For the full photographic glory and the rest of the text, you know where to go. The Original Cycle Chic awaits.
1) Helment laws for cyclists 2) Self-driving cars over public transit 3) Privatization of roads 4) Future pedestrian: pic.twitter.com/n7YOBqtVYf
— Bike Snob NYC (@bikesnobnyc) March 26, 2015
So it would be nice to think that the cycling world would dismiss mandatory helment laws out-of-hand and stand united against them. Sadly, they're not. First, I saw this on the "Bicycling" website yesterday:
Heroes and football players.
They never ask why.
I believe I took delivery of this bicycle sometime around March or April of 2010, which makes the bike five (5) years old this spring. This is well beyond what most of the cycling media considers an appropriate period for a "long-term review." In fact, I don't even think the cycling media considers it acceptable to own a bicycle for five years. For the rest of us, however, five years means a bike is just getting broken in, so please allow me to update you.
This is a bike blog, we're gonna talk about bikes for a little bit, OK?
Here's what the bike looked like in the spring of 2010:
I added the pedals and the camping chair, but otherwise that's exactly how it came out of the box.
Since then, I have the following component changes or additions:
The bike would really benefit from a center stand but I've been to cheap and lazy to acquire and install one.
Oh, I also used one of these kiddie seats until my kid grew out of it:
And I have the Xtracycle WideLoaders for when shit gets real:
They are hugely helpful for carrying lots of stuff, but they have nailed me in the Achilles too many times:
The bike has been incredibly useful. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's been liberating, in the sense that you can pick up pretty much whatever you want when you're out and about without wearing a bag or giving any thought about how you're going to get it home. (Within reason, of course. I still take THE CAR THAT THE BANK OWNS UNTIL I FINISH PAYING THEM BACK to Ikea. I have nothing to prove in that regard.) Also, my kid can hop on the back and I can easily bring both him and his bike to the park--at least until he switches to the 20", which should be any day now.
As for maintenance, I do the absolute minimum, and considering the bike spends half the year outside and has exposed derailleurs and all the rest of it it's held up very well. Since 2010, I have only replaced a shift cable, a bottom bracket, and the brake pads. Ideally I should replace all the cables and housing, as the shifting is at about 80% right now, but it's not yet past my own personal laziness/action threshold for this particular bicycle. (The chain and cassette should probably also be replaced, but I don't feel like doing that either.) Also, incredibly, these are the original tires--though I should probably replace them this season as they're pretty worn, and I'm sure now that I've said something one of them is going to explode.
Otherwise, apart from the Mr. Whirly crank, which I personally find to be a bit fussy, the bike has given me nothing to think about.
Also, you need a place to keep it, which can be a challenge if you live in a city. Mine lives outside until winter, at which point I keep it in the basement. If I lived on a busy street in a 5th floor walk-up without a bike room then Big Dummy ownership might not be tenable. (Or at least I'd need four or five locks and a motorcycle cover--which, as a former motorcycle owner, I can assure you is yet another thing people steal in this town.)
So now you're up to date.
In any case, in the spirit of doing only essential maintenance, yesterday I replaced the brake pads again, as the rear pads were shot and the front pads had maybe 10 wet downhill stops left on them:
Rest assured that, in the spirit of thriftiness, I replaced them with used pads I removed from my mountain bike after changing to a different pad compound.
It's good to once again be confident in the Smugness Flotilla's stopping capacity, because all around are signs of springs. For one thing, the trash cans are blossoming:
In New York City, this is the universal sign for "pothole or sinkhole," and it's an exceedingly common sight this time of year.
Also, just this morning I was parking my bike:
When I spotted something in the distance:
What's more, that's not just any skunk. That's clearly cartoon star Pepé Le Pew stalking his paramour:
As Dave Chapelle has famously pointed out, that really was a disturbing cartoon in retrospect. They should have just called it "Pepe the Rape Skunk:
Anyway, like a spurned lover, Pepé ultimately retreated to his bachelor pad to watch skunk porn, and I retreated to my own abode to make the bike blog:
Admit it. You clicked on the skunk porn.
Speaking of life in America's Most Bike-Friendly City according to "Bicycling" magazine, here's something that happened:
A black man riding his bike in the street swerved to avoid a car that actually hit him — he and his bike fell onto the sidewalk. An officer arrived on the scene and arrested him on the charges of bike on the sidewalk and resisting arrest because the man initially pushed back when the officer put his hand on him from behind and the man did not know it was a cop touching him. The officer cuffed and locked up the man — not bringing him to the hospital though the man complained about a severe pain in his leg. Held overnight in jail, the man refused to agree to a plea when he appeared in court because he had done nothing wrong. Upon his release by the judge — he has a later court date for his trial — the man went immediately to a hospital where doctors diagnosed and began treating his fractured leg. He’s now looking for a lawyer to represent him in the criminal case and another attorney to bring his lawsuit against the city for wrongful arrest among other claims.
In reading this, I experienced a whole range of unpleasant emotions, none of which was surprise. Sadly, the moral of the story is two-fold:
1) Be white whenever possible;
2) When a driver hits you while you're riding a bicycle as the law entitles them to do, be careful where you land.
Assuming you can do both these things, then sure, I suppose "Bicycling" was right.
Of course, none of this really matters, because in the future riding outside is going to be obsolete anyway and we're all going to ride virtually instead:
Yes, virtual reality face masks will soon be the new helment:
I wonder if they can make one that works while you're actually riding outside. That way I could continue to live in New York, but my face mask would trick me into thinking I was in Portland.
Then, when a car sends me flying onto the sidewalk and the police arrest me, my virtual reality mask will make me think I'm being taken to a holistic day spa.
Lastly, here's something that's kind of clever:
Shock absorber handlebar BAM City from BARAMIND-BIKE on Vimeo.
See that? It flexes!
30% of school children in the city of Santa Cruz, CA bike or walk to school, according to Ecology Action, and the city of Santa Cruz would like to increase that number. To help accomplish this, Santa Cruz City Council unanimously approved Santa Cruz City Schools Complete Streets Master Plan.
The plan describes the transportation environment in the neighborhoods around each of the ten Santa Cruz public elementary, middle and high schools, including the two charter schools. It identifies barriers to students walking and biking and provides a list of potential capital improvement projects to make active transportation safer and more convenient, using Complete Streets and Safe Routes to Schools principles to evaluate current conditions and guide the design of proposed solutions. It supports future grant applications to fund the proposed projects which would not only benefit the schools, but also the adjoining neighborhoods and the broader community.
The proposals range from simple and low-cost projects such as new signs, to major intersection reconfigurations that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The most expensive, million dollar projects tend to be those to add sidewalks and paths in the neighborhoods around the schools.
The plan authors prioritized projects based on school proximity, cost, crash data, traffic volume, and feasibility. I listed the top priority project for each of the schools below. Because priority includes cost and feasibility along with benefit, you’ll see mostly low-hanging fruit that can be implemented quickly and cheaply, saving the more politically and financially expensive projects for later implementation.
- Bayview Elementary: Install “Share the Road” signs at the back entrance to Bayview Elementary School. Personal note: I thought city of Santa Cruz policy is to use BMUFL signs now?
- Delaveaga Elementary: Upgrade west sidewalk on Morrissey Boulevard overpass to a two-way multi-use path for
pedestrians and cyclist; add a barrier between the path and adjacent travel lane; install entrance features to direct bicyclist to the multi-use path as oppose to using travel lane on to freeway.
- Gault Elementary: Addd yellow crosswalks on the north and south legs of Cayuga Street at Broadway; move advance stop bar back from intersection.
- Westlake Elementary: Consider a Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) to increase visibility of pedestrians at uncontrolled crosswalk on Bay Drive at Meder Street.
- Branciforte Middle: Consider Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon (RRFB) for pedestrian crossing on west leg of intersection on Water at Poplar.
- Mission Hill Middle: Study signal timing to ensure sufficient crossing time for pedestrians on Mission and Walnut. Personal note: Also, this intersection does not detect bicycles to trigger lights, forcing cyclists to get on the sidewalk to press the beg button.
- Harbor High: Review signal timing to evaluate reducing wait time for pedestrians on Soquel at 7th.
- Santa Cruz High: Study warrants for all-way stop on Walnut Avenue at California Street and Grover Lane intersections.
- Branciforte Small: Consider installing high-visibility crosswalk and access ramps on north leg of intersection of N Branciforte Avenue and Sunnyside Ave.
- Pacific Collegiate: Install advance stop line on all three legs of Swift and Chance.
People Power Director Amelia Conlen asked council for immediate funding for some projects, and asked them to move forward on bike lanes for King Street near Mission Hill Middle School.
Read more about the council meeting at the Sentinel: Santa Cruz study identifies 160 ways to improve biking, walking to school.
Read the full plan here.
Are you freaking kidding me?
Not only is the cable itself gossamer thin, but the lock itself is attached to the goddamn water bottle cage! Really, the only thing that makes this even slightly more effective than waiting for a spider to spin a web between your bike and the rack, or else just using dental floss, is that it has a motion-sensing alarm:
However, please keep in mind that in a big city nobody gives a shit about alarms of any kind, and in a small town if some busybody gets in your business while you're busy removing some sucker's water bottle cage then all you need to do is give them the finger and be on your way.
On the other end of the effectiveness spectrum is the "Litelok," to which I was recently alerted by the inventor:
I gotta say, it doesn't look too bad:
1) It's light;
2) It's strong (or at least it purports to be);
3) It looks a little bit more versatile than a U-lock;
4) It's mechanical.
If it's as strong as they say it is, and if you can also use it as a belt or a pant cuff retainer, then they may very well have designed themselves a winner.
Of course, if you prefer detective work to prevention, the other approach when it comes to combatting bike theft is tracking your bike. This is where Bike Angel comes in:
Peter's genteel voice soothes and comforts me, so much so that I am only mildly concerned when he produces a caucasian flesh-colored object with somewhat phallic proportions:
Yeah, right. Where I have I heard that before?
Nine months later and suddenly life is exponentially more complicated.
Then Peter throws it over to his friend Eric, who is in bed with Julie:
Soon Eric falls asleep, at which point Julie tip-toes over to the drawer:
From which she withdraws a "3D printed prototype" of the phallic object Peter was holding earlier:
Holy shit, Eric's gonna get pegged in his sleep!!!
What the hell kind of Kickstarter is this, anyway?!?
The next morning, Eric is understandably sore while mounting his bicycle:
Meanwhile, Julie stalks him:
Thanks to the GPS transmitter embedded in his anus:
Jule tracks Eric to Amsterdam's notorious red light district:
Julia then texts Eric and asks his whereabouts, and Eric replies with a bullshit answer:
Understandably pissed, Julie steals Eric's bike while he's inside trying on socks:
But she brings it back that evening and they kiss and make up, because after all, this is Amsterdam:
By that evening all is forgotten, and the cycle of pegging begins anew.
Speaking of hiding the sausage, here's an ideal solution for all your cured meat-portaging needs:
You can even use it on your Fredcycle:
It's great for carrying blood bags--and while we're on the subject of blood transfusions, one person who looks like she could use one is the exceedingly tired and ossified Fran Leibowitz, who a reader informs me recently made some comments on the subject of bicycles:
You know when George Plimpton died, someone told me, 'He was so eccentric. He used to ride his bike in a suit and tie!' and it drove me crazy. I said, 'What's eccentric is the bicycle. Everyone here used to wear suits and it was lovely! But only children rode bicycles.' The trademark of New York City fashion used to be that we dressed more seriously here. More formally. Now people need special costumes to ride bicycles. I mean, a helmet, what, are you an astronaut??
I'm not sure what point she's trying to make here, though she's gone on record before about how she thinks riding bikes is "childish." (I imagine Bill Cunningham would beg to differ.) Also, everybody knows George Plimpton rode a Y-Foil:
My predecessor George Plimpton was known for cycling around New York on his Trek Y-foil before it was either cool or safe (before, some would say, it was sane).
Inadvertently tricking the Paris Review into thinking George Plimpton rode one of these contraptions is undoubtedly the high point of my bike blogging career:
I mean come one, everybody knows Plimpton really rode one of these:
Granted, it does look a bit like a Y-Foil, so I suppose it's an honest mistake.
Lastly, in their continuing effort to clean up cycling (one akin to cleaning an oil spill with a Q-tip), the UCI checked 36 bikes for motors at Milan-San Remo:
Laugh if you will, but I have no doubt somebody's doing it:
Come on, that bike is so motorized.
Newly elected San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo released a message highlighting the budget priorities for 2015-2016. In his press release, Liccardo and his allies emphasized the concern most often expressed by San Jose residents, namely that of reducing crime through increased police spending. I’m happy to see, nonetheless, that Liccardo and other members of the city council include traffic safety in their goal of a “Safer, Smarter San Jose.”
San Jose funding primer
The third largest city in California and the self-proclaimed “Capitol of Silicon Valley” routinely lags behind much of the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area in per-capita revenue even as it must support 175 square miles of sprawling infrastructure. While other Santa Clara County cities restricted housing in favor of industry and commercial development, which require fewer and less expensive city services, the city of San Jose became a bedroom community for the rest of the Bay Area. The result is high turnover for senior managers, poorly paid staff and capital improvement challenges in relation to its wealthier neighbors.
As part of the budget process, the city routinely surveys residents in English, Spanish and Vietnamese, asking what the city’s highest funding priority should be. According to this survey of 1002 randomly selected residents, the highest priorities are:
- Hiring more police officers
- Maintaining neighborhood streets
- Increasing community center hours and afterschool programs
- Improving fire department response times
- Increasing branch library hours
With increasing crime (including dramatically more gun homicides from previous years) and low morale in the police force, public safety dominated discussion during last year’s mayor’s race. Public safety is especially important for users of active transportation: you shouldn’t have to feel like you need to be a “fast and fearless” cyclist so you can escape from hoodlums and other assorted ne’er-do-wells. An unsafe city discourages transit ridership and reduces civic involvement as people cloister themselves in their cars, their homes, and their private clubs and communities.
“More police spending” is generally a good way for local politicians to win votes and approval points. Spending money on traffic safety for vulnerable road users, however, is a risky move that can result in unfavorable press coverage. I was pleased to see the Mayor’s office address this important livability issue, with an emphasis on Capital Improvements that prioritize pedestrian safety over vehicular throughput.
Safer Streets for San Jose: In light of the spike in pedestrian deaths and serious injuries throughout our City, we need to continually re-focus our commitment on making streets safer for pedestrians. Vice-Mayor Rose Herrera has called for a more proactive citywide approach to traffic calming program to address traffic safety concerns, with enough funding to allow each Council District to prioritize important projects.
To address the situation, the City Manager is directed to target future CIP investment to have the maximum impact on reducing injury crashes, with priority placed on pedestrian safety. The City Manager is further directed to allocate one-time funding from the Construction Excise Tax, or other appropriate funding sources, to allow for neighborhood traffic calming and pedestrian safety improvements in each Council District.
Lastly, the City Manager is further directed to use the Annual Transportation Safety Report to the Transportation and Environment Committee to report on current safety initiatives and how future investments in 2015-2016 and beyond will target gaps and identify potential improvements in the areas of education, engineering, and enforcement.
San Jose City Council unanimously approved the budget message in regular session Tuesday afternoon, March 24, 2015. This document will frame the budget discussion before the City Council approves a final budget in June.
This kinetic sculpture by artist Ron Shroer in Jacksonville, Florida combines a pedal-powered Jansen’s linkage walking mechanism with a wooden penny-farthing style wheel.
On his One Spark project page, Shroer writes “I’m just a boring old fart who, after going through chemo, realized if I didn’t let some of my crazy out before I passed I’d be disappointed with myself.”
Via Eric in Ohio.
However, as it turns out, the suspension has nothing to do with his long history of doping. Rather, it's most likely because his boss feels he's not doping his riders enough:
Cyclingnews understands that Bjarne Riis has been suspended from Tinkoff-Saxo for the poor performance of the team. The absence of Riis at Milan-San Remo, where the team previously announced he would act as directeur sportif, has sparked the rumours that the Danish manager has been suspended, possibly as a result of owner Oleg Tinkov's demand for better results.
In Cycling Speak, results=doping.
You know, it was driving me absolutely crazy trying to figure out who Riis looks like now. At first I thought Jeffrey Tambor:
But that wasn't it, and it was only after minutes upon minutes of straining my tiny little brain that I realized he's the spitting image of Mr. Perkins from "Thomas and Friends:"
I mean come on, it's uncanny! He's even got the exact same look of terror Mr. Perkins gets when Sir Topham Hatt calls to ream him out:
Oleg Tinkov has no patience for confusion and delay.
As for Tinkov, I have a feeling he might regret this suspension. Sure, it's easy to blame Riis for the team's lack of results, but it might have something to do with the fact that he insists on joining the team on their training rides:
Since the sale, Tinkov has taken a great personal interest in the team, and is often seen in a Tinkoff-Saxo kit out training with the riders. He was reportedly unhappy with the lack of victories by the team. So far this season, they've won only two races: Alberto Contador won a stage of the Ruta del Sol, and Peter Sagan a stage of Tirreno-Adriatico.
Not sure how effectively you can train when you're afraid to drop the boss:
As for Tinkov and doping, it's worth watching this interview, where at :30 seconds the interviewer says to him regarding Alberto "Tainted Steak" Contador:
Tinkov is usually a glib motherfucker, but in this case his eyes roll back in his head and he's all like "Ummm" for at least five seconds:
Then he finally stammers out an answer:
This is Cycling Speak for "We haven't gotten caught yet so I don't expect us to."
Meanwhile, in bicycle retail news, the new bike of your dreams is currently languishing on a container ship at the Port of Los Angeles:
“We have two containers of bikes on the water right now and four or five due to leave soon,” said Marin’s National Sales Manager, Thad Fabish, in an interview before the resolution. “It’s not a huge amount but the problem is that these are key bikes; these are the bikes we’re trying to get to our Midwest and Northeast dealers for when they come out of snow season.”
So a company named Marin can't get its own bikes into California?
Now that's ironic.
(Of course my own books are printed overseas and were once delayed because of a storm, so I shouldn't laugh, but I am anyway because I'm a hypocrite.)
However, where legitimate retailers see a problem, I see an opportunity:
A single shipping container can hold about 300 boxed bikes, so Fabish is looking at roughly 2,000 bikes that ideally need to get to dealers sometime in the next month or so. But that won’t happen, because the backlog is going to take, by most estimates, at least eight weeks to unwind. At the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Monday, the two busiest ports on the West Coast, 27 container ships were anchored in the harbor; in normal conditions, there are only a couple waiting for unloading berths.
27 container ships full of bikes!?! I need 40 or 50 brave souls (and no triathletes, please) who are willing to board water bikes and raid this ship for its crabon booty:
They will sing songs of our adventures, and one day there will even be a Hollywood feature film about us called "Pirate Freds of the High Seas."
Just think of the merchandising. Can you say "crabon cutlass!?!"
And speaking of Fred bikes, CyclingNews/BikeRadar technical editor and crabon apologist James Huang is fed up with all these bicycle component "standards:"
It's strangely edifying to see him hoisted by his own petard and calling for practicality over marketing BS:
What would be nice is some sort of industry consolidation where companies can put aside some of its pettiness and instead strive to make lives easier for the rest of us. Winning test numbers from a fancy frame stiffness jig are nice and all but there’s also a tipping point for when some sort of technical ‘innovation’ isn’t worth whatever other sacrifice has to be made to get it.
There’s no test for practicality but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t also have value.
There actually is a basic test for practicality, and here's how it works:
1) Take new bike;
2) Swap wheels with another bike;
3) Remove and replace cranks, seatpost, and stem and then replace them again.
Were you able to do all of the above, and if so were you able to do so without purchasing any special tools or equipment?
If you answered "yes," then the bike is practical.
If you answered "No, and the manual says that if I attempt to do any of that without taking the bike to the dealer for service I will void my warranty" then you own a Specialized.
Yes, thanks to endless "innovation," this is the life of the modern Fred:
I’ve got a box of headsets that won’t fit in anything. I have a drawer full of bottom bracket spacers, wave springs, and washers that I hate using. And pretty soon, I’ll have a bunch of beautiful wheels that will all be instantaneously obsolete.
I love technical innovation as much as anyone – and not surprisingly, I embrace it more than most. But that said, there have to at least be some considerations made when it comes to the people who are actually buying the stuff companies are developing.
Can’t we all just get along, maybe at least just a little bit?
Finally, the Fredly facade is cracking! Come on, James, join us! You know you want to. This stuff is stupid, just admit it.
In five years he'll be riding a Rivendell.
Lastly, there's a bill to make bicycle helments mandatory (for cyclists, presumably) in California, and the LA Times is against it:
Unfortunately, they don't quite understand why they should be against it:
The intentions behind SB 192, authored by Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Canada Flintridge), are laudable, and many of the objections raised by bicycling enthusiasts are laughable — such as the idea that mandatory helmets would make bicycling appear more dangerous and thus discourage people from trying it.
Why is that laughable? It's exactly true. Bicycle helments are destroying America. I know this as a parent. The idea that riding a bike without wearing a helment is tantamount to suicide has resulted in a sort of mania. Forget bicycles--many parents won't let their kid on anything with wheels without a helment. Have you ever seen a parent in a playground flip out because their kid tried to ride a kiddie scooter or some other rolling piece of plastic crap without first putting on a foam hat? I have, many times. It's insane.
At this rate, American children will be more afraid of human-powered vehicles than cigarettes.
Bike To Shop Day Silicon Valley is coming up May 23, 2015 and needs your help to make it great!
The Second Annual Bike to Shop Day inspires people to ride bicycles for everyday transportation as part of National Bike Month celebrations by encouraging people to shop by bike at local businesses. Bike to Shop Day for Silicon Valley is May 23, 2015.
How can you participate?
- Tell your friends all about Bike To Shop Day! Point them to the website for info, and organize rides with your family and friends to participating merchants.
- Sign your business up for participation. In exchange for an incentive for those who arrive at your business by bike, they’ll place your business on the Shop By Bike map.
- Volunteer to recruit businesses. Lady Fleur runs Bike To Shop Day and I promise she makes these endeavors fun. After you read the volunteer guide, fill out the volunteer sign-up form.
I’m running the Bike To Shop Day Challenge, so check back soon for deatails.