Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy True Year

Merry Christmas and a happy true year.

Carol of the Spokes from Velocity USA on Vimeo.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Oh the things you see on Craigslist


Only one direct drive bike available

$2,800 negotiable

Serious inquires only

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Philly Bike Expo 2014

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays the organizers, exhibitors, and attendees from the swift completion of their appointed rounds should be the motto of the organizers and exhibitors of the Philly Bike Expo. Since its inception this show has endured blizzards and hurricanes when the show opens. Even the advertising has evolved from cyclists riding through Philadelphia with a billboard trailer in tow. To an actual billboard on I-76.

If you go to the Philly Bike Expo and expect the attendees to be dressed in spandex and clacking around in clipless shoes you would be sadly mistaken. The few who did were very out of place. The majority were smartly dressed couples and families with young children.

The bike demo area is always an interesting place to go to. With a wide range of exhibitors attending the show the bike demo area had Bullit Cargo bikes, Gazelles, Bromptons, Xtracycles, and Fat Bikes. Including models with electric assists. I took a few laps on a Bullit and once you get the hang of it they handle quite nicely.

The exhibitors were the usual collection of bike retailers, clothing, equipment, and accessories. There were a few standout exhibitors, including one of the human powered vehicles from the Kennsington Kinetic Sculpture Derby and a trick riding demonstration.

The two most understated booths however were the ones that spoke the loudest if you knew what you were looking at. The first was Via Bicycles with just a sign and a bike. But not just any bike a fully restored 1890’s touring bike with a front suspension. An almost near match to the bike used by “The Lost Cyclist” from one of the Saturday seminars. Curtis and his staff rode the bike over from their shop, but if you thought you might get a chance to ride this bike in the demo area forget it. The pedals alone are $500, each.

The other exhibitor was distinguished white haired gentleman with a British accent with nothing more than a handful non-cycling books on display. It took me a minute to realize that I was talking to legendary frame builder E. David Moulton. Whose bikes bikes have been ridden in the Olympics and the Tour de France.

One of the things that I enjoy is the diversity of the seminars, its more than just bikes and bike building. Since I only had limited time during the weekend I elected to attend Bikesnob NYC who speaks with a mix of wit and wisdom.

And of course it wouldn't be a bike expo if it didn't have indoor valet bike parking,  courtesy of Neighborhood Bike Works. On Sunday afternoon they had parked over 600 bikes.

Over the years I have attended many trade shows as an exhibitor and I know how much work is involved. The Bilenky team did an excellent job and I look forward to next year.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

We've added it to our database.

Have you heard any of these jokes?

When your spouse asks you to run an errand do respond with "I'll add it to my database?

What’s the difference between Santa Claus and the PPA?
When Santa makes a list he checks it twice, the PPA just makes a list.

The #unblockbikelanes hashtag is really a bizarre drinking game created by the PPA. A Drink is taken when a Tweet is about the 7/11 at 22nd & Lombard, 13th & Arch St., or a PPA vehicle is parked in a bike lane is posted on Twitter.

By now you’re all familiar with the sad saga of the Safe Streets bill. When the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia surrendered all future bicycle lane installation to the hands of the professional politicians. Giving the Philadelphia City Council yet another way to stymie any future bike lane development.

One of the benefits of this bill that was that the Philadelphia Parking Authority would start enforcing ticketing cars that park in bike lanes. In spite of a confusing definition about how they could be used as a loading zone. And with great fanfare this past winter the BCGP and the PPA announced the creation of hashtag, #unblockbikelanes. So the PPA could create a database of hot spots and alert PPA employees to vehicles that needed to be ticketed.

And it appeared to be a rousing success in the first quarter of 2014, until there was some digging and turned out it was the same number ticketed in the first quarter of 2013 (http://tinyurl.com/njbns95). So the BCGP went back and discussed some additional solutions with the PPA. Which resulted in a 96% increase (http://tinyurl.com/prddy25) in the number of tickets issued in the second quarter of 2014 from 2013.

Unfortunately the third quarter resulted in a close to 20% decrease in the number of tickets issued for cars parked in bike lanes from 2013 to 2014. 
Green=Increased number of tickets. 
Red=decreased number of tickets.

Spruce St. 1400-2300
Poplar Dr. 2900-3100
Pine St. 300-2100
N13th St. 99-100
Market St. 3700
Lombard St. 1000-1200
Spruce St. 1000-1200
24th & Fairmount
Spruce St. 1300-1700
25th & Fairmount
22nd & Lombard
South St., East of Grays Ferry
S. 22nd, 400-500
2200 South St.
2300 Locust St.

On the one hand I would like to think that the drop in tickets is due to the message getting out about cars getting ticketed for parking in bike lanes. On the other hand since there was no change in the number of tickets issued in the first quarter of 2014 versus 2013  Combined with the fact the the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia had to meet with the PPA to remind them of their obligation to enforce ticketing cars in bike lanes. I have my concerns about the fourth quarter numbers.

This leaves with just one question; What is going on at the PPA? What happened to all of the meter maids that we saw on Parking Wars? Who were lurking behind corners and hid behind objects ready to ticket a car as the meter set to expire. The ones who not just took pride in their job, but had an almost sadistic glee in the way they executed their duties. Frankly I don’t know where they are.

I only wish we could count on the BCGP to once again step into the breach. But they are too busy trying to “Connect the Circuit”. So they can avoid the albatross that hangs around their neck, that the Safe Streets bill has become. I'll see what happens with the fourth quarter numbers when they become available.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Funnies - Safety First

One of the developments in automotive technology has been systems that warn the driver of objects and other cars that appear or stop abruptly in front of them. Recently auto manufacturers have been able to tie this into to a car's brake system to automatically stop the car.

The frustration for me is the way this technology is sold in the United States. Playing up to the worst fears of drivers. While fear is an effective sales tool, so is humor and Volvo has come up with a great advertising campaign for their automatic braking system.

To see a brief description about how this system works view the video below.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

There's an App for that

We’ve all had those moments while riding a bike. When a motorist who edges near you and nearly hits you, as they make a turn, or blows through an intersection right in front of you. If you confront them what is the response you can expect? “I didn’t see you” or “you came out of nowhere”. Lets face it distracted drivers are a problem in today's world; they’re texting, talking, and posting their Facebook status while they drive. To say nothing of tuning their radio and checking their GPS or smartphone for directions.

But now there is an App for that, which plays up to a drivers worst fears, The Bike Shield. So instead of paying attention while you drive, you can now have an additional distraction to keep you safe.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Bike share for Stu Bykofsky

Bike share is coming to Philadelphia and the city is soliciting recommendations for placement of bike share stations. I can’t think of a better location than the one at Market St and 11th. Not only is it close to the 11th St and Market St. SEPTA stations. It is also two blocks away from 801 Market St. Home of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s editorial staff. Wouldn’t it be great for if there was a convenient bike share station to help with their commute and to annoy Philadelphia’s bike Grinch Stu Bykfosky.

to help vote for this location as a bike share station click on this link.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Protect and Serve

When it comes to the #unblockbikelanes and the Philadelphia Police Department they have a unique relationship. There is the WaWa at 22nd St. & Lombard where the bike lane is treated as an active loading zone, which encourages civilians to park in the bike lane as well. At 13th St. & Arch you can expect the bike lane to be blocked by six police cars on a daily basis, due to its proximity to the courthouse. This one is particularly frustrating as there is a gated lot for police parking on one side of the street and a public parking garage on the other.

Over the Labor Day weekend the Philadelphia Police Department had to add insult to injury at the bike lane on Spruce St. between 38th & 39th. Traffic cones were placed along Spruce St. between 38th and 39th, creating a buffered bike lane. To keep people from using the bike lane as quick parking for the WaWa and other restaurants on that block. This didn’t stop the PPD from repeatedly parking in the lane to block access to it, as confirmed by this Twitter thread.

Now I get it, on duty police officers need their breaks and an opportunity to eat just like everyone else. They also need to stay close to to their vehicles, but to deliberately block a buffered bike lane means a cyclist can’t go around the offending vehicle and get back into the bike lane. They have to ride the length of the street putting themselves at risk and impeding the flow of traffic.

So what is the solution? I don’t think the the PPD will have the same sense of humor as the Philadelphia Parking Authority did when Kid Hazo ticketed one of their vehicles.

Even some kind of polite form letter may not work, people get very touchy when you a lay a finger on their car. Its really going to take a change of the internal culture of the PPD. A good start would be with buffered bike lanes and 13th St. & Arch.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Ferdinand needs dental heros

A few years ago a litter of kittens turned up on the doorstep of Bilenky Cycle Works all of them were adopted except for one who was named Ferdinand and became the resident Shop Cat. From a little kitten Ferdinand has grown up to the size of small dog. He has taken on many roles at Bilenky Cycle Works since his first days as Shop Cat. 

Office Manager

Stress Management Consultant
And just how big is Ferdinand?

Ferdinand needs your help. He needs immediate dental surgery as his long term survival may be at risk. Whether you are a cat lover or have enjoyed the Bilenky Junkyard Cross. Donate what you can afford, because every little bit helps

To donate use this link - http://www.gofundme.com/dqnen0

Monday, August 18, 2014

I told you so

In more than one post I have taken issue with with the deal the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia made with the Philadelphia City Council for the Safe Streets Bill. Which gave the Philadelphia City Council final approval on all new bike lanes, if they affected parking or traffic lanes. I’m sure the BCGP tried to rationalize this decision by thinking that they would be able to find reasonable accommodation. In the event the City Council tried to use their new political tool.

Now it looks like that choice has come back to haunt them. In this case it involves extending  the 22nd St bike lane. As part of Philadelphia’s 2012 Bike/Pedestrian plan this stretch of road was to be redeveloped to include a bike lane. Currently a five block section of 22nd St between Spring Garden and Fairmount is being resurfaced and new lane markers will be put in.

But that it not going to happen and if you cut through all of the doublespeak in the BCGP’s blog post (http://tinyurl.com/ktbelz5) it all boils down to one thing. City Councilman Bill Greenlee claims that there is community opposition to the bike lane and thus the City Council will shut down any development of the 22nd St bike lane extension. The BCGP will need to demonstrate that there is overwhelming support for the bike lane from the residents and business owners along this five block stretch. Even then I remain skeptical as Bill Greenlee will merely call in enough favors to make the process as difficult as possible. As he is the architect of the bill that gave City Council control over all future bicycle lanes.

While the BCGP might be able to marshal its resources this time to overcome the resistance of the Philadelphia City Council. What about the next time? Bicycle lanes in Philadelphia was part of the BCGP’s long term goals. Once achieved, the BCGP negotiated final decision making out of the hands of trained professionals, including Traffic Engineers. Into the hands of irrational professional politicians, all in the name of the Safe Streets Bill. I cringe to think what the BCGP will do to complete “The Circuit”.

The BCGP says that this is “an unfortunate complication”. I believe that this will be the first of many unfortunate complications to come. How many more sacrifices will Philadelphia cyclists have to make at the expense of the BCGP’s long term goals?

Thursday, July 31, 2014


On the Philadelphia Stolen Bikes Facebook page a Twitter campaign of #findourbikes has been suggested. Any person who has their bicycle stolen in Philadelphia would tweet an image of the bike, with a description of the bike, and the location where it was stolen.

This would be an alternative to the traditional street protest. Imagine once month people who had their bikes stolen in Philadelphia stood outside Philadelphia Police Headquarters at 720 Race St for five minutes in a silent protest. In time its going to draw media attention and will be hard to ignore. In today's society social media can act as a global driver towards the resolution of many issues. Wth media, business, government, and individuals tweeting and reading tweets. It would be a matter of time and patience before the #findourbikes could become a force for positive change.

In 2012 the reported number of bike thefts in Philadelphia was 162 bikes per month. If you factor in the number unreported thefts, in my opinion, the number would be three or four times higher. I realize that Philadelphia has a very high rate of violent crime and murder and the police have only a certain amount of resources to go around. Perhaps if there were periodic sweeps to deal with quality of life crimes. We might find that some of the more serious problems will become easier to deal with.

In the meantime tweet your stolen bikes to #findourbikes @PhillyPolice.

Monday, July 21, 2014

#unblockbikelanes is working

Since the creation of the #unblockbikelanes hashtag by the Philadelphia Parking Authority I have been highly skeptical that the PPA was going to follow through on ticketing cars parked in bike lanes. Lets face it the PPA twitter responses of “we’ve added it to our list” does not give you the impression that they are doing anything.

So I did some research, the PPA has risen to the challenge and is taking enforcement of cars parked in bike lanes seriously.
Total number of tickets issued
April, May, & June 2013 - 242
April, May, & June 2014 - 475
This is a 96% increase over the past year.

With the largest increase in tickets at three locations.

2013 Tickets
2014 Tickets
Percentage increase
Spruce St. 1400 - 2300
Pine St. 300 - 2100
N. 13th St. 99-100

This is a good start, one that I hope will continue to be growing trend. There are some larger issues that will take time as it is going to involve a change in culture and tradition. The two most challenging will be churches that use bike lanes as parking on Sundays, especially the ones that have made arrangements with commercial parking lots. Or the issue police officers using the bike lane at 13th St by the court house.

I would like to suggest that during one the annual bicycle enforcement sweeps of the PPA to host a bike lane liberation complete with a brigade of clowns, as inspired by New York City’s Times Up. A fun, non-threatening piece of street theater that could be created by local cyclists. Along with a police escort to encourage recalcitrant car drivers to move their vehicle and a PPA agent to ticket unoccupied cars.