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.