Sunday, October 4, 2015

Cities Favor Cyclists Over Motorists As Policymakers Grasp Reality

The Economist reports that cities are starting to put pedestrians and cyclists ahead of motorists.  I am trying to feel bad about this trend, but a smile continues to creep across my face.  There are times when The Economist reveals it is slow to adapt to reality, and this is one of those times.  The reports a counterpoint, that transportation policies favoring motorists are unsustainable.  The inevitability of this shift has been recognized by Salt Lake City, where protected bike lane intersections are being added.  Not saloons or taverns, but protected boxes.  This Economist piece conjures images of a bloated old man wearing a tweed suit that was once lovely, but is now riddled with moth holes and smells like stale tobacco.

In NYC, #Citibike is beginning to climb out of the red after years of teetering on the brink of possible failure.  Nothing could damage urban cycling more than the failure of a major share system.  Bixi nearly established that horrible precedent last year before being rescued by a discount sofa magnate.  Citibike's solvency is crucial to continued forward momentum on the development of cycling infrastructure.  So if you are interested in becoming NYC's bike czar, now is the time to apply for that job.  Qualifications: Must be prepared to push back against bloated old men in poorly maintained tweed and/or the Dorothy Rabinowitz nay-sayer types with good humor.  Must stay awake during city counsel meetings or be able to sleep with eyes open and a placid smile, and wake up the second someone asks, "So what do you think?"

This week in products: Bikeradar's article on the best new helmets, GM's launch of electric bikes, and another e-bike fold-up campaign on #Kickstarter.  All are worth a read.  Query, what does it say about America that all American automative companies are jumping into the e-bike market.  That people can no longer live by car alone?

Labor union group AFLCIO reports on bikeshare worker Dolly Winter, the Norma Rae of Citibike, without the death threats and sweaty factory scene.  Nice from the AFLCIO, which has supported the automotive industry.  And yup, that's exactly how they posted her image - sideways.

It's that time of year again, when otherwise serious adults use the excuse of Halloween to don tights and ride around town.  Generally, this sort of action should be encouraged, or at least not scorned.  After all, it can briefly district a child headed toward a tantrum, and make cynical adults smile before they resume their perpetual frown.

#Pashleybicycles are works of art made in Stratford-Upon-Avon, where they have been made for many years.  What is not to like?  Solid steel bikes with every detail considered.  This is a nice profile of some of Pashley's staff.  Or as I call them, the lovely little angels of cycling.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, or fixing or moving bike share bikes, or wearing any super hero suit, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Smuts Rides Again, E-Bikes For First Responders, and An App That Works.

So we know that cops who ride bikes look a little less like they have been decamped in the donut shop for a career, and they save tons of tax dollars on public health concerns.  But there is a new electric bike that is being designed for first responders.  The #spir.  Something that will allow them to access smaller passageways and nab thieving, fleet-of-foot miscreants.  If they ride regular bikes too, they can fit into those narrow passageways and not exceed the width of the bike.  I am in favor of this for urban environs.  Not sure it would work in rural Kentucky.  In any event, I could have used it this week when I found myself face-to-face with a package thief while I was atop my #Xtracycle and headed to the hair salon.  There he was, an unfamiliar face, carrying an Amazon box away from my front door just days after I had several stolen.  Before I knew it, I was chasing after him while talking to the 9-1-1 dispatcher and describing him from head to toe.  If I have been wearing a kevlar vest and a side arm, an electric assist might have come in handy.  And, if I were a police officer, I could also expect that my spouse would not afterwards accuse me of lunacy and endangering my own life.  Which I am not saying happened, but it might have.  The important point is that I made it to the salon and blow dry looked glorious.  And it made me think how e-bikes could help cops.

No wonder this man's marriage has lasted 50 years.  He rode his bike to France from England to get his wife her favorite coffee.  Bikes, coffee, marital bliss.  David Pedlow is my person of the week, and maybe next week too.  I suspect his marriage will last another 50 years.

Spin class kills.  That's why I ride my bike outdoors.  Cars crash into spin studios, and hurt confused people, who can't hear over that tired old version of "Shake Your Booty."  Really.

Are you sick of bike thieves?  We all are, and if you live in the city, you know how much you have to think before you lock you bike somewhere and go for dinner.  Bike vault is a new technology that claims it is theft proof.  Sure, and that line of code is perfect and no one will ever be able to hack it.  And that red dress does not make you look fat.  Bike vault actually looks a lot like a bike share dock. What I cannot figure out is who will pay for it and how it can be made widely available.  #bikevault

Tom Smuts rides to the Emmy Awards on his bicycle, again.  Do you love this guy?  First he writes an awesome tv show.  And then another one.  Then he dresses like he really understands style.  As opposed to the guy who has gotten too "comfy" and is reduced to wearing "forgiving" pants and big shirts.  To cap it off, for two years running he has ridden his bike to the awards ceremony.  And I don't think it's because Uber raised their rates during that time period. #tomsmuts

Diversion for bicycle tickets now in California.  That means you would have to go to traffic school.  And say "Hail Mary" about 17 times.  And then sign something that says "will not salmon."

The problem of ugly helmets is much more serious than people think.  As a matter of public policy, if we are trying to sell people on cycling instead of driving, we should all be wearing gorgeous helmets.  But let's face it, my leopard print helmet cost a small fortune.  Kali helmets much cheaper, much more attractive.

There are few things more fun than seeing a guy peddling along his burrito stand/bike.  Bicycling magazine has published a story about the best food bikes around.  And they are less landscape obscuring than food trucks.

So the bug fixes are here and the #Citibike app is being upgraded.  This is needed since it was not working too well.  Or sometimes at all.  It cannot be a case that a large dock says at 7:54 p.m. that is has 18 bikes, and no more then 12 minutes later it is completely empty.  Unless a tour bus unloaded a crowd of people, all of whom already had a fob.

So if I see you in the bike lane, and I am still filled with forgiveness since the Pope's visit, and you are wearing a terrible helmet, nevertheless, let's still be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Only Way to React to the Pope Is To Ride A Bike

So the Holy Father is coming to the Nation's Capital where he will, among other things, lead mass at St. Matthews, which has been giving communion to gay people for 20 years.  This is all wonderful and shows the progress of the church.  Here are the secondary and tertiary cycling culture plusses.  You will not be able to get anywhere in Washington for three full days unless you are on a bike.  Bwahahahahahahhha!  Thanks Pope Francis.  If people didn't get it before, they will now.  And may I say what a cool Pope you are too.  Thanks for the assist, Fondly, DC's cyclists.  And here are the road closures for those of you who will take to two wheels:

I love my #xtracycle.  I call it "the Station Wagon for the Evolved."  And now Tern is crowd funding a cargo fold-up.  You can burn calories, haul a cord of wood, and store it under your desk.  Help these people, please.  I am not saying they are doing God's work, but it's awfully close.  #coughupsomecash

Want to laugh so hard you could spit out your drink?  Read Bikeradar's list of the most sexist bicycle marketing campaigns.  Bike Radar kind of rocks anyway, but this article is a must read for anyone with more than a funeral director's sense of humor.  Sad so many ad men will have lost work after believing any reference to buxom women, however unrelated to cycling, would help bike sales.  You folks sadly underestimate the intelligence of cyclists.  #bikeradar

Know Malmo, Sweden?  Furniture design, random right wing extremists, and perhaps the best cycling culture ever.  Here's a list of the greatest bicycling cities to visit.  Malmo is number one.  #malmocycling

Among the saddest pieces of cycling news (or, heck any news) I have read was the notice that White House's chief Technology Officer, Jake Thomas Brewer,  was killed by an oncoming car while riding in a cycling event to raise money for cancer research.  He had a wife and small daughter.  Keep his family in your thoughts.  He was only 34 years old.   #jackthomasbrewer

A personal thanks to the spandex guys who shouted greetings to my son while we rode through Haines Point tonight on my Xtracycle.  Following a not-serious suggestion by +DavidCrowell, I decided to combine century training with kid time.  I place my 50 pound son on the back of my 60 pound Xtracycle and rode a long ride, culminating in pizza and gelato.  Every rider shouted hello to my little guy, proving once again what I already know to be true, that people who ride bikes are just different, and yes, better than others.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, and you are the spirit of Jake Thomas Brewer, whispering a cool new code for the app that could cure cancer, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Models Ride Bikes, Rock Stars Design E-Bikes, and Baltimore Moves to Bike Share

America's love affair with the car is ending.  Really?  I'm shocked! A decade and of a half of wars in the Middle East, a growing sense that climate change/global warming is real, and, suddenly, people find the car less appealing? The Washington Post finally arrived at this.  A little late to the party, but finally here.  (Hey, didn't Jeff Bezos buy the Post? Isn't he supposed to be forward leaning?)  
So how can we plan for phase II, where bicycling increases and mass transit has to adjust to higher ridership?
Well, first, fill out this survey about bicycling habits in Northern Virginia so more money can ultimately be purposed for lanes.

Baltimore, known for police brutality, heroin and syphilis epidemics, TV crime shows (plural!), and the occasional cake making genius, is now considering bike share.  B'more also has bike building competitions and miles of glorious bike lanes, and it is home to Johns Hopkins, one of the best universities in the country.  Bike share may help it tip toward perfection.  And I say this with less irony than you think.

When the good guys win:
A brazen midday attempt to steal bikes was thwarted by passers-by on Historic Barrack's Row in the Capital Hill neighborhood of Washington.  Great story of citizen courage and bike recovery.  However, I wanted it to end with a blubbering confession by the thieves and a promise never to steal again.
And in Portland, Oregon, bike Mecca, the police shut down a notorious stolen bike chop shop.

Bicycling Magazine published their quick fix guide, a great thing to have around when you need to make minor repairs.

You know that cycling is uplifting, but one woman describes how it actually healed her broken heart.  A healthy way to recover from a breakup without entering an ill-considered "bridge relationship," or getting a dramatically bad haircut.

It never hurts to have a model/actress endorse bicycling as a great way to burn calories.  You wouldn't want one writing your will or trying to perform surgery on a brain aneurysm, but as publicity goes, it is positive.  Cobie Smulders also makes cycling around NYC on Citibike sound like broken leg rehab in a blog post in InStyle Magazine.

While I am disparaging those in the image business, let me celebrate one in the music business.  The Strokes front man, Julian Casablancas, who is the son of a major modeling agency founder and a model (humbled), has invented a fold-up electric bike for which he has credibly applied for a patent. Perhaps Cobie Smulders will invent something similar and craft the patent design plans . . . Yes, it could happen.  Be not a sour skeptic.

So if I see you in the bike lane, whether you are a super model or an everyday person just trying to avoid angry drivers, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Helmets Kill Hair but Not the Joy of Cycling

Helmets.  I do wear one, but sometimes I wonder why.  Helmets have been proven to deter bike share use, particularly among women.  And some states have mandatory bike helmet laws requiring bike share companies to provide  helmets.  Seattle faces this issue and has to clean helmets and restore damage constantly.  It has proven to be very expensive.   Now I do like my brain, but I think my arms, legs a ribs are at greater risk in an urban environment when I am cycling.  Helmets are hairstyle assassins, unforgiving, and annihilating.   And I am not engaging in hyperbole.  Lanes, on the other hand, work better to protect urban cyclists, so says a study from the University of Bath, the city in England, not the one in which you soak your aching thighs.  Solution obvious?

Mashable reports that the starving death of horses in Germany was the catalyst for the invention of cycles.  Cheery, eh?  In any event, I thank those suffering equines for their sacrifice to the benefit of mankind.  (With that level of logic, I could run successfully for political office!  Send donations to my campaign through
Cycling Weekly has published 10 reasons why cycling to work is great.  Among them, the avoidance of stinky buses.  My occasional bus is not stinky, but it is so incredibly slow that I fear a change of season will occur before I get to my destination.  The main reason for riding to work is joy, and avoidance of glue.  Allow me to explain.  I sat on the bus next to a woman applying two false eyelashes with glue while she berated someone on her cellphone.  And she was ample, to be generous.  Very ample.  I was pinched.  And I was done with the slow bus.  I agree whole-heartedly with the idea that cyclists arrive at work smug.  Terribly, intensely smug.

Los Angeles now has a bicycle-themed and bike-accommodating restaurant according to the LA Times.  Hmmm.  Folly.  Mere trend, I cry.  Wouldn't it make more sense to have an otherwise great restaurant with a place to put your bicycle?  I am madly in love with the staff at Washington's Spanish restaurant Taberna del Alabardero, who take my Pashley into the parking garage while I dine there.  Then they bring it back.  Que bueno.  #Tabernadelalabardero

Summer in Europe was wet and is blamed for a drop in sales of bikes.  Really?  #skeptical

NPR has reported a rising number of injuries associated with older adults turning to cycling.  The good news is that people are also getting healthier and thinner from cycling.  I'll take it.  And I welcome older riders since it is always great to see people re-locate the joy of childhood.

If you are a really dedicated commuter and you want to listen to music or make calls while riding, there may soon be a helmet for that.  A very expensive helmet.  Why you would want to befoul the experience of riding by making calls I cannot imagine.  But, I guess if you must, this is one way to do it.  There's a guy on the Hill who has this wired.  His bike is his home, laden with plastic grocery bags full of clothes, a blow horn, and a 1980s boom box attached by a bungee cord.  He pedals his ancient cruiser around to the thumping beats of Chuck Brown and Parliament Funkadelic.  While his music choice is not exactly contagious, it is smile provoking.  He did not need to buy a helmet equipped for sound for several thousand dollars to find his groove.  Then again, he does not appear to care to impress anyone, if he ever did.

If you are not using your bike, you could rent it out through Air Donkey.  The kit is coming to Kickstarter soon.  Anyone know where this concept is working?  I have reservations.  What if you go berserk after you loan your bike, have an anxiety attack, and imagine the lessee is trying to take away your bike-bike?  You vow to recover it immediately, and chase after the borrower and try to yank your bike out from under him/her, while shouting a promise of a refund.  A minor scuffle ensues before you return to your senses just as the confused police officer arrives hoisting his belt and touching his gun.  Just wondering?  I'm not saying it has happened, I'm just saying that it could.

So if I see you in the bike lane, with or without a helmet, even if you do not see me because your are trying to appear important by using your over-priced helmet phone, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Late Summer Cycling Salads For After Long Rides

Salad # 1:
Busy Cyclists' Kale and Grilled Peach Salad

What you need:

Large bunch kale (I know, it's weird, it's always been there and suddenly everyone thinks its hot.  Like your weird cousin Henry, whom every woman avoided until that attractive shop girl escorted him to a big party.  Now he puts wax in his hair and acts likes he's always busy.)
One large yellow peach that is firm. Firm is just easier for grilling and less runny when heated.
Two tablespoons of mild Dutch blue cheese (Strong and local works well, but any blue will work.)
Sea salt 

Herbs de Province, about two shakes
Two tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil
One tablespoon of Dijon mustard
One lemon
Red or white wine vinegar, one tablespoon

Before you head out:

Wash a large head of kale, organic is usually better, but regular green kale will do.
Pull the kale leaves away from the stems until they rip off (you should pull down from the top, but if it seems hard, try the other way.)  
Put about a tablespoon or two of water in a flatter pan, like a frying or sauté pan.
Turn the burner on high.  When the water bubbles from the heat, lower the kale into the pan.
The kale should crest the top of the pan.
Cover the pan, smashing the kale down a bit, and cook it on high for about 90 seconds.
Turn off the heat and put the kale on a large plate.  Let it cool in the refrigerator.
Cut a large yellow peach in half and place it skin side down on  hot grill, or a hot grill pan
Turn the peach over after 5 minutes, or less if you like.  A little longer will make it sweeter and it will work well with the kale's flavor if it is sweeter.  The skin should get a little slack and maybe very light brown.  You can get dress while the peach is cooking.
Cook the peach pulp side down until golden brown streaks appear, then place it in the refrigerator

Now go ride.  Think big, important thoughts.  Write code in your mind.  Plan your next career.  Or empty your mind completely.

When you get back:
Place the kale in a large flat salad bowl or serving plate.
Slice the grilled peach and place it on top of the kale.
Shake the blue cheese on top of the peach.
Add some sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
Mix the oil, vinegar and mustard in a recycled glass jar, like the ones that Dijon mustard come in. 
Then squeeze some lemon in.  Add th herbs and shake.  Then drizzle it over the salad.  
Toss, or don't.
Add roasted almonds for protein if you want, or don't.  Whatever.

Eat.  Enjoy.  Feel superior to others.  You are.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Bike Share Reduces Traffic, Duh, and Brompton's Future Looks Electric

So Washington, D.C. has some of the worst traffic in the country.  Yup, in addition to being the town that was the inspiration for the phrase, "Politics is like Hollywood for ugly people," the nation's capital is now a traffic choke point.  Enter Capital Bike Share.  Did it really take a study to figure out that Bike Share reduces traffic?  Was this a waste of grant money, or does Congress need studies to be persuaded of the obvious?  Of course it reduces traffic.  I am comfortable asserting that, when I am on my bike, I am not driving in a car.  And, the Federal Highway Administration is now suggesting that America build more bike lanes to ease traffic.  Because bike lanes, well, ease traffic.  Kind of like bike share.  Same concept.  Had the study concluded something shocking, like painting the interior of your home sea foam prevents breach births, then it might have seemed worth it.  Sigh.
In the meantime, a new map helps those commuting in from Arlington find the best route without squinting at a dotted red line on a map that resembles a bad tangle of bungee cords more than any topography.  When Arlington-ers take the best route on their bikes, my guess is that they will not also be in their cars.  

Even as the automotive industry shakes off dust, The Motor City is getting a bike share program.  Huh?  Detroit was so depressed just five years ago I felt bad for the hotel staff that had lost high paying jobs and were now delivering room service to guests.  A little ironic that a city so dependent on the car business has a vision for sustainability.  Now, if they could just design something that did not depend on fossil fuels to run . . .
Oh that's right.  They have.

Late summer has seen an explosion of electric bike news. has published its annual e-bike guide.  The Awesomer reports on the Go-e bike, a kit that can turn any bike into an e-bike.  (A little crowd-funding never hurt a great idea.)  Madrid launches its electric share bikes.  And Treehugger makes the case for e-bike Radwagon as the ticket to a "car lite" lifestyle.  And incredible CEO, Will Butler Adams, of Brompton tells The Standard why the London-based cycling company's future lies in foldable e-bikes.

Must read:  Bicycling Magazine's piece on the last paperboy on a bicycle.  If you don't mist up, you must be made of stone.

Must watch: A documentary on a woman, Mama Agatha, teaching immigrants in Amsterdam how to ride bikes.  A bright note after a week of grisly stories on human smuggling and the suffering of refugees.

In memoriam: Timothy A. Holden, cyclist, former Navy Seal, was killed by a motorist while he was bicycling in Bethesda.  He was just a half a mile from home, and on a stretch of Massachusetts Avenue with bike lanes.  Double hero.  RIP.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, whether you are an immigrant just starting out, or an old hand on an e-bike, let's be smug.
Elisa P.