Total Furmanation

"Our job is to record, each in his own way, this world of light and shadow and time that will never come again exactly as it is today." – E. Abbey


A recent comment here points out something really important: NOACA isn’t making a decision on the Innerbelt Bridge project tomorrow; ODOT is giving a status update on the project. Please don’t let this discourage you from making a public comment. I think you have to get there 5-10 minutes early to sign in.

A couple of local bloggers have said that the NOACA Governing Board will be making a decision on the Innerbelt Bridge at their December 11 meeting. This is incorrect.

ODOT’s presentation will be a project status update for information only. There is no resolution on the agenda. It’s our understanding that ODOT won’t be discussing the bike/pedestrian issue due to pending legal action.

Public comment is always welcome. You can find NOACA’s public meeting comment policies on our website:


Really awesome bike links round-up, volume 1

A little while ago, I promised a whole bunch of things. Interview with Amy from Kona, a round-up of bike-related links and I probably promised more frequent posting. My dearest readers, I have failed on all three fronts. So from now on, I won’t promise you anything so we can maintain the low expectations I set up in the inagural post here on Total Furmanation.

But… I do want to try this bike link round-up. At least once. So here is Volume 1 (with zero promises for a Volume 2 or higher):

For all cyclists,
Tips for Happy Riding

For the tech geeks,
iPhone app for Bike Commuting:

For the ladies, and all the men who want their ladies to ride, too:
Why More Women Don’t Ride Bikes (And What We Can Do About It)

For those of you not nauseated by shameless self-promotion,
My Bike & Build Profile & Donation Page

For Cleveland cyclists and those in favor of complete streets and equal access for cyclists (that should be EVERYBODY regardless of your current geographic locale):
Open Minds and Open Access: Bike/Ped Access on the Innerbelt Bridge:
Please consider attending the rally, speaking at NOACA’s board mtg (because I can’t), or writing a letter. You can write a letter even if you don’t live here… just saying. It would make my life better to be able to have another point of access to the west side of Cleveland, and that is not just limited to me. It’s only fair that ODOT gives us cyclists and pedestrians equal access. You may not be a cyclist, but you’ve definitely been a pedestrian before, so everyone should care.

If you’ve a sweet bike-related link to share with me and my millions of readers (ha), shoot me an email. heather.h.furman [at]

Rally in support of bike and pedestrian access on new Innerbelt Bridge

Lincoln Park
W. 14th Street and Kenilworth Avenue
Cleveland, OH

Join the fan page for “Innerbelt access for everyone” –

A rally to support pedestrian and bike access on the bridge will be held Sunday, December 6 at 2 p.m. at Lincoln Park in Tremont (W. 14th Street and Kenilworth Avenue).

Anyone interested in safe, convenient and healthy car-free access between Downtown and Tremont (and a great scenic overlook of downtown) is invited to attend. The event is free, and refreshments and entertainment will be provided. Cyclists are urged to ride their bikes, with free mechanical safety checks provided by the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op. Helmets are strongly suggested, and OCBC will have some available to borrow or purchase.

The rally will evaluate alternative walking and biking routes proposed by ODOT for the bridge and present other information about a dedicated path over the bridge. Participants will divide into groups, taking a different route from Lincoln Park to the intersection of Ontario Street and Carnegie Avenue, where a brief rally will address the issues of equity and civic interest in this nearly $1 billion project, before returning to Tremont for refreshments and discussion of strategies for further public input in this process.

After the rally, the job is not over. Please consider attending and voicing your support at a very important follow up: The December 11 meeting of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) at 10 a.m. when this local board will decide on ODOT’s final proposal for funding of this project.

If you cannot make the meeting, consider sending an email, calling, or writing the Mayor’s action line 216/664-2900, and the ODOT project director, Craig Hebebrand, at 216/581-2100 to let ODOT know you support biking and walking the proposed I-90/71 bridge. This huge taxpayer investment—ODOT’s largest ever—will affect the places we live, work and play for the rest of our lives. Any donations to the event organizers will be used to help pay for engineering and professional services to document ODOT miscalculations of the feasibility and cost to safely accommodate pedestrians and cyclists in this project.

For more information, please stay tuned and visit

For once, the comments on a Pee Dee article made sense

I work in the transportation field, and at my agency, we get a weekly inter-office newsletter. Today’s included a link to an editorial from Cleveland’s newspaper, the Plain Dealer. Many affectionately nickname it the Pee Dee.

The Pee Dee has an online version as well, There is a comments feature on there, which allows people to post comments essentially anonymously. Needless to say, this results in a lot of ignorant and nauseating comments. I don’t read much, but when I do, I never read the comments.
Today I broke from my tradition, and was pleasantly surprised. The editorial was a call for more funding to public transit. It was a good argument, but nothing I hadn’t heard before. Someone had commented on the article more or less proposing an idea for smaller buses. It wasn’t written in the nicest way, but honestly, it was a great point. How many times have you been on a bus and it’s only been partially full? Perhaps this could be a cost-saving measure worth looking into. Maybe on some of the route that are more lightly used smaller buses could be used instead.
I generally don’t take much stock in this Pee Dee/ comments, but today I think I found a good one.

Pre-fab housing: is it sustainable?

Last night, I went to hear Sarah Rich, the editor of Dwell magazine, speak at the Cleveland Institute of Art.

She covered a lot of things related to personal and corporate responsibility, especially when it comes to the environment, all through the lens of design. She made a really great point about working on the design of systems instead of the design of products. As product envy gets us to buy certain things, system envy can perhaps get us to change our behavior.

Another item she covered about the intersection of design and sustainability was pre-fabricated housing. Dwell is a huge advocate of pre-fab housing for a variety of reasons, including the decreased energy costs as compared to building on site.

A bucolic pre-fab house.

I get that it is less energy-intensive than building on site. But, as someone who works in the transportation planning field doing freight planning, I can’t help but wonder – wouldn’t the huge transportation costs off-set the gains from pre-fabricating it? Each of these sections has to be transported by truck. Trucks, aside from their emissions, also put a lot more stress on pavement.

I’m also not sure of where these pre-fab factories are located. Is this is a national model, with the potential for a house to travel from one of the country to another for it to be built? Hardly counts for the local aspect of sustainability. I could see a network of pre-fab designers/factories based regionally being more eco-friendly. Then, aside from decreased transportation costs, they could design based on conditions in the region (pitched roofs for snow, etc.).

I’m not totally against pre-fab housing – I think it has fantastic potential for post-disaster areas, as well as impoverished communities – but I’m having a hard time buying that it is more sustainable. I guess I’d like to see someone run the numbers.

Powershift 2009

I was asked recently to sit on a bike panel at the Powershift 2009 conference for the Ohio chapter of Powershift (or something like that). Powershift is a group that is trying to pass climate change legislation and to promote alternative energy solutions. Part of reducing our impact on the environment is exploring alternate sources of transportation, like biking. The conference, while not directly set up as such, was mostly students from universities around Ohio.

I expect I was supposed to give the planner’s perspective on cycling, but it didn’t quite turn out that way. Our panel was composed of the director of the Ohio City Bike Co-op here in Cleveland, the president of Cleveland Bikes! (an advocacy organization), the director of the Oberlin Bike Co-op and myself, a grad student who doesn’t actually work in bike planning but works on the same team as one. I suppose my real qualification was the fact that I don’t own a car. Most of the students who attended our panel were interested in creating bicycle organizations such as co-ops or rental programs on their campus. It was really heart-warming to hear students from all kinds of colleges who are interested in promoting cycling for transportation.
Not every student can have a car on campus, or could even afford one, but certainly we could get more access to bikes. Considering the costs of parking on some campuses, a small fee to rent a bike for a semester suddenly seems like an attractive economic alternative. Especially if most of your travel is local.
At the same time, it was a little sad to realize that a) I was the ONLY representative from Cleveland State University (and wouldn’t have even come unless I was on that panel) and b) there are successful bike programs on some campuses, yet we are struggling to get Cleveland State to put in bike racks. I don’t really see a bike cooperative or rental program really working on our campus because it’s mostly commuters, but the least we can do is put in racks in visible, well-lit, prominent places for people like me and many classmates who do cycle to school. We’re an urban school with a stellar school of urban affairs. Promoting biking should be a natural fit.

An open letter to midterms and my readers

Dear midterms,

I know I’m 2/3rds done with you, but I’d like to talk.
First, what is up with you being so difficult this year? And time-consuming? I was not aware take-home exams would actually take that much more time than a paper or studying. Quelle surprise pour moi!
Secondly, can you stop making my classmates so panicky? I’d probably be done with you faster if I didn’t have to take time to assuage fellow classmates’ concerns.
Okay, that’s it. Thanks for reading, dearest midterms. I know that you will be nothing but kind and friendly to me from here on out.
Dear readers,
Stay tuned for Amy’s interview, post Kona. Also, am thinking about adding a weekly bike/urban/cool links post, distilling the best Twitter/Planetizen/etc. has to offer.

all which isn’t singing is mere talking

Today is mine and e e cummings’ birthdays, hence the title. Today would be celebratory that I’ve managed to make it thus far in my life but I’ve work, meetings, errands and school all day. Fun, games, presents and cake shall have to be saved for another day.

Nah, scratch the presents part. Want to give me the best gift of all? A donation to Bike and Build in my name. (go here >> It’s eco-friendly (no wasteful wrapping paper), would make me very happy, and would make people all across the country happy for helping to support affordable housing construction. You can do something to help end poverty with a gift like this. Donate $1, donate $10.14, donate $24, donate $4000.
It’s corny what they say about every penny counting, but it’s true. Think how cheap a nail is. Just around a penny each. You can afford a nail, right? Now think about how that nail is going to help hold together a warm, safe, comfortable house for someone who may have never lived in anything but substandard housing. You don’t have to do this for me. Do it for them.

Extra shiny forks: Update after the crash

It is due time for an update after my lil run-in with the hood of a cop car on Thursday morning. I’ll start with the boring part (me) and get on to the exciting part (my bike).

The bruises are coming along quite nicely. For someone who very rarely bruises, this is weird to look at my legs and see purplish-blueish-yellowish splotches all over. The only cuts I had were tiny ones from my big ring, and those are almost healed. I now understand the point of chainguards! My neck is far less sore, and my abs/middle are also much less sore. So I am healing quite nicely. I have been rather cautious using crosswalks, though… haha.
Now on to Jay, my bike. Dropped it off yesterday at my LBS. Ended up needing a new fork and new bar tape, wheels to be trued, one of the fender arms needed to be straightened, and one of the brake levers was knocked a little bit loose. The new fork is lugged steel and finished in chrome, which looks very nice next to the chrome fenders. I was worried it would look garish, but it worked out okay. I’m hoping Cleveland’s finest will be paying for the repairs! I think it will be a few days before I’ll be riding again, and I’m already excited.
In other news, Google says it will add bicycling to it’s maps, and stay tuned for an interview with Ironman World Championship (Kona, Hawaii) finisher Amy!

Getting hit: On how to get a bomb squad* cop to come to your ER room

*No actual bombs, don’t worry.

Continuing in the vein of ridiculousness, today I was riding my bike and got hit by, of all things, a cop car.
Yeah, a cop car.
Now before you go all militant and get angry over cops not treating cyclists fairly and all that, you should know this was an accident in the purest sense of the term. I was riding up to a crosswalk by a coffeeshop to go the CVS next door, and two cars pulled up to the stop sign. The one furthest from me was a cop car, and the two cars were staggered by a foot or two, with the cop car a little bit further back. Seeing that they were both stopped, I rolled through the crosswalk. But then the police car started going! It all happened so fast, so I don’t really remember actually hitting the car. All I managed was to think “the cop car is really moving!” then the next thing I remember was rolling down the hood of the car (and thinking “i thought this only happened in movies”), then sitting on the ground. She hadn’t seen me at all behind the other car. Yeah, she hit me when I had the right of way, so for legal purposes it’s her fault, but she also had no idea I was there and obviously wasn’t trying to hit me. She had come to a full and complete stop and just plain and simple didn’t see me.
Someone grabbed my bike for me, and I was able to stand, so we got on the sidewalk. A bunch of people saw the accident, and one guy gave me his card if I needed a witness. Two more cop cars came, a fire truck with EMTs came, and then an ambulance. A little overkill, but whatever. The firemen took my bike, the EMTs took me, and the other cops did police-y type things.
The ambulance ride was pretty interesting. I was talking to the EMT, a former bike commuter here in Cleveland. Apparently he had stopped riding his bike to work because it got too unsafe. He also said that they’d been having more bike accidents recently. Not the kind of thing a bike advocate wants to hear, but important.
The ER visit was mostly routine. Some more cops came and asked me questions. Everyone would ask me, so what happened? I’d answer with “I was riding my bike when I got hit by a cop car” and I’d get a response along the lines of “wait, what? a cop car hit you?” As my knee, hip, and shin were hurting, I got a whole slew of x-rays. Got wheeled back radiology to find a bomb squad/crime scene photographer sitting outside my room (hence the title). Yeah, no joke. Apparently I’m a crime scene. So he took a few photographs and showed me the ones he had taken of Jay, my bike. Apparently the front fork is bent, along with one of the things that holds on the fenders. According to him, it looked fixable. I guess we’ll see when I pick up the bike and take it the bike shop. The x-rays came back, nothing was broken! Just a lot of contusions, which I think is a fancy word for bruises, kinda like how laceration is a fancy term for a cut. Got discharged, limped over to the hospital cafeteria and got an Einstein’s asiago cheese bagel because I feeling a little sorry for myself. Man, they have to be the best kind of bagel in the world. Took the bus back to my apartment and am now milking this for all its worth by sitting on my rear and being totally lazy. I’m already feeling better.
I’m incredibly lucky to have escaped from a car/bike collision with only bruises and a bike that (probably) can be fixed. That doesn’t always happen, like in the case of Sylvia Bingham the other week here in Cleveland. So, on that note, I would like to request a few things of all you readers:
  1. Wear a helmet. Even if you don’t think it works (even I’m not totally sold on the claim they protect your head), it sure makes it a lot easier to deal with paperwork/authorities if you do end up being involved in an accident.
  2. Read this post from Cycling Tips Blog on what to do if you’re involved in an accident. Thank goodness I had read the post, and remembered parts of it, because the last bullet point is very true: the adrenaline masks the pain, and it’s better to get it checked out right then because things don’t start hurting until later.
  3. If you’re in the Cleveland area, please participate in the 17 October ride celebrating the life of Sylvia Bingham. Meet in Edgewater park at 10am, there will be guided rides to go off and participate in community service type activities. Given what I know about Sylvia, I can’t think of a better way to memorialize her life than to do a cycling event that gives back to the community, and one that will raise awareness of cycling in Cleveland.
Also, since I know you’re feeling sorry for poor ole Furman, please consider donating to Bike & Build for me. Shameless, I know. 😛 But it’s going to a good cause: affordable housing!