Friday, May 23, 2008

Gas hits $4 a gallon in Medford / Ashland

The time has finally come, according to a news story by the Medford Mail Tribune.

How high does gas have to go before people start doing the responsible thing and start to bike? I hope gas climbs to $10 a gallon by next year. I'd love to see just as many bikes on the road as cars!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

New record for gasoline

Gas hit another record high today. It looks like this is going to continue along until it no longer makes headlines.

Still not up to where it should be, though. Still, I'm seeing a lot of SUV's, RV's, and other gasoline-dependent toys up for sale around here, and they've been that way for weeks. I don't think the folks who are selling them are going to get what they hoped for...

Portland man arrested for causing rollover

Everyone is so fond of pointing out every single mistake made by bicyclists when we ride on the roads. I just ran across this article over at, and it sort of stuck out at me, so I figured, I'd point out a few motor vehicle mistakes.

At about 11:19 a.m., a 1997 Toyota 4Runner driven by a Salem woman was struck from behind by Standley's 1994 Acura Integra, which went off the freeway's right shoulder, crashed through hedges and stopped near Boones Ferry Road.

The Toyota 4Runner rolled over several times before coming to rest on its side near the cable barrier.


Witnesses, according to police, reported seeing the Integra driving south at a high rate of speed and following other vehicles too closely. Standley reportedly lost control of the vehicle just before colliding with the rear end of the 4Runner.

The driver was 23 years old, and he was charged with a number of things, including assault, which I think was the frustrated police officer trying to find things to charge him on. I say throw the book at him, followed by that little metal clipboard all the officers keep their ticket books in.

I always find it funny when drivers all comment on bicycling stories telling us to "police our own." Let me just put this out here: When I see drivers starting to pull each other over and "police their own," I'll start doing it with bicycles.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

BPAC Monthly Update, May 2008

This month was pretty much dominated by two topics: Bicycle and pedestrian enforcement, and the Oregon BPAC grant.

First up this month was a discussion with the Medford Police Department about enforcement of the laws pertaining to bicycles and pedestrians. The most notable discussions were about parking in the bike lanes.

The day of the meeting, I went out to Hedrick middle school and took some pictures of the problem. I spoke to the principal and many different staff members, all of whom are very concerned about the lack of safety on Jackson Street as it passes the school. The bike lanes out in front of the school were choked with oversize vehicles - minivans and SUV's - bumper to bumper, blocking not only the bike lane, but also half the car lane. Some were even there so long that there was no one in the car.

MPD told us that they were aware the situation was bad, but they were unaware that it was that bad, and that someone in traffic enforcement would take a look at the problem and see if there is anything that can be done. The officer also said that there is a problem in Bear Creek Park, as well, with cars parking in the bike lanes on Siskiyou.

The other item up for discussion this month was the state of Oregon's BPAC grant. This is $5 million that's up for grabs for projects involving bicycles and pedestrians. That grant has to be divided up among many different cities and counties, so the actual grant money we'd get for a project is probably in the neighborhood of $250,000. We're all thinking of projects that the money could be used for, and will bring our ideas to the table in June. If anyone in Medford has any ideas on how this money could be used to benefit our bicycle culture, please let me know.

Between those two issues, we ran very short on time, so we adjourned. Upcoming next month will be some discussion with RVTD about bicycle safety PSA's. We're going to be doing at least one focused on drivers. I'm not sure if we're going to do one focused on cyclists or not. I'd definitely like to see one, but we'll see what happens.

That's it from this month's BPAC. Remember - ride safe, ride sane, and share the road.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Gas Tax

The news agencies have been going nuts this year with all the different gimmicks that the politicians have been promising us. From President Bush's economic stimulus checks to the latest from the candidates, a gas tax holiday.

Sen. Obama, D-Ill., is running advertisements in both states that slam Clinton's proposal to suspend the 18.4-cent-a-gallon tax, calling it a gimmick and promoting his own energy plan and a proposal for a $1,000 middle-class tax cut.

"This gas tax, which was first proposed by John McCain and then quickly adopted by Sen. Clinton, is a classic Washington gimmick," Obama said in an interview on NBC-TV's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

Many economists have thrown cold water on the idea to suspend the gasoline tax, saying it won't do much to help drivers. Clinton, however, has defended the idea and continues to call for a gasoline tax holiday.
Now, look carefully at the above. The gas tax that Clinton and McCain are trying to give us a holiday from is 18.4 cents per gallon. How much will that actually save you in a fill-up, hmm? Let's do some math.

I just filled up my car (yes, I still drive, I'm car-lite. I drive once a week) on Friday. Gas was $3.659 per gallon. I filled up with $20, which, with my Safeway good shopper discount, got me about 5 1/2 gallons. Here's the math. 5.5 gallons of gas times 18.4 cents per gallon is (drum roll, please!) $1.012. I'd have enough for a Coke at the vending machines at the hospital, where it's still $1 for a bottle! Yippee!

Now, what about those folks with the big f'ing Hummers? Well now... your typical H2 has a 32 gallon gas tank. Let's say you have to fill up the entire tank. 32 gallons times 18.4 cents per gallon is...$5.888. Now that's some savings, ladies and gentlemen! Let's see how much it actually cost, shall we? 32 times $3.475 (3.659 minus 0.184) gets us to... $111.20. Compare that to $117.08, and you'll see just how much you're going to save with this new plan.

Now lets take a look at what the Federal gas tax funds.

Gas taxes are strictly dedicated to the Federal Highway Trust Fund, created by the Highway Revenue Act of 1956 (Pub. L. 84-267). Basically, it funds our highways and interstates. It helps with the maintenance, and also with development of new inter-modal transportation systems.

So, we're going to save Mr. H2 his $5 while we're going to let all the infrastructure of our highway system fall to crap. And I'd like to know which politician has the balls to tell the American people at the end of the summer that the holiday is over, and it's time to come back to reality. People have a habit of getting used to things like this.

Taking this holiday will end up being more expensive than we think, and no one wants the bill from that little line of credit at the end of the summer.