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The Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Bike Ride

Fifty or so intrepid riders of all sorts showed up for the third annual City of Bloomington Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad bike ride. This ride is designed for people who want to try to bike in any kind of whether and especially just need a little group encouragement. For the first time the weather lived up to expectations. Past years were more spring-like and hardly a test of ones winter riding skills. But this year we had about 3 inches of snow over night and temperatures in the 20s. Yes! Positively balmy after some our single-digit and lower temperatures.

There was a wide range of bikes and riders and a group bigger than any BBC club ride.

Here’s the ride as I recorded.

We started and ended at City Hall at the upper left corner of the map. We headed south on the B-Line, west on 4th Street to Indiana, then through the IU campus on 7th Street, going by the north side of the IU Auditorium, which used to be a through street and now only permits pedestrians and bicyclists to pass. We then did the big loop to the right, altogether about 7.5 miles. (The other part to the left is my route to and from home to the start, about 3 miles each way.)

One goal was to highlight various bike paths in addition to the B-Line and the path by the Auditorium. From 7th Street we headed south on Rose through neighborhoods to Maxwell Lane. We took Maxwell Lane east to its deadened, where there is a small pedestrian path through to Nota Drive. We crossed Moores Pike at the Renwick Roundabout, and then rode west through neighborhoods (going by my house!). We did the Olive Street crossing into the Boulders area, which is quite familiar to BBCers, but took the little bike path through to Adams and Jordan. From there we went down Third Street using some of the new bike lane laid out there. Unfortunately, parts of it, especially where they installed protecting curbs, were pretty gummed up with snow. From there it was Indiana to Kirkwood and a short bit of the B-Line back to City Hall.

Although I have commuted in all kinds of weather, including very cold days, I was a little concerned about the fresh snow. Indeed on the ride to the start I had to go through a few places, including the B-Line that were snow covered. Also the “secret” bike paths were snow covered. Most of the streets had a certain amount of snow and slush. In the end I would say that I gained some confidence in my ability to ride through snow. I still would avoid any serious ice.

The BBC was well-represented on this ride, including several club officers. Here’s a snapshot Mike Conway took as we rode along on 7th Street east of Jordan. The rider closest to the camera is club president Jim Schroeder.

Everyone had a good time exploring bike routes in Bloomington. I hope we continue to do this ride in coming years. At last it lived up to its name!

The BBC and Social Media

How does and how should the club communicate among itself and how does and how should the club present itself to the public? Our club is still experimenting with several different approaches.

Of course we have our club web site at bloomingtonbicycleclub.org, one of the best bike club web sites anywhere. There is lots of information about the club, how to join the club, descriptions of the main activities, links to a variety of maps, and so on.

Every club member (who wishes to be) is added to our email distribution list (bloomingtonbicycleclub@googlegroups.com). In principle any member can send a message to the whole club. But it’s generally best to use the list for “official” things. Just keep in mind that you are sending email to all members of the club. Note: any such email must come from an email account in the group.
Meanwhile we have for the last few years had a club blog, which effectively replaced our electronic newsletter. Old-timers will know that the latter replaced our old printed and snail-mailed newsletter back about 2000. The blog is accessible to anyone via the club web site or a google search. It is moderated and postings and comments are welcome but must be approved before they are posted. Contributions may be emailed to blogger@bloomingtonbicycleclub.org. The blog is somewhat irregular and static. We hope to have reports of meetings, longer or special ride reports, reports of representative activities, discussions of issues (such as the present essay), etc. Often nonmembers of the club use the blog as a way of getting a sense of “what really goes on”.
More recently, just a few months ago, the club set up a Facebook Group at www.facebook.com/groups/bloomingtonbicycleclub/. The contents of the Facebook Group are viewable only by members of the group. To be a member of the group you must be a member of the club AND have a Facebook account AND request joining the group on FB. This allows any member to directly post links, photos, short reports, etc., and comments. This provides a lot of fun and immediate feedback to those who participate. The number of club members who have joined the FB group is now over 80. (We have over 200 club members.) But not everyone wants to have a FB account. Some view it as a frivolous waste of time and others as a potential invasion of privacy. 
It’s clear that we need both. In the future I hope to occasionally take interesting bits from FB and adapt them to blog as well.
Not everyone agrees that the FB group should be so private. But for now the board’s consensus is to view it as a vehicle for communication among ourselves, as opposed to a method of advertising the club to the public.
In technical jargon, a Facebook Page (as opposed to a Facebook Group) would be the proper instrument for advertising and building a following among the FB public. If we had such a page we would control its content, while letting anyone “like” the page.
After some discussion at a recent board meeting about these issues, Warren Smith set up a new BBC Twitter account as well. It should be able to provide yet another vehicle for immediate communication. Anyone with a Twitter account can follow us @bbcbikeclub! Now it remains to see what the club actually uses it for.
The subject of social media is something of a “brave new world”. Only time will tell what combination of approaches will serve the club and its members best.

A Paragon of a Ride to Paragon

Saturday’s club Ride to Paragon attracted the largest group of riders anyone can remember for a club ride, at least for the last 15 years or so. We had a total of 50 riders!

The weather was great (just look at that blue sky) and a lot of riders must have been itching for a really good day to get out for a good ride.

With a group that large we got pretty well spread out. But we all gathered up at the convenience store/gas station on Highway 67 in Paragon.

At this point a contingent negotiated a long option, that went further north before looping back to Martinsville and then to home, with Tammy Berger as leader. Meanwhile the majority headed back toward Bloomington along the planned route.

Thanks to Bob DeGroff for serving as leader, and to Warren Smith and Eugene Kase for the photos. The map is what I recorded on my GPS.

Candidates for Sheriff Respond

Club president Jim Schroeder asked the candidates running for County Sheriff in the Democratic primary election coming up to respond by email to concerns related to a road rage incident last year. (The candidate in the Republican primary is unopposed.) Their email responses are pasted in verbatim below.

Of the four candidates current treasurer Catherine Smith does not have a website and is not campaigning actively for Sheriff.  Below are the responses of the other three:

MIKE PERSHING
Hello Jim,
In the course of my work I have seen near accidents that could have resulted in injury or fatality involving a bicyclist and motorist. I think the way that we could avoid these in the future would be to educate both motorist and bicyclists on the laws governing both.  For the motorist, they should have situational awareness which will help them give bicyclists ample room when they are passing them which will help the bicyclist feel much safer. Bicyclists, in turn, need to follow traffic laws such as stop signs and red lights, because disregarding these enforcement s can result in severe injury. Obviously, we want people to be able to use their bicycle without risk or fear of injury, and I think that this course of education will help our community continue to allow bike use to flourish, helping our environment and public health. Bicycle only lanes also help to keep traffic away from bicyclists which will help keep aggressive motorists from getting into a negative situation.
Thank you so much for reaching out about this issue, and I hope you will reach out about any other issues that concern you!

BRAD SWAIN
Hello Mr. Schroeder,
I am not familiar with the particular event that is referred to. I can say that such cases should be investigated, and a meeting with the driver should happen even when not attempt to harm has been made, as means to put the person on notice.
I can only speculate on the lack of follow up on the even where the license number was photographed. It could be the registration was invalid, and the vehicle didn’t match; or the officer couldn’t locate the vehicle after going to the address on the registration. There may also be a chance the officer did locate and talk with the driver, but did not let the complainant know the status.
My apology.
My response sent before I was finished.   I wanted to say that as Sheriff, I will remain accessible for any inquiries a citizen has in regard to how a call to 911 was address by a Deputy.

STEPHEN SHARP
The City of Bloomington has made great strides to provide safe bicycle paths within the city. The county has provided bike trails in the county and are planning more as funding becomes available.  I am not personally aware of the incidents of which you speak. Many of our
county roads are narrow , two lane with limited visibility.  While the scenery is wonderful for bicyclist and vehicles alike,  the road can be hazardous when vehicles and bicycles are trying to use the same space. The laws are very specific about the bicycle usage of the road, as are laws governing the impediment of efficient flow of traffic.  Both parties must be considerate of each other.  Bicyclist who a injured as a result of a vehicle actions, should contact the Central Dispatch  911 and provide as much information as possible concerning the vehicle and incident.  A deputy will be dispatched to investigate the incident. Most speech is protected even though it may be offensive.

Indiana Primary Tuesday, May 6

From BBC President Jim Schroeder

There is a four-candidate race for Monroe County Sheriff.  You may remember an incident last summer involving a BBC member, a road raged motorist, and later on with the Monroe County Sheriff Department in that nothing was done despite a complaint being filed and evidence submitted.  I have promised that member that I will pursue this issue as much as possible.

As a non-profit 501(c)(4) the Bloomington Bicycle Club cannot support a political candidate, but the club may submit questions on important issues to all candidates involved.

I have e-mailed questions to three Democratic candidates, Mike Pershing, Brad Swain, and Stephen Sharp about motorist road rage towards bicyclists in Monroe County this past week.  I am awaiting their statements and will keep you all informed.

The Republican candidate is unopposed, but I will address this issue before the general election.

Stay tuned for candidate responses.

Waivers, Waivers, Waivers

After a strong push from our insurance company and consideration by the board, starting in 2014–now–all participants on club rides will need to have a signed waiver form.

The waiver is similar to one used for RAIN.

Club members already sign the waiver when they pay their dues each year.

We have always welcomed new people to try our rides. Henceforth ride leaders will need to inquire about non-members and have them sign a waiver on the spot.

Although we welcome non-members, by board decision non-members are requested to join after no more than three rides. Join up, or find your own rides! We hope you’ll join!

Annual Meeting and Banquet: What really happened

The Bloomington Bicycle Club held its annual meeting and banquet on Saturday, February 1, 2014, at Bloomington Convention Center. For the last couple of years we’ve met at the Convention Center, which seems to fit our needs very well.

This time the evening began with the business meeting. President Jim Schroeder called the meeting to order and welcomed the attending members and BBC guests.

The first item of business was the election of officers. This was the first election under the new by-laws adopted last year. Dan Fowler, chair of the Nominating Committee, was unable to attend, so treasurer Jerry Arveson introduced the slate of candidates for the three positions to be filled for new two-year terms: President, Jim Schroeder; Secretary, Kathy Cummins; and Officer-at-Large (new this year!), Stan Ellis. All three were elected unanimously. Jerry Arvesen continues as treasurer for 2014 — the treasurer position will be up for election in 2015, as will the vice presidency, which became vacant when Dan Fowler decided to resign for personal reasons. The board will presumably appoint someone to fill that slot until the next election.

Treasurer Jerry Arvesen then presented a Financial Report in the form of a PowerPoint overview of the BBC’s 2013 finances, The theme of his presentation was “RAIN ride supports the club!”  Aside from RAIN expenses, the club’s largest expense is the grants we give.

In conjunction with Jerry’s theme, Jim put in a plug for RAIN volunteers, noting that mileage is reimbursed for RAIN volunteers. Jim also noted that the club ought to decide what to do with some of our  cash on hand. We can afford to make a meaningful gift to the city or county, such as one in support of the bicycle/pedestrian bridge over I-69. The club will be looking at that in 2014.

Brett Nelson, chair of the grants committee, announced the 2014 grant award winners, and introduced the winners who were in attendance at the banquet. This year’s grantees are deCycles, for its 2014 Key West-to-Bloomington youth bicycle ride; the Monroe County Active Transportation Committee, for a Bicycle and Pedestrian Map project; BCT Management Inc. (the Buskirk-Chumley Theater), for a screening of Breaking Away and related film festival activities; Bloomington Parks & Recreation, to support Bloomington Bikes Month; Stepping Stones, Inc., for its Bike Active! Program for homeless youth; Bloomington Cooperative Services (Bloomingfoods), for a wellness program/bike to work incentive; Harmony School, for Harmony Bike Club and a public bike repair station; City of Bloomington Planning Department, for the Bloomington Bicycle Education Corps; and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington, to support its expanded Club Riders Bicycle Club.

Finally President Jim Schroeder reviewed the achievements of the BBC board of directors in 2013 and its goals for 2014. Institution of regular bi-monthly meetings was successful, with six board meetings held in 2013. A new chair of mountain biking was added to the board (Dan Hickey). Further positions Jim would like to see filled are marketing and safety and education.
Jim and other club members worked on the issue of ride waivers, getting legal advice on behalf of both the club and RAIN. A new waiver has been developed based on the recommendations of the lawyers and our liability insurance company. All club members must sign the new waiver when they register, and non-members will be required to sign a waiver each time they ride with us on an official BBC ride. After three rides with us, non-members must join the club. Also new on the club registration form is provision of an in-case-of-accident (ICE) number. The club ride schedule will be set soon–the annual meeting for this will be held at ride coordinator John Bassett’s home in February. New possibilities for rides in 2014 are monthly dinner rides. John and Ron Brown have been organizing ride maps into GPS format. Allan Edmonds had expanded our media reach to Facebook, with a BBC club group that so far has 50 members. RAIN, our moneymaker, is July 12, 2014. Fifty to seventy volunteers are needed on the day of RAIN, plus others before the ride. The RAIN committee itself logs 200-300 hours during the year and on RAIN day to pull off the ride. Volunteer early to pick your spot!

In addition to the grants, we have also donated money for Bloomington’s Open Streets program and the Buskirk-Chumley’s tie-in movie following the No Good Horrible Ride, and Bicycle Indiana. We give back to the community.

For our own fun and feasting, the club held three free food events: the post-RAIN picnic at Cascades, the pizza party, and the winter banquet.

Referring again to a possible large grant to the city/county for a bicycle/pedestrian bridge, Jim has communicated with various officials and thinks there is a good outlook for progress to be made this year. Perhaps a monetary gift from the BBC can be used to help with feasibility studies. Club-member suggestions were solicited for placement of 14 share-the-road signs that Monroe County has purchased.

Jim closed by noting that advocacy by all club members in support of local cycling should be a priority. Club members are encouraged to not only express their opinion that cycling matters to neighbors and acquaintances, but also to let government committees and elected officials in on BBC cyclists’ point of view by attending meetings or even joining citizen’s committees in the city or county.

After Jim’s remarks, Tammy Berger, event coordinator, announced that dinner was served and reminded attendees to put their raffle tickets into the boxes for various prizes. Photos of BBC rides and other 2013 events prepared by Klaus Rothe played on the screen during the meal.

After dinner, Jacqui Bauer, City Sustainability Director, and Vince Caristo, City Bike/Pedestrian Director, gave a presentation on the City of Bloomington’s Civil Streets program.

Altogether we had fun and informative evening with friends. Now if winter would finally retire, we could get on with the biking season, set to start March 1.

Thanks to Secretary Kathy Cummins, whose minutes formed the basis of this report.

Annual Banquet and Business Meeting

With temperatures in the single digits it’s time to be thinking about seeing our fellow cyclists at our annual meeting coming up on Saturday, February 1.

Here’s the Tentative Agenda circulated to the board by President Jim Schroeder.

Welcome and call to order – Jim Schroeder

Nominating Committee Report
proposed slate of candidates for 2014-2015: President–Jim Schroeder, Secretary–Kathy Cummins, Officer at Large–Stan Ellis
motion for additional nominations from floor, second
discussion
motion for acceptance of additional nominations, second (if any)
motion for voting for Officer at Large, Secretary, and President, second
vote

Financial Report – Jerry Arvesen

Grant Committee – Brett Nelson
announcing of grant awardees

President’s Remarks – Jim Schroeder

Dinner – Photo Slideshow of BBC 2013 on screen by Klaus Rothe

Desert & Presentation of City of Bloomington’s Civil Streets program – Jacqui Bauer, Sustainability Director and Vince Caristo, Bike/Pedestrian Director

End-of-Season Pizza Party

Tuesday evening marked our first annual (I hope!) fall, end-of-season pizza party. The club gathered at 6:30 PM at the Café Pizzaria on Kirkwood Ave for fellowship, food, and a brief business meeting. Club president Jim Schroeder presented our completely revised by-laws for formal approval of the club membership. After brief discussion they were approved unanimously.

Highlights of the new by-laws include five elected officers instead of four, staggered two-year terms instead of one-year terms, only elected officers (not committee chairs) have a vote in official decisions, a method of impeachment, and a vision statement. Committee chairs will continue to sit on the executive committee, with a voice but not a vote. All vestiges of the idea of a racing team were removed. Club officers will have their dues waived during their term of service.

The process of updating the by-laws goes back to the previous administration when then club president Keith Vogelsang initiated a review of club organization. The proposal went through several iterations and occupied the executive board off and on for a couple of years. John Bassett chaired a small committee including Jerry Arveson and Allan Edmonds to put together a near final proposal, which the board approved, with some changes. Finally Kathy Cummins gave the draft a thorough editing before the proposed document was distributed by email to all club members. We hope the new by-laws will serve us well over the coming years.

At the meeting club touring director John Bassett quietly distributed tokens of thanks to club members who had volunteered to lead club rides over the course of the last season.

Then we all turned to food and conversation. Soft drinks, salad, pizza, and brownies were provided to all.

Photo by club photographer Klaus Rothe

As we began to leave Jim offered free for the taking snack items left over from RAIN whose expiration dates had now passed. This being the Café Pizzaria, the IU basketball game was on in the background (with the sound off). In the picture above you can see Stan keeping an eye on the game. The game was too close to call when we left. But when we got home we found that IU had eked out a 73-72 win.

This may be the end of the official season but many club members will be going out for afternoon rides whenever the weather cooperates. I’m looking forward to breaking in my new lobster gloves later in the winter.