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.

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