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.

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