Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bicycling News for the Cyclist Who Cares About Appearances

The news in cycling this week was serious, not serious, extreme, extremely sad, and fashion forward.

On the Left Coast of the United States:

Jack Kerouac wrote of Los Angeles, "The smog was heavy, my eyes were weeping from it, the sun was hot, the air stank, a regular hell is L.A."  Nathaniel West called it the "place where people come to die."  That same Los Angeles, once known for starlets, pollution, car-clogged freeways, and the demise of the streetcar as told in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," is the locus of a robust pro-cycling movement.  Here, here.  And they are having a Climate ride.  The deadline is February 17, 2014.  Sign up to be part of changing history.

In one of his shorter sentences, John Steinbeck wrote of San Francisco: "A city of hills has it over flat-land places."  It sure does if you are not at the end of a long ride, or trying to look fabulous on your bike as you glide to a meeting.  In that city of punishing hills, the San Francisco Bike Coalition is hosting an urban cycling workshop.  I don't know if they will train you for rides up Lombard Street, and give you tips for avoiding face-plants if your tire gets stuck in the cable car tracks, but they might.  If you can make it, great.  Oh, and it is tomorrow.  Chop-chop!

On the East Coast:

The Washington Area Bicycling Association is hosting a happy hour at the Gordon Biersch near National's Baseball Park on Wednesday January 29, 2014.  Beer, bikes, the reminder that the boys of summer will be playing soon enough.  What's not to like?  Oh, and it's tonight.  So hurry up.  If you can't make it, watch for the next round.

WABA has also posted a blog introducing women to cycling infrastructure.  I think most women recognize a bike lane and a bike share dock.  What they would like to see is safer bike paths, more dedicated bike lanes that don't suddenly end next to large train stations clogged with taxis and buses, offices with showers, and an array of removable kiddie trailers.  Most women would also like to see a helmet that did not destroy their hair during their commute.  Women who cycle would like to see more women cycle.  This would make them feel safer.  Drones, contrary to manufacturer claims, would probably be less effective in making women feel safer on remote trails, but of course someone is working on that.

Cyclists of every gender would like to see the East Coast's bike lanes cleared of snow.  They presently resemble luge courses that have been hit by meteors.  Despite the snow and extremely cold weather, Citi Bike was averaging 9,600 rides a day.  It puts me in a New York State of Mind just thinking about it.
Way down south in Dixie:

In Alexandria, Virginia, where old times there are not forgotten, and the streets bear the names of Confederate generals, King street residents are upset they will lose parking when the bike lane goes in.  So they used a 50 year old law to appeal the city's decision to install the lanes.  They hope to kill the changes by causing death by never-ending public hearings.  Among the bike lane nay-sayers is an irked attorney with a lot of time to search dusty code books.  To his credit, he unearthed the Commonwealth's ancient rules of order for public hearings on rights of way.  Someone needs to give him a bike to make him nicer.  Apparently the attorney does not understand that bicycles can be liberating for low density suburbs.
Or more likely, he does not care.
Cyclists in Virginia can fight back against the people who want to remain in the darkest of car ages.  There is a petition circulating to support laws that outlaw dooring or following a bicycle too closely.  But the new laws cannot eliminate people who think bike lanes are hard evidence that the Armageddon is upon us.  Reason cannot be legislated.  No law can convey intelligence to those not possessing it.

Atlanta, Georgia is exploring adding a bike share program.  Atlanta has some of the worst commutes in the country, a history of support for slavery and being burned and pillaged by Union soldiers during the Civil War, and the dubious distinction of being the home of one of those "Real Wives of . . ." television shows that pander to the non-reading set.  As the home of the Centers for Disease Control, shouldn't Atlanta already have a bike share program?  To prevent . . . well heart disease, that disease known as diabetes, the obesity problem that leads to disease.  Okay, I'll move on.

In the U.K. London is making some progress:

A Bloomsbury Way bus lane has become a bus and bike lane.  If you take the Docklands Light Railway, you can soon take your bike, though rumors have been flying that you will be limited to fold-ups.
Bike traffic lights have been switched on at the Bow Roundabout in London so cyclists will know when it is their turn to go rather than having to guess, pray and risk it.
In Scotland, an advertising watchdog wants to stop Cycling Scotland ads that feature a cyclist without a helmet.  Well, perhaps if someone designed a helmet that did not muss one's hair this would be an easier sell.’s-helmet-ruling-threatens-promotion-of-normal-cycling

In France (where else?) a 102 year old cyclist broke a speed record, and a President, who resembles nothing more than a hamster with a turtle's face, has created love triangle with himself at the center.  Both seem like magic, or at least hoaxes, but they are not.  I'm not saying cycling and political power keep you young, but how can argue with the irrefutable evidence?

In Australia an 18-year-old BMX rider performed the first ever front flip on a bike.  This is interesting but since I tend to ride in dresses, I would probably not risk trying this.  It would not be civilized.

Want to go car free and just use your bike?

In China they have created a massive vending machine, electric cars for $3.00 an hour.  Could such a thing help urbanites go car free?
Perhaps Ford Motors should create a car vending machine for American cities.  After all, Ford's CEO (a.k.a. the last honest company head) admits more cars in urban areas is not going to work in the long term.  Perhaps he was injected with sodium pentathol, like something from a 1960s movie, and he just blubbered the truth uncontrollably before becoming maudlin and weeping.

Want to travel by bike everywhere you go and bring your offspring?  This article can help you think through your transit options.

Rhetorical question:

If you were driving, and you hit a cyclist, and his torso entered the passenger compartment of your car, and the cyclist you hit started talking to you, would you notice it?  If you were sober, one would hope that this kind of event would not escape your attention.  This did happen, and it is not an urban legend, like that terrible story about the woman who put her poodle in the microwave oven.

So you want to bike? has published a beginners guide to shopping for a bike.
Perhaps you could read NYCEwheels' write-up of the best folding and electric bikes.
After you buy your bike, you will need a bike rack that is a piece of art.  Peri has a terrific rack that could double as a sculpture.

After you buy a bike, you will of course need another bike.  View this video on how to be a road biker.  And remember that the number of bikes you can have is always resolved by the following formula: N+1, where N= the number of bikes you already have.
After you buy N+1 bikes, you will need some all-around cycling pants that are not spandex since spandex is not fashion forward.  It's fashion backward, and I'm being generous to spandex.

If I see you in the bike lanes, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

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