While we may have enjoyed a day off mid-week, cycling advocates have remained hard at work analyzing the new transportation bill being sent to President Obama.
America Bikes has issued its Analysis of The New Transportation Bill, MAP-21, noting that funding will decrease by 33% to 66% depending on each state's use of the opt-out clause. Safe Routes to Schools has also issued a statement voicing their disapproval. Grid Chicago adds its summary here. As advocates continue to learn the ins and the outs of the new bill, it is becoming clear that local and state advocacy groups will need to play a larger role in securing these limited funds over the next two years.
There is an excellent post in the Atlantic Cities entitled How the Transportation Bill Failed America. It points out that transportation costs represent a household's second (sometimes first) largest expense, yet for some reason, the average American does not rank this very high on the list of political priorities. An article online at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette summarizes the entire issue in its headline, Transit bill "kicks can down the road." More commentary on MAP-21 can be found by searching #transpobill on Twitter.
Le Tour de France kicked off last Saturday with an individual time trial followed by six stages of relatively flat racing in Belgium and France. Flat stages contribute two exciting elements to bike racing; finish line sprints and late race crashes.
Crashes occur as riders jockey for an ideal position in the run-up to the final kilometers before the finish line. A crash can take out favored winners and/or their lead riders and change the results of a finish in a heartbeat.
Watching riders jump out and sprint the final meters makes for some of the most exciting moments in the race. Many times it takes repeated viewings of the finish replay from several different angles to see just how close the finish was. It can literally be decided by a half-wheel length or less.
Saturday the race moves into the mountain stages, changing the dynamic of the competition and reshuffling the overall race standings. The sprinters who dominated the past week will be lucky to hang on to the back of the peloton and make the time-cut to continue racing. Unlike the final seconds in a sprint finish, the winning move can come at any moment during the long climb in a mountain stage. Proper execution of team strategy and rider tactics are crucial in creating even the tiniest of time advantages throughout these stages.
If you remain unconvinced that you should be watching the Tour, check out my commentary from earlier in the week and devote a few minutes of your Saturday morning to watch the race. If the weather keeps up like this, it may be the closest you'll want to get to a bike until it begins to cool back down...
Here's what's happening in the next week, courtesy of our friends at the chainlink:
Monday, July 9th: Big Water Bike
Tuesday, July 10th: 35th Ward Student Active Transportation Bike Plan Tour, Chicago Cycling Club meeting
For regional events, visit Mike Bentley's Midwest Bike Rides page.
Stay cool, stay hydrated, keep riding, and be safe!
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