Saturday, January 23, 2016

Mayor Vetoes Bicycle Yield Law, Cargo Festival Calls for Contributors, and Irish Healthcare Workers Told to Saddle Up.

That cleverly-conceived law that would have allowed cyclists to yield at traffic lights (if there are no cars or pedestrians around and it is otherwise safe) was vetoed.  Why anyone would veto such a rational law is beyond me.  A female cyclist who must cross through the industrial portion of town on her way home from work can be ticketed if she yields at a light when there is no cross traffic, and only people with outstanding arrest warrants for a blunt force trauma murders.  This veto strikes me as absurd.   Perhaps we should change the right turn on red laws for all motorists.  (And a riot was heard to be forming.)
San Francisco is an outwardly progressive city secretly controlled by established old money.  Perhaps plate tectonics has allowed some kind of toxic vapor to leach into the mayor's office.  #bikeyieldlaw  Please post your conspiracy theory here.
Millennials are still driving less than other people.  And they are saving money instead of engaging in profligate spending.  Are they the smartest generation yet?  They appear to be centered enough to avoid the seduction of lower gas prices.   Tens of thousands of less sturdy people have rushed to buy SUVs, forgetting that history repeats itself.  Millennials.  Gotta love 'em.  And they bike like crazy.

In Belfast, healthcare workers are being urged to ride bicycles, for a number of reasons.  Can you name just ten of them?

There was a terrible bike share system once in Oregon, now a cycling Mecca.  What made it fail?  Besides an irrational belief that people won't vandalize and steal free bikes without locks.

The Cargo Bike Festival is in the planning stage.  Want to contribute?

If you don't already love @Brooklynspoke then I have to think something is wrong with you.  Assuming you do love him, then you will also love this story about his guerrilla construction cone appropriations in furtherance of cyclists' safety.  He won't wait 10 years for Vision Zero's results to finally show.
Ah, the desire to get things accomplished as apposed to creating endless process and forming committees.  It's so refreshing.  It's so not Washington.  

Can't get enough of cycling?  Want to patronize bicycle-themed restaurants in cities that may seem unlikely to have such things?  Then here's your guide.

So if I see you in the bike lane, yielding at a light, and you are in your Bakfiet, or just wearing your scrubs, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Bicycle Atonement or a Big Shock.

Atonement: As it turns out, some #bicyclethieves have (or develop) a conscience.  This particular one donated a bicycle 37 years after he stole one.  While that is certainly a lovely gesture, I would prefer not to wait so long for redemption/revenge.  I liked this second story about a bicycle that would administer an electrical shock to a would-be thief in the moment he/she tries to steal the bike.  Fast, efficient, and no need to wait almost four decades for satisfaction.

In the dark of winter, I have noticed that more bicycles are involved in near misses with other bikes, vehicles, or dizzy pedestrians.  So I compiled a list of cycling safety tips from several sources across the globe as a kind of reminder that we still have to ride defensively.  To avoid getting doored, look for car brake lights, several people in a car (distraction), and any car that has parallel parked in front of you.  Try to stay three feet from parked cars whenever you can do that safely.  Or you can wear a low-IQ-and/or-selfish-jerk-o-meter.  This will allow you to detect people who would never think to use their side mirror to check the bike lane before they open their car doors.

This winter rain has been more of an issue than snow.  So how do you ride in the rain and dark safely?  Don't lean into corners, slow down and sit down, and consider reducing your tire pressure a bit.  To that I would add, consider a lighter-colored poncho, assume the worst of drivers, and wear something that blinks enough to give even the Incredible Hulk vertigo.  Put your blinking light higher up, maybe on your pack, and use super bright lights in front and the rear.  And carry a tube.  You do not want to have to patch in this weather, unless you are a masochist.

If you think that cyclists are part of a subculture with its own rules and etiquette, you would be right.  Sort of.  Here is a short version of the rule book, a kind of study guide to the Talmud of cycling without having to immerse yourself in the longer version.  The guide can be reduced to one essential point: know the laws.  And recite them verbally - including the exact code section - to any annoying driver who gets it wrong.  Then refer to the guides above-cross-posted on how to drive fast in the rain and dark, away from some angry driver who tells you that nobody likes a smarty pants.  I myself once referred a driver to the Bicycle Safety Amendment Act, adding that it had passed final vote in October of 2014, and explaining that he was wrong.  He did not smile.  I did.

Washington, DC's #Riide e-bikes made it on Kickstarter and is now in production in the Shaw neighborhood.  The third line is about to become available through web order, and the company allows payment for the $2,000 bikes in monthly installments.  Don't have one yet?  Live in a city with a lot of hills?  Order now.

An Italian radio host wants to nominate the humble bicycle for the Nobel Prize.  Yup.  Seriously.  Here's why it makes sense.  The bicycle is a carbon-free transit mode that improves user health by reducing obesity and increasing fitness levels, which reduces cancer, diabetes and heart disease.  It weighs considerably less than a motor vehicle, meaning that, as a matter of physics, it cannot hurt people as badly as cars in accidents.  That means the humble bicycle saves lives through a variety of direct and indirect means.  Isn't that as good as inventing penicillin?

So, if I see you in the bike lane, and you are on a Riide e-bike, or any bike, whether it is snowing or raining, or as sunny as the Costa del Sol, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Congress Doing Something For Cyclists??????

Congress has the lowest approval rating since such records were kept.  If they do a little something to promote cycling, they could certainly get some higher numbers from one sub-culture - cyclists.  A new bill may allow cities to use transit funds for bike share programs without having to ask "Mother, may I?"  This matters because transit money is often used for roads and other motorized vehicle infrastructure that is not sustainable.  It usually cannot be used for cycling by the terms of the appropriations.  And if you guessed Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon was a backer, you'd be right.  He's the guy you see tooling along in the bike lines wearing a bowtie and gushing from his effusive personality.  I know.  You are thinking the bill won't pass because it is reasonable.  I get it.  You see the approval polls and think the entire Congress have lost their way.  Perhaps not.

Actually there is a Congressional Bike Caucus which has both Republican and Democrats among its members.  Congressman Tom Petri, like the dish, is also a supporter.  Something to consider if you ever plan to write an advocacy letter, or if you are a single issue voter.  Bike lanes, or bust.  (Remember Bernard Shoenbaum's New Yorker cartoon showing a Congressman leaving the Capitol on a bicycle?

As much as they bellyache about the debt (or really DEBT), you would think that Congress would want to save money.  Maybe $25 trillion would help.  But you could not do isolation math to calculate the savings to cities, because it would include reducing healthcare spending by eliminating obesity-related illnesses, reducing the damaging impact of carbon emissions, cutting wear and tear to roads frequented by cars and more.  That might be a little complicated for this particular group.

Well some of the healthiest people live in Utah, which has the most active population in the United States.  More exercise, more cycling . . . You do the math.  Not you.  Congress.

So, if I see you in the bike lanes, and you a Congressman of any party, or a long-suffering staffer, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Horace Dobbins' Dream Coming True Again

When I think of great Americans, my thoughts veer to the obvious: Thomas Jefferson (- the slave thing); Florence Nightingale; Thomas Edison (-the weird habits thing); Gloria Steinem; and Steve Jobs (- the mean aspects).  And I add to that list Horace Dobbins, who built the first bicycle highway between Pasadena and downtown Los Angeles in 1897.  If he is looking down from above, he has been smiling to see Boris Johnson's planned bicycle highway in London, and Germany's new Autobahn for bicycles, to name a couple.  I think it would really please him if another bicycle highway could connect Pasadena to downtown again, the LA River path being an obvious place to set it up.  What would happen to motorists who could see bicycles whizzing past them while they sit in traffic?  As they saw the Metro speed by them on the Dulles Toll Road, they moved to mass transit in droves.  A similar thing could happen if they saw bicycles float by them.  If you build it, they will come. #startthecyclingrevolution
Apparently no single map does a good job of showing all the possible bike paths, lanes and routes in the Washington, DC area.  This may be ripe for a crowd-sourced effort that includes data posted by all of us.  I would add to the map locations where you can safely change or buy a tube, fill your water bottle, and use the bathroom (sitting down, I mean fellas).  Anyone have an algorithm for that?
That puckish little capitalist model, Citibike, just posted its 10 millionth ride.  And so goes the failure that wasn't what Dorothy Rabinowitz claimed.  Citibike did not herald a dyspotian NYC (any more that the the one that already exists).  It did seem to symbolize a Manhattan of greater accessibility, which can frighten those who cling to their identity by means of exclusion.  So go #Citibike, go!  May many more designated lanes follow.

A corporate event planner, tired of setting up trust seminars and haggling over the cost of rubber chicken, took a cross-country trip on a Citibike share bike.  It was a little more than evocative of Forrest Gump.   The adventure was a far better way to work out a mid-life crisis (or early millennial life crisis) than buying a red sports car and trying to wear clothes that no longer flatter you.  Although if you rode a bike across the country, you could probably begin to wear those clothes again without pushing the boundaries of decency and taste.  #jeffreytanenhaus

#California has now enacted what might seem like a peculiar law to many, but will resonate as sensible to anyone who has ever sat on a hairpin turn on the Pacific Coast Highway north of Stinson Beach in a car or a bicycle.  If more than five cars are stacked up behind a bicycle, the cyclist must pull into the next exit and allow the cars to pass.  I wonder if anyone who takes those long rides near Mendocino has an opinion about this law?  Could it help the image of cyclists, or create another way for cars to bully riders?

So if I see you in the bike lane, or on the bike highway, and you are real person, or a happy, ghostly vision of Horace Dobbins himself, let's be smug,
Elisa P.