Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cycling News of Week: Is cycling the transit of dishwashers and the wealthy? Apparently yes.

How should you overtake a cyclist without backing up traffic or endangering yourself or the rider?  In the UK, Chris Boardman was thrilled with the positive response to a clip explaining how to safely overtake a cyclist.  Answer:  Give the cyclist the same amount of passing space that you would a motor vehicle.  Maybe we could try a similar public service announcement here in the US?  Hello?   Anyone listening?  And can we do it in metric for no other reason than a bit of cache?

Zappa,  RIP

Even producers of musical theater are trying to capitalize on the cycling revolution.  Are these musicals really about the struggles of cycling, or how cycling is a metaphor for the larger cultural issues of our time?  Or do they simply throw some on-stage cycling on top of an otherwise weak script?  If you guess the latter, you'd be right.

The e-bike industry continues to dazzle in Europe.  Smart move since this summer Europe is gagging on the worst pollution it has ever seen.  Kinda diminishes the "quaint" factor of traveling there.  Makes you think you accidentally de-planed in Beijing.

Image from Dave, a.k.a. Washcycle

The Washcycle reports that Northeast Maryland is getting a new trail on an old rail line.  Always good news.  Add some decent restaurants along the route and you've got an economy.

From The Economist, caption: "My other bike is a Porsche."

Who bikes to work?  The wealthy.  And the struggling.  The fastest growing group of bike commuters are the very upper, middle class.  What does this mean about the sustainability of cycling as a transit means?  What does it mean for designers of which cycling wear?  What does it mean for cycling parking in urban areas.  The times, they are a changin'.  (Dylan might freak out in his earlier version of himself.)  Georgetown's newspaper, a snobby bore of little rag, is even covering bike share.  Holy Thurston Howell/The Donald.  This from the same community that feared the riffraff that might come of adding a Metro train station according to recently re-reported accounts.  Goodness.  This cycling thing might be here to stay.  Get out your Harris Tweed, your Dutch cycle, and ride and be seen.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, whether you are a dishwasher or a dapper venture capitalist, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

North Korean Bike Lanes and North Carolina Bike Trains

So in case you have not heard, Washington, DC Public Schools are going to offer bike riding lessons as part of the curriculum.  And if you cannot afford a bike, you can use some of the schools'.  This is a smart step to getting kids to become more active, fighting childhood obesity, and making sure no one gets left behind in bike love.
After all, the city of Copenhagen has been saving a quarter of a billion dollars in healthcare costs through cycling every year.

The City of College Park, Maryland, having failed to get Capital Bike Share, is considering starting an independent bike share of its own.  This is a great choice as long as the Terrapins don't win a tournament and send thousands of inebriated revelers into the streets to wreak general havoc against the bikes and docks.

Business is booming if you are a bike store owner in Europe, or if you sell accessories or parts or anything else related to bikes.   And one area for real growth is fold-up helmets for the multi-model riders who want to get to the commuter train, then make the helmet disappear into the briefcase for the rest of the day.

Taking Amtrak in North Carolina?  If so, you may now bring your bike.  When I think of North Carolina, I think of fried okra, Thomas Wolfe, and tobacco.  I do not think of bike infrastructure.  But hey, I am glad to be surprised.
It's election time again (in over a year, during which time the national suffering will be great) and the candidates have all begun to say what they will not do.  Few actual plans are being articulated, probably because no honest candidate knows what he or she will do once they have real responsibilities.  And I know, there are no honest candidates, or live griffins, or donors who do not expect to influence.  But I would like to see someone ask all the candidates where they stand on changing the way we live/drive/bike.  This week Citylab asks if Americans are just too afraid to make driving unappealing, even if it would enhance our national security, help address the obesity epidemic and drive down healthcare costs.
In Europe there are many cities where the car is no longer king: Milan, Brussels, examples.  

"But what about North Korea?" you ask.  How is the cycling infrastructure there?  Excellent.  Civil liberties or freedom of expression?  I guess it just depends on your priorities.  Whoooahahah.

So if I see you in the bike lanes in a reasonably free if somewhat obese country, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Cycling Angels and Devils Emerge In This Week's News

It's difficult to understand how we will get to Vision Zero, a state of no traffic related deaths.  The program being embraced by U.S. cities is modeled on similar ones in European cities.  Bad behavior in traffic is most dangerous, as a matter of physics, if your weapon weighs over 2000 pounds - about the weight of a mid-sized car.  Vision zero DC's online surveys have a reporting code includes bad cyclist behavior.  Bleh!  And it's where it should be, toward the end of infractions to be reported to transportation officials.  I have seen cycling offenders, but far less often than the angry drivers of cars and trucks. 

Capital Bike share is getting 60 new stations and 577 new bikes, the cost of which is over $3.5 million, or over $5700 per bike.  How can that be?  Well, the numbers include all of the infrastructure, and the cost of each bike is actually far less, closer to $1,200.  Some of my bikes (yup, plural, so judge me!) cost more than $1,200 so this does not get me all worked up.  Besides, I am willing to have my tax dollars cover this important service.  Want to see the breakdown?  Here's the Washington Post story.  Want to see why people should ride bike share?  Well, they can lose a lot of weight and save society a lot of money.  So it balances out.

How many people do you know who started riding to work and suddenly dropped a lot of weight?  Here are some amazing success stories from people who lost over 100 pounds, and dodged a life of Type-2 diabetes, lethargy, and negative social responses.  And they are draining society of fewer resources.  And they look better.  In some instances a lot better.

Have you ever been to Brazil?  The traffic can resemble chaos.  Now imagine riding a bicycle in such a place?  No, not on the beaches, but on the city streets, where no one has ever heard of driver's ed class, and horns are used in lieu of turn signals.  You'd have to get a coach to figure out how to ride your bike and stay alive.  And there are such coaches as this NPR piece explains.
Bait bikes work in Sacramento.  And, according to the police there, the people arrested for trying to steal bait bikes often have a long history of property thefts, bad tattoos, and a failure to live well among us.

Another week, another YouTube posting of a psychopath reaching out of a moving car to shove a cyclist into a ditch.  And you thought politics was vicious.

Trek, that stalwart, is moving its sales online.  What will this do to the local bike shop?  What will this do to Trek?  Stay tuned.

"Morally Depraved Person of the Week" goes hands down to the bike thief who took a 12 year old cancer patient's bike.  Which circle of hell did Dante reserve for this type of sub-person?

The cycling saint of the week goes to Mathew Portell (on the left, duh).  Portell runs the non-profit organization "Ride for Reading,"  which distributes books in low income neighborhoods by bicycle.  Just wow.  That's all.

So if I see you in the bike lane, distributing books, or riding that Trek you now need to have fitted by your local shop since you got it online, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

You Can Arrive by Plane or Train and See Washington Without Touching a Car

The District Department of Transportation is considering adding protected bike lanes on Louisiana Avenue.  The lanes would connect Union Station to the protected lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue.  This would allow train commuters to be multi modal.  And they could lose weight since 30% of bike share users report that they have done just that.  Bikestation, a place to leave your bike while you work or ride the train, may want to expand.  With the proposed lanes, you could easily ride Amtrak down from Philly, take Capital Bike Share from Union Station to the re-opening of the National Gallery East Wing.  You could view great art in one of the best spaces ever conceived, ride back to the train station, and be home in time to watch that episode of Between Two Ferns before you turn into a pumpkin.

Soon you can take Capital Bike Share to the National Airport when you have that day trip with a backpack planned.  Or you could meet arriving friends and ride the Metro back with them.  Or you could ride out there on bike share and watch the planes fly overhead, if you have that kind of lingering suburban ennui and little concern for your hearing.

Bike friendly communities are indeed helping the local economy.  When this prediction was made several years ago, many businesses groused that they would lose parking spots.  Perhaps, but isn't that like losing a case of strep throat, or losing that weird guy who keeps following you at the party?  Embracing cycling seems to be a tide that lifts all boats.  Really.

This week was not all good news about benevolent cyclists and venal drivers.  A terrible video has surfaced showing a cyclist riding on the sidewalk, hitting a toddler and dragging her.  Something to think about when you are on the sidewalk in a dense community.  He was later fined.  The child sustained some very upsetting facial injuries.  Don't be that guy.

In more familiar scenario, a driver harassing a cyclist ended up tripping as he was chasing the cyclist.  The trip happens at 3:30 in the video, which is otherwise long. Unless you like listening to a barking lunatic rant, externalizing blame for every empty thing in his life, you might want to skip right to the schadenfreude.  The main theme of the rant is that the driver thinks car ownership is an accomplishment.  Like having a real Picasso. And that cyclists are riding because they have failed to accomplish acquiring a car.  An interesting view that would have fit right into the zeitgeist in about 1963.  I am guessing that this driver will never win the Nobel Prize.  This video presents strong evidence that phrenology was an exact science.  I'm just sayin' . . .

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

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Cyclist Pooping Starts Fire and Heels and Pencil Skirts Deter Bike Share According to People Unfamiliar With Bike Share

Big movements in history:
The Enclosure Movement
The Iconoclasm
The Industrial Revolution
The End of Motor Vehicle Hegemony.
Evidence of the latter movement - bicycle autobahns in Munich, the town where they build BMWs.
You are witnessing history.  So document it in less than 100 characters for all posterity.  Or just smile and ride.

Everyday heros can be hard to spot.  But Bicycling Magazine found one.  A teacher in Kansas who got his whole class riding a bike.

The Weekly Standard reported this week that women make up half the population of NYC, but only a third of bike share riders.  The writer blames pencil skirts and heels for the failure of women to ride bike share.  I quarrel with this sort of unscientific assessment.  Heels and bicycles go together just fine, unless you have to climb a super steep hill.  You can still do it in Ferragamos, but Christian Laboutains for whatever reason, can be slippery.  Pencil skirts have to pass the dropped change test before they are bicycle safe.  The question is, if you dropped some change, could you bend your knees and pick it up without the skirt tearing.  If you can, please go ahead and wear the skirt.  Ride with your knees in a bit, however.  Not that anyone can see anything, but you want to counter some people's overly fertile imaginations.
I hope my counsel removes any deterrence to women riding.  As to the vapid content of the Weekly Standard written by someone I suspect has no bike share experience, that I cannot help.
PS, fit and flare dresses are great for bikes, and skinny pants are ideal and chic.  Both look fabulous on bike share.
Could it be none of this has anything to do with why women don't ride?  Could it be that they are raised to be overly dear and to worry constantly about how they appear?  Hmm.  In an intelligent counterpoint, you might want to read this piece in Bicycling on 10 ways to get women into bike shops, whether they are in heels or flats.

So we cyclists are on the karmic high ground.  Legally, however, we break the law in equal percentages to motorists, according to a survey.  I'd like to see how the survey was constructed and administered.  Could it be that some motorists tried to be "helpful" by giving answers they thought cyclists would give for themselves?

A design museum is celebrating the bike boom with a new exhibit.  Hopefully it will show cycling as revolution designed to permanently change how people live, and not as some mere reflection of the zeitgeist that is as fleeting as fashion.

Bike helmets.  If you ride on the open road in the suburbs or the countryside, your risk of a head injury is pretty high compared to your risk in dedicated bike lanes on city street.  But did you ever think of mandatory helmet laws as a failure of policy?  That's how some people see it.

It gives a bad name to cyclists when one defecates and starts a destructive and massive brush fire.  I want this story to be false for any number of reasons, including because I do not want to picture events leading up to the conflagration.  But alas, it is true.  In attempting to burn his toilet paper, he failed to snuff out a small ember.  You get the picture, whether you want to or not.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, in heels and a pencil skirt, and you are on a bike share bike, I will consider you a good American, and we should both be very smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Bike Share Use Conclusively Linked to Weight Loss, But Bike Share Use on Expressway Conclusively Linked to Foolishness

If you are looking to lose weight, you might want to try the bike share diet.  Keeping your current eating patterns, and adding bike share use, you can drop a few lbs, and have a good time.  Of course, just riding your own bike regularly would have the same effect. 

So it is fitting that this week the City of St. Louis began to add bike lanes.  A smart move that would appear hipster-ish, but may have been calculated to reduce healthcare costs in a city with a 32% rate of obesity.  Brilliant considering obesity is as bad or worse than smoking for your health.  #bikelanes #StLouis

For every good project, there is some fool, or some fools, who decide to sully the image of the project.  The nitwits of week award goes to two people who decided to ride Philly bike share bikes onto the Interstate 676 in the City of Brotherly Love.  It is difficult to understand how this could have happened without a lot of alcohol.  #bikesharephilly

Not everyone grew up on a cul-d-sac with houses bordered by well-manicured lawns.  Many grew up in places where bikes were not the norm.  More programs are reaching out to the potential cyclists and welcoming them into the fold . . . or the lanes . . . or the share.  Whatever.  #learntorideabike

Have you read all the press about how African American people never use bike share? Instead, the tale goes, bike share supporters/users are just a bunch of young, white guys . . .  and, well, and me, she of the pigment challenged set.  Could it be that riders of color prefer their own bikes?  Maybe, maybe not.  This week in Minneapolis, black cyclists gathered on their own bikes to show a different version of reality.  Regular rides and companionship for African-American women can be found right here in Washington with Black Women Bike DC.  #blackwomenbikedc

This piece in the Wall Street Journal made me smile.  I remember training for centuries on a heavy, inexpensive bike alongside guys with expensive featherlight bikes.   Then at the moment of truth, when I borrowed a light weight bike to do the 100 miles, I flew.  Oftentimes I passed well-tanned and muscled people on bikes costing at least $4000 more than mine.  Enjoy this piece about how to use common sense to train for the same inclines braved by juicing Tour riders.  Hint: You don't have to spend $10k on a bike.  #cyclingtraining

What if you happened to spot your stolen bike while you were riding?  This Colorado man did, and he managed to follow the bike at a safe distance and, ultimately, get it back.  How?  He called the police, kept back a ways, and he had his serial number ready for the officer.  Is your serial number(s) in your smart phone right now?  If not, chop-chop, get going!  Do it now.  Thank me later.  #thebicyclefairygodmother

An Afghan refugee who helped fight against the Taliban was hit while riding his bike, maybe by a texter.  He died, just months after finding safety in America.  Would someone please tell me what is so important in a text message that one must look at it while driving?  And the deceased man was an engineer, a can-do members of our species.  Is there some higher penalty for mowing a Muslim guy down during Ramadan?  For killing someone with engineering skills?  #stoptexting

Bike share in Grand Rapids?  Seriously?  Wow.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, and you are on an inexpensive bike, or a bike share, no matter your age or color, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Princesses Carting Nannies in Cargo Bikes

Remember when royals seemed prissy and dear?  They rode in white and pink carriages and wore tiaras?  Would a member of a royal family ride her cargo bike around Copenhagen with her nanny in the front passenger box?  She did.  #royalcycling #momsonbicycles

If you believe the statistics, women don't ride bikes.  I have to admit that we are pretty consistently outnumbered in the bike lanes.  But if you have children, you are more likely to ride as a woman.  Also, if you have access to bike lanes, you are a lot more likely to ride, according to  I saw this first hand after DDOT placed parking stoppers along the bike lanes in Washington, DC.  Suddenly, one day later, the lanes were filled with women.  Coincidence?  No chance.  We don't want to perish while commuting.  If we did, our kids would suffer terribly.  Thanks #DDOT.

The National Cycling Network has saved the UK almost $2 million a day.  As I have said before, the savings are drawn from reduced healthcare costs mostly.  I heard sitting is the new smoking.  And driving is the new drinking arsenic.  Okay, I might not have heard it put quite that way.  I am hoping to attain something akin to immortality by working at a standing desk and riding my bike everywhere I possibly can.  Care to join me?  Together we can save millions.£1million-day-saved-cycling-and-walking-routes

Boris bike use doubled during the Tube strike this past week.  Let's hope many of those emergency users hang around for a while and help continue to drive those UK healthcare costs down through fitness and well-being.

UPS is testing electrically assisted cargo bike for deliveries.  Whoot-whoot.  Better than those behemoth brown trucks that clog city streets.  And for smaller packages, most of what UPS delivers, it seems to make perfect sense.  #UPS #cargobike

Caltrain is looking at ways to get more bikes on trains.  Unfortunately, one way is to remove restrooms.  Given the appalling state of some of the restrooms I have seen on trains, removing them sounds like a step toward improved hygiene.  But I can see where this may concern passengers who fear bikes will come to displace them. The momentum toward bike trains is so strong at this point, it seems inevitable people will soon be sharing fewer potties.  #caltrain #biketrains

Virginia has added some laws that are supposed to help improve cycling safety, like letting drivers cross a double yellow line in order to pass a cyclists.  And the City of Alexandria is resurfacing trails.  At last.  Virginia appears to be waking from its Dixie slumber.  #Virginiabicycling

So, if I see you in the bike lane, safely cruising along behind those delicious new barriers, let's be smug.
Elisa P.