Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Thaw: A summary of This Week's Bike News

Bike Events

A group of cyclists left Newtown, Connecticut four days ago to protest the epidemic of gun violence that has afflicted the country.  They arrived here in Washington yesterday.  I salute these good people since I am both against gun violence and in favor of cycling.  So for just a few seconds, I will pause to be serious.  [Pause here.] Sometimes the quiet movement becomes a groundswell.

Remember that demoralizing Sadie Hawkins Dance from your high school days?  The one where you dressed like the folks on "Hee-Haw" even though you were studying irony in Greek mythology.  The one dance where you got to ask the boys instead of doing strange things in an effort to be asked.  Well you can live it anew, and for an unquestionably noble cause.  And remember, you now have some distance from your pimply phase, and you have developed an understanding of the how unimportant ancient mythological structure can be in real life.  The Washington Area Bicycling Association is holding a Sadie Hawkins Dance to raise funds for their Women in Bikes programs.  The dance is Friday, March 14, 2014.  You should go.  There will be beer.

So we need more cyclists in order to keep bike lanes, get more bike lanes, and have better laws to protect cyclists.  Not weekend warriors, but commuters.  May 16, 2014 is bike to work day.  For many of us, every day is bike to work day, but some people need a special date to remember the freedom and ease of biking to work.  And we need those people.  After all, if they bike a little, chances are pretty good that they will bike a lot later.  So if you need to start wearing down your friends and colleagues until they would rather bike to work than listen to you any further, start now.  You only have two months.  Perhaps you can use Cycling Surgeon's statistics and medical findings to persuade them.  (Feel free to deploy these:  "Okay, sit around in traffic if you want a bum ticker."  "No, I don't need to diet, I ride my bike.  It burns calories like an arsonist in a national forest.")  You can show them George Hahn's excellent video on how to arrive at work looking fresh and lovely during bike to work week.  Here's a hint.  Folded shirts in your desk drawer and a relaxed attitude.  If women ask you about hair, say that you know it will look perfect if they twist it into a ball on the top of their heads, and then put on their helmet.  I speak from experience.

The second Wednesday of every month, the DC Bike Party used to meet in Dupont Circle at 7:30 p.m.  Since their Valentines Day ride, the party has grown less festive, and is maybe even dead.  Can someone please resurrect this thing?  The tulips are coming up already.  Cyclists normally assembled at the statue of the Rear Admiral.  (No, I did not make that up.)

On June 7, 2014, the Air Force will host a two-day ride to salute wounded heroes.  It is free but the message will be valuable.  A lot of people have lost limbs, normal brains, and their capacity for optimism.  Take any chance you can get to show your appreciation for their service.  Even if you have opposed the conflicts, support the people who went there.  They need it.

Bikelanes and Cities and Progress:

Is there a Bikelash against cyclists and bike lanes?  It seems that a number of contrarians are still out their, rattling their sabers, or remote controls, or Hermes handbags, to protest bike lanes.  Some of them have adopted the rhetoric of the very groups they criticize for being too right-wing.  It's becoming amusing to read about them.  This group is a bit hysterical, predicting the demise of civilization, or the triggering of the Armageddon if bike lanes and bike sharing programs are built.  They are still shocked that modern society prefers the Bill Cunningham photos of fashionable women walking on the streets of NYC to the over-taut faces of The City's rich people at galas at the Met.  Despite the bike hysterics, the Republic will persevere.

Is bikelash causing cities to react so slowly to the demand for bike lanes and better mass transit?  Grist reports that Cities are still afraid to make driving unappealing.  In fairness, there may be secondary and tertiary consequences to moving too quickly to make drivers feel guilty and unwanted.  They may take their businesses elsewhere, for example.  It is also possible that most commuting Americans live where they can afford a house that seems to meet the [now outdated] American Dream.  And it is also possible  that cities fear that their mass transit systems are not sufficient to accommodate a drastic uptick in riders.  Still, the municipal tendency to move slowly may impede the expansion of sharrows.

While cities like to move slowly to deter driving, a Baltimore survey of the best places to work found that people looked more favorably on their workplace it they could access a number of public transportation and bicycling options to get there.  Johns Hopkins was the winner in the Charm City.  Perhaps, as @rockstar tweeted this week, the cycling strategy debate has not focused enough on the long-term health, economic, and social benefits of cycling.

I love the Memphis sound.  Otis Redding, the Staple Singers, Sam and Dave.  I really like the food.  Never would I have thought of Memphis as a place to cater to cyclists and pedestrians.  Yet Memphis will get bike and pedestrian lanes on two sides of a major street by the river.  The home of Stax music, strikes by garbage workers, and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. appears to be turning a sustainable corner.

The  City of Beverly Hills has not nixed bike lanes that may connect Santa Monica to Mid-Wilshire and downtown someday.  I would have expected BH to erect a Rolls Royce dealership in bike lanes, or perhaps a salon with a French-sounding name of suspicious origins.  But no, they appear to be considering this.  Amazing.


Did you know that only 33% of bicyclists in San Francisco are women.  How can this be?  Progressive SF has got to fix this.

Women bicycling advocates numbers going up, which can only be good.

Scientific American ran an article in 2011 that posited: To boost cycling, figure out what women want.


Legislation that was intended to protect cyclists was scuttled in Virginia this week.  If you are interested in identifying the offending legislators, you might want to take a look at this article from the Washington Post.

The UK is running a provocative ad that insinuates that, if you use your mirrors, you will see a nude guy on a bicycle.  The point is made, that, if you don't look in you side mirrors, you could hit a cyclist.

Bicycle League of America is circulating a petition in support of nationwide bike safety legislation.

Alexandria street calming petition is also making the rounds.

Gear and stuff

Cycloc is an amazon product.  It's a bike storage system that mounts to the wall and looks great.  Now Cycloc has introduced another round of racks for different small space configurations.  It is an apartment dweller's friend.

Read a nice little review of the best fold-up bikes for touring.

Just Plain Weird

Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear making a film on cycling safety.  Yes, that's right, the Top Gear guy.  The one who worships at the alter of the automobile.  Go figure.  I'll wait to see if there isn't some buried message about how cycling is so dangerous no one should try it.

If I see you in the bike lanes, and we are both ignoring bikelash, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

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