Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Way We Were. Fat.

While we still have snow on the ground and in the bike lanes, Spring is right around the corner, temporally speaking.

Events, News, and Jobs in Washington:

Since you will be riding your bike more often, you might want to figure out how to keep it going.  Learn how to maintain your bike at The Bike Rack on Q Street this Saturday, March 8 at 9:30 a.m.  The Cherry Blossoms will bloom in less than six weeks and you don't want to be the guy with the clanking chain who scares all the tourists.

Back in 2001, the New York Times covered the emergence of female bike mechanics.  Women, you don't have to be an actual mechanic, but you can at least be at least bike competent by attending a local clinic.

The Washington Area Bicycling Association (WABA) is hiring trail rangers.  You have to be able to ride 30 miles at a time (no problem), and not have a mortgage (problem).  But if you are carefree, why not apply?

Is the Federal Transit Administration going to cough up the dollars to finish the Capital Crescent Trail?  Some optimists think so.

Bike Heros:

The National Bike Summit kicked off and ended in a snow storm in Washington, D.C.  
The winner of the bike advocacy award was Laura Solis, from We Bike NYC.  This merits a woo-hoo.  Solis is from the Bronx.  When I think of bike friendly communities, I do not think of the Bronx along with Copenhagen.  Yes, I know the Bronx was named for a Swede, Bronck, but you take my point.
Solis and 10 women from We bike NYC rode from New York to Washington in frigid temperatures to attend the summit.  The group also included women from Black Women Bike in DC.  This undertaking was what is known as "too ambitious."  Let's face it, most of Jersey is bike hostile, and yet they peddled on.  It was a moment in history.  Like a walk on the moon.  Or a hoist over a trash pile by the side of the interstate.  They certainly deserve praise and support.

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx also regaled the crowd with stories of being hit by a car while jogging, and promises of more funds to pay for bike lanes.  That makes him one of my heroes on two scores.

There were other winners too, all of whom are memorialized forever, or until the next major data destruction phase, in Bicycling Magazine.’s-choice-advocacy-award/?cm_mmc=Twitter-_-Bicycling-_-Content-Blog-_-peopleschoice

Bikes and Health:

Is fat fleeing? Fortunately, factors favor it is.  (Sorry.  I have tried the diet, but sometimes the alliteration comes back.)

What is making people slim down?  Allow me to use statistics to my own ends.
Estimated number of cities around the world that had bike-share programs in 2006: 25.  These were chunky times.
That have them today: 670.  These are slimming times.
Factor by which the number of U.S. Army soldiers dismissed for being overweight has increased in the past five years: 11.
Coincidence?  I think not.

Want to help your community lose the fat?  People for Bikes is offering tips on how to bring more bike lanes to your home town.


Need tips on how to be a nicer rider, including how to wave at other cyclists?  You have to be careful here because too much effusiveness in a cyclist can sometimes veer to creepy.

Lessons from Tokyo:

In Tokyo, it seems everyone rides a bike to do their errands, but they do not ride as commuters.  I like the idea of mamachari bikes that can hold two kids and bags of groceries.  Mamachuris are affordable and are marketed to people, not cyclists as bike blogger Byron Kidd notes.  Lest we should feel pea green with envy, know that employers in Japan forbid their employees to cycle to work.

Lessons from The Netherlands:

Is it possible that more people would bike if they could dress for their destination and not to ride a bike?  Well that's great if you live close and ride to work downhill, but sometimes people need a shower, not a clown suit.  The more cyclists there are, the more facilities for cleaning up at the office there will be.


Momentum Magazine has published a review of cargo bikes in case you want to replicate the Japanese experience at about five times the cost.  I would pay for a cargo bike over a small car any day for my city life.

Or you could make your own if you are handy with a blow torch and have a clear scientific understanding of metal fatigue.  I am intensely jealous of people who can create things like hand-made cargo bikes.  After the world turns to chaos and the fabric of society tears, they will lead us to the better times.

Road cc reports this month from the Madison trade show on bike boxes, ice bikes, and trailers.  I am not sure an ice bike could have helped the fine women of We Bike NYC navigate the interstates and debris berms they encountered in Jersey, no offense to Jersey.

And the Taipai bike show was this week too, with lots of new gear and bikes that were reviewed by Cyclingnews.

In the market for a modern rickshaw that looks a bit like a gazebo-run-amok?  This ride feeds into your deep, untapped desire to live in a fantasy world with white ponies, pink fountains and little ovens that bake cakes with dangerously hot lightbulbs.

Bike Share:

While I love bike share programs and seek them out in every city where I roam, there are some bikes I find a little over the top.  Dresden Germany's Conference bikes, that can hold an entire party of inebriates or sightseers, strike me as a bit of misguided Teutonic fun.

In what can be called the ironic note of the week, Portland, the one in Oregon, does not think it needs a bike share.  This is either odd or logical.  Could there be so many people who own bikes in the Copenhagen-does-weird capital of the United States that there is no market to support a bike share program?  The issue is not settled.

Bike Safety:

Remember the guy in Scotland who hit a cyclist because he was driving while eating cereal?  He was in a Maserati, not that banged up clunker you may have thought as you imagined him driving to his second/third low paying job while he struggled to feed himself.  There is now a video on the web showing him chowing down.

Sweden has reduced the number of road deaths through good planning, a zero tolerance policy, oh, and, lots of separate bike lanes.  Per capita, Sweden has less than half of the number of road deaths per capita than the United States.  Those Swedes, with their herring and clogs, and their pesky understanding of the public health implications of bad traffic design!

You gotta be kiddin' me:

Yes, the cyclists behind Biking in LA actually wrote an open letter to the Beverly Hills City Council requesting support for bike lanes.  I know you are picturing the hearing now.  The chairwoman: a coifed "blond" who looks like one of the Gabor sisters after yet another face lift, applying her lipstick with a bored expression.  The bike lane asker: a bearded, sensible  guy in cargo pants and a beige sweater, who reads from prepared notes on 3X5 cards.  Hopefully the one or two readers of this blog are cheering the guy in the beige sweater.

So if I see you in the bike lanes, even if you are perky bike ranger, or a guy headed to costume party dressed like Big Foot, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

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