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Blood on the bike path: What a tragic accident teaches us about safely sharing the trails

A few weeks ago, just outside of Washington, D.C., a woman was hit and killed by a man on a bicycle while walking on a paved multi-use trail, aka a “bike path.” It was a tragic accident. My heart goes out to any and all that knew and loved her. It also distressed me to read the anti-cyclist reaction in the comment sections of local online news sources and neighborhood forums, when all of this could have been avoided with a few simple precautions.

When various news sites reported the story online, the comments were predictably absurd. There were all sorts of attacks on bikes that reflected more on anti-bike sentiment than on the incident in question. “The path is for everyone not a bunch of spandex wearing Armstrong wannabes,” wrote one commenter. A member of the Fairfax Underground forum posted a story about the incident under this headline: “Bicyclist Mows Down Old Lady and Kills Her.” “Kill all cyclists,” replied a second member, “problem solved.”

A little more attention to the specifics, and the authors of these remarks would have known how off-base they were. The bike rider in this incident was a man in his early 60s. He was riding an $88 department store bike, a NEXT Power Climber. I doubt that he was training for a race. He claims he gave both a ring of his bell and an audible, “on your left,” to the elderly pedestrian. But apparently the alert caused her to step in front of him rather than out of his way. The collision knocked her backward onto the pavement, according to the police report, where she struck her head.

Clearly, there are things both people could have done to avoid the accident. But it is largely the responsibility of bicyclists to avoid collisions like this.

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Win a bike by channeling famous authors

Rule No. 1 of Grist List: Never pass up an opportunity to win a free bike. Especially if the opportunity involves the chance to channel P.G. Wodehouse.

The Paris Review (TPR), a venerable lit magazine not particularly concerned with green living but very concerned with style and general braininess, is offering up this snazzy Beater Bicycles Roadster to one lucky and literary-minded reader.

To win this beaut, TPR asks its clever readers to describe the picture above. There's a 300 word max and a catch:

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These adorable kids are earning bikes by helping their community

The Rails to Trails Conservancy's Earn-a-Bike program lets these Baltimore youths spend four weeks learning about bike maintenance, healthy eating, and caring for the Earth and their community -- and at the end of it, they get a certificate and a bike. It's a win all around: The kids get their own bicycles, the community benefits from their newfound civic engagement, and Republicans have minor heart attacks about Socialist brainwashing. Yay!

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These light-up armbands make awesome turn signals for cyclists

As a responsible cyclist who does not want to die, I wear a helmet. The other night, I donned one of those reflective orange vests. (Do not laugh, please.) And I try, really I do, to hold out my arms and signal when and where I plan on turning. I do not like doing it, though, because I feel I am going to lose my balance and because I don't think that drivers notice half the time anyway. Especially not at night.

Lifehacker has turned up a wonderful DIY solution to this problem: bright, wearable turn signals.

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Training wheels for your Hummer? GM stamps brand names on Japanese bikes

Don’t look now, but people in Japan are driving Hummers. By driving we mean pedaling. And by Hummers? We mean bicycles.

It’s true. An outfit called Global Innovation Company is distributing a line of bicycles bearing the names of foreign and American car manufacturers: Ferrari, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and Hummer, to name a few. The company was founded in 2002 by Katsuyoshi Ikeda, a man who thought younger cyclists would be more inclined to buy bicycles if they bore the logos of well-known, foreign car companies. Apparently no one told the Japanese that cars have lost their cool, because it seems to be working: Just last year, they bought 170,000 bikes flaunting the names of once-storied, combustion-powered four-wheelers.

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Laser-show bike helmet looks awesome, might actually make you safer

If your first thought when looking at this LED-encrusted bike helmet is "I bet that would make an awesome personal light show for when I shred on my guitar in my bedroom," you're not alone.

The actual goal of the LumaHelm, though, is to make bikers safer through improved signaling. The entire helmet is armored with LEDs that respond to various inputs, including from a built-in accelerometer -- which means that your head can turn into a brake light or turn signal with just a waggle of the head. 

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How will New York respond to thousands more bikers? Angrily, of course

My favorite biker-in-New-York image.

What happens when you throw 10,000 publicly available bikes into one of the most crowded, dense cities in America?

Check New York City in a few months.

The announcement earlier this year that the city (with a "y") was partnering with Citi (with an "i") to create a network of bike-sharing stations met with broad approval. (Except from the New York Post, which will hate anything as long as doing so generates a funny headline.) Stations will be predominantly located in Manhattan, with a few outposts just across the river in Queens and Brooklyn -- though not in heavily Orthodox South Williamsburg.

This week, Bloomberg interviewed people around the city to gauge anticipated reactions to the influx of two-wheeled transport. Their prediction: "Bikelash."

Chris Johannesen, who rides recreationally near his home in Queens, said the bike-share will succeed only if riders feel safe on the streets.

“I love to bike in the city, personally, though I feel like it’s more dangerous for some people than others,” Johannesen, 34, said on his lunch break in Times Square this week. “If people don’t feel safe riding the bikes in the city, then it may never take off.” ...

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Rio cycle: Canadian bikes to Earth Summit (with a little help from trains and buses)

Naomi Devine. (Photo by Zoma Fotografia.)

Thousands of people from around the world have converged on Rio de Janeiro this week for the Earth Summit, a mammoth conference aimed at creating a green economy for the globe. But I can count on one hand the people who got here by bicycle. One finger, actually.

Naomi Devine, a 33-year-old Canadian sustainability planner, rode her bike here from Vancouver, British Columbia. Well, she rode a lot of it, anyway -- and the rest of the time, she rode mass transit. She says she caught a train from Eugene, Ore., to San Francisco “because it was winter at the time,” and bused from Mexico on. Nonetheless, she estimates she rode about 1,000 miles. It was an incredible, crowd-funded journey, done the hard way (in contrast to this writer, who flew from Seattle to Dallas to Rio, and thought that was a long day).

We all should cut Devine a little slack, because here in Rio, she rides her bike to the summit meetings every day -- a 17-mile round-trip. From experience, I can report that that's freaking BURLY. The traffic here is insane. The bus drivers are suicidal. For once in my life, I’m actually happy that I’m not riding my bike.

Devine was kind enough to answer a few questions after her harrowing morning commute today.

Q. What in the world were you thinking? It's a long freaking way from Canada to Rio.

A. Yeah. Geography was never my strongest subject in school ... These ideas come from the big crazy part of my brain that says things like "Hey, you know what would be awesome? Take your bike and see if you can ride it to the Earth Summit!” and, “You have a month to plan everything! Yeah!" Where most people laugh to themselves and say, “Isn't that a crazy idea,” I go “YES, this is what I need to be doing with my life.” Sometimes you need to just jump in and follow your heart.

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The best, fastest, CRAZIEST urban cyclists in the world

Okay, I cannot say this enough: DO NOT ATTEMPT ANYTHING IN THIS VIDEO.

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Smarter than a Smart car: A Smart e-bike

Quick, what's smarter and cuter and more awesome than a Smart car? We're going to go with a Smart bike, the tiny car’s even-tinier electric bike sibling.

The bike's won all kinds of design awards, and it's no surprise. It actually still resembles a bike, instead of a cyborg bike with a tumor-looking motor attached, like some e-bikes we could name. It's maybe not that fastest e-bike in existence, but we're betting it will get you up hills. And it doesn't need to be charged too often.