Sunday, March 29, 2015

Speed Dating for Cyclists, and Wicked Bike Thieves.

Looking for someone who shares your values so you can have lifetime together?  Of course you are if you are single.  And you think that means similar views of family, money, religion, and intimacy.  But what about your view of cycling? If you prefer to ride and think those motoring around in cars suffer from a lack of imagination, maybe you need a way to meet someone who feels the same way you do about transit.  In London, speed dating for cyclists is a thing.  #speeddatingforcyclists

What's the best way to get more people to use bike share?  Drop the price?  Add softer seats?  Nope.  Instead, just decrease the distance between docks by 10% claims some MBAs.  For once numbers crunchers may have contributed to a plan I can support without skepticism.  Well, I remain a little skeptical.  #bikeshare

Can you imagine a person so rotten that he would throw a five year old off of a bike and then steal it?  Makes the Grinch Who Stole Christmas look charitable.  If you know who this man is in the video in the link below, notify the authorities.  If you don't say something, a pox will befall you.  Or the karma cops will exact their revenge.  Either way I think you are looking at disfigurement or open sores.  Do the right thing.

Here's a quiz for you.  Which of the following people worked as #bikemessengers?  Liev Schreiber, Jennifer Aniston, Henry Miller, yes, that Henry Miller, or Joey Ramone?  Did you guess all of them?  Henry Miller may have conceived of the Tropic of Cancer atop two wheels.  Just imagine how many of life's challenges can get a fresh approach after you have cleared your head on the ride home.  Today, a better casserole recipe, tomorrow, world domination or the cure for cancer.  The sky's the limit when you ride.  Sort of.

Do you remember how E.T. phoned home?  Then he rode in the bicycle basket up higher and higher to get there.  A moment in cinematic history.  Maybe not intended as the intricate metaphor I projected onto that scene.  It was not Strindberg, I admit, but Spielberg.  So what if your stolen bike could phone home to let you know where it was?  Apparently it can.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, whether you are a messenger or a non-carbon-based life form, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Bike Friendly Office Parks, Helmets Deter Cycling, and Vision Zero Needs Some Help.

DC has rolled out Vision Zero.  I am in favor of this.  #VisionZero is the plan conceived in Sweden which attempts to eliminate traffic-related deaths.  I assume this is possible by slowing traffic and creating segregated bike lanes.  But how can it be achieved unless the city is fitted with a dumb-o-meter at its borders?  Something like a magnetometer that would detect half-wits and make them turn around before they enter the streets.  Or perhaps a technology that caused cellular phones to zap the people texting on them?

When I think of Tyson's Corner, Virginia, that slice of cement between Vienna and McLean, I think of shopping in predictable stores for overpriced goods made mostly in China.  I think of terrible traffic and aggressive drivers.   Sometimes I think of . . . no, I shudder at the thought of the occasional kitchen worker on a Huffy clinging to the shoulder of Route 123, just hoping his extended family in El Union will be fine if he gets creamed by the pinched-looking gal in the Mercedes.  My opinion changed a little when I saw the Silver Line flying above Route 7.  But bike lanes?  In Tyson's Corner?  That's like spotting a flying saucer landing on the lawn of the White House.  And yet, #bikelanes are planned for Tyson's.

When I think of H Street, I think of a lot of things.  Creative food.  Street robberies.  And, yes, #bikes.  Now developers are applying for a proposed condo building to be exempt from DC's parking requirements.  Developers will have to pitch some alternative transit modes.  The streetcars would be such an alternative, if the project can ever get going.  Walking three blocks to Union Station would be another.  #Cycling would clearly be a great mode that might set a precedent for other developers.  Could this signal a change in thinking?

The latest bikes and accessories were featured this week in Copenhagen.  And again the focus is increasingly on the less serious cyclist.  Need a bike equipped to carry wine?  One with a sidecar for you mother-in-law?  One for the wine you may want after your sidecar ride with your mother-in-law?  How about a $4 shopping bag in chartreuse to attached to your rear rack?  The show featured cycles for people who live in the city, don't race, and don't think the racers are being candid when they claim they don't juice.  In fact, the numbers of people who buy transit bikes and accessories are growing and business is reacting.

#BicycleHelmets.  Could they contribute to people cycling less?  Well a study in Sweden concludes they result in few children cycling.  Bad news since that is when most people learn to ride and love a bike.  And the mandating of helmets may not help Vision Zero, unless it does so by reducing the number of people using a bike.  Less people on the roads might result in less deaths.  But that wasn't how it was supposed to work.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, even if that bike lane is in Tyson's Corner, of all improbable places, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Drivers Rant, Children Warned, and Insanity Ensues.

Is #peer-to-peer bike sharing the wave of the future?  We all probably have list serves where we can borrow a cooler, or a lawn mower, or an electric mixer.  But what if the same thing happened with bikes?  Could a sharing system based on only trust ever replace bike share as we know it?  If #bikeshare fails, peer-to-peer may become the only way.

It is never a good idea to pop a wheely on your bike and crash it down on a bike being ridden by two other people.  On this point, I think we can all agree, whether Democrat or Republican or Whig or Tory or Zoroastrian.

That said, it still amazes me when when drivers get irate at cyclists and decide to go berserk, as occurred in San Francisco not long ago.  A #cyclist was cut off by a driver who saw a parking spot and turned into it without regard for the cyclist.  Predictably, the cyclist crashed into the car.  The driver had a small vocabulary and poor conflict and stress management skills, which were on full display during his rant and attack on the cyclist.  The video reminds one how important shame is to societal relations.  The image of the driver also hints that #phrenology, that long discredited view that criminal behavior can be predicted by the shape of one's head, might indeed have been an exact science.  There is something about the driver's head . . .

Are we on a clear path to devolution when police officers caution a four-year-old girl for riding her bike not the sidewalk?  Is humanity doomed to succumb to its own witlessness?  I fear cyclists must wrest society from the grip of insanity.

So if I see you in the bike lane, even if you are just four years of age, but not if you have a certain squash-shaped head, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Women's Bicycling History Month

We have have a group called "chicks on bikes," but once upon a time, there was the ultimate chick on a bike.  Back over a hundred years ago.  Susan B. Anthony, famous leader of the suffragette movement, said of cycling: "I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.  It gives women a sense of freedom and self-reliance."  Here here.  Talk about "leaning in."  I know she said this before women were given the right to vote, which is arguably more emancipating.  But it is still a rocking quote.

The International Cargo Bike Festival is set for next month.  If you want to learn how to use bike delivery for your business, you should attend the workshop by #OutspokenDelivery on April 18.  Almost anything can be delivered by #bicycle in cities.  Flowers, pizza, groceries, piping, siding, massage treatments, ideas, singing telegrams, and dry-cleaning.  You would need the right caravan for the latter.  Something like Anthony Quinn had in Fellini's La Strada, without the motorcycle and pathos.

B-Line Sustainable Delivery or Portland, Oregon

Many Americans who own bikes do not use them out of fear of getting hurt in traffic.  This is a rational fear that can be addressed by better infrastructure, many more cyclists, and public health education campaigns.  Threats might also work.  They sometimes do for people.  Oh, that would be wrong though.  Right?

Is car ownership up in the Netherlands?  Could it be the myth of an ethical #bicyclingsociety is just that - a myth?  It seems that maybe a lot of Dutch do not own cars simply because of the cost.  Or are they smart enough not to want the hassle?  Hmmmm.  Those Dutch.  Hard to figure them out some days.

Speaking of cost, it seems #CapitalBikeshare is about to raise prices.   But they can't make it cost as much as a car, or even 1/10th as much as a car.  It's still a great investment.  Whereas a depreciating asset that requires constant feeding and maintenance is never a good investment, particularly where other choices are available.  It's like investing in Bernie Madoff's firm after you learned of his conviction.  Madness.  Unless you live and work where you have no other choice.  And then it's just unfair.

ThingWorx, a French company, has developed a new IoT system for #bikeshare that it hopes will become the industry standard.  Great.  But it needs to be tight as drum in terms of the code.  It needs to be easily adaptable and low cost to maintain.  Many a software system has been the near downfall bike share systems.  A fix is needed.  Not a patch afterwards.  (Get it?  Patch.  Bike and code humor.  Bad, but . . .)  And I can get the "Oh but the French made it" thing out of my head if it really does the job.  Few things are more irritating than an out of whack bike share system that doesn't know which docks are empty and which are full.  Okay maybe famine is worst.  Or pestilence.  Or some other biblical-level plague.  But it does feel rotten to arrive at work 15 minutes before a meeting only to discover every supposedly available dock for blocks is filled to capacity.  Perhaps the French have moved past their somewhat accommodating role in the two world wars and I should give them another go round.®-Internet-IoT-Platform-Connected#.VPzuLEsbQpE

After bikeshare employees voted to unionize in 2014, local bike mechanics working at private shops formed a union in solidarity with their counterparts.  No idea where this may lead, but let's hope not to a bail out of the industry and complaints of abuse of the retirement system.  So far, no sign of that.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, even if you are a fish, or a French coder, or bike mechanic, or someone who has benefitted from the skills of a fish, a French coder, or a bike mechanic, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

May Bike Share Live Long and Prosper, and May the Elderly and Female Join In.

In Copenhagen, it seems that #bikeshare has been relegated to a tourist attraction, and it is dying.  Does this mean the death of cycling in #CyclingMecca?  No.  It means the system had an unsustainable cost structure, and pretty much everyone bikes and uses their own.  May bike share live long and prosper, as #LeonardNimoy said.  But if it comes to the end of a long good run and it must go, let cycling live on.  I would give this shocking twist of fate a Spock analysis, but logical characterizations of municipal failings would have baffled Spock.

While bike share in Copenhagen limps along, cycling in general must be increasing.  #Voxwomen is the new Youtube channel for women's cycling.  Hard to believe that while most bike commuters are men there is a channel that features women's cycling.  This is a little bird of hope.  Or maybe a California Condor of hope.  It's something that merits a general yippee.  #chicksonbikes

Can sites like Voxwomen bring more women to cycling?  What about older people, who have not embraced cycling despite the evidence it is therapeutic, and can even treat symptoms of Parkinson's disease?  Not yet.  If you want to reach older people, you are going to have to go their media, network television, that thing we all used to watch.  Right now the images of the elderly on television are frozen.  Medicine ads run back-to-back on network news - which is still watched by older people at the scheduled time.  No older person appears to be cycling unless they are dong so slowly and only after receiving some advertised drug.  Ads featuring cycling and its benefits it could help to change this image and maybe reduce the need for all that medicine that is aggressively advertised.  Right now, if an outer space creature chanced upon television ads and tried to figure out American culture from what he/she/it saw - ads for prescription medicines for E.D., various auto-immune diseases, and smoking cessation - he/she/it would certainly imagine we could be easily plundered and overcome.  Calling all billionaires!  Please sponsor pro-cycling ads featuring women and older people.  Take back America's sense of well-being, and restore its image in the eyes of extra-terrestrial creatures.–-growing-levels-cycling-have-not-brought

The unsteal-able bike has shown up in another round of videos, this time on the Washington Post's online section.  Great, if there were not bike chop shops, whose "contributors" dismantle bikes.  They do not steal and ride them away.  If you don't believe me, just ask any runny-nosed meth addict with bolt cutters you chance upon.  A bike is to them nothing more than the sum of its parts.  No bike is unsteal-able.

So if I see you in the bike lane, and you are on an unsteal-able bike that has not yet been stolen, and you are Medicare eligible, or assisted-living avoiding, or you happen to be a woman, or not, let's be smug.
Elisa P.