Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The American Dream Is Not Dead, It's Just on Two Wheels

A summary of the week's bike news for the every day rider who depends on two wheels for transportation and does not get cars.  But only for the not-too-serious cycler.

Bike Lanes

In D.C., the installation of the dedicated bike lanes on 15th Street contributed to a sharp uptick in bike commuters in 2013, general weight loss across the region, and mirth.  To get to the north-south 15th Street bike lanes from points east or west can be a challenge, or impossible.  DDOT is responding to suggestions that Military Road be used as an east-west bike connector by saying the Park Service may not allow it.  Sigh.  The Park Service also said they would not allow Capital Bike Share.  They don't mean it.  They are like an angry child that will be nicer after a nap.  Meantime, the Washington City Paper is showing where Strava riders are on a map.  At a glance you can see that most cyclists are taking north-south routes, perhaps because they have so few options to go east and west, or maybe because the east-west riders have decided to boycott Strava.  #putthebikelanesinalready  (I am not a Strava person because it would highlight the fact that my commute is incredibly short compared to every single other person I know.  No one likes to have their inadequacies pointed out.)

In Los Angeles, some Hispanic business owners are concerned about safety if bike lanes are installed on North Figueroa Street in the area once memorialized by Jackson Browne for its gang activity.  Whaaaaa?  Oh, they mean automobile safety, not the kind of safety that erodes with the presence of gun-toting, PCP-filled adolescents.  I see.

In Oakland, California they cannot keep up with the demand for bike lanes.  The city added 30 miles of bike lanes in the past three years and they just keep coming.  With the bike lanes come the protests that any improvement to a neighborhood will bring gentrification.  Hmmm.  Well then let's just leave the blighted homes, strewn trash and broken store windows.  Then no one can be criticized.  (Affordable housing is the issue.  It is not okay to leave neighborhoods in distress and bike-hostile.)  #gentrificationmeme

People for Bikes has chosen Indianapolis as a city where it will help with the installation of bike lanes.  Amazing, and in a town that hosts the Indianapolis 500 Motor Race.  Indianapolis' Republican mayor has shown that partisan politics is sometimes best ignored when it comes to making a city better.  #commonsenseknowsnopolitics

Lest you should feel compelled to respond to the toxic people who complain that they do not use bike lanes and should not pay for them, read this.  Ever think about who uses frontage roads?  Not 99.9 percent of drivers.  Do drivers pay for that?  Heck yeah.  Bike lanes are a far better investment.


Thousands of cyclists pedaled to the Scottish Parliament to protest the lack of cycling infrastructure and to request that 5% of Scotland's transit budget go to cycling.  The Scotsman newspaper carried a photo of one hobbyist atop a Penny Farthing circa 1885, which seemed to make light of the significance of the event.  I feel confident this is not the rider's daily commuter bike, but in a country known for eccentrics, like barking vicars, I can't be 100% sure. There appeared to be few kilts.  There were no reports of clan in-fighting.  And the use of sunblock was befitting of a country populated (mostly) by the pigment challenged.  Let's hope Parliament responds well.  To keep up with all things Scotland, cycling and health, check out @cyclingsurgeon on Twitter too.

In the Netherlands, Mecca for cyclists, it seems that traffic jams in the bike lanes are now being blamed for the rise in cyclist on cyclists accidents.  #problemsIwouldliketohave

The San Francisco Bike Coalition is posting photos of their members in a well-considered ad campaign that may influence hearts and minds.  #ridingisforbeautifulpeople

Bike Share

As the future of bike share hangs in the balance . . . or in the grip of a sofa magnate, San Diego is gleefully reporting a new bike share program.  In addition to perfect weather, beautiful people, and tons of bicycling clubs, San Diego has figured out how much better bike share docks look next to the beach than parked cars.

Alta Bike Share corporation posted a congratulatory note to Bruni Modi, the sofa magnate who purchased Bixi for $4 million two weeks ago.  It was not pandering.  No really.  It was not pandering.  At the same time a quiet but growing group of cyclists is preparing to show Bixi how important the bike share system is to the City of Montreal.  Je t'aime Bixi has launched a Facebook page, and almost 2,000 people joined the group within hours.  Bike share is a transportation system, one Bixi advocate explained, and it should not have to be profitable.  I am not sure that has been Mr. Modi's view of investing as he made his fortune.  #duhdoroadsturnprofits?no

Alta also had announced that Seattle would be getting bike share system this year.  So there will be one more reason to love Seattle beyond the good restaurants, great coffee and amazing views of the Sound.

Alta Bike Share also claimed that they had united with 8D technologies to stave off the demise of Capital Bike Share in DC.  Let's hope that this is true and not just a public relations response to Bruno's cancellation of bike share contracts worldwide.

Gabe Klein, former director of D.C.'s and Chicago's Departments of Transportation was a guest on the Kojo Nnamdi radio show last week on the topic of Bicycles, Urban Areas, and Public Infrastructure.  Klein, a former executive with Zipcar, is rumored to have grown up in a commune.  If these rumors are true, Klein might have learned very early in life about sharing.   As a child, I hated to share my crayons, but as an adult, I love to share cars and bikes.  Klein is a force of nature who matter-of-factly stated that bike share programs need not turn a profit.  They provide society with sufficient benefits that they should be supported by governments and taxpayers toward the common good.  And they are actually really cheap.  However, the first bike share in D.C. failed when corporate sponsor Clear Channel pulled out of the deal.  It was a great failure because the new stations were solar powered and costed a fraction of the Clear Channel ones.  So the economic model needs to be studied.  And I would suggest some ground rules of corporate sponsorship as we work through the issue of paying for systems.  Perhaps letting big tobacco, big oil or porn purveyors sponsor the bikes should be prohibited.  Should sponsors be permitted to attach billboards advertising sofas, or even sofas themselves to the bikes?  (You laugh now, but you could be crying later.)  The economic benefits to local businesses should be studied.  The benefits to car commuters and mass transit should be considered too.  Do bike shares help reduce traffic?  They clearly did during Washington, D.C.'s Cherry Blossom Festival.  Do bike shares reduce crowding on buses and trains?  Help store front businesses?  Increase fitness thereby reducing medical costs to all of us? #bikeshareisforsmartpeople  #studythisellieblue

Ottawa's NCC bike share sold its bike sharing network to the American company, Cyclehop, that owns Miami's bike sharing network.  Cyclehop immediately issued press releases committing to double the Canadan system's bikes and docks.  NCC had been trying to sell before Bixi crashed and burned.  Orlando, Tampa, Phoenix and Louisville also have bike share systems owned by Cyclehop. This roller coaster of Canadian and American bike share sales is leaving me dizzy.  #acompanytowatch

Event Reminder

Want to see politicians accomplishing something together?  Well, move away from the Capitol because it's still mired in a lot of partisan fighting. Instead go to the 2014 Air Force Cycling Classic on June 7 and 8 and see riders of both parties working together toward a common purpose.

June 12 is the Polka Dot Ride in Toronto.  Celebrate with Polkas, accordions, sausage and things Polish.  What's not to like?

The National Bike Challenge is upon us.  Challenge someone to ride with you.

The ABCs of family biking will be taught by the Washington Area Bicycling League May 3.
And do not forget Bike to Work Day in two weeks.  You could easily forget this if you bike to work everyday.

Bicycle parking

Utretch, Holland is about to build the largest underground bicycle parking structure in the world.  Here's a nice story and video about it from the European Cyclists Federation.  I hope we need a massive underground bike parking system in Washington one day soon.


Want a lock with hidden key hole that makes it hard to pick?  Do bike thieves pick locks?  I thought they just produced bolt cutters from inside heavy coats in five seconds flat.  Perhaps bike thieves are more refined than I thought - more Cary Grant in "To Catch A Theif" than the phlegm-covered smelly guy I saw squatting down next to a Trek in midtown Manhattan.  #bikestuffofdubiousefficacy

Would you buy a remote control that allowed you to hit the brakes on your kid's bike?  #helicoptorparentinggoneoverboard

Europeans are crowd sourcing electric cars and bicycles being built in Croatia.


It is probably not a good idea to beat someone half to death because they door you.  But a cyclist allegedly did that last week in Marin County.  I think it's bad for the reputation of cyclists when some guy in spandex and wrap-arounds dodges in and out of traffic.  But beating a motorist into a bloody pulp is not helpful to the cause either.  #donotgerberzerkifsomeidiothitsyou

It is a good thing to wait at traffic lights, and in at least one town, most cyclists do.


Is the future of preventing car-on-bike accidents in self-driving cars?  Google might be onto something, but aren't they always.’s-self-driving-car-meets-cyclists-and-out-performs-far-too-many

Seismic cultural shift and tuning out the nonsense

Exxon paints a bleak future, where people don't care enough about climate change to do anything about it.  Wow.  I cannot imagine that Exxon would lie about this.  After all they have nothing at stake.  They would not be hurt if people drastically cut back on their fuel use.   Brooowahahahahah.  Rather than brooding, some people are turning to bikes.  The better people, thanks very much.  For the not-so-wonderful people, policy changes need to be focused on cracking down since we are at the real fork in the climatic road.  Not to make a Robert Frost "Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Road" reference, but we need a single clear path, and one that directs people from the precipice to the bike lane less traveled.

Cycling is even taking off in the Motor City.  We already know that Shinola in Detroit makes rocking custom bikes, but apparently Detroit is also spawning a bike culture.  Wow.

As it turns out Americans are still smart, with an 80% high school graduation rate, the highest in decades.
These same people do not want to drive or to live in the suburbs too far from work and their kids.

Shopping malls, those American emblems of the now-defunct auto-era, are being abandoned.  Thankfully.  So much so that several stories have been written on the subject in the last week.

There have been many iterations of the American Dream.  American Gothic.

The big American house with 2.4 children, a lawn that required constant watering and treatment, and a big honking car, or two, or three.  But cycling is the new golf.

Now more than 50% of young people want to live right in cities.  They do not want a driver's license, and they like public parks more than the prospect of caring for a lawn made of sod grass.

Maybe now the American Dream is adapting.  #americansaresmarterthanyouthink

So, if I see you in the bike lanes, evolving, as we are wont to do, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

P.S.  Last, to the people who started the rumors about the demise of all bike lanes in D.C., I almost had a heart attack when I saw the posts.  It was little like War of the Worlds by Orsen Wells, where a radio show about a martian invasion had such verisimilitude that people committed suicide.  Be a little less deadpan,or be more obviously ironic for the sake of my family next time.  No more flat prose.  Think whacky and improbable. #badjokethancancausemassivemedicalevent

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bike Trains, Cops, and Fatties.

News bits:

MARC trains, those somewhat reliable commuter tubes that bring throngs of Marylanders to D.C. each day, may add bike cars on the weekends.  Perhaps next there will be bike cars on the weekdays.  Then  bikes only cars.  Then bike only trains.  Then bike only airplanes and ships.  Then world domination.  Or just a few bike cars on the weekend would be cool.

What are the safest cities for cyclists?  Is it Trenton?  Scranton?  Tampa?  Find out here.  Could it be that Seattle ranks?  Cycling, coffee and overcast skies go well together.  And what are the best cities for getting to work on your bike?  Well they are not in the deep south.  Pause.  Consider.  Move on without comment.

In the U.K. a group of unemployed people will be receiving bikes, helmets and more to help them find jobs.  If it works, it just may spawn more programs worldwide.

Ah, Medellin, Colombia.  When I think of it, I don't think of bikes so much as cocaine trafficking cartels.  But Medellin banned bikes and the results were sobering.  Ba-dum-dum.

Want to vote for better cycling with your wallet?  Here is a list of bike friendly businesses from the Bike League.  Where is Ford Motors?  Or for that matter, any other really huge company except Mutual of Omaha?  But I do see NPR with a gold rating, which makes me like them all over again, even though they passed on Radio Lab and This American Life.  Which was not smart.

How did we become so auto-centric in America, and what can planners do about it?  Streetfilms has a . . . well film called "Rethinking the Automobile," which thoughtfully sets out the history of motor-vehicle hegemony and how the revolution can be sparked.

Some people still think that bike lanes cause congestion.  Or maybe they say that knowing it is not true.  Bike lanes do not cause congestion, however, and getting that message out to the public may be necessary to getting more lanes

Want to become an instant celebrity?  Well, not instant, but decades in the making through riding even before everyone figured out it was cool?  Meet Ricky, one of our own, who is going to have far more than 15 minutes of fame. He is going to have 18 minutes at least.


Kidical mass is teaching kids how to ride bikes at Capital Hill Montessori School at Logan on May 3, 2014, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Are you a modern parent, running from one thing to another with barely a second to spare?  Do you often remember that moment when your mom or dad let go of the bike and you soared?  Then go and take Junior.   Nice people from the Washington Area Bicycling Association will be there to teach about family rides.  Which, I would note, beat the heck out of family car fights.


National Bike to School day is May 7, 2014.  Need I say more?  Unless there is a biblical-sized hurricane, I think you know what you have to do here.

On May 27, 2014, Velo City will hold a program in Adelaide, Australia on how to move from car centric to bike centric cities.

"Rising from the Ashes," a film about Rwanda's bicycling team is out on Netflix at last.  If you hate annoying drivers, cell phone talkers, or lint, get a little perspective by watching this film on cyclists who came from a country that experienced genocide.

Holy home of Robert E. Lee and Jerry Falwell.  The Virginia Department of Transportation is thinking about urbanism.  Could this mean more bike lanes in the Commonwealth?  More than likely.

VDOT's shift is probably well timed since people are abandoning the suburbs for cities in droves.  Last I checked, Virginia was kind of a big suburb.

In Los Angeles?  Check out BikinginLA's list of cycling activities.  Yes, normal people live there, not just reality show stars and gang members.  Though sometimes the latter two seem to overlap in the moral ether-sphere.

Bike share:

Boris Bikes, London's bike share program, is driving rents up.  It seems that the presence of the gleaming docks is just that desirable.  It is difficult for me to understand how London rents can be any higher in the first place, but this seems proof positive that bike share and cycling generally can save the economy.  I request that Economist Paul Krugman get on this at once and issue a report.  And don't foist this off on Greenspan or Bernanke.  They both remind me of Chauncey the Gardener.

Another little jewel of a news bit:  Indianapolis now has bike share.

Indianapolis will find out what NYC already knows, that most people using bike shares are guys in their 30s.  But fastcompany reports that the gap is narrowing.  Which begs the question about why mostly guys in their 30s ride here, but in the Netherlands, everyone does.  Which prompts the painfully obvious response: "It's about the bike lanes, Stupid."  In a time when a chef can cook an egg on pavement to demonstrate the effects of global warming, it seems like governments should be pushing cycling.  Aggressively.  Like our survival depends on it.


Looking for a fold-up for your small space?  Read this review of the Dahon Formula.

First there were e-bikes, and then fat bikes, and now e-fat bikes.  Look, at some point you are almost in a car.  Okay?  Except that on an e-fat bike, you will always be better than the guy in the SUV.


Generally I am against bus drivers calling people names.  But bus drivers calling cyclists names, even British bus drivers spewing goofy names, should be a firing offense.  Write your legislators now to request legislation banning insults to cyclists from bus drivers.  Congress will get to it right after they get to everything else they have not done in the past five years.”-following-close

If drivers are too dumb to figure out a safe passing distance from a cyclist, should that cyclist attach a stick to his body that would whack any too-close car?  I think the answer is clearly, "YES!"  So does a guy in Houston who posted his misadventures on Youtube.

Random tidbits:

I have noticed a lot of cops on bikes recently.  Considering recent revelations that over 50% of police officers retire on disability, it seems like cops on bikes is a very good idea.  Bikes save money for police departments, keep officers fit, who might otherwise be too sedentary, and you can park at least a dozen of them in front of the donut shop.  Chicago is sending bike cops into bad neighborhoods and the results have been positive.  Crime is down, people in the community like them, and when they try to nap on the job, they get caught.

Just the other day I wondered what kind of bike I should ride to accommodate my kimono.  Or was it my trench coat and heels? I forget.

So if I see you in the bike lane, even if you are a cop, or someone on a fat bike, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Is Bike Share at the Mercy of a Guy Named Bruno?

Terrifying news:

The world of bicycle sharing has been thrown into uncertainty over the past year.  I hate uncertainly, except in great novels.

Barclays pulled out of their sponsorship of London's bike share, and Citibike of New York City reported financial problems after Hurricane Sandy, a polar vortex and possible financial mismanagement.   Bixi is the company that owns Montreal's bike share and it is the sole supplier of docks and bikes for Capital Bikeshare.  Bixi also supplies equipment to 15 other cities, including New York.  This week, Bixi headed into a bankruptcy court in Montreal.  The impact was immediate.  Capital Bikeshare put the breaks on new stations, and everyone with a key fob held their breath.

For the past two years, Bixi has been in trouble financially.  There were two offers to purchase Bixi: one from REQX company of New York, the spawn of Equinox and a real estate outfit, and one from a guy who sells sofas and is named Bruno.  REQX must have violated some Canadian rule regarding the escrowing of deposits, or the fix was in, because even though REQX offered many more millions of dollars in cash, the bankruptcy judge ruled in favor of Sofa Guy Bruno.

Frankly, I am less than sanguine, bike share being among my favorite things in life.  The problem is that I lack confidence in Bruno, which may come from my comparison of Bruno to others.  When I think of sofa magnates with facial hair, I tend to think of Bob of Bob's Discount Furniture.  Bob's late night ads on local Washington television stations are a dazzling combination of annoying and tasteless.  Both Bob and Bruno can probably holiday in Capri because everyone needs a sofa, except perhaps zen monks.  However, I do not know if either man can ensure the success of bike sharing in North America, and this leaves me filled with a sense of alarm.

It was even more unsettling to find out that Sofa Guy Bruno looks like a less effusive version of Bob. They both wear knit hats.  They have similar facial hair (see the Van Dykes).  They both sell sofas to the average man.

So who is Bruno if he is not upholstered furniture?  Is he a bike advocate, or a cut-throat businessman who will oversee the demise of one of the single greatest urban assets of the new millennium?  According to his bio, he has climbed the highest summits on seven continents.  It might even be true, or he might have been dragged up Everest by a half dozen barefoot Sherpa guides who regularly scale that peak in their underpants with their eyes closed.  Bruno apparently retraced the path of the Tour de France with a guide.  My guess is that he was shadowed by a sag wagon equipped like an Onassis yacht.  But perhaps I am just a little nervous about Bruno.

In the six days since the Bruno purchase, there has been a delay in the opening of new bike share docks in the Maryland suburbs.  But what makes me wake up screaming in the middle of the night in a daze is the news that all bike share contracts might be cancelled except two.  Guadalajara and Dubai are to be the survivors of this carnage?  Guadalajara (can you say narco-traffic-dooring-decapitation fatigue?), and Dubai (a petrodollar construct with 130 degree summer heat?).  It begs the question raised by the head of the Washington Area Bicycling Association.  Why have all these bike shares come to rely on one supplier that could easily be purchased by a wealthily diabolical madman?  Is it time to diversify for the sake of mankind?  Is this not a public health concern?  As a friend asked, where are Bill and Melinda Gates in this affair?  They are concerned with world heath, and bike share is now being prescribed by doctors in Boston.
Stay tuned.  The bike share saga will be updated.

We tend to think one bad thing portends another.  No sooner do we hear news that makes us fear the demise of bike share, then we hear that people attending the cargo bike festival in The Netherlands were unable to reach a tulip display on their bicycles because they were blocked by car traffic.  If this had occurred in Midtown Manhattan, I would be nonplussed, but in Holland?  The bike Mecca?  I hope this does not mean that we are Armageddon Adjacent.  I was prepared to hum a happy song to forget this anecdote when I saw this website for cycling singles, and looked at the photos of the alleged participants.  Suddenly I feared we had entered a phase of devolution from which we might never recover.  (Why are they all wearing sunglasses or photographed through gauze?)  Or we might be on the verge of the apocalypse, complete with hellfire and whatnot.

But enough about that.

Delightful News:

When you are on the cusp of full cycling demise panic, it is important to focus on the progress.

Curb protected cycle tracks now appearing on M Street, NW, and First Street, NE.

Contraflow bike lanes are coming to I and G Streets, NE

The DC area is not on track to respond to climate change, so any added cycling infrastructure can only be positive.

Did you know that a mere 1% of cyclists feel confident in traffic?  These dedicated bike lanes will help you feel safer and more likely to ride.

This past weekend there was an International Cargo Bike Festival in The Netherlands.  (Sigh. Yes the one where the bikes got blocked en route to tulips by cars.)
There were many take-aways for the cycling advocate and the urban planner.  First, DHL is now using cargo bikes for deliveries.  The cargo bike is deemed more reliable than motorized vehicles that get stuck in traffic.  I guess if people delivering goods switched to cargo bikes, then bikes would be blocking the bike lanes during deliveries instead of box trucks.  The creation of a European Cycling Logistics Federation was announced at the conference.  And there was a fabulous presentation on how architects can design to promote cycling which you can watch.  This presentation should be mandatory viewing for all the people in D.C. considering the parking minimums requirements for new buildings.

In Motion is a program in Washington State that tries to nudge people away from their cars to alternative forms of transit, including bicycling.  Let's hope it if effective.

Frontier Airlines will give you a bike share pass if you take one of their flights to Denver.

San Francisco is suggesting the Bike to Work week concept be expanded to include a Bike to Worship week.  Between Passover, Easter and whatever the Zoroastrians having going, this seems like the right week for that.


April is distracted driver awareness month.  Are you kidding?  How about distracted driver public shaming month instead?

A motoring magazine in the U.K. has written an excellent article educating drivers on why bikes use the middle of the lane and how to avoid hurting cyclists.  This may seem to state the obvious, but apparently a lot of drivers need to learn.

California stuff:

Pasadena used to a be a hot smog pit.  Now you can learn bike safety basics in Pasadena from Cal Tech cycle lab.’s-traffic-basics-class-2

Ride, Roll and Stroll in Pasadena afterwards on May 17, 2014.  The streets will be closed.

Or ride from USC to the beach on April 19, 2014, or do both.

New bike lanes may go into Washington Heights in NYC.

National Association of City Transportation Officials tweets that bike ridership has quadrupled in NYC since the year 2000, and the risk of serious injury from cycling has decreased by 72%


The Women's Bike League is looking for a bike manager.  Maybe you are the right person.  Do it now, before you have a big mortgage.


Tokyo Nice is a sweet little blog about the understandings between cyclists and pedestrians in the Japanese Capital.

Random weird event for the week:

So a cyclist gets pitched into the back of a moving truck in a freak accident.  The driver never notices, and the injured cyclist has to call emergency services from his phone in the back of the truck.

Just a thought:

You are not stuck in traffic, you are traffic.  Don't be traffic.  It's like being pollution, or disease, or pestilence.

So, if I see you in the bike lanes, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Curbs Are Coming! A summary of this week's cycling news for the bike commuter of planet Earth.

Ouch.  That Jab Hurt:

What happens when you replace the word car with bike?  Irony, pure and sour.  What happens when you expand that initial challenge into a general discussion of the absurdity of car ownership?  It becomes a stupid-ometer.  You can separate the smart from the challenged.  Enter #ReplaceBikeWithCar and see the merriment that ensued on Twitter.

I love paying $8,000 per year for my car and $3000 per year for parking when I could be paying $200 per year for my bike.  The only thing better than looking for parking and paying for parking is owning a diminishing asset.  #ReplaceCarWithBike

I love driving because it makes so much sense in light of the fact that one in eight deaths globally caused by air pollution.  #ReplaceBikeWithCar

Bikes and Money:

New businesses in Sydney Australia are more interested in bike accessibility than parking.  Last week I reported that U.S. businesses are starting to do the same.   Could this signal the demise of out-of-control control corporate greed?  The death of built-in obsolescence?  A sudden valuing of the work force?  Ah, probably not.  But you'll have more bike-friendly work options.

Custom bikes.  Sure they cost a little more, but it's like coffee, beer, or food.  You start out with the stock stuff and move up over time.  It's like when you discovered Sam Adams, and you thought nothing could be better, until you discovered the micro-brewery around the corner.  Remember how you raced around on that low-end Trek feeling like a kid again?  Soon you started having informed conversations about the how the  hand-sanding of Vanilla bikes impact their performance.  You become a monster who will only take the Trek to locations where you think there is a 30-50% chance it will be stolen.
Vanilla bikes

Evidence of Expanding Bike Culture:

Recently six more cities joined the Kickstarter campaign to fund bike lanes.  So what will you get for investment?  No T-shirt or goodie bag.  Just a longer life, a better city, and the feeling of satisfaction that comes from knowing that your property values will also go up.

Detroit cycling culture.  Pause.  Did you know that in The Motor City bike culture is growing?  Don't tell big auto.  They may try to pull a fast one, like dropping interest rates on car loans and taking no money down on huge trucks and sedans.  Oh, I forgot.  They already did that and it didn't work.

In Southern California, where ads for Cal Worthington once cluttered the airwaves, Metrolink added bike cars so people headed to the CicLAvia festival could bring their bikes.  This continues to amaze me.

Bike Share:

If you are a bike sharer, and you have arrived to the bike sharing station only to be greeted by zero bikes, you need to consider getting the Spotcycle app.  It can help you avoid a pre-work tug-of-war with your neighbor in 10B.

Federal employees get benefits for taking mass transit and some money for bike purchases and repairs.  Now bike commuter benefits are expanding to include bike share.

New data show people like Citi bike when it's above freezing.  This is good since last week Citi bike was reported to be in financial distress.

Yes, doctors in Boston are really prescribing bike share to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity and stress.  Do you really need a prescription?  Will Medicare cover it?  Blue Cross?  They would if I were Empress of the Earth.


The long-awaited bike curbs are going in on M Street in Washington, D.C.  I will not add snark here.  Instead I will let you pause to consider the pure joy of this.

Follow up:  The bike-ometer installed in Arlington showed that cyclists matter.  Was this every actually a question?


Bike to Work Day is May 16, 2014.  Want to arrive looking fabulous?  Who doesn't?  Here are a few tips.

Some think we should have a Bike Anywhere But Work Day.  Like to the grocery store, the coffee shop, the hardware store.  Let's start a movement.  #biketothenailsalonday  #biketoconfessionday  #biketothecitydumpday

Just starting out?  City cycling class are available at WABA.  They will teach you the rules of the road and civility, both of which are important.  And bicycle maintenance classes begin at Bike Rack DC on April 19 at 8:30 a.m.

The Cycling Classic for wounded warriors is June 5-8, 2014.  We have been at war now for a decade and lots of people are coming home with permanent injuries and needs.  If you can make this, do.  If not, sponsor someone.  You'll feel decent.

More Good News:

Todd Roll (real name? #skeptical), author of "Pedal Portland," a cyclist's guide to that bike friendly city, is expanding his two-wheeled empire.  He has a book tour and new bike shop in Hawaii.  #jealous

Looking for bike friendly hotels in the U.K. this summer?  Here are some to consider.  #whatisbetterthanCornwallinJuly?

London's first segregated cycle junction is to be installed in Camden.  At last.  This is a mad intersection that has been the location of deaths and horrible accidents.  Bravo London, and even Mayor Boris, hair notwithstanding.

A Little Bit of Bad News:

Despite some progress, London is still hostile to pedestrians, according to a writer who lost over 28 pounds by walking and following his mother's advice not to snack.  "What Margaret Thatcher called The Great Car Economy is dying all over the world."  RIP The Great Car Economy.  I hope that you are not resurrected.
It is especially sad to think that U.K. coroners have seen so many dead cyclists that they are calling for improved cycling infrastructure.  Coroners have been upset.  These guys stand over dead bodies all day and render medical analysis.  If they are upset, there is a problem.

Toronto has fallen behind its projected cycling infrastructure needs.  In the 10 years since a major study was conducted on the subject, Toronto has installed just 25% of the lanes it needed.  Hey, isn't that the place with the crack-smoking mayor problem?  Coincidence?

There are hidden costs of aggressive driving: the amount of money you spend on gas, an increase in your insurance rates for being a dreadful ass, and possible eternal damnation for hurting people.  Even if you take your revenge for a bad life out on the road, you will still wake up the next morning with the same spouse, same terrible job, and same inability to manage your anger other than being a menace on the road.  #wisdom

In Rock Creek Park, there appears to be utter stagnation on the repairing of trails.  Wait a second there! Stagnation in Washington!  That cannot be true.  #shocker


Do lights that shine in the shape of little bicycles somehow improve cyclists' safety?  I am not yet persuaded, even if they look astonishingly cool.  #crapIdonotneedbutstillfeelcompelledtobuy

Bicycle magazine's guide to bikes and gear is out.  Wait, isn't every issue of this magazine a bike and gear guide?

There is a Kickstarter campaign for a documentary on the cargo bike movement.  I would love to be awash in cash and able to fund this project entirely.

I predict that electric bikes will only grow in popularity over the next ten years.  In Europe they are outselling cars.  Here's another electric bike review, this time in the U.K.  (Got two kids with musical instruments and backpacks, and 40 lbs of groceries?  Maybe an electric is for you.  Maybe, if you are filthy, stinking rich, you can throw half of your money at the cargo bike documentary and half at an electric bike company.)

Just a thought:

If cycling numbers have to go up, everyone must join the cycling movement.  As the LA County Bike Coalition tweeted, "If everyone in your group looks like you, it's not a coalition, it's a club."

So, if I see you in the bike lanes, let's be outrageously smug.
Elisa P.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Most Americans Now Support Bike Lanes

In Washington and elsewhere, there is cause for optimism.  No, Congress did not collectively decide to become functional.  That will happen when pigs ride bicycles.  Maybe.  The good news is that the American public, which is a diverse group, now agrees that the environment and bicycling are important.  Perhaps someone snuck some Vulcan Mind Control syrup into the water supply.

Here's some of the good news:

In Arlington, at the intersection of Lee Highway and Lynn Street, local planning officials have installed a bike-o'meter to determine the number of cyclists on the road.  Presumably this would help officials in Arlington County decide where to put more bike lanes.  So my advice is, everyone who can influence these statistics should ride through the mike o'meter numerous times in succession.  Is that cheating?  I think not.

Much of Northeast D.C. is a cycling hazard.  You have to dodge cars with Maryland tags, Greyhound buses, and miles of infrastructure work.  Now Florida Avenue, NE may get more and wider sidewalks and bike lanes.  Between that and the nearby Union Market,  Northeast may the new Columbia Heights, only cooler.

I would like to see the many old gas stations in Northeast be converted into bike repair shops, which is what happened in Copenhagen after bike lanes were placed throughout the city.

Since air pollution in Europe is now affecting even healthy people, the expansion of bike lanes in D.C. cannot come soon enough.

The new approach to car marketing may signal a shift in cultural norms.  Car manufacturers want you to buy their plug-ins regardless of your politics, and their marketing messages will follow.  I would love to see an ad featuring an oversized cowboy flinging his rodeo rope into the back of a plug in vehicle as red dirt and tumbleweed swirl behind him.  Many Americans would suddenly utter, "I did not even know what I wanted until you told me."

Snark aside, most people are worried about climate change, according to recent polls.  This is true even when they have to spend more on greener transportation choices.  Could these same people be willing to have one pair of jeans made in North Carolina as opposed to 20 pairs of jeans made in a sweat-shop-tocracy?  I will believe it when I see fewer people swarming over the racks at Old Navy.

I don't know if you can get 83% of Americans to agree on the fact that the sun rises in the morning, but 83% of people polled support federal money for bicycling infrastructure.  I would have to see how this study was conducted.  Did they only poll people with bike share key fobs?  Did they poll only those riding back and forth repeatedly in front of a bike o'meter?  Did they conduct this study in Portland, Oregon?  If this was truly a random poll, I would be thrilled.

Now doctors are prescribing bike share.  Legitimate doctors.  Not the ones you see on afternoon television when you have the flu and are too woozy to follow the plot lines of movies.  And these doctors should get kick-backs from bike share companies instead of manufacturers of statins and E.D. drugs.  I would prefer to see wall-to-wall bike ads during the evening news than ads featuring aging guys trying to kiss non-threatening women who always appear about a decade younger.  But I am not yet queen of planet earth.

Dublin, Ireland is expanding its bike share program.  Not to stereotype, but I would be careful there riding after pub hours.  And maybe riding before pub hours too.

A feasibility study is being conducted on whether St. Louis can have a successful bike share program.  Yup.  St. Louis.

We have only just gotten over the near demise of Montreal's Bixi Bike Share.  Bixi was resurrected last week after a hefty bailout.  Now comes news that Citibike is having financial difficulties.  If only to spite Dorothy Rabinowitz, this cannot happen.  I would suggest that Citibike turn to the usual doddering, diabolical billionaires for funds, but something tells me Sheldon Adelson and the Brothers Koch won't support this.  By contrast, D.C.'s Cap Bike Share is growing like mad.  Hmm.  If you are a pro-cycling magnate, please help Citibike.  Failure is not an option.

It's time:

If you are going to ride your own bike, and you should if you wanted to be admitted to paradise in the afterlife, you should learn the basics of bike maintenance, including what not to do.  Please feel free to contact me for what not to wear.  I have a list.

Since more people will be biking, it is probably time for the police to improve their response to bike thefts.  In the U.K. bike thefts were slashed by 30 % after plainclothes cops got involved.  Here it would help if the Metro Transit Police would just watch their own security tapes from time to time.  I would point out that the suspect is usually the guy with bolt cutters who is looking back and forth nervously.

In Houston police are targeting drivers who endanger cyclists in undercover stings.  I like this.  Could we also select the punishment?  Pillories?  The Rack?  The Iron Maiden?  Or perhaps a biblical-style punishment.  The offending drivers could be sentenced to wander in a cultural desert for years.  Oh, wait.  Don't most of them live in the suburbs where they are already serving such a sentence?  Ba-bum-bum.

Hopefully the police know that more than one in four vehicle accidents are caused by someone talking on a cell phone.  And of those accident causers, not one was having a worthwhile conversation.  If by talking on your cell phone you will find the cure for cancer, then by all means drive a little distracted.  If not, hang up and watch out for bikes.

A bunch of random notes:

A 100 mile bike trail may be built to connect all three 9-11 sites.

Oregon has plans to build bike pods, little rest areas for cycling tourists.  There will be 19 of them across the state, some of which are suitable for camping, which I do not do, unless there are real toilets  nearby and a spa.

On Point broadcast a lovely piece about an obituary writer who biked across the U.S. and will be remembered for doing so.

Want to see a visual history of the bicycle?

Or buy a bike made from wood and recycled soda cans?

Does your bike have everything?  Disk brakes?  A great Shimano drivetrain?  Why not add a planter to your bike?

So, if I see you in the bike lanes, even if you are frivolous enough to have a little planter attached to your frame, let's be smug.
Elisa P.