Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Never Thought I Would Write: "Alta - Boo, Paulson - Whoo-hoo."

Bicycle parking at Amsterdam Central Station.
Bike Share:

Dubious distinction of the week:
Well the people at Alta, manufacturer of many bike share bikes, finally served the cease and desist notice on my friends Emily and Crispin - who devised a genius bike seat for kids that works on Alta's 45 pound bike share bikes.   Alta needs to seriously consider letting this kids' seat be used, or buying it outright, or licensing it and modifying it to include pedals.  This clever little seat uses gravity and a child's weight to hold it in place.  See the video in the link below.  If you aren't made of helium, it will hold you.  A 300 pound guy tried it out.  He bounced on one it at a recent festival.  It did not budge or damage the bike.  #300poundguytest  And to those of you who wonder what happens when you hit a bump and gravity is not holding the child down, I hit that bump and nothing happened.
It is easily placed on the bike and removed, and kids simply love it.  Perhaps Alta (or their now much-reviled insurance company) has forgotten that many parents want to use share bikes.  Share bikes, particularly Alta's, the orthopedic shoes of of bikes, do not hold a rear-mount child seat. Adding a kid trailer in the city only places children below the line of sight of drivers.   #badidea  And it would violate their silly terms of service contract.  Their C&D notice reveals that no one at Alta has tested the seat.  Or maybe some ganja-smoking intern without any knowledge of physics tested it, but no mature, voting adult has.  To the rescue of Emily and Crispin have come the Libertarians.  Yup, those guys.  Normally annoying for their short-term view of streetcars, their facial hair from a bygone Nordic era, their expensive glass building along Massachusetts Avenue and their history with The Brothers K.  Hate to be on their side in any issue, but they have the moral high ground here.  Listen underwriters, no bike, add-on or thingy in this world is idiot proof.  Not even Crispin's invention.  But it comes as close to being idiot proof as anything I have seen in a long time.  That fact should be crunched along with any numbers. #nohatchtagfrommeiseverserious

Meanwhile, Paris is introducing a kids' bike share bike for kids as young as 2.  It makes sense if your child's school is mere blocks away.  But if your kids are 8 and under, Crispin Wilson's seat is a far safer solution to the problem of getting kids to school, and yourself to work, atop bike share.  Perhaps like cheese and wine, people will imagine this bike is better than an American-made seat because it is French.  #NapasmokesLoire

Madrid is rising like the Spanish Armada from the bottom of the English Channel.  It is adding e-bike share.  And its female mayor, attractive enough to be a non-cross-dressing character in a Pedro Almodovar film, has already tried it out.  (Excellent choice of flats and Yurman cuff.  She could be my MAPS - mejor amiga para siempre.)

More bike shares rolling out:

Reston, Virginia is working toward a bike share with all the right groups.  Reston.  The planned community.  A sort of Levitown with a Beltway flare.  Where people were supposed to live and work, but where they quickly turned it into a bedroom suburb of Washington and began devoting their lives to hours in traffic.  No Metro, limited bike paths.  Yup.  That Reston.

Philadelphia is really going to do it.  The city council there has now agreed to add a bike share program.  I vote for lanes from the downtown hotel district to the Rodin Museum and the Museum of Art.  Provided out-of-towners have any say in the matter.

Indianapolis' bike share has passed 13,000 riders in the first month.

Albany is getting a bike share the Wall Street Journal reports.

Atlanta's roll-out is now set for 2015.  What would Scarlet O'Hara say with one eye-brow raised?

NYC's ferry is offering discount service to Citibike members.  Or is that backwards?  Either way it's a multi-modal yee-haw.

Columbus Ohio is going with Zagstar bike share.  Maybe they heard about Alta's atrocity?

Oxford and Bath, England are going to re-launch their programs.

Remember the brouhaha over the study suggesting that bike shares caused an uptick in the numbers of head injuries?  There was much skepticism about this study and its data collection methodology.  Smithsonian Magazine has an article that says head injuries are lower in cities with bike share than in cities without, but that encouraging helmet wearing (perhaps through a cheap helmet bending machine) might immediately drop the number.  To keep a little perspective here, note that since Citibike's launch over a year ago, more than a million rides have been taken, without a single death.


GGW's next happy hour is this Thursday night in Tenlytown at 6:30.  You can watch the World Cup, talk bikes and transit.
Tour de Tysons is Sunday the 29th.  And it is not a walk around a shopping mall with those insufferable mall girls, but a bike ride around that area.


Wired Magazine reports on a new type of bike lane that considers dangerous intersections in it design.  Except it is not new.  It's the Dutch/Danish model of putting a curb between car and bike.  That Wired, getting ahead of trends that are 40 years old this week.

In San Francisco, the Market Street Lanes may be crowd-sourced.  Proposals are due to the Prototyping Festival on September 2.  Wow.  Love that city, but I am not planning an uphill ride on Lombard anytime soon.

Pittsburg is moving ahead with bike lanes.  I am trying to picture this, but doggonit, I can't yet.

Chicago is adding lanes to Harrison Street which will improve cross-town flow.  Let's hope the drivers don't rebel any more than they already have.

Apparently cyclists who ride in lanes separated by plants ingest less pollution.  That's great, maybe even aspirational, but for the moment, I will take my lanes plain with nothing nothing on the side.  Then when we have widespread national success, I am willing to add plants, provided they don't need too much water.


Denver is starting a campaign to make drivers, pedestrians and cyclists safer.  It turns out, in a percentage of accidents involving cars and bikes, there was evidence that the cyclists was at fault.  I am sure this happens sometimes.  Rarely.  Once an era, or once an eon.  Whatever.

Only one in five drivers who kills a cyclist is ever charged with an offense.

It is unfortunate that stupid people are not taxed at higher rate than others.  The deficit would disappear.  This driver in Alabama (the state voted the worst state in the country for cyclists by the League of American Bicyclists) decided to post a video of himself threatening cyclists.  Now he has been charged, hopefully with being a pox on the whole of the United States.  To his credit, he apologized over Facebook (yawn, that was too easy) and described his actions as stupid (duh).

Bike deliveries:

Peregrine Espresso, that little coffee shop that took the cup at the international barrista competition about a year ago, smoking all the Seattle folks and a few haughty Italians, has given you another reason to love them.  They will deliver Counter Culture beans by bicycle right to your doorstep.  Alternatively, they have plenty of bike parking in front the Capitol Hill store if you want to deliver yourself there for a latte. #peregrineespresso

In Manchester, England Wagl will deliver your goods by cargo bike.  Sounds much more jolly than a Mike Leigh film, eh?

Advocacy and Policy:

Do you remember Global Warming?  That's what Climate Change was called before the spin artists decided to soften the blow.  Hank Paulson, former Secretary of the Treasury and avid outdoorsman, has warned big corporations that global warming can have a catastrophic impact on the economy, business and planet.  He calls upon leaders to de-politicize the issue.  Brilliant.  He may look like Beaker from the Muppets, but he is a sage.  Did you ever think that by cycling you are part of an actual war effort?  Like melting down your wrought iron fence during World War II was?  You are fighting the tide (which is rising).  Thanks Hank.  Smell that?  The odor of the truth.

A lot of men and women in the United States, Europe and Australia are coming home with battlefield injuries that will last much longer than the wars.  I see them around Washington with their new limbs and new lives.  I often wish our cycling community would do more to welcome them home and find ways for them to experience the shear joy of riding a bike once again.  It made me smile when I saw that Cycle Chic has posted images of beautiful people with disabilities riding their bikes.

Cycling has long been seen as the province of young, white, mostly affluent males.  But this image of today's cyclist may be wrong.  It turns out that about a third of new cyclists are between the ages of 60 and 79.

In Dublin cyclists took over the city center to prompt a greater discussion about bike infrastructure.

The European Cycling Federation is promoting Track B, a system to get more kids bicycling.  The programs are implemented in schools and helps kids learn the rules of the road to instill greater cycling confidence in children.  #coolstuffweshouldbedoing

Yorkshire Naked Bike Ride Day was last week, in keeping with the tradition of having a bunch of people strip and ride their bikes around town to protest a lack of bike infrastructure.  I still firmly believe this event was conceived of by someone who had trouble getting anyone to disrobe in front of him (or her I suppose).  I am not sure this approach is effective.  I will not be participating in these events for all the obvious reasons.  However, I assure readers that I feel denuded if I leave the house without Chanel No.5.  So in protest, this week I will leave the house perfume free on my bicycle.  That way, when I am applying for a job somewhere, that embarrassing Instragram picture of me perfume-free won't cause people to question my judgment.

The London Cycling Campaign is underway and you can vote for your favorite business that supports cycling.  This will not be easy because every company on the list is some kinda wonderful.

The city of Newcastle could lose money for cycling infrastructure if it does not get its coal dust together.  Perhaps Timothy Dexter will smile from his grave.  Otherwise, the dedication of bike funds to Newcastle will be as foolish as sending them coal.


Mercedes is making an e-bike.  The automotive king of the autobahn.  Wow.  Pretty Smarte.

Are electric bikes the answer to the hills of San Francisco?  An article in SF Gate says that they are.

Virtual Strategies Magazine reports that Haibikes are coming to the United States, complete with a Bosch engine.

Did you know that LAPD is testing electric motorcycles?  I'd rather they were testing electric bicycles, but at least it's a start.  And Harley-Davidson's new electric motorcycle has leaked.  It's a sustainable start for a world that needs to consider other choices.

Random notes:

San Francisco has made a map of bicycle theft hotspots.  Great, if it used as a tool by law enforcement, transit and urban planners to develop an effective response to thefts.  People are not going to want to cycle to work if they are worried their bikes won't be there at the end of the day.  In Washington, the map would show little hotspots around Metro stations.  I recently raised this with Metro and suggested they create better storage for bikes at Metros.  Their response was a nod, another nod, and a lot of nodding until I felt like I was talking to a Metro bobble-head doll.

It's easy to feel jealous of someone thin, rich and cheerful.  And sometimes you secretly hope that person will suffer a setback, but I can only feel admiration for Pippa Middleton, Kate's sister.  Pippa is bicycling across the United States in order to raise money for the Michael Matthews Foundation, which helps to educate children across the globe.  Good for her.  She will not settle into a life of captive breeding.

However, it's easy to feel delight at the fate of this motorist.  He harassed a cyclist, but the cyclist was a cop.  Now he is paying a fine.

Is Tesla your second bike?  (I hope to one day be able to make this claim.)  Well Elon - love that guy -has set up a charging station for electric cars in France.  If bicycling is part of your sustainable belief system, keep your eye on this as the start of a trend.  Maybe you will be able to charge your e-bikes too.


Wired UK reports six great cycling gadgets intended to protect both you and your bike.

Taking care of your stuff:

Here is a short list of maintenance clinics around Washington, DC, at REI, The Bike Rack, and Bicycle Space.

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

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Does Bike Share Cause More Head Injuries? Are Jeremy and Boris Silly? No and Yes.


You should take a basic bike maintenance clinic at the Bike Rack, where they also serve Peregrine coffee some mornings for commuters.   Never fear having bike failure in public again.

In Los Angeles, thespians can ride wearing togas and laurel wreaths throughout the San Fernando Valley on the evening of June 21 from 6 to 8 pm.  A sort of Isadora Duncan meets Animal House and crashed into Lance Armstrong (if he could be separated from the veracity problem) sort of event.  If you wear a toga, remember to use a chain guard.  You heard it here.


GGW's Matt Johnson suggest several ways to improve the First Street cycle tracks.  Including a bike box at intersections, banning right turns on red signals, and lanes that don't randomly end for a block sending cyclists into traffic.  He does not mention requiring all drivers to pass an IQ test.  This disappoints me.

How to make cycle tracks great works of art, is the subject of another post at GGW, which highlights Seattle's attempt at beautifying lanes.  It beats the heck out of the suggestion that plastic planters be used as a buffer.  No one wants the lanes to look like those houses you espy near the interstate, with lawn art and tire planters.  Well maybe some people think that's swell, but I think you get my point.

The case for protected bike lanes.  Fast Company is quibbling over the statistics, which they report show and a more than 171% increase in cycling when protected lanes are installed.  Earlier pieces reported lanes caused a 10% increase.  Instead, 10% of cyclist polled said they would have used a different form of transit before lanes.  Either way, cycling is up.  Quibble not Fast Company.

Feeling especially urban-planning-nerdy?  Read the technical plan for London's lanes here.  Comments on the plans are due July 25, 2014.

A great little short from streetfilms on the positive impact of bike lanes on businesses and communities. Show them don't tell them.

Bike share:

Does the increased use of bike shares mean an increase in head injuries?  This week the debate has reached a pitch normally associated with World Cup fanaticism.  First NPR blogged that after bike share was introduced to a number of cities, the incidences of traumatic brain injuries associated with cycling went up 15%.  Then the Washington Post and GGW reported that the study required a closer reading than NPR's blog gave it.  When the data were better understood, it appears head injuries actually only went up about 2.5%, they said.  In Boston, head injuries went down, reported Boston Magazine.  Streetsblog reported that data on head injuries show that head injuries went down in cities with bike share, not up.  In the speed of the Ethernet, Citylab reported that the numbers of serious head injuries went down everywhere, not up.  But there was no indication that the people who had the accidents were actually riding share bikes when they hurt themselves.
The take-away was that people should wear helmets on bike share bikes, according to nearly every article's quoted experts. Very possibly these studies have resulted in, as Mark Twain said, "lies, damn lies and statistics."  More likely we have some unclear data that did not fully account for causation.   Here are my observations.  In Washington, lots of tourists ride bikes.  They never wear helmets, are often on the sidewalk, looking at sites, or fighting jet lag.  Yet, they seem to avoid accidents, as if there is an invisible cocoon protecting them.  What they do cause is chaos in the bike lanes.  They never notice other cyclists and seem to struggle with the bike lane rules.  On the sidewalk they can easily send that double latte right onto the lapel of your suit without so much as a "Sorry, I was trying to see if that was the Natural History Museum over your shoulder."  Certainly tourists should wear helmets and sign an agreement not to ride on the sidewalk before they are permitted to share a bike.  It would be interesting to see if this requirement would result in a drop in head injuries matching the percentage of the alleged increase.

As all of this was unfolding, Dallas City ended the requirement that adult cyclists wear helmets.  Ta-dum-dum.

Bike share kiosks will go into Milwaulkee this summer.  Wow.  The hardy people of Wisconsin continue to amaze me, delivering pizza by bike during a polar vortex and now boldly adding bike share to a city that has not always had a bike culture.  And I love cheese.  So there you go.

Wow.  Norway's oil boomtown, Stavenger, is adding bike share.  Can it be they see the writing on the proverbial North Sea oil rig?

Bike deliveries:

Sky Dottir Epic Cookies of Seattle is now delivering by cargo bike.  Get a gluten free chocolate chip from a happy cyclist.  Sounds great to me, and I rarely eat carbs.

Because cargo bikes have already replaced DHL delivery trucks in many towns in Europe (saving the company a large amount of money) the cargo revolution may be underway.  Those following this trend include a Dutch sperm bank that uses a sperm-shaped cargo bike to transport sperm samples across town.  Would the babies born of these sperm donors be attracted to cycling later in life?  Discuss.


We have heard of road rage incidents where motorists deliberately run over cyclists.  But a cyclist assaulting another cyclist?  Police are looking for a member of Team Sky who may have broken the collar bone of another rider.  Perhaps there is more to this story, like a love triangle, a loan shark, or sudden fit of insanity.  I would suspect performance-enhancing drugs were the genesis of this dispute, but the assailant was described as "chubby."  #donotaccusemeofbeingafattist

Mystifyingly low sentences in the UK for drivers who maim or kill cyclists, often in a fit of pure rage.  The Brits may want to change their penalties to address this lack of meaningful accountability.  Otherwise it would appear to be open season on cyclists more or less all year there.


The top five bikes for beginners?  Anything that can be ridden says Ellie Blue, who totally gets the whole concept of just riding a bike and not making it an equipment contest.

Random notes:

Montreal is re-calibrating its plans to accommodate the boom in cycling.  This is what you hope every city will have to face at some point.

Read how the UK can cut 10 billion pounds sterling in healthcare costs associated with diabetes through increased cycling.  It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that encouraging cycling in the United States will help reduce obesity and the healthcare costs associated with Type-2 diabetes.£10bn-annual-diabetes-bill-say-mps

Are you a cycling designer?  The European Bicycling Federation is looking for one to assist them in getting their publications out.

Jeremy Paxman and Boris Johnson on a tandem realizing that riding a bike around London simply is not that safe.  Discuss. #lookingratherlessintimidatingrightaboutnowJeremy

In Memoriam:

Let's remember Beryl Burton, one of the great female cyclists of the 20th Century.

If I see you in the bike lane, and you are not tourist, suddenly and impulsively cutting me off, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Nudity, Violence, Money, and Fashion in Bicycling News This Week.


BikeFest, WABA's fund raiser is June 13, at 8 pm at the Eastern Market's north hall.  There will be beer, Mexican food, cyclists and a band.  Your money will go for a good cause, and the market is sandwiched between two large bike share docks: one at the Eastern Market Metro stop, and one behind the actual Easter Market in front of the Aquatic Center on North Carolina Avenue.  If you cannot go, you should at least buy a ticket to help this important organization do its great work.  Or you can try to live with yourself.  Whatever.

It's the launch of the Rebecca Minkoff Bike Share bag on June 19, at 6 pm at Bloomingdale's in Chevy Chase.  A Minkoff bag and a bike.  If you need something more, you are truly a high maintenance woman.

And Portland had it's Naked Bike Ride Day.  Hopefully the denuded had fun, but I remain skeptical that the naked events will bring more cycling infrastructure, by drawing in older riders and women.  Yup, hmmm.  And that cigarette.  Yeesh.  #dealbreaker

Bike Share:

A bike mechanic once told me that Capital Bike Share was bringing him more customers because it was fueling people's interest in bikes.  Several articles report that my mechanic friend was right, bike share is directing more business to bike shops.  But at least one writer at Bloomberg says that bike share is taking business away from bike shops.  Somebody is wrong here.

Citibikes had zero deaths in its first year of operation, despite Dorothy Rabinowitz's claim that the NYC program was a sign that the Armageddon is upon us.  I await the public and grandiose apology from Ms. Rabinowitz, which I hope is followed by the kind of breakdown and blubbering normally associated with a Barbara Walters interview.

Writer Scott Stringer has proposed a multi-step process for keeping Citibike financially afloat.  Given Citibike's money troubles, any reasonable plan is worth considering.

Philadelphia's bike lanes are about to expand.  This will surely make the city more brotherly loverly.


+Jenny Oh Hatfield, now working for KQED, my second favorite public radio station, has authored a piece on how to prevent your bike from being stolen and how to react if it is.  Among the tips she gives: use the stolen bike registry in California.  The story includes a video to help you plan your bike theft defense.   And Jenny wrote another piece about how open-air bicycle chop-shops flourish in San Francisco, where too few people report the serial number of their stolen bikes.  Go Jenny.  Bring the whole bike discussion into the regular narrative, make it part of the lingua franca.  #normalizecycling


Improvements are coming to New Hampshire Avenue, NW, between M Street and Washington Circle, according to Channel 9 News.  The biggest of these planned improvements is bike lanes along this much jack-hammered, traffic-clogged area affectionately known as "The Herpes Triangle."

When residents in cities were polled, 43% said that bike lanes improved the desirability of their neighborhood.  Desirable areas mean less crime, and increase in property values, and in cities, more small businesses.  The study did not include data on residents' reactions to gridlocked traffic on their blocks, idling vehicles, and a lack of driver patronage of businesses.  But I think any sensible person can fill in the blanks. and cleantechnica report that people view bike lanes as safe, and that bike lanes drastically increase ridership.  And the younger you are, the more valuable bike lanes seem to you.  Rather than getting that costly facelift or flashy red sports car, try to look younger by using the bike lanes.
But PeopleforBikes reports that there are things even bike lanes cannot do: boost ridership if they lack a citywide network, completely separate cars and bikes, or be added without a little opposition.

Unless you have barriers, bike lanes will be used by motorists, as these photos show.  On Pennsylvania Avenue, just blocks from the White House, taxis and cars routinely make illegal u-turns across the bike lanes because they can.  We have speed cameras and we could have u-turn cameras, but barriers would help idiot/entitled-driver proof the lanes.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's vision of a sustainable Chicago with bike lanes interconnecting the city is still progressing, but some in Chicago are raising questions about the choice of locations of the lanes.  Were these people concerned when the city government had a widespread culture of corruption over five decades?  When organized crime hijacked the city?  Or are they only worried about the template of the bike lanes?  Just checking.

Policy and Advocacy:

Some of the largest public companies are working on sustainability.  If you spend your money ethically, you might want to read this.

Bike trains in the UK will give people priority over bikes.  If the train is full and more people need to board, the bikes will have to offload.  Kind of like how the kitchen staff are sometimes removed from life rafts right before the ship goes down after the officers who were the cause of the shipwreck decide to pull rank.

There is a manifesto on how to get kids in UK to ride more bikes and why cycling matters.  The basics are there - better health, more sustainable form of transit, and kids need to learn when they are young.  I  prefer this manifesto to that of Karl Marx or Ted Kazynski.

London's major transit plan emphasizes the need to encourage more cycling to ease that city's major transit problems and air pollution reminiscent of the time of the collieries.

A bike city was built in Vienna, Austria.  The developer obtained a waiver of the legal requirement that each apartment built must also have a corresponding parking space.  The project worked so well that they are building more.   #parkingminimums are so 1990s.

Scott Beyers, a writer with a history - pause, consider - argues that cars not transit will save the economy.  Beteys appears to be trying to debunk Elly Blue's thesis that bikes can help the economy.  Blue's book, Bikonomics, was an awesome analysis of bicycling's role in changing America's economy.  Beyer argues we should subsidize cars.  Beyers relies on a single-city's model -Charlotte, North Carolina - for his conclusions.  Anyone with a single year of higher educate will not find much to worry about here.

Japan's automotive sector is still in need of a boost.  So the Japanese government is trying to encourage car buying by enacting sanctions against the tiny, fuel-efficient cars that Japanese people love.  This sounds a lot like American motor companies pushing trucks and SUVs because they generate more profits.  Tokyo has no room for the tiny cars is already has.  Does this make anyone think of those old Godzilla movies, where something too big and destructive crushes a city?

Random notes:

Did you know your Strava data is being used by cities to build better bike lanes?  Check your terms of service, paranoids.  Perhaps now you can ride to have an impact of bike lane locations.

Cyclists are happier than people using other forms of mass transit, including drivers and train riders, says an article on WebMD.  Shocker.  Have you seen people driving in heavy traffic?  They bear their teeth at one another like small rodents.  On the bus, there is an unwritten rule that anyone making eye-contact with another passenger with be sniffed at with disgust.

Want to hire smart young things to work for your company?  Move your headquarters into a city and make your work space bike and walking accessible.  If you build it (or lease it) they will come.  With their iPads, 1890s beards, and love of live-streaming things.

News that France is paying people to bike to work has surfaced again this week.  Why not?  They already subsidize cheese and fois grais.

Timeout London has published a cycling about London issue.  Wow.  The go-to guide for tourists and revelers is now sustainable.


There have only been 95 accidents on bike share out of 7 millions trips in DC.  Beat them odds.

Bike helmets are really only effective if the accident occurs in slow moving traffic.  They apparently do little to prevent the damage caused when the brain crashes into the skull.

Bike magazine is being sold by holding company Sonoma.  Hopefully it will not be sinkholed or converted to a version of Car and Driver.

You can now have your fluff and fold laundry delivered by bicycle in Philadelphia.

You know how cats have whiskers so they can sense whether they can get through a narrow space?  You can add these whiskers to your bike to create a sort of bike lane for yourself if you have a high threshold of embarrassment.

Bike Fashion and Style:

Elle Magazine blogs has a nice piece about a cycle-riding-blogging stylist whom I immediately loved for her excellent choice of a Yakay leopard-print helmet.  (Thanks +Richard Albores )

Stylish New Yorkers pose with their bikes in this book.  These bike posers include David Byrne, and fun bike blogger and style-guide George Hahn.

Speaking of chic, the European Cycling Federation is meeting for Green Week in Leipzig, where the center city is entirely car free.

Cyclechic, a blog and website from Copenhagen that boasts it is both "lycra and granola free" (hey, isn't granola just oatmeal with a lot of sugary stuff added?), reached seven years online this week.  Cyclechic posts photos of cycling culture in Copenhagen.  It is better than meditation for producing a smile and sense of well-being.


What in the blazes is happening in Great Britain?  An Audi driver punching a cyclist is caught on tape in England.  In this attack an elderly man joins in crashing a cycle down on the head of the toppled cyclist repeatedly.  Separately, a Suffolk Policeman has been charged with assaulting a cyclist and now must appear in court.  And it is possible he actually tried to run the cyclist over while he was off duty.  And more.  A car tried to run over a cyclist in Kingston, missed and crashed into a hair salon.  Then a van crashed into a cycle in Surrey and the whole thing is on video.  What is causing the English to behave so badly?  Stiff upper lip gone wiggly?  "Keep calm and carry on" giving way to hysteria?   The Queen needs to address this problem soon in one of her riveting speeches where she does not read from notes or wear heavy face powder.  #justkiddingdon'tsayoffwithmyhead

Longing for a gentler time?  You can read a guide from Pearson's 1901 on how to ride safely.  One tip shows women how to aim directly at a man in their path, then swerve at the last minute.  Wow, that won't antagonize someone who is trying to lunge at you on a bike.


Pedego is an e-bike company that is getting a lot of attention from Hollywood.  The founder calls himself a former eco-terrorist-turned-eco-entreprenuer.  He managed to sell William Shatner a bike, which I cannot be sure was a good marketing strategy for very obvious reasons.


She rode her bike around as a 14 year old teenager delivering notes between the French and Polish Resistance during World War II.  Her bike was shabby.  She was scouring the Northern France countryside for food for her family.  The Nazis ignored here.  Nice job!

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

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Lanes, Shares, and the Little Guy.


BikeFest is coming to Washington, DC's EAster Market on June 13, 2014, from 8 to midnight.  It's a major fundraiser for WABA.  Be there.  Or at least buy a ticket.

Bike Share:

My friends, Emily and Crispin, had this brilliant idea.  Make a safe kids' seat to be added to bike share bikes.  Then people can transport their kids short distances, dock their bikes, and head to the office.  The seat a beautifully simple design that was stable, and gained even more stability with a child on it.  Crazy idea, huh?  And they wanted to send their profits to good works in Africa.  Now they have been told not to do sell any more of the seats they made from recycled bike parts.  The seat could not be more clever.
I love Capitol Bike Share, but this is a terrible turn of events.  If we can cap burning oil wells in the midst of wars, we should be able to find a way for Capitol Bike Share to allow this seat.


In our collective imagination, Portland has set the highest bar for all cities.  Right?  Portland's Master Plan calls for 25% of trips to be made by bike by the year 2030.  Protected bike lanes are seen as moving the city toward that goal.  Baseline premise.

A new study shows that bike lanes (generally, writ large, whatever) increase the numbers of riders from between  21 to 171 percent.  Easy to grasp.  They make people feel safer.

The L Street bike lanes in DC helped boost cycling by 65% according to the study.  So the prognostications appear to be right.  Lanes get people out of cars and on bikes.  Less congestion, better health, the standard obvious benefits.

Even Pentagon City now has green bike lanes.  You can ride your bike all the way to Nordstrom to get your Ferragamo pumps, which you can then wear cycling.

In Washington, the future of transportation includes lots more bike lanes.  So this is probably a good thing.

Elsewhere in the world,

In a typical response to the introduction of bike lanes, in the city of Cambridge, England's proposed lanes are being met with doomsday predictions: congestion, parking crisis, deaths and dismemberments.
But in 1945, bikes ruled the streets there.  Here is the Vimeo showing that more romantic time, while Cambridge may still be headed to a future romantic permanence.–-when-bicycles-ruled-roads

Mopeds in bike lanes are the latest issue in bike-friendly Rotterdam, Dutch News reports.  City Council members want mopeds (generally defined as motorized, two-wheeled vehicles with an engine of less than 50ccs) out of bike lanes and on the streets, and want moped riders to don helmets.

Policy and Advocacy:

Over 200,000 more people will be working in Washington, DC by 2040, and they will all need transportation.  MoveDC has the proposed master plan for transit available for review and comment.  Walking and bicycling will need to be sharply increased to accommodate the increase in people.  And to make people think twice before driving, tolls will be added to feeder roads.  Will the plan work?  The comment period is open.  Have at at cycling fans.  The proposal recommends additional miles of protected bike lanes.  Be your own best advocate, as they say.

The larger issue however is America's addiction/love affair with cars.  Are we addicted to fumes?  Are the doomsday predictions about bike lanes just white noise as we move toward the inevitable shift to less motorized transit?  What would the science fiction writers imagine about the effects of not making major changes to how we get around?

That car/America love affair may be souring after so many years.  Perhaps America will suddenly and inexplicably be turned off by cars, and feel randomly repulsed by the way cars eat . . . or guzzle.  Major corporations are banking on a cooling of this love affair, since they are moving back to cities and away from the Silicon Valley isolated campus model.  This shift in business could serve to motivate city leaders to get more bike lanes in as fast as possible.  Then cities could attract tax-paying, business-supporting companies.  As we know, these companies hire smart young people, who favor cities and bikes over sprawl and sedans.


A committee in the House of Representatives tells USDOT to reduce walking and cycling fatalities.  the words "performance measures" are contained in the statement.  The subtext is something like this:  Department of Transportation, reduce fatalities some kind of way, or we will take away your money.  Here's the statement:

Recognizing the increase in pedestrian and bicycle fatalities, the Secretary of Transportation should establish separate non-motorized safety performance measures for the purpose of carrying out HSIP requirements. The FHWA [Federal Highway Administration] should define these performance measures specifically to evaluate the number of fatalities and serious injuries for pedestrian and bicycle crashes. - See more at:

According to a new report, at least a hundred people are injured in crashes in New York City every day.  That's a lot.  Even for a metropolis.  Alcohol and rushing to and from work play a big role.  Though it isn't mentioned, cell phone usage probably also plays a big role.  The goal of reducing to none the numbers of automobile-caused fatalities is the plan of Vision Zero.  (You can download the city's plan through the links below.)  Cycling is part of the plan to restore the public health crisis caused by cars.

The Washington Post reports on the safety classes that help otherwise skilled cyclists learn new ways to stay safe in traffic.  Once again the Washington Area Bicyclists Association takes the lead in cycling education in the nation's capital.  This week I saw a number of cyclists crossing intersections when they had red lights.  This happened while opposing traffic had a left-turn green arrow.  So basically they could have been killed.  I think I will begin making nominations of people who should attend this WABA "refresher training."  Some days it's even me.

Urbanspacesandplaces blogs this week about Huffy's women's cycling campaign on YouTube, "How to learn to ride a bike (Again!!!)"  It's an artful little approach to enticing women back to cycling, without including a "free gift with purchase."  Unless you count good health, fitness and fun as free gifts.  Missing from the story is the important role of safety in women's decision to bike.  More lanes, more women.  Maybe this encourage women to buy a Huffy, if only as a starter bike.


Electric bikes are gaining more fans.  USA Today, that colorful newspaper that is emblematic of Middle America, reports that 158,000 e-bikes were imported into the US between 2012 and 2013.  Even though Federal tax incentive for e-bikes expired last year, the numbers are expected to go up this year.  Woot-woot.  Here's a sample from the article and a link:

"It has its limitations. It only goes so far" on a charge, says Ron Paci, a retired carpenter in Arlington, Va., who has owned an electric Zero Motorcycle for a year. Still, he's a huge fan. "it doesn't pollute. It doesn't make any noise so if you want to drive quietly along a country road, it's a new experience."


Don't you love the cycling snob NYC?  He tweets that "Most rich I people I see wearing expensive cycling clothes look like sausages."  Yoouch!  Very possibly true.

Bicycling Magazine features a review of some new helmets.  If you are among the helmet-wearing set, and have read all the articles about replacing helmets every two years, this might be a good place to start. I was disappointed that the article did not rate each helmet for its reduction of helmet hair.

Zap bike lock deters imagined, would-be thieves with a blast of electricity, after it gives a verbal warning.  This sounds like something out of a Tom and Jerry cartoon.  I can imagine a thief getting zapped so that you can see his skeleton through his skin, after which he is fine.  It's reminiscent of that 1980s car alarm called the Viper, the one that made a certain congressman from California rich.  It barked, "Step away from the vehicle."  Zap could say something like,  "Stay way from the Gary Fisher, butt-head."  I am pretty sure I would make a mistake and end up zapping myself.  I also think a good u-lock beats a smart-alec, zapping lock any day.

Looking for a bike coach and are a beginner?  If you are not in Washington and cannot attend a WABA class, here are some skills for newbies.


Florida Cops tackled a cyclist/participant in Critical Mass in Fort Lauderdale after he allegedly told them to drive move slowly past a group of cyclists.  Critical Mass is a powerful pro-bicycling, pro-bike infrastructure movement that relies on numbers of cyclists to convey its message.  Fort Lauderdale Police tell a different story than the cyclist/tacklee.   They say the tacklee pulled his bike in front of their patrol car, flipped them off, and was otherwise confrontational.  Generally, it is good not to antagonize the police when you are participating in something as positive as a Critical Mass movement.  It seems out of place to suddenly shout "Pigs!" at the police, like you are protesting some act of police brutality and not the hegemony of motorized transit.  Outrage at law enforcement officers who are just there because your protest is happening on their shift belongs somewhere else.  Maybe in another era.  Rather than attempting to spark a riot, bring a celebrity.  Lebron James (yes, he's sometimes a bit surly) showed up at Miami's Critical Mass.  Or perhaps Brad Pitt could be enticed to do the right thing for Critical Mass.

A few random notes:

Crowd fund a charity sending bikes to Africa, Bike for Humanity.

RIP Massimo Vignelli, simple practical urban designer, who said "If you do it right, it will last forever." A beautiful thought in a time when most design seems disposable.  He designed the NY subway map and more.  I would like to have seen him design the map of bike lanes in Washington, but maybe he can do that from afar.

So if I see you in the bike lanes, maybe on a Huffy, maybe on a bike share bike with a great detachable kids' seat, let's be smug.
Elisa P.