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.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Hewson, Hasids, Hipsters and Apps

Should you have your own little seat cover for bike share?  Something that has a pattern that defines you in this moment in your life, and won't be an embarrassment years later like that ill-considered mullet?  Polka dots, perhaps.  Maybe something animal print?  A Mondrian if you are feeling special.  Little bicycles, so that you are beginning to act like the woman who wears the Christmas tree sweater to the Christmas party.  Hmmm.  Maybe not.  Sounds a little like those useless seat covers in public restrooms.  And yet, some feel that this is a good idea, maybe even worth $35.  Perhaps this was inspired by naked bike day, which raised all sorts of concerns about bacteria.

If the most successful bike share programs have a lot of stations with fewer bikes in each station, so one narrative goes.  If this is true, then Washington should consider that model, says  There could be one on nearly every corner with as few as seven bikes.  Perhaps, but I wonder how they could be kept full or empty enough to meet demand.  It seems more efficient to have the hale among us walk a few extra blocks to get a bike from a big dock knowing one will actually be there since the Bikeshare trucks have been by.  But if there's an algorithm for that, okay.  I am for it. #bikeshare

More good news reported by GGW for bike share users.  There is now a site to help you choose your transit method based on when the next bus or train is coming and how many bikes are in the nearest dock. #davidalpertforpresident  #bikeshareapp

If you live in a small house or apartment and bike storage has given you the design blues, you may want to check out the Schindelhauer thin bike, which can be stored almost flat against the wall.  At the Berlin Bike show this week, the German company debuted its limited edition, iPhone-white bike with the pedals that fold up and handlebars that turn.  It is a beautiful, sparely designed item worthy of Jony Ive or Massimo Vignelli. #schindelhauerthinbike

Heard rumors that Bono - as in Paul Hewson - of U2 fame biked around NYC unrecognized simply by dressing as an Hasidic Jew?  When The Edge made this claim (in jest of course) there were several who believed him.  Not so says an online Jewish news source, adding that Hasidics have opposed cyclist-scoff-laws and bike share stations because the users do not dress modestly.  "Hipsters vs. Hasids," the Huffington Post once dubbed this clash.  It's always hipsters vs. someone, usually someone in an S.U.V., or taxi, so it seems fresh to add a little variety to the tales of various fabled wars between cyclists and "others."  #bono

Looking to get fitted so that when you ride you won't have knee pain?  Remember that height isn't the only factor to consider in saddle positioning.  Here's a little guide for you until you can get to an expert fitter.  #bikefitting

So if I see you in the bike planes, whether you are a Hasid, Hipster, or a cleverly-dressed combination of the two, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Burn it Off and Warm It Up.

Winter riding can be a challenge, but there are mistakes you can avoid, according to Gearjunkie.  To use the parlance of Glamour Magazine without the inanity: Do wear a balaclava so that you look like a combination between a terrorist and a snake.  This will cause drivers to fear you, and it will keep your neck warm.  Double bonus.  Do consider a fixie since it has fewer moving parts to hold salt and gravel.  Don't ride your best bike that has no fenders, and don't forget to use more lights than your crazy Aunt Betty puts on the front of her split-level every Christmas. #wintercycling  #fixedgear

How far and how long do you have to ride to burn off Thanksgiving dinner?  Very far and for hours, which can provide you with the excuse you need to mollify the spouse.  It does not burn calories if you stop for beers along the way, but there is probably a study - a dubious one, but a study - that shows stopping for beers helps burn calories and/or counteracts the effects of tryptophan.  #bicyclingthin

Some people admire great novelists, brain surgeons, doping running backs, or powerful CEOs.  A lot of us admire the people who help us bike around cities.  If you are of that ilk, read this interview with Kimberly Lucas, Washington, D.C.'s Department of Transportation's bike planner.—bikes-course

Care to ride on the sidewalk in San Jose, California?  Then be under 12 years of age or a cop.  Otherwise, risk a ticket.  Or worse, find yourself cast as a bully who knocks down senior citizens.  #whaaaaa?????

Electric bikes are still picking up speed in the U.S., and this blog gives some basics on what you need and what it will cost.  The post was made by a couple in Eureka, California who decided to make the change.  What sort of pack should you buy?  How far can it go?  What extras do you have to get to make it actually work?  Will you fly like a rocket? #electricbike

Or would you prefer to be a rocket cyclist?  Yup, they existed at one point, before the plaintiff's attorneys' bar had grown quite as powerful as it is today.  Now a rocket bike definitely should not be ridden on a sidewalk crowded with seniors.  Nor with a long coat that looks suspiciously combustable.  Nor with a leather helmet that seems unlikely to protect any part of the brain, let alone the parts you especially like and need.

So if I see you in the bike lanes, and it has started to snow, and you have a rocket pack on your rear rack, and so many lights that drivers think you are the actual White House Christmas Tree, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sunday Bloody Sunday for Bono and Other Cycling News.

How can it be that one of my favorite musicians, Dubliners, and half-Catholic-half-Protestants crashed his bike on - as I understand it - a Sunday?  Was he riding on The Edge?  Clearing his head of the frustration of still not finding what he was looking for?  I did not need another reason to like this guy, really.  But I am so jazzed to learn he is a cyclist.  Oh, and I hope he gets well soon.

A brave cyclist in Beijing blocked a Mercedes that was driving in the dedicated bike lane in China's smoggy capital.  It did not exactly evoke the image of a lone protester in Tiananmen Square in 1989, but it was incredibly bold.  The western man atop a bike against a high end luxury car being driven in a "communist" country was also worth a chuckle.  Shouldn't this have been an image of a humble Chinese pedestrian wearing a blah cotton Mao shirt as he stared at some westerner atop a high-end carbon road bike?  Is the world upside down?  Enjoy.

Van Gogh's Starry Night is one of those paintings even knuckle draggers can remember.  Now a Dutch artist has recreated it in the form of an illuminated bike path in Van Gogh's own Holland.  What could  be more beautiful than a nighttime ride along the image of a swirling, powerful constellation of stars?

It's that time again!  Winter.  Snot-cicles.  Your face frozen like bad plastic surgery.  Your hands so stiff that they remind your office colleagues of rigor mortis.  Well a guy in Minnesota (of course, where else?) has some winter cycling advice for you.

Policy and Advocacy:

Just when I think we have it bad here in the U.S. when it comes to the fictionalized war between cars vs. bicycles, along come a few Australians to lower the level of debate.  This opinion piece in a Brisbane newspaper would seem to liken a pelaton of cyclists on a suburban street to a criminal street gang.  Made me feel a little the superior of the former colonies for at least a nanosecond.  Sigh.


Chilean students have designed a bike they believe is theft proof.  The reason is that the bike is not rideable if you saw through or cut it.  Caveat: Maybe in a world where bike thieves do not operate mobile chop shops, but not in any major U.S. city.  The idea is great if bike thieves were just looking for a ride instead of parts to fence for meth money.  Buenos suerte colejos.  La idea es briliante.

So, if I see you bundled up in the bike lane, and you are riding a bike, not dragging pieces of a bike, and the ground alights beneath us to reveal a miasma of stars like you never see in an era of light pollution, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Stop Complaining and Ride

What the . . . ?
Is a self-described cyclist who is against bike share committing treason?  Meet Linda of Santa Monica, assuming that's her real name, who thinks the program is too expensive and hard to use.  She claims to have used bike share in London.  Perhaps she is one of those prolific letter-to-the-editor writers who is actually a passive shut-in.  A free cup of coffee goes to the person who can confirm that Linda is not her real name, or who change her mind if it is.  #skeptical #bikeshare  Worry not, Linda, if that is your real name.  There are delays in rolling out the program.

Crash, blackness, what happened?
The Washington Area Bicycling Association is in favor of law that would allow for shared liability in bike and car accidents.  The insurance industry and the Washington Post's editorial board are not.  You be the judge.  #bikelaw #bikesversuscars #3000poundsagainst112onafatday

Chutes and Ladders has been around for centuries.  Now cycling advocate Mikael Colleville-Andersen has created a version, Snakes and  Ladders that uses bikes instead of cars to promote cycling.  Is there a Nobel prize for awesome?  Buy the game.  Indoctrinate your kids.  Change the world.  #normalizecycling  #chutesandladders #snakesandladders

The BBC's morning show devoted a week to the cycling culture and infrastructure.  This is a good thing.  Right?  But there were still complaints about the coverage's integrity.  Sigh.  Let us pause a moment to consider morning programs in the developed world.  When coiffed and heavily made-up deliverers of feel good stories give cycling a week's worth of attention, that is a good thing.  I've not seen any lengthy treatment of the subject by American network news-entertainment shows.  Concerts in the square, celebrity chefs using hot-pots to demonstrate blintzes, cute pets, and oddly conceived marriage proposals, yes.  But a nice story about the everyday cyclists, never.   #bikenews

The guys who move your bike share bikes around want to join a union.  And it looked good for them until Capitol Bike Share recently hired a union busting firm, according to Politico.  I spoke to a bike share worker today who remained optimistic.  "People don't see bikes like the rest of transit."  He added that he thought the issue of unionization was "a work in progress."  While I do not see a sweating Norma Ray moment in the offing, bikes are transit and should be treated that way.   Whether a union will help this or not is yet to be determined.  #bikeshareunion

I like the idea of a solar powered bike path but remain baffled by the concept.  Would DDOT sell back to the grid?  Would the path simply be heated to prevent icy conditions during the next polar vortex?  Those Dutch.  They don't wear the wooden shoes anymore, its been over 60 years since one of them tried to save Ann Frank, and Dutch tulips now come from Equador, but they will always be in the heart of any true city cyclist.   #bikepath

So, if I see you in the bike lane, whether it is solar powered or not, and assuming you are not a morning show "personality" who is blocking the lane, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Holidays Looming - Get Cranking


Cyclists are superior to everyone else, I think we can all agree without any winking or irony.  Soon it will be the season of giving, and cyclists have an important role to play.  Prove your superiority by participating in the Cranksgiving ride in Washington, DC, or 49 other locations, where you can ride to pick up and deliver food for a designated charity.  The rules and D.C. point of contact information are hyperlinked below, so you now have two fewer excuses for not participating.  You weren't going to just show up at one of those Thanksgiving Day spin classes were you?  Gobble, gobble.  #cranksgiving


Outrage and support for Chris Boardman, who explained his appearance on a British morning show sans helmet and in normal street clothes thusly:  If cycling looks and feels normal, more people will cycle.  Love this guy.  #normalizecycling
What prevents injuries to cyclists more, helmet wearing, or cycling infrastructure?  The answer is not easy to prove.  Helmet use may reduce cycling.  Helmet use may impact cyclists' behavior, making them more prone to take risks.  In Holland, where there is a high percentage of cycle use, helmets are rarely worn, and injuries are few, there are loads of bike lanes.  In general, when infrastructure goes in, injuries go down.
If more people cycle, the more likely it is that cycling infrastructure will increase.


Here's a nice little film about protected bike lanes that offers anecdotal proof that they reduce injuries.  And it's a delicious view for cycling nerds, which will one day rule the universe.  I'm just sayin'.

So if I see you in the bike lane, especially if you are hauling food for a charity, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Trick or Treat - Alta OKs Workers' Union Then Sells Immediately. Boo.


The trend continues.  Now DC bike share workers are following New York in requesting to be part of a union.  Before bike share workers could finish petitioning for collective bargain, Washington's Capitol Bike Share's company, Alta agreed to the unionization.  Pretty crunchy, Oregon-based Alta.  You should care because bike share re-balancers work until after midnight re-balancing bikes to distribute them around to docks so they are ready for you in the morning.  They push the bikes up and roll them down ramps in the back of the trucks that are get slippery during the rain.  The trucks are not well-lighted in the back, which is dangerous.  And if you want cycling to be considered a form of transportation, remember many transportation workers are unionized.  Let's hope they keep their demand reasonable to everyone feels kindly toward them years from now.

Alta, that crunchy company, may have had little to lose by agreeing to collective bargaining by Capitol Bike Share workers.  Rumor was afoot is that Alta was being sold to REQX Ventures and Equinox.  Yup, the gym company.  Then it happened.  Boom.  Just like that.  That means Boston, DC's and Chicago's share programs are in the hands of a large investment firm.  How this will affect shares remains to be seen.  #altabike #REQX

Belfast Northern Ireland may make you think of the IRA, or sops, or Loyalist/Orange tensions.  But now you can think of it as another city with bike share.  In 2015, Belfast will be getting its own version of Boris Bikes. #belfastbikeshare’-spring

Are you a little tech-y?  A little nerdy?  Wonder which app uses which API to predict bike share dock flow?  Me too.  Here's one. #geeksonbicycles


London may someday get a bridge across the Thames for cyclists and those other people.  What are they called again?  Pedestrians?  Mayor Boris Johnson did something an American politician would have trouble doing.  He listened to a politician from the other party and invited her to share her cycling bridge vision.  Wow.  This image appeared in the Guardian Newspaper.  #borisjohnson #borisbike #bikebridge–-asks-whether-it’s-sort-curly-wurly

Policy and Advocacy:

Millennials don't want to drive and, according to Fast Co., they are not likely to take it up anytime soon.  Their use of technology to locate bikes in share docks or the next subway train attract millennials to urban areas and walkable, bike-able communities. #hopeforthefuture

Ford Motor Company makes cars.  Right?  And now they have entered a licensing agreement with Pedego, an electric bike company.  Hey, what's going on up there in Detroit?  First certain car makers added employee bike sharing.  Then Shinola starts making cool bikes in the middle of the Motor City.  Now Ford is going to put its name on an electric bike, a souped-up Mustang of a bike too.  What's next?

Mayoral candidates in Washington, DC are answering transit questions about cycling.  It used be the case that they only answered transit questions about subway, bus and taxi service  #evolution

Had you reached the point where you would rather hear dishes hit a tile floor than read anything else on the subject of banning cyclists from the sidewalk?  Me too.  But if you don't mind yet another opinion piece on the subject, here it the latest form Washingtonian Magazine's Blog.  Are you also the type that does not mind political attack ads?  Yikes.  #cyclinglaws


The rates of bike accidents that result in fatalities are up slightly.  Why?  Well it depends on who you ask.  Most folks analyzing the problem agree on two factors in this up tic; alcohol and helmet use.  I think the fact that more people are cycling to bars is a good thing.  It means that they are not in 3000 pound cars.  Helmet use should still depend on where you are cycling and how much liquor you have had to drink I think.  I could draft that legislation.  Seriously.   #bicyclehelmets  #sopsonbikes  #drinkingandriding

Random notes:

American boxing icon Mohamed Ali may have taken up the sport after his bicycle was stolen.  I can understand his rage.  But if someone took my Pashley, I would hesitate to turn to boxing since it would ruin my manicure.  Plus, his ability to channel his anger was far higher than mine.  I could not become motivated the to become world's greatest boxer.  And like many women, I would not look good with a pugilist's nose.

This drone video of bikes on a path is freakishly mesmerizing.

Have you ever noticed how hip Mrs. Gulch's bike was?  And a fixy at that.  A smile, a different nose and she might have been less bitter.  This character always lacked verisimilitude to me.  How could she be so grumpy and ride her bike. #flawsinozscript


Moonlight bicycle rides are a great way to celebrate Halloween and burn calories.  And you won't have to recall the parade of horribles your parents claimed would happen if you ate anything that was not in a sealed wrapper.  #razorblades #ratsinHersheybars

So if I see you in the bike lane, and I think you are wearing a costume but I cannot be sure and do not want to offend, let's be smug.
Elisa P.