Thursday, January 2, 2014

Should News Include Bike Lane Reports With Traffic Reports?

Happy New Year to everyone shivering atop two wheels.  We do not need to make any special resolutions since we are already getting more exercise and watching our weight. (Smug, indeed.)  We will not vow to start saving more money unless and until we have run out of storage space for our bikes and their "necessary" accessories.

And now for something serious to be followed by a summary of the bike news of the week.

Bike Lane News:

I call upon all traffic reporters in major cities in the U.S. and U.K. to make a New Year's resolution to report conditions for cyclists.  We know that that we need to increase the number of bike commuters and diversify the crowd that is already commuting.  You need a younger audience if you want to survive.  So it is in our mutual interest to have bike condition reports.
Here's how you would do it Martin DeCaro,  Ashley Halsey, Dr. Gridlock,  Monica Samtani, Lisa Baden and all of the rest of you.  U.K. Radio One lot, the same to you.

First, you can rely on cyclists.  I assure you that bike commuters will alert you via social networking cites that there was a washout along the C&O Canal, or a hazard along the Metropolitan Branch Trail, the Capital Crescent Trail, any of the dedicated bike lanes in Washington, Alexandria and Arlington, or the Mount Vernon Trail.  All you have to do is ask them.  Certainly if conditions on any of the bridges into Washington present a hazard, then that should be known too.  I am no psychologist, but it has been my observation that cyclists are extremely supportive of one-another and will gladly report what they see.  Set rules for reporting, of course.  For example, no tweeting every single work truck that blocks the lanes.  Yes, to reporting long term hazards and construction.  Yes to tweeting any police horse dung along Pennsylvania avenue that might spray on my high heels.  This is news, to me.  I want to be warned.
Second, have local government agencies with jurisdiction over bike infrastructure report to you.  This would include DDOT in Washington, the U.S. Park Police, Maryland Park Police, the Metropolitan Police, Alexandria and Arlington City Police.  Simple.
If I knew that my local radio station was going to broadcast bike lane conditions along with the traffic, I would listen.  If I listen now, it is only to feel superior for not having to sit in stand-still traffic.

Please comment on this post if you agree.

And now in bike news with links to follow at the end:

Riding a bike is not as dangerous as people think, so say some recent statistics and blogger aseasyasridingabike.  I am certainly less dangerous texting from my saddle than that guy in the oversized Chevrolet Suburban.  It's a matter of physics.  In the U.K. The Guardian is reporting cycling safety tips, which may include not texting, probably.  Hopefully these tips were written by someone who knows how to ride a bike and has done so in the last decade.

Mexico is getting its first quiet zone, which will help women who rely on bikes to transport children to school.  In a country with decapitation fatigue, and other drug cartel mayhem, this is outstanding news.

Our cycling friend traversing Africa, Derek, is still making his way along in the rainy season.  I will not mention that he is ginger and that, at least for a while, he is out of the sun, thank goodness.  When he returns, I think we should pool our resources and buy him one of the new men's dress suits for cycling. They look very smart and can conceal a sunburn below the neck.

Speaking of Africa, I know we have all imagined inflicting torture on a person who steals bikes, but in Ghana, an angry mob set upon a bike thief who had to be rescued from certain death by police.  It's one thing to fantasize revenge against a bike thief, but it is another thing to attempt to tear off his limbs.

While we are on the topic of imagination and how it helps us deal with our feelings, Sufferlandria, a city that exists only in the imagination, is holding a tour on January 25, 2014.  Drop the Dungeons and Dragons, the xBox controls, put down the remote, and get involved if you dare.

How intelligence is assessed is often an topic of controversy.  No more.  @bikelobby has noted that what keeps us from being idiots is our understanding of bikes as transportation.  There may be something to this.  Perhaps I can secure a grant to conduct a study of this.  Someone will.

If you are not completely financially tapped out after Christmas, it looks like is ready to tempt you to open your wallet with its list of the best bikes under $1600.  Shimano's Claris line leads their best.  That's great for the serious spandex 10-speed set, but for the slow cyclists like me, it must make a fashion statement.  So, yawn, a bit.  Show me a wicker pannier or a great rear seat cushion.  Then we will talk.

As we enter 2014, let's not forget the many people who have died this year after they were hit by cars on their bikes or as they walked.  The number will always be lower per capita than those in cars killed in accidents with other cars.  To quote the great Woody Allen film Sleeper, "makes you think."

Let us also not forget the silliness of athletes in their 60s who take steroids and stimulants to compete. Is this not the athlete's desperate equivalent of a bad face lift?  Just slow down.  Enjoy the view.

Now that is it January, you should be thinking about your cycling family vacation.  Momentum Magazine is already offering tips for you.

If I see you in the bike lane, or wearing a new bicycling suit, or reporting on the conditions on the bike trail, or preventing an angry mob from savaging a bicycle thief, or planning your next cycling vacation, let's be in-Sufferlandria-bly smug knowing that @bikelobby thinks we are not idiots.

Elisa P.£500-£900-road-bikes
cater to those who are too scared to cycle to planners flow
safety devices won't overcome road design;postID=5536222890189808275


  1. Cycling conditions would be an excellent addition. So today for instance. Bike lanes choked with frozen slush. Safer to ride in the wheel tracks of motorvehicles when possible. Ski goggles for those of you riding into the wind.

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