Sunday, May 8, 2016

Bike Lane to Mexico and Make Your Bike an E-Bike in 60 Seconds.

I am sure you have heard about the proposal to build a wall between the United States and Mexico to prevent immigration.  Have you ever thought that we needed a bike lane instead?  Large numbers of people actually cross the border each day to work legally.  Yup, really.  And so the newest proposal is to build a bike lane.  #buildabikelane #wallwithMexico  Perhaps we could also have cycling border guards, and acceptable vendors who could offer mango slices with lime and salt to the weary riders.  An espresso bar?  Cafe con leche?

Various communities in the Mid-Atlantic region are celebrating bike month with events and the citing of irrefutable statistics that should persuade event the grumpiest of able-bodied motorists to rise off of their posteriors: Last year riders burned over 16  million calories and saved 16,000 pounds of CO2.  Drivers . . . well, they experienced bottom spread and polluted.  If they had a safe place to ride . . . maybe the world would start to right itself.  Just sayin'.

Detroit!  What's up?  I love that Detroit, Motor City, is building share bikes.  Let's take that market back, expand it and thrive.

Park City is co-sponsoring a showing of Bikes vs. Cars, the documentary.  If you can possibly show up to this, do.  #Bikesvscars

Innovation.  It's a great thing.  Are there days when you could use an electric bike?  Now this new invention can help you make your bike into an e-bike in 60 seconds.  Take a look at this one.  I know my new commute will have a killer hill in the last stretch.  This may be a great solution for me on certain nights.

This humble blog will be posted less often in the next six months.  For my few readers I offer an explanation.  I am writing a legal reference book right now, moving to another bike-able neighborhood, working as a lawyer and keeping our young son on course to become an intelligent, ethical, and strong adult.  Ride on brave forward thinkers.  And may the force of cycling be with you.  Or as Yoda would say, on you must ride.  The force strong will be.

[This blog is never written for profit, except perhaps in the afterlife.]

So if I see you in the bike lanes, and you are burning calories and saving CO2, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

30% Of Car Trips In Los Angeles Are For Less Than Three Miles, and Alibaba CEO Bans Employees From Living More than 15 Minutes From Work - Cycling Rising

#PCworld calls the #Zeitgeist electric bike one that was made for storm troopers.  It is a lighter-weight e-bike than most, and boasts a traveling distance of 100 miles between charges.  And I guess if you put on your Lucas glasses you could say it looks like it is designed for an evil fighting force from the Imperial Army.  I think of it as a sleek bike, a sort of Jil Sander-come-Narciso Rodriquez type of bike.  It wouldn't work for the person who likes paisley and plaid, but for the person who loves a simple black cashmere sweater and a pair of Chuck Taylors, it looks great.  Has anyone tried it yet to report in?

Momentum Mag has some ideas for the person looking to start a bike to work program.  My personal belief is that, if you ride a bike to work, you look reasonably good doing it, you drop a few casual lines here and there about how great you feel when you ride, others will follow.  That said, if you can also rustle up a shower and Friday morning coffee club for cyclists, you have a movement, maybe even a revolution.

BTW, if you are a city rider and you have not subscribed to #Momentummag, please explain why not!  This is a great little publication and it needs the support of this community, at least the non-spandex, maybe-a-little-fred-but-more-high-heels-than-fred members.

Did you know that 30% of car trips in Los Angeles are less then three miles long?  It's like latter day Rome, isn't it?  The gorging, the waste, the lack of foresight.

If ever a city was crying out for greater cycling infrastructure, the City of Angels is it.  Safety has been cited my many Angelinos as a reason why they tend to stick to four wheels and fossil fuels.  I know that some may see LA as a place where priorities are, well, askew.  This sort of madness does not improve that image.  The ride from Santa Monica to Downtown is about 10 miles.  The drive along the freeway and surface streets can take an eternity.  Then, later, you will need to work out.  Blink, honk, your day is over, and the air is just a little bit yellower.  What will the historians and anthropologists of the future say about our culture?  That were nuts to act this way and should have tried harder to make cycling more appealing.

I cannot stop smiling when I think of this Swedish pod bike/car.  Will someone please sponsor this man on Indiegogo so he can move past his little prototype to real manufacturing?   #podride

Looking for a tracker for your bicycle?  Kind of like that Tile thing you put on your keys the exact moment when you stopped misplacing them?  Well, here it is.  Not sure how it will be missed by seasoned thieves, but assume most people who choose to work as bike thieves are not the sharpest tacks in the box.  I'd buy it.  Would you?  If might be worth it to recover your bike.

The CEO of Alibaba recently banned his employees from living more than 15 minutes from the office because they lost too much time commuting.  Wow.  In Washington, DC, many people sit in traffic for an hour or an hour and half.  What is left after that?

What if US CEOs did the same thing?  The truth is that they probably already do this through online applications that run algorithms designed to detect and eliminate from the stack occupants of the x-urbs who will be late when the I-95 backs up or the MARC train has a rail problem.

I got some insight into this recently when a small business owner told me that she was going through a stack of resumes and eliminating people who lived in remote suburbs because: "They will hate their commute, and their attitude at work will be bad and tired."  This raises important questions about what the American Dream will look like in the future.  Is a lawn important?  If so, can you really afford a lawn?  Or is living smaller, more sustainably the answer to health, success and employment? It all means that, in time, more people will cycle, and smaller spaces, closer in will increasingly be the norm.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, and you are atop a #Zeitgeist, and you recognize that we cannot afford to have cycling characterized as merely the symbol of the zeitgeist, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Smartphone E-Bikes, Smarter Bike Share, and Not So Smart in Seattle.

Why haven't e-bicycles completely caught on here in the U.S.?
Could it be that greater connectivity might make e-bikes more attractive?  Dutch manufacturer Vanmoof thinks a smartphone connected e-bike could bring more users.  I also think that Americans can be a bit dear about cleanliness.  Or prissy, as my mother would have said.  Don't get me wrong, when you need strong soldiers to save your island nation from an occupying foreign military, you don't immediately think of calling the Dutch.  You want to call the Americans.  But on e-bikes, we can be a little prissy, sweat perhaps a little less, and still be doing something positive.  That and use Twitch while we are waiting at the light.  Right?

It seems that bicycle shop owners may not always have the right insurance.  In the U.K. one company is trying to create products tailored to the business needs of individual shops.  It would be interesting to see if U.S. underwriters had given any thought to this sort of business-specific policy.  I mean when they aren't lobbying Congress with their incredible girth.

And now it seems bike sharing is getting smarter and more flexible.   I mentioned bike libraries last blog, and now there are longterm bike rentals, which may work better for some people, particularly those on vacation.

A lot of business owners have complained about bike lanes harming their bottom line.  Overwhelmingly, the data suggest that bike lanes do the opposite.  In Memphis . . . yup, Memphis . . . bike lanes gave birth to an arts center.  Businesses were spawned.  Wait, Memphis?  Okay fine, but where is Stax Music in all of this?  If they linked bicycling in some direct or indirect way to the likes of Mavis Staples or Sam and Dave that would basically be like heaven on earth.  No?
I find it interesting that Seattle has apparently just figured out that Scott Kubly, DC's former transit Czar, was previously working for bike share manufacturer Alta before he was hired by Seattle to be its transit Czar.  Did they look at his resume?  How would the transit Czar serve the city without participating in what were the then-already-ongoing negotiations for the system.  Their surprise is a bit odd.  Discuss amongst yourselves.
Do you have an immediate, irrational interest in transit planners?  I do.  Our transit planner is also a cyclist.  Which makes him a little closer to perfect than the rest of us, I think.  Nice piece.  Read it. Be wise and thoughtful.  Or as Yoda would say, "Thoughtful and wise you will be."

So if I see you in the bike lane, whether you are a professional planner, or a parent, which means you are a SUPER PLANNER, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Bicycle Libraries and Super Highways

There was a bike boom in the late 1970s that crested in 1971 when Schwinn sold more bicycles than it ever had.  Then there was a second wave, in the 1980s, after the MBT hit a dirt pile near you.  Recognizing that public interest in things like the environment, saving money, and riding a bicycle like a dirt bike make people buy bicycles, it seems obvious that cycling infrastructure and advocacy can fuel sales.  Yet bicycle manufacturers tend to forget this.  A little spending on advocacy could change that.  It's like an investment in the future of sales and other good things.  In Washington, #BicycleSpace, a bicycle retail store (now stores) has always sponsored rides and events.  Where are the big companies that make the bikes?   Hmmmm.  A few show up, but more could step up.

The National Bike Forum and Women's Summit 2016 has a nice video now available on Youtube.  If you care about cycling advocacy this is a good watch.  If you are a carefree rider who cannot be bothered with bicycle politics because of life's other demands, you may want to pass.
RS1, that bicycle autobahn that was  planned for Germany, has hit a bump in its super highway - funding.  The EU kicked in some money early on, but that was a migrant crisis ago.  Now, it is not entirely clear the thing will be finished.  

The city of Golden, Colorado has adopted the language of the original sharing model for its bike share - Bicycle Library.  I am imagining the paper cards taped to the handle bars and the empty threat of overdue fees.  Would the person checking the bikes out speak in a studied whisper?

So, if I see you in the bike lanes or a bicycle highway, and you are on a borrowed bike with a few date stamps or a bar code, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter Cycling From the Cherry Blossoms

In Washington, DC today, the bike share docks were in a state of constant motion as people rented and returned bikes in some frenzied game of happy musical chairs/bikes.   All were either going to look at the puffy pink blossoms lining the Tidal Basin, or returning in a state of bliss.  It was a glorious day to ride a bike in the nation's capital, and almost everyone seemed to get along, as if no presidential campaign were underway.

A dazzlingly simple and yet brilliant idea has emerged like a Phoenix from the ashes of Seattle Bike Share's brush with death.  Use transit cards with bike share.  After all, cycling is transit.  It would require you to link a credit card to your transit pass, of course.  In Washington, DC, you could link a credit card to your SmartTrip card.  Instead of using a key fob for bike share, you would be able to use the transit pass.  If #cyclingistransit - and it is - this idea is one that should be considered.  Yup the infrastructure would have to be updated, but it would probably increase ridership by a crazy amount approaching Googol z.
There are stories that make me smile just because of what they mean for cycling.  In Jersey City, it seems bike share users and those who ride their personal bikes are not locked in controversy.  The private owners want bike share users who hog the public bike parking to be fined.  Hah!  And kinda the reverse, if the hoggers happen to be private bike owners.  Solution: There need to be more bike parking so everyone can ride.  Simple.  Normalize Cycling.  This seems like a battle between two super heroes, or an argument between two doctors who have discovered different and efficacious cures for cancer.  They all need more space to keep doing what they are doing.
Once again a city's merchants - now it is Vancouver - are expressing fear that bike lanes will cut into their businesses.  Perhaps if they only sold stacked washers and dryers or cement pylons, and only had front-of-the-store access, but otherwise they should expect their profits to go up.   And they would help this guy, cruising along and trying to decide if he'd rather be doored or crushed by a box truck full of baked goods.
Isn't Cheyenne, Wyoming where Dick Cheney comes from?  (Yes, I ended a question with a preposition.   Please get over it.)  So Cheyenne now has free bike share?  Hmmmmm.  And it is not a gag article.

And for those who cycling news from seemingly unlikely places, Memphis' bike/pedestrian coordinator (yes, they have one), Kyle Wagenschutz, is moving on to a job with the advocacy group People for Bikes.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, and you are headed anywhere, and you are of any political persuasion, let's be smug.

Elisa P.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Norway Spending Billions on Cycling Highways

Did you know that a petrol dollar state that enjoys the highest standard of living in the western world is spending billions on bicycle highways?  Fjords, Ski Queen Cheese, beautiful lakes and glaciers, and now this.  If I were not so patriotic, I would move.  Varsagod!

It's hard to cast a quiet, tall woman with an especially good haircut as a fighter for change, but Janette-Sadik-Khan did just that during her tenure as the transit boss in New York.  She remains an active fighter worth following if you believe in smart cities.

Some days, when I am working on an especially intellectual project, I like to day dream and imagine I work for a bike start up, where the entire building is built for cyclists.  (In middle school I designed a house where the bedrooms were accessible by a catwalk above the heated indoor pool.  This was before I understood how moisture and structures don't always have a lasting romance.)  Well, that place, the bike place, it really exists. 

Do we really need haute couture for cycling?  I am not against it, and I am glad that it is being designed.  I prefer classic couture with my bicycle - elegant pumps, narrow dress pants.  But a capacious party jacket, or bloomers that appear unflattering to anyone under six feet tall, not so much.  Still, this design movement may just reflect demand.   Or not.

So if I see you in the bike lane, whether you are in Derek Lam and Jimmy Choos, or recycled 501s and Chuck Taylors, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Want to hire the best and brightest? Locate near cycling infrastructure. Seriously.

So you want to have the best lawyers, the best programmers, the best accountants, the best data analysts.  Then locate near bike share, bike lanes or paths.  This simple formula can attract top talent.  Worry less about the meditation rooms, smoothy bar, and stability ball desks.  The risk of an employee falling asleep, catching food-borne illness, or rupturing his or her coccys is is far less.  And they will be healthier and cost less over time.

Milan is now exploring means of tackling its crippling air pollution.  Among the options is one talked about in other cities: paying people to ride their bikes to work.  Brilliant.  A little overdue, but clever none-the-less.

Which brings us to an interesting advocacy piece in the Washington Post this week.  Complaints from a man who doesn't think that Americans should pay for bike share, or let bike share be categorized as mass transit, if they don't live near bike share.  He does not want the federal government to provide the meager subsidy to bike share anticipated by some pending legislation sponsored by some cycling congressmen from both parties.  Yawn.
Well, I don't live near certain rural interstates, but I pay for those with my tax dollars.   I don't eat anything with high fructose corn syrup, but my tax dollars subsidize its production and the public healthcare costs associated with its consumption.  Given the pollution and sustainability problems suffered by major cities, where most of the population now lives, where a lot of the jobs are created, where families live, this seems like a silly argument.  In the city, people use bike share to get around, just like they use highway tax dollars in other places.  Cyclists probably cost the government less over time because they tend not to be sedentary and overweight.
This piece was fuzzy math at its worst.  I wonder if the writer considered how many new drugs have been patented in the last decade for Type-2 diabetes.  Perhaps the obesity epidemic and sedentary behavior have created a market.  Free enterprise, right?  Who pays for those drugs overwhelmingly?  Medicare and Medicaid.  Covered by tax dollars.  Who pays for that?  Me, you, and a lot of other people with good habits.  Perhaps a little preventive medicine in the form of bike share is a worthy investment - or insurance- against later costs.   #bikeshare #washingtonpost

There are words that don't seem like they belong together.  Like "Hawaii" and "snow.""Tobacco" and "toddler."  Or "Tobasco" and "ice cream."  Certainly not "Texarkana" and "bike share."  But as it turns out, Texarkana is looking at bike share.  If that isn't progress, please tell me what is.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, lets be smug because we will know that we are less likely to inflict significant healthcare costs on our fellow citizens over time.
Elisa P.