Thursday, November 23, 2006

bikes: lost and found and unclaimed

After visiting the AAPD lost and found list, we fear that disrespect for bikes is hardly limited to road-raging car-muters. It extends to bike owners themselves.

The L&F list shows 168 items collected as far back as October, 2005. Nearly half of the list is bicycles! In fact, more than 50 bikes collected over the past 3 months are now clogging up police storage facilities. Note that this number does not include any bikes abandoned on University racks, which are dealt with by the University.

If you've "lost" a bike recently, you should stop by the police station to see if you can make a match. It's heart-wrenching to think of all those orphaned bikes.

If you've registered your bike, the process should be easy. Even if you haven't registered your bike, a good description should be sufficient. Based on the number of bikes they have to store, the police are probably willing to work with you if it means reducing their inventory.

You can contact them at
100 N. Fifth Ave, 1st floor of City Hall,
Go to the Police Reception Desk
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.- 3:30 p.m.
Phone: (734) 994-2874

AAPD used to hold semi-annual bike auctions in order to empty our their warehouse. It was a great place to pick up a cheap and functional bike, and sometimes walk away with classic parts and frames for only a few dollars. Sadly, the bike auction is no more. We believe that unclaimed bikes are now donated to a local charity, but that is not confirmed.

It would be great if the immediate and direct reuse of bikes that the auction provided could return. This could be a great fundraiser for WBWC and would be a great event for promoting bike culture in town.

Buy Nothing Day

Friday, November 24 is Buy Nothing Day. The protest/celebration higlights the manner in which consumerism has overshadowed the importance of quality time with friends and family.

We're not aware of any events organized in Ann Arbor, but you can show your support simply by not shopping for the day (harder than some may think). We encourage all carfree folks to continue to supportlocal businesses on Saturday.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bike Winter events

Winter is, of course, the best time of the year for cycling in Ann Arbor. There's less tourist traffic, no blaring sun in your eyes, no oppressive summer heat & humidity, and no construction. The potholes are iced over, the air is crisp and the scenery is covered in a soft blanket of snowy goodness. It makes you wish spring would never come, doesn't it?

If you are humbugging the winter roads while you hoist your bike into the rafters for its annual hibernation, the getDowntown program is hoping to change your mind and turn you on to the joys of winter riding. They just announced the schedule for this year's Bike Winter events. They've organized a few winter workshops on maintenance, riding skills, and DIY bike lights. You can meet up with other winter riders for food and drinks at Friday night socials and ride in the "Worst Day of the Year Ride" on January 21.

We got this info from the getDowntown newsletter. This newsletter is quite informative and had some up-to-date carfree info that we hadn't seen elsewhere. It might be worth signing up to receive it by email. gDt also doesn't send a lot of extra announcements, so you don't have to worry about spam.

Monday, November 20, 2006

crosswalk buttons

That shiny silver button beckons pedestrians with the promise of parting traffic like the Red Sea to allow safe passage through the otherwise perilous journey across the street. Surely the crosswalk button is evidence of the miraculous ways in which technology improves our every-day lives in so many subtle ways. Or is it? From a broader perspective, one must ask why we need such a device at all. Why does of street traffic flow uninhibited while those on foot have to beg permission to procede? If by envisioning the key, we create our own prison, then perhaps by providing a button, society casts pedestrians as second-class travellers?

Some cities are making an effort to improve the pedestrian cross walk button-punching experience. The Vancuver Transportation Plan calls for system-wide reduction in pedestrian wait times. They also provide crossing buttons for bike lanes.

At the same time, massive pedestrian crowds don't guarentee government attention. For example, in New York city the majority of cross walk buttons are simply placebos! Updates to the traffic control system included disabling thousands of crosswalk buttons that still get pushed every day by anxious pedestrians.

We contacted the city engineering department to find out how our fair city addresses the issue. As has always been our experience, the city provided us with a speedy and detailed (a little too detailed in some ways) explanation. We've sifted through the engineer-speak to give carfree folks the straight scoop on Ann Arbor actuated pedestrian crossings and, yes, it is just as exciting as it sounds.

We've got about 150 traffic signals in town and most of them include pedestrian signals. Those that do not are mostly freeway signals and areas without sidewalks. This city does plan to include pedestrian signals with any future traffic signal additions whether there is a side walk or not.

There are two types of pedestrian signals, pre-timed and actuated. Pre-timed signals have a pedestrian crossing built into the traffic light cycle and don't provide a button. Actuated signals are the ones that provide a button to request crossing permission. There are a few places on main roads with a hybrid system that include pedestrian signals in the regular cycle, but also provide a request button.

There are a few tips worth noting for pedestrians, though walkers have probably already figured out the subtlies of signals along their regular routes.

* If there is a button, you should push it. Unlike NYC, Ann Arbor's buttons actually do something. They ensure that you will get a chance to cross and that you have enough time to complete the journey once you step into the street.

* Pressing the button queues up a pedestrian crossing once demand for the current (vehicle) cycle has ended. Once demand ends, the current cycle is completed and then the pedestrian cycle starts. That means that if traffic is heavy, you may still have to wait a while before you get a "walk" signal. This is probably where you (justifiably) start to feel like a second-class citizen. Make up for it with a jaunty stroll or happy skipping in front of the line of cars that is forced to wait for you when the light turns.

* It is a basic human instinct to push the crosswalk button repeatedly, even if you just saw someone else push it before you. We are sad to report that the city denies any beneficial response by the traffic system to such behavior. Once the button is pushed, the request is in and the system is apparently not designed to recognize repeated taps as an expression of urgency of the pedestrian. No doubt this is a shortfall in the system, but the city does not appear to be willing to commit resources to making this change. Additionally, bloggers across the country agree: people who push the crosswalk button repeatedly are annoying.

A while back some witty pranksters published a list of cross walk button hacks. Punching the crosswalk button with these secret codes would would allow for instant crossing, permanent walk signal, and other pedestrian advatages. The codes would do so, that is, if they existed. They don't. The original website that published these fake hacks is gone, but references to the legend of the crosswalk button hack lingers on. In case you won't take our word for it, you are welcome to try the "instant walk" hack next time you are waiting at an intersection:

thanks to carfreeChicago for leads on some of this info

Update on TRU meeting

The Rapid Transit Meet-up has been rescheduled:

Interested in bringing quality rapid transit to southeast Michigan? Want to help push for commuter trains from Ann Arbor and Ypsi to Detroit, metro Airport, Chelsea, and Livingston County? Curious about the latest findings from the Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) on transit in our area? Come to a meet-up with Transportation Riders United (TRU), a non-profit group working to improve public transit in southeast Michigan. Eli Cooper, Transportation Program Manager for the City of Ann Arbor, will discuss Ann Arbor's efforts for rapid transit. TRU Director Megan Owens will discuss regional transit issues, the proposed Ann Arbor-Detroit commuter train, SEMCOG's upcoming public meeting on that issue, and opportunities to get involved. Q&A follows. Free.
7 p.m. Tuesday, November 28th
Ann Arbor District Library Freespace (third floor)
343 S. Fifth Ave., at William
(313) 963-8872

Sunday, November 19, 2006


A cool event that combines buying local, riding bikes, and donating to foodbanks took place in Iowa this year.

It's a scavenger hunt for donated food. Riders all get a grocery list of 10 items that must all be collected from different stores. The first one back with a complete list and receipt to prove it wins. The limit of one item per store means that knowing your local merchants will be much more important than being fast on a bike. All the food collected is donated to the local food bank.

It's a great way to increase awareness of all the local sources for groceries, as well as a fun way to promote cycling as an good way to get around town. We would bet that even with the petrol "advantage" cagers (car drivers) couldn't complete this task faster than cyclists.

What do you say, Ann Arbor? Cranksgiving next year?

Thanks to CommutebyBike for the lead

Share the Road campaign kick-off meeting

The getDowntown program is starting the ball rolling on a campaign to promote sharing the road. The announcement email says that the committee will,

help to guide the look & key messages of a Share the Road educational campaign that will be launched next May/June in Ann Arbor. This campaign will be aimed at educating cyclists, motorists and potentially pedestrians to understand their rights and responsibilities on the road.

The first planning meeting will be scheduled for Wednesday Monday, December 4th
from 6:30-8pm here at the Ann Arbor Chamber offices in the DTE buidling on the corner of Main and Williams. Pizza and drinks provided. Contact Erica Briggs at 734.214.0100 to let her know you are coming and ensure there is enough pizza.

This is an important component to better carfee living, whether you bike, walk, or bus. Thanks to Erica for taking the initiative.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Update on UTN meeting

The UTN meeting that we announced previously has been cancelled due to overlap with a SEMCOG transit plan public meeting. Fear not, the meeting will be rescheduled, and we'll announce it here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

internet round-up: crazy bike infrastructure

We try to keep posts focused on the Ann Arbor area, but it's good to step out of the box once in a while to gain some perspective. Here is a little collection of bike infrastructure projects that have stepped way outside the traditional sidewalk vs. road paradimgn of cycling infrastructure.

A few years back, significant effort was put into the idea of a bike tunnel under the railroad tracks near Depot St. That is about as radical as Ann Arbor has gotten. Sure, big expensive projects may not be the way to spend our litmited NMV budget, but what if we were to dream big? Are any of these options worth considering in our fair city?

Bicycle Lift currently operating in Norway assists cyclists on ascending steep hills. Need a little boost up Hospital Hill or Broadway St?

Water-cooled bike path designed for Qatar beats the heat with a solar-powered water-misting system on a shaded bikepath. Ann Arbor doesn't have the heat to warrant this kind of project, let alone the oil money to pay for it. Still, simply providing cover from rain, snow, and sun makes cycling and walking a lot more attractive.

Elevated bike wind-powered bike highways have yet to meet a city with the forward-thinking leaders and deep pockets required for implementation. They system provides a tailwind making cycling "90% more efficient" in the weather protected corridors. Connect North and Central Campus, a bike express route to Ypsi running above Washtenaw, ...maybe not.

The McDonalds Cycle Center in Chicago is one of the few dream resources that came to fruition. The center offers secure parking, repair service, rentals, lockers, showers, and towel service, as well as hosting tours, classes and other events. Certainly a big city can more easily support big projects like this. Maybe we could start smaller by getting the YMCA to offer a "Shower Pass" and some bike lockers.

But innovative does not have to mean expensive. Check out this commissioned bike lane in Montreal.

Monday, November 13, 2006

eating on the bus

The nice thing about riding the bus is you don't have to focus on the road. You can redirect all of the energy that is wasted as stress in motorists to other tasks like reading, knitting, writing a grocery list, listening to language tapes, grabbing a bite to eat...

Er, well, actually your not allowed to eat on the bus. While the bus may seem like the perfect place to lounge with a good book and a cappaccino, AATA states pretty clearly that no open food or beverage is allowed on the bus. And there are some pretty good reasons why they make that rule.

1. Cleanliness- The AATA buses are kept pretty clean, and the bus drivers are busy. they don't schedule in time to mop up the croisant crumbs soaking in a puddle of latte that you spilled on the floor. Of course you would never do such a thing on the bus. But if we let you do it, we have to let everyone else do it, too. Take a quick look around on your next bus ride. Can you vouch for all these people not dropping crumbs or wrappers?

2. Passenger annoyance- Your carmel mochaccino might smell good to you, but that doesn't mean everyone is enjoying it. The lady in front of you hates the smell of coffee, and the guy across the aisle just decided to bring a hot anchovie and onion sandwich to eat on tomorrows commute.

3. Safety- AATA doesn't want you choking on a muffin because of a sudden stop or pothole. And no one wants to slip on the 2% milk you spilled on the stairs.

But you're not convinced, are you? If you still think you can sneak a snack past the driver, then we'll suggest a few ways to minimize the imapact of your illicit munchies.

1. Don't be conspicuous. A BBQ is going to draw attention. Consider small, bite-sized snacks that you can keep in your bag and eat one at a time. People are less likely to notice and you are less likely to make a mess. Grapes, Teddy-grams, dried fruit, etc.

2. Don't make a mess. Avoid crumbly, goopy, or sloshy foods that leave evidence. Again, bite-sized snacks are a good solution.

3. Clean up your mess. Bring something to wipe up any crumbs or spills that might happen even though you are being really careful.

4. Avoid stinky snacks. Cheese and meat, garlic or onion flavorings, and hot foods stink up the bus. That attracts attention and makes an unpleasant ride for other passengers.

5. Keep drinks in an air-tight container. They are less likely to spill and smell.

6. Share. Maybe the driver will be more understanding if s/he has something to munch on, too.

7. If you do get caught by the driver or another passenger, don't make a big fuss. We all know you broke the rules. Be an adult about it and put the food away.

bike valet

We recently came across a video of professional bike valets in Japan. In uniforms including white gloves, these gentlemen are staioned throughout Tokyo to park and protect bikes while their owners are shopping, dining, or attending class.

You may be thinking, "ah, yes, another example of bike infrastructure that would never work in the US." But did you know about the extremely successful bike valet program at SBC park in SanFransisco? The park has been offering valet bike parking for Giants games for over a year now.

We've even had valet for bikes in Ann Arbor a few times. The getDowntown program has organized valet service for event like Midnight Madness and outdoor film screenings. This leads us to contemplate other events with heavy traffic within easy biking distance from downtown and campus. Yes, we're talking about UofM football games.

Ypsidixit recently reported on a sustainability meeting where the speaker mentioned the need to link sustainability with fun. Over 100,000 people show up on game days for the rivalry and revelry of UofM football. The biggest hassle of the day is getting to the game. Bike valets could help link the fun of football with the benefits (and fun!) of getting around by bike.

What do you think? Would townies and students be more likely to bike to games if they knew they would have a safe place to park? Would you be willing to volunteer an afternoon as a bike valet?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Transportation Riders United meeting on AADTS

Transportation Riders United (TRU), is a Detroit-based non-profit advocating better transportation access and mobility for "greater Detroit". Is Ann Arbor really part of "greater Detroit"? Well, if it was debatable before, the Ann Arbor Detroit Rapid Transit Study (AADRTS) is (extremely) slowly removing any doubts.

The recent update (PDF) from AADRTS has ruled out light rail as too expensive and is now focusing on Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on Michigan Ave. and commuter rail on existing tracks. SEMCOG has some concern that the costs of the commuter rail will be too high and the ridership too low, and so seems to be leaning toward the BRT solution.

TRU voices concern over this opinion on their website:

The presentation gave no explanation for the ridership or cost estimates and SEMCOG does not currently plan to release an actual report. TRU has concerns about the estimates for commuter rail, which we believe is the best option. The cost estimates are 3-10 times higher than most cities and the ridership estimate is just 2,000 riders a day - below current daily People Mover ridership.

To encourage community participation on this important decision, TRU has organized a bunch of local meetings with experts. The Ann Arbor meeting is on December 4 at 7pm on the third floor of the downtown library being rescheduled. From TRU:
Director Megan Owens will discuss regional transit issues, the proposed Ann Arbor-Detroit commuter train, and how to get involved. Invited guest Eli Cooper, Ann Arbor transportation program manager, will discuss Ann Arbor's efforts for rapid transit. There'll be Q&A and suggestions on next steps for people who care about and want to work on this issue. Please check out for more information.

Carfree folks should make this issue, if not this meeting, a priority as it will certainly play a large role in shaping regional transit, and finally provide decent carfree access to Detroit.

(We had no idea it was possible to design a transit system with a lower ridership than the People Mover. Does this extra effort account for the dragging pace of this project?)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

traveling with a bike

For anyone planning to escape the cold over one of the up-coming holiday weekends, BikeAccess.Net has a decent collection on tips for traveling with a bike. the site covers every aspect of with-bike travel including:
*how to get to and from airports by bike
*airline policies on bike lugggage
*bike boxes and packaging
*folding bikes
*shipping bikes via UPS and FedEx
*Renting bikes
*Bikes on trains
*the impact of post 9-11 TSA policy on traveling with bikes

The content is completely user generated. While they have info from all over the world, we didn't find much about the Detroit-Ann Arbor area. Important info for our region is missing, like the fact that you can't take a bike on Amtrak trains from the Ann Arbor station. There is also no bike route posted for DTW. But there are a couple horror stories about people trying to get their bike on a NWA flight. Maybe you can sympathize.

AATA lost and found

Cold, rain and snow require a bunch of little extras like hat, scarf, gloves (Mittens!), and umbrellas. Unfortunately, these are also easily forgotten if you take them off on the bus.

If you get home from your bus commute one mitten short, AATA has a couple ways to get it back. They offer an online form to submit lost and found inquiries. But you can also call (734) 996-0400, or ask at the desk in the Blakely Transit Center (BTC). AATA staff will search their database of lost items and let you know if they find anything that matches. Lost & found is collected off the buses every evening and held at the BTC, so your best bet for quick recovery is probably to just stop in there. But remember that a lost item may not be turned in until the end of the day.

Hats and gloves are not the only thing that go missing on the bus. We've heard stories of laptops, mobile phones, and bikes left on the rack that turn up in the AATA Lost & Found, and some are never claimed! Valuable items like this are held in more secure facilities at the AATA headquarters, so they aren't as easy to pick up, but they are safer until you retrieve them.

Lots of stuff is never reclaimed. AATA holds all items for at least a month. Eventually, anything useful is donated to a local non-profit. So clip your mittens to your sleeves, keep your hat in your pocket, and check your seat before you leave the bus. And call if something is missing. We're sure AATA would be happy to get it trim the pile a little.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

bikers vs. pedestrians: scuffles over scraps

The New York Times posted an op-ed on bike-ped conflicts in NYC (login required). The writer, a previous Department of Transporation assistant commissioner, blames the battle on a lack of policy and infrastructure recognizing cyclists as legitimate road users.

Ann Arbor faces similar problems where incomplete bike lanes, mixed messages on where to ride (sidewalk bike route signs, mixed use arrows, University-endorsed sidewalk biking) and street perceived to be unsafe by cyclist lead to sidewalk cycling, bike-ped conflicts, and, eventually, pedestrians cursing "those damn bikers!"

The solution presented in the op-ed is in three parts:

First, we need to establish a clear hierarchy for the use of city streets. Pedestrians come first; we started out as a walking city and it will be our greatest strength going forward. This means bikers must yield to pedestrians — even errant ones. Biking is a superb form of transport we should encourage. Drivers must yield to bike riders — even errant ones.
Second, we must enforce the rules. Police officers should write summonses specifically for “failure to yield” by bike riders (and car drivers). ...
Third, let’s advance the network of bike lanes citywide. I’d even re-introduce physically separate bike lanes. ...
Finally, we need to recognize that our economic and physical well-being are advanced when more people are able to enjoy our streets.

An write-up on streetsblog breaks that op-ed down to argue that cyclists and pedestrians are wasting their efforts in-fighting over the scraps of the transportation budget, instead of recognizing their similar position of disregard and organizing to petition for safer, less auto-centric streets.

While the Good People of Ann Arbor do make an effort to advocate for pedestrians and cyclists (WBWC, getDowntown, and this blog are examples), we still have our share of Letters to the Editor regarding renagade cyclists. Over on Arborupdate, divisions are even forming between yard-rakers and bike-riders over how to manage leaf pick-up in bike lanes.

Of course we'll always have some level of within-group conflict: helmet vs no helmet, power-walkers annoyed with meanderers, law abiding cyclists cursing J-walkers, the list goes on. But hopefully we as a community can keep the larger vision of working to improve policy and infrastructure for all carfree folks.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

view from the bus

We've got to come up with a new category for these posts that are not really announcements, and not tips either. They are just personal reflections on carfree travel in Ann Arbor. Ideas?

Dawn describes the variety of driver personalities and community spirit that can only be experienced on a bus ride. While she is not specific, the locations indicate that this is an AATA route.

She considers

other drivers I’ve come in contact with during this first semester at UM. There’s the 60’s leftover hippy with long grey hair that smiles (sometimes) at students. And the, well, no other way to describe her, librarian, in her long navy skirt and navy sweater who reads books at the red light on Plymouth and Huron Parkway, and who smiles and waves at every group of departing passengers. They each have their personality and distinctive driving style.

Monday, November 06, 2006

dressing for cold weather biking

Not sure why it took us so long to find the Commute By Bike blog. It's full of good informationfor commuters. More importantly, it is presented well. For example, the write-up on winter clothing breaks cold weather rides into temperature ranges, each with a picture of appropriate dress. Also, this write-up isn't thinly veiled product placement like so many similarly themed atricles in bike magazines. You probably have most of the stuff you need in your closet already.

Main points are standard: don't overdress, use layers, block the wind and stay dry.
As usual, there is a lot of good info in the comments section.

hauling with a sled

You are already struggling to lug a 40 pound bag of dog food home from the pet store. Now Old Man Winter is preparing to add extra obstacles to the effort. Or is he?

From another point of view, his generous, frozen hand offers a distinct advantage to heavy hauling. That heavy load that currently hangs off you body could also glide effortlessly over the snowy ground on a sled! The combination of snowy weather, winter recreation plastic technology, and a little DIY rigging to meet your needs makes winter the perfect time to haul heavy loads, and without over-heating in the process.

While we prefer the inexpensive and readily available red plastic sled, Kifaru offers what they claim to be the best sled made in America.

If you usually push a shopping cart home, this patent may someday develop into the solutions to your winter shopping woes.

This write-up on winter sled camping provides good info on building a camping sled. The suggestions are easily transferable to hauling a sled full of groceries, kids, or firewood around town. The best bit is the DIY harness made from an old backpack belt.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ypsidixit on winter biking

Our favorite Ypsi cyclist, Ypsidixit, is toughening up and waxing poetic on her plans for her winter bike commute. She is fortunate to have the Gallup Park trail as a large section of that ride. This leads us to wonder how well-maintained that trail is in the winter. Anyone know?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

cfa2 makes the news (sort of)

Finally, after all our references to News articles, we get a link-back.

It's not headlines, but we got a little mention in the Talk About Town section of the AANews. While we prefer to think of the posts here as practical and informative, we'll take the "amusing" moniker for now.

Thanks, Bruce, for the heads-up.

cyclist killed in collision with car

The AANews reports that a cyclist was killed on the road in Chelsea yesterday. Our most sincere condolences go out to the family of the as-yet unidentified man.

Since the police have yet to release any details of the collision, we won't speculate on fault except to note that the car and bike were traveling in the same direction.

We'll post more information as it becomes available. In the meantime, ride safely.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Thursday night bike/ped meetings

The planning commission meeting scheduled for Thursday night includes reconsideration of the Nonmotorized Plan, part of which will entail discussion on signs peppered throughout town encouraging cyclists to use the sidewalk. WBWC has been advocating the removal of these signs for some time now. City staff recently issued an official response to this request.

The staff's response was a straight-forward "yes, but no". The staff has determined that while signs encouraging cyclists to use the sidewalk are a bad idea and increase pedestrian-cyclists conflicts, they must remain for now. They defer to the legal/engingeering excuse:

Sidewalk Bike Route signs are a traffic control device and as such they have the potential to be scrutinized in accident litigation. Removing all of the signs immediately without any change in the physical conditions is not aligned with sound engineering practice.

The response continues to point out that, while the 1992 Bicycle Master Plan repeatedly recommends eliminating such cycling routes, the city will not do so until other accomodations are made for cyclists, because it isn't safe to ride on the road.
There have not been any changes to the environment where these signed routes remain. The traffic speed and density remain high and the physical space is insufficient to define a shared or separate facility for bicyclists.

We see two problems with this argument:
1) The signs contradict all other bicycle policy goals of shared use. They directly contradict other signs downtown indicating that sidewalk cycling is illegal. They suggest that it is safer to ride on sidewalks even though studies repeatedly show this riding location to be more dangerous than on-street. Thus, we think the signs are at best confusing, and at worst a serious safety risk.
2) The response states that the signs cannot be removed until other accomodations for cyclists are made, then states that there is no way to provide other accomodation given the limited road space. The response also completely overlooks the importance of education and enforcement in making roadways safe for cyclists. The response seems to imply that the city cares enough to maintain the current, questionable safety of cyclists, but not enough to actually find an effective solution.

Cyclists may be torn over the issue, especially since many Ann Arbor cyclists do use the sidewalk. But keep in mind that this is not an effort to ban sidewalk cycling, only to stop encouraging it through signage. Pedestrians are more likely to see this issue in terms of blatent apathy to their safety.

Email from WBWC recommends:
if you didn't get a chance to attend the last Planning Commission meeting, please consider attending and saying a few words on this subject. Many of us who spoke at the last meeting will be at the WBWC meeting this week, and it's really effective when a number of people actually show up and speak on a given topic.

which brings us to the next announcement. WBWC is also meeting on Thursday night at the Ecology Center and will vote on board positions. Their email indicates that they'd much rather you speak at the Planning meeting. But if you've always wanted to get involved with WBWC, they are open and welcoming to everyone.

Ebay bike scam

CICLE, an LA-based bike blog, points out a non-existant bike retailer scamming customers on Ebay. Apparently they offer great bikes for very low prices, then ship you an empty cardboard box. They have been shut-down by Ebay and restarted under different names a number of times already.

Two lessons to learn from this:
1) If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
2) Support you local bike store.

Though we try to be understanding of the complex web of causes of crime, and advocate an acceptance of all religious faiths, we firmly believe that "Bike Thieves Go to Hell." Despite their efforts to cirmuvent the technicalities of this axiom, these guys are already in the handbasket.

internet round-up: winter shoe care

Winter weather requires a little extra attention to your footwear. To help out, here is a collection of advice on caring for your boots. They focus on leather, as it require the most care. Every one of these sites empahsizes that boots should dry at room temp as extra heat will dry out the leather, causing it to crack. Stuff them loosely with newspaper to expidite the process. Of course those with the practical sense to buy rubber boots can just rinse them, remove the linings to dry, and leave them at the door.

From the UK, the Guarian offers a compact list of shoe care hacks, like "If shoes pinch, smear Vaseline on the lining." (we haven't tested, and don't endorse that solution!)

girlawhirl offers a more recommendations, focusing on suede. A good tip: "Once the shoes are dry, if there are salt stains, mix a solution of 3 parts vinegar to 1 part water and dab it on the affected area."

womensweb lists similar tips at the very bottom of a long post on foot care. They advise to "allow all footwear to dry thoroughly before you put them on again."

Again, scroll to the bottom of this Boot FAQ for cleaning and care advice for hiking boots. The information transfers pretty well to any leather boot or shoe (noting that suede is a whole different animal, and not great for winter anyway). This one goes into depth on applying waterproofing.