Sunday, February 28, 2016

Human Potential Wasted on Long Commutes and the Death Toll from Vehicular Accidents

People who live in remote suburbs experience a change in their personalities and productivity as a result of long commutes.  This is terribly sad when you consider the fact that many people lives in remote x-urbs because they need affordable housing.  So this "need" causes them to fall further behind.  This is yet another argument in favor of living in small quarters and riding your bike to work.  See this nice piece from the Washington Post.

Are you frugal to a fault?  Re-use vacuum cleaner bags?  Buy everything in bulk?  Refuse to eat out unless someone is holding a gun to your head?  Ride a bike to save tens of thousands of dollars a year on car carrying costs and gym memberships?  This is a New Yorker piece on the guru of cheap, whose website is also hyperlinked below.  He is creative.  He rides a bike.  He won't bring you an extravagant gift that will make you feel uncomfortable and in need to setting boundaries.  #mrmoneymoustache

Penny Farthing bikes are weird, and yet I see a guy around Capitol Hill riding one from time-to-time as if his bike is no different from that Giant Hybrid you pump to work.  Well, Australia is holding Penny Farthing championships.  Eccentric.

What are the seven things people say to you after you ride your bike to work?  "You are a god[ess]."  "I wish I had the courage to ride."  "You wore your dress on your bike?"  Well, these may not be the most common of the remarks, but you might like to read which ones made the cut.  And, "You are the future, a gift, the best person on the planet now that Mother Theresa is dead," is not one of them.

Over a million people have been killed in vehicle accidents since 1990.  You are safer on a bike, statistically, and in terms of the threat you pose to others.  Sounds like that's worth a lot of karma.

So if I see you in the bike lane, even if you are a quirky Penny Farthing rider, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Award Winning Bike Share Helmet Design, and Bicycle to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC

Looking for that perfect weekend getaway where you can ride your bike everywhere?  The Cherry Blossoms are glorious at peak bloom in Washington, and their access is very easy by bike.  If you want tips on how to get around during the festival, check out these two posts. Just across the mall are plenty of great restaurants where you can dock a share bike, or lock up your own.  Don't miss it, unless you have some sort of incapacitating allergies.  In that case, take something and come anyway.  You will have to walk your bike at peak times to avoid hitting people.  You may also have to dodge the occasional tour bus.  The good news is that those buses can no idle, so you can get around them without gagging.  #bikecherryblossoms

The French have changed.  Not only do they fight their own battles and plug terrorists nowadays, but they have decided to pave roads with solar panels that can bring electricity to five million people.

Poland is now right behind Italy and Germany in terms of bike production.  I notice you never hear the jokes anymore.

Proof that cycling is changing the culture:
Bike cities now include Dallas Fort Worth, and may expand to include Raleigh, University of Louisana at Lafayette, and the University of Delaware.  Cincinnati newspapers now run opinion pieces that advocate for more cycling.  What will be next?
In Ireland, Cork City has added bike share to its bumpy cobblestone roads.  Perfect.

Europeans find answers to vexing bicycle travel questions on  Like whether you can get around Benidorm on an e-bike.  Haven't you always wondered?

Ride a bike in Isreal and you had better obey the traffic rules or be ticketed.  Yes, I mean that kind of bike, not the other fume-spewing one.

Parson's School designer Barent Roth has come up with a gorgeous helmet that was made for bike share.  This will be my next helmet since I firmly believe you should try to look good when you ride a bike.  You are an ambassador for change after all.  #barentroth

So, if I see you in the bike lane, as we fly over the solar panels I imagine will grace our streets one day, as we head straight to pink, fluffy grace of the Cherry Blossoms, while wearing our fetching Barent Roth helmets, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Real Reason Why Candidates Should Address Cycling This Valentine's Day

This community should ask the candidates to discuss an issue that may help America save a lot of money and be healthier.  Obviously, I am talking about cycling.

If you have ever watched network news in America, you will notice that it features wall-to-wall drug ads, many for treatment of #type2diabetes.  I counted more than 6 drug ads in a half hour this week.

If an alien from another galaxy landed on earth and sought to judge us from these ads he would think everyone here was hypertensive, unable to perform sexually, and diabetic.  He would definitely radio the mother ship and tell them that we could easily be defeated given our considerable infirmities.

The ads run during network news feature songs from the 1960s and 70s for two reasons: (1) the age group being targeted; and (2) after 20 plus years the fees payable to BMI or ASCAP for using the songs are smaller as a matter of law.

Who watches network news anymore?  A lot of older people who receive Medicare, which pays for these drugs, and a lot of poor people who cannot afford cable and who have Medicaid, which may also pay.  That is why the drug companies urge you to talk to your doctor and request their product.  Then the government pays.  Usually more than the negotiated amounts paid by private insurers.

Have you ever noticed that the people in these ads appear to be in mid-life, a little heavy, but happy?  Ads are written to suggest hope, not misery, hence the happy walking by diabetics.

The network news audience is the generation that lost any walking and cycling infrastructure, grew up in the 'burbs eating processed foods, and now finds itself in need of diabetes, hypertension, and cholesterol drugs.  This is the generation that fell in love with the car, had their first sexual experience in the car, gained status because of the particular car they drove/drive, and told themselves that getting that hybrid was as good as a two-hour lenten confession.  (Not really.)  Why eat right or cook whole foods when you can just take a drug?  But they were sold, and easily bought, a bill of goods.  What they ended up with was illness and obesity, much of which comes with age or genetics, but more of which comes from a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet.

I cannot say that the #drugcompanies are entirely venal either.  We have the best drug scientists in world.  Their work has alleviated suffering worldwide.  Whether they should be permitted to be publicly traded and have to answer to shareholders is another matter.

In any event, our national budget is largely defense and medical costs.  Check if you do not believe me.  It's only 600 pages or so.

We are not likely to scale back defense anytime soon.  (I would add that the military has had trouble with recruits being too obese and unhealthy to get through training.  Hmmm.)

But how do we cut costs and improve the quality of life for America's next generation?  We know more people are members of health clubs today than at any point in history.  But we are still fat and diabetic.  (Not me personally, but you get my point.)  We know that films like "Fed Up," and others have revealed how the amount of sugar that is concealed in low fat foods may be worsening the obesity epidemic.  We know that people can get off of diabetes and other drugs when they bicycle or walk to work.  They lose weight, exercise their hearts, and get better, especially when they can find safe lanes and paths.  They need fewer medicines.  That costs less.  For everyone.  The problem is, most people live where they cannot walk or cycle to work, or even take mass transit.  That should not be America.

So . . . Which candidate has said anything that could be taken as revealing an awareness of our health and fitness problem/budget healthcare cost problem?  Maybe that's for the general.  (Hahahahahahhaha.)  But when I say that candidates should state their position on bike lanes, I really mean they should talk about how they would make it easier for Americans to walk and cycle and regain our health.

Remember that moment in Vera Britain's "Testament of Youth," when the war was being lost in France, and she heard a sound, looked up, and saw the American regiment marching?  How hail and strong they looked?  Not the chunky folks trying to look positive as they search for something to supplement their insulin shots while "Everyday People," plays in the background.   Want to really make America great again?

I would like to see what happens to residents of Hoboken in a few years when they realize what they have done to themselves by voting for double parking over bike lanes.  Gear up the diabetes medicine ads.   By then it will be songs from the 1980s.  Maybe a little ditty by Boy George.


In the meantime, in #cyclingnews:

Businesses in London have overwhelmingly agreed to support the cycling super highway.  (And think of what they will save in healthcare costs and days lost from work.)  #cyclingsuperhighway

A cyclist in London is happy to see that bicycles will soon outnumber cars, but she misses the old days of solitude and danger.  I would ask her to get over it quickly and enjoy the companionship.

Just a reminder that the London Bike Show with this past week.  Check out the winners and losers.

There's a winter bike to work day.  Amazingly wonderful.  

Atlanta's new cycling czaress is hanging in there.  Here is wishing her great success.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, and you are a libertarian, a Green, Dem, Rep, or Independent, expect me to raise the issue of cycling's incredible societal benefits, and let's definitely be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Why You MUST Come to Washington, DC in May if you are a cyclist.

For obvious reasons tonight' post is short and sweet.

Washington is holding a city ride on May 22, 2016.  They will be closing the streets and you must come.  Book now and save a few dollars, but make your AirBnB reservation quickly.  This is going to be big.  See you there.

I am not sure we need biodegradable helmets because I am not sure we really need helmets for most rides.  Discuss.

So Norman, Oklahoma has bike share?  WTH?  What next?  Midland, Texas?  The world is getting better.

I love my bike.  Okay, bikeS.  But I would not sell my portion of skyrocketing startup just for a bike.

I stand by my claim that, in general, those who post blogs hostile to bike share look like the Bob of Bob's Big Boy.  They have squishy math, carefully selected sources of data, and about as much credibility as Pinocchio before he repented and had his ethical, Teutonic epiphany.

But, if I see you in the bike lane, and you look like Bob, but you are on a bicycle, let's be smug.  Double points if you are on a bike share bike.
Elisa P.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Facebook Holds Back on Bikes, Boy Bands Ride On

Facebook is not supplying its employees with electric bicycles because the law governing their safety in Menlo Park is not clear.  This begs the question of whether other companies would support cycling and e-bikes for their employees if statutes were written to be understood.  Or were written at all in some instances.  Certainly city officials need to act now and not wait for some imagined critical mass that has probably already been assembled.

There is something incredibly sweet about a couple that finds love across the oceans after they meet though shared strava data.  From Pennsylvania to Australia, they communicated until they finally met and eventually married.  If you are about to be cynical, and imagine this marriage won't last because they likely have nothing in common beyond cycling, and one or the other of them will give everything he/she knows to follow the other, and resentment will ultimately build, the sex taper off, and the little things, chewing style in particular, will come to annoy, just stop yourself.  Nobody loves a Debbie Downer.  

A review of Citibike's 22 million rides shows that most bikes are used for utilitarian purposes, like getting from one place to another, like you would in a subway, or a bus, or a taxi.  Hey!  Which proves cycling is transit, meriting infrastructure spending, legal support, and planning.  Wow.  Didn't need 22 million rides to figure that out, but data is so delicious.

We have reached the point where young women everywhere want to take a bike ride with members of their favorite boy band.  This could limit the spread of disease and it is certainly a different approach than referenced in "American Band."  And so, in Manila, if you enter a contest, you can ride around the city with the Vamps, none of whom appear old enough to vote, or drive a car, which may explain the bike ride.  Just sayin'.

Momentum Mag has published a study that reveals bike commuters are six times healthier than other commuters.  After riding Washington's Metro in the blizzard, during which time I felt as if I was being alien smuggled, conducted an anecdotal study of steely facial expressions worn by bureaucrats, and learned that crowds of teenagers are indeed VERY loud on trains, I am glad to be rejoining the ranks of happy bicycle commuters.  Maybe ten times happier and twenty times healthier.

The Washington Area Bicycling Association is holding its choice awards.  You should pick your favorite bike business and nominate them for recognition.

Since some people bike less in the winter, it is probably wise for them to give their bikes a safety test before they head back out.  London Cyclist has published a suggested safety test.  But there are other do-it-yourself resources.  I have test driven the Bike Doctor App.  It is great for calming you down when you get a flat, and you are starting to panic that you will be savaged by some stranger if you don't get it repaired and get back on the path, and there will be nothing left for investigators to investigate, except your remains and a ruptured tube.  And you can read the Bike Doctor App on your phone in the dark, unlike the pocket bike repair guide I have which requires flashlight assistance.  At $4.99 it is not the cheapest app out there.  If you have a conventional bike, its probably fine.  Anything fancy or complicated, like a tire skirt or a cargo with a rear rack, this app won't help much.  Complicated bike owners should instead learn to love a local bike mechanic, or learn to tolerate him/her.  They will usually perform a safety check for less than $40.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, navigating around massive piles of snow with a healthy sense of humor, which is at least six times that of the nearest car driver, let's be smug.
Elisa P.