Flashing Lights, Rather Than Fines, Given to Wichita Cyclists

Weeks after an irate bicycle commuter referred to City Council members as “idiots” due to getting an $87 ticket for not having a headlight while riding a bike, Wichita leaders are considering moving towards getting rid of the fines and giving free lights away to bikers who are in need of them.

Last week the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board passed a recommendation unanimously that riding at night without a light should be treated as an equipment violation, instead of a moving violation where a $20 fine is automatically triggered in addition to $67 in court fees and costs.

This week most council members expressed being willing to consider this change.

Janet Miller, a City Council member, said it was a great idea for them to consider. She added that was what was so great about having an advisory board, because they could look into these kinds of issues and then make recommendations based on their findings.

If approved by the City Council, those riding unlit bikes would receive a “fix-it” ticket and then could take care of the matter without having to pay a fine, but just getting a light put onto their bicycle and then having a police offer sign off that the problem had been corrected.

The process is used routinely to correct automobile violations like burned out tail lamps and headlights.

Jennifer Magana, the City Attorney, believes that the ordinance won’t even need to be changed by the policy, but could be handled instead by the city administration via a policy directive.

According to senior planner Scott Wadle,who oversees the city’s pedestrian and bike matters, in 2014, around 140 bicyclists received a headlight violation citation.

Last week Russell Fox, Friends University professor,  and bicycle enthusiast, voted for the fix-it ticket solution at his first meeting of being a bike-ped board member.

According to Fox, it helps with accomplishing two goals, helping motorists see cyclists and accepting that they are part of regular part of traffic, and getting bikers to ride in a more safe manner.

Fox said that the fix-it ticket makes you spend money to help you stay safe, and it also contributes to the road’s overall safety.

On August 4 the seeds for change got planted with Chris Brault made his way into a City Council meeting and launched a tirade against the bicycle light law, while calling City Council members idiots.

Brault, who works at Subway and how is also a filmmaker, said he received an $87 fine for biking home one night without a light after he had to stay at work late on night and his babysitter threatened to leave if he didn’t return home right away.

Although the council members they didn’t like being called idiots, they didn’t have any hard feelings either.

Bryan Frye, one of the council members said, that every once in a while in this business you need to get used to that.

Frye also though that Brault made a valid point on how much the ticket cost and he supports changing bicycle light violations into fix-it tickets.

He said, he was all for it and was surprised there was even a penalty for it.

The city code has riding at night without a light listed as a $20 fine. However, there is also add-on costs of $67 along with the fine, which are not related to the violation.

The costs include a $2 court technology fund charge, $6 to the public defender’s office, $ to domestic violence programs, $20.50 to the state, and $31.50 for standard traffic court costs.

Lavonta Williams, one of the council members, says it is too high, especially at a time when the city is attempting to encourage more individuals to ride bicycles as a mode of transportation.

She said they didn’t want to penalize people like that when they were attempting to gain more riders.

Council members on Thursday cut the ribbon for the second phase of bike lanes project on First and Second street, which opens up a 3.7 mile crosstown bike way which links Crown Heights with Delano.

Mayor Jeff Longwell stated that not only wold he like to change the headlight penalty into a fix-it ticket, but he would also like to figure out a way to get these people matched up with free lights like they had in the past.

That was the same day that Brault came to City Hall to complain, and a $2,000 safety grant was approved by the council from the Kansas Department of Transportation for providing the bicycling community with free educational materials and safety equipment.

Wadle just received through this grants, 66 reflector sets, 1,200 bike headlights, and 685 bike safety guides and pamphlets, in both Spanish and English, for public distribution. An additional 250 red tail lights are on their way.

These small LED headlights are in compliance with the city requirement of being visible fro a distance of 500 feet. However, according to Wadle, they work best for occasional or casual use. For serious night riders he recommends they invest in better tail and head light sets.

According to Wadle, in a few weeks the advisory board will receive the plan for getting the safety equipment distributed.

He said that at Cit Hall there will be a limited number of these items available.

Other places where they might be distributed include having a “light up the night” event for distributing lights on the city’s bike paths to riders, having police officers hand them out to bikers while out on their patrols, and handing them out during bike safety clinics.

For people who would like more information on bike safety equipment distribution, they can call 316-352-4855 and speak to Wadle.

Is Cycling Really The New Golf?

It seems like at least once a week, some website, newspaper, or periodical has a story trumpeting how cycling has become the new golf!

According to the Reuters news service, golf is still the leader in participation among sports popular with those households making more than a hundred grand per year, but that popularity is declining. In fact, the total number of golf courses around the United States has been falling too, for almost a decade now.

According to the Economist, golf’s very appeal is contributing to its undoing. It has a rather meditative nature to it that doesn’t fit fast-paced contemporary life.

So, a lot of articles here and there are deciding that cycling is replacing golf.

This argument might be bolstered by the fact that Tiger Woods is not only playing the worst of his career but even taking a break from the professional side of the sport.

Max Levchin is a co-founder of PayPal, and recently sold Slide for over two hundred million to Google. He also sits on boards at Yelp and Yahoo, and continues to work in leadership roles for Glow and Affirm. He was recently asked if cycling was replacing golf.

Levchin himself is considered a serious enthusiast of cycling. He says that golf is a choice sport for businessmen, executives, and entrepreneurs, because it’s a place where sweating doesn’t really have to happen, but deals can be made, as well as relationships solidified. This has been historically true in Silicon Valley, but also on the East Coast. Levchin says that golf appeals to many because you spend time with those you like, and mostly walk and talk, occasionally taking a physical swing.

He goes on to say that younger executives don’t really like doing something that’s so slow-paced, as they’d rather get more intensely physical. Whereas golf is not really a thing that has a ton of metrics, other than score, younger executives like doing things they track with their FitBit and maybe show their fitness on Facebook. The quantification of fitness fuels self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment.

The National Golf Federation confirms Levchin’s thoughts on the matter, as golf’s popularity shows a demonstrable yearly decline. However, it’s not simply a matter of having hard numbers from exercising. Levchin went on to add that there might be a bling factor to it as well:

As much as more intense outdoor workouts can be quantified into numerical accomplishments, like I rode 20 miles today at such and such a speed, there’s also a social aspect to it too, which might be good or bad. Cyclists love showing off their gear and hardware; it’s almost like road jewelry. Golfers love having particular clubs that were manufactured with particular alloys or new crazy technologies, and bikers are just as serious about their equipment. It seems to have fallen out of favor to show off amazing houses anymore, but flashing your fitness bling is all the rage right now.

Cycling can prove costly. A great bike and full set of clothing and gear can quickly set someone back ten or even twenty thousand, but many feel that they get more productive use out of it than a set of golf clubs that collect dust. The decision is up to personal choice, but many millennials and others are choosing bikes over clubs.

WSU Enters First Place

Justin Ingram, Southern Illinois coach, thought it was a bad sign when his team took a hit. In the first set, 607 was achieved, but then they lost. Wichita State’s basketball team, the Shockers, played well against SIU, and the end result was a 3-0 win. The game was played at Koch Arena on Monday.

Since winning the game, WSU is now in first place in the MVC. Prior to winning against SIU, they were in third place. SIU is currently in second place, and they are only a few percentage points ahead of Illinois. Ingram said that his team’s defense collapsed and their opponents had a strong offense, and that their slide was too fast.
The Shockers did have a very strong offense, and it was their best offensive match for the current season. They hit .461 with only eight errors. Katy Dudzinski, middle, took 13 swings and made 11 and his attack percentage was .846. What’s even more impressive is he did so without error.

Dudzinski feasted on the opposing team’s blocking scheme. This allowed Emily Hiebert to shine. It allowed her to discover her for one-on-one match-ups.

Blockers were asked to wait for the set before they made a move and when it does work, it can leave pin players feeling frustrated. It’s like a zone defense can get into shooters’ heads on the court. SIU may have led in blocking before they entered the match, but their defense was left to unravel. This was thanks to WSU’s quick sets.

Dudzinski said she and Abbie Lehman love it when they view a read. She added that they train to perform in gaps and that they are fast. Furthermore, they are going to pound it if the opposing team is going to give them those gaps, she said.

Hiebert frazzled the Salukis after she used all available options. She performed 42 assists, while Mikaela Raudsepp performed 14 digs and 11 kills. Jody Larson had 10 kills and Lehman managed four blocks and seven kills.

Raudsepp said she thinks Hiebert found players on the floor in situations that were ideal, and that she performed a great job spreading the ball out for the rest of the players. The second set is when Lehman recorded all her blocks. This turned the match in WSU’s favor.

The Shockers sent the ball back numerous times before Lehman performed a stuff block to finish the point. There was one solo block that she made that brought it to 11-5. After Tabitha Brown tipped, the score became 12-6 and then Lehman performed yet another block, that took them to a 13-6 lead.

Furthermore, Alex Rosignol performed 10 kills for SIU and so did Andrea Estrada. SIU managed 607 in the first set. Eventually, they declined in the next two sets and they finished at .294. Both teams played well, but it was Wichita State University that came on top.

Article Originally posted in Wichita Eagle