TT with HD: Kris Talley
[Ed. note: Background to this Talk is that May is
getDowntown's Curb your Car Month in Ann Arbor.
HD: I'm going to scoot forward, because I'm going to outweigh you. Is this going to work?
KT: Sure. I think you're still a little heavier--I'm not pushing at all. I'm just levitating. I can go back a little bit.
HD: Okay, this'll work, but let's pause. [Ed. note: photography ensues] That shouldn't be too bad with the shadows.
KT: Yeah, your tree is leafing out.
HD: I'm considering rigging up some kind of a shade, so that there's not as much shadow in the photography.
KT: But you're a Photoshop master, you can take care of all that! [laugh]
HD: Yeah, well some things you can take care of, other things you can't. Recently, I've been more interested in adding shadows than taking them out, for various reasons. So. We're right in the middle of May, Curb Your Car Month. Has this been a busy time for you, or does most of the effort go into the lead-up?
KT: Well, I was out of town right before the start of it. The Biking and Walking Coalition's main contribution so far was the presentation we did at the library last week on: Okay, we've got these non-motorized plans--now, what happens? There's the City Non-Motorized Plan that everyone knows about--well, anyone who cares knows about, it's been in the paper a lot--but there's also a lot of people that don't know that there's a county-level one ...
HD: ... okay, for example, I did not know that.
KT: And you would know that, because you're interested in this! Yeah, there were about a year's worth of meetings last year that I went to. As a result, the County now has a Non-Motorized Plan, too. And they're completely different animals. The City one is very detailed down to the specific street level. The County one is more a set of guidelines for townships to adopt: Okay, townships, if you want to be bike-friendly, here's the guidelines that we recommend.
HD: I assume those guidelines include paving the shoulders of county roads?
KT: Certain roads. It's always interesting going to these meetings where people are familiar with planning and how to designate roads. So I'd go to these meetings, and they'd say things like, Okay, we propose that all arterial Level A, Collector B or above, be paved. And I was like, Can you give me an example of that kind of road? It's the ones you would expect. Like Scio Church, if we could put shoulders on Scio Church ...
HD: ... well you have a personal connection with Scio Church, right?
KT: What? Oh, yeah, Catfish.
HD: [??] Catfish?
KT: If this is the story of the gravel truck?
HD: Yes, I was thinking of the story of being nearly run off the road by a gravel truck.
KT: Yeah, the driver's name was Catfish.
HD: Ah. Just a nickname, I assume?
KT: I didn't ask for ID! He was a large man. Actually I found out his name, because he happened to pull in to the gravel quarry right after he ran me off the road.
HD: How long a distance was that? From the newspaper account, one might be led to believe that you were chasing like maybe for a couple of miles.
KT: Oh no. Just before Wagner road is where he did it, near the top of the hill. And then the gravel pit, you can see it.
HD: And you were headed what direction?
KT: I was headed west.
HD: So west out of town. And the newspaper account also said that you 'bailed out' onto the gravel shoulder?
HD: Now does that mean you came to a bumpy stop, or does that mean you actually hit the ground?
KT: I didn't hit the ground. I went off the road and stayed upright. I mean, it was an emergency getting-off-the-road. I didn't fall over.
HD: So when you confronted Catfish, you weren't dripping blood.
KT: No, unfortunately. That would have been a little more effective.
HD: But was there maybe a little bit of crazy in your eyes?
KT: At that point maybe a little. I went into the dispatch office and that's how I found out his name. She called down and said, Catfish, there's someone up here who wants to talk to you or something. Yeah, he wasn't too receptive to my message of sharing the road.
HD: Well, speaking of sharing the road, there's supposed to be campaign launched soon involving much more than just sharing the road? But details remain a little mysterious. Do you have any inside information on that?
KT: Well, I have some. It's really Erica Briggs' baby [Director of getDowntown]--I'm certainly participating in that--she actually has money and resources to make that happen. But definitely I'm involved. I haven't talked to Erica recently about it. So I need to touch base with her. The original idea was that sometime in June-ish this campaign would be launched. There's been some talk with a marketing firm about the message and I think it's coming back to basically Share the Road. We started off saying--oh, what were the objections to Share the Road? Overused, or unclear, or makes it sound like only addressing one side of the issue, only addressing one audience. Even though, I don't really perceive it that way.
HD: Oh, so the idea being that Share the Road is a message that motorists typically think is being directed to them alone?
KT: To them as opposed to cyclists. I think there's this really fine line. People don't have to be entirely one-sided, because everyone recognizes that bicyclists don't obey all the rules of the road--perhaps most of them don't--so there needs to be that component in it. But sometimes it can be a little too even-handed. I mean, clearly there are a lot more cars, they're a lot bigger, and they can do a lot more damage than bicyclists. No matter how badly bicyclists behave, they're not typically causing as much mayhem as cars. Occasionally, it'll stray into, Oh, we've got to be perfectly balanced--every message we send to cars we have to send to bicyclists, too. I think bicyclists certainly need a lot of education. But I think the fact is, that the reason that they don't behave better, is that no one is taking them seriously. So if there's a change, where they start to get taken a bit more seriously, then maybe bicyclists would step up to that responsibility.
HD: You ever been stopped by a police officer on your bike?
KT: Nope. Not ever. I'd like to say it's because I never do anything wrong [laugh]. But no, I never have. I only know one person who has.
HD: You mentioned that the getDowntown program has access to some actual money. The Bicycling and Walking Coalition, I take it, doesn't really?
KT: Well, we have membership dues and we have a bit of money in the bank, but we don't have vast resources. We try to be very careful about what we spend money on. We can't mount any major campaigns certainly, not an advertising campaign of any size. Erica [Briggs] did apply for a grant for funding for this program--through, I think, Bikes Belong--so we wrote a letter of support saying that we would use some of our funds to help produce materials, distribute them, things like that.
HD: So is it [WBWC] under the general umbrella of the Ecology Center?
KT: No, we're completely independent.
HD: But the mailing address is care-of them?
KT: Yeah, I should say, they provide us our meeting space--we meet at the Ecology Center--and our mailing address.
HD: For that reason I thought maybe this [WBWC] was on the same par as the ReCycle Center--a wholly owned subsidiary of the Ecology Center.
KT: No, they're just kind enough to allow us to use their facilities. And we are a coalition of other groups--Washtenaw Public Health, for example, which is a big win in the last year, joining with them. One of their staff is on our board. It's such a natural pairing of public health and biking and walking. Even though, when it comes down to it, I'm not really in it to make my fellow citizens healthy. I think it's one huge benefit, but there's lots of other things going on, too. But we love having Public Health along, because there too, they have an established program, and they can get the word out through channels that we can't.
HD: So how much time have you been putting into public process type stuff this spring? I know that recently you attended at least two meetings that I also attended--focus group stuff on parking.
KT: It's a real busy time, I shouldn't complain. The other thing [besides the parking focus group] going on is the Huron River Drive reconfiguration, possibly. I'm on the Design Advisory Committee for that. I missed one big meeting when I was out of town.
HD: Was that the meeting at Forsythe [Middle School]?
KT: No, I didn't go to that one, because I've been going to these Design Advisory Committee ones. Now, having read about it afterwards, I wish I would have been there to be another voice for: Can you just stop and think about this without having this knee-jerk reaction? Did you go to the meeting?
HD: Yeah, I attended the meeting. It was, um, well, several of the speakers made the point that the meeting was not well-enough publicized, and I think that ...
KT: ... weren't there hundreds of people there?
HD: Yeah. [Ed. note: Just after the meeting, HD reported a crowd of around 120 to ArborUpdate.com, so HD and KT are using a loose semantics of 'hundreds'.] I think that was a point that could have been made once, and it didn't need to be made repeatedly. I would say the majority consensus of those who attended that meeting was that any option other than closing the road to motorists would be preferable.
KT: I think it's a really tough thing trying to get public input. Even with the parking thing that you've been to, it's hard to gauge how the public feels about any one issue. It's an imperfect thing. I keep wondering about the timing of that [Forsythe] meeting--clearly, configuring the road to be just for non-motorized traffic, maintaining it in the future would be a lot cheaper than as a road ...
HD: But I think the missing ingredient--which I think stoked the ire of the assembled parties at that meeting, and in fact irritated me a bit as well--was the fact that the alternatives were not being discussed in terms of a specific potential cost. And there weren't any answers about where the money would come from, might come from, would have to come from, conditions on the project based on where it came from. I think there was a general sense of frustration that we couldn't really evaluate any of the options reasonably without knowing, What's the cost?
KT: At the same time, I think--because I was at the meetings where they talked about that--they wanted public input early so they could see, Should we even go down the road of looking at closing it to cars? At this point, they've--I think not officially--but I think they've eliminated the option of closing the road. They've come up with other things [in addition to public input]--this matrix to evaluate all these different factors--which the committee is still discussing. So it's tough to know. It'd be nice to say, Okay, we've got your early reaction, now we've come back with these figures, now what do you think? It's going to cost 50 million over the next twenty years to maintain it as a road versus 10 million as a path, so now what do you think?
HD: So the other public process you mentioned, the one about parking, how do you feel that went? For that one, you're not a part of the actual team, so it's a slightly different perspective from the Huron River Drive project. You're 'just' one of the stakeholders who was invited to one of the focus groups. I have to say that one of the things I think they did absolutely right was, they seem to have sought out people in categories who fit different descriptions and put them together, and also actively tried to get them in the room, as opposed to just announcing, Well, anybody who wants to come, you're welcome to! I think a lot of public process announcements happened that way: they get publicized in the newspaper or wherever, but there's no specific effort to say, That person, that individual ought to be there, let me see if I can't get that person to show up. Which seems to be the case for the parking study, so that part of it, I think they did right.
KT: Yeah, I think it was good. And I liked at the second meeting the further point that he made: by having similar people in the room, they didn't spend time arguing on certain points. I mean, it wasn't like it was unanimous opinions on everything, but you didn't have the biker versus the business owner back-and-forth on that, spending time. You just got the opinions of those respective groups and brought them all together. I definitely saw some change in the proposals from the first meeting at the second meeting, to reflect more of a 'respect'--I think that is going to be the term--for non-motorized transportation, which is good. And a shift away from just, Where are people going to park cars? to How are people going to move around downtown? So that's good, and I think it reflects Eli's [Cooper's] work on the project. But you know--you were there--it's still kind of a question of how do you improve things for people driving cars and parking them, without making it so easy and so convenient that they don't look at any other alternatives? If you make it 100 percent, you can just drive to twenty different points in town, drop off your car at the valet, and they'll park it for free, then why would anyone choose any other method to get downtown? So I still do have some reservations about that. I do like the idea that if you make it easy to some extent, they're not driving around looking for parking spaces--that's a good thing. I don't know how that can be measured, though.
HD: To me, I think of it in terms of analogy to the large parking lots out in front of grocery stores. If you've ever worked at store that has a large parking lot, then you know the first rule for employees is you're not allowed to park in any spaces except those that are located the furthest away. And you know, you take the people who actually own the store. Well, John Busch [of Busch's grocery store] also doesn't park right there close in the regular parking lot. And you might argue that his space behind the building is a nice easy space, because it's about ten feet from the back entrance, but it's also about ten feet from the garbage dumpster. So it's not exactly like he has the very best space you could imagine. So I think it's common sense, that people who work downtown and live downtown, should have the hardest time parking. The guy who should have the easiest time parking should be the guy who's never been to Ann Arbor, who drives up and says to himself, Where the hell do I park? It should be easy for that guy. Super easy. But for those of us who live around here, it seems to me that we should take the least easy option. I mean, Ann Arbor is not a grocery store, but I think of it as: I work or live in the city, and I want visitors and people who are doing business and people who are coming a long distance to have it easy, as opposed to me. I mean, I could walk.
KT: Actually, I think that's right. [Ed. note: Google demanded and received 400 free parking permits as an incentive to locate offices in downtown Ann Arbor.] You know, the whole Google situation really brought the whole idea up: there's some percentage of employees who don't pay to park downtown, they're entirely subsidized by their employers, it's a part of their benefits package, it's a perk!
HD: Actually, the City falls into that category, doesn't it?
KT: I believe so, but don't quote me--I should know this. If they are, then they should cut it out! I mean it should be, at the very least, a choice: you can get 300 bucks, or you can get a parking space--you have to actively pursue a parking space, we're not going to arrange it for you, we're not going to take care of the logistics of it. That's incredible to me! That's one more economic disincentive to not try anything else. It's the same thing with the waiting list, which I had some objections to: 'Let's make sure it's never longer than 30 days!' Well, if that helps eliminate some ...
HD: ... oh, this is Principle Number 5?
KT: Yeah, the famed Principle Number 5, that's the one.
HD: Interestingly enough, that numbering was meant to reflect priority, whereas you'll find plenty of public process where there'll be numbered list or a vertically ranked list, where they'll insist you should not attach any significance to the numbers or the order. For example, at the Huron River Drive public process, there was a list of options, and even though you hear them say, they're not ranked according to preference, you see Close Down the Road as Number 2 behind Do Nothing, you think, Okay, they've already made up their minds. I guess I'd say when you're ranking options, it's most natural to interpret a numbered list as order of preference. But when you're listing principles, well, principles are things that apply independently of each other, and that are not in conflict, and that don't have to be ranked an applied in a certain order. So that part, quite frankly, I thought was baffling.
KT: Yeah, it made it sound like on some other version of that list of principles, it did say they were ranked in order, but the one that we were looking at didn't say they were ranked in order, because we got the excerpt. Yeah, I had no clue that was any kind of order ranking.
HD: However it was supposed to be interpreted, clearly it was meant to be some kind of diagnostic for when there is not enough parking inventory. So if you're going to have a principle that articulates something--and it never became totally clear what that something was--about how you know when the parking inventory is too low and you need to build more, well, then how do you know when it's too high? Where's the principle that articulates that notion? It seems to me that congestion would be one measure of whether you've got too much parking or not. And it seems to me you could mathematically model, based on existing streets and traffic, what is the absolute theoretical maximum number of parking spaces that you could have feeding people into downtown? And what kind of congestion would that mean? And that's the kind of thing that I would have liked to have seen explored in the second meeting, if there had been more listening on the part of the team as opposed to talking. It just seemed to me at the second meeting, that they were unnecessarily defensive and they were just there to present and defend the report they had put together based on the first meeting, than they were to listen to additional input on their report. But that's just my personal take on it.
KT: One thing I liked about the relatively low turnout of the second meeting--you'd like to get a lot of people there--but it is easier to get your points across when there's just a few people, when you have just more of a conversation, as opposed to raise your hand, say something, then shut up for the rest of the meeting, because everyone else is trying to talk, too. So it was good in that sense. The other thing was that there's bigger issues. I don't own a business in town, and I'm sure my outlook would be very different if I did, and I try to keep that in mind, but it seems like everyone is banking on this as a destination town where people are going to drive from all around to come to Ann Arbor to spend money. And that only holds up as long as gas prices are at a certain level. Beyond that, you get fewer people, I think. People who have lots of money to spend won't be affected for a long time, they'll still do it, I suppose. I'm just not sure if you can base your future retail economy town on hordes of people driving in to spend money from all over the place.
HD: Well, maybe not into downtown. There's a new grocery store--what is it called, Plum?
HD: Going in along where Radio Shack used to be at Maple Village. And then Whole Foods is building anther store basically right down from Busch's ...
KT: ... they're taking over the Mervyn's?
HD: Exactly, yeah. So people are building more grocery stores in this general area for sure. But I would not guess that either of those two enterprises even considered downtown Ann Arbor for a minute. And I'm sure it had something to do with congestion, it's too congested in downtown Ann Arbor to drive there to buy groceries, so your potential customer base is limited to downtown and the immediately clustered neighborhoods. Like this one, I suppose, could be a part of a customer base for a downtown grocery store.
KT: I think the [People's Food] Co-op is great and it's great to see people from the senior citizen's center just walking down to the Co-op and shopping. But I'd like to think that at some residential density point downtown, there'd be a few other market options. I mean, not a full-scale Whole Foods, but I would hope that Whole Foods has a model for opening up some kind of presence in a smaller town. There's one in Chicago, I know, which is obviously an urban area, so they do it, but that's as big as any other Whole Foods, because the population is so big. It'd be nice to think you could have a smaller-scale Whole Foods somewhere in town, mostly for local people that would support it.
HD: I know you rode your bike over here. Do you actually even own a car?
KT: My name is not currently on the title of any car. My partner, Phil, and I share a 12-year-old mini-van. That's what's in the driveway.
HD: So at least you have access to a car.
KT: I have access to a car, yeah. And I drove it yesterday! But there's times during the summer where neither of us drives it for weeks at a time. It's pretty easy to do without it. There's certainly a large population that thinks, That's only for a small select group of people to do that, to be able to get stuff done by bike. Like, I'm going to go to the library after I leave here and drop some stuff off, and then go do a few other errands. It's not hard, you don't have to be particularly athletic.
HD: It does require some advance planning, though. And I think that it requires enough advance planning that for most people's operational threshold nowadays, it totally exceeds it. People live their lives from five-minute chunk to five-minute chunk. If I'm out of toothpaste, I'll just go get some toothpaste now. ... Let's see, do I have anything else on my prep list?
KT: Actually you're doing all the work here, I'm just floating. So if you want to slide forward ...
HD: ... oh, I'm just trying to be a good host. Oh yeah, back to you and your bike. At least part of your commute goes down Liberty Street here, because I saw you actually riding one day, and I assume you were headed home?
HD: Do you even remember what Liberty was like before they re-did it?
KT: Before they put lanes on it, or ... ?
HD: ... yeah, have you been in town that long?
KT: Yeah, I've been in town about 20 years. It seems to me that your end has had bike lanes for a really long time, maybe not. I remember the farther out ones are fairly recent, within the last three years or so. I know it was definitely not a road I sought out to ride on. It was in bad shape.
HD: It was almost like a country road. It was odd actually that this main artery into town from Stadium was like a two-lane country road.
KT: I live off Virginia and Liberty in the Virginia Park area, and the other thing that's changed is the bike lanes on Stadium. I really have to marvel at how much more willing I am to do errands on Stadium now with those bike lanes. That's, of course, a hugely controversial area in non-motorized advocacy: bike lanes, good or bad? People have mixed opinions about them, I can say that personally I would have done it [without bike lanes], I would have steeled myself up for my ride down Stadium, and go to Arbor Farms or something. But now you go up Liberty, turn, and you can go anywhere you want in that stretch. For one thing it's smooth and that's huge.
HD: Actually, I think that's the main thing. As long as the road is smooth all the way across--all the way to the edge--that's almost good enough, even without a shoulder or lanes. If the road is smooth all the way to the white line, if you're an experienced cyclist, you can park your front tire on the white line or just inside the white line, and ride it and it's fine. Obviously that's not the case in most places and certainly not here.
KT: I think Stadium is the kind of stretch where you're so used to having shopping centers on all sides and all these driveways. Almost any other place you would really not expect to see bike lanes on a stretch like that--five lanes--even having the presence of them there sends a message: this kind of area is okay for bikes, too. They didn't widen the road, they could have not had bike lanes and still have just as much room. But in that case I kind of like the message that they're sending. Every other place you wouldn't expect to see them. Like Washtenaw, when you see cyclists on Washtenaw, people go, Oh my god, how could they even think of doing that and on Stadium, you go ...
HD: ... well there's a bike lane, so at least somebody thinks it's reasonable that cyclists are there or could be there.
KT: Yeah, I use it all the time now, and it's much more comfortable. In some ways, I think if I just had smooth roads, that's all I need, I could retire now. But, you know we're not going to get that.
HD: That's actually part of the reason I kind of weigh in on the side of not closing down Huron River Drive to automobile traffic. Because, while it's true that the overall cost projected forward might be less if you just had a non-motorized path there, I have a feeling that the overall quality of the surface would probably be allowed to degenerate more through time and make it a less pleasant ride for a bicycle than if they kept it open to motor traffic.
KT: On the other hand, look at the road now!
HD: Well, yeah, the road now is crap. In fact, I have not ridden that stretch on my bicycle in several years now, because of that. My access point to Huron River Drive is via Maple and I get off there too, because it's just not any fun at all to do the stretch closer to town. You worry about things rattling loose, like teeth and brains. The pavement is just not cycle-able, to my mind, without risking a crash.
KT: Actually, I will put in one plug for an event I can't make it to, but Wednesday night is the Ride of Silence [remembering cyclists hurt or killed on their bikes], which is national--and another controversial thing in the cycling community ...
HD: ... why is the Ride of Silence controversial??
KT: Oh, some people think it emphasizes the danger and the negative aspects of cycling to an extent that you shouldn't. That's another fine line. How do you play up the idea that improvements need to be made, without scaring people off? Personally, I wouldn't be biking if I had an unpleasant experience most of the time I went out. For the most part, I have very positive experiences. That point needs to be made. Nevertheless, people do get hurt and killed on bicycles, and sometimes by negligent motorists. So I think that anything that brings the cycling community together and gets publicity for it is generally a good thing. So that's going go down the same route as last year which is ...
HD: ... did you do the one last year?
HD: And well attended was it?
KT: I think we had about 50 people.
HD: Wow. That's big gang.
KT: It is for an event where it was the first year. I'm not sure, it's a little less well publicized this year, I think. But they're also tying it into this Lance Armstrong Livestrong Day, so maybe that will pull out a few more people.
HD: Well, for the Worst Day of the Year to Ride Ride--I never remember seeing a final count anywhere--but I know I saw the ride going past on Liberty here from the base of the hill--and it really was the very worst day you could imagine riding--it was sleeting, there was ice on the road ...
KT: ... it was the worst day, but it was at just the right threshold so that you felt like you were ...
HD: ... so did you actually do it?
KT: Yeah, I was a 'ride leader' supposedly. Half my ride passed me!
HD: Well, like I say, I saw a couple of cyclists ride past and I thought, Hmmm, I wonder if that's the Worst Day to Ride going past, because I couldn't imagine anybody going out for any other reason. And there came a couple more, and a few more, so I started counting and I got to 15. I'm sure I missed at least that many on the front end.
KT: I think there were--because there were four different routes--I would say there were at least a hundred people, maybe more. The 40-mile people spread across the road, and then my group probably had at least 25-30. It was really impressive. It was great, because it wasn't so cold. One of those really cold days later would have been worse, because it would have been virtually impossible to stay warm. But the interesting thing was the precipitation was really sporadic, and it seemed like it'd be really slippery, but somehow it was 'tacky', sort of sticky on the road, like little balls of ice. So you just felt really tough being out there working your way through ...
HD: ... does that figure into any of your psychology for preferring a bicycle over a car? Because for me, quite frankly, it does. If fifty-percent of the population rode their bikes around, I'd be less inclined to ride my bike. I want to do something that not everybody else is doing, because it's a little bit hard. I want to be in a very small percentage, and I think I know that about myself. If you asked me, Wouldn't you like to see 30 percent of people commuting by bike? I guess I'd say, Yeah, sure, but for me personally, it would erode some of the cachet I attach to doing it. I like showing up in my bicycling gear and having people say, My god, you're crazy, you rode here on a day like today?! There's some basic human need that satisfies for me.
KT: I don't know. I have some commutes in the morning, where you'll hit this moment, where I've got three bikes behind me, two in front of me and I see two go by and I say, Whooo, we're almost there, it's happening! That makes me excited. I love to see it. Bike to Work Day is this Friday. We'll be coming right down Liberty, by the way--I know you're not biking--but if you want to go to City Hall, just hop on. It'll probably be quarter to eight or something. When we get a train of 20 people for that, it's exciting, showing other people that it's possible, it's not a big deal. As long as they're all behaving properly [laugh], as long as they're riding on the right side of the road, that's just about good enough for me, you know! I don't know how you feel about it, but I don't feel comfortable, for the most part, yelling at someone. I mean, if someone goes through a red light, I might go, Hey, red light!
HD: Oh, you mean if you see a cyclist go through a red light?
HD: Oh, well, you know, I go through red lights, if there's nothing coming.
KT: If there's nothing coming, and that's the a really hard thing. I mean, no one wants cars to go through red lights under any circumstances. I guess some people do, but for the most part, I think that everyone agrees that cars shouldn't.
HD: And it also depends on where the red light is. I'm not going to blow a red light at the intersection of Stadium and Liberty.
KT: I see people who blow red lights, and I see people come up to the light, look both ways, like a pedestrian, if they can make it through then they go, red light or not. I don't typically do that. If it's like I have to dash out, I just try to wait.
HD: Another case I think it's totally justified for a cyclist is when you can't get the left turn arrow that you need.
KT: Yeah, that's a law, I think that you're allowed to like ....
HD: ... are you really??
KT: Well don't quote me on that, but I believe that if the traffic device isn't letting you through, and you have no choice, what are you going to do, stay there for the rest of your life?? You're supposed to be able to see the sensors and position your bike, and there's this thing where you can put the bottom bracket over the intersection, assuming you have a ferrous metal bike.
HD: So do you have anything else on your mind today? Because this really just has to be about the best possible day you could imagine for riding. It's too soon for mosquitoes. There's no humidity. It's partly cloudy, so we're not having to sit here baking in the blazing sun.
KT: I think I will be heading out for an actual just recreational ride later today, the first of the year. I actually do have one question for you, because I know you've got the laundry spinner thing ...
HD: ... oh, you want to see it?
KT: Well, I'd like to see it, and we have this ...
HD: ... and as a matter of fact you're wearing--are those SPD-compatible shoes?
KT: Yes, they are!
HD: Well, then you could even spin the thing!
KT: Okay! That will be fun, since I've done no work so far! So we have another event coming up in June, which is BikeFest ...
HD: ... I remember last year there were ramps on Main Street, people doing bicycle aerobatics and stuff.
KT: They should be back, but we're always looking for more stuff. One of our members, for the Fourth of July parade--another thing to keep in mind--he wanted to do a bike-powered bubble machine. And he got all the parts, he got it mostly working. But there's some little piece he couldn't quite get, so knowing your background with pedal-powered things, if you would be interested--because we thought it would be great for BikeFest, having little kids pedaling a bike and having bubbles coming out of it.
HD: Well, heck yeah.
KT: So if you're interested ...
HD: ... pass his information along or pass mine to him, or something. Maybe you should wait until you see the laundry spinner before you get too enthusiastic about my expertise.
KT: If it spins, I dunno, that's more than I could do.
HD: Well, before we hop off, I just want to congratulate you on being the 100th rider on Teeter Talk.
KT: Wow. It is exciting!
HD: There could be some controversy about how exactly rides are counted, but I figure I'm in charge of that.
KT: Does Bill Clinton count?
HD: Bill Clinton counts as a ride. And Josh and Nyima Funk, even though they were both on the teeter totter at the same time with me, those are two separate rides. Arrah and the Ferns, three people, only counted as one ride. So there's a lot of room for controversy that might erupt ...
KT: ... but you're totally in charge of the count.
HD: So that's why I'm saying it right here on the teeter totter, to make it official: you are rider number 100.
KT: Once I have it I'm not letting it go!
HD: Well, with that you get all the rights and privileges associated with being such.
KT: I can't wait!
HD: Okay, listen, let's hop off.