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Monday, March 17, 2014

How to Bike to School

Did you ride to school as a kid? Pass the fun to your own children with these tips.
ByChristine Mattheis

Teach Your Kids to Bike to School
Do you have fond memories of riding your bike to school as a kid? Chances are, you do—30 years ago, half of all children biked or walked to school regularly. Today, it’s just 13 percent. But biking is making a comeback. First Lady Michelle Obama has advocated biking and walking to school as part of her Let’s Move initiative. And schools and communities across the country are achieving impressive results, using both simple and high-tech methods to get kids back in the saddle.

Use the following tips to bring the joy of biking to school to your own children.

Stock Up on Bike-Safety Essentials
Your children should have these items on each ride to ensure a safe trip to school.

Helmet: A properly fitting bike helmet has been shown to reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85 percent. Bring your kids to your local bike shop with you so they can pick them out—they’ll be more likely to wear them if they helped choose them.

Lights: Front and rear lights will make your child more visible to motorists. Teach your kid to store the lights in his or her backpack during the day—they’re easy to yank off, and you’ll want to make sure you won’t have to replace them.

Bike Lock: To be sure your child’s bike will still be at the rack at the end of the school day, buy a lock. Read Bicycling’s lock reviews to decide what to buy.

Bell: A quick ding of a bell alerts pedestrians that a cyclist is coming their way on a shared-use path.

Arrange a Ride-Pool
Worried about your kid riding to school alone? Arrange a group ride with other children in your neighborhood. Parents can take turns leading the group.

Practice Traffic Skills
Even kids who live too far from school to bike should learn the rules of the road. Teach your children how to signal and how to anticipate possible bike-car collisions.

Let Them Goof Off…Safely
The best way for your kids to learn bike-handling skills? Just let them ride. Take them to a grassy field or BMX park where they can fall without worrying about cars and road rash. They’ll build balance and confidence while having fun.

Make a Route Map
Sometimes, the most direct route to school isn’t the safest. Help your kids plot a route that has bike lanes, wide shoulders, and low traffic.

Ride With Your Kids
The best way to encourage your children to learn to love cycling: Ride with them! If they’re resisting, offer a reward—a 2-mile spin will suddenly seem fun if there’s an ice-cream shop along the route. Bonus: You’ll get fitter, too.
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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Supreme Court Ruling Jeopardizes >1,400 Bike Trails


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court's ruling in an obscure Wyoming land dispute Monday could result in the loss of thousands of miles of bicycle trails or cost the government millions of dollars in compensation.

The justices ruled 8-1 that government easements used for railroad beds over public and private land in the West expired once the railroads went out of business, and the land must revert to its owners.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, said the case was decided based on an 1875 act of Congress and a 1942 Supreme Court decision involving Great Northern Railway.

That ruling confirmed that the government merely had received easements without any long-term land rights, he said. The establishment in 1983 of the federal "rails to trails" program didn't change the court's interpretation for easements that expired earlier.

"We're going to stick with that today," Roberts said from the bench.

The decision could jeopardize the "rails to trails" program, responsible for creating more than 1,400 bike and nature trails, many of them built along railroad rights-of-way.

The ruling prompted a lone dissent from Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

"The court undermines the legality of thousands of miles of former rights of way that the public now enjoys as means of transportation and recreation," Sotomayor said. "Lawsuits challenging the conversion of former rails to recreational trails alone may well cost American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars."

The ruling came in a case brought by Wyoming landowner Marvin Brandt, whose 83-acre property is crossed by an old railroad line. Brandt's victory has implications for about 80 other cases involving about 8,000 claimants.

"Thousands of claims pertaining to 1875 Act rights-of-way have been filed," the Justice Department said in its brief to the court. "The United States will be obligated to pay just compensation on many claims in which ownership of the right-of-way is often a determining factor."

The Rails to Trails Conservancy had warned that a loss would block completion of the Medicine Bow Rail Trail that cuts through Brandt's property and would "threaten existing rail trails across America that utilize federally granted rights-of-way." Included are the George S. Mickelson Trail in South Dakota, the Foothills Trail and John Wayne Pioneer trails in Washington, the Weiser River Trail in Idaho and the Rio Grande Trail in Colorado.

The federal government or its state and local counterparts could exercise eminent domain proceedings to keep trails in operation and pay adjacent landowners, said Kevin Mills, senior vice president of policy and trail development for the conservancy. In other cases, trails could be shut down if landowners go to court.

"There probably will be an increase in litigation," Mills said. "At a minimum, it creates uncertainty and/or expense."

During oral arguments in the case in January, justices had a hard time getting information on the overall acreage or miles of trails involved. It "strikes me as pretty unusual that the government doesn't know what it owns," Roberts said at the time. Justice Antonin Scalia, who cast his lot with the landowners early on, called that "incredible."

Justice Stephen Breyer, who has had three bicycling accidents since 1993 — the last of which in April resulted in a shoulder replacement — envisioned a future in which landowners could be besieged by bikers.

"I certainly think bicycle paths are a good idea," he said, but "for all I know, there is some right-of-way that goes through people's houses, you know, and all of a sudden they are going to be living in their house, and suddenly a bicycle will run through it." - USA TODAY
(You'd think a Supreme Court Justice would be more intelligent than that - thinking a bike bath would materialize in your living room....I despair for humanity)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

10 Principles for Building Healthy Places

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