Dressed all in black, biking down your street the wrong way in the middle of the BikeNinjaPosterLandscape copynight, giving no sign of their existence save for the squeak of a rusty chain: the bike ninja is a fearsome adversary indeed. They’re rarely seen until they’re right in front of you, requiring a sudden swerve out of the way and perhaps a fist shaken in their general direction. Riding a bicycle at night without adequate lighting is unsafe and against the law in most states, but many cyclists do it anyways, either because they’re not aware of the dangers or they don’t want to deal with the inconvenience of buying and maintaining bike lights.

Here at the Tempe Bicycle Action Group, one of our recurring events it the Bike Lights for Ninjas ride: volunteers stake out a handful of streets and intersections where bike ninjas are known to travel and hand out bike lights, for free, to anyone on a bicycle who needs one. It’s a cheap and easy way to reach out to a segment of the cycling community you don’t usually see on organized rides or major events, and it helps reduce the risk of cyclist injuries or fatalities in your town. So how do you go about doing an event like this?

 

Buy Cheap (but Good) Lights

There’s numerous online stores with a focus on delivering bulk consumer goods, tadpole bike lightand bike lights can be found on many of them. Check out dx.com, dhgate.com, dollardays.com, and globalsources.com for a few examples, or do a search for bulk bike lights or wholesale bike lights. Look for lights that come with batteries included, so you don’t have to buy batteries separately and pack them by hand. Lights with simple attachment mechanisms are best – the “tadpole” light design with a wrap-around silicone loop seems to work really well, whereas designs using velcro straps or screw-together mounting brackets are much harder to install. Go for light sets of one white and one red light – some light suppliers sell red and blue light sets, but these are definitely not street legal in th
e US! Finally, avoid the really weak lights with low power LEDs – they may be cheap but they don’t provide enough illumination. We’re usually able to find lights for less than $4 per set, and will buy 50-100 lights at a time.

 

Get Some Volunteers

Talk to your friends, network at social rides, start a Facebook page, ping your mailing list – whatever it takes to get a handful of volunteers willing to hunt down bike ninjas and give them free stuff! The best way to entice people to help is by making the event fun – bribe them with free pizza after the ride, get a portable speaker and some music playing, hand out costumes. Sparkly lights and fairy wings are a good choice; ninjas have a known weakness to fairies.

 

Pick a Date, Time, and Location

Here in Tempe, there are a number of key streets and intersections that have high ridership, mostly around the ASU campus. We like to stake out Mill Avenue, University Drive, and Apache Boulevard is prime ninja-hunting streets. Where you set up depends on where you see bike ninjas most frequently. Is there a university nearby with student housing concentrated off-campus? Do some streets concentrate cyclists due to the presence of bike lanes, protected lanes, or other bike-friendly features? Think about what time of day has the highest traffic and what the light conditions are like. Once you’re actively looking for them, bike ninjas are easy to spot after dusk but hard to identify between sundown and proper night – is that rider a ninja, or do they have lights and are waiting to turn them on?

 

Hand Out some Lights! (but Be Nice About It)

When the big night arrives, get ready to chase people down and give them lights! Bring a backpack or panniers to carry your lights around. Watch for vehicular traffic while you’re out – you’re going to be making a lot of U-turns and stops, so be extra conspicuous with your signaling. When you catch up to a bike ninja, be nice to them! Tell them you saw them riding without lights and you’d like to give them a free set, no strings attached. If they accept, that’s great! Congratulate yourself on defeating a bike ninja. If they decline, that’s okay too. Don’t push the issue or harass them, just let them go on their way.

One issue in particular to keep in mind: think about what your reaction would be if you were biking along, at night, and a stranger suddenly appeared and offered you free stuff. You’d probably feel suspicious and possibly a little nervous. Maybe this weird bike person is trying to mug or assault you. This is a normal reaction for people to have, so try your best to be as non-threatening as possible. Stick to areas that are highly trafficked and well-lit, and don’t pursue people who aren’t interested.

 

You Saved Your Town From the Bike Ninjas! Now Go Party!

Eat that pizza you used to bribe your volunteers, have something nice to drink, and congratulate yourself on a job well done. Plan your next bike lights for ninjas ride, and get those volunteers signed up for it.

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Help us on our mission of bringing safe streets to everyone who wants to ride! Right now, the TBAG board members are doing most of the day to day chores, but we want to change that and grow the organization. The more people helping, the more crazy plots and schemes we can chase and the more good we can do! Please get involved if you can. Here’s what we need:

http://www.biketempe.org/events/tour-de-fat/ — Tour de Fat is fast approaching! It takes an army to put this on, but thankfully there are multiple shifts so you can still enjoy the show and share a beer.

In addition to beer pour, trash, ticket sales, and so on, I need a small team of people to help introduce TBAG to the crowds and give away stickers, and to staff the TBAG booth. If you follow what we do and you’ve volunteered for TBAG before and helped with advocacy, bike lights for ninjas, or any of our programs or stunts, consider joining the Chain Gang team.

TdF is a riot, but we also need help on an ongoing basis. We could really use help with social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram — pick one or go crazy).

Help writing blog posts and sending out periodic newsletters based on that would be spectacular. If you can help us make our WordPress site at http://biketempe.org look a little more airy and cheerful, we’d love that.

Amateur, semi-professional, or professional videography would help a lot. We should be showing the world what the Bike Lights for Ninjas look like, or what happens when we put on Bike Games, and we need to produce a video to show New Belgium what we’ve been up to. A willing amateur would be a lot more than we’ve got now!

Can you schedule monthly meetings at Boulders on Broadway for volunteers and advocates to come to to get involved and find out what’s going on? Board members can attend, and we need to start doing this again since ASU is in session and bike session is on, but help scheduling and promoting them would help free us up for actually helping people with their ideas.

We’re planning a Bike Lights for Ninjas Night sometime probably this week.  Visit http://biketempe.org/join-us and sign up for Volunteer Opportunities if you aren’t already on there.

Have another idea for something we should be doing but aren’t? Please get in touch.

There’s a lot of us who ride in Tempe, but we want everyone who wants to ride a bike to feel safe and part of a community! Please help us realize our dream.

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BikeActivistLet your opinions shape your community for years to come – voice your opinions in the City of Tempe Transportation Master Plan. This is an opportunity for cyclists of Tempe to tell the city what we need by way of bicycle friendly infrastructure.

http://www.tempe.gov/city-hall/public-works/transportation/transportation-master-plan-/transportation-master-plan-survey

This survey will be used for the Tempe Transportation Master Plan for the next 10 years. The city is asking for specific street names where residents would like to have bike lanes, protected bike lanes, bike boulevards and paths. They are also asking for lists of gaps in the current bike system. You have until June 15 to let your voice be heard!

Take the survey today http://www.tempe.gov/city-hall/public-works/transportation/transportation-master-plan-/transportation-master-plan-survey

There are also public meetings on May 29th and 31st, please attend and give your feedback: http://www.tempe.gov/city-hall/public-works/transportation/transportation-master-plan-

 Need some inspiration? TBAG has been advocating for the following changes in the Tempe bike system:

  1. A north-south bike route along the railroad tracks east of McClintock.
  2. Bike lanes on McClintock
  3. Bike lanes on Southern
  4. Bike lanes on Broadway
  5. Bike boulevards on the major bike routes such as College, Hardy, and Alameda
  6. A bike path along the railroad tracks from Tempe Town Lake to Kiwanis Park
  7. A bridge over the 1-10 at Alameda
  8. A bridge over the 101 at Alameda

 

 

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In April 2013, the third annual city-wide bike count in Tempe was conducted as a way of understanding cycling habits and to identify routes and intersections that are problematic or dangerous. In total, 14,750 bicyclists were counted from a total of 91 different locations, with 26 locations common between 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Get the report here [pdf]: Tempe_Bike_Count_Report_2013

Thanks to everyone who helped bring this effort to fruition!

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Zhergxing Yang is the winner of a balloon tour for two by Float Balloon Tours. The other night before the CRAP Ride Tempe, we gathered all the count sheets we have. We recruited two visiting cycle tourists to throw them all in the air and grab one, and Yang is our lucky winner! Thanks again to the huge cast and crew who made this effort a success.

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The 4rd annual Tempe Bike Count takes place in just two weeks, on March 25-27. Training meetings are in just one week. Each of 58 intersections has an AM shift and a PM shift. You can sign up for just one 2 hour shift, or more shifts on more days if you want.

If you think you can make it, please sign up now to reserve your intersection, and so that I know that we’re going to have enough people, but let us (bikecount@biketempe.org) know if you have to cancel or switch days.

RSVPs for training dates are used to figure out how much pizza to order. Tempe icon William T. Terrance will introduce the Bike Count and all of the ways to get confused that you never even thought of.

When:

The count will take place over three days. Each volunteer counts during commuting hours, with morning (7:00am to 9:00am) or afternoon (4:00pm to 6:00pm) shifts (or both).

  • Tuesday, March 25th
  • Wednesday, March 26th
  • Thursday, March 27th

For full details on the Tempe Bike Count and to sign up please go to: http://www.biketempe.org/events/bike-count/

Why:

Traffic Engineering responds well to serious safety problems. People ride bikes even where safe infrastructure doesn’t exist. Often, the only way through is on roads like Southern, McClintock, or Rural, where bicycles were not taken into consideration. The Bike Count lets us show the city where cyclists overwhelmingly feel they have to ride on the sidewalk, something that the city knows is not safe. It also shows the City of Tempe how many bicycles do come out where safe facilities do exist, which helps them with their goals of smug reduction and congestion reduction. The raw data has been requested by environmental engineering firms, traffic engineering grad students, and others. We’ve presented it to the Tempe Traffic Engineers and at the ADOT Highway Safety Summit. The Bike Count is a fantastic way to encourage making Tempe bicycle friendly, and to quantify progress. It helps the city help us!

Afterparty:

We’re throwing an appreciation party at Boulders on Broadway for our volunteers! Come turn in your count sheets, have a beer, and tell tales of the craziness you saw out there on the streets of Tempe.

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http://bitcoin100.org promotes Bitcoin with donations of $1000 worth of Bitcoins to selected non-profits. At today’s rates, that’s 1.599 of them. Tempe Bicycle Action Group is pleased to receive this contribution. To accept this and future Bitcoin contributions, we’ve added a Bitcoin donation widget to the side bar. Our address is 1DtJhkiszBie5iLKGin7NnsWBwXvbuCuSG. This also means that we now have a balance of Bitcoins to pay for goods and services where they are accepted. Thanks much to bitcoin100 for their philanthropic work!

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February is (almost) here and we will have an abundance of bike fun events for you in the coming weeks.

The 2014 season of Science Sunday Rides kick off this Sunday, February 2. Solar Energy will be the topic, and the AZ Republic solar/business reported Ryan Randazzo is the guide. Starts at the Tempe Transit Station at 2pm. The next Science Ride occurs two weeks later on February 16th.

The annual Tweed Ride hits the streets of Tempe on Saturday, Feb 8th. Dress in your tweediest fines and meet at Tempe Beach Park at 3 for tea and grassy games. The ride will visit some of the most appropriate establishments in the area on a rambling route.

As always, the CRAP ride occurs every Tuesday at 7:30 at Tempe’s Front Porch, and is a great way to keep abreast of the latest news and events.

Keep and eye on the all-encompassing calendar at bikearizona.com to make sure you don’t miss anything.
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Tweed Ride FB link: https://www.facebook.com/events/131896793647228/

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More than 1,000 people are expected to participate in the Tour de Tempe community bike ride on April 6 from 7:30 – 11 a.m. at Kiwanis Park, 6111 S. All America Way in the west parking lot north of Guadalupe Road across from the batting cages. This free 10-mile bike ride is led by members of the Tempe City Council.

The City has requested TBAG volunteers. On the morning of Sunday April 6, 2014 we will need 12 volunteers: 5 people to ride in the crowd and help out when necessary and 7 people to stand at locations along the route where people could make a wrong turn.

We will also need a couple people manning the TBAG booth during registration, which begins at 7:30 am, and following the ride. We will have a 10 x 10 tent, an 8 foot table, and 2 chairs provided for us. We will need to supply the TBAG propaganda. Breakdown for the event usually begins around 11 am.

All volunteers will get a free t-shirt and breakfast, so provide your t-shirt size when you respond.

We’re using VolunteerSpot to organize our upcoming activity.

1. Click this link to go to our invitation page on VolunteerSpot: http://vols.pt/yrdjFR
2. Enter your email address: (You will NOT need to register an account on VolunteerSpot)
3. Sign up! Choose your spots – VolunteerSpot will send you an automated confirmation and reminders. Easy!

Note: VolunteerSpot does not share your email address with anyone (at least that’s what they’ve promised). If you prefer not to use your email address, please contact Ashlee or I and we can sign you up manually.

Ashlee (ashlee@biketempe.org), our excellent Rides Coordinator, is
kindly organizing this event (I’m just sending the email).

See ya there!
-scott

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superhero-bike-MR TGet a report of what we’ve been up to all year and get some skin in the game at the annual voting and committee assignment meeting at 5 p.m. Nov. 3 at Boulders on Broadway. RSVP on our Facebook event here.

Since the TBAG board has seen a serious change of members, there has been a lot going on! Make the choice to lead or join one of our fine committees concentrating on a multitude of different areas.

While you’re at it, grab a snack and a beer on us, plus snag some sweet beer specials!

  • Where: Boulders on Broadway
  • When: Sunday, Nov. 3, 5 p.m.
  • Why: Become a bike activist star and spokesman.

RSVP at https://www.facebook.com/events/570784782968777/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

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