Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Normalize Bicyling.

It's been a wild week for bicycling news.


In our quest to normalize bicycling, are we helped or hindered by celebrity endorsements?  This week Pippa Middleton, described perhaps accurately by blogger Adam Pearce as the second most important Middleton, decided to give her endorsement to the sport of cycling in an op-ed in a British newspaper.  There are currently legions of 'tweens who would love to be Pippa.  (Pippa with the clothes, wealth and attention.  Pippa, who is not obligated to breed for succession, as Tina Brown once noted.)  I doubt these Pippa wannabes read the op-ed.  More likely they saw the photos of her online and thought, "I want to be Pippa."  If the acne-medicine-using set decides to try biking as a fashion statement, they will probably abandon it just as rapidly as they do an older styles of shoes.  Let's see if Pippa's "Like" of cycling can help raise numbers.

Following the Golden Globes, there were tweets about Leonardo Di Caprio's membership in Citi bikes, NYC's bike share program.A nice note, and if it raises the cool factor for cycling, I welcome the press, tweets, and memberships that will follow.

World bike news:

In New Zealand, a public service announcement on the dangers of speeding in automobiles went viral.  The "story" involved two cars of roughly the same size.  The same type of PSA done with a car and a cyclist would probably be helpful.  The message was that drivers who speed are more likely to kill someone and take them from their family than drivers who don't.  Apparently there are millions - heck, maybe billions - of people who could not figure this out without a clever ad.

Samuel Johnson once said that when a man grows tired of London, he is tired of life.  I guess when you tire of Regent's Park, the taste of prawn cocktail, or a rainy day in Foyles, you'd best call it a life.  But I can only imagine that cyclists in London have grown tired of the Metropolitan Police.   MPD has responded to the spate of cycling deaths by issuing thousands of tickets to  . . . wait . . . cyclists.  Sure they ticketed drivers as well, but it seems ill-considered to give so many tickets to David when Goliath is really the bigger problem.  MPD tweeted proudly about this campaign.  Hmmm.  This news comes more of less simultaneously with the news that obesity rates in the U.K. have been underreported and underestimated.  A bit of daily cycling - a.k.a. exercise - would of course help this.  But expect a ticket in your future if your bicycle headlamp goes, you health-seeking scoff-law.
Stop thinking about Orwell!  I know you were.  and see @cyclingsurgeon on Twitter for more.

Love them or hate them, the World Bank's sustainable urban planning blog reports another obvious conclusion this week.  Developing nations will be crushed, physically and environmentally by too many cars.  I would love to head the Bank project that tries to establish bike infrastructure in developing countries.  Would this be called "God's work?"  It should be.

In the United States, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx stated his plan to focus on cycling and pedestrians.  Holy-end-of-motor-vehicle-hegemony-Batman.  And the information was tweeted by real cycling, dooring-victim, car-victim, Washington Post reporter Ashley Halsey on Twitter.  Just makes you smile, doesn't it?
That thing you just felt was a seismic shift.
Societal plate tectonics.

Are you familiar with Texas?  Big oil?  Big hair?  Big hats?  Big, fat, gas-guzzling trucks?  That Texas, yes.  A town in Texas has established some protected bike lanes for kids.  Yes, they were built in the island that is known as Austin, but this is progress in a tumble-weed state.

A city called Forest Hill has enacted an anti-dooring law.  I am not sure they have voted on a penalty yet.  I am sure some cyclists would love to suggest penalties, including me, but this is a family-oriented blog.

The Washington Area Bicycling Association has published a guide to nice cycling.  This makes some sense.  After all, you will probably fly into a fit of rage after being doored and ticketed, and onlookers, unaware of your prior victimization, may see you as a barking, ranting lunatic, assume all cyclists are mentally infirm, and thus frown on cycling generally.  So an etiquette guide could help the reputation of cycling.  Read up.
Quiz to follow.
If a taxi driver makes a u-turn in the bike lane, knocks you off your bike, fails to notice, and races to pick up his fare curbside as you lay bleeding on the ground, do you:
a)  Address the driver as "good, Sir" and ask for a tissue? or
b)  Take your tire pump off your frame, wave it in good Sir's face, threaten litigation, spit emphatically on the pavement a millimeter from good Sir's loafers, call the police from your cell phone and order witnesses nearby to wait?
The correct answer may not be obvious.

On the subject of normalizing cycling, it would be helpful to have bicycling traffic reports.  You could learn about hazards that might kill you.  Montgomery County, Maryland has a group that posts warnings on the trail.  Wouldn't you want to know if a live electrical wire had come down on the very path you were taking that day?  If you hit it unawares, your ride will not end happily like electrocution always did for the cat in those Tom and Jerry cartoons.

Responses to the thrill of the suggested super highway in the sky have been important.  The non-fantastical reactions of urbanists were less sexy than the image of the bike ether-road that seems to have come from a more sustainable version of "The Jetsons."
Street level bike lanes spur the economy of the streets.  A super highway in the sky will not.  It doesn't for cars either.  If you are up in the air, you don't see the coffee or flower shop, and you can't get to them even if you did.

Experiencing road rash or other more discuss-able injuries?  The bike crash injury doctor for the Garmin team has given a delightful interview.  The big take-away from the piece: If you have concussion symptoms, don't just take an aspirin and go to sleep.

Stupid-villain of the week:
What can you say about a taxi driver who deliberately swerved into a cyclist who turned out to be a cop?  Bruwahahahahahahha!  The karma cops are always patrolling.

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

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