Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Beautiful People on Beautiful Bikes - A summary of this week's cycling news

In the news this week:

Brazilian former male models who make gorgeous hand-crafted bikes, events galore, and some planning tips for that spring break atop two wheels.


Want to have some warm blueberry soup and ride a bike from D.C. through Maryland?  Sounds kind of Swedish, like Volvo, H&M, clogs, or Abba.  The Washington Area Bicycle Association's Vasa ride from the House of Sweden is coming up March 22, 2014.  Before you register, understand that there is no guarantee it will be well-attended by attractive Scandinavian cyclists.  #legaldisclaimer

Are you more realistic than a fantasizer of things Scandinavian?  You can take a bicycle maintenance class and a "fix a flat" class at Bicycle Space DC on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.  If you can fix a flat, and you happen to encounter an attractive Swede who happens to have a flat, you can be indispensable at the Vasa ride.

Do you like the idea of Baltimore, with its longshoremen, neighborhoods featured in "The Wire" and "Homicide: Life on the Streets," and its red-light district in the shadow of Police Headquarters?  Then Tour Dem Parks in Baltimore may not be for you.  However, it will give you a more positive view of Baltimore than you get if your car were to break down in Dundalk.  It will remind you more of the Fitzgerald/Mencken/Hopkins side of Baltimore.  It will be a delicious crab cake of a ride, filled with lump meat and few fillers.  The ride is in June but registration is open now.

Would you prefer to ride in the Blue Ridge Mountains beneath blooming Dogwood trees in Lynchburg, Virginia?  Worried that some of that lingering Falwell vapor might get in your lungs if you are breathing too hard on a climb?  Worry not.  Virginia is for Lovers, cyclists, Cardinals (the actual bird), and Thomas Jefferson.  Storming the Blue Ridge Ride is also open for registration.  The ride will be on May 18, 2014.

San Francisco Bike Coalition is holding a Women's bicycling event on March 9, 2014.  Hopefully they will tackle safety issues and offer solutions for the problem of women on bikes being vulnerable.  If I were in charge of the event, I would add the following to the agenda. (1) How to put on your helmet without messing up your hair.  (2) Waterproof mascara, the best friend you ever had.  (3)  How to ride in your most wonderful dress.  This is why I am not in charge of this event.

Frivolous but Delicious:

Winter is difficult for the fashionable cyclist.  Let's face it, every person you pass in the bike lanes looks vaguely like a swaddled hamster on an exercise wheel.  This is sad, because well-dressed cyclists make other people want to ride their bikes.  A dapper cyclist conveys ease, health, youth, and fitness.  A swaddled rodent squinting against the snow?  Not so much.  So this week, I thought I would remind everyone about the beautiful people of cycling, and urge you to prepare to be beautiful once again in a few short weeks.

So what would the perfect man be like?  I am no Leonardo Da Vinci, but the perfect man would look like the Vitruvian Man with a more contemporary hairstyle, ride a bike, be able to repair a bike, and maybe be able to detect computer intrusions through telepathy.  (Note the censorship for the sake of maintaining a family-friendly blog.)

For women who love cycling, Brazilian former male model Telio, who makes Bespoke hand-made bikes, may be that perfect guy -visually and as craftsman that is.  I do not know if he can have a nuanced discussion about the irony of Jean Paul Sartre's relationship with Simon de Beauvoir while sipping a glass of viognier.   I am not sure that he has a mind that can develop an app to cure cancer.  (Although how cool would that be?)  But he can make lovely hand-made bikes, and he looks like . . . well, a Brazilian former male model.  His bikes are more beautiful than he is.  Sigh.  #startlinglyhunkybikeguys

If you cannot get enough of gorgeous people on gorgeous bikes, be sure to pick up a new book on the Chicest Bikes in NYC.

Bike Lane and Path Traffic Reports:

Cyclists stick together and help each other.  This played out during the snowstorms that hit the nation's Capital last week.  Local cyclists posted information on social media sites to alert one another about trail hazards caused by the snow.  They also suggested alternative routes when commuters'  normal routes were not passable.  Is it like crowd-funding life?

In Washington, another stretch of east/west roads are about to get new bike lanes.  This is brilliant news since Northeast, D.C. was a bit of a transit desert for years.  Striping will start soon.  Did you hear the sound of voices singing "Gloria?" (No not the Van Morrison version or the Gregorian Monk bit.)

A vexing bike lane problem for planners is how to structure the lanes at intersections for maximum safety and flow of car and bike traffic.  The Netherlands has come up with a configuration that just might work.  A conceptual drawing of the project looks like piece of modern art, and is beautiful, except to Prince Charles who does not like modern art.

Historic landmarks can create issues where they stand in the way of proposed bike lanes.  But what about not-terribly-old churches? (Compare Notre Dame or St. Paul's Cathedral.  #getserious)  What about churches whose mostly out-of-town congregants do not ride bikes much, or at all, and who do not like bike lanes taking away the parking that they are not paying for?  Churches do not pay taxes in D.C. so they do not contribute to the pool of funds used to pay for the installation of cycle tracks.  A bad decision was made to stop a cycle track for only a small distance to accommodate a supposedly historic church.  The bike lanes were never intended to touch the church or its grounds.  It was really a decision about parking.   Now every institution in mid-town that wants its constituents or customers to park nearby can petition to have the bike lanes stopped in front of their building.  It is a bad precedent to be sure. #gratuitouslawsuits

The World of Bike Sharing Programs:

In Washington, Capital Bikeshare opened a large dock in front of the new Walmart  on "Eye" Street in Northwest D.C.  Since D.C. residents tend to live in smaller spaces than their suburban counterparts, they can probably take their Walmart purchases home on a bike.  The mere presence of the dock will attract people to that Walmart.  I have not yet seen anyone ride away with one of those 24-roll packages of toilet paper balanced on the steering wheel of a bikeshare bike, but eventually, I will.

Distressed Canadian bike share company Bixi's troubles may be moving toward a solution.  There have been 14 bidders competing to buy Bixi.  Let's hope one of them can help Bixi get back on track.  Without the bike share program, Montreal is a lot less charming.

Elsewhere in the World:

Municipal cycle pumps are sprouting up around UK.  This is fantastic.  We could use those in Washington.  There is nothing like a low tire to tee-up a flat.  Pumps could serve a point of confluence, where cyclists gather to talk, like they do in coffee shops and places with micro-brewed beer.’s-five-new-municipal-bike-pumps

In London, plans are still going forward for a National Funeral for the Unknown Victim of Traffic Violence.  This provocative response to the huge numbers of vehicle-caused fatalities may stimulate debate about the dangers of motorized transportation.  The Funeral will be held within meters of the city's major shopping district just weeks before Boxing Day.  Ha!  Brilliant.  In Washington, this idea has gained some traction.  WABA in D.C. has created "Version Zero," an effort to eliminate car-on-bike deaths by having members submit questions about bike safety to mayoral candidates.  What?  I am doubtful this will have the same impact as thousands of people pretending to be dead and blocking streets to the banking district, but I suppose it's better than silence.

London Mayor Boris Johnson is in the market for a new bike after his came to grief in a pothole.  Bikeradar has some suggestions for Boris.  I do too.  Sir, buy a Helio-made Bespoke.  You need something to counter-balance that terrible hair.  You may not ever be able to look like Helio, but you can ride one of his creations.

Elaine Curtain of Road cc has been named one of most influential people in the U.K.  Curtain has been working for bike publications forever, which means her access to heaven is guaranteed.  Jolly good show indeed.

Thousands of Scots will join the Pedal to Parliament ride on April 26, 2014 in Edinburgh to demand  better cycling conditions.  This is a big deal since Scots are prone to sunburn, like kidney pie, and wear pleated wool skirts without under garments.  None of these things pair well with cycling comfort.  May all the clans unite for this effort regardless of tartan.

If you like to cycle in snow then read this fascinating New York Times story about how fat-tire cyclists are now booking bike vacations in Idaho in January.  That pesky climate change appears to have made fat-tire cycling more predictable than skiing in snow.

Tweets you don't want to see:

Share my pain at reading this terrible post by a cycling father.  "Cycling to bakery but cannot take kids because there is no safe route."  I picture children with tears streaming down their chubby cheeks because they feel so trapped.  Isn't this a bit like caging children a la Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang?


Planning your summer holiday and want a new rack to put on your car?  Bicycling Magazine has a review of the best bike racks for cars.  And, featured below, there are "travelettes," little trailers you can drag along behind your bike.  #possiblyalittletooweird

Do you need to transit precious cargo like sperm?  Yes, sperm.  CNN has this story about why such things are best carried on cargo bikes.  #oursnottoreasonwhy

On your bike vacation you might "need" a beer cooler.  Many people feel they should not leave the house without one.  Those people are called sops.  Regardless, there may be sops/cyclists out there who won't get on a bike without a 12-pack.  This is for them.

Schadenfreude and Civility:

This week a sink hole swallowed a car.   Cyclists laughed at this story, but I think this was a bad response.  Not everyone in a car is the enemy.  Drivers may have to live far from mass transit systems to have affordable homes.  They may have physical problems.  They may be lazy slobs, but one shouldn't assume.  To rejoice in the loss of a car is ill-considered.  If people abandon their cars voluntarily, great.  If they get on bikes, greater.  And there were some questionable posts in support of a female cyclist who assaulted a film crew with a permit to use and park in the bike lane.  Her behavior sounds a little crazy.  If the city issued the permit wrongfully, her beef was with the city.  Pouring water on a film crew makes cyclists look like barking, raging lunatics, and it casts a pall on cycling.  Cycling is already seen by many as the province of hobbyists.  Instead #normalizecycling.  Be nice.  Look good.  Obey the traffic rules.  Make people see that cyclists are wonderful people who help each other navigate snow.

If I see you in the bike lanes, and you look fabulous, and you are not a box truck or film crew, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

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