Wait, it’s Thursday? I thought it was Wednesday!

Wanna hear something ironical?

Sure you do.

Back when I had a real job I dressed several notches below "business casual," often commuting by means of the fabled "Ironic Orange Julius Bike:"

Which, owing to my penchant at the time for embroidered racing saddles, quickly devoured the seats of my pants:

They say "dress for success."  I didn't, and I wasn't, though which was the cause and which was the effect was unclear and ultimately irrelevant.

Anyway, it was of course while in thrall to the purgatory many people refer to as "employment" that I began typing away at a modest bicycle blog.  This blog quickly consumed my being like the saddle of the Ironic Orange Julius Bike consumed my pants.  I quit my job, wrote some books, co-curated some human children, and almost ten (10) years later her we are.

The end.

Just kidding.


So what's the ironical part?  Well, it's that now that I'm almost a decade into being a total bum I should find myself going multi-modal with the quintessential gentleperson's bike:

Contemplating neckties:

And standing before racks of uncomfortable-looking shoes that, inexplicably, do not accept road cleats:

Why?  Because I've fallen in with the Smugness Mafia, and as I mentioned in the Bike Forecast on Monday they wanted to put me in a suit for Bike to Work Week:

TransAlt Bike Month Ambassadors will be outfitted in AWEAR-TECH by AWEARNESS Kenneth Cole suits available exclusively at Men’s Wearhouse. AWEAR-TECH clothing uses 37.5 technology, an advanced fabric technology from the high-performance sports world. With this technology, patented active particles remove moisture in the vapor stage, before liquid sweat can form, making these tailored clothing items far more comfortable to wear. When you’re overheating, active particles in the fabric speed up evaporation and cooling. When you’re cold, the particles return the energy to warm the body. The suits are engineered from the yarn up, incorporating 37.5 technology in every layer, from the suit lining to the wool.

So last week I multi-modaled myself on down to the Men's Wearhouse for a fitting:

Lo, by Friday I was a schlub transformed, and my total suit holdings had increased by 100% to a grand total of two (2).  This means if I ever have to attend back-to-back funerals I won't have to wear the same thing twice in a row:

(Who died?  My inner dirtbag, that's who.)

Meet the Reservoir Dorks:

Of course this was the most time I'd spent in a suit since the last wedding I attended.  It was also at least 30 degrees warmer outside than it had been during that wedding, and unlike the wedding I spent much of this time riding a bicycle.  Nevertheless, despite riding around Manhattan and Brooklyn in temperatures that tickled the undercarriage of 90 degrees I was surprisingly comfortable.  So if you need to attend weddings, funerals, or actual jobs with any regularity and you would like to ride a bike to them, you might want to add one of these to your quiver/wardrobe/stable or whatever the Clothing Freds call them.

Next stop: Brompton World Championships!

In other news, meet Neva, the bike just for women:

In a time when the bike internet practically lives to call out the bicycle industry's inherent gender biases, it's almost quaint that they'd market this thing with a video montage consisting almost entirely of stock photos of fashion models:

In fact I'm pretty sure they just repurposed an old fragrance ad.

I am happy to report: No. The vibe in Fort Worth is somewhere between a soccer game and a pizza party. To be sure: Some young racers are really into it, and some parents, too. But most seem to be there simply for the spectacle and a good time. “Have fun, that’s the main thing,” a parent named Blayne Chambers tells me, even after as his son, Cason, winds up winning the 4-year-old category. “If he’s not having fun, there’s no sense doing it.”

May the Benevolent Lobster on High steer them from the Chasm of Fredness.

Categories: cycling | Comments Off

Maybe technology really will save us.

For thousands of years, cyclists have longed to be able to communicate directly with the creatures who inhabit the motorized death boxes that terrorize our streets.  Oh sure, we've used our voices, middle fingers, and occasionally u-locks to great effect.  However, none of these can truly penetrate the sheet metal in which the typical motoring moron is encased.

But not anymore!  For thanks to recent advances in technology, we now have the AXA Smart Bell (or at least a video for it):

We've seen the word "innovative" bandied about in the bicycle industry for far too long.  Yes, every misshapen crabon tube or new decal color(way) is hailed as an innovation.  But this?  This is something that warrants the appellation:

In fact, it just may be the biggest innovation in bikes since the wheel.

Okay, I know what you're thinking: "This is just one of those stupid smartphone bells, isn't it?"

("Look!  Now my phone's a bell that can run run out of batteries!")

Nope.  If we're to believe the video--and Sweet Lobster on High really, really, really want to believe it--what this allows you to do is ring the bell:

Which then travels to a box directly under your scranus and/or vulvanus:

And is in turn broadcast inside the car next to you:

Right through the sound system!!!

I'm sorry, I'm all choked up.

I have to stop and dry my eyes.

Thank you.

Anyway, do you know what this means?  It means we're now this close [indicates tiny distance with fingers] to being able to infiltrate drivers' cabins with our voices and say to them whatever we want.  Just imagine the possibilities:

--"I'm on your right;'
--"You're violating my right-of-way;"
--"Please look up from your phone;"
--"Where did you get your driver's license, your own asshole?"
--"Get fucked, you frumunda cheese-eating piece of crap!"

In fact, it's entirely conceivable you might need to utilize each of these in that exact order in the course of a typical interaction.

And just imagine how amazing it would be to use this on people in the bike lane:

A "new way of communication?"  Now that's an understatement:

This could conceivably give us the near-telepathic ability to berate people with the most vile insults we can muster.

Of course, as an aging bike blogger I know nothing about so-called RDS technology so I don't know if you can really make it do any of that, but I'm assuming these clever millennials with their fixies and their hack-a-thons can make it happen.

This gives me hope for the future.

Categories: cycling | Comments Off

Today’s Post Will Be Short But Short

I realize you may be looking for Internet content that offers temporary respite from world events.  Alas, today's post needs be short owing to the vicissitudes of blah blah blah and so forth.  However, just to keep you up to date on a few things:

Firstly, you are looking at the new Brompton World Champion:

This is because I just registered for the race, which takes place on Sunday, June 18th, and obviously I'm going to win:


The Brompton World Championship returns to North America this summer, and it's coming to New York City!

The uniquely competitive and singularly sartorial event will be held during this year's Harlem Skycraper Cycling Classic.

The race will begin at 2:15 pm sharp. Donning their finest formalwear, competitors will take off with a Le Mans-style start, running, unfolding and mounting their Bromptons, before racing ten laps around Manhattan's Marcus Garvey Park.

The winner of this race (who will be me) is then flown to London for the finals, which of course I'll also win.

This means the BSNYC Gran Fondon't, which will be held on [DATE TBD], is now merely a training ride for my inevitable win...unless I decide to hold the Fondon't after the World Championship, in which case it will be a victory ride during which I can showcase my rainbow pant cuff retainer or whatever honorific vestments the reigning champion gets to wear.

And between now and race day I must contemplate the big question:

Flat pedals or clipless on the Brommie?

It's not a question of performance, mind you, it's just that the former will allow me to wear my Vittoria shoes, which they sent me way back in 2009:

And which I typically break out for special occasions, such as L'Eroica:

Now to figure out how to fit a Gruber Assist into a Brompon.

Secondly, turning to world bicycling news, this happened:

PALERMO, Italy — A mafia boss was gunned down while riding his bicycle in Sicily on Monday, judicial sources said, in what appeared to have been the sort of mob killing that has become rarer in recent years as dangerous figures have been locked up.

Giuseppe Dainotti, 67, had served more than two decades in jail for murder and robbery, as a member of the Cosa Nostra mafia, before being released in 2014.

Investigators believe at least two hit men, probably on a motorbike, approached Dainetti and shot him in the neck, a few hundred meters from the scene of another mafia murder in 2014.

Living in New York it's not unusual to see these sorts of people in the wild, though the idea of one of them riding a bicycle is almost unthinkable.  Naturally my first thought was "So what kind of bike was it?"  I mean was he cruising around down, or was he off on a full-blown Lycra-clad Fredo ride?  Of course consulting a popular search engine quickly yielded an answer:

I guess if you're a Sicilian mob boss your choice of transport is a tough call.  Motor vehicles might hide you from view, but are susceptible to car bombs:

Whereas bicycles are harder to sabotage yet leave the rider vulnerable to point-blank shootings, as was the case here.

Still, two things are certain: 1) Had the mob boss been wearing a helmet this wouldn't have happened, since nothing bad happens to people who wear helmets; 2) The mafia in America should take to riding bicycles, since then they'd be free to kill each other on a daily basis without law enforcement so much as lifting a finger to investigate.

And finally, there's a City Council candidate in Brooklyn who basically wants to legalize parking in bike lanes, and you can read all about it in the Bike Forecast:

Wow, what a putz.

Okay, now time for some Brompton training.  See you tomorrow.


--Wildcat Rock Machine

Categories: cycling | Comments Off

From Smug to Single

As a semi-professional bike blogger and world-renowned author it is vital that I do not restrict myself to one form of cycling and instead partake in the entire spectrum of velocipeding--and if that means occasionally lowering myself by attempting bicycle polo:

Or trying out a recumbent:

(Via Rivendell)

Then so be it.

For I am nothing if not a Renaissance Fred.

(Also, when Grant Petersen tells you to ride a recumbent you don't argue about it, you just do it.  Unless you want to get stabbed with a lug.)

Anyway, it was in this ecumenical spirit that this past weekend I rode from one end of the cycling rainbow to the other:

It all began on Friday when I donned a suit, unfurled a Brompton, and waded waist-deep into smugness at the Transportation Alternatives Bike Home From Work Party:

Actually, now that you mention it, I think I very well may register:

After all, what better way to celebrate Father's Day than by totally humiliating myself?  Sure, by the looks of things I fall far short in both the sartorial and fitness departments:

But  some simple upgrades may be all I need to win the race, and to that end I'm trying to decide if I should go with the crabon trispokes:

Or else the paired 16-spoke setup:

Most likely I'll just bring both and make the final decision based on race day course conditions.

So if you go to the Harlem Crit and you see someone in a suit with a Brompton sticking a moistened thumb in the air be sure to come by and say hello.

(Though generally speaking I'd advise against approaching strangers wielding moistened thumbs.)

Yes, with the addition of some sweet, sweet crabon I can transform my Brompton from this genteel circus bike:

To this slightly less genteel circus bike:

And in the process forever consign my dignity to this:

Oh and speaking of today's Bike Forecast post, here's the uncensored version of the note I left on that SUV:

So if your money was on "fuckstick" as the censored word I'm afraid you lost the bet.

Then yesterday I went from smugness to singlespeed when I partook in the "Singlespeedapalooza" race for derailleur-challenged mountain bicycles at Stewart State Park:

("Weed Road."  Heh heh.)

According to my commemorative pint glass my last appearance at the start was in 2009:

And as you can imagine it wasn't pretty:

(From here)

Well, I'm only getting slower, but I do have a fancier bicycle:

And I also got a really good number:

As for the race itself, it was the most fun I've had on the bike in awhile, even though we had to share the park with these people:

There will be kennel club activity throughout the weekend using live and blank ammo.  We have contacted them, and there is a mutual understanding that we both have a permit to be in there and must respect each other's event.  If you are pre-riding, and during the race bump into one of the kennel participants, be courteous and cautious as they may be driving from one location to another.  This is just one of the many hurdles in dealing with Stewart.

Who were kind enough to remove some of the course markings, which as I understand it resulted in the lead riders getting totally waylaid.  (Fortunately I was nowhere near the lead riders and managed not to get lost.)


Then after the race I ate pork:

In all it was a thoroughly well-rounded weekend of making bike.

Categories: cycling | Comments Off

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz!

Hello class.

Okay, settle down, settle down.

And you in the back, get that pencil out of your nose.

I'm now pleased to present you with a quiz.  As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer.  If you're right you'll see the item, and if you're wrong you'll see triathlon action.

Thanks for reading, ride safe, and buy yourself something nice today because you deserve it.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

PS: Remember, if you don't like tests there's always more me over at the Bike Forecast, and who doesn't want that?

(Science Fact: It's impossible to sustain an injury if you're wearing a helmet.)

1) A Dublin cyclist who was hit by an unlicensed and uninsured driver was deemed partially responsible because he didn't happen to be wearing a helmet.


(It should not surprise you that Freds need step-by-step instructions to eat oatmeal.)

2) Which is not one of the six mistakes you're making with your oatmeal according to Bicycling magazine?

--Making it with water instead of milk
--Not using a large enough bowl
--Forgetting to stir it
--Failing to upgrade from steel cut to crabon cut

3) A Giro d'Italia cyclist was recently fined for:

--Blowing a "snot rocket"
--Scrawling a message on his chest in which he asked a woman to date him
--Damaging the image of the Giro by engaging in "effeminate" behavior
--Refusing to air-kiss Mario Cipollini during a pre-stage ceremony

(Beloved Tour of California mascot Hypie the Hypodermic Needle-Wielding Devil-Bee)

4) The official Giro d'Italia mascot is currently:

--"Lupo Wolfie" (a wolf)
--"Orso Corso" (a bear)
--"Jenni Genetta" (a common genet)
--"Mario Cipollini (species indeterminate)

(Drapac was actually Tupac's arch-nemesis.  Just kidding.  Or am I?)

5) Cannondale-Drapac manager Jonathan Vaughters says "pro cycling is the best sponsorship deal in sports."  What is Drapac?

--An allergy medication
--A "property funds management business that identifies value through unorthodox means"
--A shampoo that restores thinning hair
--An "integrated and leveraged vertical platform that gives investors exposure to a broad portfolio of assets in order to maximize yields"

6) Which is not a recommended method for determining proper tire pressure?

--Purchasing an aftermarket gauge
--Sitting on your bike while it's on a bathroom scale
--Employing the 15% compression formula
--Squeezing the tires

7) In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece Myron Magnet said the next mayor should "rip out Times Square's pedestrian mall."


***Special "Well That's It, Cycling's Over, We Can All Pack Up And Go Home Now" Bonus Video***

Yeah that's right, he's using Zwift outside.

(I couldn't watch the whole thing, but I really hope it ends with him getting a ticket for not wearing a helmet.)

Categories: quiz | Comments Off

What’s Your Damages?

"Enough about the helmets," they said.

"A helmet saved my life," they said.

"Your disdain for safety is foolhardy and irresponsible," they said.

Oh yeah?

Well one day either you're all going to thank me for slowly chipping away at our obsession with helmet-shaming, or else you're going to wish you'd pitched in, because it's becoming clearer and clearer every day that there is no greater tool in the oppression of cyclists than the foam hat:

(via @Pflax1)

A cyclist who suffered a brain injury when he was hit by a Dublin van driver has been awarded €3 million.

However, the court was told that the injured man was deemed to have contributed 20 per cent of the negligence to the collision.

That percentage was reflected in the settlement he received, meaning the full sum he would have been awarded was €3.75 million.

Yeah, that's right.  If you're not wearing an EPS yarmulke when an unlicensed and uninsured driver slams into you it's 20% your fault:

The injured man, Alexandru Doroscan (33), was hit by a van while cycling in Blanchardstown in the west of the city on August 2nd, 2013.

The collision occurred at the junction of Ongar Distributor Road and Sheridan Road where he was struck by van driven by Declan Meade, Lisbrack Rd, Longford.

The hearing was told Meade was neither licenced nor insured at the time. And in a separate criminal case he was jailed for 3½ years, with 2½ years suspended.

And would a helmet even have helped?

Mr Doroscan, a married father of one child, was thrown around three meters into the air when Meade’s van hit him.

The Garda estimated the van was travelling at 57km per hour.

But sure, it certainly makes sense that the cyclist was 20% responsible for this.  In fact they should have docked him another million for not wearing a parachute.  After all, if only he had been then after being thrown into the air he might have floated gently to safety.

By this logic pedestrians, slip-and-fall victims, and really anybody who's injured in any conceivable situation should be partially responsible if they were not wearing a petroleum beanie:

People already think you're being irresponsible somehow by riding a bike, so reinforcing that idea by buying into the bareheaded riding taboo will only make it worse.

Meanwhile, from the Land of Helmets comes Wheely, a new bicycle light system:

Cyclists must take extra precautions when they ride. We often share roadways with vehicles, other cyclists and pedestrians, which can cause a host of incidents.

This is true, so for maximum safety always use on a bicycle with no brakes:

It's a funny thing about brakeless fixies: on one hand, when the trend hit full steam back in the late aughts it didn't exactly result in the mass carnage you might have expected.

Then again, on the other hand, it did and still does necessitate a completely idiotic style of riding.

Getting stuck behind some doofus whip-skidding his way down the Manhattan Bridge was annoying back then, and now that we've got an actual bicycle rush hour it's doubly stupid.

It's like walking on a crowded street and getting stuck behind someone doing this:

Please accept my apologies for posting the Monty Python silly walks skit.  That is Peak Dork.  I might as well add three or four Simpsons clips for good measure*.

*[Insert "Worst Blog Post Ever" image here.]

Lastly, where would we be without Bicycling?  For example, did you know you're making six (6) mistakes with your oatmeal?
Mistake #1: Not allowing it to cool before using it as a chamois cream.

Categories: cycling | Comments Off

Wednesday Is All About Pushing the Boundaries of Tardiness

There has been much hand-wringing in the Fred community since Toms Skujins's nasty crash in the Tour of California:

Luckily the riders were able to avoid him and Skujins, who had torn most of his jersey apart and lost a lot of skin attempted to ride off. Almost hitting a kerb, Skujins the slowly made his way down the descent looking worse for wear.

Meanwhile, there were floods of messages across social media from shocked viewers who were clear the Skujins shouldn’t have been allowed to continue the race.

Yes, this was definitely a "Down, down, stay down!" moment:

And it's inspiring the cycling world to take a look at the sport's post-crash protocols, or lack thereof:

Changing this culture would undoubtedly take years to accomplish, and perhaps even changes to the rules. If a rider sat down after a crash, could he reenter the race the following day if he was deemed to be OK? The change will also need to come from within. Can directors convince riders to abandon their ambitions in the wake of a crash? Can riders train themselves to react with extreme caution after falling off the bike, rather than with the frantic desire to catch back on? Will teams ever grant riders a pass on bad results in order to recover from a head injury? Could we see a day when Toms Skujins simply walks over to the side of the road and forgets about the stage win? Time will tell.

I suspect the answer is probably "no," since the sport of cycling does not have a strong riders' union.  Nevertheless, in the meantime, elsewhere in the same publication one writer suggests a possible solution:

But when it comes to riders who matter--you know, the ones sponsored by property funds management businesses--he believes the solution is crash-sensing helmetry:

A helmet sensor would remove reliance on the judgment of a potentially concussed athlete in a high-stress situation. There is no way to definitively link a certain level of force with a head injury, so pulling a rider based exclusively on sensor readings would be medically and ethically questionable. But such a sensor would at least alert medical staff of the need to check out a rider immediately.

We may be closer to this type of solution than you think. There’s already a commercial product that does this: ICEdot. The sensor is packaged in a yellow disc about the size of a strawberry and links up with your cell phone to communicate directly with an emergency contact if triggered.

Astute readers of this blog (I have five total readers and of those maybe one or two is astute) may recall seeing the ICEdot system mentioned on these pages, and if not here it is again:

Since the riders are already wearing helmets I suppose adding some impact sensor isn't a bad idea.  But would it actually work?  As the writer points out, the riders don't carry phones, so "the sensor would need to transmit its warning by another means:"

A racing application of ICEdot’s tech would need to be modified slightly. Riders don’t have phones in their back pockets, for example, so the sensor would need to transmit its warning by another means. Luckily, forces within cycling are already adding telecommunications to pro bikes, sending us power, heart rate, and speed data for TV broadcasts. There’s no reason this system couldn’t also send notification of a rider in distress.

Though in the case of Skujins it doesn't seem like any means would have worked since they were in some sort of telecommunications Bermuda Triangle:
I also wonder how well devices like the ICEdot actually work.  For example, I tested a Coros LINX, and I couldn't get that stupid hunk of foam to call anybody:

Though I suppose it's possible nobody was taking my call, since as you might imagine hitting the "Decline" button when I come up on the caller ID is pretty much Pavlovian for the people in my life:

Furthermore, whenever you write a blog post or newspaper article about how you don't need to wear a helmet, 20 people immediately weigh in with a "BUT MY HELMENT SAVED MY LIFE!" comment.  Yet after consulting The Internetz I couldn't find a single testimonial about an ICEdot helping somebody after a crash.  Even the testimonials on the ICEdot website just talk about stickers and stuff:

The ICEdot sticker was the selling point for me.  I placed my sticker under the bill of my helmet.  First responders know that in a motorcycle accident, the helmet is not to be taken off until the physician gives the OK.  That sticker under the bill is small but VERY noticeable against the black interior of the helmet!  What an awesome idea.

And the VeloNews review of the product just seems to assume it will work without providing any real evidence:

The Crash Sensor will likely outlive your helmets — assuming you replace your helmets after each crash, as you should. At $150, the Crash Sensor is not cheap, but this is a device that can save your life should you take a spill on your next solo adventure. That $150 also includes a year-long ICEdot premium membership. Additional one year premium memberships are $10.

So are helmet sensors a scam, the latest way for companies to cash in on Helme(n)t Hyster(n)ia and sell you a "premium membership" along with your expensive hunk of EPS foam?  I have no idea.  (Though I suspect "yes.")  Anyway, Strava seems to have them beat anyway:

Beacon, our newest Premium feature, is the note on the fridge for the connected athlete. Instead of a lonely sticky note, Beacon safety contacts will get to see where you are during an activity in real time on a map. If you aren’t back on time, they can check to see where you are or if you’re stopped. If something were to happen to you, they’d be able to see your GPS location.

Seems like something that would actually work--though it could get Fred in some trouble if he takes a detour and loses track of the time:

Lastly, in Giro news, a rider was fined for scrawling a message on his emaciated torso:
"You call that a chest?," the organizers were quoted as saying.  "This is a chest:"

The Giro organizers most certainly do have an image to uphold, and it's muscled and oily.

Categories: cycling | Comments Off

Pushback on Caltrans proposal to close Skyline in Daly City

Update June 8, 2017: Your emails and phone calls made a difference; Caltrans District 4 had originally planned to install “bikes prohibited” signs on a portion of Skyline Boulevard through Daly City, California, but relented after several people who use this route told Caltrans that the suggested alternate routes on local roads are not acceptable. Although Caltrans does not have a public input process when deciding bike access on state highways, the District quickly created an ad hoc method after meeting with cycling advocates from both local and state advocacy groups.

Caltrans District 4 now seeks input from those who bicycle or are interested in bicycling on the freeway segment of State Route (SR) 35, Skyline Boulevard, across the Highway 1 interchange, or along the SR 35 corridor using local streets between Daly City and Pacifica. Please take a moment to fill out this online survey and share the link with others who may be interested. This targeted survey will help inform Caltrans in developing both short and long term strategies for people bicycling along this corridor. The survey will be available until June 25, 2017.

Find the survey at https://goo.gl/forms/zmUejriBGtBLYJzq1

Read below for the original story and background.

Caltrans District 4, which covers the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area, celebrates Bike Month by banning bikes from the primary bikeway connecting the Pacific Coast side of San Francisco with the Peninsula. The hundreds of people who bike this way every week complain to the District. Let’s hope they listen.

I buried the lede on this story earlier, so allow me to make amends: Caltrans District 4 Office of Traffic decided to ban bikes from a portion of Skyline Boulevard (aka California State Route 35) in Daly City where Skyline has an interchange with Highway 1. The All Powerful Bike Lobby has pushed back, and maybe Caltrans will rescind this decision?

Update: Caltrans D4 met with Shiloh Ballard and Emma Shlaes of Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, Janice Li of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and Daly City’s public works director. Caltrans agreed to hold off on the bike ban and to take stakeholder suggestions on ways to improve this interchange. Watch this space for further details. In the meantime, read the full update here from SVBC policy director Emma Shlaes.


Skyline Boulevard is the primary bikeway connecting the Pacific Coast side of San Francisco with the Peninsula. Passing through Daly City, cyclists must traverse a highway style interchange with Highway 1, but people who routinely travel here say they go this way because it’s better than other nearby routes for several reasons, including personal comfort and safety. Because of this interchange’s proximity to I-280, very few motorists take the ramp from 35 to 1 and vice versa. Regular riders say they have to negotiate the merge very rarely if ever when they ride here.

Unfortunately, somebody died while cycling at this location in July of 2015, and litigation in that fatality is pending. The best way to limit liability from cyclists is to design facilities for cyclists ban cyclists, and never mind how much danger and inconvenience this creates for us on the surface streets that are not under Caltrans control.

The pace of this decision to ban and implementation has been rushed due this these liability concerns. Yesterday morning, Caltrans D4 Bike Coordinator Sergio Ruiz learned of this pending closure and spread the word. Sergio’s office had nothing to do with this decision to ban bikes but was merely the bearer of bad news after the fact. “Bikes Prohibited” signs are scheduled to go up by the end of May. Happy Bike Month from Caltrans, you all!


After Sergio posted the bad news, he quickly received email and phone calls from dozens of people outlining the reasons this bike ban is a bad idea. CABO and SVBC both immediately registered their strong objections to Caltrans.

Skyline Blvd Daly City bikes banned

Caltrans D4 Bike Coordinator Sergio Ruiz met this morning with the Office of Traffic personnel who made this decision, and has forwarded along the objections that have already been received. I hope he can successfully convey the reasons the Office of Traffic made a bad decision.

Why do those crazy cyclists bike there?

This is more than about access to a public road. There’s a truism in bike facilities usage: We tend to ride on the best available facility. If we prefer to ride on a high speed expressway with freeway style interchanges, the nearby surface streets must be pretty bad.

Bikes on Skyline Blvd Google Streetview

Besides anecdotal evidence from people who travel across Daly City on their commutes, we can look at Strava. The Strava heatmap for this area shows about equal use between Skyline Boulevard and Skyline Drive , a surface street immediately to the west of the expressway and mostly parallel. Comparing Strava “segments,” we see 165 recorded their rides along Highway 35 over the past couple of weeks, versus 105 on Skyline Drive.

Let’s look at the bicycle collision heatmap as generated from SWITRS data from 2006 through 2016. SWITRS records five crashes involving cyclists on Skyline at Highway 1, one of which was our fatality, and one more that was a collision with a “fixed object.” The crash heatmap also shows collisions on the alternate routes recommended by Caltrans Office of Traffic, which up to now have less bicycle traffic than Skyline Blvd. The top map shows the 125 collisions involving cyclists in all of Daly City; I zoom into the Skyline / Hwy 1 interchange for the second heat map.

SWITRS bicycle crash heatmap 2006-2016 Daly City CA


Besides the increased exposure to danger on these surface streets, the alternate routes recommended by the Caltrans Office of Traffic involve significant elevation, left turns across busy intersections, and very steep grades that are, frankly, unridable for casual riders. A few of us were amused to see Caltrans Office of Traffic recommend St Francis Drive as an alternate. This route takes you past a gate to a private driveway through an apartment complex.

Check out this intersection where northbound cyclists must make the turn on the proscribed alternate route. Good luck making that left turn across four lanes of heavy, fast traffic during the evening rush hour! Thank you Caltrans D4 for your concern for our safety!

Send your concerns to Caltrans D4 bike coordinator sergio.ruiz@dot.ca.gov – he wants to receive your concerns and forward them to the Powers That Be in the Office of Traffic which is ultimately responsible for this decision. If you know people at Caltrans D4 or Caltrans HQ, now is the time to let them know how uniformed this decision is.

H/T to Murph for bringing this to my attention. Thank you also to Sergio Ruiz and Emma Shlaes for additional background. Bike prohibition map provided by Caltrans. Map data: Google, DigitalGlobe.

Categories: california, Caltrans, Daly City, News | Comments Off

Your Name Here: Sponsoring a Pro Cycling Team

As any cyclists knows, the Tour of California is in full swing.  Or it's over.  Or it's about to start.  Or it's been cancelled due to lack of sponsorship.

Just admit it, you're not paying attention, which is why you may be surprised that Cannondale-Drapac manager Jonathan Vaughters says that "pro cycling is the best sponsorship deal in sports:"

Indeed, according to Vaughters, Cannondale-Drapac could have been Team Netflix:

But this time I was waiting for a call from Netflix. We had put together a plan to kick off its European-branding campaign in a way nothing else could. We were in talks to announce a naming-rights sponsorship of our top-level cycling team just before the start of the Tour de France, the world's largest annual sporting event.

If only the streaming giant wasn't so short-sighted:

"We can't promote that," I was told. Which was too bad, for Netflix. They’d missed out on the best deal in sports sponsorship, especially when it comes to the younger generation.

Did they really miss out on a fabulous marketing opportunity though?  Taylor Phinney has been the next big thing in cycling for the past eight years now, and Toms Skujins's recent crash underscores how quickly even a top-tier bike race can devolve into a rolling shitshow:

Skujins immediately tried to get back up as a neutral service mechanic picked his bike up, but struggled to stand after appearing to hit his head.

He then tried to mount his bike but then crashed on his left-hand side as he continued to look dazed.

Appearing to try to retrieve his Garmin which had fallen off in the second crash, Skujins then almost collided with riders chasing on as they came past and he tried to cross the road back to where his bike was.


Meanwhile, there were floods of messages across social media from shocked viewers who were clear the Skujins shouldn’t have been allowed to continue the race.

Unfortunately his team car was some way behind with Skujins in the breakaway, and phone and TV signal wasn’t allowing the team back at the buses to see what was happening on the road.
In no way is this to blame anybody for what happened, nor is it to suggest frightening injuries don't occur in other sports, but I also doubt the marketing people at Netflix are exactly kicking themselves right now for not putting their logo on that torn jersey.

I'm also not sure cycling has some magical pull for "millennials:"

Traditional team sports do not have the same appeal to millennials that they did to older generations; millennials want to participate in sports and their orbiting cultures, not simply sit in recliners with their remotes and consume them. This tech-savvy generation is finding ways around traditional broadcasting avenues, streaming huge amounts of content, sports included.

It's really time we stopped talking about millennials as though they're a different form of human.  They're not.  Trust me, I live right next to a college, and I can assure you that the dumb traditional sports bro is in no way a dying breed.  By the same token, the Europhile streaming "alt-sports" such as cycling is just as likely to be an aging Fred as a so-called millennial.  In fact, they're probably more likely to be older, since they have office doors they can close.

And sure, young people seem to like riding bikes in cities, but does that really translate into wanting to watch bike racing on TV?

Go to any major city, and you’ll see millennials cruising around on their bicycles, and there are bike lanes popping up everywhere. In no other sport is there a line that connects the kids out learning to ride bikes and bike commuters to amateur racers and world-class professional cyclists. They all experience a similar thing.

I absolutely agree that adult cycling fans are much more likely to be riders themselves than, say, adult baseball fans are to be baseball players.  However, I'm not sure the average urban "millennial" commuting in one of those new protected bike lanes gives a shit about pro cycling.  I also think the thing about cycling being the only sport in which there's "a line that connects the kids...to amateur racers and world-class professional cyclists" is totally untrue.  What do you call Little League?  You can plug your kid into traditional sports right out of the womb, but good luck entering your grade-schooler into a bicycle race.  In fact, good luck finding a grade-schooler who even knows how to ride a bicycle.

Of course, one way in which cycling is different from many other sports is that the sponsor's name becomes the team name, and so the spectators effectively become fans of that company:

Sponsors of teams usurp those ad buys because they’re woven into the stories of the athletes and the race itself. Most of us tune out ads during a football game, but it’s impossible to ignore sponsors in cycling. They’re on the clothing, but they’re also on the air for hours each race, and then in the media all day, as commentators announce the team names and myriad publications cover every race. Sponsors become part of a team’s identity. That’s just not for sale in any another sport.

However, there's only one problem with that: they're still just team names.  See, people tend to take names for granted, and therefore it's incredibly easy to not give a shit what these companies actually do, even if you're a fan of the teams they sponsor.  For example, I've seen the name "Cannondale-Drapac" every day for months, and while obviously I know what Cannondale is it wasn't until I started writing this very blog post that I even bothered to look up Drapac--and in case you're wondering, here's what I came up with:

Drapac Capital Partners is a property funds management business that identifies value through unorthodox means.

With Australian origins and an established track record, we set up operations in the US in 2011 to capitalize on the unprecedented investment opportunities following the financial crisis. Our core investment focus is on land, and we never take a short term view allowing us to do what others cannot – make logical and rational investment decisions.

Yes, millennials love property funds management.

Given all this, it's harder and harder to imagine Netflix wanting to sponsor a cycling team:

For Netflix, this would have been the perfect move because it captures the already established massive audience of Tour de France viewers without paying a media competitor to be ignored during a commercial placed in the race. By putting its brand name on one of the main actors in the content people were viewing, Netflix would have used the efforts and money of competitors to promote their own channel. Genius pirate swashbuckling!

Would it really have, though?  Does a content creator really want to put its name on content it can't control?  Netflix can control the plot twists in "House of Cards," but they can't control the doping scandals in the Tour de France.

Of course, there certainly are companies that do benefit from cycling sponsorship, such as Garmin:

Garmin, a company that was involved with cycling on a title-level for seven years, saw its market share, brand recognition, and overall revenues soar in the fitness sector after launching its products through a named team: Team Garmin. It was the exception that had enough lateral thinkers in corporate headquarters to figure out that the real bottom line is sometimes better when you take a few risks. And with risks come rewards.

Which makes total sense, since they make a product for cyclists.  Indeed, since cycling fans are so likely to be cyclists themselves you'd think there would be more bike and component companies sponsoring cycling teams...until you consider it's really expensive to do so and the fundamentals are terrible due to the sport's exhausting scandal cycle.

If anything, the future of the sport lies in sponsorship from the Persian Gulf countries:

If I only had a Bahrain...

Categories: cycling | Comments Off

Tuesday night in Santa Clara: trails and other bike discussion

From Betsy M regarding City of Santa Clara council meeting the evening of Tuesday, May 17 16, 2017.

There’s a council meeting tomorrow night in Santa Clara (which is a schedule conflict with the Plan Bay Area meeting in San Jose’s King Library).

There’s a creek trail extension in item 13. B. 3. in the consent agenda. It is the evaluation only (no shovels or asphalt yet) of remaining portions of the Saratoga, Calabazas, and Hetch Hetchy trails in Santa Clara. Follow the attachment link from the city’s website to see the lengthy PDF.


Things on the consent calendar usually just get passed, which is fine. If there’s anything to do here, it’s to remind the council and the consultants to talk to their own BPAC, to the bicycle community, and to SVBC while planning these trails. The other thing I see missing in the document is anything about connection and continuity. The J.W. Christian Greenbelt runs along the Hetch Hetchy corridor in Sunnyvale. Calabazas creek is the shared border between Santa Clara and Sunnyvale. VTA has a bike plan, which I don’t see mentioned in this document, but which is directed at intercity connectivity. (Santa Clara’s own bicycle plan dates to 2009 and has so far been all but ignored.)

I also see no mention of improving connections to these trail corridors on adjoining city streets, or of the various agencies which might someday collaborate or provide funding (Open Space Authority, Air Quality Management District, MTC, etc.).

Further down in the council agenda, there’s also yet another information item on the San Tomas trail closure, with not a lot of detail on what information might be presented. For all this item has been discussed, there doesn’t seem to have been much effort to reach out to SVBC or to the trail users to identify a better alternative.

San Tomas Aquino closure schedule 2016

Tuesday’s meeting begins at 4 PM with a closed session, reconvening with a public meeting beginning at 5 PM. The public presentation portion begins after the consent calendar so my guess is you can probably show up around 6 and still be on time to give your comments.

Speaking of San Tomas Trail closures, the trail will close to the public at 1 PM on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 for the U2 Joshua Tree Tour. Does Bono still ride a bike after his serious crash in 2014?

Categories: Quick news | Comments Off