Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bikesharing and safety

This is interesting, in part because the article and even some of the comments are starting to catch on to what often gets lost in the debate over helmets and bike safety generally - that's it's all about HOW you ride!

Stats are starting to show that bike-sharing is safer than riding your personal bike. Maybe because many people's riding styles on their personal bikes are faster, hunched over (meaning primed for forward ejection in almost any incident), and likely competing with traffic. Plus bikeshare tends to be used in urban environments for short, casual trips, as opposed to long commutes or sport/recreation warrior-ing.

Heavy, slow, upright bikeshare bikes inherently enforce more of a citizen-cycling mode, making it quite rare to be injured while biking. Yes, even on the mean streets of North America, London, etc. Let's hope the lesson can be applied to personal bikes.

And before certain people start shrieking, no, I don't mean 'hey everyone, stop wearing a helmet'. Do what makes sense for you. Helmet or not, it just seems to be proving out that citizen cycling (for lack of a better term to encompass many aspects) is safer. Let's stop pretending that all biking is the same.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lane-blockers or trail-blazers?

Had a somewhat conflicted moment when driving to my daughter's school today.

Two rather charming-looking young women (attractive, wearing normal/chic clothes) were ambling down the road toward me on their humble citizen-cycles (upright, chainguard, basket, you get the picture). They were not going very fast, very leisurely.

They weren't riding single file, they were riding next to each other so they could chat as they went along, basically blocked the single lane of traffic. It was a residential street (5th Street southbound, north of Grant Circle) in a fairly quiet neighborhood (Petworth) but there is some through-traffic along there.

I had a double-reaction. First thought, as their comrade in the Chainguard Revolution - 'hey, cool, that's my kind of cyclists'.

Followed quickly by 'you know girls, you're going to piss someone off blocking the road like that, and make a bad name for cyclists'. Right on cue, as I got closer, a stressed-out looking woman in her SUV gave them a wide berth with a distinctly irritated look on her face.

I felt a little ashamed chastising the bikers like that, albeit internally. I guess when driving it's hard not to think like a driver.

What do you think, were they inconsiderate or perfectly within their rights? Somewhere in between? Were they creating a positive model of biking, and was the driver just another negative example of North American car-centrism? Or, given the narrow road with no bike lane, should the bikers have made room for cars? Was this a case of citizen cyclists paradoxically claiming the vehicular cycling mantra of 'claim your lane'? How would drivers' reactions (including my own) to them differed in certain bike-friendly European cities? Was I being the ass I strive to oppose, or just being realistic?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Case for Bicycle Infrastructure

This is great, saw it over on Copenhagenize today. Basically a mighty (yet accessible) barrage of international research bits backing up the virtues of bike lanes and cycletracks. Hope it trickles down to all the dark, musty places where the idea somehow still lurks that somehow bike lanes - especially protected lanes - are somehow a bad idea or not worth the investment.

Someone in DC might want to pass this along to new DDOT Director Terry Bellamy.

Much of the rest of the world including quite a bunch of (presumably) smart people seem to have come to the conclusion cycle lanes and cycle tracks are very much worth every penny.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Go, social-planning technocrats!

Great article from today's New York Times.

Dutch drivers are taught that when you are about to get out of the car, you reach for the door handle with your right hand — bringing your arm across your body to the door. This forces a driver to swivel shoulders and head, so that before opening the door you can see if there is a bike coming from behind. Likewise, every Dutch child has to pass a bicycle safety exam at school. The coexistence of different modes of travel is hard-wired into the culture.

This in turn relates to lots of other things — such as bread. How? Cyclists can’t carry six bags of groceries; bulk buying is almost nonexistent. Instead of shopping for a week, people stop at the market daily. So the need for processed loaves that will last for days is gone. A result: good bread.

Gotta love the kicker at the end:

But while many Americans see their cars as an extension of their individual freedom, to some of us owning a car is a burden, and in a city a double burden. I find the recrafting of the city in order to lessen — or eliminate — the need for cars to be not just grudgingly acceptable, but, yes, an expansion of my individual freedom. So I say (in this case, at least): Go, social-planning technocrats! If only America’s cities could be so free.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Stationary bike station

From reader Rob Jordan:

Here's a pic I snapped yesterday near Eastern Market. Kids were pedaling in place on CaBi bikes, and seemed to be having a great time.

Monday, July 11, 2011

'No, see, we DO bike'

From today's Washington Post:

Biking took a beating in last year’s mayoral election. For some political activists and residents who had soured on former mayor Adrian M. Fenty, the freshly painted bike lanes spreading along major streets around the city became a symbol of the young white people pushing longtime black residents out of the District.

The backlash came at a time when researchers cite an explosion in cycling around the country, as new residents pour into revitalized urban communities and look for cheaper, greener ways to get around. The District is at the vanguard of the cycling boom, with the percentage of workers who commute by bike nearly tripling over the last 20 years, rising from 0.8 percent in 1990 to 2.2 percent in 2009. That rate puts Washington among the top 10 U.S. cities.

But the racial gap for cycling is huge, both locally and nationally. Cycling advocates and enthusiasts say groups like Black Women Bike DC, which launched on Facebook six weeks ago with three women and now has more than 60 members, could encourage more African Americans to consider biking for transportation and recreation. Those pushing to expand biking infrastructure throughout the city hope that more participation by black cyclists would stem opposition to bike lanes, racks and bike-sharing facilities.

Nice to see my Petworth neighbor Marya mentioned at the end of the article!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

First ride

My wife grew up in Dakar, Senegal and never fully learned to ride a bike. Not that kids there don't, ever, but especially for girls it's not the given that it is here in the US. If anything, among better-off urban Africans, bikes can sometimes be seen as what you ride if you… well, can't afford a car.

Anyway, she's talked about getting on a bike for quite a while and finally we got around to the big moment yesterday. We went to the Capital Bikeshare station at the bottom end of the National Zoo, since it was closest to a nice quiet trail in Rock Creek Park.

What immediately became apparent is how not learning to ride as a child makes cycling a surprisingly difficult balancing act (literally) as an adult. She was very unsteady at first and tended to veer wildly in unexpected directions. But with the help of her youngest sister - who does ride - she kept at it and had a few really nice runs near the end. Great job!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Woe, Canada

First a prelude (rather lengthy and disproportionate, sorry) for today's post, which is actually about Toronto:

I suppose we in North America shouldn't be surprised. After the past few years of watching increased urban bicycling - and in particular the idea of citizen cycling, previously almost unheard of here - the pendulum swings. Or at least there are plenty of people trying to give the pendulum a shove.

New York City is a well-known case, notable both for its exponential blossoming of bike lanes and the degree of pushback from some quarters. Yet somehow amid the characteristic rancor, you have the feeling that over the long haul the city's commitment is there and the disgruntled will come around.

So much depends on that top-down commitment. Here in Washington DC, nerves have been somewhat frayed among cyclists since the ouster of pro-bike Mayor Adrian Fenty and his even more pro-bike transportation head Gabe Klein. DC at least has Capital Bikeshare and lots of nice new bike goodies to remember them by, and the new mayor, Vincent Gray, has paid lip service to supporting continued improvements. Yet recent backtracking on one major downtown bike project (see previous post), long in the works, has twanged people's gut fears:  that the Gray administration doesn't mind improved biking, you know... as long as it doesn't infringe on parking. Or driving. Or the budget. Or someone who doesn't like it.

What the Dynamic Duo of Fenty-Klein showed us is that it takes vision and relentless advocacy for real progress, not just passive acceptance that can go wobbly when presented with any number of conventional (usually discredited) arguments. I expect that under Gray, DC may eventually see at least a slight net loss of bike amenities, at least if you count amenities promised and/or planned. Though I don't expect him to start taking out existing lanes.

Theeennn there's Toronto. Moving aggressively backwards now under the new mayor, Rob Ford. Hoo-boy. This guy does not like bikes and doesn't care who knows it. His lips are paying another kind of service. Some bike lanes are about to be removed, including from Jarvis Street. Here's a roundup of coverage, starting with James over on the esteemed Urban Country blog, who put it in his usual good perspective:

Copenhagenize today has an informal video poll of cyclists and drivers on Jarvis Street, where Ford and the city council (which includes Ford's brother - see the charming photo at the end of the post - who apparently jokes about hitting bikers with his SUV; click here and scroll down about halfway) will apparently be successful in drawing first blood. Metaphorically and likely literally, as cyclists are cast back in among the cars. Another recent post has a very interesting email exchange between a citizen and Ford's office on the matter.

Streetsblog also has a good recent item on the Toronto situation.

As I said, we shouldn't be surprised. Or complacent. Usually the debate is whether the bike gods (i.e. your local government) will giveth or withhold(eth) the means for bikes to coexist on the roads with relative safety. To give to not to give. Now the precedent has been established for trying to take it away.

[A final aside for DC readers - If you want to get the M and L Street cycletracks built, one good way to help is to USE the 15th Street cycletrack. Please go out of your way to use it if necessary. You think they won't look at those numbers when making the final arguments for the downtown lanes?]

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Backtracking on Cycletracks

Great. Look out DC bike amenities, here comes the death-by-not-quite-enough-enthusiasm that many feared from the new mayor. Well, his new DDOT director, but same thing. At Director Bellamy's confirmation hearing - wow, before he's even official - the playing to the wrong crowd has begun:

Much of last week’s confirmation hearing for DDOT Director Terry Bellamy went smoothly.  He said the right things, including stating support for improved bicycling.  But when asked about specific projects, things went less smoothly. Specifically, Director Bellamy said that the L and M Street cycletracks were “on hold” and that “we may not do them” due to concerns over parking removal.

Now there's some courage and vision. Click here for the full post on the WABA blog. And more importantly, if you want to express support for the promised downtown cycletracks, click here.

Where have you gone, Gabe Klein? A city turns its lonely eyes to you.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Twins' wonder

I came across this nice promo video for Minneapolis' Midtown Greenway, claimed from an old rail line, and this item about their new self-service bike repair kiosks.

Anyone ridden there? Aside from the Greenway itself, anyone know if the city's other urban bikeways are well-integrated? Meaning, once you drop back in with the cars, how well is the city doing on that front? Is the city ranked as the top biking city mainly for the Greenway, or for the whole picture?

Makes me wonder what in the hell is taking so long with DC's Metropolitan Branch Trail.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

VA CaBi expansion

If you're in the DC-VA area and recognize Capital Bikeshare as the positive game-changer that it is, think about coming on out Monday night to a meeting about new stations planned for Arlington. Sounds like you can also make a pitch for a station on your block.

Hey, maybe the ArlingtonGOP folks will be there in full-throat against, per their recent anti-CaBi blog post. (Well, not so recent, April actually. In fact, seems that was their most recent post. Boy, just when I was feeling bad for MY periodic posting slow-downs.)

From the CaBi announcement:

Public Meeting on Capital Bikeshare in Arlington
Monday, June 27 at 7:00pm

Capital Bikeshare has exciting plans for expansion throughout the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor within the next year and your input is needed. The Arlington County Department of Environment Services cordially invites you to offer your feedback on proposed stations and to make suggestions for other locations. Nearly 30 stations are already proposed for the Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, Virginia Square, and Ballston urban villages. All were determined with the assistance of a Bikeshare Demand Map, which analyzed population and employment density, bike and transit facilities, and destinations to estimate demand for public bicycles […]. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Yeah, it really should be a sidewalk

[from reader Herb C.]

With regard to the previous post on taking public space away from cars and giving it back to people: 

Here in Cleveland Park we're fighting the good fight to restore and pedestrianize the broad sidewalk on Connecticut that was destroyed in the 1960s to create the bizarre little service/parking lane that's now there. This block could be a vibrant public space with sidewalk caf├ęs, etc. A recent poll on the CP listserv showed 2-to-1 support for the idea, although the usual suspects are unenthusiastic or opposed, on the grounds that our commercial strip can't survive without the couple dozen parking spots on the inside of the lane. 

The campaign is called "I Wish This Was a Sidewalk" (inspired by Civic Center's "I Wish This Was" project in New Orleans). 

Please take a look and sign the petition if you're so inclined!

Monday, June 13, 2011

New Amsterdam

From my recent photo shoot for de Volkskrant, a Dutch newspaper. The pictures accompanied a commentary about NYC's evolving bikescape, this one was used as the lead (a layout PDF is here, look on p.4-5 for a couple of extra photos).

Part of the article's emphasis was on the 'rocky transition' and the 'uneasy coexistence' between bikes and peds and cars. Dunno, all seemed pretty right with the world, but I suppose the detente could have been due to the Memorial Day weekend.

And man, is NY doing an incredible job of taking public space away from cars and giving it back to people. Examples are all over the place. That was almost more striking than the bike lanes.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

V Street

This great-looking Kronan utility bike was parked in front of the newish American Ice Company bar one afternoon recently. Nice details and apparently they are relatively inexpensive for an upright bike, in the Electra/Public range, but see this 2008 blog post with quite a range of comments about the build quality etc.

Bike Century

Like Bike-to-Work Day? Well, Copenhagenize - with tongue apparently at least partly in cheek - has tried to up the ante with their Bike Century campaign.

Not sure it's more than a half-joking branding exercise, but hey, one more way to plant your flag for a bike-centric future.

You can join the FB group here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Better for drivers and peds too

Streetfilms decided to look at three of NYC’s most recent re-designs — Columbus Avenue, First and Second Avenues, and Prospect Park West — and show how pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers benefit from safer, calmer streets.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Radar love

So I'm driving down 14th Street yesterday and my 5-year-old daughter says 'look daddy, that woman is riding a bike with high heels, take a picture!' Plenty of other bikers out and about, yet her radar was tuned to the citizen cyclist.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pinwheel revolution

Introducing a new green bike accessory that harnesses the awesome power of wind as you ride.

You see, the faster you go, the faster it spins, though I can't make scientific claims as to its propulsion capabilities. This is merely a prototype. Haven't figured out how to turn it off either, you park your bike and it keeps on spinning.

As you can see it's actually partly green. And kind of shiny, so it's a safety device as well, making you more visible.

This technology, like many great human advances, was stumbled upon inadvertently. In this case, when I picked my daughter up from school on the bike and she didn't have a free hand to hold her pinwheel.

(Ok, seriously now, who wants to invent a pinwheel-powered bike light? There's an idea for you right there. You're welcome.)

Monday, May 2, 2011

When in Wien

My friend Andre, a recent convert to DC's CaBi, sent some pics of the bikeshare in Vienna. Anyone ever used it?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cool coup

From The Atlantic:

How a stylish, convenient bikeshare program catapulted the District into the ranks of America's elite biking cities

So cool that - as touched on in the article - these days you're not guaranteed to find a bike at popular stations in rush hour. Like this morning, the station at Petworth was empty (first time it's happened to me), so I walked to Columbia Heights and got a bike in front of the Giant. Then when I dropped it off on the west end of Calvert Street bridge, the guy in the photo was happy to snatch it up, as that module was empty too.

Not a complaint, I love you dearly, CaBi. You're the best thing, babe, perhaps in all of the North American bikescape at the moment, the only real competition being Montreal's Bixi and NY's bike lanes.

What I love the most is that it has basically institutionalized the citizen cycling model, with its bike-as-you-are mindset, upright/slower ride, A-to-Bism, and designing it as integrated transit, not 'bike rental'.

And the chainguard of course. I still say the revolution starts with the humble chainguard.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tipping point

I read somewhere on the Twittersphere that biking levels in DC have seemed to be at a tipping point as spring weather breaks out, with cyclists '15 deep' reported at one stop light.

I don't get out enough, but if it's true then three of the factors are in this photo from this morning: 1) normal DC suit figured out that biking is the best way to get to work, and didn't require special gear or an alternative lifestyle; 2) all the new bike lanes; and 3) Capital Bikeshare.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Red menace

The ArlingtonGOP blog had an interesting post the other day, County yanks parking spaces in Rosslyn, which sure sounds alarming but you know, funny enough, it was actually about expansion of the popular Capital Bikeshare (which operates in Washington DC and parts of Northern Virginia, for those reading non-locally).

What? Oh, sorry, I mean it was about 'the seizure of valuable on-street parking spaces for an under-used bike service'.

Yeah, and you know what else? You know some of those underused sidewalks in Arlington, that are empty pretty much all the time, except during lunch, or maybe some old person? I can’t BELIEVE those haven’t been converted to parking spaces, or hell, a new lane of traffic. Pedestrians aren’t really using ‘em, and what are they doing walking around in the public realm anyway?? The public realm is for cars and drivers! Pave, baby, pave!

I heard those RED (hmm, coincidence???) bikes are pretty popular over in the District. But this is Virginia, we D-R-I-V-E. Why do those damn Dems keep frustrating motorists with annoying alternatives?

Ok, sorry, couldn't help it. I mean, really. I believe the breakdown was losing eight parking spaces total in three locations, gaining three bikeshare dock modules of approximately twelve bikes each. WashCycle has a full and sensible rebuttal.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

'ello Guv

While driving home this evening I spotted ol' Arnold Schwarzenegger cruising west on the Pennsylvania Avenue cycletrack, right below the Capitol. Caught up to him on Constitution to make sure I had a clear shot from the car. I know, Citizen Paparazzi. Apparently the former governator had a meeting earlier in the day with Obama about immigration reform.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Build it and they will ride

Great to see this, sent in by the National Building Museum's Patrick Kraich (who, as it happens, is photo number 19 in the sidebar slideshow... I do recall photo-stalking him and his Electra). Tickets and event info here.

DC Builds: Build It and They Will Ride

During the past ten years, Washington, D.C., has seen an increase in the number of people bicycling as their principal form of transportation. One of the reasons for this growth is the conception and implementation of creative bicycling infrastructure throughout the city.

The District of Columbia has created over 50 miles of marked bike lanes, built the architecturally daring Bikestation parking structure at Union Station, installed more than 1,000 outdoor bike parking racks, and launched the successful Capital Bikeshare Program, the nation’s first and largest bike sharing program which serves all of the District of Columbia as well as Arlington County, VA. 

How can D.C. continue to build on these successful efforts? How does high-quality bicycle infrastructure assist in reaching the city’s goals of providing sustainable, multi-modal transportation options, reducing congestion, and decreasing pollution?

The National Building Museum convenes a panel of experts to answer these questions. The panel discusses future plans for Washington, D.C.’s bicycle infrastructure as well as potential challenges, including ease of use, safety, connectivity, and how the economic downturn affects planning, design, and construction of new bicycle facilities.

This program is presented during May in celebration of National Bike Month.
Panelists include:
Jennifer L. Toole, AICP, ASLA, principal, Toole Design Group
Shane Farthing, executive director, Washington Area Bicyclist Association
Jim Sebastian, supervisory transportation planner, Active Transportation Branch, District Department of Transportation.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Connecticut Ave

Ah spring. Even the citizen (uni)cyclists were out today. I was thinking, wow, they're so friendly and funky for DC…

Yep, they were from Baltimore.

Kunstler part II

Following up on yesterday's post, my friend Mike sent me this video of James Howard Kunstler's TED talk from 2004. If you don't know Kunstler it's a great intro. If you're already a fan, you'll remember why. A few brilliant laugh out loud lines, woven into his trademark deconstruction of the American Way. At least, our Way of building places and spaces over the last few generations.

What do his urbanism concepts have to do with bikes? I'd argue 'everything'. Bicycling goes hand in hand with the holistic world we create, or more precisely, the world we choose to live in. The world of, say, the pre-1960s naturally gave birth to a cycling mindset that today we might refer to as citizen cycling but then was just cycling.

Today, what North Americans typically think of as normal biking - faster, longer distances, hunched over, often with recreation or sport in mind, wearing specialized clothing and gear - was born of our very different world. People live farther apart, farther from work, in a more fractured and sprawling physical landscape, with time only on the weekends to ride for exercise or sport.

I always say biking is not just about bikes. In fact I actually don't care much about bikes themselves or biking per se as most people think of it these days. I care about cities, and the quality of life that a well-designed built landscape creates. A humane landscape that, incidentally, not only allows for more civilized biking but encourages it. Bikes, like birds or butterflies or good cafes or people walking around in a relaxed way, are a result, a symptom - when you see more bikes around, and people look happy, not grim, riding them, it means your city or town is doing many things right in creating a vibrant and harmonious human environment.

I happen to believe that a massive increase in biking - meaning getting non-bikers to consider getting on a bike - would cure a lot of what ails us. I think promoting the citizen cycling model is a good way to do that.

Better biking > better cities. Better cities > better biking (Copenhagen has a lot of bikes because it's a great city, and is a great city, in part, because it has a lot of bikes).

And no one is more about better cities than James Kunstler.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Clusterf--k nation

I always liked James Kunstler. I saw him speak at the National Building Museum years ago. His cutting and intelligent (even witty, at least never boring) books, particularly The Geography of Nowhere and Home from Nowhere, resonate totally with my visceral feelings about suburbia versus quality urbanism, among other things. He's become somewhat of a ranting gloom-and-doomer about peak oil and our national obsession with not facing reality about where we're headed as a country. But that doesn't make him wrong. More like the only one in the room willing to say certain things.

I usually read his, ahem, 'Clusterfuck Nation' blog pretty regularly via RSS. Here's a sample bit from the most recent post. A lot of his recurring themes, nothing about bikes per se but still has everything to do with a national dilemma that bikes - ok ok, yeah, along with a fundamentally revamped national physical landscape and a mass conversion away from suburban sprawl and auto-dependency - would go a long way toward helping to solve. (I actually find his general silence about bicycling puzzling, since I believe he bikes around the town in upstate NY where he lives...)


Here's something to chew on: we run about 250 million cars in the USA. Let's say we ramped up an electric vehicle fleet of 10 million cars - which, by the way, is a purely hypothetical and wildly optimistic number. Do you think it might be a political problem if 10 million lucky Americans get to drive electric cars while everybody else either pays through the nose for gasoline, or can't even afford to own a car anymore?

There are a few things you can state categorically about the US energy predicament and the national conversation we're having about it - including the leaders of that conversation in government, business, and the media. One is that we are blowing a lot of green smoke up our collective ass. None of these schemes is going to work as advertised. The disappointment over them will be massive and probably lead to awful political consequences.

Another is that we are ignoring the most obvious intelligent responses to this predicament, namely, shifting our focus to walkable communities and public transit, especially rebuilding the American passenger railroad system - without which, I assure you, we will be most regrettably screwed ten years from now. Mr. Obama had one throwaway line in his speech about public transit and nothing whatever about walkable neighborhoods.

The reason for this obvious idiocy is that it's all about the cars. That's all we care about in the USA, the cars. We can't get over the cars. We can't talk about anything except how we'll find magical new ways to run all the cars. This is a very tragic sort of stupidity and if we don't change our thinking about it, from the highest level on down, history is going to treat us very cruelly.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Windsor and Odin

Shockingly warm coming home from work today. A perfectly normal spring morning gave way to a breezy summer-like afternoon. Spied this Windsor chainguard-and-fenders number parked rather fetchingly. The owner, Andrea, was nice enough to indulge me and so was Odin. Good boy, Odin. I've never heard of the Windsor brand and neither had Andrea, she said she just found it online and liked the way it looked. Good enough reason.

Aveiro dreaming

Saw this on Copenhagenize, it's just a beautiful, dream-like little film showing bicycling in Aveiro, Portugal.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Another reason why CaBi is cool

It's very cool that Capital Bikeshare has workers on these Danish Christiania cargo bikes going around doing regular maintenance at the stations. Nice touch. No, I've no idea why the other guy has a regular bike on his back. Maybe helping out with a little impromptu redistribution?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bike of the Day - Linus Dutchi

Spring is here! Told you I'd be back. I probably won't be able to keep up the posting fervor of last fall, I'll try to find a more manageable pace. No time for photos today but I hope to get out there this week.

Warm day today in DC, though historically we bounce around anywhere between cold rain and warm sunshine between now and May. Spring and fall in DC are second to none, though while fall seems to linger forever, spring too often can be a little twitchy then jumps right to oppressive summer.

Guess it means it's that bike-buying time of year. We know you're thinking about it. When I was in the market a few years ago for my first bike in ages, the Electra Amsterdam was the only Dutch-style bike available around here. Meaning a true upright ride with a chainguard and fenders, not so much to ask, right?

The city's bikescape has definitely changed somewhat for the better, though still too many bikes of the brutally functional variety out there for my taste. Linus bikes, including the Dutchi 3 (shown) are sold at Bicycle Space downtown. I've been seeing some around. I don't know how durable they are but they're attractive, seem to have the geometry right (though not as upright as the Electra), and I recall they're not terribly expensive.

The Bike Rack at 14th and Q Streets can get you on various Batavus models, though you'll need to ask, they don't keep many (sometimes none) in stock. Brands like Schwinn and Globe and even Trek have been getting into the upright game too.

Other suggestions? Or hey, for a mere 75 bucks per year of course there's always the mighty Capital Bikeshare, heading into its first spring bloom.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japan and bikes II

The Urban Country (see previous post) came up against the sentiment, at least on FB, that it was poor form to be perceived as using tragedy to advance the biking cause.

Today Copenhagenize also has a post about bikes and their current role in devastated Japan, with a comments thread debating whether such a post is in bad taste or not.

What do you think?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Japan and bikes

Good post by James Schwartz over on The Urban Country:

CNN was reporting on bike shops being sold out in Tokyo as people scrambled to figure out how to get home to reunite with their family and friends.

Our thoughts are with the people in Japan. Just found out a childhood friend of mine who lives over there is safe. He said on FB that when the quake hit he thought he was going to die... he's still trying to reunite with his wife who is in Tokyo.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Calvert Street

Ok, I'm a little rusty, but I like her angle. Lots of CaBi's out there already, especially when the temperature creeps up a bit like today. I have a hunch in a month or so the red bikes will be THE way to get around the city.


And this from the other coast, via The Church of Sit-up Cycling's FB page:

Elegant Dutch ways prove hard to stick to on fast-paced Big Apple streets

The writer sort of wavers between seeing the light:

Who knew that urban cycling — which I find mostly exhilarating and joyous, but occasionally a grim struggle for a sliver of pavement — could also be elegant? [...] Once I started slowing down, I became a more polite rider.

And going a little wobbly, snapping back to North American reflexive attitudes on helmets, speed, heavy bikes, the whole yeah-but-you-can't-do-it-here thing, etc. But always good to see this kind of article, even imperfect, percolating through the mainstream media.

California dreaming

Woah, look at LA thinking big. Fingers crossed on follow-through.

The 2010 Bike Plan […] is perhaps the most ambitious pro-cyclist action in L.A. history, designating a 1,680-mile bikeway system and sweeping new bike-friendly policies.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Magic-and-a-mystery tour

I was debating posting this, as it starts off a little unpromisingly, and with slightly incongruous choice of music. But if you stick with it you kind of get into the flow. It also serves nicely as a little tour of DC neighborhoods, in addition to some of the better bike lanes etc.

And just when it's going good, and it gets to those fine center-lane cycle tracks on Pennsylvania Avenue that you may have heard about - wha… heyyy, who parked not one but FOUR vehicles smack in the middle, blocking both directions? Ah, law enforcement of some kind, surely on a task that required them to park precisely there.

Top of the morning

A fine spring-like morning, out for a field trip with my students, and voila, the bike-photo gods smiled. Nice example of what urban biking in DC should look like.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Still here

Hi everyone, sorry for the slowdown in posting lately. Sometimes life gets in the way of art - and both can get in the way of bike blogging. The relative dearth of DC cycling photo-ops in winter doesn't help. I'll post when I can until the spring bloom!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Best winter biking gloves?

From a reader:

I've looked all over the vast land that is the internet looking for gloves that are both attractive and functionally windproof. This winter I've tried 3 pairs of gloves: The CS commuter glove, the North Face Windfall, and a pair of columbia skiing gloves.

CS Commuter gloves - decent warmth, sub par grip, but looks good and simple, windproof. Windfall - hated these. Ski gloves - the best but toooo bulky.

Any suggestions out there for good looking bike gloves? Seems impossible, but I don't think someone on the internet has written about this yet! 

18th St and Columbia Rd

Yes, another Adams Morgan picture. There's that curved building again in the background. What can I say, I pass that way a lot, and it usually has decent bike traffic, a CaBi station, cool cafes... The area just has a certain gravitational pull. I used to live around there and it still feels like the center of my DC universe.


Streetfilms' interesting look at Pittsburgh, its infrastructure, and efforts to improve public space, livable streets, and biking. I like what they've done with Market Square.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

11th and Irving St

A resolution

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association has an online Resolution to Ride Responsibly that area cyclists can sign:

Please think about how you ride, your responsibility to yourself and other road users, and what you can do to help as a member of the bicycling community.

The pledge itself includes:

• I resolve to be a more responsible bicyclist
• I resolve to better respect the rights of other road users
• I resolve to make a good faith effort to better follow the law
• I resolve to yield to pedestrians
• I resolve to help make bicycling safer and easier for all of us

Sounds reasonable and welcome. I know some are irritated by it for various reasons, but not me. While I think I'm already a responsible rider, I'm signing because I'm all for encouraging a more civic-minded collective biking mentality in DC. We need to always strive to be a positive and collaborative part of the overall transit-scape.

Think of it as good cycling citizen-ship. All of us, to varying degrees, can do even better on these points. This could make the task of cycling advocacy easier during this pivotal time, and help defuse the kind of driver hostility that we know is out there, right or wrong.

No one's saying absolute, strict compliance, just as (for example) none of us stop fully at every stop sign when driving. Just make being a good biking citizen a goal and a habit as best you can. If you're already doing that, great.

Let's seduce with reasonableness, even in the face of irrationality.

Monday, January 3, 2011

18th Street

And in biking news

DCC is very pleased, things are seeming downright sensible around here:

The Washington Examiner published a poorly-researched article about bike lane opposition. But instead of jumping onto an anti-bike lane revolt, DC press and opinion leaders quickly saw through the rhetoric and put forth a more nuanced and sensible reaction.

No anti-bike revolution at DDOT, at least not yet:

[to DDOT employees] "I don’t know how long I will serve in this capacity, but regardless please continue doing what you’re doing, keep working on all the projects and programs that make DDOT shine."

And CaBi is using cool cargo bikes for maintenance vehicles!