Category Archives: Cycling

The Funniest Cycling Video Ever

One of these guys is my hero. Can you guess which one?

More delightful cycling blogging from fellow WordPresser “Ritte Van Vlaanderen” here.

Share the Road, Share the Rage?

What is it about a bicycle?

Heaven knows, I don’t mean to be provocative or radical when I set out on my bike, my backside a brightly colored billboard, my nebbish noggin rocking a hopeful helmet.

I’m just a middle-aged guy who, having ceded the basketball court to younger, fitter men (the President! sigh!), is looking for some age-appropriate fun and exercise. But from the suburban soccer mom, late to corral her better-than-average but shockingly fragile offspring, to the rural teenager succinctly expressing himself with a well-aimed beer bottle, the response is the same: “Get off the d*mn road!” More threat than suggestion, two trials opening this week spell out how deadly a threat it can be.

Dr. Thompsons rear windshield after cyclist crashed through it. Photo by Chris Roberts

Dr. Thompson's rear windshield after cyclist crashed through it. Photo by Chris Roberts

Ron Peterson, whose nose was severed in the Mandeville Canyon incident.

Ron Peterson in the hospital after Mandeville Canyon incident.

In car-crazy Los Angeles, a successful doctor is charged with two counts of Assault with a Deadly Weapon, having exchanged heated words and then “brake-checked” a group of cyclists on the popular Mandeville Canyon Road, where he lives. Dr. Christopher Thompson, an emergency-room physician, did nothing to aid one cyclist who severed his nose crashing through the car’s rear window, or another who suffered a grade 3 shoulder separation and lay bleeding in the road. Thompson allegedly told responding officers he was “tired of” cyclists and wanted to “teach them a lesson.”

Former Attorney General Michael Bryant. Photo by Daniel Fox via Creative Commons.

Former Attorney General Michael Bryant. Photo by Daniel Fox via Creative Commons.

In bike-loving Toronto, the former Ontario District Attorney, Harvard Law School grad and rising star of Canada’s Liberal Party, Michael Bryant, faces trial for “criminal negligence causing death” and “dangerous driving causing death.” Bryant had a minor collision with a cyclist as he and his wife drove home from a dinner party. Words were exchanged. Bryant tried to drive away, but the cyclist, Darcy Allan Sheppard, clung to the side of the car. Bryant accelerated to what witnesses described as a very high rate of speed, and steering to the opposite curb, crashed Sheppard’s dangling body into a small tree, and then head first into a mailbox, killing him.

Who knew a simple bicycle ride could occasion such violence and anger? But then, we shouldn’t be surprised. This is, after all, the era of the town hall crier, of the second Brooks Brothers riot, the death throes of a decrepit political order upon us certain as $5 gasoline. Rage is all the rage. And whether we like it or not, bikes are suddenly a symbol, provocative as a liberal president. Still, I plan to ride again tomorrow.

[Note: This article was written for the Washington Post’s “America’s Next Pundit” contest.]

Enhanced surveillance video of the Toronto incident:

Witness statement from the Toronto incident:

Bike Lanes are not enough

An abject lesson from Paris. Bike lanes and “complete streets” are not adequate without proper enforcement and a proper “share the road” attitude from drivers both casual and professional.

How Cyclists are Changing American Cities

Pedaling Revolution
An important book for everyone interested in making American cities and suburbs more intelligent and safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

There’s an excellent review in The New York Times by David Byrne of Talking Heads fame, of all people.

Parking for 71 People

Parking for 71 bikes, 71 cars, 1 bus

Parking for 71 bikes, 60 cars, 1 bus

 

Just saying.

Biking Rules

BikingRules

 

Transportation Alternatives has published a comprehensive set of guidelines for street cyclists. Applicable not just to New York City, but everywhere.

Having been flipped off by an angry dumpster truck driver yesterday(ironically, while standing well off to the side of the road), all I can say is: follow these guidelines and do your part to stop the hate.

No parking at Metro-North? How about bike boxes?

Bike locker at NJ Transit station

Bike locker at NJ Transit station

The New York Times Westchester regional published a story last week about the extraordinary steps some communities have to take because they have run out of parking spaces at their Metro-North stations.

By NICOLE NEROULIAS
Published: May 16, 2009

BY the time Ned Midgley drives up to the Scarborough Metro-North Railroad station here for his 8:38 a.m. train to Grand Central Terminal, more than 800 cars have already crammed into every available permit parking space.

Valet parking? Extra fees of several hundred dollars a year? Folks who are retired or laid off, but who won’t relinquish their parking permit?

But nary a word about alternative transportation to and from Metro-North stations. Shuttles? Bikes? Unthinkable, one supposes. Except for so many for whom a short bike ride to the train could be a truly viable solution, if they only had a secure way to leave their bikes at the stations.

Westchester Biking and Walking Alliance is actively lobbying for secure bike storage at Metro-North stations throughout the County. Please join us in urging your municipal and County legislators to endorse this worthwhile project. And while you are at it, it would be worth your while to also express your opinion to Metro-North, and Region 8 of the New York State Department of Transportation.

New York Mag article on NYC transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan

The new pedestrian plaza at Herald Square, NYC

The new pedestrian plaza at Herald Square, NYC

Janette Sadik-Khan, the city’s Transportation commissioner, manages to be equal parts Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses. As she prepares to close swaths of Broadway to cars next week, she is igniting a peculiar new culture war—over the role of the automobile in New York.

(Click the quote above to view the whole article.)

What is so radical about the idea that the central city is better off with fewer cars? Pedestrian-friendly zones honor our city centers, and in the long-term, dramatically INCREASE economic activity for local shopowners and taxi drivers too. Like our absence of government-sponsored health care, the United States is the only advanced industrial nation that does not follow this basic design concept in its major cities.

UPDATE (7:30 pm): Heard in the car on the way home tonight, on NPR, a cab driver: “Stupid people, streets are for cars.”

Yonkers residents dropping resistance to completing Westchester Trailway system

Members of the Westchester County Planning Department and Parks Department met with Yonkers residents and representatives of the Westchester Biking and Walking Alliance, Westchester Cycle Club and Yonkers Bicycle Club at the Will Library last night, to discuss final plans for the Yonkers “missing link” section of the Westchester South County Trailway. County Legislator Kenneth Jenkins also attended, and made many constructive and positive comments in support of both local residents and the larger Trailway project.

SCT Yonkers Unfinished segment

While homeowners living immediately adjacent to the planned trailway section voiced understandable concerns about crime and unauthorized access to their properties, they seemed mostly reassured by both government and non-government speakers, who described other communities’ experience with the Westchester Trailway system.

Homeowner objections are the last major obstacle to building the 2-mile section of the South County Trailway through Yonkers. When this section is completed, along with the proposed Route 9A bypass near Elmsford, cyclists and other users of the Trailway will be able to journey the entire 46 miles from the New York City line to the Putnam County line, on this paved, off-road route. The “vertical” park created by the Trailway has become one of the major amentities and attractions for tourists and homebuyers alike in communities where it has been completed. The completed north-south oriented Trailway will become the backbone for a system of east-west and north-south trailways that will make cycle commuting and family-oriented cycling, roller-blading and walking accessible to large numbers of residents for the first time in this densely populated county which has for so long been designed with only automobile transportation in mind.

Westchester Biking and Walking Alliance Founder David Wilson discussing the Westchester Trailway system with a new member.

Westchester Biking and Walking Alliance Founder David Wilson discussing the Westchester Trailway system with a new member.

Getting buy-in from the proposed Trailway’s neighbors will be the latest accomplishment of the newly-formed  Westchester Biking and Walking Alliance.  The Alliance was formed this year to coordinate efforts to advocate for improved cycling and pedestrian infrastructure in Westchester County.

It also moves forward one of the Alliance’s most important near-term goals, which include getting bike racks installed on Bee-Line buses, secure bike parking at County Metro-North stations, and 100% completion of the South County, North County, and Westchester Avenue Corridor bike trails.

(Click here for more information or to join the Westchester Biking and Walking Alliance.)

Bike Thieves, Pirates and Tea-Baggers

It’s impossible to resist the temptation of getting something for nothing.

New York Times “Spokes” blogger, J. David Goodman, is fatalistic:

Having one’s bike stolen is a part of our collective experience as urban riders.

Commenters to the Spokes blog wonder where the stolen bikes and parts get “fenced.” But I’m relatively convinced that many of them — at least those that don’t end up as part of your local take-out’s fleet — end up lying discarded in gutters and garages, unused, wasted. The rip-off itself is the reward. Someone got something for nothing. Sure, it might be a filthy old bike seat or a cheap rim that needs re-truing. But the price was right. Bring it home and for a day it will take pride of place in your heap of stuff.

 The BBC’s Robyn Hunter reports that our latest media stars, the Somali pirates, don’t think of themselves as thieves, but rather, as heroes and protectors of Somalia’s coastlines:

They don’t call themselves pirates. They call themselves coastguards.

 The lavish lifestyles this new Somali bourgeoisie enjoys is not the point of their activties, supposedly, it is a fringe benefit. There’s something for nothing to be had in the waters of the Strait of Aden and the Indian Ocean. It would be criminal not to exploit it.

Which brings us to our dear friends and neighbors, the Tea-Baggers.

Mike Smart, a 51-year-old oil field worker from West Texas, held up a white handwritten sign that said, “I’ll keep my freedom, my $ and my guns. You keep the change.”

“I just want the government to stay out of my way. I won’t get in their way if they don’t get in mine,” said Smart, who described himself as conservative but not a Republican.

And of course, what do you suppose Mr. Smart has in mind when he says government is “in his way.” Why, that they impose taxes on him.

The late Senator Russell Long had a saying that summarized Americans’ typical attitude towards taxes and tax reform. “Don’t tax me; don’t tax thee;” they’ll say, “tax that fellow behind the tree.” You know that police department that came when my house was robbed? The fire department that kept my place from burning down last year? The public hospital where my wife had the cancer surgery? The public school, the courthouse, the downtown parking garage, the sewer system, the electrical lines, the Interstate Highway System that brought me my latest assault weapon? That’s all just free stuff. Stuff I’m entitled to as an American, like the disability payments I get for that slipped disc. I ain’t payin’ for that. Get out of my way!

Gearing up for tea-bagging, Salt Lake City

Gearing up for tea-bagging, Salt Lake City

With all the maturity and insight of bicycle thieves and pirates, our tea-baggers are sailing out to meet their moment of infamy, secure in their belief that they are not what they seem to be — a bunch of angry white people with a questionable collective grasp of history, politics or economics – but rather, like their pirate brethren, the very guardians of our coasts of freedom. That sidewalk we’re marching on, the park where we’re congregating? God put that there for good, white Americans to use. Just like J*sus, in his Queen’s English, promised us. No gub-mint did that. It’s the American miracle, and we’re here to protect it.

You know, they used to say that all the nuts in America had come loose and rolled off to California. This tea-bagging movement just proves that we’ve still got plenty of nuts to spare, in communities all across the country. And while they remain a distinct minority, they are a sizable minority, and the combination of Second Amendment absolutism, racial animus and inflammatory anti-government rhetoric is a fearful brew which, like the khat that stokes the imaginations and assuages the fears of the young Somali pirates, has great potential for fueling violence and tragedy.

Isn’t it time to go home, cash your tax refund checks, and play with your guns? The grown-ups amongst us are too busy trying to manage a financial crisis to take to the streets to protest that we’re not getting enough for nothing.

Children at St. Louis tea-bag party.

Children at St. Louis tea-bag party.