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

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