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

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Bike Share Business Dos and Don'ts

Oh Canada!  Your Bixi bike share was the first, the best, the most wonderful of any bike share system in the hemisphere.  So what brought you to the brink of death, Bixi?  Undercapitalization, a bad decision to switch software systems, and an ill-timed bankruptcy.  What was smart and sustainably minded?  The solar-powered wi-fi on the docking stations and the "sturdy equipment."  (That's Latin for 45 lb. bikes).  Well, the software is now in the hands of a team of experts, and the system's big challenge is to regain the confidence of commuters.  So Bixi owner/investor/sofa magnate, Bruno Rodi, may turn this thing around.  Citibike, pay attention!  Maybe you need an eccentric investor with a vision.  Nominees?  No sharks with bad hair comb-overs.

Meanwhile, Citibike may now extend to New Jersey.  At least you can dock them there when you arrive back from the city.

And, though "nobody walks in LA," as the song says, they do bike and now they can use bike share.  That's right.  In downtown LA.

So what can cities do to make #cyclists feel safer?  Make protected #bikelanes.  Use poles to separate drivers and give cyclists their own signals.  Why bother?  Simple.  More people on bikes means less in cars, less obesity, cha-ching, more money saved.

What can you say about #CourtlandMilloy, The Washington Post's irrelevant columnist who uses provocation to get attention?  He is not unlike a toddler whose mother has just picked up the phone.  He continues his advice for cyclists even though he does not ride his bike.  This is a bit like the person who has one meal in front of an open kitchen at a restaurant and leaves thinking he could be the chef de cuisine without any further training.  Like the woman who watches the NASA rocket launch and thinks she operate the craft herself with just a few hours of training.  I cannot include the hyper-link to his piece because I will not inflict that on the one or two readers of this blog.  The Post needs to think seriously about why he is still employed indulged there.  His outdated views may no longer serve the readers.

In Washington, it seems both Republicans and Democrats can come together on the issue of Mountain Biking.  Congress passed four bills that essentially expanded the U.S. Park Service's mountain areas by adding land to the existing places where mountain biking is permitted.  Is this the wise de-politicization of the issue of climate change, previously known by its real name, global warming, that could set a course for America's leading role in the post crude oil world?  Nope, but it's a little something.

And if low gas prices are enticing you back into the car, remember this line from the film "Who Killed the Electric Car?"  "Like the junkie, they lower the price to get you hooked.  You start driving again, investing in gas-guzzling cars.  Then they raise the price.  A lot.  But it's too late.  You're hooked."
Just say no.  Or NFW.

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

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Hitman on Bikes, Priests Hitting Men on Bikes, and Optimism In Spite.

If cycling approaches a religion, I vote to excommunicate Christodoulos Xiros, a former hit man who was arrested last week while he was riding his #bicycle.  Xiros was riding while armed with gun when he was spotted by police.  Xiros had managed to escape from custody and had drastically altered his appearance.  Xiros, a natural brunette, had a dye job that lacked credibility and could not withstand close scrutiny.  My guess is he did not wear a helmet, which is not an offense. (Being a hit man is an offense, in point of clarification.)  The police could see right to his roots, criminal and otherwise.  You get the incognito you pay for.

Speaking of religion and #cycling, the Baltimore Sun reports the driver of the car that killed cyclist Thomas Palermo was in fact an Episcopal bishop who had a liquor bottle and some marijuana in her car.  Her decision to drive drunk was less than godly, as was her decision to initially flee the scene.  Palermo was a dad.  You can help his kids by sending money to Molly Investment Group which has their trust.  Police collared the driver wearing the collar.  She apparently expressed remorse.  Well, I guess so.  Pretty permanent.  Pretty damning.

Bono's bike injuries are worse than reported.  He may never play the guitar again.  Long thoughtful pause.  Head forward.  Awful. #Bono

Looking for that summary of the good news in #bikelanes from 2014?  Well, Grist has it right here for you.  And so does Next City.  And just look at the Streetsie awards.  Janette Sadik-Khan, and her team, and the current administration of Citibikes all were reported in Streetsblog NYC, and just about every other publication for those interested in #cycling and #sustainableliving.  Read, enjoy, smile.  Use in arguments with nay-sayers.

Remember those bicycle supply vending machines that sprouted up in Holland and Denmark?  Now there is one in Colorado Springs.  Too far away.  We need about 20 of them around Washington, DC.  Hey purveyors of vending machines!  Chop-chop!  We're waiting.  You've been foisting sugary drinks and sodium-laden snacks on us for years.  Here's your moment to make it all right. Please set machines up in close proximity to the Metropolitan Branch, Capital Crescent, and Mount Vernon trails to start.

So if I see you in the bike lane, and you are not a hit man, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014: A Good Year In Cycling.

2014 was a bad year for NBA players and Valdamir Putin (trying to care here, really).  But it was a great year for cycling.  Because cyclists are generally better people than NBA players and Vladmir, they . . . we deserved a banner year.

The biggest transit stories of 2014 included the expansion of bike lanes into Southwest, DC, where there is increasing development of apartment buildings and decent restaurants.  The 4th Street lanes connect that quarter to the Mall and Northwest.  That means that you can ride from midtown to the ballpark, valet park your bike, watch the game, have a decent dinner, and ride back home.  This is a good thing.

In 2014, DC accomplished having 69 miles of bike lanes, including lanes in very ward of the city.  Now no one will be left out of the cycling movement.

In 2014, "Park-Its," those rubber stoppers you see in parking lots, were added to a portion of Pennsylvania Avenue between 9th and 10th Street, a place where taxis and commuters negotiate illegal u-turns each day, and where I have personally witnessed an offending taxi driver hit a cyclist.  If these work, they could be added to other bike lanes and prevent people from parking in them.  Cheers.

Although Capitol Bikeshare's supplier Alta was purchased in 2014, the system still expanded drastically into the suburbs.  Bike share also set up special docks during the Concert for Valor honoring wounded veterans, making bike share the best way to get to the show.  I was nearly run down by a couple on bike share bikes who could hear Metallica opening the show.  They became unglued over being tardy and began to ride like Lance Armstrong after an injection of performance enhancing drugs.  It was a gift that they were not behind the wheel of a 3000 pound car as they crossed in front of Pashley. Thanks to bike share.

And cycling's appeal was restored in the South in 2014, proving the South can rise again without all the icky features that made it so unappealing for a century or two.  Former DDOT Director, Gabe Klein, authored a study for the City of Charleston that encouraged expansion of bike lanes and a trolley system.

Of course there were cycling tragedies in 2014.  No, I do not refer to the cyclists who were killed by cars this year.  That is terrible as I have blogged in the past.  But among the saddest stories of the year was the closure of Adeline Adeline in Tribeca.  Adeline had been the most elegant of bike stores in the entire country, catering mostly to female city commuters like me.  There wasn't a speck of spandex in the place.  Mecca in Tribecca.  Sort of.  I mourn it even now.

Here are five things you can do to make it easier on yourself to bike commute in 2015.
Locate where you will store your bike, and get a u-lock.
Scout out your shower options near work if your commute is long or uphill.
Get decent panniers.
Make sure you have fenders.
Ride your bike to work everyday unless there is driving rain.

With that in mind, if I see you in the bike lanes in 2015, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Rich and Poor Cycle Now. Will Bike Trains Entice the Middle Class next?

Who is using what form of transit?  As it turns out, people who make a lot of money and those who make very little both ride their bikes to work.  However, the vast middle class still tends to commute by car, shop in malls, and watch American Idol.  Okay, part of this is made up.  But not all of it.  #bikesnob A major factor in anyone's  decision to bike or not is the distance the person has to commute.  So what could fix this disparity that leaves most middle income earners stranded in the suburbs?  The new Maryland bicycle train.  A fantastic Christmas present to the land of bad car drivers, good crab cakes, and a weird state flag.  #biketrain  Welcome to Washington, you of the Maryland middle class.  Please leave The Gap, the SUV, and the Starbuck's behind, but bring along your Trek.  Oh, and thanks for the nice bike feature at the Christmas lights show at Watkins Regional Park.  I see a great future for Maryland cyclists being made.  #cyclingpollyanna

On the subject of bike infrastructure for all, a group of cycling advocates in Chicago have mobilized to get a fair share of the bike infrastructure put in African American neighborhoods.  Like a little bird of hope in an otherwise sad month in the history of race relations.  Can't we all just ride a bike?  #chicagocycling #cantwealljustrideabike

The workers of Capitol Bike Share appear ready to unionize, or so reports  The workers voted 41 to 14 in favor of the plan.  Now, as long as they don't strike and leave me marooned somewhere, I guess this could be a Norma Rae with the cardboard sign moment in the history of sharing.  #bikeshare #bikeshareunion

Do drivers read the newspaper? Some of them do, even while driving.  If drivers do read the newspaper, they might have read about the death of Kadian Harding, the son of the CEO of City Bikes in Washington, D.C., who was killed while cycling in England.  His father's story appeared in the Washington Post today.  Share it if you can.  Kadian loved cycling and was just a kid.  The practice of dehumanizing of cyclists should take a pause for Kadian.

So if I see you in the bike lane, and you are rich, or poor, or just middle class, and especially if you come from Maryland, let's be smug.  Ho, ho, ho.
Elisa P.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bike Tom Boys and Bike Sartorialists Sans Helmets, and Bike Share Hygiene

What should the cycling sartorialist wear in winter?  The best shoes, the most elegant, funnel-neck wool coat, a lot of lights, and a self-satisfied smile.  Drivers will feel envy.  The godfather of elegant cycling of the 21st Century is Mikael Colville-Anderson, of Copenhagen Chic, the blog about well-dressed, helmet-free cyclists.  But what about the tom boys?
There once was a tom boy named Wende Cragg, who liked to tear up the mountain with the boys, but without a helmet.  She made all the little girls who liked to ride their bikes in stylish flats and well-tailored clothes seem prissy.  And now there is a movie about how a group of cyclists in Fairfax, California invented mountain biking.  #wendecragg  There she is, second from the left with the shag hair cut and knee socks.  And Gary Fisher is there too, with the facial hair that is suddenly "a thing" again.  If you want to read more, go to  #mountainbiking  In the meantime, have fun trying the spot the helmet in this crowd.

How did cycling become popular once again?  This British documentary explores the reasons why cycling is now being used as transit by more people.  I have my own theory.  People are sick of getting home too late to spend time with their kids.  They hate the fact that cars make people act terrible in ways they never would if they were face-to-face.  It could be that people are getting smarter, possibly because of some additive that has been placed in the water supply or some evolutionary process that has recently accelerated.  Actually, the documentary is less than $30 online and might make a nice Christmas gift for the cyclist in your life.  #bicyclethefilm  #cycling
For the trailer, go to:

Bike share is an amazingly wonderful thing for humanity.  Like votes for women, electricity, penicillin, and the cotton gin.  A year's membership would be a great gift for someone you love.  But it may not always be a clean or well-maintained thing, according to a recent audit of Citibike.  Worse, the docks are empty more than they should be.  Holy deterrent! 

Citibike was dinged for unclean bikes, and broken bikes and docks.  Oh, for crying out loud, they are kept out in the elements.  Yes, I am aware that some guy in New Zealand was caught riding his bike with nothing on, which prompted the police to write him a ticket for riding without a helmet. A bike befouled and placed in a faulty dock could prove a real downer for share lovers.   As for the bare bottomed cyclist, I would point out that this occurred overseas and not in Manhattan, where there are arguably tens of thousands of far weirder people than on that small, two island country.  As for broken docks and bikes, the audit checked a fraction of the system's infrastructure.  Not a scientific approach in my view.  I have wondered if this audit was commissioned by some bike share hater.
Not only is bike share wonderful, but bike share schemes can help people with fewer financial resources, if the program is planned and managed well . . . and kept clean . . . and the docks and bikes in good repair.  Most importantly, if people are to use the system, they need to be able to find a bike.  A reasonably clean bike.  So if you give the gift of bike share this year, place a small travel packet of hand sanitizing wipes under the tree too.  #bikeshare  #citibike  #nakedcycling  #mostthingsleftoutsidegetgummedup

So if I see you in the bike lane, whether you are wearing a tailored dress and heels, or knee socks and a pair or brown Pumas, let's be smug.
Elisa P.