Monday, February 1, 2016

Facebook Holds Back on Bikes, Boy Bands Ride On

Facebook is not supplying its employees with electric bicycles because the law governing their safety in Menlo Park is not clear.  This begs the question of whether other companies would support cycling and e-bikes for their employees if statutes were written to be understood.  Or were written at all in some instances.  Certainly city officials need to act now and not wait for some imagined critical mass that has probably already been assembled.

There is something incredibly sweet about a couple that finds love across the oceans after they meet though shared strava data.  From Pennsylvania to Australia, they communicated until they finally met and eventually married.  If you are about to be cynical, and imagine this marriage won't last because they likely have nothing in common beyond cycling, and one or the other of them will give everything he/she knows to follow the other, and resentment will ultimately build, the sex taper off, and the little things, chewing style in particular, will come to annoy, just stop yourself.  Nobody loves a Debbie Downer.  

A review of Citibike's 22 million rides shows that most bikes are used for utilitarian purposes, like getting from one place to another, like you would in a subway, or a bus, or a taxi.  Hey!  Which proves cycling is transit, meriting infrastructure spending, legal support, and planning.  Wow.  Didn't need 22 million rides to figure that out, but data is so delicious.

We have reached the point where young women everywhere want to take a bike ride with members of their favorite boy band.  This could limit the spread of disease and it is certainly a different approach than referenced in "American Band."  And so, in Manila, if you enter a contest, you can ride around the city with the Vamps, none of whom appear old enough to vote, or drive a car, which may explain the bike ride.  Just sayin'.

Momentum Mag has published a study that reveals bike commuters are six times healthier than other commuters.  After riding Washington's Metro in the blizzard, during which time I felt as if I was being alien smuggled, conducted an anecdotal study of steely facial expressions worn by bureaucrats, and learned that crowds of teenagers are indeed VERY loud on trains, I am glad to be rejoining the ranks of happy bicycle commuters.  Maybe ten times happier and twenty times healthier.

The Washington Area Bicycling Association is holding its choice awards.  You should pick your favorite bike business and nominate them for recognition.

Since some people bike less in the winter, it is probably wise for them to give their bikes a safety test before they head back out.  London Cyclist has published a suggested safety test.  But there are other do-it-yourself resources.  I have test driven the Bike Doctor App.  It is great for calming you down when you get a flat, and you are starting to panic that you will be savaged by some stranger if you don't get it repaired and get back on the path, and there will be nothing left for investigators to investigate, except your remains and a ruptured tube.  And you can read the Bike Doctor App on your phone in the dark, unlike the pocket bike repair guide I have which requires flashlight assistance.  At $4.99 it is not the cheapest app out there.  If you have a conventional bike, its probably fine.  Anything fancy or complicated, like a tire skirt or a cargo with a rear rack, this app won't help much.  Complicated bike owners should instead learn to love a local bike mechanic, or learn to tolerate him/her.  They will usually perform a safety check for less than $40.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, navigating around massive piles of snow with a healthy sense of humor, which is at least six times that of the nearest car driver, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Mayor Vetoes Bicycle Yield Law, Cargo Festival Calls for Contributors, and Irish Healthcare Workers Told to Saddle Up.

That cleverly-conceived law that would have allowed cyclists to yield at traffic lights (if there are no cars or pedestrians around and it is otherwise safe) was vetoed.  Why anyone would veto such a rational law is beyond me.  A female cyclist who must cross through the industrial portion of town on her way home from work can be ticketed if she yields at a light when there is no cross traffic, and only people with outstanding arrest warrants for a blunt force trauma murders.  This veto strikes me as absurd.   Perhaps we should change the right turn on red laws for all motorists.  (And a riot was heard to be forming.)
San Francisco is an outwardly progressive city secretly controlled by established old money.  Perhaps plate tectonics has allowed some kind of toxic vapor to leach into the mayor's office.  #bikeyieldlaw  Please post your conspiracy theory here.
Millennials are still driving less than other people.  And they are saving money instead of engaging in profligate spending.  Are they the smartest generation yet?  They appear to be centered enough to avoid the seduction of lower gas prices.   Tens of thousands of less sturdy people have rushed to buy SUVs, forgetting that history repeats itself.  Millennials.  Gotta love 'em.  And they bike like crazy.

In Belfast, healthcare workers are being urged to ride bicycles, for a number of reasons.  Can you name just ten of them?

There was a terrible bike share system once in Oregon, now a cycling Mecca.  What made it fail?  Besides an irrational belief that people won't vandalize and steal free bikes without locks.

The Cargo Bike Festival is in the planning stage.  Want to contribute?

If you don't already love @Brooklynspoke then I have to think something is wrong with you.  Assuming you do love him, then you will also love this story about his guerrilla construction cone appropriations in furtherance of cyclists' safety.  He won't wait 10 years for Vision Zero's results to finally show.
Ah, the desire to get things accomplished as apposed to creating endless process and forming committees.  It's so refreshing.  It's so not Washington.  

Can't get enough of cycling?  Want to patronize bicycle-themed restaurants in cities that may seem unlikely to have such things?  Then here's your guide.

So if I see you in the bike lane, yielding at a light, and you are in your Bakfiet, or just wearing your scrubs, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Bicycle Atonement or a Big Shock.

Atonement: As it turns out, some #bicyclethieves have (or develop) a conscience.  This particular one donated a bicycle 37 years after he stole one.  While that is certainly a lovely gesture, I would prefer not to wait so long for redemption/revenge.  I liked this second story about a bicycle that would administer an electrical shock to a would-be thief in the moment he/she tries to steal the bike.  Fast, efficient, and no need to wait almost four decades for satisfaction.

In the dark of winter, I have noticed that more bicycles are involved in near misses with other bikes, vehicles, or dizzy pedestrians.  So I compiled a list of cycling safety tips from several sources across the globe as a kind of reminder that we still have to ride defensively.  To avoid getting doored, look for car brake lights, several people in a car (distraction), and any car that has parallel parked in front of you.  Try to stay three feet from parked cars whenever you can do that safely.  Or you can wear a low-IQ-and/or-selfish-jerk-o-meter.  This will allow you to detect people who would never think to use their side mirror to check the bike lane before they open their car doors.

This winter rain has been more of an issue than snow.  So how do you ride in the rain and dark safely?  Don't lean into corners, slow down and sit down, and consider reducing your tire pressure a bit.  To that I would add, consider a lighter-colored poncho, assume the worst of drivers, and wear something that blinks enough to give even the Incredible Hulk vertigo.  Put your blinking light higher up, maybe on your pack, and use super bright lights in front and the rear.  And carry a tube.  You do not want to have to patch in this weather, unless you are a masochist.

If you think that cyclists are part of a subculture with its own rules and etiquette, you would be right.  Sort of.  Here is a short version of the rule book, a kind of study guide to the Talmud of cycling without having to immerse yourself in the longer version.  The guide can be reduced to one essential point: know the laws.  And recite them verbally - including the exact code section - to any annoying driver who gets it wrong.  Then refer to the guides above-cross-posted on how to drive fast in the rain and dark, away from some angry driver who tells you that nobody likes a smarty pants.  I myself once referred a driver to the Bicycle Safety Amendment Act, adding that it had passed final vote in October of 2014, and explaining that he was wrong.  He did not smile.  I did.

Washington, DC's #Riide e-bikes made it on Kickstarter and is now in production in the Shaw neighborhood.  The third line is about to become available through web order, and the company allows payment for the $2,000 bikes in monthly installments.  Don't have one yet?  Live in a city with a lot of hills?  Order now.

An Italian radio host wants to nominate the humble bicycle for the Nobel Prize.  Yup.  Seriously.  Here's why it makes sense.  The bicycle is a carbon-free transit mode that improves user health by reducing obesity and increasing fitness levels, which reduces cancer, diabetes and heart disease.  It weighs considerably less than a motor vehicle, meaning that, as a matter of physics, it cannot hurt people as badly as cars in accidents.  That means the humble bicycle saves lives through a variety of direct and indirect means.  Isn't that as good as inventing penicillin?

So, if I see you in the bike lane, and you are on a Riide e-bike, or any bike, whether it is snowing or raining, or as sunny as the Costa del Sol, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Congress Doing Something For Cyclists??????

Congress has the lowest approval rating since such records were kept.  If they do a little something to promote cycling, they could certainly get some higher numbers from one sub-culture - cyclists.  A new bill may allow cities to use transit funds for bike share programs without having to ask "Mother, may I?"  This matters because transit money is often used for roads and other motorized vehicle infrastructure that is not sustainable.  It usually cannot be used for cycling by the terms of the appropriations.  And if you guessed Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon was a backer, you'd be right.  He's the guy you see tooling along in the bike lines wearing a bowtie and gushing from his effusive personality.  I know.  You are thinking the bill won't pass because it is reasonable.  I get it.  You see the approval polls and think the entire Congress have lost their way.  Perhaps not.

Actually there is a Congressional Bike Caucus which has both Republican and Democrats among its members.  Congressman Tom Petri, like the dish, is also a supporter.  Something to consider if you ever plan to write an advocacy letter, or if you are a single issue voter.  Bike lanes, or bust.  (Remember Bernard Shoenbaum's New Yorker cartoon showing a Congressman leaving the Capitol on a bicycle?

As much as they bellyache about the debt (or really DEBT), you would think that Congress would want to save money.  Maybe $25 trillion would help.  But you could not do isolation math to calculate the savings to cities, because it would include reducing healthcare spending by eliminating obesity-related illnesses, reducing the damaging impact of carbon emissions, cutting wear and tear to roads frequented by cars and more.  That might be a little complicated for this particular group.

Well some of the healthiest people live in Utah, which has the most active population in the United States.  More exercise, more cycling . . . You do the math.  Not you.  Congress.

So, if I see you in the bike lanes, and you a Congressman of any party, or a long-suffering staffer, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Horace Dobbins' Dream Coming True Again

When I think of great Americans, my thoughts veer to the obvious: Thomas Jefferson (- the slave thing); Florence Nightingale; Thomas Edison (-the weird habits thing); Gloria Steinem; and Steve Jobs (- the mean aspects).  And I add to that list Horace Dobbins, who built the first bicycle highway between Pasadena and downtown Los Angeles in 1897.  If he is looking down from above, he has been smiling to see Boris Johnson's planned bicycle highway in London, and Germany's new Autobahn for bicycles, to name a couple.  I think it would really please him if another bicycle highway could connect Pasadena to downtown again, the LA River path being an obvious place to set it up.  What would happen to motorists who could see bicycles whizzing past them while they sit in traffic?  As they saw the Metro speed by them on the Dulles Toll Road, they moved to mass transit in droves.  A similar thing could happen if they saw bicycles float by them.  If you build it, they will come. #startthecyclingrevolution
Apparently no single map does a good job of showing all the possible bike paths, lanes and routes in the Washington, DC area.  This may be ripe for a crowd-sourced effort that includes data posted by all of us.  I would add to the map locations where you can safely change or buy a tube, fill your water bottle, and use the bathroom (sitting down, I mean fellas).  Anyone have an algorithm for that?
That puckish little capitalist model, Citibike, just posted its 10 millionth ride.  And so goes the failure that wasn't what Dorothy Rabinowitz claimed.  Citibike did not herald a dyspotian NYC (any more that the the one that already exists).  It did seem to symbolize a Manhattan of greater accessibility, which can frighten those who cling to their identity by means of exclusion.  So go #Citibike, go!  May many more designated lanes follow.

A corporate event planner, tired of setting up trust seminars and haggling over the cost of rubber chicken, took a cross-country trip on a Citibike share bike.  It was a little more than evocative of Forrest Gump.   The adventure was a far better way to work out a mid-life crisis (or early millennial life crisis) than buying a red sports car and trying to wear clothes that no longer flatter you.  Although if you rode a bike across the country, you could probably begin to wear those clothes again without pushing the boundaries of decency and taste.  #jeffreytanenhaus

#California has now enacted what might seem like a peculiar law to many, but will resonate as sensible to anyone who has ever sat on a hairpin turn on the Pacific Coast Highway north of Stinson Beach in a car or a bicycle.  If more than five cars are stacked up behind a bicycle, the cyclist must pull into the next exit and allow the cars to pass.  I wonder if anyone who takes those long rides near Mendocino has an opinion about this law?  Could it help the image of cyclists, or create another way for cars to bully riders?

So if I see you in the bike lane, or on the bike highway, and you are real person, or a happy, ghostly vision of Horace Dobbins himself, let's be smug,
Elisa P.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sweden Pays Cyclists, California Allows Skateboards in Bike Paths, Citibike Pleases Capitalists, and Australians Become Irrationally Exercised Over Passing Laws (Christian Kolber)
There is proof that cycling is working its way into the culture of transit.  California, where the car is king, now regulates paths.  Of course they allow skateboards and e-bikes access, but as they say in California, skateboarding isn't a crime.  If you plan on riding a beer bike, peddle powered by up to five revelers/inebriates, new regulations apply to you as well, none of which have to do with an IQ test.

Arlington, Virginia aims to be more bike friendly and it is developing a plan to accomplish that.  If you want to weigh in, the time is now, not after the lanes end randomly and your block gets the nickname "Corridor of Doom."

Do you ever think that drivers should pay you for not adding to their misery by putting yet another car on the road?  In Stockholm that is what they are doing.  Please let me know which elected official of either party would: (1) sponsor such a bill, and; (2) have the strength to get is passed.  And post the telephone number of that fine elected official.  Also, I will tell you where you can mail my first check.  I'll be waiting.
Laser lights are now illuminating the bike share paths of London.  Sounds glorious.  I can hear Benjamin Britten playing loudly in my head as I think of it.
In Australia, they have proposed a law requiring cars to stay one meter from bicycles.  Nice.  We have had that law here in Washington, D.C. for at least a year.  Just sayin'.  Yup we mistreated our indigenous people too, but we were settled by tax protestors and religious zealots, not convicted felons, and we have had the bike distance rule for several months before you.  Ha ha.  Feelin' superior for a moment.  Okay, that's over.  Have a good day.

Oft complained-about Citibike uses no government subsidies.  Disbursed systems like capital bike share only make 79% back and need subsidies.  Would some genius step forward to help correct this.  Nothing appeals to an American population more than a successful capitalist model.  A successful share business model could help in the global promotion of cycling.

The town of Hamilton's online newsletter, "Raise the Hammer," has an interesting piece about how cycling infrastructure is the most important investment a city can make.  No the piece does not reference a perfect predictive algorithm, but it could arguable start a conversation that we all need to have with government leaders.  "Raise the Hammer" styles itself as a non-partisan publication by citizens.  This might even be true.

I know this has been an El Nino-influenced winter, and I can almost hear the polar icecaps melting from here, but you may still need a winter cycling survival guide, so here is one.

So if I see you in the bike lane, whether we are sweating in the new normal winter heat, or you are a capitalist or even an Australian, and you are not befouling the lanes with skateboard antics, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Ride With Bono
The former star of #CoronationStreet, Britain's ITV series that his been running since the Pleistocene era, decided to "borrow" a $3000 #bicycle to chase after a comedian. Hahahhahahh.  Then he wrecked it and the production company has never paid for the loss.  Thud.  There are some things one can never do.  Destroying someone's bike is among them.  Lesson: Never offer your bike to celebrity, and when around one, lock your bike.£2000-bike-he-chased-after-johnny

If you are a clever inventor who can design a new helmet for e-bike riders, now is the time to submit your design idea to the NEN Dutch Standardization Institute.  They have set parameters: no full-face helmets, and it must be comfortable.  It should also be extremely attractive and not damage great blow-dries.  (Okay, some of these may not have been on the list.)
Do you have a device that tells you when to stand up at your desk and how much you have exercised?  I hate mine.  It's like a device with an agenda.  A bad example of what the world will be like when the machines are in charge.  It never knows that I work at a stand-up desk and frequently tells me to stand up.  I sometimes sit down when it does this just to be passive-aggressive.  It never realizes that I have ridden my bike to work.  Most days I ride to work after I have gone to the gym.  Yet, it seems to think I'm one of those people who sits in a car, then at a desk, then in a car, and then in front of the television before going to sleep.  My dopey device is like a bad government survey of the sort being abandoned in the U.K.  It does not count my constant activity.  At last cycling will be considered as part of the active life data.  Ah logic.  Sometimes it simply rears its head.  Next we need smart watches that are . . . actually smart.  Or ones that can at least tell when you are standing or prone.

Bono is back in the saddle, thank goodness.  We all remember that terrible bike crash he had.  Now he is inviting you to ride with him in Central Park to support his #red campaign.  Three reasons to do this: (1) Bono, come on, seriously; (2) Central Park on a bike, majestic, and; (3) help people in Africa where they really need it.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, and you are wearing a fetching, yet safe, helmet with your e-bike, or you happen to be tooling along with the likes of Bono, let's be smug.
Elisa P.