Happy Cinco de Mayo Eve!


Alright, here’s to the holiday, and now we’ve got some ground to cover.

First, something fun. It’s Bike-Walk-Bus Week, and that means the Pedal v. Metal competition, bikes v. cars.

Our very own Michael Moore nabbed a third place in this Wednesday competition. The reason this is a big deal is Moore was asked to drive a car, and cars don’t win. But he vowed to beat at least some bikes, and he did.

Ahh, me. Moore’s last day was Monday, but he’s still writing columns and other things for the Missoulian.

Anyway, the champion was Councilman Jason Wiener, who completed the race in a zippy 26 minutes and 14 seconds.

“It’s hard to imagine something better proving the efficiency of getting around Missoula on a bike than a fat guy in jeans and boots on his lunch break winning Pedal vs. Metal,” Wiener said in a news release about the event.  “But, improbably enough, that’s what happened.”

Here’s a photo of all the winners, courtesy of Gabriel Furshong, of the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Board. In second place was Rachel Stevens of Adventure Cycling.

pedalmetalwinnersMoore dropped his medal off on my chair while I was gone this week, and it’s the coolest thing, so I’m putting up a picture of it for you. I don’t know if you can tell, but the ribbon is actually a bike inner tube, and the medallion is made out of … I’m going to get the name of the part wrong … maybe a gear? Reporter Kim Briggeman just told me “sprocket” is probably more correct.

Anyway, you can see that piece.


I’ll paste the full release about Pedal v. Metal at the end of this post, and let’s cover a couple other things first.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen that the feds are investigating the way Missoula has handled 80 rape reports the last three years.

Here’s Mayor John Engen in the story:

While “I and Chief Muir have no sense that we have failed to do our jobs … if there are things we aren’t doing right, we’re absolutely committed to doing them right.”

Here’s Engen’s response in this CNN story:

“If Justice has enough information that it believes an investigation is warranted, I’m not going to question that,” Engen said. “Clearly they have a responsibility to act on whatever complaints they are hearing. I think time will tell whether this was the right call or not.”

The U.S. Department of Justice promised fast action but made no estimates on when its investigation would be complete.

Other things:

I wrote this story about a misdemeanor probation program that’ll probably be starting up in Missoula. Councilman Adam Hertz provided an additional document with questions that came from a source who wished to remain anonymous.

In committee this week, Championman Wiener said he noticed at least one inaccuracy, but he also said Municipal Court Judge Kathleen Jenks should be prepared to answer some of the questions raised in the document during the full council meeting.

Oh, while Wiener won the race, he goofed up in his remarks to fellow Councilman Jon Wilkins, according to this letter to the editor from Paul Sopko.

Well, I’ve gotta run, so I’m going to paste the full release Furshong sent so you can see all the places people have to bike and drive to AND all the businesses sponsoring events. Just click on the “more” link.


— Keila Szpaller


Contact: Gabriel Furshong at (406) 461 6897

Missoula City Councilman, Jason Weiner, was the winner of this year’s Pedal vs. Metal Challenge, an annual bicycle vs. car commuter competition held at high noon today as part of Bike Walk Bus Week.

In a chilly wind that brought intermittent rain and snow flurries, six cyclists and four drivers took off from the transit center to see who could complete all of the errands and return to the transit center most quickly.  Weiner was the first to return, soaking wet and out of breath, with a time of 26 minutes and 14 seconds, barely edging out Rachel Stevens of Adventure Cycling by just 26 seconds.  Michael Moore, who was driving for the Missoulian, came in third place.

“It’s hard to imagine something better proving the efficiency of getting around Missoula on a bike than a fat guy in jeans and boots on his lunch break winning Pedal vs. Metal,” Wiener said.  “But, improbably enough, that’s what happened.”

Every year the results from the Challenge offer some insight into the efficiency of getting around Missoula by bicycle versus a car.  This year was no different.  Three of the top five finishers were cyclists and the first driver to cross the finish line was a full two minutes behind Weiner.  But, efficiency is only one of the lessons learned during this year’s Challenge.

“When regular people ride bikes,” Weiner explains, “transportation infrastructure goes further, fewer community dollars wind up on oil company balance sheets and, it turns out, you can get your errands done faster.”

Missoula consistently ranks among the top 10 cities in the nation for cycling.  The Missoula Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board was recently invited to apply for an upgrade in its rating as a Bicycle Friendly city by the League of American Cyclists.  Missoula has been rated highly, at the Silver Level, for several years, but members of the advisory board feel that Missoula deserves an even higher rating.

“Missoula has made big strides in the last several years to improve travel for those who choose to bike and walk,” said Gabriel Furshong, a member of the board.  “These include small steps like creating new bike lines and painting sharrows along narrow roadways as well as some major improvements like the extension of the Milwaukee Trail, which I think served bicyclists very well today as they raced to the Good Food Store on one of their errands.”

Sponsors of the Challenge included the Missoula Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board, the Bike Walk Alliance Missoula, and Open Road Bicycles, which provided the three top winners with medals made of bicycle gears and tire tubes.  See below for a complete list of competitors and participating businesses.


This year’s bicyclists included:

Jason Wiener, Missoula City Councilman,

Julie Huck, MOBI (Missoulians on Bicyclists)

Bob Wachtel, Missoula Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board

Rachel Stevens,

Drivers included:

Jean Curtiss, Missoula County Commissioner

Michael Moore, Missoulian

Jen Gursky, President of the Associated Students of the University of Montana

Rod Austin, Downtown Business Improvement District

The errand route included the following stops:

Ace Hardware (Eastgate Center)
Garden City Garden Supply (525 E. Spruce)
Good Food Store  (1600 S. Third W.)
JRPC Fair Trade Store  (519 S. Higgins)
Natural History Center (120 Hickory Street)
Open Road Bicycles (517 S. Orange)
Runners Edge  (325 N. Higgins)