Kalamazoo Bicycle Club Newsletter
November 2007

November President’s Letter

The official weekly Kalamazoo Bicycle Club riding schedule will come to an end on November 2. The extended daylight savings time gave us three extra weeks of riding this year. It was a good season and membership in the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club has increased. However, just because the time changed and nightfall is earlier does not mean the end to KBC activities.

There are still KBC activities on the horizon. There is a cyclo-cross clinic at St. Timothy’s in Richland at 3:00 PM on Sunday, October 28, with Tom Cross and Knute Jacobson. There are Wednesday night rides under the lights on the Kal Haven Trail with Tom Noverr and friends. There are spinning opportunities at Alfred E Bike and at KVCC. Of course, weather permitting, there may be rides announced. Once the snow flies many KBC members cross county ski with the Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers at Milham Park. If you have ideas or suggestions for winter activities, please come to the November KBC meeting.

There are also KBC committees that are at work during the winter. The Bike Camp Committee wants to build on the success of the 2007 Bike Camp. The KalTour committee is planning new and exciting changes and needs your help. The 501(c)(3) committee is studying if KBC qualifies as a 501(c)(3) entity and if it is in KBC’s interest to pursue this designation. If you have knowledge about the tax code in this area the committee would like your assistance. The 2008 BTR race committee will be meeting.

KBC elections will be held at the November meeting.

November 6 is also the date of local elections. Please get out and vote.

Thank you for making the 2007 riding season a success!

Mike Boersma, KBC President

Monthly Meeting Minutes, October 9, 2007

KBC’s regular monthly meeting was held Tuesday, October 9th, 2007 at 7:00 pm at the Kalamazoo YMCA located on Maple Street. KBC President Mike Boersma led the monthly meeting. Present were Chris Barnes, Dave Bishop, Zolton Cohen, Chris Haddock, Jelania Haile, Jim Kindle, Mike Krischer, Barb Lee, Renee Mitchell, Elaine Nagel, Terry O’Connor, and bike commuter Keith Wikle.

Keith Wikle, a local bike commuter, has concerns about the lack of bike lanes in the city of Kalamazoo. Zolton Cohen informed him that KBC has approached the city about this issue and was told that due to the narrow roads, it was unlikely to change. Chris Barnes suggested Wikle contact the City Planner and inquire about the walkway/bike way plan for the future.

Jim Kindle, filling in for Tom Keizer, gave the treasurer’s report:

  • Savings account balance $2,083
  • Checking account balance $4,403
  • CD $12,815: Maturing on 10/24 and will be rolled over
  • Expenses this month $1,141

Mike Boersma read the ride captain’s report from ride captain Knute Jacobson. The Fall Color Ride had 15 participants and was a wonderful time had by all! There is a Cyclo-Cross class and event on 10/28 at St. Timothy’s church in Richland. Weekly club rides will continue into the 1st week of November beginning at 5:30pm. KBC is still looking for a ride leader for the Wednesday night light ride on the Kal-Haven Trail…

Jim Kindle and Zolton Cohen presented a preliminary layout for the certificate to activate a free trial KBC membership with a new bike purchase at a local bike shop.

Mike Krischer and Dave Bishop announced that Sunday, July 13th, will be the date for KalTour 2008. The KalTour committee decided to move the date up - and perhaps beat the annual county chip & seal on the route.

Jelania Haile, Jim Kindle, Renee Mitchell, Elaine Naegele (and David Jones, in absentia) reported on attending the Road 1 training in Jackson. They found the class extremely informative and plan to incorporate some of its lessons into KBC’s Bike Camp. The five members who attended Road I training are now on track for becoming League Certified Instructors if KBC decides to pursue this.

Following are the KBC member nominations for Executive Board positions:

  • Mike Boersma- President
  • Jim Kindle- Vice President
  • Elaine Naegele- Secretary
  • Tom Keizer- Treasurer

KBC still needs a Newsletter editor! There will be only TWO more publications of the Pedal Press before Zolton Cohen retires this position. Valuable volunteers who are interested please contact Zolton.

Jelania Haile is the newly appointed chairperson for the Portage Parks Bike Rally. This is a new family event that will take place in early May. Those interested in volunteering please contact Jelania.

Race Committee report from Chris Barnes:

  • New jerseys have been ordered for 2008
  • Next year’s BTR bike race will place more focus on first time racers
  • 41 riders participated in the Tuesday Night Time Trials; many of these were new members.

Zolton Cohen will contact Jeff Mitchell, Van Buren Road Commissioner, about discount Kal-Haven Trail passes for KBC members.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:30pm. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 13th, 2007 at 7:00 PM, at the Kalamazoo YMCA on Maple Street.

Respectfully submitted,

Chris Haddock, KBC Secretary


The electronically-distributed KBC PedalPress comes out on or around the first of each month.

If you have an article or a notice that you want to go into the PedalPress, please email it to the newsletter editor, zcohen@ameritech.net, by the 20th of the month before its intended publication.

For example, if you’d like an article to be published in the March edition (distributed on or around the first of March), have it to the newsletter editor by the 20th of February.

Help Wanted – Newsletter Editor

KBC is looking for a new newsletter editor. The job will start with the January 2008 issue of the PedalPress.

The KBC newsletter editor is responsible for writing and editing the club’s newsletter, published monthly throughout the year. Applicants should have strong writing and organizational skills; good judgment regarding what is pertinent and interesting to a variety of local cyclists; be detail-oriented and a stickler for accuracy; and have a commitment to and interest in cycling and the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club. Rudimentary digital photography skills are a plus, as is a willingness to attend, get involved in, and record for posterity KBC events.

For more information or to apply for this position, please contact: zcohen@ameritech.net, or attend the next KBC meeting. The present newsletter editor is willing to assist the new newsletter editor in making this transition. The job also could be handled by a “team” of two or more people as well as by an individual…

KBC Elections Will Occur in November

Election for the club’s Executive Board of Directors will take place at the Tuesday, November 13 monthly KBC meeting, held at 7:00 PM at the YMCA on Maple Street in Kalamazoo. The candidates are:

  • President: Mike Boersma (Incumbent)
  • Vice President: Jim Kindle (Incumbent)
  • Treasurer: Tom Keizer (Incumbent)
  • Secretary: Elaine Naegele

The KBC Board of Directors positions of Webmaster, Membership Database Manager, Safety and Education Chair, Ride Captain, Newsletter Editor, and Social Director are all appointed – not elected - positions. Appointments take place during the December club meeting, administered by the new Executive Board of Directors.

Please make an effort to attend the November 13 meeting to cast your vote for the Executive Board!

KBC Statistics

Active subscriptions


New Members

Suzanne Norton

November Expiring memberships

Christopher Barnes Family * Randy & Jenny Putt * Paul Stevens Family

Renewed memberships

Renee Mitchell Family * Carl Clatterbuck Family

Ride Captain’s Report

Dear KBC Friends:

As I write this article, I'm looking forward to what will likely be one of the last Wednesday evening rides of this season. It's about 54 degrees, and partly cloudy--not too bad for this time of year. I expect there will be at least a few folks out at the trail-head tonight, trying to stay in shape for the Iceman Cometh Challenge--the last big event of the season.

I've enjoyed this year's season, and thought our rides went well. It's been good to see many new riders out with us this year. And it's really been exciting to see some of our younger riders--many of them racers--developing so well. If we had all the racers in our club riding for the same team, I believe we'd have the strongest team in the state.

One thing that makes our club strong is that we offer such a wide variety of rides--on many different days of the week. That's because many leaders have taken the initiative to start rides to suit a variety of needs. As ride captain this year I've been able to count on their leadership, which has made my job quite easy.

Which brings me to my final point: I've enjoyed serving as Ride Captain, but am willing to relinquish the job if someone else would like to have a try at it. You should be an experienced KBC rider, able to make many of the regular weekly rides, and willing to help organize special weekend rides. I would be willing to provide the sort of training and advice that Randy Putt gave me when I took over the job a few years ago. If you are interested, please let me know! It's a fun way to serve the club.

Best regards, Knute Jacobson, KBC Ride Captain

Kalamazoo City Commission Candidates Weigh In on Non-Motorized Transportation Issues

November is not only an election month for KBC. On November 6, Kalamazoo City residents get to cast their ballots to decide who among the 11 candidates will become the 5 City Commissioners, Mayor and Vice Mayor. How does this election affect KBC?

Well, City Commissioners are tasked with creating a livable environment in and around the City; non-motorized transportation issues are a key part of that environment. As a 220 or so member club, KBC has a voice in this discussion. So, the PedalPress decided to send a questionnaire to the candidates to see what their response would be to a single question dealing with this subject. (Full disclosure: The PedalPress newsletter editor, Zolton Cohen, and his wife, Mary, worked on the David Anderson campaign. Zolton Cohen was neither asked for nor provided input into Anderson’s answer to the KBC question.)

The following is the verbatim text of the question sent and the answers received by each of the candidates:

Dear Kalamazoo City Commission Candidate,

The Kalamazoo Bicycle Club, a 225 member bicycling-advocacy organization in existence for over 35 years, is issuing a brief questionnaire to Kalamazoo City Commission candidates for the 2007 election. If your response, in 100 words or less, is received by October 20, 2007, it will be printed in the club’s November PedalPress newsletter, scheduled for delivery to the membership on November 1, 2007. Here is the question:

In order to encourage better health, cleaner air and less traffic congestion, how can the City Commission help to promote bike commuting, walking, mass transit, and other forms of non-motorized transportation in the City of Kalamazoo?

Sincerely yours, Zolton Cohen, KBC newsletter editor.

David Anderson:

“Kalamazoo must promote non-motorized transportation by investments in infrastructure and maintenance. Regular street-sweeping in bike lanes and tree trimming to improve visibility around curves and reduce the hazard of falling branches for cyclists are two maintenance activities that make Kalamazoo more bike-friendly. Enforcing sidewalk snow removal ordinances and maintaining parks help encourage walking year round. And when park, street, residential and business improvements are under discussion, non-motorized amenities must be part of the planning – to add secure bike lockers in parking ramps and other downtown sites, and to improve signage and street striping to remind drivers to share the road.”

Tammy Barnard:

No response.

Don Cooney:

No response.

Aaron Davis:

No response.

Bobby Hopewell:

“Over the last two years I worked with the county to establish the Countywide Transportation Authority. Additionally, the city’s wellness program was initiated which includes assessments and team fitness challenges. The city must fully implement the non-motorized transportation plan which supports the Kalamazoo River Trailway initiatives, second we must partner with the Kalamazoo Bike Club, Kalamazoo Valley Walkers, Girls on the Run and other wellness/fitness efforts to develop unique marketing strategies to promote non-motorized transportation. Third, we must work with developers on the importance of planning for non-motorized transportation in project designs. Finally, we need a public area non-smoking ordinance. I would also like to invite anyone who is interested to join the Hopewell 07 Campaign/Community Ride on November 27th, at 7:45. More information will be posted on my website on Tuesday October 23.”

Angela Jackson:

No response.

Sean McCann:

“Over the past few years, the city has steadily installed bike racks on nearly all its regular busses. The city must also contain bus fare increases in order to encourage greater ridership, and help achieve a comprehensive countywide mass transit system.

As we repair and replace city streets, we should continue to incorporate dedicated bike lanes whenever feasible.

The city promotes better lifestyles through exercise and healthy choices. For example, the City’s participated in “Fit 2007” which encourages walking between community groups.

In the near future, the city should examine building carpool lots and utilizing Flex-fuel or hybrid vehicles.”

Hannah McKinney:

“Ride a bicycle to work and around town. Celebrate and promote our new trailway system as it opens. Promote "yes" votes for metro transit millage renewal on November 6th. Support the total integration of Metro and County transit system. Tie bike community, walking, mass transit, etc. into the implementation of Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement that I signed earlier this year. Put sidewalk replacement/expansion dollars into the budget. Continue to support fitness events through proclamations.”

Barbara Miller:

“The city can’t come up with monies to expand what we have but staff works diligently to garner funds to expand our non-motorized systems. A great example of this is the new bike trail that connects the Kal-Haven trail to the downtown. We need to advertise and encourage people to use this new pathway; the city website would be a good place to start. Our long term vision at Parks and Recreation shows plans to connect the Bicentennial Park in Portage to downtown Kalamazoo. I hope the next connection would be to Battle Creek.”

Stephanie Moore:

No response.

Brian Shaff:

“Make it safer! The first thing I would like to see is for Kalamazoo to create more designated bike lanes and add bike racks around downtown. Anyone who has ridden on streets such as Park or Kalamazoo Ave during rush hour can probably agree that it can be hazerdous for both cyclist and motorist. I believe Portage has set the standard when it comes to bike lanes as well as trails for biking and walking, hopefully Kalamazoo can follow that lead.” All of the Kalamazoo City Commission candidates encourage you to get out and vote on Tuesday, November 6.

Great Bikes Under $100.00 By Jim Hainen

Several years ago while biking in my neighborhood I passed a garage sale. I noticed a bicycle for sale. I rode on but after a block or so I decided to turn around and go back and look at the bike. It was grimy and the tires were flat. It was a Fuji road bike. I asked how much for the bike. The reply was ten dollars. I thought about it for a minute and for some reason I handed over ten dollars and told the owner I would be back in about an hour or so with my car to pick up the bike. And this started my labor of love with bikes.

Later I picked the bike up and took it home. I placed it in the garage and didn't think much about it for a week. One day I decided to go to the garage and clean up the old bike. After an hour of cleaning I discovered I had really purchased a very nice bike. My guesstimate is that the bike was thirty-five to forty years old. This bike has a butted steel frame with very good workmanship. I also cleaned and greased the wheel and crank bearings. The chain showed no wear and only a light lubrication was needed. It was obvious the bike had been used very little and had been in the basement or garage for many years.

I pumped the tires up and adjusted the seat to suit me. The frame was perhaps one size larger than I would have chosen were I buying the bike new. However I didn't consider this a negative for the bike. I rode the bike for the next week and realized that I did not like the old style drop bars as the reach was too much for me and my hands were too small for the reach of the brake levers.

Looking through catalogs of bicycle parts and accessories I decided to order a new raised stem, a semi-straight handle bar, and two brake handles, a pair of steer horn extensions, two new brake cables, and some rubber grips. The cost of all this was close to forty dollars. It took me a couple of hours to make the handle bar and brake handle conversion. This bike had very nice double wall rims and the tire size was 700 X 23 centimeters. This was a surprise, as several others I have purchased of this vintage had 27 X 1-1/8" or 1-1/4" tires.

Now for my first ride. The bike now handled and had the feel of a combination hybrid and road bike. I loved it. Being an older rider, the little more upright position that the bike now had made for a whole new feel of comfort. The components on this Fuji were Sun Tour. At the time of this bike, Sun Tour components were the components of choice and even today they are more than satisfactory. The main difference is that the shift levers are on the drop bar and there is no click-click. You just feel your way into the gears and this is very easily accomplished. Some of the bikes I have updated have had new seats put on them even though the seats on the bikes were okay. I have a thing about seats.

At another sale I purchased a Peugeot bicycle, probably about thirty-five to forty years old also. This also cost me ten dollars. The Peugeots of that era were made in France. At a later time a company in Canada made bikes under the Peugeot name, not to be confused with the originals. The original French bikes were very beautifully crafted. Light weight steel frames with welds so perfect that it is impossible to tell where the welds begin and end. I set this bike up the same as I did the first Fuji with the handle bar, brake conversion at about the same cost.

I have prepared a number of these older bikes and most of them I have set up the same way. Some I did not change the handle bar set up as the bikes were being prepared for riders with longer reach than I have and they were for younger riders. Bikes that I have purchased so far and brought up to date are Fuji, Peugeot, Schwinn, and several other English made bikes. The Peugeot is my first choice, with Fuji my second choice.

At the present time I have finished nine or ten of these bikes. I find myself checking garage sales on every bike ride. I get a lot of satisfaction out of giving new life to these beautiful old bikes. And I get a lot more satisfaction out of it when others ride them. My grandsons and my daughter have my updated conversions. I have also given away a few to others.

I have just prepared a Peugeot that I will take to Europe next summer. I have done a lot of biking in Russia (four times), Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, and Spain. I know that there are many bikers that feel the need to purchase four figure touring bikes. Believe me; any of the bikes I have put together are just fine for road touring. The Peugeot I am taking this next summer will be loaded down with full panniers and camping gear. Biking on Russian roads can really test a bike so I know how much punishment the bike will have to endure. I should mention that in biking in remote parts of the world, a steel frame is the one to have because you can find steel welding facilities almost everywhere. It is necessary because old machinery and farm equipment is always in need of welding.

I have every confidence that I will have little or no bike problems. But just in case I will carry my normal repair items such as a few spokes, tubes, and a folding tire. The tire size on this bike will be 27 X 1-1/8". I always carry a small bag of misc. screws, nuts, washers along with basic tools. At the end of this ride I may give the bike to some needy Russian. We'll see. I confess I, too, as well as many bikers, tend to fall in love with my bikes. It is a big problem trying to explain why I need so many bikes. Sometimes I wonder myself.

I have several modern, high tech bikes and although I enjoy riding them I can't honestly say they ride any better than these trusty old steeds from Peugeot or Fuji. Currently I am riding the Peugeot that is being prepared for the European trip. In a couple of weeks after I am satisfied that it is perfectly set up for the trip I will put it away for the winter and not use it again till I leave for the trip. This winter I will be in Florida and perhaps I will run into some more garage sales. I hope so.

So to all of you that know of a friend that might like to get into biking, tell them of my low cost method. Or if you like to tinker like I do, try it yourself and start watching the garage sales in your area. I would not try to guess how many bikes are in garages, basements, and even the junk yard that are just waiting for someone like me to breathe new life into them. It must be in the hundreds of thousands, or even more. There are many sources for parts to update these bikes. Check out the Internet or local bike shops for bike parts.

To quote one bike maker, who says "It's about the bike," well, maybe. But let's not forget the ride. The bike and the ride go together. One without the other is nothing. There is no doubt in my mind that you have to like the bike to have a good ride, so prepare your bike well. For me, updating an old bike is a labor of love. And for some reason when I ride the old bike and it feels good, the ride is ever so sweet.

Jim Hainen Jim Hainen
12893 Bayview Drive 2951 Binnacle Lane
Vicksburg, MI 49097 St. James City, FL 33956

Fall Color Ride Review

On Saturday, October 6, at 9:40 AM, 15 riders departed the parking lot of St. Timothy church on BC Avenue in Richland. Ahead were nearly 40 miles of country roads – the KBC Fall Color Ride was about to begin.

The group quickly formed into a double line with Andrew Florian (the youngest rider) and Knute Jacobson (KBC’s Ride Captain, the organizer of this ride and, arguably, the eldest rider) at the front. The two set a modest tempo at the front for about ten miles as the rest of the riders took in the scenery, talked amongst one another, and just generally enjoyed the day on their bicycles. At one point the group passed a field where many Sandhill cranes stood in the golden sunlight, while other cranes circled overhead, took off, or descended on a shallow slant in order to land.

Other riders took pulls at the front and everyone eventually reached the halfway point – the Banfield General Store. A stop there for food and hydration yielded several moments of banter with one of the store’s customers and the checkout clerk. The customer was curious and somewhat opinionated about the price of modern bicycles; after being told the cost of some of the bikes now parked in front of the store, she ventured that that amount was nearly as much as one would pay for a used automobile. Jim Kindle purchased a container of oatmeal raisin cookies and passed them around, to the pleasure of those who felt as though they still had a few empty spots in their stomachs.

On the road again after the fuel stop, Kindle’s packet of Allen wrenches fell out of his open seat pack on a twisty section of roadway. Several other bikers stopped to assist him in tracking them down and then in a hard effort to catch on to the rest of the group. It provided a merry chase, and a stimulating break from the otherwise steady pace of the ride.

Back at the St. Tim’s parking lot (after a brief yet devastating final sprint up the long church driveway, won by Kindle), Jacobson broke out a couple of gallons of cold apple cider. The brown liquid, very much appreciated, disappeared quickly as riders shared in the fellowship that the aftermath of a good ride brings. On a day more conducive to heat stroke than the chilblains this event has engendered in past years, the cider was the capstone on a bike ride that seemed to end all too quickly.

How I Spent My Summer, by Taylor Birmann

This cycling season has been a great experience for me. After training indoors (ugh!!) and riding my mounting bike in the snow (fun!!) from December to March, the weather finally improved and in the spring I did several local road races, with some success. I also managed to put myself on crutches (rolled my ankle in gym class!) the day before the Tour of Kensington Valley Race. I was bummed, as I had trained hard for this race.

After recovering from that minor setback, I was ready to race!

My first big event was the Regional Development Camp in La Crosse, Wisconsin. There were 33 riders, ranging from me (14 years old) to 23 years old. We did time trials every day and a lot of long road rides – about 250 miles total. I felt totally awesome all week. The real killer was a 1.5 mile time trial on a 14% grade. I thought I was going to fall over dead right then and there.

After the week ended the times were totaled and I wound up 2nd overall! The director, Larry Martin, (USA Cycling coach) asked if I would like to be on a 4 man team (Team Borah from Wisconsin), going to a race in Quebec. It was a 4 day, 6 stage race event for 15-16 year olds, called the Tour de L’Avenir. It was held in Chicoutimi, Quebec – which is almost to Newfoundland. No kidding! I took 4th in the time trial and we as a team did OK overall. The whole week and a half was a lot of fun.

After returning from Quebec, I only had 2 weeks to get ready for the US Nationals in Pennsylvania. My coach, Jeff Hamilton, got me ready and off I went again.

The first event was the time trial. It was an “out and back,” held on a closed section of highway – it was like racing down I-94; awesome! I ended up 6th out of 125 riders. The next day was the road race. I felt terrible. There was a ton of climbing, ending with a 4 mile 11% grade to the finish. My legs felt like concrete. I ended up in 34th and not happy. Also, I didn’t know what I could expect for the final event the next day, the criterium.

The crit was held on a one mile, four corner course. 5 laps into the race I was maxed out with my junior gearing, and we were doing about 32 mph! It then started to rain; and I mean hard. It rained so hard I could hardly see. I led a couple of times and never fell back further than about 20th. We came around the last corner in a blinding rain. It was insane!! I finished 7th and was very happy. It was the scariest race I have ever done. It’s not much fun when you are going that fast, can’t see a thing, and are hoping your tires don’t give up!!

The final big event came in August. I checked my computer one evening after a training ride and had an email from Ben Sharp, from the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. He invited me to a week-long stay there. I was on cloud nine!

After riding for a couple of days in the mountains with my dad to get used to the altitude, I checked in on Monday morning. The center is cool, and the food was out of this world – they fed us steak and ice cream!! They had us do several uphill time trials to test our power output. They also had track bikes sized to us and took us to try track racing, which was great. I roomed with two other riders; one from Montana and one from Arkansas. I had a lot of fun and got to meet a lot of people. I hope to return again next year.

In September, my dad, Joe Kucharski, Jay Rafeld, John Spaulding, John’s son Evan and I went to West Virginia for a week of mountain biking and white water rafting – what a blast! It was a great way to end the summer.

This summer, I traveled a total of about 15,000 miles in the car and 4,000 on my bike. I love cycling. It is my favorite thing to do. I’m going to keep training and maybe someday I can turn Pro?

Courtesy on the Road Applies Both to Motorists and Bicyclists

Sunday, October 14, 2007, by Malcolm McBryde, Kalamazoo Gazette. Reprinted courtesy of the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Every working day, I ride my bike twice on Kalamazoo's streets -- to work and home again. I ride with traffic, I stop for traffic signals, and I stick out my arm when I'm planning to turn. I've also gotten to know a two-mile stretch of South Burdick Street between my home and the Gazette pretty well. I don't exactly feel I own it, but I feel I belong there.

Burdick is now torn up with repairs, and its lanes have been narrowed. This gets sticky for me and for the cars I share the road with -- most people are reluctant to pass a bicyclist in such a narrow space. I try to ride as far over to the right as I can; drivers often just wait to pass until the lane widens. Generally, drivers are pretty nice about sharing the road with me and my bike.

Except for a couple of Fridays ago. I was pedaling home down one of those narrowed lanes, and behind me I saw a car loafing along at about the same speed I was going. Then its horn blew. It blew again. I realized the driver was beeping at me -- a first, actually, in my hundreds of rides back and forth. Then a woman's voice yelled out the window: ``Ride on the sidewalk, (expletive deleted)!``

Angrily, I held my ground (bikes have a right to the road too; everyone knows that). The car got past me. I should have dropped it right there, but I was feeling so offended that at the next light, I rode up next to the car, leaned down, and said, with a glare, ``It's illegal to ride on the sidewalk.`` The passenger -- who I took to be the shouter -- shot back, ``It is not!''

Which, as I rode huffily away, I realized had to be true. Think of all the little kids the police would be chasing down otherwise.

Just to check, I called the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and talked with Executive Lt. Jonathan Uribe, who has oversight of the traffic patrol and investigates accidents. Yes, indeed, Uribe told me, I was wrong: Except for certain well-marked areas downtown, it's legal to ride a bike on the city's sidewalks as long as the bike gives pedestrians the right of way.

It is, however, also true that bicycles ``have the right to ride in the roadway,'' he said. They just have to make sure they ride as far to the right as possible. He pointed out, though, that rights get to be irrelevant in any collision between a bike and a car because the bicyclist will lose. Sometimes, he suggested, the sidewalk would be the safer option for a bicyclist.

I wanted another opinion, so I called Victor Van Fleet, the safety-and-education chairman for the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club. Van Fleet said he doesn't like riding on the sidewalk, which he described as ``rough riding,`` with the ups-and-downs of driveways and curbs and the danger of people backing out of driveways without looking for bikes. ``Riding on the sidewalk has been very unsatisfactory,'' Van Fleet said. ``I don't feel as safe there as I do on the road with the traffic.''

For Ron Van Houten, a psychology professor who rides his bike to work at Western Michigan University, the key to cyclists and motorists sharing the road well is courtesy. He's found, as I have, that most motorists are careful and considerate when they're around cyclists; those who yell expletives are rare.

Van Houten, who serves on the National Academy of Science's Transportation Research Board, said a culture of courtesy makes all the difference. ``Courtesy promotes safety,'' he said. And, he said, where there's little courtesy, there's a tendency toward aggressive driving.

But courtesy isn't just for motorists, Van Houten said. Cyclists, too, ought to be just as generous, thanking motorists for giving them breaks and not acting in ways that that would frighten or offend drivers.

So there it is: We cyclists do have a right to the road alongside all you motorists. For us, it's a better place to ride as well. You owe us every courtesy of the road. But we owe it to you, too. Which is something I forgot 10 days ago on Burdick Street.

Maybe next time I'll just ride a couple of blocks on the sidewalk.

Malcolm McBryde is Faith section coordinator at the Kalamazoo Gazette.

KBC Members Take Road 1 Training Program By David Jones

On a cool Saturday, September 29, five members of the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club; Jim Kindle, Jelania Haile, Renee Mitchell, Elaine Naegele and David Jones, met at the Oakland Drive Park and Ride. We weren’t heading out for a ride, but for a “Road 1” class taught by the League of American Bicyclists (http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/education/seminars.php), the first step in becoming League Cycling Instructors.

The KBC contingent was looking forward to learning and comparing this national instructional program to that of the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club’s own Bike Camp. After going through the Road 1 program, the KBC group’s opinion is that you can be proud of what a good job the bike camp committee has done in creating a solid bicycle education curriculum.

We did learn a lot, and found the bike skills test to be the most worthwhile. The test, taught in a parking lot, is something that can be added to Bike Camp; the controlled environment will give us the opportunity to teach these techniques safely. The test involved riding through narrow markers, stopping to put your foot down and then starting again. It also included the “look-back test,” tips to promote riding in a straight line, and instruction on how to look back over your shoulder safely. The “panic stop” and “quick right turn” are things that you hope to never have to do. But it is worth knowing how to use these procedures in case you are cut off.

The classroom portion of the class focused on the theme that “Bikes are Traffic.” The thinking is that if we want to be treated as equals on the road we need to follow the same rules. We all get upset when a car cuts us off or runs a stop sign while driving. Why should we be surprised when automobile drivers get angry with us if we exhibit that same behavior on a bike?

Two concepts from the classroom portion that were most interesting were the “ABC Quick Check,” and “Safe for Me.” ABC Quick Check is a pre-ride safety check.

  • Air- do your tires have air in them and look safe?
  • Brakes- pads in good shape, grabbing the rims evenly?
  • Cranks- any odd noises or excess play in your bottom bracket or crank arms?
  • Quick – are your quick releases tight, on both wheels?
  • Check- take a short ride around the parking lot to make sue that everything works well, and that the brakes, shifters, seat are in the right position.

While I will be the first to admit that there is nothing new in ABC Quick Check, and that there are lots of other ways to remember to do a pre-ride check, what is important is that you find something that works for you and that you take a moment to perform these vital pieces of riding safety.

The concept of “Safe for Me” was new to most of us in attendance. How often have you been the second or third person to arrive at an intersection after the people in front have called “clear” - only to look right or left to discover a car much too close? This is where the concept of “Safe for Me” really works well. Instead of saying that an intersection is “clear,” you would indicate that it is “Safe for Me.” This makes each rider responsible for deciding what is safe for him or her. As an example, I start (from a dead stop) much faster than my wife. If we’re both at an intersection, I know I can cross before a distant car arrives. But she might find herself in the middle of the road when that same car gets there. An interaction with a car at an intersection that I feel is “Safe for Me” to cross might be one that she does not feel comfortable crossing

One major difference between the Road 1 class and KBC’s Bike Camp is how each views auto traffic. The focus in Bike Camp has been riding in a group safely; usually on a road with minimal traffic. This makes sense because it follows the format of most KBC rides. In the Road 1 class we were much more involved with traffic. The focus of the Road 1 class is on riding in and among automobiles. This is an important aspect of the Road 1 class that could be implemented in both Bike Camp and Kalamazoo Bicycle Club rides as a whole.

I know many people who would ride their bikes more “if it wasn’t for the cars.” But we cannot avoid cars in traffic in our rides. To address this issue, we can include Bike Camp instruction that works to improve people’s comfort level riding with traffic.

Stay tuned for more information about the League Cycling Instructor program.

Shop Notes

Alfred E Bike

320 East Michigan, Kalamazoo, (269) 349-9423

Billy’s Bike Shop

63 East Battle Creek Street, Galesburg, 665-5202

Breakaway Bicycles

185 Romence at Westnedge, Portage, (269) 324-5555, www.breakawaybicycles.com

Custer Cyclery

104 North Augusta, Augusta, 731-3492

Gazelle Sports

214 South Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, (269) 342-5996,

Announcements:Gazelle Sports annual SOCK SALE!!! Buy three, get a fourth pair (or package) FREE! November 1-30.

The small print:

  • 2- and 3-pack socks must be paired with like numbered packages, e.g., purchase three 2-packs, get a fourth 2-pack free.
  • Not valid on SALE socks, with other coupons, discounts or on past purchases.
  • Free pair is of equal or lesser value of selected pairs.
  • Who can say "no" to FREE socks???


4813 West Milham, Portage

Announcements: Prosport - Corner of 12th and Milham across from Wedel's. Open 10-6 Daily, 9-4 Sat. Nineteen years serving Kalamazoo bicyclists. Guaranteed two day service. Friendly and knowledgeable.  Ride over soon.

Team Active

22 W Michigan, Battle Creek, 1-800-841-9494

Village Cyclery

US 131 in Schoolcraft, 679-4242

About Bicycling

Important: Riding a bicycle is an inherently dangerous activity. There are risks of injury or death. You could ride over something and fall, or get hit by an automobile or strike or be struck by another bicyclist. There are many other dangers to bicycling as well.

While nothing can eliminate all risks associating with bicycle riding, to minimize the danger, make sure you and your bicycle are in good riding condition. Know the rules of the road and also of the group you’re riding with, and ride in a manner consistent with the protocols of that group. Always wear a bike helmet, use bike lights if riding in the dawn, dusk or dark, and consider purchasing and riding with additional safety equipment such as reflectors and rear view mirrors.

KBC Contact Information

KBC Officers

President Mike Boersma 269-720-1409
Vice President Jim Kindle 269-382-8053
Secretary Chris Haddock 269-624-5418
Treasurer Tom Keizer 269-382-4737

Other Important KBC Folks

Insurance Coordinator Joe Kucharski 598-9284
Database Manager Paul Bruneau 269-343-6016
Newsletter Editor Zolton Cohen 269-344-0200
Ride Captain Knute Jacobson 269-629-0093
Social Director Jelania Haile 269-345-1274
Social Director Renee Mitchell
Safety and Education Chair Victor VanFleet 269-375-7691
Web Site Bob Paksi

KAL Tour

Director Michael Krischer
Director "Super" Dave Bishop 269-679-4522