Friday, December 20, 2013

#unblockbikelanes



It appears that the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) is finally going to take the issue of cars and trucks parking bike lanes more seriously. They are asking cyclists to tweet locations where vehicles are blocking the bicycle lanes. Tweet the PPA at https://twitter.com/philaparking with #unblockbikelanes 

This came about through discussions between the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia (BCGP) and the PPA in attempt on the part of the BCGP to deal with the fact that the PPA has not been enforcing the Safe Streets bill. Which includes ticketing cars and trucks that park in bicycle lane. So they created a hash tag on Twitter so they could crowd source a database of problem locations. The PPA released a statement:  

We’ll keep close watch of this hashtag to help us identify chronic problem areas throughout the city and make plans for the future. While we can’t promise that enforcement can be dispatched for every single tweet we receive—the logistics of that are just too complicated since cars often move before our parking enforcement officers can get to them—we are committed to working closely with the cycling community on this issue.

Keep in mind that this does not affect the on going parking situation on Spruce and Pine on the weekends. When churches use the lanes as expanded parking for religious services and for-profit functions.

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia did make a valiant effort to explain how the the parking laws work. But what it boils down to is bicycle lanes are considered loading/unloading zones under city ordinances and its hard to prove that a car is parked. So PPA enforcement agents simply ignore the situation and allow it to fester. However since the PPA wants data lets not disappoint them give them as many pictures and locations as possible so they can see the extent of the problem. Let the PPA sort out what is legally and illegally parked.

With weekend temperatures in the 50's and 60's go for a bike ride, take pictures and write down the details of vehicles blocking bike lanes. I have no problem with commercial vehicles that are unloading that's just a part of doing business. Its the private vehicles and contractors that should be focused on, especially if they are empty and their flashers are not on. It is not your place to confront or chastise; document the problem including the block or intersection and ride on. Then keep this up the rest of the week. If you don't have a Twitter account, post to the PPA's Facebook page or e-mail them at Support@philapark.com. Just make sure to include #unblockbikelanes so your information can be identified.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Redbull SSXCWC Junkyard Cross - 2013 wrap up

With the Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships (SSCXWC) happening in Philadelphia the same weekend attendance was down and many of the local riders were at Belmont Plateau. It became readily apparent that this was not the Bilenky Junkyard Cross, instead it was the Redbull SSXCWC Junkyard Cross.

Colin Firth and his unique brand of heckling was MIA, replaced by a Redbull announcer who did a very bad imitation of the old monster truck commercials. There was a higher douche bag to spectator ratio than normal. The worst occurred at the shot tent at the van tunnel, which created a great deal of confusion about which way racers should go and backed up the tunnel entrance. One racer not realizing what was going on followed the to riders ahead of him. When he failed to take a shot he was restrained and forced to start at the end of the pack.

The addition of the ramp by Redbull at the car hurdle was questionable since it was mean't for bikes with heavy frames, 26” wheels, and inexperienced trick riders. The ramp was designed to launch cyclists up instead of guide them across.While it created some spectacular jumps There was one serious accident that required an ambulance and a second before the ramp was removed.

There were some shining moments though in spite of the corporate makeover. Ones that I hope will inspire and carry over into next years race.

The beards were beardier and iconic. Maybe next year there will be a best beard award, real and faux.



                                               
                                                    
Stephen Bilenky  - The man, the beard, the legend
The mighty Unicorn from last year was back.


One competitor raced on a 80's era Dahon folding bike and rode over the ramp.

There was a preview of a Trek Fat Bike that will be available in 2014.

The car hurdle was a single car instead of two which gave everyone time to get the running start needed to clear a higher than normal barricade. The ramp added some advantage in several heats when two or three racers at the same time would vault the car and run or ride over it to gain better position.

The single walkway at the tractor was changed to two, which avoided back ups.

Redbull sponsors high speed motor sports and when it comes to bicycles its BMX, mountain bike and downhill mountain bike racing. The type of riding that involves high speed maneuvering, big air, and the potential for spectacular crashes. Everything that cyclocross is not. This years Redbull SSCXWC Bilenky Junkyard Cross were best summed up in response to the Redbull audio truck, “you know how it goes, when the corporate world gets a whiff of a grass roots happening.” I look forward to next year when it returns to its local roots.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Ride Eagles Ride


Much to everyone's surprise Philadelphia Eagles Linebacker Connor Barwin often rides the bus or rides his bike to work. When he does drive its his electric car, a Tesla, not an unusual choice since he drove a Toyota Prius when he played for the Houston Texans. This should come as no surprise as Connor Barwin's father is a city planner.

With the expansion of bicycle lanes and the growing number of cyclists in Philadelphia this would be a prime opportunity for the Philadelphia Eagles to turn this into a public relations event. An organized ride to Lincoln Financial Field with a field of flowing green as the participants wear team colors. Complete with valet bike parking and an exclusive tailgate event in a tented area complete with large screens to watch the game.

All the Eagles would have to do is contact the Denver Bronco's for the planning details. The Bronco's have been holding the Orange Ride successfully for several years.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sexy Beast

Many families living in cities and the suburbs have been turning to cargo bikes as a way to transport their children and to run errands. Avoiding the need for a second vehicle in the suburbs or the need for buying one if you live in a city. The one thing cargo bikes are not is sexy.

Cargo bikes have all of the sex appeal of the family station wagon from the 1960's and 1970's. Bulky, utilitarian, and handle like a truck. Just like driving a truck a cargo bike needs more time to accelerate, more distance to stop, and you need space to make the wide turns required of them. Until now.

Straight out of Copenhagen, Denmark created by Butchers & Bicycles comes the MK-1 tilt action cargo bike. With a video worthy of a car commercial this bike is one sexy beast.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday Funnies - Black Friday Edition

Looking for the perfect yet whimsical present for your favorite cyclists? Then search no more.



Looking for a Turbosoke for that special person in your life? You can find it here; http://www.amazon.com/Turbospoke-the-Bicycle-Exhaust-System/dp/B002WJ2Q5E

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bilenky Junkyard Cross - 2013




On Saturday, December 7 the Bilenky Junkyard Cross will ride again. Finishing a heat is a prize unto itself. Set in a junkyard abutting the Bilenky shop this race requires you to navigate a wide range of surfaces with barriers and hazards you would never normally encounter.

The course surface varies from dirt, packed earth, gravel, to pavement along with some oil, radiator and transmission fluid mixed in. Then of course there are the barricades; the junk yard provides a wide range of obstacles. So what are some of the things you can do to prepare for the race if your trying to place in your heat?
  1. Don't ride clipped in. Last year I saw several riders switch from clipless pedals to BMX pedals. They were off and on their bikes so often they were losing time and position when they struggled to clip in. BMX pedals are wider so they are easier to get your foot on and they are still grippy enough to keep sneakers from slipping.
  2. Wear sneakers instead of cycling shoes. Riding shoes with cleats will leave you at a disadvantage on many of the sections of the course which may require you to run on a wooden walkway or climb over the hood of a car. Shoes with cleats will leave you off balance with no traction.
  3. While you are going to see many people riding standard cyclocross bikes, the course does not always give you the time to shift gears. Some of the fastest and most aggressive riders are the riders on single speed mountain bikes and BMX. These are the competitors who think nothing of bunny hopping a car used as a hurdle. Or pulling wheelies through the start/finish line like one competitor did last year.
    4. Do not underestimate the influence of the spectators. Last year in the middle of a heat the car hurdles were quickly mofided with ramps and the second car had ramps on both sides. When one racer squeezed through a gap between the car hurdle and edge of the course, spectators filled in the gap with car tires and when that racer came around again they had quite the surprise. 
There are some suggestions I would also like to make to the course designers.
The frequent comment I heard from the competitors was there was no place to pass. It may be time to reconsider the course design. The car hurdles create a larger than normal hurdle, but they only allow for one racer at a time to get over it. The same can be said for the mini van used as a tunnel. 

With all of the options of things that can be found in the junk yard perhaps its time to revitalize the course to allow for passing and faster speeds in certain sections. By making the hurdles and barricades able to accommodate more than one person at a time. Create a slalom with tires stacked three high and tied together in groups of three to form a triangle for stability.

Another challenge faced last year was in one of the last races ended a few laps short when some of the spectators started yelling “you won” as the pack came through the start/finish line, when the heat had not ended. Purchase a standard, checkered finish line flag so there is a clear indicator as to when the heat is over.

Some other concerns include increasing the number of port-a-potties as last years were full to capacity at the end of the day. As well as the possibility of moving the food truck to a location that is not right on top of the course.

As always it goes without saying that the Bilenky Junkyard Cross has become one of the most popular and challenging local Cyclocross races. It has developed such a following that last year a saw numerous out of state license plates including; New York, Maryland, New Jersey, and Indiana. This is a must see race that should be on everyone's list of things to do.

2010 Documentary
Bilenky Junkyard Cross (A Short Film) from In The Crosshairs on Vimeo.

2012 Race Highlights
 


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tweed Ride Philadelphia 2013


On Saturday November 9th the Philadelphia Tweed Ride held its 6th annual ride and I rode along with 100 participants. A Tweed Ride is vintage bicycle ride that uses the early 1900's in England as its theme. The ride started gathering at 11:00am behind the Philadelphia Art Museum at The Waterworks. Which attracts the attention of many of the tourists and locals out to enjoy the day. The participants dress in looks that are either vintage or modern twists on vintage clothing.









































At 12:00 the ride set off on its route through Philadelphia with questions from onlookers about what we were doing, was this a parade, and why were we dressed up. Rolling past businesses and residential neighborhoods often drew clusters of people taking pictures or shooting video on their cell phones.

A stop for picnic on Washington Park gave everyone a chance to rest and enjoy snacks before moving on to the final destination, Rembrandts, where prizes were awarded for various categories to participants. This included Dapper Chap and Snappy Lass as voted on by the participants and other categories awarded by judges were part of the ride.

Dapper Chap as voted by the judges
Wearing an authentic British cycling outfit accessorized with a monocle

Dapper Chap as voted by the participants

Snappy Lass

Best Picnic complete with a Tandem bicycle

Best Mustache
Created by growing a beard and trimming it a week before the ride


Was this as fun as it sounded, yes. The organizers have also created a low key fundraiser for Philabundance with $800.00 donated by the Tweed Ride participants with the simple pass of a hat. If you would like to stay informed about future rides including a possible spring ride please like the Tweed Ride Philadelphia Facebook page. To see more pictures by other photographers go to the event page. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Super Saturday

On Saturday, November 9 there will be a multitude of bicycling events with something for everyone.

My personal favorite is the 6thAnnual Philly Tweed Ride 
A bicycle ride that incorporates a period theme, reminiscent of a 1950's car rally. Attracting over 100 riders the Philadelphia Tweed Ride theme is England from the 1900 to 1920 so the riders do wear a great deal of tweed. The Philadelphia Tweed Ride website is full of photo galleries from previous rides, many of the men and women look as if they have stepped off the fashion runways of that era. Many of the participants have vintage bicycles or bicycles that look vintage, along with modern bicycles as well.


Looking for something that you can take your children with you, then join Philadelphia Kidical Mass. Kidical Mass is a variation of Critical Mass, a group ride for families and their children through Philadelphia side streets and bike lanes. While using a mass of riders to create a safe cycling experience. This ride will be a one mile ride to the Philly Bike Expo.

Since its first year the Philly Bike Expo the attendees have braved blizzards and hurricanes to participate in its opening day and every year the number of vendors and attendees have grown. So much so that this year the have moved from their original home at the 23rd St. Armory to the Pennsylvania Convention Center. In addition to a very diverse collection of vendors in the exhibit hall there will be seminars books signings by Bike Snob NYC, planned rides and valet bike parking.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Stop Thief

Lock your Bicycle discussed some of the common sense things you could do to reduce the risk of having your bicycle stolen. In Lock your Bicycle – Winning I showcased two of the three classic videos created by Hal Ruzal. Where he walks the streets of New York City rating how well bicycles are locked, a great way to see multiple examples of good and bad locked bikes.

So what can you do to prepare for the possibility of your bike being stolen? No one wants to have their bike stolen, but there are some common steps solutions to protect yourself if it happens.
  1. Write down the serial number on your bike. Turn your bicycle upside down and look at the underside of the bottom bracket. The part where the axle for the pedals passes through the frame. The serial number is the most effective way to prove ownership and to help reunite you with our bike if it is recovered.
  2. Treat your bicycle like a supermodel – Give it a fashion shoot. Take pictures of the bike; especially the serial number and closeups of parts that can be used to identify your bike. Make sure you can clearly read anything printed on them.
  3. Selfies!! - Now that you have immortalized your bicycle, its time to proclaim your relationship to the world. Take pictures of you and the bicycle together.
  4. Take all these pictures and store them on-line. Create a private album on Facebook, Instagram or some other site that only you can see. In the event of theft you can access this information
  5. Last but not least FILE A POLICE REPORT. There have been several stolen bikes recovered through the Philly Stolen Bikes Facebook page, as long as five months later. Having a police report that includes the serial number and a picture of your bike is the most effective way to recover your bike. Especially if you find it on Craigslist or locked on the street. Or if the police recover the bike they can match the serial number to a police report.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Bike Hacks

Recently I came across bikehacks.com, a website full of interesting solutions to common problems that some cyclists may experience. After searching through the website I found two solutions that I was really intrigued by.


We've all experienced the problem with U-locks where the shackle (the U section of the lock) dings and chips the paint on your bike frame. So someone came up with a simple solution, by sliding a piece of garden hose over the shackle. An easy and cost effective solution since many hardware stores sell five and ten foot long sections of garden hose. Or just pick one up at a yard sale.


Another hack answered the question of what if you live in a city that does sell cargo bikes and you want one to transport your children by bicycle. For one man living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil it was build a sidecar for his bicycle, more importantly he built a detachable sidecar. A great solution for home owners who do not have a garage and the bike owner and it does not require you to do an extensive modification to an existing bike. Since this hack was first created the creator has created a website to see how his sidecar designs have evolved along with his children.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bike Thief Alert #2 - Arrested

 Meet DJ Domie or Papi D as he likes to call himself. Business man, DJ, and alleged bicycle thief. We have to use the word alleged because he has not been convicted in court....yet.


I am an alleged bike thief

I am an alleged bike thief

I am an alleged DJ
About two months ago this Bianci bicycle was stolen in the vicinity of South 22nd St and St. Albans in North East Philadelphia.



 and in late August this ad appeared on Craigslist;




I Have A Bianchi bike that i want to sell lookin for best offer and no not no 7,8, 900 dollars for it look it up before you offer lookin for a far price is not a cheap bike.


A member of the Philadelphia Stolen Bikes Facebook page spotted it and alerted the owner who posted the stolen bike. A meet was set up to look at the bike which included under cover and uniformed officers from the Philadelphia Police Department. Once the owner identified the bike an arrest was made. After that it was all down hill for alleged bike thief DJ Domie/Papi D. and alleged comedian. When he claimed "his cousin who is the number one rider in philly gave it to him".

So now what? Before everyone runs out to the hardware store to buy pitchforks and torches to form an angry mob. DJ Domie/Papi D. brought a concealed and loaded hand gun with him, he most likely will be charged with a felony, and spend some time in prison. Its also safe to assume his friends have a similar affinity towards concealed weapons, so visiting his neighborhood would not be a good idea.

What you can do is share this post with everyone you know. You never know who is going to see it and what they may be able to do.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What Statistics?


As the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia prepares for its fall bicycle count a question needs to be asked. What are they trying to hide or are they just lazy? If you go to the BCGP website you will find that the most recent statistics they have from their bike counts is from 2008, FIVE years old. IS there something within the last five years statistics the BCGP does not want people to see. But that's assuming the BCGP is smarter than they appear and that is not the case. The BCGP is lazy.

How difficult is it for the BCGP to compile the one years statistics, format and publish them on their website in a timely manner? Obviously very difficult. Its time for the BCGP to return to the basics, being advocates for Philadelphia cyclists. Something they lost sight of when they gave control of bicycle lane approval to Philadelphia's city council. Turning future bicycle lane development into a political tool to be used by a group of people who may not always be looking out for Philadelphia's best interests and lack the knowledge of a civil engineer.

With the BCGP's newest strategy of “Completing the Circuit”, a plan to create a larger trail system that connects Philadelphia with the suburbs. You have to ask yourself how do you hold an organization like the BCGP accountable when they make a questionable agreement that affects every cyclist and not just their membership?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Bike Thief Alert #1

If this guy has stolen a bike from you or tries to sell this bike call the police. Otherwise keep your eyes open and lets get him arrested.

http://philadelphia.craigslist.org/bik/4049087259.html

There is a man by the name of Anthony that is acting, as he is interested in buying a bike from you. He comes to your house, asks for a test ride, and then steals the bikes never to return. His phone number is 267-603-0409 and 267-254-8823. He is a white male 5"11 or 6"0 black hair about 180 pounds. He pretends to be alone as soon as he rides around the corner he has a buddy that helps him get away. He just did it to me. If you see this man or hear from this man, or this has happened to you. Please call the Philadelphia Police Department. I have filed a report on him with all his information. The Police know where he lives. Send me an email to let me know if this happen or you hear from him thanks
this is the bike he stole.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition


In a recent article on Philly.com the Philadelphia Police Department is taking action against bicycle thieves. Bike theft is a problem within Philadelphia with 11,000 bicycles stolen between 2007 and 2012 and since bike theft is an under-reported crime I have no doubt the number is much higher.

What the PPD does is leave an unlocked bait bike in an area with lots of pedestrian traffic, wait for someone to take it, and then arrest them. This is nothing more than a morality test designed to catch an opportunistic thief. It is very close to entrapment and will likely result in most cases being dismissed. The example in the article with the undercover officers arresting one man reminded me more of the Monty Python Spanish Inquisition sketch. A lot of smoke and noise that has no real effect.




Instead Philadelphia Police Officer Joe Ferrero and his team should be of targeting bike thieves who deliberately steal bikes by cutting locks. The ones who are the real problem. By using expensive bait bikes equipped with a GPS tracker and a basic lock. When someone cuts the lock and steals the bike undercover officers track that person back to their home. Which may result in the recovery of other stolen items and the people who help them store and sell stolen goods.

Officer Joe Ferrero's tactics are superficial at best. While the arrests of bike thieves he generates may look good statistically. In reality they don't deal with the problem of the professional bike thief who works with tools to steal bikes








Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Driving = Fun?


Tanner Foust, professional stunt and race car driver and host of many automative racing shows including “Top Gear”, wants to reverse the decline in people getting their drivers licenses by making it his mission to keep driving fun.

Mr. Foust, read someplace he can't remember, that 16 year-olds don't consider getting a drivers license a priority. He also doesn't remember what was a priority was but he thinks its technology. He feels the reason kids don't hang out in person is because they can communicate online instead of driving to someones house. Mr Foust fervently believes that we live a country “that is driven in large part by the automotive industry, and the idea of that going away just because we don’t need to drive in order to hang out with our friends in the next generation scares the crap out of me.”

As the host of the TV show “Top Gear he is paid to drive cars though malls and skip them across a lake like you skip a stone.


In the real world no one needs the razor sharp reflexes and years of training to drive in traffic like this:


Mr. Foust is paid a lot of money to race custom designed race cars that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and require millions of dollars per year for a team of mechanics, travel to races and the expensive fees needed to enter them. In the real world cars, even used ones, are expensive to purchase, repair, and insure. On the other hand if you live in a city like Philadelphia there is plenty public transportation, bicycle infrastructure, and car share companies to meet your needs without having to own a car.

The days when when people chose to live in the suburbs are changing, for a growing number of people they want the access a city provides. The ability to live and work in the same community, to have access to a wide range of restaurants and entertainment, and the diverse people who make this possible. All without having to drive or assume the cost of car ownership.

Mr. Foust has watched movies about the future and he his frightened that in these movies people travel in some sort of self driving pod with no contact with the world around them. Yet when he encourages people, as a resident of Washington state, to drive into the mountains or up Pikes Peak all they are doing is traveling in pods of metal and glass. Its one thing to drive to a mountain top and look at the view, its a different experience when one hikes the mountain and sees nature up close.

By all means if you need a car to travel to these wonderful places like Pikes Peak, do so. But for day to day life do we really need the stress of traffic jams, aggressive drivers, and the ever changing cost of gasoline? People like Mr Foust who cling to the past instead of helping to shape the future scare the crap out of me.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

It's a Small World After All

No matter where in the world cyclists live they experience the same issues and concerns. In this video from Saudi Arabia we meet two bike commuters who face the same challenges like riding in traffic. Or co-workers who view bike commuting as not acceptable for work. As well as the reasons why some people turn bike commuting; avoiding traffic jams, parking, and the cost of operating a car.


One young man talks about how when he arrives at work he feels much more energized and that he no longer has to park in the distant employee parking lot. Now he parks with royalty, management. And like many established nations obesity has become a problem in Saudi Arabia. Demonstrated when the older cyclist in the red and white Jordanian style shemagh visits his tailor. You can see the significant weight loss that has occurred after he started car-light lifestyle.


While the video is in Arabic, if you click the “cc” button on the bottom right hand side of the Youtube screen you will be able to view English subtitles.When you start the video the "cc" button will appear.





Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Karma and the Bike Thief

While I do agree with the police about the risk of taking matters into your own hands. But when in doubt and if the serial number matches, steal it back. I'd just have a few friends slightly out of sight in case of problems.

http://www.adventure-journal.com/2013/08/the-daily-bike-woman-steals-bike-back-from-thief/




Everybody loves karmic justice, or at least a happy ending. Kayla Smith, a Vancouver bartender, had her new Masi road bike stolen from a friend’s house last week. She called the police, who were ineffective. Then a friend saw what looked like her Masi for sale on Craigslist, so she called the police again. Once more, their response was lacking, so she took matters into her own hands
“I called the guy up and made arrangements to meet him in half an hour at the main street McDonalds,” Smith wrote on Reddit under the user name girlgetsbikeback. “When I pulled into the parking lot I still had no plan of attack. I got there and saw the guy with my bike. He was wearing board shorts, a raggy tank top and dark sketchy glasses. I noticed that it was my bike right away because of the RIDE ON stickers on the frame [RIDE ON is the shop where she bought it] and the fact I have a silver handle bar plug on the left and a black one on the right. A description I gave to the police already. Here is where I started thinking on my feet.
“I asked the guy if I could take it for a ride around the parking lot. He was weary and said “yeah but don’t take off…” I said not to worry that I would even think of it! My heart was pounding and I had no idea what to do so I just got on the bike and was like fuck this guy and started to ride. As I was riding away, I called my friend who was driving to meet me as backup. I rode to the adjacent parking lot where she was pulling into as I was riding. We watched the guy start to look for me and he got super freaked out and he suddenly just took off running.”
Smith told Canadian news outlets, ” “I was just gleaming. I literally jumped around like a six year old getting an ice cream cone. It was ridiculous. I was like ‘Oh my God!’ I was doing booty shaking dances all over the parking lot.”
Vancouver police predictably cautioned people not to take bike theft matters into their own hands. “We can arrange those types of meetings. We can do exactly what she did, but with the safety of having the police involved.” said Vancouver Police Constable Brian Montague.
Well, yeah. But you didn’t.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Helmet Camera - Any suggestions?

Not everyone can afford the latest GoPro camera. So please post what other options you are using for a helmet camera.

Contour Roam POV Camera review - Nice low profile camera fi you don't want a bulky camera with a playback screen. Priced around $150.00 I'd consider one. This camera was used by the TV show Dirty Jobs when they needed to go somewheres the regular cameras could not. And we all remember the nasty environments they used to film in.

It's all your fault


The next time you get hit by a car be sure to tell the driver “it's all my fault”. Or so claims Kah Chan or more aptly referred to as “Kahpow” (http://www.kahpow.co.nz/). A video game designer by trade, he claims that cyclists with helmet cams are antagonizing car drivers.

Mr. Kahpow posits the question; “Why have traffic relationships deteriorated to the point that cyclists feel the need for cameras as a self-defense mechanism?” He claims the videos often failed to provide any context to incidents and overwhelmingly present motorists in a negative light. There has been no deterioration, its always been this bad, now with small low cost video cameras it can be documented for everyone to see. If a driver is portrayed in a negative light its because they have chosen to do so



Cameras are the only way a cyclist can prove that they were verbally threatened by a driver or hit by a car. Why cameras? As pointed out in this article; “Without the striking car's make or model, tag numbers or further details, the case becomes challenging to crack”. And this was an article about hit and run car crashes. Helmet cameras may be the only way to get the license plate, description of the car and driver, since the hit cyclist will be in no condition to recall details like those. Video does not lie and it is a very reliable witness to fight against claims by the driver that “they came out of nowhere” or “I never saw them”.


Imagine having this guy behind you honking his horn for five minutes, they ran out of memory after 2 minutes. He was charged only because of the video and because the publicity another victim came forward.




Or getting hit by a car that drifts into your path and drives off. Arrested only because of video enchantment revealed the license plate.


Or worst of all, someone who deliberately hits you. Skip to the one minute mark if you don't want to see the context of someone riding a bike.


How much context does one need when someone uses their 2000 pound vehicle as a weapon? Cyclists are using cameras as a way to protect themselves and ensure they receive the full protection of the law that every other road user receives. Its people like Mr. Kahpow that seem to play up the concept that there is war between cyclists and cars. There is no war, just the desire to have equal protection under the law.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Really Philebrity, Really??!!


Philebrity.com likes to rail about Stu Bykofsky and anti-bicycle columns, but it appears they are intent on becoming the hipster version of Stu. Their most recent column, Reasonable Humans Draw Up Pedestrian–Cyclist Armistice That Will Be Followed Everywhere But Here Because Of, Well, You Know.

They allude that an article in Slate Magazine which promoted a simple solution of mutual respect between cyclists and pedestrians to end common misperceptions of each other. Philebrity’s response was, it won't work here because “you know”. The problem is, we don't know. Is Philebrity inferring that there is something unique about Philadelphia cyclists and pedestrians that won't make this work? Do they have to keep perpetuating the myth that all cyclists are bunch lawless renegades. Terrifying little old ladies as they ride on the sidewalks and running stop signs at will. Or a group of individuals on the fringe who ride because they have no choice because of DWI/DUI or a environmental extremist.

Why does Philebrity need to engage in the same type of pot stirring that Stu Bykofsky does? Is this a ploy to increase the number of hits on their website or do they truly feel that Philadelphia cyclists are a bunch of renegades? It would be nice if Philebrity could explain why this won't work, but only they know.



Monday, August 5, 2013

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Giant walks amongst us


You don't see to many advertisements on American television these days and while there are plenty in magazines its always the standard bike porn. Road racers in full kit glistening with sweat and mountain bikers bikers with a light layer of dirt on their faces, arms, and legs. Or pictures of the riders that are sponsored by various cycling manufacturers. You never see anyone normal, like the people you see when you are out riding your bike. Giant Bicycles has created two advertising campaigns that reaches to the general public and makes them ambassadors for their brand


In 2011 the Australian campaign reached out to the average cyclists who ride for fun, exercise, commuting, or race for the thrill of it. A unique commercial attracted 11,000 Australians to register for the opportunity to be one of 30 sponsored riders who would receive new bikes, accessories, and full year of tune ups and repairs.





The winners were truly a unique mix of cyclist and they can be found here.

The current Canadian campaign, “Random Acts of Bikeness” kicked off this summer. “If you see some ‘70s-looking detectives cruising around on Giant bikes, don’t run away. In fact, run toward them.
All summer, all across Canada, Giant’s super stealth, polyester-clad team will be hitting trails and festivals, bike parks and suburban sidewalks looking for totally random people to give new Giant bikes to. The campaign is called Random Acts of Bikeness, and it’s Giant’s way of taking bad, jiggly, rusty, beaten down bikes off the street and replacing them with much cooler rides. Watch this video to see how it’s all going down (and to see how good we look in mustaches.)”



Perhaps someday we may see an equally unique advertising campaign here in America has more cities improve their infrastructure and create more opportunities for cyclists..








Friday, July 19, 2013

Philadelphia Kidical Mass


The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has been making much ado about their upcoming seminar about Family Biking on Saturday, July 20th. The idea of going taking your children for safe and exciting bicycle rides. At this seminar they are going to discuss picking the right bikes, gear, and routes for riding with young ones. They plan to have on hand plenty of bicycles from various shops and the “best answers come from fellow parents who are already doing it.”

What the BCGP has not to mentioned is why family biking is now part of the Philadelphia bicycling scene. Thanks to the efforts Dena Driscoll and Marni Duffy who created the Philadelphia Kidical Mass. Using a combination of side streets and bike lanes the ride wends its way through Philadelphia with a local playground as its final destination. The participants ride a wide range of bicycles with children on their own bikes, trail-a-bikes, trailers, child seats, long tail cargo bikes and Bakfiets. What makes this safe is when you ride in a group is that other traffic views you more like a car because of the amount of space that the group takes up and gives you a wide berth.

This is a great way to introduce your children to cycling. Rides like this incorporate a fun destination, children that your kids can play with, and adults to you to socialize with.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Covered Bicycle Parking in Philadelphia

With the last few weeks of daily rain storms one of the challenges that many bicycle commuters faced was where to park their bicycle in the hopes that it would be dry. Fortunately Philadelphia Magazine reporter Emily Lehman found a solution, by crowd sourcing the search for covered/sheltered bicycle parking available to the public. In her article, “Where is Covered Bike Parking in Philadelphia”. A simple appeal to the public and a Google map located all of the current bicycle racks with covered parking. If you know of any others please add your comments to the the article link above.

There are many reasons why cyclists like to keep their bicycles dry, rust being a key factor and that can be addressed with some basic maintenance. But the most annoying is water logged saddles. Bicycles seats (saddles) are made up of open celled foam, similar to a household sponge. When a saddle gets caught in a rainstorm it soaks up that water like a sponge and it takes forever to dry out. One of the most common solutions is to place a plastic bag over the saddle, but that is never any real guarantee that the saddle will remain dry or that someone won't remove it. 
There is another solution:


There are a number of plastic saddles on the market that will stil provide the level of ergonomic support you need. Some examples can be found here; scroll down to see the reasonably priced models and here.



Friday, July 12, 2013

Philly Full Moon Bike Ride



One of the things I have found frustrating about the Philadelphia cycling scene is the lack of a monthly social rides when compared to other cities. A ride that is free of any political or social statement. Just a ride for the sake of riding.

There is a new kid on the block, the Philly Full Moon Bike Ride. They hold a ride once a month on the night of the full moon. Departing from the Art Museum around 10pm they ride through the streets of Philadelphia ending at a local drinking establishment. With their first ride in May the organizers are building a following on Facebook with 41 members, the May Ride had 10 riders and their June ride had 25 participants.

With the ride happening on a different day of the week every month I hope the organizers will consider moving the start time to an early hour. So people who are in 9 to 5 jobs can join in and still get some sleep.

They are planning for their next ride on Monday, July 22. I look forward to seeing this ride grow and evolve. To become a new Philadelphia tradition.

Like us on Facebook
http://tinyurl.com/kmpe8yk

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

You Haul


Over the weekend there was a video posted on how people transport things on their bicycles. From kids and Corgis to crock pots and concrete. First up is this video talking to a variety of people on how they transport things on their bicycles.



As a child my first bike was fitted with a large Wald basket. It allowed me to carry books from the library, the Sunday paper for my father, and a book bag for school with great ease. Over the years I found that back packs while they were useful had there limits. They left a big wet spot on my back and hard objects like books and groceries often poked me in places I didn't like. As an adult I have gone back to baskets, they can hold anything within reason, never affected by weather, and make for more spontaneous purchases because a basket is always ready for anything.

Also this weekend the Wall Street Journal published an interesting article on the growing use of cargo bikes and how the developer of the long tail cargo went onto to found Xtracycle. The article explored how cargo bikes are being used by a commercial fisherman in Washington State, a family of four in Manhattan, and to a man in Oregon who is preparing for the local Disaster Relief Trials. During which bicycles and cyclists will be tested on their ability to go where other vehicles can't due to debris or lack of gasoline, while carrying 100 pounds of supplies.

There were the ever present naysayers and my personal favorite was; “It isn't going to haul the 4 2x6, 16 foot boards I need to repair my deck.” Neither will most cars and minivans, you're really going to need a full size pick up truck. Fortunately Home Depot has trucks for rent in their parking lots and many other retail companies are embracing this concept as well. On the other hand one cargo cyclist in the Wall Street Journal article moved 150 pounds of cement over a very hilly area, so anything is possible.

The growth of cargo bikes will be interesting to watch as people who live in cities, ride bicycles, get married, have children, and remain where they are. While they may own cars they will still want the speed and convenience cycling allows when running errands or taking children to school. Purchasing a cargo bike will help them retain their mobility.






Monday, July 8, 2013

Leave the Driving to Us



Recently there has been discussion on various blogs and news services about Amtrak and the expanding its capabilities to allow people to roll bicycles on board. There are 8 trains throughout the United States that allow bikes to roll on board. Otherwise there are only two options for cyclists, the first is a folding bike and bring it on as carry on luggage. This of course assumes you own one or are able to invest in one. There is another option, you can box your bicycle and bring it on board as checked baggage. It turns out that boxing you bicycle is easier than it sounds.


Finding a train that has checked baggage service is not as easy as it sounds. So I asked myself where would I go if I could or can take my bicycle on board Amtrak?

Places I would like to go.
Pittsburgh, PA – Pittsburgh is the jumping off point for the Greater Allegheny Trail, GAP Trail, which runs from from Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland MD and connects to the C&O Trail that takes you to Washington, DC. 335 miles of car free trail with access to Inn's, B&B's, and campgrounds along the way. There is way to do this ride with the use of one way car rentals for $150 to $200 if you avoid picking up the car at the airport.

Washington, DC – In addition to seeing all of the sites, there are a number of trails that will lead you to a wide range of trips in the states surrounding Washington. Along with the the similar policy that SEPTA has with bicycles on board public transit. To get a general sense follow this link to more detailed information. Check out the WashCycle Bike Trail Map which is beautifully layered in Google maps.

Boston, MA – Like Washington, Boston has a wide array of historical sites and extensive system of trails and bike lanes that allow access to a wide range of the state. As well as a similar policy that SEPTA has towards bicycles.

Places I can go
Atlanta, GA – Atlanta is home to the Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga Trail. With a combined distance of 100 miles on a continual paved, flat trail that ends in Anniston, AL. You can take an overnight train from Philadelphia, arrive in Atlanta in the morning, walk out of the station to the Silver Comet Connector Trail (Use Google Maps for info) and ride your bicycle to the trail head.

I hope that Amtrak makes plans for improved options for cyclists along the Northeast corridor for most of the year with seasonal expansion from the spring to the fall for places like Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and upstate New York. I have no doubt that there are commuter rail and railroads that use simple and easily installed equipment to transport bikes on board. I would be more than willing to make advance reservations and pay a baggage handling fee. Lets hope that Amtrak views this as an opportunity not to be missed, instead of a missed opportunity.  

Friday, June 21, 2013

Beevis and Butthead



On Friday, June 14, 2013 Stu Bykofsky wrote his latest anti-bicycle screed and I would have responded sooner but every time I tried to reread the column I kept breaking out in a fit of giggles. Stu Bykofsky has finally found the Beevis to his Butthead; former Philadelphia Mayor and current Professor at Temple University John F. Street. Stu was invited as a guest lecturer for one Street's classes on local government and community advocacy because Professor Street “invites speakers who he thinks can be of some value to students”.

As usual there were unsubstantiated comments about bicyclists and bicycle lanes. But it got really funny when Professor Street not only backed up these claims with his own anecdotal evidence. Such as as his assertion that "When you take a person and you put him on a bike, something happens to your brain," Street says. "You get real aggressive, you're like a cabdriver on a bike. It's all about getting there. A stop sign doesn't mean anything." So Professor Street can add Psychologist to his resume.

If students at Temple University want to learn just how corrupt urban government can be then all they need to do is take Professor John F. Street class. He is a case study in ego and failure. When Street graduated Temple Law School he got a clerkship with the U. S. Department of Justice and was quickly terminated for poor performance. After becoming Mayor 18 members of his staff were convicted for corruption during an FBI investigation. When Street was head of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, from 2004 to 2011, Street hired the law firm his son worked at to handle PHA legal matters. Street claimed he had a non-existent waiver and his son billed over 1000 hours on PHA business. Street's brother, Milton Street former State Senator, was convicted for tax fraud on 2 million dollars he received as a consultant by getting companies lucrative city contracts while his brother was in office.

Stu really seems to be grasping at straws these days, he'll do anything to get attention. After his lecture he and Professor Street had lunch afterwards. Which again gave me a fit of giggles as the entire conversation must have gone like this.