Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014: A Good Year In Cycling.

2014 was a bad year for NBA players and Valdamir Putin (trying to care here, really).  But it was a great year for cycling.  Because cyclists are generally better people than NBA players and Vladmir, they . . . we deserved a banner year.

The biggest transit stories of 2014 included the expansion of bike lanes into Southwest, DC, where there is increasing development of apartment buildings and decent restaurants.  The 4th Street lanes connect that quarter to the Mall and Northwest.  That means that you can ride from midtown to the ballpark, valet park your bike, watch the game, have a decent dinner, and ride back home.  This is a good thing.

In 2014, DC accomplished having 69 miles of bike lanes, including lanes in very ward of the city.  Now no one will be left out of the cycling movement.

In 2014, "Park-Its," those rubber stoppers you see in parking lots, were added to a portion of Pennsylvania Avenue between 9th and 10th Street, a place where taxis and commuters negotiate illegal u-turns each day, and where I have personally witnessed an offending taxi driver hit a cyclist.  If these work, they could be added to other bike lanes and prevent people from parking in them.  Cheers.

Although Capitol Bikeshare's supplier Alta was purchased in 2014, the system still expanded drastically into the suburbs.  Bike share also set up special docks during the Concert for Valor honoring wounded veterans, making bike share the best way to get to the show.  I was nearly run down by a couple on bike share bikes who could hear Metallica opening the show.  They became unglued over being tardy and began to ride like Lance Armstrong after an injection of performance enhancing drugs.  It was a gift that they were not behind the wheel of a 3000 pound car as they crossed in front of Pashley. Thanks to bike share.

And cycling's appeal was restored in the South in 2014, proving the South can rise again without all the icky features that made it so unappealing for a century or two.  Former DDOT Director, Gabe Klein, authored a study for the City of Charleston that encouraged expansion of bike lanes and a trolley system.

Of course there were cycling tragedies in 2014.  No, I do not refer to the cyclists who were killed by cars this year.  That is terrible as I have blogged in the past.  But among the saddest stories of the year was the closure of Adeline Adeline in Tribeca.  Adeline had been the most elegant of bike stores in the entire country, catering mostly to female city commuters like me.  There wasn't a speck of spandex in the place.  Mecca in Tribecca.  Sort of.  I mourn it even now.

Here are five things you can do to make it easier on yourself to bike commute in 2015.
Locate where you will store your bike, and get a u-lock.
Scout out your shower options near work if your commute is long or uphill.
Get decent panniers.
Make sure you have fenders.
Ride your bike to work everyday unless there is driving rain.

With that in mind, if I see you in the bike lanes in 2015, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Rich and Poor Cycle Now. Will Bike Trains Entice the Middle Class next?

Who is using what form of transit?  As it turns out, people who make a lot of money and those who make very little both ride their bikes to work.  However, the vast middle class still tends to commute by car, shop in malls, and watch American Idol.  Okay, part of this is made up.  But not all of it.  #bikesnob A major factor in anyone's  decision to bike or not is the distance the person has to commute.  So what could fix this disparity that leaves most middle income earners stranded in the suburbs?  The new Maryland bicycle train.  A fantastic Christmas present to the land of bad car drivers, good crab cakes, and a weird state flag.  #biketrain  Welcome to Washington, you of the Maryland middle class.  Please leave The Gap, the SUV, and the Starbuck's behind, but bring along your Trek.  Oh, and thanks for the nice bike feature at the Christmas lights show at Watkins Regional Park.  I see a great future for Maryland cyclists being made.  #cyclingpollyanna

On the subject of bike infrastructure for all, a group of cycling advocates in Chicago have mobilized to get a fair share of the bike infrastructure put in African American neighborhoods.  Like a little bird of hope in an otherwise sad month in the history of race relations.  Can't we all just ride a bike?  #chicagocycling #cantwealljustrideabike

The workers of Capitol Bike Share appear ready to unionize, or so reports  The workers voted 41 to 14 in favor of the plan.  Now, as long as they don't strike and leave me marooned somewhere, I guess this could be a Norma Rae with the cardboard sign moment in the history of sharing.  #bikeshare #bikeshareunion

Do drivers read the newspaper? Some of them do, even while driving.  If drivers do read the newspaper, they might have read about the death of Kadian Harding, the son of the CEO of City Bikes in Washington, D.C., who was killed while cycling in England.  His father's story appeared in the Washington Post today.  Share it if you can.  Kadian loved cycling and was just a kid.  The practice of dehumanizing of cyclists should take a pause for Kadian.

So if I see you in the bike lane, and you are rich, or poor, or just middle class, and especially if you come from Maryland, let's be smug.  Ho, ho, ho.
Elisa P.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bike Tom Boys and Bike Sartorialists Sans Helmets, and Bike Share Hygiene

What should the cycling sartorialist wear in winter?  The best shoes, the most elegant, funnel-neck wool coat, a lot of lights, and a self-satisfied smile.  Drivers will feel envy.  The godfather of elegant cycling of the 21st Century is Mikael Colville-Anderson, of Copenhagen Chic, the blog about well-dressed, helmet-free cyclists.  But what about the tom boys?
There once was a tom boy named Wende Cragg, who liked to tear up the mountain with the boys, but without a helmet.  She made all the little girls who liked to ride their bikes in stylish flats and well-tailored clothes seem prissy.  And now there is a movie about how a group of cyclists in Fairfax, California invented mountain biking.  #wendecragg  There she is, second from the left with the shag hair cut and knee socks.  And Gary Fisher is there too, with the facial hair that is suddenly "a thing" again.  If you want to read more, go to  #mountainbiking  In the meantime, have fun trying the spot the helmet in this crowd.

How did cycling become popular once again?  This British documentary explores the reasons why cycling is now being used as transit by more people.  I have my own theory.  People are sick of getting home too late to spend time with their kids.  They hate the fact that cars make people act terrible in ways they never would if they were face-to-face.  It could be that people are getting smarter, possibly because of some additive that has been placed in the water supply or some evolutionary process that has recently accelerated.  Actually, the documentary is less than $30 online and might make a nice Christmas gift for the cyclist in your life.  #bicyclethefilm  #cycling
For the trailer, go to:

Bike share is an amazingly wonderful thing for humanity.  Like votes for women, electricity, penicillin, and the cotton gin.  A year's membership would be a great gift for someone you love.  But it may not always be a clean or well-maintained thing, according to a recent audit of Citibike.  Worse, the docks are empty more than they should be.  Holy deterrent! 

Citibike was dinged for unclean bikes, and broken bikes and docks.  Oh, for crying out loud, they are kept out in the elements.  Yes, I am aware that some guy in New Zealand was caught riding his bike with nothing on, which prompted the police to write him a ticket for riding without a helmet. A bike befouled and placed in a faulty dock could prove a real downer for share lovers.   As for the bare bottomed cyclist, I would point out that this occurred overseas and not in Manhattan, where there are arguably tens of thousands of far weirder people than on that small, two island country.  As for broken docks and bikes, the audit checked a fraction of the system's infrastructure.  Not a scientific approach in my view.  I have wondered if this audit was commissioned by some bike share hater.
Not only is bike share wonderful, but bike share schemes can help people with fewer financial resources, if the program is planned and managed well . . . and kept clean . . . and the docks and bikes in good repair.  Most importantly, if people are to use the system, they need to be able to find a bike.  A reasonably clean bike.  So if you give the gift of bike share this year, place a small travel packet of hand sanitizing wipes under the tree too.  #bikeshare  #citibike  #nakedcycling  #mostthingsleftoutsidegetgummedup

So if I see you in the bike lane, whether you are wearing a tailored dress and heels, or knee socks and a pair or brown Pumas, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Hewson, Hasids, Hipsters and Apps

Should you have your own little seat cover for bike share?  Something that has a pattern that defines you in this moment in your life, and won't be an embarrassment years later like that ill-considered mullet?  Polka dots, perhaps.  Maybe something animal print?  A Mondrian if you are feeling special.  Little bicycles, so that you are beginning to act like the woman who wears the Christmas tree sweater to the Christmas party.  Hmmm.  Maybe not.  Sounds a little like those useless seat covers in public restrooms.  And yet, some feel that this is a good idea, maybe even worth $35.  Perhaps this was inspired by naked bike day, which raised all sorts of concerns about bacteria.

If the most successful bike share programs have a lot of stations with fewer bikes in each station, so one narrative goes.  If this is true, then Washington should consider that model, says  There could be one on nearly every corner with as few as seven bikes.  Perhaps, but I wonder how they could be kept full or empty enough to meet demand.  It seems more efficient to have the hale among us walk a few extra blocks to get a bike from a big dock knowing one will actually be there since the Bikeshare trucks have been by.  But if there's an algorithm for that, okay.  I am for it. #bikeshare

More good news reported by GGW for bike share users.  There is now a site to help you choose your transit method based on when the next bus or train is coming and how many bikes are in the nearest dock. #davidalpertforpresident  #bikeshareapp

If you live in a small house or apartment and bike storage has given you the design blues, you may want to check out the Schindelhauer thin bike, which can be stored almost flat against the wall.  At the Berlin Bike show this week, the German company debuted its limited edition, iPhone-white bike with the pedals that fold up and handlebars that turn.  It is a beautiful, sparely designed item worthy of Jony Ive or Massimo Vignelli. #schindelhauerthinbike

Heard rumors that Bono - as in Paul Hewson - of U2 fame biked around NYC unrecognized simply by dressing as an Hasidic Jew?  When The Edge made this claim (in jest of course) there were several who believed him.  Not so says an online Jewish news source, adding that Hasidics have opposed cyclist-scoff-laws and bike share stations because the users do not dress modestly.  "Hipsters vs. Hasids," the Huffington Post once dubbed this clash.  It's always hipsters vs. someone, usually someone in an S.U.V., or taxi, so it seems fresh to add a little variety to the tales of various fabled wars between cyclists and "others."  #bono

Looking to get fitted so that when you ride you won't have knee pain?  Remember that height isn't the only factor to consider in saddle positioning.  Here's a little guide for you until you can get to an expert fitter.  #bikefitting

So if I see you in the bike planes, whether you are a Hasid, Hipster, or a cleverly-dressed combination of the two, let's be smug.
Elisa P.