Monthly Archives: September 2012

Chronicler of the cycling scene

Steve Reisman in action

Fellow cyclist, friend and photographer Steve Reisman has become the de facto chronicler of the emerging Fort Worth cycling scene.
You may have seen some of Steve’s photos in a Sept. 22 blog post, “Photo chronicle of memorial ride.”
Steve rides regularly with the Fort Worth Night Riders, along with bicycling Mayor Betsy Price on her “rolling town halls” and in various benefit and memorial events.
He goes to considerable lengths to capture the action, sometimes lying on the pavement to shoot up at a file of cyclists riding by.

Grizzled old cyclist

He has also produced some very nice portraits of Fort Worth cyclists, including the black-and-white photo of my grizzled visage at the left.
A couple of Steve’s recent photos are displayed below. You can view a larger selection of Steve’s photos on Flickr:
He also posts many of his photos on Facebook.

“Ordinary” riders taking part in the Classic Bike Ride and Show in Fort Worth, Sept. 16, 2012

Fort Worth Night Riders cross Paddock Viaduct bridge


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Filed under Americana, Texana, Urban cycling

Why do people hate cyclists?

The question posed in the headline has probably flitted through the mind of many a cyclist after an encounter with an angry driver, who saw the cyclist as simply a pesky impediment to speed.
Jim Saksa, writing this week in the online magazine Slate, has an interesting take on the question.
The animosity, he says, is partly due to cyclists like him.
He writes that he has frequently been a jerk on his bike while riding in his hometown of Philadelphia – “weaving in and out of traffic, going the wrong way down a one-way street, and making a left on red.”
But even if most cyclists are cautious, respectful and obedient to the rules of the road, many motorists view them the same way they would the jerks on two wheels.
The reason, Saksa writes, is what behavioral economists call the affect heuristic, a “fancy way of saying that people make judgments by consulting their emotions instead of logic.”
Here’s a key passage from Saksa’s essay:
[B]icycling as a primary means of transportation — I’m not talking about occasional weekend riders here — is a foreign concept to many drivers, making them more sensitive to perceived differences between themselves and cyclists.
People do this all the time, making false connections between distinguishing characteristics like geography, race, and religion and people’s qualities as human beings. Sometimes it is benign (“Mormons are really polite”), sometimes less so (“Republicans hate poor people”).

Photo/illustration by Robert Parkison

But in this case, it’s a one-way street: Though most Americans don’t ride bikes, bikers are less likely to stereotype drivers because most of us also drive. The “otherness” of cyclists makes them stand out, and that helps drivers cement their negative conclusions.
This is also why sentiments like “taxi drivers are awful” and “Jersey drivers are terrible” are common, but you don’t often hear someone say “all drivers suck.” People don’t like lumping themselves into whatever group they are making negative conclusions about, so we subconsciously seek out a distinguishing characteristic first.



Filed under Americana, Politics, Urban cycling

Another cyclist struck and killed

It’s happened again.
For the second time in a week
a Texas bicyclist has been struck and killed by a motorist while crossing a bridge.
First was Iris Stagner, 54, who was killed Sept. 17 while crossing a narrow bridge over the Brazos River on U.S. 180 a couple miles west of Mineral Wells.
And early on Sept. 23, reports the Austin American-Statesman, 30-year-old Robert Anthony Ramirez was killed as he bicycled across the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin.

Brian Adam Mahy

The newspaper said that a 26-year-old man, Brian Adam Mahy of San Antonio, has been charged with two felonies in the killing of Ramirez: intoxication manslaughter and failure to stop and render aid.
Mahy was held in Travis County Jail, with bail set at $120,000.
The American-Statesman quoted Mahy’s arrest affidavit as saying that around 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, a police officer arrived at the Congress Avenue Bridge to find witnesses who said they saw a Ford Mustang hit Ramirez at a high speed.
The witness attempted CPR on Ramirez until paramedics arrived, but he was pronounced dead a few minutes later. Pieces of the Mustang were found at the crash scene, the affidavit said.
“Just before 7 a.m., a man called police from a hotel and said he was the driver of the Mustang and wanted to turn himself in, the affidavit said,” the newspaper reported.
“Investigators met with the man, identified as Mahy, and he appeared intoxicated and had several bar receipts from the previous evening in his wallet, the affidavit said.
“Mahy told investigators he was the driver of the Mustang and its sole occupant, but declined to make further statements, the affidavit said. He was booked into jail that morning.”
Detective Karen Olson wrote in the affidavit: “Through my training and experience, and the time of the crash, it is probable that Brian Mahy had been out drinking all night and was possibly leaving the downtown area.”


Filed under Texana, Urban cycling

Photo chronicle of memorial ride

Steve Reisman, a cyclist and excellent photographer, shot a selection of photos on Friday at the memorial ride for Iris Stagner in Mineral Wells, Texas. (See previous posts.)
Here, set up as a slideshow, are 16 photos he provided for use on this blog:

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A fitting farewell to a fellow cyclist

MINERAL WELLS, Texas — With more than 150 bicyclists riding in tribute, cyclist and runner Iris Stagner was given a fitting farewell today less than a mile from the spot where she was struck and killed by a pickup truck Monday evening.
Cyclists from throughout North Texas and beyond gathered this morning in the parking lot of Palo Pinto General Hospital for a memorial ride to a bridge across the Brazos River where Iris was killed and then to Indian Creek Baptist Church for a funeral service.
Iris, 54, was killed instantly shortly after 5:30 p.m. Monday as she was riding her bike west on U.S. 180, about two miles west of Mineral Wells. A pickup struck her from behind on the bridge. U.S. 180 has a wide shoulder heading west out of Mineral Wells, but the highway abruptly narrows and has no shoulder as it crosses the old bridge.

A ghost bike placed by family and friends of Iris Stagner near the bridge where she was killed

Under a large shade tree at the western end of the bridge, Iris’s husband, Butch Stagner, and other members of her family and friends installed a “ghost bike” in her honor on Tuesday morning. “Ghost bikes,” old bicycles painted all white, are placed at spots where cyclists have been hurt or killed.
The memorial ride was organized by BikeTexas, an Austin-based bicycling advocacy group. Iris had served on the BikeTexas board and had been instrumental getting the Texas Department of Transportation to place “share the road” signs on highways in North Texas.
Riding in silence and with a police escort, the phalanx of cyclists traveled slowly to the church and lined up in front so that family members and friends could take photographs. The cyclists came from such groups as the Fort Worth Bicycling Association, the Lockheed Martin Recreation Association Bicycle Club, the Fort Worth Night Riders, the Manly Bulge Bike Club, the Richardson Bike Mart cycling team and many more.
Robin Stallings, BikeTexas executive director, estimated the turnout of cyclists as at least 150, based on the sign-in sheets and a count on the road.

Some of the cyclists who participated in the memorial ride for Iris Stagner. Photo by BikeTexas

Inside the church, the spandex-clad cyclists filled the entire right-hand section of the sanctuary reserved for them.
Daughter Felicia Scott of Weatherford said her mother, who had worked for more than two decades as an administrative assistant for the Palo Pinto County Commissioners’ Court in nearby Palo Pinto, did not take up cycling and running until after she was 40, and then engaged in both sports with a passion.
She recently had been notified that she had qualified for the 2013 Boston Marathon on April 15.
In eulogies, Iris was described as a “go-getter,” and “over-achiever,” “a Tasmanian devil of passion and energy.”
If she rode her bike, she rode it fast, said the Rev. Guy Weathers, who officiated at the funeral service. If she invited you to dinner, there would not be just one dessert, he said, but three.
Recalling Iris’s achievements as a runner, Weathers cited 1 Corinthians 9:24, in which the apostle Paul compared life to a race: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”
In life, as in a marathon, Weathers said, Iris had run the race to win the prize.

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Driver busted for harassing cyclists

Here’s an update on a post from yesterday, “The crazies out there,” about the driver of an SUV harassing two Colorado bicyclists by driving behind them and repeatedly honking at them even though the cyclists were riding far to the right of the road and the driver had plenty of room to pass.
The Colorado State Patrol announced today that it has issued a citation to James Ernst, 75, of Erie, Colo.

Cyclist Dirk Friel. Photo by ABC News

Ernst was charged with two counts of harassment, impeding the flow of traffic and improper use of a horn or warning device.
“The citation is based on an investigation by CSP of a male driver in a Ford Explorer driving behind bicyclists, slowing down to their speed and continually honking the vehicle horn while refusing to pass the bicycles which were riding near the right portion of the travel lane,” said a statement from the state patrol.
The investigation was prompted by a viral YouTube video shot with a smart phone by one of the cyclists, Dirk Friel. Friel shot the video as he and a friend were followed for about five minutes during a ride on Sunday morning on Colorado 52, a two-lane road in a rural area between Boulder and Longmont. The video clearly showed the license plate number on the SUV.
“This guy was so intent of bugging us that he backed up traffic behind him and cars had to pass him on a double yellow line,” Friel wrote on YouTube.
Friel posted the video the day of the ride. As of this writing, it had been viewed 204,775 times.
Denver ABC affiliate KMGH/Channel 7 found tracked down Ernsts’ address and talked to his son, David Ernst. “I don’t know what happened,” the son told KMGH in response to the YouTube video. “Maybe there was something that precipitated it. I don’t know, because he’s a gentle old man.”
Colorado has a Bicycle Safety Act, which took effect in 2009. It states that motor vehicles must give bicyclists three feet of space when passing and vehicles may cross the center yellow line to pass bikes. Bicyclists must ride as far right as they deem safe and they do not have to ride in the gutter. Under this law, bicyclists may ride side-by-side but are required to ride single file when a car approaches.

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Memorial ride for Iris Stagner

A memorial bicycle ride to honor Iris Stagner, a cyclist killed on Monday by a truck, will be held in Mineral Wells on Friday.
For those who may not already have seen this on Facebook or other sites, here are the details as provided by Bike Texas:

Iris Stagner: A runner as well as a cyclist. Photo by Mineral Wells Index

“To honor our friend, colleague, and fellow cyclist Iris Stagner, friends of Iris and BikeTexas will host a memorial ride in Mineral Wells at 1:00 pm on Friday, September 21, 2012, one hour before funeral services for Iris at Indian Creek Baptist Church in Mineral Wells.
“The five-mile ride will start from the parking lot of the Palo Pinto General Hospital, 400 SW 25th Avenue, Mineral Wells, Texas, 76067. The hospital is about 1.5 miles west of downtown Mineral Wells, one block south of the intersection of US 180 and 25th Avenue. Please plan to be at the parking lot at 12:30 to join the ride.
“The ride will head west on US 180 past the site of the crash that took Iris from us, and then proceed to the nearby church. Cyclists are requested to form a procession behind the ride pacers, ride together in silence at a slow pace, and to line up on Indian Creek Road in front of the church for the arrival of the procession carrying Iris. The Palo Pinto County Sheriff’s Department will provide escort and traffic control for the ride.
“Burial services for Iris will take place in the Memory Gardens Cemetery. Additional details of the services for Iris are still being worked out.”

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