Friday, March 6, 2015

Friday Funnies - Who Are You?

With warm weather coming. Ask yourself, which cyclist are you?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Sometimes 140 Characters is not Enough

Recently I engaged Philadelphia Inquirer writer Inga Saffron in a discussion on Twitter regarding her concerns over a bill being considered by Philadelphia City Council( One that would consolidate several city departments under a single authority, possibly under the authority of the City Council. Which could create a patchwork effect for future projects.

As you can see from the Twitter exchange Ms. Saffron seems to be under the impression that Mayor Nutter’s administration bears some responsibility for the lack of new bike lanes since 2012. The dialogue reached a point where I felt that a 140 character sound bite was not going to communicate what I had to say.

So let me be blunt, Mayor Nutter’s administration is not responsible for the lack of new bicycle lanes since 2012. That honor is bestowed upon the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. Who in 2012 thought that giving City Council approval over the installation of future bike lanes that would replace parking or an existing lane of traffic in exchange for the Safe Streets Bill. This was the same deal that the BCGP fought against in 2011.

I don’t know what the BCGP was thinking when they made this deal. The City Council has history of trying to pass punitive bills against cyclists and to think that a City Council member would not use this option was delusional.

This point was driven home Council-Man at Large Bill Greenlee ( who declared that no bike lane would be installed on 22nd St, between Fairmont and Spring Garden. He claimed that the street needed two lanes of traffic, even though the Streets Department stated that two lanes would not fit. He also claimed that local constituents objected. But refused to allow a public hearing. The frightening thing about this is that a Council-Man at Large has no defined district. They are free to take action in district they chose, even though each district has its own councilman.

There are things I do blame the Nutter administration for. Their failure to deal with the police turning the bike lane at 13th & Arch into police parking. Even though there is public garage and a police parking lot available. Or their unwillingness to get religious institutions to stop using the Pine St. bike lane as on street parking. As most of them have arrangements for off street parking.

But at the end of the day the reason there have been no new bike lanes in Philadelphia since 2012 is because of the deal the BCGP made with City Council for the Safe Streets Bill. Not because of a failure on the part of the Nutter Administration.

If Ms. Saffron feels otherwise she can write something more than 140 characters long about how the Nutter Administration is partly or fully responsible for the lack of new bike lanes since 2012.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Lets Go Ride a Bike

With warm weather approaching people will be turning to thoughts of love. The love of bicycling. For those of you who are looking for way to socialize and ride your bikes there many options available in Philadelphia.

Take Your Time Bike Ride -
Departing from Rittenhouse Square on the second Tuesday of every month around 6pm. These rides always include a different destination each ride. Starting in April and ending in October these rides alternate between coed and women only.

Philly Full Moon Bike Ride
Come howl at the moon with the Philly Full Moon Bike Ride. Held on the full moon of every month this ride departs from the Philadelphia Art Museum in the evening. Well attended, with a no drop policy this ride ends up at a local bar for drinks. Rides are held year round so dress for the weather and bring lights.

Philly Bike Party
Come dance the night away with the Philly Bike Party. The Philly Bike Party rides are usually on the third Saturday of the month and is 6 to 8 miles long. Along the way the ride makes several stops to socialize and dance.

Philly Kidical Mass
Kidical Mass Philadelphia is part of nationwide movement seeking to promote family friendly bike rides and bring awareness in our cities that kids are traffic too. Riding as a group Philly Kidical Mass provides safety in numbers by using routes that incorporate bike lanes and low traffic streets that are 1 to 4 miles long. These rides often end at local playgrounds giving you the opportunity to socialize while your children play with new friends.

Cranksgiving Philadelphia
Held in November close to Thanksgiving. Each rider has to purchase food from a shopping list at predesignated supermarkets and then arrive at a final destination. All of the food is donated to Philabundance. For those of you who want to race there are prizes for top finishers in several categories and a special award for the individual who brings the most food. In 2014 Cranksgiving Philadelphia had 100 participants who brought 1200 pounds of food and $700 in cash.

Held in the fall around November, the Philadelphia Tweed Ride is the dressiest social ride in town. Attracting 100 riders on average the Philadelphia Tweed Ride dress code asks its participants to dress in clothing from 1900 to 1920 England. The attire ranges from vintage clothing to vintage inspired, with bikes to match. Winding its way through Philadelphia this ride becomes a parade of its own. Complete with a stop for a picnic,  post ride drinks and awards the Philadelphia Tweed Ride is the ride of the social season.

Bilenky Junkyard Cross
The Bilenky Junkyard Cross closes out the social riding cycling season. Held in December in the junkyard abutting Bilenky Cycle Works, the Bilenky Junkyard Cross has one of the most unique courses around. Utilizing  items found in the junkyard you can expect to climb over cars, weave through auto parts and tires, and splash through puddles of unknown fluids. Each year the merry elves at Bilenky Cycle Works add their own course modifications. Pits made from sofa cushions or leaves and seesaws.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Review - Spoke Magazine

Much has been made of the timing of Urban Velo ceasing publication and Spoke Magazine ( starting publication in Philadelphia. The question that has to be asked is, will Spoke Magazine provide the same quality as Urban Velo. Having had the chance to read their Premiere Issue I would say that the answer is, yes.

There were two articles that really stood out for me. The first “The Citizen’s Guide to Philadelphia Bike Laws” was a wonderful tongue in cheek explanation of the various bicycle laws on the books in the state of Pennsylvania. How many times have you seen a cycling advocacy group quote a cycling regulation and then explain it in such a way that it still does not make sense? Not in this article. With each regulation listed there was a translated reply that explained things in clear English, often with a sense of humor.

The second , “How Many Governments Does it Take to Build a Bike Lane”. We’ve all seen triumphal announcements when shiny new bike lanes are installed. This article explores how and where the money for a bike lane comes from. At the Federal, State, and local government levels. If you really want to see what it takes to build a bike lane then this is the article for you.

The writers and editors of Spoke Magazine created a collection of well written and topical articles. That were interesting, informative, and diverse. Without getting bogged down in jargon or the  minutia of cycling subcultures that become a turnoff for average readers. I look forward to future publications of Spoke Magazine and hope there will be many to come.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

"We Are Traffic" - Movie Review

”We are Traffic” Ted White Director, 50 minutes

Before there were Bike Parties, Slow Rolls, and Full Moon Rides. There was Critical Mass.  Like all of these current rides Critical Mass was never a protest. They rode with the slogan of “We aren’t blocking traffic, we are traffic”.

The Critical Mass rides were “the perfect combination of do what you want, but be a nice person”. It was an opportunity for cyclists “to experience what it is to be the majority. To experience what it is like to be safe and surrounded by other cyclists. That’s what Critical Mass is”.

The documentary film “We Are Traffic” tells the story of the of the first Critical Mass rides and the growing pains that came with it. Through interviews with many of the original organizers you’ll find out how the idea behind Critical Mass evolved. You’ll see how they announced the rides in era before the internet, how they handled riding in traffic, and dealing with participants who were more interested in confrontation.

“We Are Traffic” also covers what happens when the media, police and local government officials decide that Critical Mass is a protest and may border on civil unrest. The backlash that occurs, local government’s attempt to co-opt Critical Mass for their own needs, and Critical Mass regaining control.

If you participate in any kind of social group ride, like Kidical Mass Philly, the Philly Tweed, Ride, some variation on a bike party. Then “We Are Traffic”  is the movie for you, it will give an understanding about how social group rides were established and the thought process that goes into creating them. For others who think Critical Mass rides are nothing more than a protest designed to disrupt traffic this will be an education.

Uploaded to by the director, Ted White you can watch it free of charge at the link below.