You say that you are safe, and that you will notice, and stop for a little kid; but your keen observational skills missed 7 cops wearing safety yellow.

The speaker was a cop. He was speaking to a bicycle rider while writing a ticket for running a stop sign. The statement occurred during a recent sting operation in Portland’s Ladds Addition. The message, or the $242 ticket, got through to the rider. Since then he’s been “super careful” about stopping at all stop signs. This behavior has generated a couple of comments from pedestrians. As the rider tells the story “twice pedestrians have told me that I was one of a very select few that actually stopped to let them cross at a stop sign.” The comments from the pedestrians have caused the rider to wonder just how safe he used to be. He thought he was riding safely, giving pedestrians space as they deserve. Now that he’s actually stopping, he’s being told he’s riding safely.

Anyone commented on your riding lately?

Robert Hurst, an urban cyclist with over 150,000 miles and 15,000 hours of experience, has contributed to the literature of bicycling with his book The Art of Urban Cycling: Lessons from the Street. This book provides a history of 20th century transportation in the United States; a catalog of surfaces (pavement, potholes, railroad tracks, curbs, pavement deformations, and more) found in the urban environment; a comprehensive guide to riding in traffic; an overview of common injuries; some thoughts on air pollutions and finishes up with equipment descriptions including an entire chapter devoted to Punctures and Flat Tires.


The Art of Urban Cycling

First, my largest complaint about the book. Robert ensures the reader understands the inherent dangers of cycling. No where else have I read such a dispassionate series of descriptions and warnings about the potential of harm while riding. I fear that some readers may become overwhelmed by his descriptions and put the book down without finishing it. Such a reader will be doubly damned. They will have a heightened fear of riding. They will also not benefit from the nearly 100 pages of sound, concrete advice for how to mitigate the dangers and ride safely.

At its core the book is about safely riding in urban settings. The section In Traffic includes 36 chapters on facets of riding starting with Beyond Vehicular Cycling including sections on Vigilance, The Invisible Cyclist, Four Way Stops, Left Turns, Corner Cutters, Hand Signals, Riding a Straight Line and concluding with Riding with Others. Each chapter examines the subject and describes areas of cautions and safe approaches to the matter at hand. Taken together they form a comprehensive guide. The book’s section on flats and punctures is also comprehensive. The section on equipment largely dodges the issue of what, but does cover the most important elements with information on fit, clothing, tools and luggage. The end of the book includes an extensive bibliography directing the reader to further resources.

The advice and techniques Robert describes are sound and provide a solid foundation for riding. If you have not read this book buy it or check it out from the library. I followed up my library check out with a purchase so I may keep a copy in the house as a reference book.

Here are a few snips from the book to whet your appetite for it:

Blame Versus Responsibility

The word “blame” came to the English language by way of the Latin word blasphemare, meaning “to blaspheme.” The Old English version of the verb “to blame” had a very negative connotations. It implied dishonesty. Blame had roughly the same meaning as malign or libel. Somewhere …[blame] became quite respectable — not a proud or useful moment in human history. … The proliferation of blame is rather useless for urban cycling. Blame is what happens when it’s already too late. … Thinking in terms of blame while out on the road is a perfect example of self-fulfilling prophecy. Blame is dangerous.

the most effective way for a cyclist to stay out of trouble on city streets is to forget entirely about the possibility of blaming others and to take on full responsibility for his or her own safety. …

From now on — if some bastard breaks every law in the book and runs you over in the process, it will be your fault and nobody else’s. That is the meaning of true freedom. That is how we will keep such disasters from happening in the first place.

Route Choice

Know that your urban-cycling experience should not be marked by frequent conflict. Occasional conflict, sure. But the ride should actually be pleasant. No yelling. Not fist shaking. No screaming in terror. Every commute should be a bit of a vacation. If it’s not, perhaps a little creative route finding can solve the problem.

Running Green Lights Do not go gentle into that intersection, oh urban cyclist. Got a green light? So what. (Then check out his chapters on running red lights and stop signs.)

Positioning in Heavy Traffic

Cars and trucks are kind of like bulls at a rodeo. As long as we can avoid the business ends of the beasts we can contend with them quite easily. We can mess with them and use them as our toys. But if we get careless — horn up the yang.

The chapter Panic Stops is a gem that reviews the physics of bicycle braking and explains how a bicyclist with practice can achieve remarkable short stops and even turn during hard braking. Robert describes in great detail how to come to a hard, controlled stop in as little distance as possible. This lesson alone is worth the monetary cost of the book or the time spent reading it. The chapter concludes:

It is good to master all versions of the panic stop, but it is better to anticipate problems well ahead of time and to avoid situations where problems elude anticipation. Panic stops are a symptom of cyclists’ mistakes. Riders who have mastered the art of anticipation rarely have to flash their most serious stopping skills. The riders who know best how to execute panic stop are the riders who least often need to. Youth is wasted on the young, and experience is often wasted on the experienced.

If you ride, read this book. If you know a rider who has not read this book encourage them to do so.


With the busy and hectic schedules most of us have now, it would be relaxing to have a hobby that could relieve your stress and be able to relax you after a day’s hard toil and labor. It doesn’t have to be something that requires you to spend large amounts of money, but you’ll reap many rewards in enjoyment and fun, not to mention the health benefits as a bonus. And if you’re only just thinking about taking up the wonderful hobby of cycling, I hope to convince you to get started as soon as possible.

Cycling can be a good hobby to divert yourself from the hustle and bustle of busy modern life, which of course includes your job. This can definitely relieve you from the stress that you’re getting on a daily basis as well as the boredom that results from the monotony of the same routine day after day.

Cycling is also a fun and healthy way to stimulate you to keep on striving and reaching for more.

And with so many modes of gas-powered transportation being used, spending some on your bike can be a refreshing and a relaxing way to get around.

Unfortunately, many people just don’t realize how cycling can really offer great enjoyment and give you the proper health benefits and stability that you need.

Here are some of the reasons why I promote cycling for health:

1. It’s primarily good for your heart. In fact, cycling can be considered as the second best thing next to running in improving the state of your heart. Cycling is a well-rounded way of remaining in shape and at the same time increasing your cardiovascular health.

In fact, it’s been proven that cycling is an amazingly effective way to decrease your risk of getting heart disease.

2. It can promote a fitness that involves the entire body. Cycling can indeed be one of the best workouts for your entire body; most particularly for your lower body. If you want to focus the development in your hips, legs, and improve muscle tone while at the same time trimming down your waist, then cycling is really for you.

3. It is a low-impact type of exercise. Riding a bike won’t put too much strain on your joints and bones that other exercises and gym workout activities can do, the strain of which can eventually diminish your health and even damage your body in the long run. Cycling is one activity that can give you proper fitness but not to the extent of damaging any part of your body – in fact it can help in maintaining good bone and joint health.

4. It’s therapeutic and a proven stress-buster. Nowadays, many people are taking up cycling in order to enjoy a serene and calm type of exercise that also gets them fit and healthy.

5. It’s fun to do with friends and members of your family. Bike-riding should not be something exclusive that only you can take part of alone and enjoy. You can go on rides with the whole family while sharing fun quality time together.

6. Cycling is a great way to appreciate the nuances and beauty of your surroundings. It can teach you to appreciate nature and it’s wonders, and will encourage you to feel the need to slow down in order to get more out of life.

At the end of the day, riding a bike can be an amazing experience that’s healthy for your mind, body and spirit.

Why are bicycle flags NOT more popular?


Flag waving for cyclists…

Out of the ten other touring cyclists we have met, not one has had a flag. All the motorists, motorcyclists and truckies we have met have been extremely complimentary about our flags. They truly DO want to be able to see us as far ahead of them as possible. I have heard complaint after complaint from motorists about cyclists not being visible – so why so few flagwavers?

I think partly this is because of the perception that flags are for kids. A peception I believe may even extend to the manufacturers themselves who do not seem to make flags as durable as they could.

Ours, for instance, did not stand up to high winds or being taken off the bike repeatedly. The glue beneath the flag quickly dries out and the flag requires duct tape or a plastic clamp to secure it.

Also, some flags are designed to go on the back wheel axel and come with a metal plate to attach it there. For a tourer, this is hopeless as your panniers and rack are in the way.

Instead, we have had to devise our own attachment system using a hacksaw, cable ties, a twig and reticulation connectors. We attach the reticulation piping to the rack with cable ties then place the flag inside it secured with a twig as the pipe is too large for the flag.

The attachment system…

Plastic reticulation connectors, reticulation ends and cable ties can be purchased for under a dollar in most hardware stores. We keep a hacksaw on our bikes taped on along with our spokes and have used this to saw off the metal attachment plate. And a piece of wooden doweling can be used but twigs are freely available under any tree…


Cheap ways to attach flags…

Many flags that we’ve seen come in two parts which is very handy. In cities, when we are walking our bikes along the pavement, we have to be very careful not to whip people in the face with it. It is much easier to take off half your flag than the whole flag and, when necessary, the disconnectable top half becomes an excellent and humane dog deterrent!

Unfortunately, there is a lot of stress on the plastic at this halfway point which we have tried to alleviate using cable ties and which the flag manufacturers have tried to alleviate using connecting metal clamps on the latest flags.


Flags come in two parts…

Ok, so you may look like a dork with a flag. But is it that much dorkier than lycra? Isnt it better to look like a dork than to look like roadkill? Flags are inexpensive and available from bike stores everywhere.

For those of you who are ready to take your cycling to the next level by installing your own components – or if you simply want to add a new frame while keeping your old components – here’s a great video demonstrating how to build your own bike starting with just the frame.



No matter how young or old you are, riding a bike is one of the best types of all-around exercise. Not only does it get you out of doors into the fresh air and sunshine, allowing you to enjoy the local scenery, but you’ll also find that it’s a great way to spend time with time with friend and family and meet new people as well.

With the cost of gasoline ever increasing, and no doubt only continuing to rise, many people are already trading in some driving time for a bicycle. However, if you happen to be on the fence about taking up cycling, here are a few good reasons to hopefully persuade you to get started.

Health Benefits

Riding a bike provides a great many positive health benefits, including:

  • Lowering your risk of hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and even certain cancers.
  • Riding a bike elevates the heart rate and exercises major muscle groups.
  • Enhances your mood and leads to more social interaction, which may contribute to a lowered risk of depression.
  • Preserves and promotes overall physical fitness and an independent lifestyle.
  • Riding a bicycle is low impact, having a minmal amount of stress on the joints compared to other types of exercise.
  • Increases and strengthens muscle, bone and joint tissue while lowering the risk of fall-related injury.
  • Cycling for half an hour each day can reduce your risk of obesity and diabetes by as much as 50%.

Age is Not a Requirement

Even if you feel uncertain about your ability to operate a bicycle, there are safer alternatives available, such as getting a tricycle, or “trike”. There are a variety of high-quality trikes on the market which make keeping your balance, maintining confidence and safety easier while at the same time allowing for all the pleasures and benefits that cycling provides. Since cycling is also low impact and easy on the joints, it makes an ideal form of exercise no matter what your fitness level or age.

Fun for the Whole Family

Cycling is great for your health.Get fit and spend some quality time with the family all at once! Go on a picnic at a nearby park, take a tour of the local scenery or ride out to pay a visit to friends or other family members. Cycling is a perfect and fun way to get everyone in the family into tip-top shape.

Easy on the Wallet

Purchasing a bicycle provides a fantastic return on investment.  You get transportaion, fun and fitness all at once, and when you compare the cost to maintain a bike versus an automobile, it’s a no-brainer way to save some cash.


The freedom to go about on your own that cycling provides can give a big boost to your sense of independence. Make a plan to get outdoors and enjoy the nearby sights and scenery, see a friend or cycle to some local shops.

Increase Quality of Life

Rather than playing video games and seeking entertainment indoors, riding a bike is an enjoyable alternative for kids that gets them outdoors in the fresh air. When kids realize they can have fun exercising, it will encourage them to lead active and healthy lifestyles.

Green Transportation

Riding a bike is not just a smart choice for you, it’s also good for the environment. By riding a bicycle you are helping to cut noise pollution and greenhouse gases caused by automobiles, as well as reducing the amount of traffic on the streets.

Changing the Future

Enjoy the fresh air and sunshine!

Adults can teach kids the proper and safe way to cycle and how to interact with other cyclists and pedestrians. Having a strong foundation at an early age may help encourage kids to use bicycles in the future as a common form of transportion.

Give Confidence a Boost

For information on cycling safety and guidelines, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website for bicycle safety tips.