Sunday, March 1, 2015

May Bike Share Live Long and Prosper, and May the Elderly and Female Join In.

In Copenhagen, it seems that #bikeshare has been relegated to a tourist attraction, and it is dying.  Does this mean the death of cycling in #CyclingMecca?  No.  It means the system had an unsustainable cost structure, and pretty much everyone bikes and uses their own.  May bike share live long and prosper, as #LeonardNimoy said.  But if it comes to the end of a long good run and it must go, let cycling live on.  I would give this shocking twist of fate a Spock analysis, but logical characterizations of municipal failings would have baffled Spock.

While bike share in Copenhagen limps along, cycling in general must be increasing.  #Voxwomen is the new Youtube channel for women's cycling.  Hard to believe that while most bike commuters are men there is a channel that features women's cycling.  This is a little bird of hope.  Or maybe a California Condor of hope.  It's something that merits a general yippee.  #chicksonbikes

Can sites like Voxwomen bring more women to cycling?  What about older people, who have not embraced cycling despite the evidence it is therapeutic, and can even treat symptoms of Parkinson's disease?  Not yet.  If you want to reach older people, you are going to have to go their media, network television, that thing we all used to watch.  Right now the images of the elderly on television are frozen.  Medicine ads run back-to-back on network news - which is still watched by older people at the scheduled time.  No older person appears to be cycling unless they are dong so slowly and only after receiving some advertised drug.  Ads featuring cycling and its benefits it could help to change this image and maybe reduce the need for all that medicine that is aggressively advertised.  Right now, if an outer space creature chanced upon television ads and tried to figure out American culture from what he/she/it saw - ads for prescription medicines for E.D., various auto-immune diseases, and smoking cessation - he/she/it would certainly imagine we could be easily plundered and overcome.  Calling all billionaires!  Please sponsor pro-cycling ads featuring women and older people.  Take back America's sense of well-being, and restore its image in the eyes of extra-terrestrial creatures.–-growing-levels-cycling-have-not-brought

The unsteal-able bike has shown up in another round of videos, this time on the Washington Post's online section.  Great, if there were not bike chop shops, whose "contributors" dismantle bikes.  They do not steal and ride them away.  If you don't believe me, just ask any runny-nosed meth addict with bolt cutters you chance upon.  A bike is to them nothing more than the sum of its parts.  No bike is unsteal-able.

So if I see you in the bike lane, and you are on an unsteal-able bike that has not yet been stolen, and you are Medicare eligible, or assisted-living avoiding, or you happen to be a woman, or not, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

It's Award Season - For Cycling.

That's right, WABA's Bicycle Choice Awards noted a few local figures and businesses as being #bikefriendly.  Councilman #davidgrosso won, along with #districttaco and #REI.  I have to wonder about the award to the #MStreetcycletrack.  It is still a work in progress, or a loading zone, depending on your view.  I have encountered a number of motor vehicles in the M Street lanes, including a #supershuttle van whose driver was yelling at someone on a cell phone while he stood on the sidewalk ignoring scowls and fist shakes from a number of cyclists.  Surely he did not come to receive the award on behalf of the cycle track.
I want to see the equivalent of the Rotten Tomato Awards for bicycling.  Like something for the police who let their horses befoul the bike lane.  A golden shovel perhaps.  An award to the driver captured making an illegal u-turn on camera on Pennsylvania Avenue the most number of times in a year.  I'm thinking of something festive.  Like deportation or banishment if they still do that.

Cities, including Washington, are moving to #VisionZero, a plan to eliminate deaths as the result of traffic accidents.  The biggest factor in traffic deaths remains speed - whether the accident is car on car, car on pedestrian, or car on bike.  So in Ireland, there is a move to reduce speeds.  The bill is named for Jake, a boy who was killed by a speeding motorist while riding his bike.  This would obviously help limit deaths in the U.S. too.  #duh

#Cargobikes could be the next big thing, so say Chris and Melissa Bruntlett in Grist.  Why?  Most things that get delivered can be delivered by a cargo bike, and five other reasons make this post very compelling.

In the category of super optimistic inventions, here's an app that aims to prevent cars from hitting bikes.  It sounds like a great idea, if it were mandatory for motorists.  The cyclist and the motorist both must have the app for it to work.  Once downloaded, it warns drivers about the presence of a cyclist.  Nice, but the last thing I want is a driver looking at his cell phone to see what it chirped as he whizzes toward a cyclist.

And we could all learn how to cycle in style by looking at the images of Hollywood's Golden Era.  Lana Turner knew how cool it looked to roll your pant leg up and go ride.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, and you are carrying an award trophy in an obvious effort to attract attention, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Could Presidents and Afghan Women One Day Ride in Subway Tunnels?

If the presidency is all about politics, and politics is about the economy, I celebrate #PresidentsDay and the expansion of the #cyclingeconomy in the U.S. and Europe.  #RepublicBike, the company that designs bikes for businesses, like the custom fleet for Google, is still growing.  The cycling industry advocacy "Club" in Europe is benefitting from urban connectivity.  In a week of grim reports of violence, this is great news for decent people on at least two continents, which is better than just one.
Reminds of the wonderful book #EllyBlue wrote over a year ago.  #bikonomics  In the parlance of our time, it's all good.

Thinking about freezing as you ride?  Deterred by a few feet of snow?  What if abandoned subway tunnels could be used as #bikelanes?  Sounds great, with adequate lighting and security.  A little creepy without.  #subwaytunnelbikelane

In Belfast they have decided that training the public on how to use bike share might get more people cycling.  Brilliant.

If you cannot get out the elements by going subterranean, should you cycle when you have a runny nose, fever, and a case of the adult whinies?  As with all things, the answer is "in moderation."

Like the whole #cyclingculture thing and want to see which businesses and people support cycling so that you can pick where you offer your support and money?  The Washington Area Bicyclist's Choice Awards are February 20.  You can celebrate the people and places that make cycling special and fun in the city.

Elsewhere in the world, and in improbable circumstances, Afghan women cyclists keep riding and keep getting shout-outs from the media.  #afghanwomencyclists

If I see you in the bike lane, even if you are sick, and even if you are the President, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Cyclists Compared to ISIL, Though #Cycling Keeps You Younger.


When a radio station like WTOP, that survives because its listeners are stuck in traffic, reports the increase in bike culture, and the loss of interest in cars, I consider that a sign that the world is righting itself.

In Denmark they are starting the indoctrination early, establishing playgrounds for cycling kids to enjoy.  We have BMX parks, but people drive to get there, kind of like they drive to spin class.  Makes sense, right?

Does #cycling keep you younger?  Indeed, but then again you knew that.

The #Bikesvscars debate continues even after the launch of a film aptly named, Bikes vs. Cars, which looks at the unnecessary death of a cyclist at the hands of a motorist and issues about our transportation policies that hurt society in general and cyclists in particular.

In London, the plan for a #bicyclesuperhighway is going forward.  Amidst this progress, the taxi union leader appears to have become unglued.  Or perhaps he was a madman in the first place.  In opposing the bicycle superhighway -which will cause a headache for taxi drivers and a loss of income from fares - he has compared cyclists to ISIL.  ISIL is a group that uses torture and terror to recruit.  Cyclists considerably less so.
Credibility is apparently not his strong suit.  On the other hand, some people do have a way of wearing that balaclava that suggests something dark and menacing.

In D.C., the #Bicyclespace pop-up appeared in a location that was a Burger King, home to deep fryers and junk food marketed to the young and poor.  Is that a Bird of Hope?  Yup.

Meanwhile in Africa:
Did you know that a woman in Nigeria is turning trash into treasure in part by using bicycle carts to  move the stuff around?  She conceived of her company, #Wecyclers, while she was earning her MBA at MIT.  Feel inferior right now?  Me too.

And the World Bank reports that over 50% of the world's population knows how to ride a bike.  This is a good thing.

So, if you are in that 50% that knows how to ride a bike, and I see you in the bike lane, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Riding A Bike Can Save Your Life: Sitting Kills

Sitting kills.  Cycling extends your life.

The newest data show that sedentariness kills.  It's not our diets, it's our lifestyles that are killing us.  It's sitting on our butts.

Ride your bike to work = live longer and healthier.  You drive, you die.  Simple.  Watching the Super Bowl right now?  Stand up, even if there's nothing happening in the game to motivate you.

Sitting is as bad for you as smoking.  Ah, but you say 28 states are now selling gas for $2.00 per gallon.  I can drive for cheap and have a smoke afterwards.  Fine, if you want to get in a death coffin and are gullible enough to believe the claims of the fossil fuel industry and big tobacco, go ahead.  And think about the long term costs to our environment and society from fossil fuels.  It's much higher than most people know.  Besides, driving a car is so 1996 - that's when driving peaked.  Do you still wear scrunchies and pantyhose too?  1996. When Madonna thought she could credibly play Evita Peron.  When John Galiano was thought to be just a weird guy who liked bad hair and baroque dresses.

That SUV you buy today will be a source of illness, shame and expense tomorrow.  That really nice road bike will stand out as a good investment.  (Shameless plug here:  #BicycleSpace, #TheBikeRack, and #TheDailyRider serve people with higher IQs.)

And don't let alarmists tell you how dangerous #cycling is.  It's safer than you think.  Very few cyclists were hurt last year in traffic accidents compared to drivers and pedestrians who cross four lane roads in the wee hours.  And don't worry, even the Commonwealth of Virginia - home of Robert E. Lee if you get my point - is going to make it illegal to door a cyclist.  Holy former south of the Mason-Dixon Line madness!

And you ask how you can afford to use bike share, the easiest means of getting around any city?  It is going to made affordable to all, unless you have a bad drug habit or a serious cognitive issue that causes you to loose track of things.

But what self-promoting politician is going to help make your life better as a cyclist?  Well, the urban world has a plan, just like the Commonwealth of Virginia seems to.
London Mayor Boris Johnson may be remembered for two things:
1)  Making the bicycling superhighway across London that made people get on their bikes, reduced obesity, and lowered the U.K.'s soaring healthcare costs; and,
2)  That terrible hair.
He will also be remembered for taking on the taxi-driver's union, which opposes the bike plan for obvious reasons.  (Perhaps we can get them out and about on rickshaws?)

That Mayor of Tokyo is also a seer.  He is pushing forward his vision of a carbon-less city where pollution does not contribute to global warming and assorted maladies.

So, if I see that you are smart enough to be in the bike lane, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Is the South Warming up to Cycling?

Image from the Bangor Daily News.

As cyclists living on the east coast of the United States stare down the barrel of a possible blizzard, it is important to keep a little perspective.  #Wintercycling is growing increasingly popular to the north in Canada.  As the Scandinavians say, there is no bad weather, just inadequate clothing, poorly plowed lanes, and enough salt on the road to rot a chain made of diamonds.

We can all use a little refresher on how to cycle in winter.  Take the lane, have adequate lights, have the right tires, and have enough courage to admit when a multi-model route is better for your health and safety.  And don't double dog dare some cycling buddy to do anything too dangerous in bad conditions.  Or, if you cannot help yourself because that's just the sort of former frat boy you are, at least pair up with the person whose life you might place a risk so there are two of you.  Two cyclists being more obvious to motorists than one, unless the motorist is a drooling idiot, in which case you're in serious trouble no matter what.

Those of you in the nation's capital should think kindly on the owners of Pleasant Pops coffee shop.  Pleasant Pops will give #cyclists who brave the cold a free cup of Joe.  Not sure it will be the lush flat white you crave, but it might be a bold Sumatran that will warm your bones.

The winter won't last forever, and when it does end, we should consider this nice outline of what is needed to advance urban cycling: wear your normal clothes, have cities charge for parking, building infrastructure, account for the saved money in healthcare costs, and a few other common sense points.  #notrocketscience.

I am calling upon the Illustrious Potentate, the Superior Emperor, and citizenry of the Democratic Society of Decent Cyclists to expel the following individual from the superior culture of cyclists, following some sort of due process of course:  one Sidney Williams who cycled to a number of cash and carry businesses so that he could conduct an armed robbery spree.  Williams' targets included Dollar Stores and Wendy's . . .   Really dude?  Dollar Store?  Get help.  And stay away from bikes until you have fully reformed.  We will consider your application for re-entry into the superior culture of cycling upon the completion of your term.

R.I.P. former Chicago Bears player, Christopher Dyko, a 48 year-old father of two, who was killed while riding his bicycle.

On an up note, Southern Alabama now has a bicycling plan.  #notatypographical error.  No, I am absolutely not kidding.  Sweet home Alabama, where the . . . cyclists may someday be free, and Alabama may no longer be last.

So if I see you plowing the bike lanes, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Happy MLK Day. Share #Cycling with Everyone.

On January 28, 2015, there will be a #CapitalBikeshare open house at the Martin Luther King, Jr. library in Washington, DC from 6-8 p.m.  You can find out about expansion plans, and proposed fees increases.  Drop in, but keep in mind that the cost with the price increase is still less than other major cities.  And don't heckle.  Nobody likes a heckler.

The bike share manufacturing and supply company formerly known as #Alta is now called #Motivate.  As in, "I hope you people feel motivated to continue making share bikes and do not waste capital on frivolities such as a corporate brand name changes that will require a re-do of the letterhead and awnings."  Sounding motivated himself, the CEO, Jay Walder, gave an interview to Citylab about his plans to use data to better fund and plan the corporate path ahead.  The company is also leaving its roots in humble, bike-friendly Portland, Oregon and moving to New York City.  Walder is pictured above looking, well, motivated.  Or caffeinated, or something.

Is it the beginning of the end of Danish cycling supremacy?  Bike friendly #Denmark made itself so hospitable to two-wheeled citizens by keeping the speed limit for cars below 30 km.  A recent plan to up the speed limit may change Denmark's stellar #cycling safety record.

Meanwhile in Australia, #bicyclists were the object of ridicule and scorn on a Family Feud show.  Hahahahahah!  You were a penal colony, already.  Ok?  This show was covered by the Washington Post, which employs Courtland Milloy.  I pause here for all serious #cyclists to sigh.  Lest you should become upset, keep a little perspective.  Who watches Family Feud?  People in assisted living and one of my cousins whose source of income is murky.  And who reads Courtland Milloy?  My guess is the same crowd.  Ride on, care not, and be wonderfully cheerful in front of motorists who are not burning calories or experiencing the world outside a metal tomb.

So if I see you in the bike lanes, let's be smug.
Elisa P