Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Trick or Treat - Alta OKs Workers' Union Then Sells Immediately. Boo.


The trend continues.  Now DC bike share workers are following New York in requesting to be part of a union.  Before bike share workers could finish petitioning for collective bargain, Washington's Capitol Bike Share's company, Alta agreed to the unionization.  Pretty crunchy, Oregon-based Alta.  You should care because bike share re-balancers work until after midnight re-balancing bikes to distribute them around to docks so they are ready for you in the morning.  They push the bikes up and roll them down ramps in the back of the trucks that are get slippery during the rain.  The trucks are not well-lighted in the back, which is dangerous.  And if you want cycling to be considered a form of transportation, remember many transportation workers are unionized.  Let's hope they keep their demand reasonable to everyone feels kindly toward them years from now.

Alta, that crunchy company, may have had little to lose by agreeing to collective bargaining by Capitol Bike Share workers.  Rumor was afoot is that Alta was being sold to REQX Ventures and Equinox.  Yup, the gym company.  Then it happened.  Boom.  Just like that.  That means Boston, DC's and Chicago's share programs are in the hands of a large investment firm.  How this will affect shares remains to be seen.  #altabike #REQX

Belfast Northern Ireland may make you think of the IRA, or sops, or Loyalist/Orange tensions.  But now you can think of it as another city with bike share.  In 2015, Belfast will be getting its own version of Boris Bikes. #belfastbikeshare’-spring

Are you a little tech-y?  A little nerdy?  Wonder which app uses which API to predict bike share dock flow?  Me too.  Here's one. #geeksonbicycles


London may someday get a bridge across the Thames for cyclists and those other people.  What are they called again?  Pedestrians?  Mayor Boris Johnson did something an American politician would have trouble doing.  He listened to a politician from the other party and invited her to share her cycling bridge vision.  Wow.  This image appeared in the Guardian Newspaper.  #borisjohnson #borisbike #bikebridge–-asks-whether-it’s-sort-curly-wurly

Policy and Advocacy:

Millennials don't want to drive and, according to Fast Co., they are not likely to take it up anytime soon.  Their use of technology to locate bikes in share docks or the next subway train attract millennials to urban areas and walkable, bike-able communities. #hopeforthefuture

Ford Motor Company makes cars.  Right?  And now they have entered a licensing agreement with Pedego, an electric bike company.  Hey, what's going on up there in Detroit?  First certain car makers added employee bike sharing.  Then Shinola starts making cool bikes in the middle of the Motor City.  Now Ford is going to put its name on an electric bike, a souped-up Mustang of a bike too.  What's next?

Mayoral candidates in Washington, DC are answering transit questions about cycling.  It used be the case that they only answered transit questions about subway, bus and taxi service  #evolution

Had you reached the point where you would rather hear dishes hit a tile floor than read anything else on the subject of banning cyclists from the sidewalk?  Me too.  But if you don't mind yet another opinion piece on the subject, here it the latest form Washingtonian Magazine's Blog.  Are you also the type that does not mind political attack ads?  Yikes.  #cyclinglaws


The rates of bike accidents that result in fatalities are up slightly.  Why?  Well it depends on who you ask.  Most folks analyzing the problem agree on two factors in this up tic; alcohol and helmet use.  I think the fact that more people are cycling to bars is a good thing.  It means that they are not in 3000 pound cars.  Helmet use should still depend on where you are cycling and how much liquor you have had to drink I think.  I could draft that legislation.  Seriously.   #bicyclehelmets  #sopsonbikes  #drinkingandriding

Random notes:

American boxing icon Mohamed Ali may have taken up the sport after his bicycle was stolen.  I can understand his rage.  But if someone took my Pashley, I would hesitate to turn to boxing since it would ruin my manicure.  Plus, his ability to channel his anger was far higher than mine.  I could not become motivated the to become world's greatest boxer.  And like many women, I would not look good with a pugilist's nose.

This drone video of bikes on a path is freakishly mesmerizing.

Have you ever noticed how hip Mrs. Gulch's bike was?  And a fixy at that.  A smile, a different nose and she might have been less bitter.  This character always lacked verisimilitude to me.  How could she be so grumpy and ride her bike. #flawsinozscript


Moonlight bicycle rides are a great way to celebrate Halloween and burn calories.  And you won't have to recall the parade of horribles your parents claimed would happen if you ate anything that was not in a sealed wrapper.  #razorblades #ratsinHersheybars

So if I see you in the bike lane, and I think you are wearing a costume but I cannot be sure and do not want to offend, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bike Whisperers, Pro-Cycling Law Firms, and How Bikes Save Governments Money


Capital Bike Share is now four years old.  It has 200 stations in D.C. and 140 in the 'burbs.  Riders burned more than 186 million calories riding bike share in D.C. over the last four years.  There have been no fatal crashes on bike share in D.C..  Mean people and trolls do not use bike share according to hard science.  And people who use bike share are more attractive and earn points toward heaven.  Okay, at least some of this is true.  Happy Birthday to one of the best things to happen to D.C. since the National Gallery opened.  And it's safe too. #capitalbikeshare


Heard about the Intersection of Doom, where cyclists go to get killed, where tumble weeds blow past and the stink of death is in the air . . . Except no one got killed there in the last 16 years. #bikehysteria

Do drivers pay attention to bike lanes?  Well certainly drivers of box trucks do because they love to park in them.  But apparently cars do not pass cyclists at safer distances because of a painted line on the road.  They do give a wider berth if the road is wider. #bikelanes


Want people to stop cycling on the sidewalk?  They mostly do it to be safe, it turns out.  As soon as you install bike lanes, they stop using the sidewalk.  Where are there the fewest lanes?  Minority neighborhoods, which is why most tickets issued for sidewalk cycling are given to blacks and latinos.  Bummer.  #totallyfixable

Policy and Advocacy:

Gosh bike lanes seem like such a waste of public money.  Right?  Wrong.  Check out this analysis of Copenhagen's lanes and infrastructure:

It’s not all one big eco-hippy love-fest, though – it’s simple financial common sense. The cost of 1km of cycle track is paid off in five years by the health benefits of users getting more exercise. Car traffic drops by 10% on these stretches and cycling increases by 20%. The 41% of the population who arrive at work or school by bike contribute a whopping €235m (£185m) a year to the public coffers. Re-allocating space from less cost-efficient transport forms like cars to modern, cost-effective bicycles makes sense.
#saving taxpayer dollars  #infrastructureinvestment #bikelanes  #oh just put the darn things in already

And studies in the U.K. say that investments in cycling infrastructure could actually save millions. Savings are projected at over 30 billion dollars for England's public health system over the next 20 years. #stating obvious stuff here

Law firms in the U.K. have joined the movement to get better #cycling infrastructure.  It would be fantastic to see major law firms in the United States take a stand for cycling.  But respectable law firms only, please.  Not the people who advertise on late night television for victims of medical malpractice, or bring class actions suits against pharmaceutical companies.  August, serious, intellectual law firms with obscene amounts of legislative influence.  Here are some of the British firms on the right side of history:

Could it be true that no city with widespread cycling has improved safety by having a mandatory helmet law?  Yup.  And Mayor Bill de Blasio is not backing a helmet law for NYC either.  #helmetlaw

In NYC, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg takes pride in her city's transition to a cycling mecca:

New York has—against all odds—embraced and has been transformed by a mode of transportation which is inexpensive, burns no fuel, emits no carbon, helps tackle obesity, connects people to their communities and let’s face it, brings joy.

See this nice piece in The Examiner.  I especially agree with the joy part.   #PollyTrottenberg

China, which is presently facing an environmental crisis over its air pollution, is trying to reverse its transition to a car culture.  The growing Chinese middle class has come to see cars as the spoils of wealth, not unlike Americans have done for 50 years.  Over 100 more cars come into Beijing every single day.  Staggering.  But in China, the government simply orders people to ride bikes instead of driving some days.  I guess I am against that.  Right?  That's a violation of civil liberties.  Right?  It's just wrong.  Right?  And bossy.  Right?  Hesitating . . . hesitating.  Hmmmm.  Testing my civil rights resolve here . . .

I have to confess the steady drumbeat of stories about how women do not bike is depressing.  Yesterday I noticed myself in a pack of seven male cyclists at a traffic light and could not see another female for several blocks.  This morning, it seemed like there were only women in the lanes.  But I accept the statistics that say more men cycle to work than women.  So I am thrilled to see this positive piece about how to get women cycling.  It's very easy to identify what is not working in society.  It's a greater achievement to identify workable solutions.  Thanks to #Amy George  #womencyclists

Interested in becoming a female bike mechanic?  Bicycling Magazine has this scholarship announcement.

Random notes:

There are plenty of self-proclaimed bike fitters.  Then there are people for whom it is a labor of love.  Bike whisperers.  Meet a Smiley al-Abd, Washington's fixer of all things bikes.  El-Abd works from his suburban Maryland garage helping cyclists from the U.A.E. to Washington, D.C. figure out how to ride more comfortably.  And not surprisingly, this Egyptian-born wizard is a mechanical engineer who knows how to make things run smoothly using plumb bobs, protractors and levels.  What else?  #smiley el-abd  #bikefitter #bikewhisperer  #giants among us

It's hard not to smile at this little film about Project Upcycle.  Fun guys convert a damaged grocery cart into a magic tricycle. #projectupcycle

So if I see you in the bike lanes, on a Capital Bikeshare three-speed, or a high-end Cannondale adjusted by none other than the bike whisperer, let's be smug.

Elisa P.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sidewalk Woes and Bikelash Responses

Cycling news for the lover of everyday cycling, run-on sentences, and snark.


Are you a lover of Lonely Planet guides, or magazines featuring a ranking of cheap eats?  Have you been called frugal?  A chiseler?  There is nothing wrong with that, and it might even be a sensible way to live and see the world if you want to save money.  And now Citibike is being promoted as a chic way to see New York City.

So Seattle is rolling out its share system using Alta bikes.  Anyone else see an issue with this particular procurement?  Hmm.  In any event, bike share is better than no bike share any day.


If you have not weighed in on where you want the next Capital Bikeshare dock to be located, join the crowd[sourcing] and make your preference known. #capital bikeshare

Policy and Advocacy:

What the heck should you do about bikelash?  You know, that subtle insidious way that some people have of trying to undermine the pro-bike movement?  Like when news stories about a cyclist killed by a car driver mention that the cyclist not wearing a helmet, even if the car jumped the curb, the death-causing injuries were to the abdomen not the head, and the driver was texting.  Here's a nice 5 minute film with some suggestions on how to react to bikelash.  #bikelash

Mayor Boris Johnson is being encouraged to pursue the cycling super highway he envisions for Mother London.  And yet, there are always detractors.  Always.  Johnson reminds everyone that some of the largest businesses in London favor his plan, which would reduce traffic in the city (and probably pollution, which is the worst it has been since the days of coal heat).  He may have whacky hair, but this guy is a visionary.

Fastcompany reports on a school that has bikes instead of normal desks for kids.  The results are good for learning.  My guess is the results are good news in the fight against childhood obesity too.

If you are a police officer in a marked car, wearing a name tag and badge with a visible number, it might not be a good idea to run a cyclist off the road and then chastise him for cycling.  Things have a way of making it into the blogosphere as they did here.

A nice letter in the New York Daily News from a cyclist who has grown tired of being criticized for riding her bike by a certain senator.  I assume the best of cyclists and the worst of politicians.  Hands down, the cyclist wins.

Elsewhere, in Sacramento, a pedestrian may sue the city to prevent cyclists from using the sidewalk.  Or she may just sue the cyclist who hit her while she was walking on the sidewalk.  A law in Sacramento allows cyclists to ride on the sidewalk in residential areas.  Hmmmm.  I thought the suburban childhood experience was defined in part by riding on the sidewalk, popping a wheely and hitting that tree with your hands as you spin into your own garage.  Am I missing something?

Philadelphia has opened a bike path over the river, sometimes called an erstwhile boardwalk.  Watch out for those fish hooks friends. #bikepath


The Guardian suggests 5 new bikes for fall, rather like a waiter suggesting that pumpkin bisque as a seasonal dish.  I am a little skeptical that anyone will ride to work on the Raleigh Chopper.  There's something about a banana seat and flame stickers that makes me think "nut job."  But I'd rather see you on any bike than in a car. #raleigh

Levis created a bike commuter line for men a couple of years ago and the clothes were great for the urban commuter below a certain body weight.  Now they are planning to launch a women's line of bike commuter clothes.  Levi Strauss was one of the only men to leave the gold rush with any money after he designed the first riveted blue jeans.  His forward thinking must have lingered in the corporate DNA.  Levis joins Northern California companies that have entered the bike accessories market, including Timbuk2, maker of messenger bags.  These pants are great alternatives to some of the spandex I have been forced to witness.

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

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Madman Befouls Bike Share Seats and Americans Still Ride On


Some things were meant to shared and some things were not.  Bikes - shared.  Library books - shared.  Poop - not so much.  A madman smeared feces on the seats of bike share seats in Manhattan last Friday.  Some bloggers assumed he did this in protest of bike sharing.  My guess is that he was in a full, scatological, psychotic episode.  But then again, I have accused Dorothy Rabinowitz, bike share enemy, of being, well, berserk too.  Whatever I might think about Dotty, a verbal tirade against bike share is protected First Amendment activity, however loathsome.  Befouling bike share seats is a crime.  A super gross crime.

Want to take a wildlife adventure by bike somewhere between Baltimore and Washington?  See Christina Sturdivant's nice explanatory blog on how to do it, complete with practical advice about where to use the bathroom, get water, and take in the view.  Her approach is accessible, and probably not for A-type Strava addicts who are right now grinding the enamel off of their teeth as they try to pass the time between long rides.

Policy and Advocacy:

No idea whose photo this is.

Washington. D.C. has the greenest commuting pool, including a increasing number of cyclists.  We may have any number of Frank Underwood aspirants, gaggles of lobbyists, and hoards of bureaucrats, but they are the greenest in the country.

Found on Google and Washcycle

The Brookings Institute reports that Americans are driving less.  While a lot more are working from home thanks to broadband access, many are cycling or taking mass transit.

Delloite's U.K. office promotes cycling by employees  Does your office?  Deloitte encourages employees to get vaccinated again influenza too.  Isn't cycling getting vaccinated against obesity-related illness?  Is there a clever actuary out there who can estimate the health-care cost savings from this sort of reasonableness?

Turning away from cars and towards cycling, a growing number of Europeans under 30 do not want to own a car.

This shift in world-views may throw a wrench into a plan by a certain massive rail company to ban bicycles from its trains starting next year.  A better choice may be to ban those who are angry, sedentary, and full of cycling malice.  This would leave more room for bicycles.  [For a different view of bicycles on rail, see below.]

Getty Images

A certain Frenchman asked me why I would go running if I weren't being chased.  Then he lit up a cigarette and smiled through tobacco-flecked teeth.  It left a certain impression in my mind about the French view of exercise.  But in France, large numbers of people are turning to cycling, or turning back to cycling.  This shift is affecting public policy in a country that has long feigned a lack of interest in fitness.  The French census now includes a category for bicycle commuting.

In the United States, cycling has made it into elementary school curriculum in Connecticut.  I have a friend who was never taught how to ride a bike because her father was out of the picture and her mother had grown up without learning to ride herself.  She wondered aloud why she had not learned to ride a bike in school.  Well, here you go, a number of decades too late.

And Amtrak Capital Corridor now has no reservation bike racks.  You have to pass an I.Q. test.  If you are smart enough to find the train and get your bike up on the rack, you can bring your bike for free.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, and you have not had a full psychotic break, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Accident Blame Game, Toilets in the Way, and Bike Share Sprawl.


Chicago's bike share is expanding yet again toward the suburbs.  That means it is expanding every week since this blog began, or faster than Ebola.

The New York Post claims that Citibike workers are about to unionize, raise costs, and send production to China.  Wait.  China?  They already have a bike share system about 100 times the size of Citibike.  The initial requests by the workers, now in the transit union, are for a $1.50 per hour wage increase, predictability in work hours, and a few other benefits like a 401k program.

Ever wonder how to install a bike share dock?  Here is a step-by-step guide from Capital Bike Share.  I hope that Lego will develop a game called "Install the Bike Share Dock Near Mommy's Office."


Construction work in cities often blocks bike lanes, but portable toilets for construction workers do too.  Call 311 and get DC's Mayor's Response Center.  Report the offending loo, and do your fellow cyclists a favor.  #prettyhighickfactor

Policy and Advocacy:

If a cyclist and car collide, DC law presently requires cyclists to show that the car was 100% at fault.  That is a very high bar, maybe impossible, maybe "proof beyond any doubt whether reasonable or not."  A new law being considered by the DC Council may change that.  Which would be good, because it may be hard to prove it was not your fault if you sustain a serious head injury that leaves you unconscious.

Are bike share systems serving only white gentrifiers?  An article in The Atlantic explores the causes and cures of the racial disparity in bike sharing, where just 3% of the users are African-American.  The article gives praise to advocacy groups like Black Women Bike DC, but fails to mention the growing number of docks in African-American neighborhoods.  It also raises the idea that African-Americans in Philadelphia do not have credit cards and therefore lack access to the very expensive bikes.  It leaves me wondering if the authors have ever been to a bike share dock east of the Anacostia River in DC, or realize that many of the people in African-American neighborhoods do have credit cards.  Those neighborhoods have other challenges, like few safe street routes to downtown and very steep hills that can turn a ride to work into a sweat-producing workout.  (Hint: You can take some of the bridges if you want to see Anacostia.  It's nice.  Try it.)

A reasonable voice emerges in Sacramento in the Bee newspaper.  In another sad story, a cyclist there hit a pedestrian while riding on the sidewalk.  The injuries were severe to say the least.  Seeing both sides of the issue, Breton notes that cyclists sometimes opt for the sidewalk because without bike lanes cyclists feel unsafe in the road.  However, Breton holds tight here, noting that cyclists should be accountable for riding on the sidewalk when they have a choice of a bike lane.

In London, cycling advocates are concerned that opposition to a planned bike super highway is actually coming from within the Department of Transportation itself.  Mayor Boris Johnson is the boss of London's transit agency so this would be a sort of mini revolt.  Further, there are reports in certain newspapers that businesses (translate taxis and truck drivers) are highly opposed to Johnson's plan.  Did transit officials undermine their boss by going to the press to claim widespread opposition to the plan?  Hmmm.  I doubt it will slow momentum in London.

Random notes:

Are bike repair co-ops the answer to reduce the cost of repairs and work?  I would be excluded/banned/forced to sign a no more entry agreement since I have no real bike repair talents, but I like the idea of a sharing marketplace.  In the abstract, of course.  For others.  But Bicycling Magazine offers four reasons why they should be fostered.

So, if I see you in the bike lanes, and you are not a portable toilet, let's be smug.
Elisa P.