Last summer, I found myself in the backseat of a Honda zipping around Chicago in the wee hours of the morning looking for a jazz club. We'd just wrapped up a two-day conference with our trade association and I hit the town with a couple of editors from other altweeklies, one of whom was the city editor at the San Francisco Bay Guardian. For part of the ride, our conversation touched on Idaho's bike laws--a topic that despite being a regular bike commute myself, I knew little about compared to the Californian.
Long story short: He says he wants to write about Idaho's bike laws in the SFBG and I dismiss the idea as the beer talking.
And then in May he called me. He asked if I'd write a piece on Idaho's bike laws, specifically the part of Idaho's code that makes it legal for a cyclist to treat a stop sign like a yield sign and a stop light like a stop sign. I do it, I send it off, it's published and I think nothing else of it.
Turns out, however, I landed myself right in the middle of an argument that's reached a rolling boil in the Golden Gate's city.
Since publishing the piece, I've been contact by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, a handful of detractors, as well as a handful of supporters. And at least one publication has suggested that my piece is completely irrelevant because I'm but a bumpkin on a bike in a potato field. Ouch.
Not to fear, I have thick skin and will happily take the flack. After all, at least someone is reading, right?
The point, however, is that I don't think most of us know how good we have it when it comes to bike laws. We can ride on the sidewalk legally. We can ride in the street legally. We only have to come to a complete stop at a traffic light and wait for traffic to clear before proceeding. We needn't stop at every single stop sign when not a car is in sight.
I was thinking about all this as I rode to work this morning and then I almost got myself killed while breaking the law at an intersection. I guess knowing the law doesn't protect me from my own stupidity.
And, San Francisco, I'd say that's the bulk of the battle right there. Giving bikers the leeway to proceed when it's safe to do so won't increase fatalities and bike-car collisions (at least that's what it sounds like these UCB researchers may have discovered in preliminary findings). It's the stupidity of the biker--and the driver--who should know better that you have to worry about. Boise is no San Francisco at rush hour, but find me a cyclist who actually wants to risk his or her life by playing frogger at a busy intersection and I'll eat crow. Until then, give the cyclist the benefit of knowing what's best on two wheels.
I've added a reminder to my Entourage calendar to remind me to blog on a regular basis. And, my editor made mention in her 6/25 issue of Note that Boise Weekly, like most other media outlets, does indeed have blogs and bloggers. What better inspiration to maintain a regular blog than to know that there's the potential for 35,000 people to click on the BW Blogs page and wonder why I haven't posted a new one in a month. Granted, I don't really expect 35,000 people to read my blog. But even if just three people click away from the site due to my lack of participation, it's incentive enough.
Quick update: Our 7/2 issue includes our Annual Coldest Beer feature. It's extra special this year because it's a big one at 70+ pages and it's bound like a magazine. We've got other great stories in the upcoming issue as well: we look at an artist who deals with his mental illness, in part, with his art; a handful of First Thursday wine events; Boise Community Radio; vocal coaches; a 2C restaurant review; and much more.
And any time you read a blog post, or a story online, please feel free to leave comments, good or bad.
Bring your rope and plastic baggies when you take Fido to the park tomorrow. Boise Police are out in force Tuesday morning to crack down on leash law violators in the parks.
Boise Police Sgt. Paul Burch: "Citizens complain that dogs running loose threatens the safety of children playing. Citizens also complain when they see dog waste in a park. Boise parks are clearly marked as to what the rules are for dogs. We want everyone to be aware of those rules, and to let folks know there can be consequences when they chose not to follow those rules."
There are places in town where dogs can run free. But if you are caught without collar in the wrong place, your master may get a $25 ticket, plus court costs.
Sometimes WTF is all we can say. A mistake on the David Sedaris appearance at Hastings on Fairview went on the Picks page in the issue currently on stands. The date is all wrong.
David Sedaris made his appearance Wed., June 25. People went, listened and came away with hilarious inscriptions on copies of his new book, When You are Engulfed in Flames.
An apology to anyone planning on making a weekend of book store hopping and shopping. You can still visit any number of places that sell his book, but Sedaris has left Boise.
Due to permit regulations, the first Robie Creek Music Festival that was supposed to be June 28-29 has been moved back a couple of weeks. The free, two-day music and art festival will held near Robie Creek Park on July 12 and 13 with music starting at noon.
The event is where music, the environment and the community come together and proceeds will benefit the Snake River Alliance's carbon-free and nuclear-free campaign introduction which offers information about the state of nuclear production in Idaho and the potential of renewable energy.
Vendors, bands and artists who want to get involved can call Home Street Entertainment at 208-860-6779.
Except the governors roadshow on road funding, that is.
Gov. C.L. Butch Otter is taking his pleas for more road funding across the state this summer, with six well-publicized meetings everywhere from Caldwell to Coeur dAlene. But the PowerPoint extravaganza will not be coming to Capitol City.
The problems that were having in terms of traffic and congestion are inbound, so I think the prevailing view is lets have it in Caldwell, says Otter spokesman Jon Hanian.
The events, billed as Idahos Transportation Funding Conference, will be held in July and August in six cities.
Governor C.L Butch Otter and the Idaho Transportation Board invite you to hear a short presentation about the condition of Idahos highway system and the $240 million needed per year to maintain and improve Idahos roadways, the invitation reads.
Boise residents either dont need to hear the pitch, or Otter is not interested in Boises concerns, about the safety and condition of Idahos roads.
Hanian said the Idaho Transportation Department suggested the venues. An ITD spokesman referred all comments on venue to Hanian, who added that many transportation meetings have been held in Boise in the past and that Caldwell is in the same region as Boise. As in, the Idaho Transportation Boards six regions.
Otter is planning a transportation summit for Boise, to be held in August or September in conjunction with Sen. Mike Crapo, but the date has not been finalized, Hanian said.The Caldwell meeting will be 4 to 7 p.m., July 14 at the College of Idaho dining hall, if anyone wants to battle rush-hour traffic to attend.
Otter let a group of lawmakers know about the upcoming meetings earlier this week at a briefing in Boise. He is trying to give advance notice that he will seek more road funding, again, in the 2009 Legislature.
I was in college when my younger brother introduced me to George Carlin. My brother was in junior high and somehow--likely unbeknownst to our parents--he'd seen Carlin's ribbons spiel. He memorized it and waited for a moment when the parental units were out of ear shot to repeat the joke:
"And haven't we gone a little overboard with these colored ribbons for different causes? Every cause has its own colored ribbon now, red for AIDS, blue for child abuse, pink for breast cancer, green for the rain forest, purple for urban violence. I got a brown one, know what it means? Eat shit mother fucker!"
I thought it was so funny I forced him to repeat it for my parents, who, because my brother was the youngest kid and the comedian of the family, laughed rather than scolding him. It helped that my dad was a Carlin fan, too.
Generally I'm not moved in the slightest by the passing of a celebrity. It's an emotional shrug I think Carlin himself would publicly make in the middle of a cynical routine poking fun at the absurdities of American life. But I couldn't let the 71-year-old comedian's passing go without comment.
His knack for calling it like it he saw it--especially when the truth hurt--set him apart from his peers more than 30 years ago. From war to globalization to the hypocrisies of the American dream, nothing was off limits to Carlin--even if it meant getting arrested. He pushed the boundaries of his craft, eliciting a laugh at his audience's expense while simultaneously insulting them, their beliefs and their lifestyles.
Sure his use of language was often crass and obscene. But for the better part of a decade, I've held the belief that bad words don't exist. (Last weekend, I explained the concept to my partner's 10-year-old son, whose mother will likely not appreciate my lesson.) Carlin was of a similar opinion. I think, at its core, the idea is to let go of ridiculous notions handed down to you by generations of stodgy social limitations that fall back on nothing other than the excuse "because that's the way it is."
I demonstrated my point last weekend by asking the 10-year-old which one of two words was a "bad" word in French: "mere" or "merde"?
One means mother, the other shit, and to the untrained ear, the two sound nearly identical in pronunciation. My point to him was that once you remove all of your learned prejudices, words are all on equal footing. It's an idea I think extends far beyond language. Strive to unlearn that which you didn't discover on your own; see the world through your own eyes, rather than through the lens provided you by those "who said so."
That's a bunch of heady talk for a silly blog and much of it is only obliquely related to Carlin. As far as the comedian is concerned, I'll find a brown ribbon and like Carlin, mine will represent something offensive and crude on appearance ("eat shit motherfucker") while delivering up a walloping backhand of irony to anyone really listening.