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.