On a personal new year’s note, I can’t help but mention the only-months-old but hopelessly addictive new habit I know I’ll be nursing throughout the year: mountain biking at night.

No idea why I only started doing this recently, and in the winter no less, but there you go. And since I splurged on a set of burly studded mountain-bike tires that should be arriving any day now, snow and ice riding on both trail and street at all hours are up next. That, and on snowmobile trails.

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Any others out there who want to join the ranks of proud all-weather winter cyclists, check out this excellent website. And for night riders on road or trail, I can’t say enough good things about NiteRider Trail Rat headlights. For best results, get at least one extra battery (I have three extras) and maybe a fast recharger. Combine with a $30 LED headlamp for the best night cycling around.

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Now for the news:

Pound for pound, cycling wins
The U.K. government is floating an innovative idea to tackle obesity, pollution, and transport woes in one go by paying parents to have their kids bike to school instead of taking the bus or other motorized means. Meant to teach important life lessons to children — like living an active life is simple, and the all-important I don’t need my parents or a car to get around — the proposal has stirred controversy among parents and others concerned for kids’ safety. Criticized though it is, sending children out to bike to school and elsewhere around town on a large scale could be the quickest, most direct form of driver education.

Heart and darkness
Blind Kenyan cyclist and mountaineer Douglas Sidialo has announced that he and his guide Joash Aswani will participate in the four-month Tour d’Afrique Bicycle Race/Expedition, covering the 7,500 miles from Cairo to Cape Town across 10 countries, beginning Jan. 13. Sponsored by the Rush Miller Foundation, which provides tandem bikes to the blind, the two men are hoping to inspire cyclists and other athletes around the world. “I have made it my duty to tell people to adopt a positive attitude toward life,” Sidialo said.

L.A. gears
The recent popularity of cycling events in Los Angeles, Calif., including human-transport enthusiasts Midnight Ridazz — a Critical Mass-like rolling party — has led to a rise in pedal-powered consciousness in the city, says L.A. County Bicycle Coalition outreach coordinator Monica Howe. “Los Angeles is really the last big city to realize that bicycling is a good idea,” she says. Though advocates suggest cycling may be making small, important gains in the sprawling city, working with the city government for more and better biking infrastructure is a catch-22, Howe says. “Officials … won’t take the moves to make it safe until there are more bicyclists. Until they see bicycles all over the road, they will continue to regard us as freaks. Yet, those who commute by bicycle today are taking huge risks.” And until cycling is made safer, many potential riders won’t get out of their cars or off the bus. Where’s a bike-friendly Congress when you need one?

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Fujis, film
Bike-loving film geeks and film-loving bike geeks, unite! Or, better yet, collaborate on an entry for the Seventh Annual Bicycle Film Festival in 2007. Entries are due by Feb. 17, so if you haven’t already finished that momentous cycling epic you’ve been working on, or that adrenaline-driven home video, time to get rolling.