looked at the mom and she smiled. I looked back at her son, careful to keep my helmet light out of his eyes, but with all three of my rear blinkies flashing like a police cruiser. “How do you know me?”, I asked him. “We live up there”, he said, pointing to the nearby townhouses. “We see your lights and your bicycle every night. It’s great.”  My heart went soft.

His mom said, “Now, you’ve got some competition.” I smiled. “I like that!”, I said. “More bikes, more bikes.”  “Yeah” the little boy shouted.  I wished them my best and rode off, filled with appreciation.

Twenty minutes later I’m fast cruising down a long flat stretch of Winands rd near McDonough. A car from a side street to my right is waiting to pull out. I notice the driver, high school age and his buddies. They wait for me to pass, but as roll past they give me a blast from their horn. Hmm…  annoying, but harmless. I wait at the red light ahead figuring they’re somewhere behind me in line. Light changes and I shoot through the intersection. Several cars pass then I can tell there’s one hanging back, matching my speed and slightly behind me. It’s obviously them. They nudge forward to about a 10 o’clock position on my left no more than 10ft. away. I glance over and the kid in the passenger seat is staring me down making a sinister laugh. His arm comes up and whoosh- a big gulp cup comes at my head. I managed to duck the cup and to stay upright. Luckily. They gun the engine and are gone.

A piece of me thought about a chase (they got slowed down by another car up ahead), but I decided to let it be. It took a few miles, but by the time I got into Hampden I was all better. Hell, I might’ve done something like that when I was their age. Plus I think I was partially inoculated from the attack by my nice encounter with the boy on the bridge. I know one thing for sure: I’ll be thinking about that young boy, possibly watching my flashing lights go by, from a nearby window for many commutes to come.

Ride on.           -Bob


Nothing is better than bikes and public transportation.  Head down the Jones Falls trail on Sundays and ride the streetcars.  One more great place to visit on the JFT: The Baltimore Streetcar Museum.

....shouldn't we always?

Aside from a few new bike lanes here or there as part of Operation Orange Cone, there hasn’t been anything new to bike on in Baltimore for quite some time.  Even the new shared bike and bus lanes downtown need some refreshing.  One small victory was gained in the deep mid-winter on the central bikeway of Baltimore.  Baltimore City Public School System had closed the parking lot of the Guilford Ave cut-through due to conflict between cyclists and pedestrians with extended gate arms and chains.

A compromise was reached by the Department of Transportation adding signage to direct cyclists to the parking lot and yiedling right-of-way to pedestrians; nothing more than is asked in the regular course of travel by cyclists in all parts of the city…and world.   By adding 3 simple signs, the dream of the Guilford Avenue Bicycle Boulevard lives on.

Quite a few more signs for bicycles will spring up over the course of the spring, summer & fall taking B’more to the next level of bicycle existence.  No, it’s not Portland, Amsterdam, Copenhagen or even New York City.  It’s Baltimore.  Not only will the Park Heights and Southeast Bike Networks become reality, but construction on 3 trail sections will begin and an existing trail will be recognized.

Until the summer construction season, keep on riding, shake the remaining cold and yield to pedestrians.  There are many events coming this summer that need assistance of experienced cyclists.  Let’s get more of B’more outta cars and onto bikes!!!

As Bartles & James used to say, “Thank you for your support.”


Via The Baltimore Sun:

The family of a bicyclist who was killed last year in a collision with a truck on Maryland Avenue has filed a wrongful death suit against the driver and his employer.

On Aug. 4, John R. “Jack” Yates, 67, was riding his bike south on Maryland Avenue behind a truck when he got caught in the vehicle’s rear wheels as it turned right on Lafayette Avenue, police said at the time. He died at the scene.

The civil suit, filed Wednesday in Baltimore City Circuit Court on behalf of Yates’ wife, son and daughter, seeks $5 million in compensatory damages for negligence by driver Michael Dale Chandler of Severn and Potts & Callahan Inc. The demolition, excavation and equipment rental company is located on Lafayette Avenue.

Baltimore police investigators determined that Yates was at fault because he was riding in the parking lanes and tried to pass the truck. No charges were filed against Chandler.

But Steven D. Silverman, the attorney representing Yates’ family, said that the driver and his company were negligent because a surveillance video shows he turned right without signaling.

Also, “he took a right turn without making sure it was clear and free of traffic — cyclists or pedestrians,” he said.

The lawyer also argued that Yates was not negligent because statutes governing bicyclists require them to stay with the flow of traffic, as far to the right as possible.

“That’s exactly what Mr. Yates did,” he said.

More here, and, I’m sure, terrible comments from all the jerks in the state.

Have I just been living under a rock, or is this the first time it’s been made public that it was Potts & Callahan’s driver who was driving the truck?

I’m glad that Mr. Yates’ family is sticking to it, since it seems like the Police gave up.

I’ve always thought they looked not only pretty cool, but also very practical. The first mile or so of my commute heads Southeast into the morning sun, and my tinted glasses don’t do the job on the brightest of days. No visored helmets I’ve ever used did a good job or anything except hitting me in the face in a crash when one broke off. For the sake of my eyes (i.e., keeping them in my head), I went visorless this time around.  But I assumed it was either a cap or a helmet. Because, having smashed my head into the ground before, I don’t go anywhere without my shell-hat, AKA, my helmet.

But, duh. (I’m admitting a high level of density here.) I could just wear a cap under my helmet. I mean, at least, I assume I could. I do have the largest size helmet, with the thin pads, and it’s a tight fit. I have an enormous head, seriously.  But maybe I’ll shave my head and get everything under there.

Also, if you’ve worn a Nutcase helmet, you’ve probably noticed the oddly-shaped pads. While “normal” helmets usually give you “striped” helmet head, these sorta make it look like something pooped on you or that you stuck your head into a watermelon or something. A different helmet head when I show up at work would be nice.

Anyway, came across these caps, and they even turn these out in stylish hemp. Pretty neat.

Anyone have any experience with, or recommendations for, cycling caps?

[Image, Walz Caps.]


I haven’t. This is a terrible cell-phone picture from when I was waiting for the bus this morning. I can walk to the grocery store and didn’t work last week.  So getting-around sans bike hasn’t been much of an issue for me.  But I realize that not everyone lives a ten minute walk from two markets and can telecommute when necessary.

Anyone have any cool snow/ice/bike stories from this storm/these storms?


When we think we have a rough time with snow here in Baltimore this winter, think of our Northern comrades in Alaska.  Check out Bicycles and Icicles.  It made me feel kinda wimpy for my bike being inside for a week.  These folks are serious adventurers!

I realize that comparing climates is futile.  Plenty of cities with much harsher winters than Baltimore have great bike ridership and strong “bike cultures.”  But we do also have pretty long and terrible summers. But there are hotter cities with plenty of ridership, too.  Maybe it’s just a matter of cycling being incredibly fun and of lots of people wanting to do it, wherever they live?

Still, this is some wild stuff I’d love to try one day.  If we keep having winters like this (and climate change scientists often say we might), I think I might have to invest in a hardcore snow bike like these intrepid cyclists pedal around the snowy North.

Wow.  Feet and feet of snow this winter, ruining so many nice bike rides.  Sure, riding in snow is fun and do-able, but not in two feet of the stuff.  Or maybe I’m just a sissy for not riding when my hubs, bottom bracket and feet would be under snow.  With what else is coming, I’ll bet half the bikes in Baltimore lost their minds.  Maybe their riders’ minds, too.


From Carryology.

I’ve used both, hated both and loved both.  I’ve traveled with two messengers for a weekend trip and hiked with one, and I’ve cycled with very heavy backpacks that almost took me down with crosswinds.

I get a sweaty back; so I was carrying a messenger bag this summer and fall.  But usually I hate adjusting them (even with the cross-strap) and the Messenger Bag Should Sloop (where you’re just bent from those things). I used to like that carrying a messenger bag identified me as “a cyclist.”  But, for one, that’s not really true.  Just as everyone with a backpack is not a backpacker, traveler or vagabond, not everyone with a messenger bag is a cyclist.  Secondly, I don’t want to be identified by my favorite mode of transportation.  I do also walk and take transit a lot.  Plus, well, if we want everyone to cycle, the cyclist/non-cyclist distinction is counterproductive.

I do notice that I over-pack with backpacks.  Right now I have 17 pens and four Moleskines on me.  No kidding.  Add work papers, dissertation drafts, a 40 oz water bottle, lunchtime book and other junk, and it’s a lot more weight on my back.  Sweating is not usually a worry this time of year, but I think my high-riding daypack can get in the way of my helmet a little.

Lately, I’ve been throwing my stuff into an old totebag and strapping it to my rack.  I do feel like a sucker with a bag on and an empty rack.  I call it my Bike Bindle.  I’ll have to do a post about that.

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