Sunday, June 28, 2015

No More Helmets?

What happens when public health professionals decide that they are done with helmets?  It is not a sign that we are Armageddon adjacent.  It may simply reflect the fact that the benefits of helmets are not clearly proven by the data (and car drivers pass cyclists wearing helmets more closely than they do cyclists without, and helmets tend to deter people from cycling).  Thus, one blogger, a public health professional, believes that the cost of helmets, in terms of public health, is too high.  Whoa!  What's next?  Letting kids play unattended with each other for brief periods of time on playgrounds?  Madness! #helmetdebate #bicyclehelmet #urbancycling
And check out

London is going to give bicycle traffic lights a try.  I suggest they educate drivers and cyclists alike before setting up the lights.  The only time I have come close to being killed was when I drove forward and right on the green bicycle light next to the White House.  The taxi driver to my right decided to turn left in front of me as I was negotiating a soft right into the 15th Street cycle tracks.  I still want to thank the cyclist behind me who went berserk yelling at the cabbie for almost hitting me.  A little Charlemagne-era chivalry, in the spirit of cyclists are part of the same culture of course. has some advice for cyclists in just this situation.  #Londoncyclists take note!  #bicycletrafficlight

Since the great highway system was built, Americans have put on 25 pounds on average.  Our collective love affair with the automobile fizzled out without a bang.  Instead it dissolved with a whimper after a decade of wars fought in remote, hostile countries rich in fossil fuels, and amidst a growing body of satellite imagery that showed shrinking polar ice caps.  Many people want to ride their bikes but they feel unsafe.  Instead of a Great Works project, like planting Kudzu along highways without considering how it would gobble up indigenous flora, Washington Post blogger, Matt MacFarland, explains how a big cycle tracks project could change our approach to cycling.  Not my approach, mind you.  Which is to just ride slow, live in the city, and worry less.  My motto - wear your dress and don't fret - cannot be shared by people living in the suburbs.  Most people's apprehension is based on the concern that they will be hit by some texting, yawning motorist while riding along that stretch of road with no shoulder.  If we built a Great Works project of cycle tracks, theirs would be a different narrative.  #cyclingnews  #MattMcFarland  #cycletracks

As it turns out, businesses are still moving to central city locations to attract young, talented workers, who prefer mass transit and cycling.  Perhaps now is the time for the next Great Works Project.


This Pope may be bringing many wayward Catholics back into the fold.  Recently he has raised the issue of humanity's poor stewardship of God's planet, and the resulting climate change (or as it once was called, global warming).  The guy takes mass transit, or did until his protective detail had to . . . well . . . protect him.  I hear he rides a bike too.

Recently there have been a number of stories in the media about micro homes and campers.  In an era where people want the simpler life, this holds a lot of appeal.  One of these campers, by Wide Path Camper, hooks up to your bike.  In an era where people also want stronger slimmer thighs, this holds a lot of appeal.  In an era where people are afraid to buy that vacation home in West Virginia that might have been built on the site of a toxic waste dump, this little trailer can help you move on down the road to the site of a former vegetable patch.  The Wide Path Camper would be fun for a single night out on the range, but for more than that I cannot help but think of Fellini's La Strada.   #widepathcamper  

So, if I see you in the bike lane, or building a bike lane as part of a Great Work, whether you are towing a micro camper or curling your eyelashes, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

P.S.  Did Sir Bradley Wiggins miss five drug tests?  Culture problem?  Yup.  Your Majesty, I suggest you better vet your candidates.  

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Tripwires, Random Bike Pumps, and Bromptons

Should we in the United States consider adding air pumps to highly biked areas?  They are doing that in Canada, and I feel like we should be ahead of Canada in all things, except perhaps maple syrup production.  While I can walk to any number of bikes shops on my way home from work if I get a flat, many people have longer commutes and could use random pumps along their route.  Can some clever urban planner, or vendor of said pumps get on this?  Can developers and managers of large office buildings consider them too?  #bicyclepumps

What kind of a person sets a trip wire to catch a cyclist across the neck?  Someone who needs to spend a period of time in a small windowless room by order of a judge.  (I am picturing a guy with a bad haircut, and a certain downturned mouth behind this insane act.)  In the U.K. someone did string a tripwire across a path and seriously injure a cyclist.  Police there say the person who set the wire was trying to kill cyclists.  Seems like a reasonable interpretation of the evidence to me.  #tripwirebrighton #cyclingUK

So the cost of commuting is high in big cities.  Time - about an hour and half a day, or more.  Money - between $10 and $16.  Your soul - suffering with a routine that causes you to remember that "most men lead lives of quiet desperation . . . "  Then you work out, squeeze in some "quality time" with the family.  Hmmm.  So, you could ride your bike in many cases, which would shorten or equal your commute and keep you fit and healthy.  You would save money, rise above the din, and reclaim the girl that is you. Or the guy.  Whatever.  I think you get my point.  Why settle for the quiet desperation?  Or loud desperation?  Just try the bicycle.  You will feel better.   Less desperate anyway.  #citycycling

Speaking of commuter survival in the city, check out this Brompton ad on YouTube.  Who would think that collapsable bike favored by your eccentric Uncle Ned would become a status item?
#cyclingissexy #bromptonbicycles
So, if I see you in the bike lane, and you are not stringing up a trip wire in some homicidal fit of rage, and you are centered, happy, and not at all desperate, and perhaps on a Brompton, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Recalls this week.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Fluffy Dog Bikes, Ridiculous Police Excuses for Blocking the Bike Lane, and Thriving Cycling Cities.

If you needed a fluffy dog bike about 4000 times the size of your real fluffy dog, you should have been in Baltimore this weekend for Kinetic Baltimore.  Fifi was propelled by at least four sets of strong legs and a powerful sense of humor.  There were bicycle rocket ships, bicycle giraffes and bicycle turtles.  And of course tons of cyclists braving a heat index of around 100.  #kineticbaltimore

Cycling in London is up 5% since last year, according to Cycling Weekly.  Does this reflect the end of Britain's love of mechanized transit, or simply a new sense of balance?  Have the Limies learned to love that greasy bag of chips while realizing they should bike to burn it off?  Well this increase could signal a rising IQ in the Isles.  Here, here.  In any event, increased cycling means an increase in productivity, a reduction in healthcare costs and tons of economic benefits, per the Guardian U.K.  Or it could mean that the Tube has become so overcrowded that no one can stand it any longer.  However, a small increase in expenditures on cycling infrastructure has shown enormous paybacks, per the Center for Effective Government.  If that is true, then has Mayor Boris Johnson's amazing investment in cycling had the desired effect?  #cycleLondon #Borisjohnsonrockseventhoughhehassuperweirdhair

I suppose that since we use crash test dummies for cars, we ought to test the airbag for cyclists.  Right?  Really?  I do not admit to laughing at the crash-test human when his helmet airbag deployed. #airbaghelemet 

It is rare that we celebrate the merger of two big utility companies for any number of reasons, not the least of which is reduced service and increased rates.  But you have to love the fact that the Pepco-Exelon merger resulted in a settlement that is sure to create an awesome trail where power lines once stood. #trailadvocates

I have no love of Twitter's sponsored posts, but this looks like a reasonably clever idea for the bike commuter who has to sometimes fly to NYC for a meeting or a quick overnight.

Adventure Cycling has a new "how-to" post to help you plan your bike trip.  And let's face it.  Some of us need a little help planning in the midst of that delicious chaos that is life.  #adventurecycling

It has been a while since I acknowledged the nincompoop of the week.  But I reserve a big loud blehhhh for the Deleware cop from the Delaware Governor's security detail who decided to: 1) block the bike lane on busy L Street, NW, with an SUV the size of the Starship Enterprise; 2) flash his badge and gun at the silent cyclist who tried to call local police - who would have had actual law enforcement authority in the jurisdiction - to come move said governor's vehicle, and; 3) managed to get that security job in the first place, even though he could not spot a helmet camera on the head of a cyclist mere feet from him.  Enjoy the video.  Especially the part where he says, "Don't play with me now." Seriously?  I guess they have some pretty tough crime up there in the state with no national parks or corporate taxes and plenty of rest stops.   Must be worst than the 101st precinct in NYC to have generated that kind of tough talk.  Tip: Stay out of the bike lane.  There are other places to park and even put your hazards on while someone gets a bagel.  #delawarecop

So, if I see you in the bike lane, on a bike, to be clear, and you have a helmet cam and a sense of humor, let's be extremely, modernly, millions-of-downloadsy smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Bicycle Traffic Report: It's Here at Last!

So after pitching this idea over a year ago, I am happy to say the Jerry Edwards of WAMU 88.5, American University's NPR station, has agreed to do the honors.  If you live in or near DC - and that means you +BenFolsom - report downed trees crossing trails, flooded out lanes, or the kind of construction that blocks the lanes to reporter Jerry Edwards via Twitter.  Use the hatch tags #biketrafficreport and  #bikedc, and copy @jerryedwards885. +RickyAlbores had a hand in making this happen.  Yipee!  Report for other cyclists, and you will surely be a good American, a bearer of the trust.  Godspeed.

In the UK, a recent study attempted to understand why those over 50 years of age do not ride as often as others.  My guess is that years of the car habit and fear of injury, both of which can be conquered with a nice upright bike and a riding companion, have made fewer over 50 brave the streets.  This month's #MomentumMag discusses the benefits and joys of uprights.  For urban riding, nothing beats sitting up to see and be seen.

Looking for a book on the history of cycling?  The ups the downs, the highs, the decline in use, and the amazing resurgence?  On Yer Bike is just the book, with a serious UK focus.  Check it out.  #onyerbike.

Has there been progress in getting women to ride?  Apparently, according to piece in this week's Time Magazine.  But there is still a lot more that bike shops can do to attract women and get them coming in for bicycle maintenance. #Timemagazine #womenbikingtransportationchanges

No shock that the world's friendliest biking cities are still located in Europe.  But Copenhagen may have just displaced previous leader Amsterdam.  No one has quite matched the Dutch for amazing bike parking, though.  They remain number one.  #worldsmostbikefriendlycities

"I am a nasty, mean and bitter little man who has made a career out of trying to make people angry."

So Rush Limbaugh was just being himself, a dyspeptic, angry, bitter guy when he criticized Secretary of State John Kerry by saying Kerry was too old to be on a bicycle.  Kerry broke his femur last week in a cycling accident in France.  Limbaugh's typically rude comment prompted me to want to be nasty back.  I started to say that Rush is too fat to be on a bicycle, but that would not be true.  The absolute coolest guy on my commute route carries about about 70 extra lb.s, but he smokes me every day and sings entire songs while he rides.  He is not as mean as Rush, clearly.  So I can't say Rush is too fat, because I really don't think anyone is too fat to be on a bicycle.  Rather than take the cheap shot, Rush could have said some true things, but those comments don't get Zippo Lighters to sponsor your show.  For example, he could have pointed out that John Kerry has a punishing schedule.  Kerry often does not sleep a full or even a half night.  That Kerry gets exercise is amazing.  He could have said that Kerry might have been too sleepy to ride, though I do understand the impulse to ride when you are sleepy.  Rush went to the base, the bottom, the inane.  What else?
I do think you can be too mean to ride.  This is where Rush, not Kerry, would have a problem.  Yet, riding would make to make Rush less mean.  So I hope Rush chooses to ride.  He would drop a few lb.s, which is not necessary, but he might find he needs less medication and anger to plow through his day.  It must be terrible to wake up every morning knowing that you are a dreadful man.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, and you are very old, or very fat, and you are pausing to send a bicycle traffic report out of a sense of duty, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Journalists Turn Against Cyclists and Other Cyclists News for the Daily Urban Rider

Sad to hear that John Kerry, Secretary of State, broke his femur in a cycling accident in France this morning.  Also sad that I am not cycling in France.  I wish him well and cycling again soon.  #kerrycyclingaccident

I used to think that journalism was based on facts.  But I also used to believe in Santa Claus.  Then as journalism became increasingly political, plagiarized and clearly motivated by the shrinking traditional news business, I imaged it had once had a golden age.  A time when it really functioned as the Fourth Estate.  Then I actually read about Hearst.  Now . . .  Ahem, Rupert Murdock.  Sorry, something stuck in my throat there.  Ackggghh, Fox/MSNBC spin.  Oops.  Perhaps a sneeze.  But when the NYT suggested, without any facts to support or even suggest, that the now-dead cyclist, killed by someone in a Mercedes who was fleeing from the police, might have been riding without a helmet, I was outraged.  Let me add, the dead cyclist was a gifted neuroscientist.  A helmet would not have made a difference as a matter of physics.  Most importantly, the death occurred during high-speed police chase and the cyclist, who was blameless, was hit from behind.  #cycling  #sergeimusatov

The Chinese news agencies are different.  One expects a degree of nonsense there since they are owned and controlled by the state.  This week Chinese news reported that a row house fire in Finland was caused by an e-bike battery.  This might have been true, but I am at least as skeptical as I would be if this were reported in the NYT.

Anti-cycling media coverage also hit a fever pitch in the UK last week after a toddler was struck on the sidewalk by a cyclist.  It is also interesting that anyone, including a journalist of even minimal bona fides could generalize about cyclists from a single incident.  But then again, this is country that managed to sustain (for decades) a newspaper that featured a topless woman on page 2 everyday.  Which totally freaked me out on the tube in the morning when I was a kid there.  I call upon those holding press credentials (which are given without any standardized test, aptitude, or moral assessment) to stop writing such nonsense and reclaim your profession.  There is no one type of cyclist any more than there is one type of Black person, or Jew, or Muslim.  Evolve.

While NYPD engaged in a high speed chase that contributed to the death of a cyclist and then insinuated the lack of a helmet might have cause said cyclist's death, Arlington County Police near Washington, D.C. introduced an electric bicycle to their fleet.  Oh, and their union does not allow them to have three drinks at lunch while wearing their guns and then return to the streets.  #arlingtonpolice  #electricbicycle
As a reader of Fast Company, Wired, and Ars Technica, I loved to hear about all the good and bad things that venture capitalists sink their money into.  Some are shockingly hair-brained, others could cure cancer.  But I hold a special admiration for these VCs who have started a line of fixies that will be sold - where else? - online.  #venturecapitalism   #fixedgearbikes  #fixies

Trouble for bike share in France, the country that really started the urban bike share movement outside of blond places (Holland and Denmark).  People there have begun questioning the costs.  Were that not bad enough, so have the blond countries.  Dear God, this is potentially worse than the Armageddon. 

Meanwhile here in humble DC, Capital Bikeshare is constantly updating its software and fleet placement to get bikes where they are needed.  I have taught my five-year-old to address the Bike Share workers as Mr. or Ms. Hero.  Over the top?  I think not.  #Capitalbikeshare

These venal cyclists and their fast moving machines.  So as it turns out cycling may help people with depression and other ailments more than simply prescribing them pills.  I am not shocked.  I am surprised that mainstream media has picked up on this.  #cylingforhealth

Helpfully Bicycle Magazine has published an article explaining how one can avoid getting numb feet on a ride.  I recommend the wearing of very high quality pumps.  Black patent survives the occasional payment scrape well.  If you can afford Manolos or Ferragamos, great.  Avoid spandex if your commute is short.  Always wear a lovely dress.  This should avoid the problem of foot numbness. #cyclinginhighheels.   #yesIamserious

So, if I see you in the bike lane, in pumps, or God-forbid spandex, and you are not some "creative" reporter or a fleeing felon, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Good Cops, Naked Bicyclists and Elderly Bike Messengers

It has not been a week of good cop stories, but there are loads of good cops, especially this one.  A Tennessee police officer invented a radar detector designed to catch cars that pass cyclists too closely.  Wonderful.  #goodcop  #bicycling

Naked Bike Week globally attracts, well, a category of person whom, I confess, I doubt is really motivated by a concern about global warming and fossil fuels.  Some appear to love displaying ill-considered piercings of their pudenda.  Yes it is a word which I have correctly italicized since it is Latin.  In the ancient dead language sense.  So in Portsmouth, England a city council member has called some participants more exhibitionists than activists.  #nakedbikeweek

Tomorrow in the U.S. we remember the people who fought and died while many of us cowered at home or were apathetic.  Last week the ride in silence was a different kind of honor for those who died cycling on the roads.  It's not exactly a theater of war, but it is a great idea to raise awareness, perhaps better than displaying your nether regions.  I'm just saying. #rideofsilence

Mashable, that little site that could, has published a list of the best bike routes.  It did not include mine, which passes at least two dumpsters and a recalcitrant office supply delivery truck.  I wonder why.  #bestbikeroutes

Tax haven, yes.  But bike friendly European country/city?  Hmmmm.  Luxembourg is climbing in the ranks of cycle friendly venues, and continues to advance on the "hiding-my-income-and-assets" friendly list at the same time.  #cycleluxembourg  #payyourdamntaxesforreal

Elderly people are being given a chance to work as bike messengers in Germany.   In the United States, they are still forced to watch back-to-back medication ads on network television news and suffer the indignities of assisted living in non-walkable, non-bikable communities.  Will some start-up please bring this here right away?

I have blogged before about the astonishing bravery of the Afghan women cyclists, but I must say that I am holding my breath and saying a little prayer for the women of Yemen who are trying the same.  May the wind lift you up and carry you high my sisters.  #yemeniwomencycling

So if I see you in the bike lane, dressed, though not necessary wearing a full hijab and/or abaya, though that would be okay too, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Quax Much in a Skirt?

#Quaxing has become an Internet thing.  Quaxing, or the practice of hauling groceries on a bicycle, has become a bragging right for Western #cyclists.  Sure you can haul that 48-roll pack of toilet paper home from Costco on your #Shinola, but what about your entire crop production?  I think we might be a little late to the party, or so a few thousand Cambodians could explain.  That said, I think quaxing makes you superior to the SUV crowd.  So quax on a prosper.

Salt Lake City, Utah is about to do the right thing and add features to intersections to protect the lives of cyclists riding in dedicated bike lanes.  Now if they would do the right thing by wine producers and coffee roasters, I would seriously consider a move there.  #SaltLakeCity

While some cyclists crave safety, others crave adrenaline.  These mountain bicyclists take on a hill so dangerous that hikers use cables when climbing it. #mountainbicycling #nuts
Another week, another anti bike theft software start-up.  Check it out and tell me if you think it will work. #biketheft

On the subject of bike theft, or perhaps more exactly, receipt of stolen property, to wit, a Capital Bike Share bike with obvious paint and markings:
The nitwit of the week award goes to the horrible person who attempted to sell a stolen bike share bike on  You can develop software to help prevent bike theft, yes indeed, but can you develop software to raise a moral deficient's sense of human decency?  If so, I'd crowd fund that. #biketheft

Is the car age over?  Guardian U.K. suggests possibly.  Not a dystopic vision, Ridley.  Not at all.

Looking for a job in the world of cycling?  The Washington Area Bicyclists' Association is hiring.

Some recommendations for the city bike commuter who needs to arrive for the meeting without a costume change: I am bullish on Betabrand's bike-to-work skirt.  It looks good, it's made in San Francisco, you can wash it in a machine, and its in a reasonable price point for big city dwellers.  Also great are fit and flare dresses by Reiss and Calvin Klein.  The CK ones are sometimes washable too.  Key point for those riding in humidity and heat this summer.  Why wear spandex and look like a sausage, or your quirky cousin Fred, when you can channel Audrey Hepburn?  #betabrand #Reiss #dressesforcyclists #skirtsforcyclists #bikelikeawoman

So, if I see you in the bike lane, in a bike-to-work skirt, or hauling a cord of wood just to one-up the other quaxing cyclists on Twitter, let's be smug.
Elisa P.