Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Save the Parking Spots!

Advocacy and Policy

Just a little over 16,000 people registered for Bike to Work Day, which is not exactly an army.  Torrential rains in the morning made it Float to Work Day.  An hour after the morning commute, the sun burst through.  We were left with Bike Home If You Can Find a Bike Share Bike Without Getting Into a Fist Fight Day.  I was one of the few, the proud, the registered.  I also ended up with the last bike in the Capital Bikeshare dock that night.  It was missing a pedal and had a broken seat.  The fork was iffy at best, but I managed to get to the preschool before a full meltdown erupted.  In my mind, Friday, May 23, 2014 is Bike to Work Day.  Please join me in a do-over.

Last week Bicycling Magazine offered advice to new riders on how to deal with bad drivers.  This was a public service.  I have a few tips of my own.  First recognize nobody teaches drivers how to react to bikes.  Second, always presume drivers are angry and don't engage them if they antagonize you.  Third, wear a helmetcam and document any nonsense.  It can help you later as one cyclist found out after he was attacked by an irrationally raging driver in Washington, DC.

Ambush: A Washington Post blog this week noted that biking is increasing, but not fast enough to really change our national carbon footprint.  From the headline I thought this would be a story about the love of cycling we feel in childhood, and how we lose that through the depersonalizing experience of driving.  Instead I got a double whammy - a helmet lecture in print, and a statement about how so few people commute by bike that they are a statistical insignificance.  Ouch.  I immediately imagined a dystopia, an anti-bike society where no one does anything anymore except sit miserably in traffic.  Filmmaker?  Writer?  Make the movie.  Scare people into changing the way they live and drive.  If political ads are any indication, Americans respond to fear.  At least in this situation you have the facts in your favor.

 GGW posted that the Environmental Protection Agency is closing the bike storage/shower room in one of its buildings.  How could an agency devoted to the environment reconcile its mission with such actions?  As it turns out, the building has to be renovated, or something along those lines, so the EPA is not able to keep the room.  And it is not the main EPA building, but an off-site.  You can therefore relax.  This was not a dark omen of terrible anti-bike actions to come.

Here is a short Tweet about Belfasts's yet-to-be-fully-used bicycle parking garage.  Perhaps they could ship it to the EPA for use.

The European Cycling Federation Manifesto published last week lists 10 areas for action by European institutions.  Martin Luther did not nail them up to the wall like the Ninety-Five Theses, but they are worthy of signaling the Motorized Transit Reformation.  They include devoting EU funds for cycle projects, supporting a network of long-distance bike routes, creating safer motorized transit, and treating cycling equally with other modes of transit.  I see a parallel.  We have strayed from our mission as Americans.  We have been corrupted into driving and depending on cars against our national interests, our personal finances and health, and the environment.  Now, cars and the corruption they represent are like the selling of Indulgences by the Church.  Hence the ECF manifesto.  Over the top analysis?  I think not.\

More cyclists are calling AAA.  Yes, that AAA, the one I sometimes lambaste for the bike-hostile statements of its director.  Some regional AAA clubs are now providing bike help as a service, including fixing bikes and giving rides to cyclists.  If I can confirm that are doing it in Washington, it might be worth it.  Is this a positive omen?  Is AAA just responding to trends to keep itself alive?

Fast company published a number of photos showing it is possible to carry almost anything on a bike - and I mean almost anything.  As a city-dweller, I am reminded that I can get that 12-pack of toilet paper on the bike.  What woman could resist a man barely visible beneath his cargo of roses?


Arlington is building its first cycle track along Eads Street.  Isn't that near the sewage treatment plant?  The one you can smell from Potomac Yards?  An interesting choice of locations for a bike lane.  Conspiracy theorists, get to work.

Actual sewage, and not just its smell, closed the Capital Crescent Trail again last Sunday.  Oh sh_t!

In Phoenix, the oft repeated concern about the loss of parking spaces is holding up the installation of more bike lanes.  Next the reason will be interference with tumble weeds or Tex-Mex.  Eventually the lanes will go into this arid city.  I am reminded that we have to suffer the same debate in every municipality across the country before local governments accept the reality.  Perhaps I should invent a wind-up doll with a grimace that repeatedly cries "What about the parking?" People could buy it and place it on plastic folding chairs at city council meetings all over the country.  Then the parking preservationists could go have pizza somewhere instead of attending in person to complain about the loss of that national treasure, the parking space.  Yawn.

Bike Share

This piece highlights how some bike sharing programs provide helmets and others don't.  The writer falls squarely on the helmet-wearing side of the debate.  A blog on Vox counters that forcing people to wear bike helmets does not make sense.  I doubt any serious thinker would think helmets should be worn everywhere or nowhere.  Cycling along a busy street without bike lanes might suggest helmet wearing.  Cycling in dedicated cycle tracks may not.



A new electric bike also folds down so you can carry it on the subway.  This could help a lot of people who have to use multiple transit modes.

Another e-bike on the market is being billed as "low effort" to appeal to those who might use their bikes for work, like delivery men or elves.

This one is making the rounds again.  A green light that projects an image of a bike onto the pavement in front of a cyclist.  The image is like that of the little man on the pedestrian walk light.  Just larger, green, and featuring a bike.  I remain skeptical that anyone will benefit from this.  And its just weird enough that it could cause drivers to become distracted.


Norwegians have made a road safety video that likens an aggressive driver to a nut who cuts the line in the grocery store and then blows a bullhorn.  Let's face it, North Sea oil and whaling drive Norway's economy, but I am happy to take their pro cycling propaganda.  At least they can bike along the fjords while they enjoy a fossil-fuel derived high standard of living.

Over Twitter, the CHP boasts about its bike officers who are trained, ready to go, and role models.  I am trying to picture a Surly along the I-5 right now.  That just screams role model.

How to fix a bike puncture, quick and dirty?  My favorite Scot, @cyclingsurgeon, posted this Guardian story about the basics.

Random weird things

ABC News reports that a Spanish cyclist thought he had won a cycling race in Pasadena.  Overjoyed, he began his victory lap unaware he had not actually finished.  Oops.  He did eventually finish, in 57th place.  And he looked so happy, even weepy before someone translated, "Dude, you really screwed that up," for him.

In memoriam

A final good-bye for Billie Flemming, who passed away shortly after her 100th birthday was celebrated in Great Britain.  Flemming rode across England to raise awareness about cycling between the First and Second World Wars - without a helmet or injury.

So if I see you in the bike lanes, and you are not sewage, let's be smug.

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