Monday, August 31, 2015

Late Summer Cycling Salads For After Long Rides

Salad # 1:
Busy Cyclists' Kale and Grilled Peach Salad

What you need:

Large bunch kale (I know, it's weird, it's always been there and suddenly everyone thinks its hot.  Like your weird cousin Henry, whom every woman avoided until that attractive shop girl escorted him to a big party.  Now he puts wax in his hair and acts likes he's always busy.)
One large yellow peach that is firm. Firm is just easier for grilling and less runny when heated.
Two tablespoons of mild Dutch blue cheese (Strong and local works well, but any blue will work.)
Sea salt 

Herbs de Province, about two shakes
Two tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil
One tablespoon of Dijon mustard
One lemon
Red or white wine vinegar, one tablespoon

Before you head out:

Wash a large head of kale, organic is usually better, but regular green kale will do.
Pull the kale leaves away from the stems until they rip off (you should pull down from the top, but if it seems hard, try the other way.)  
Put about a tablespoon or two of water in a flatter pan, like a frying or sauté pan.
Turn the burner on high.  When the water bubbles from the heat, lower the kale into the pan.
The kale should crest the top of the pan.
Cover the pan, smashing the kale down a bit, and cook it on high for about 90 seconds.
Turn off the heat and put the kale on a large plate.  Let it cool in the refrigerator.
Cut a large yellow peach in half and place it skin side down on  hot grill, or a hot grill pan
Turn the peach over after 5 minutes, or less if you like.  A little longer will make it sweeter and it will work well with the kale's flavor if it is sweeter.  The skin should get a little slack and maybe very light brown.  You can get dress while the peach is cooking.
Cook the peach pulp side down until golden brown streaks appear, then place it in the refrigerator

Now go ride.  Think big, important thoughts.  Write code in your mind.  Plan your next career.  Or empty your mind completely.

When you get back:
Place the kale in a large flat salad bowl or serving plate.
Slice the grilled peach and place it on top of the kale.
Shake the blue cheese on top of the peach.
Add some sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
Mix the oil, vinegar and mustard in a recycled glass jar, like the ones that Dijon mustard come in. 
Then squeeze some lemon in.  Add th herbs and shake.  Then drizzle it over the salad.  
Toss, or don't.
Add roasted almonds for protein if you want, or don't.  Whatever.

Eat.  Enjoy.  Feel superior to others.  You are.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Bike Share Reduces Traffic, Duh, and Brompton's Future Looks Electric

So Washington, D.C. has some of the worst traffic in the country.  Yup, in addition to being the town that was the inspiration for the phrase, "Politics is like Hollywood for ugly people," the nation's capital is now a traffic choke point.  Enter Capital Bike Share.  Did it really take a study to figure out that Bike Share reduces traffic?  Was this a waste of grant money, or does Congress need studies to be persuaded of the obvious?  Of course it reduces traffic.  I am comfortable asserting that, when I am on my bike, I am not driving in a car.  And, the Federal Highway Administration is now suggesting that America build more bike lanes to ease traffic.  Because bike lanes, well, ease traffic.  Kind of like bike share.  Same concept.  Had the study concluded something shocking, like painting the interior of your home sea foam prevents breach births, then it might have seemed worth it.  Sigh.
In the meantime, a new map helps those commuting in from Arlington find the best route without squinting at a dotted red line on a map that resembles a bad tangle of bungee cords more than any topography.  When Arlington-ers take the best route on their bikes, my guess is that they will not also be in their cars.  

Even as the automotive industry shakes off dust, The Motor City is getting a bike share program.  Huh?  Detroit was so depressed just five years ago I felt bad for the hotel staff that had lost high paying jobs and were now delivering room service to guests.  A little ironic that a city so dependent on the car business has a vision for sustainability.  Now, if they could just design something that did not depend on fossil fuels to run . . .
Oh that's right.  They have.

Late summer has seen an explosion of electric bike news. has published its annual e-bike guide.  The Awesomer reports on the Go-e bike, a kit that can turn any bike into an e-bike.  (A little crowd-funding never hurt a great idea.)  Madrid launches its electric share bikes.  And Treehugger makes the case for e-bike Radwagon as the ticket to a "car lite" lifestyle.  And incredible CEO, Will Butler Adams, of Brompton tells The Standard why the London-based cycling company's future lies in foldable e-bikes.

Must read:  Bicycling Magazine's piece on the last paperboy on a bicycle.  If you don't mist up, you must be made of stone.

Must watch: A documentary on a woman, Mama Agatha, teaching immigrants in Amsterdam how to ride bikes.  A bright note after a week of grisly stories on human smuggling and the suffering of refugees.

In memoriam: Timothy A. Holden, cyclist, former Navy Seal, was killed by a motorist while he was bicycling in Bethesda.  He was just a half a mile from home, and on a stretch of Massachusetts Avenue with bike lanes.  Double hero.  RIP.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, whether you are an immigrant just starting out, or an old hand on an e-bike, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cycling News of Week: Is cycling the transit of dishwashers and the wealthy? Apparently yes.

How should you overtake a cyclist without backing up traffic or endangering yourself or the rider?  In the UK, Chris Boardman was thrilled with the positive response to a clip explaining how to safely overtake a cyclist.  Answer:  Give the cyclist the same amount of passing space that you would a motor vehicle.  Maybe we could try a similar public service announcement here in the US?  Hello?   Anyone listening?  And can we do it in metric for no other reason than a bit of cache?

Zappa,  RIP

Even producers of musical theater are trying to capitalize on the cycling revolution.  Are these musicals really about the struggles of cycling, or how cycling is a metaphor for the larger cultural issues of our time?  Or do they simply throw some on-stage cycling on top of an otherwise weak script?  If you guess the latter, you'd be right.

The e-bike industry continues to dazzle in Europe.  Smart move since this summer Europe is gagging on the worst pollution it has ever seen.  Kinda diminishes the "quaint" factor of traveling there.  Makes you think you accidentally de-planed in Beijing.

Image from Dave, a.k.a. Washcycle

The Washcycle reports that Northeast Maryland is getting a new trail on an old rail line.  Always good news.  Add some decent restaurants along the route and you've got an economy.

From The Economist, caption: "My other bike is a Porsche."

Who bikes to work?  The wealthy.  And the struggling.  The fastest growing group of bike commuters are the very upper, middle class.  What does this mean about the sustainability of cycling as a transit means?  What does it mean for designers of which cycling wear?  What does it mean for cycling parking in urban areas.  The times, they are a changin'.  (Dylan might freak out in his earlier version of himself.)  Georgetown's newspaper, a snobby bore of little rag, is even covering bike share.  Holy Thurston Howell/The Donald.  This from the same community that feared the riffraff that might come of adding a Metro train station according to recently re-reported accounts.  Goodness.  This cycling thing might be here to stay.  Get out your Harris Tweed, your Dutch cycle, and ride and be seen.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, whether you are a dishwasher or a dapper venture capitalist, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

North Korean Bike Lanes and North Carolina Bike Trains

So in case you have not heard, Washington, DC Public Schools are going to offer bike riding lessons as part of the curriculum.  And if you cannot afford a bike, you can use some of the schools'.  This is a smart step to getting kids to become more active, fighting childhood obesity, and making sure no one gets left behind in bike love.
After all, the city of Copenhagen has been saving a quarter of a billion dollars in healthcare costs through cycling every year.

The City of College Park, Maryland, having failed to get Capital Bike Share, is considering starting an independent bike share of its own.  This is a great choice as long as the Terrapins don't win a tournament and send thousands of inebriated revelers into the streets to wreak general havoc against the bikes and docks.

Business is booming if you are a bike store owner in Europe, or if you sell accessories or parts or anything else related to bikes.   And one area for real growth is fold-up helmets for the multi-model riders who want to get to the commuter train, then make the helmet disappear into the briefcase for the rest of the day.

Taking Amtrak in North Carolina?  If so, you may now bring your bike.  When I think of North Carolina, I think of fried okra, Thomas Wolfe, and tobacco.  I do not think of bike infrastructure.  But hey, I am glad to be surprised.
It's election time again (in over a year, during which time the national suffering will be great) and the candidates have all begun to say what they will not do.  Few actual plans are being articulated, probably because no honest candidate knows what he or she will do once they have real responsibilities.  And I know, there are no honest candidates, or live griffins, or donors who do not expect to influence.  But I would like to see someone ask all the candidates where they stand on changing the way we live/drive/bike.  This week Citylab asks if Americans are just too afraid to make driving unappealing, even if it would enhance our national security, help address the obesity epidemic and drive down healthcare costs.
In Europe there are many cities where the car is no longer king: Milan, Brussels, examples.  

"But what about North Korea?" you ask.  How is the cycling infrastructure there?  Excellent.  Civil liberties or freedom of expression?  I guess it just depends on your priorities.  Whoooahahah.

So if I see you in the bike lanes in a reasonably free if somewhat obese country, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Cycling Angels and Devils Emerge In This Week's News

It's difficult to understand how we will get to Vision Zero, a state of no traffic related deaths.  The program being embraced by U.S. cities is modeled on similar ones in European cities.  Bad behavior in traffic is most dangerous, as a matter of physics, if your weapon weighs over 2000 pounds - about the weight of a mid-sized car.  Vision zero DC's online surveys have a reporting code includes bad cyclist behavior.  Bleh!  And it's where it should be, toward the end of infractions to be reported to transportation officials.  I have seen cycling offenders, but far less often than the angry drivers of cars and trucks. 

Capital Bike share is getting 60 new stations and 577 new bikes, the cost of which is over $3.5 million, or over $5700 per bike.  How can that be?  Well, the numbers include all of the infrastructure, and the cost of each bike is actually far less, closer to $1,200.  Some of my bikes (yup, plural, so judge me!) cost more than $1,200 so this does not get me all worked up.  Besides, I am willing to have my tax dollars cover this important service.  Want to see the breakdown?  Here's the Washington Post story.  Want to see why people should ride bike share?  Well, they can lose a lot of weight and save society a lot of money.  So it balances out.

How many people do you know who started riding to work and suddenly dropped a lot of weight?  Here are some amazing success stories from people who lost over 100 pounds, and dodged a life of Type-2 diabetes, lethargy, and negative social responses.  And they are draining society of fewer resources.  And they look better.  In some instances a lot better.

Have you ever been to Brazil?  The traffic can resemble chaos.  Now imagine riding a bicycle in such a place?  No, not on the beaches, but on the city streets, where no one has ever heard of driver's ed class, and horns are used in lieu of turn signals.  You'd have to get a coach to figure out how to ride your bike and stay alive.  And there are such coaches as this NPR piece explains.
Bait bikes work in Sacramento.  And, according to the police there, the people arrested for trying to steal bait bikes often have a long history of property thefts, bad tattoos, and a failure to live well among us.

Another week, another YouTube posting of a psychopath reaching out of a moving car to shove a cyclist into a ditch.  And you thought politics was vicious.

Trek, that stalwart, is moving its sales online.  What will this do to the local bike shop?  What will this do to Trek?  Stay tuned.

"Morally Depraved Person of the Week" goes hands down to the bike thief who took a 12 year old cancer patient's bike.  Which circle of hell did Dante reserve for this type of sub-person?

The cycling saint of the week goes to Mathew Portell (on the left, duh).  Portell runs the non-profit organization "Ride for Reading,"  which distributes books in low income neighborhoods by bicycle.  Just wow.  That's all.

So if I see you in the bike lane, distributing books, or riding that Trek you now need to have fitted by your local shop since you got it online, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

You Can Arrive by Plane or Train and See Washington Without Touching a Car

The District Department of Transportation is considering adding protected bike lanes on Louisiana Avenue.  The lanes would connect Union Station to the protected lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue.  This would allow train commuters to be multi modal.  And they could lose weight since 30% of bike share users report that they have done just that.  Bikestation, a place to leave your bike while you work or ride the train, may want to expand.  With the proposed lanes, you could easily ride Amtrak down from Philly, take Capital Bike Share from Union Station to the re-opening of the National Gallery East Wing.  You could view great art in one of the best spaces ever conceived, ride back to the train station, and be home in time to watch that episode of Between Two Ferns before you turn into a pumpkin.

Soon you can take Capital Bike Share to the National Airport when you have that day trip with a backpack planned.  Or you could meet arriving friends and ride the Metro back with them.  Or you could ride out there on bike share and watch the planes fly overhead, if you have that kind of lingering suburban ennui and little concern for your hearing.

Bike friendly communities are indeed helping the local economy.  When this prediction was made several years ago, many businesses groused that they would lose parking spots.  Perhaps, but isn't that like losing a case of strep throat, or losing that weird guy who keeps following you at the party?  Embracing cycling seems to be a tide that lifts all boats.  Really.

This week was not all good news about benevolent cyclists and venal drivers.  A terrible video has surfaced showing a cyclist riding on the sidewalk, hitting a toddler and dragging her.  Something to think about when you are on the sidewalk in a dense community.  He was later fined.  The child sustained some very upsetting facial injuries.  Don't be that guy.

In more familiar scenario, a driver harassing a cyclist ended up tripping as he was chasing the cyclist.  The trip happens at 3:30 in the video, which is otherwise long. Unless you like listening to a barking lunatic rant, externalizing blame for every empty thing in his life, you might want to skip right to the schadenfreude.  The main theme of the rant is that the driver thinks car ownership is an accomplishment.  Like having a real Picasso. And that cyclists are riding because they have failed to accomplish acquiring a car.  An interesting view that would have fit right into the zeitgeist in about 1963.  I am guessing that this driver will never win the Nobel Prize.  This video presents strong evidence that phrenology was an exact science.  I'm just sayin' . . .

So, if I see you in the bike lane, and you are on a bike, let's be smug.
Elisa P.