Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Give Your Sweetie the Gift of Cycling and Don't Forget the Chocolate: A summary of this week's bicycling news.

Cha-ching!  It's almost Valentine's Day.  And now a news summary for the non-doping, slow-riding cyclist, who resents having to wear less fashionable clothes to bike in a polar vortex:

Bikes and Money:

Cities are growing, and the people living in them like to ride bikes.  The Guardian reports that there are four reasons why businesses are suddenly taking an interest in Copenhagen-style cycling infrastructure for cities.  Bike lanes allow for increase density of persons, and cyclists can stop and shop as they ride, whereas cars go whizzing by.  Bike lanes increase the value of real estate too, since people will pay more to live near them.  Bike lanes help local companies attract a talented work force (smart people ride bikes).  Cycling makes workers more productive and healthier (lower healthcare costs).  They don't take as many sick days.  They are thinner than their counterparts behind the wheel.  Cha-chings (two).  That's money.

Bikes and Fear-Mongering:

Cyclists should not expect everyone to act reasonably in response to bike lane advocates.  Bike lanes change the social order of things, and some people are rattled when the same-ness they understood appears to be ending.  A vocal minority of anti-bike hysterics are pushing back against bike lanes in Northern Virginia.  You have seen these alarmists before.  They swore the earth was flat, and they claimed cigarettes could not hurt you.  They believe the loss of a few parking spaces signals the end of mankind.  Wait them out.  They always lose their footing.  They will fight Maryland's new master plan for pedestrians and cyclists.  If you live in Virginia, you can comment in favor of more cycling lanes using the link below.

Bike Legislation:

In Congress, there is a bill pending that is intended to require states to create plans for transportation that include "complete street" principles.  (Safe Streets Act of 2013, H.R. 2468.)  These principles ensure the safety and convenience of all users of transportation systems, including bicyclists.  You can track this bill and check to see how your member has voted using this link:


In London, the bike show starts on February 13.  There will be a lot of BMX acrobatics and fast riding, but there will also be great demos and reps from every bike manufacturer whom you can heckle with annoying, rhetorical questions.

In November, Stop Killing Cyclists will hold a public funeral on Oxford Street to remember victims of traffic violence.  Given how many people die in traffic accidents, it is real healthcare crisis.  If you can, you should show up.  Organizers plan to hold the event on Oxford Street - London's shopping corridor - a month and half before Christmas.  Brilliant.

A Stolen Bike Recovery Army:

Did you ever want to send a gang to recover your stolen bike?  Well, you can.  The Sith Lord Vader Squadron specializes in recovering stolen bikes.  They are, as far as I can tell, acting as private citizens.  The Squadron has a Facebook page, of course.  Who doesn't?  As you can tell from the photo below, they don't look menacing in their Chuck Taylors and colorful shorts, but I warn you, do not cross them.  They may be able to complete the Times crossword puzzle after Wednesday, but that will not prevent them from yanking your bike away from a thief.  Thinking of forming your own squadron?  May the force be with you.  May your own empire strike back.  Perhaps the good fellas at Sith can give you some pointers on vigilante bicycle justice.  In the meantime, you can probably fund your start up Squadron the same way a bike theft prevention website recently did.  As Yoda might have said, "If recovered, good is the bike."

Goods and gear:

Looking for a new bike that costs less than $1,000?  See Bicycle Magazine's review of the best bikes under a grand.  I have recently decided to invest in a less expensive bike than my beloved Pashley Princess Sovereign.  If my new bike gets stolen, I won't go berserk or call a vigilante squad to recover my bike and exact some extra-judicial punishment.

Valentine's Day:

Support your local bike shop this love day.  A good Brooks saddle beats a dozen over-priced roses any day.   Whimsical reflectors, a Basil Milk basket, a Yakkay or Nutcase helmet, anything by PoCampo, some Bar Mitts, or a great U-lock and some truffles are great gifts for the love of your life.  If none of that works, a great reclaimed wooden crate is tres chic, not pricey, and looks very cool on the back of a city bike.

If you are in Washington, I recommend you check out The Daily Commuter DC on H Street, NE, Bicycle Space near the convention center on 7th  Street, NW, or any of City Bikes' locations.  If you are in New York, it's hard to beat Adeline Adeline in the Village, or, of course, Detroit-based Shinola, which opened a store in The City in 2013.  In Portland, there is a new cargo bike store, Splendid Cycles.  A cargo bike would be an amazing gift, and certainly better than diamond earrings that could get knocked off while you are riding.

If I see you in the bike lanes, or at a local bike shop showing your generous and romantic side, or recovering a stolen bike wearing a black plastic head piece and breathing like an asthmatic with his head in a cardboard tube, let's be smug.

Elisa P.

Stay tuned for monthly bicycle book reviews beginning in March.  Have you written a cycling book you want reviewed?  Send me a note.  I'll take a look

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