Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cyclist are Not Bullies. They Are the Future.

Here is my summary of this week's cycling news, including two idiots, several smart, forward-looking planners, lots of good news on bike shares and bike lanes, and plenty of random notes.  Not a bully to be seen.


Join City Bikes for a ride in Rock Creek on Thursday evenings at 6:30 p.m.  How about this metaphor stolen from reality?  City Bikes started in an old gas station decades ago.  I like that.  Let's have more defunct gas stations that are converted to bike shops.  #normalizecycling

Join the nice people at Bicycle Space for a city ride on Sundays at 11:30 a.m.  The traffic's lighter.  The people are more relaxed.  And they city is filled with out of state tagged cars parking illegally in the bike lanes.  Ah the splendor of it all.  But safety in numbers, so go.  Really.
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Or join The Bike Rack for a 40 mile ride Sunday mornings starting much earlier.  I mean if you can take time away from bullying people and trying to ruin their lives.  (Don't get the joke?  Read on!)


DDOT is getting rid of the zebras that protect the mid-road bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue just blocks from the White House.  If they will replace them with those things police throw down to puncture the tires of cars leading them on a high speed chase I am okay with that.  DDOT has figured out that D.C. cabs will not be deterred from making illegal u-turns over the top of zebras . . . or cyclists.  How about a u-turn camera as a revenue generating tool?  We have speed cameras.  Or how about a suspension of a taxi license for a month for each violation?  Compliance would be pretty swift.

Last year I blogged about the bike escalator in Norway that helps cyclists climb Trondheim's steep grades.  Now GGW editor David Alpert suggests the 15th Street lanes in D.C. could use the shark fin.  I suppose that would help people who are starting to ride or need a little boost.  However, if we could have another mile of cycle tracks without the shark assist, I would take that first.

Bike Share:

Capitol Bikeshare has run out of keys . . . again.  This time less than a month after their 7 millionth trip. #predictabledudes  Perhaps while you are waiting for your key, you can suggest new locations for bike share docks using their nomination system.

Chevy Chase, Maryland, that Washington inner suburb now peppered with high-end retail establishments and restaurants, wants bike share, according to Bethesda Now.  Chevy Chase should fund it with taxes on plastic surgery, fur sales, and Ferragamo shoes.  The plan to have Chevy Chase Land Company pay for the program is picking up steam, and maybe a wealthy matron or two.  Good news.

New York is in a deal to sell a portion of Alta, the makers of share bikes, to an investment company that owns Equinox fitness group.  NYC's program has been bleeding money, and some drastic measures may have to be taken to keep Citibikes on track.  This could result in the new company raising the prices of bike shares, not just in NYC, but elsewhere too.  A little perspective is good to consider.  Even if prices are raised, bike share is still a huge bargain when compared to a car.  If bike share jumps from $125 per year to $300 per year, and car costs between $8,000 and $18,000, including payments, gas, maintenance and insurance, bike share is still a better choice financially.  (Even if you add a car sharing service to your bike costs.)  But do not despair.  Bike share usage continues to grow, which suggests prices will not have to be raised significantly to keep the system afloat and make it profitable.  #Istillhatealtaforbanningthekidsseat

Tampa bike share is now taking members.  No word on the date the Groupon will be available (hint-hint)

Advocacy and Policy:

Washington, D.C. is among Momentum Magazine's list of the next great biking cities.  It should be, the local newspaper notwithstanding.  #besospleasedosomethingaboutmiloy

Congress still has not recognized bike sharing as mass transit for subsidies.  That means that people who get subsidies for taking the bus cannot apply those funds to bike share.  I am not sure why we pay the salary for these lay-abouts.   #silly

We should plan cities for a future without cars, with more bikes, and more pedestrians.  Gabe Klein, former D.C. and Chicago transit head, writes in Citylab that planning should be more active transit focused.  Planning and development leaders should plan consistent with the goal of getting more people to walk and bike.  If you plan for cars, and cars grow obsolete, what will you have on your hands?  As Klein points out, Europe may ban gas-powered cars from cities in the future.  Gas cars and cities are probably not a long term coupling.  Indeed their marriage is doomed.  To that same point, reports that there are five signs that the traditional auto industry and America's car culture are going to implode - unbundling of car features, energy sources, shared ownership and ridership programs, and the advent of driverless cars, to name a few.   If that prediction is correct, it would foolhardy to have development that is car focused.  We will just have to rebuild everything at great expense.  Instead, cities should concentrate on cycling infrastructure, walking, and mass transit.  Momentum Magazine is singing the same, obvious, clear-headed song.  Long term thinking instead of short term will be important to get this done.

How do other cities compare to cycling Mecca Amsterdam in terms of their activity?  Well, they drive twice as much, and cycle half as much.  #duh

So Washington State has been voted the best cycling state in the union by the League of American Cyclists.  What kind of cyclists were considered?  Are we talking about juicing, racing, spandex wearing type?  Or are we talking about the ride-to-the-meeting-with-your-pants-rolled-up-and-then-grab-the-Chinese-take-out-for-the-family kind"?  Because if it is the latter variety, I would vote for my own city, the other Washington, over the state thereof.

The Eurpopean Cycling Federation (ECF) is offering Track B, a marketing tool to help city planners sell cycling.  If you are a planner, check it out.

Out of Touch:

Washington Post columnist Courtland Miloy has managed to irritate (and unify) cyclists with his rant calling cyclists bullies and terrorists, and even sanctioning violence against us.  It is among the least intelligent pieces he has ever authored.  He suddenly seems pathetically out of touch to me and I will never read his ridiculous column again.  Rather than repeat his rant, rife with errors - - here is my response:

Facts are helpful in having opinions. Here are just a few bullies, as you call them: (1) WABA, which provides free cycling clinics to kids and adults, including those in Ward 8 who do not need the financial shackles of cars (note that fewer than 50% of children of color report knowing how to ride a bike so WABA is a force for opportunity); (2) Black Women Bike DC, which provides sororite in cycling for women of color; and (2) Bicycle Space, a great shop and social venue which organizes group rides through the hills of Anacostia.  
People leave college today with crushing student debt, and elect cycling for a few hundred dollars a year over cars for between $8,000 and $18,000 a year, including gas, insurance, payments and maintenance. Many of these people grew up without the resources to pay for their education. Healthcare costs have skyrocketed in the last decade fueled by the obesity epidemic and its secondary impact of Type-2 diabetes. The African American community in D.C. has been among the hardest hit with diabetes, as I hope you know. Fuel costs will only increase for obvious reasons. And now you generalize about cyclists in ways that would outrage you were such broad opinions held about other groups. These bullies are the future. This column was not your best. Get on a bike. I will be happy to show our inclusive group. Mr. Billings, whom you criticize, can help you learn the rules of the road. Did you know that he does that instead of bullying? We welcome you. We will change your mind and restore your optimism. You need it apparently. Oh, by the way, riding on the sidewalk is not illegal, except in the downtown business district. You might want to get that particular detail correct. And I would add that Ward 8 does need lanes. Perhaps that should have been your focus. The reaction to this column would have been quite different.

Terrorist we are not.
The future, we are.

Here's WABA's response.  Maybe now is the time to join WABA.

Most importantly, here is note from Aaron Weiner of Washington's City Paper about Ward 8's new bike lanes.  So, you are vanquished Courtland Miloy.


Does bike share help to make it safer for cyclists generally?  Apparently it does.  This makes sense.  The more bikes on the road, the more motorists will expect to see them.

Interested in signing Vision Zero's petition in Boston?  Vision Zero is the group that believes with adequate planning, education and transit changes, vehicle deaths in cities can drop to zero.  Cycling is part of the equation, of course.

According to a Tel Aviv news service, a rising number of pedestrians are getting hit by people riding Tel-O-Fun bike share bikes.  Someone on some end of this is drinking I suspect.

This week's village idiot (yes, in addition to the columnist who hit a new low) is the guy in Alabama who videotaped himself harassing cyclists and posted it on Youtube.  In addition to flunking the IQ test, he has now pleaded guilty after his videos caught the interest of the local sheriff.

Random notes:

Oh dear.  How can it be that much beloved Scott Simon, of NPR, has found himself in the crosshairs of cyclists?  He sounds like Burl Ives, when Ives played the avuncular snowman in Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.  I picture him leaning over the NPR microphone in a bland covered cardigan, considering his words before he utters them.  But boy did he say something stupid about cyclists on Twitter.  (I am assuming he was not allowing someone to tweet on his behalf, like a hapless, bike-hostile intern, who is now looking for another place to work.)  On the other hand, was he saying that cyclists who jump lights set a poor example for his daughters?  I am willing to spot him this one, as long as he says five Hail Marys and takes up cycling for the rest of his life.  He did seem to figure out what he had done was wrong, unlike some other people who remain confused.

Are you a bridge architect who cycles?  You can get the job as the designer of London's proposed cross-Thames bridge for pedestrians and bicycles.

Did you know Vancouver had a bike rave?  Presumably it was healthier that the normal MDMA fueled club raves.

Normally I find competitive cycling tedious, but I have to smile that racing Brit Chris Froome road through the Chunnel.  And yet, it conjures images of the Triplets of Belleville, the best bicycling movie in the history of the world, ever, forever, no seriously.


Sam Polcer has been photographing cyclists on the streets of NYC for years. I love this guy for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that he points out visually that cycling does not have to include spandex or be the province of hobbyists.

Ever wonder how to ride your bike in your skirt?  With a penny and a rubber band.  See the video.  Don't speculate about how this works please.  But in Copenhagen, they don't really give it much thought.  They just get on a bike and go.  I myself am a fan of the Danish practice of "knees in a bit."  Just like your grandmother told you to do.

Do we need "Bike Shop: the Musical?"  Sounds like one of those productions trying to capture the zeitgeist.

Here is why 11 artists love their bikes.

Have you ever listened to the Ireland by Bike series on RTI?  Languid, fun, and sweetly Irish.

Traveling to Europe and want to know how to ride the cobbles?  Don't cancel that ride across Tuscany for fear you don't have teeth or an athletic bra strong enough to withstand the bumps.  Here's a little Youtube video to help you deal with it.

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

Elisa P.

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