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10 minutes of your time, today, could save cycling in the US

Congress, in the next two days, may kill off virtually any expenditure having to do with making cycling a routine & safe activity, including-

Safe Routes to Schools is a program that works! More kids riding & walking to schools, less congestion.
  • Safe Routes to Schools, an amazing program that is getting kids to walk and ride to schools again, is going to be gone. And with it all hope of relief from traffic gridlock anywhere near a school in the mornings or afternoons. And this is a program that has had widespread bipartisan support.

  • Efforts to make sure new road projects accomodate motorists, pedestrians and cyclists will be set back years. This affects everyone, even motorists, as all users will continue to fight it out on poorly-designed roads and intersections. Congestion, gridlock and road rage will only get worse.

What can you do? In 10 minutes, you can make a difference.

Call your representative’s office and ask them to support Representative Petri’s amendment to restore funding to Safe Routes to Schools and Transportation Enhancements. Tell them it’s important, to you, that we invest in the future. Tell them that you’ve used a bicycle to commute, to shop, or just for fun. Let them know that, when gas gets above $4/gallon again, you’d like an alternative that’s safe and easy to do.

How do I do that?

Follow this link to find out who your Representative is and their phone number. For example, when I go to that link, it asks for my zip code (94062) and tells me my Rep is Jackie Speier. I click on her link and at the bottom of her page it gives me her phone number (both local and DC; I called the local). I call the number, speak to a staff person in her office, explain that I’m concerned about the future and that cutting all support for cycling is not something I want to see. Please support Representative Petri’s amendment. They take notes, and report to the Representative that “x” number of people called today asking that she support Representative Petri’s amendment to save funding for pedestrian & cycling projects.

That’s it. Seriously, just 10 minutes of your time. You don’t have to know any details about Representative Petri’s amendment. They don’t expect that you do. They just know that the amendment supports cycling infrastructure and that you believe in that.

My personal pitch for investing in the future-

I get that people think the country’s deficit is too big and we’re spending beyond our means. I get that we have to prioritize and make painful choices sometimes. But what I don’t get is an insistence that we only spend what we have, and cannot afford to invest in our future.

Anyone who has kids knows that’s not how the world works. If you’ve made a decision to have kids, you’ve mortgaged your future, plain & simple. Anyone who owns a house knows this isn’t how the world works. You borrow against the future, believing that the investment will pay off. These are generally intelligent decisions supported by society. Not subject to naysayers telling you that’s crazy, you don’t have the money today to support what it’s going to cost you tomorrow.

Investing in a future that helps us fight health issues, congestion & reducing our dependence on resources other countries can hold us hostage for is, I feel, worth spending 1.5% of the federal transportation budget on pedestrian & cycling needs.

Thanks-          Mike (& Steve) Jacoubowsky, Partners, Chain Reaction Bicycles

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Someone asked “How do you motivate yourself to get out and ride during the winter months?”

Motivation? Don’t look for motivation. Just do it! If you’ve decided to be a rain-or-shine kind of cyclist, then you find yourself actually looking forward to “epic” winter rides. Make sure you’ve got a separate rain/utility bike, with wider tires (it’s not about speed, it’s about not slipping on paint stripes or getting flats) and possibly a bit more relaxed riding position (because if you’re heavily bundled up you might not feel comfortable in your normal riding position).

It’s quite the challenge for my group, because our Tuesday/Thursday-morning training ride includes 3300ft of climbing and, of course, 3300ft of descending. What you learn is that it’s very important to keep up a consistent pace because if you relax the cold and wet will get to you very quickly. Dress in a way that you’ll remain warm even if soaking, because there’s no truly waterproof cycling stuff out there. The high-tech stuff (including GoreTex) won’t keep up with a cyclist at high output… you end up as soaked on the inside as things are on the outside.

You could, of course, just set up a trainer in front of a TV and watch your favorite races, but there’s a small number of us who would rather ride through a hurricane than sit on a trainer. Mental defect of some sort. Or just a refusal to believe that anything can stop you and your bicycle. Do keep in mind that I’m in Northern California so the worst winter will throw at me are a few 40 degree days with driving rain, or upper-20s but dry, or once in a while, snow at the higher parts of our ride. We also rarely see ice, because it’s typically dry when it’s that cold. –Mike–

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