Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Here's one that was written a while back inresponse to some posting somewhere. I can't decide whether to call it "The American Pedestrian," or "A Cowboy Without A Horse," or something else. Without being explicit about it, this is the justification for cyclist violating traffic laws, like running stop signs and red lights, and why counter-cultures are important. There is more to say about this last bit though, because staying too long in the liminal space is tantamount to refusing to grow up, or being adolescent, or just naive. Paul Farmer and Susan Sontag, come on down...
We're all about radical acceptance and ruthless pragmatism now. That's the new thinking, and it really is different from the old thinking.
Cars take up so many resources that all the other modes of tranportation get ignored. For peds, it's a bummer. A person walking is virtually defenseless, and really can't get very far, very fast. The American pedestrian is a cowboy without a horse.
A person with a bike, on the other hand, is perfectly scaled to the urban environment. She can get herself where she needs to go, squeeze through tight spots and traffic jambs, sprint out of harm's way, and generally have a good time doing it (and get a decent workout).
Cars are regulated because they kill people on a regular basis. When bikes start doing that, I'll be happy to pay my registration fee and sit for a license. It's nice to inhabit a liminal space. It is the traditional hang-out of the Other, and the locus of freedom in increasingly commodified culture.
And that's why bicycle culture is great.
That's the point: stop whining. Get a bike.
----- End forwarded message -----
I must have been trying to convince my neighbors that bicycles deserve
more than they are currently allotted in the early 21st century urban
and suburban transportation culture.
So, generally, I don't like to push bikes on people who don't already want or
like them. I'm going to break my own rule here in a moment, and in support of
the creation of additional convenient bicycle parking in collectively
First though, I want to say that I am not strictly anti-car. I own a
car, I use
it, I enjoy driving it (sometimes). I think cars a terrificly useful and fun
Now that I have that out of the way, I'd like to talk about other things:
community, health, economic diversity, environmental degradation (including
global warming), and finally, convenience.
Nothing builds community like personal contact between people. It's
foot, but walking is sometimes too slow, and has a limited range in general.
It's hard to stop and chat with someone going the other way when
a car. Bicycle: just right. Without the glass and steel shell, you
the physical community, rather than watch it go by on the other side of the
No social speech needed here. Exercise is good for you. Walking is good.
According to the CDC, people are healthier in "walkable communities." Biking
is healthy too.
Aside from the cost of the car itself, owning a car costs an average of $7000
each year. Plus, the more you use it, the more you pay in gas and
Walking? Free. Riding a bike? Maybe $1000/yr, maybe less. If you can live
without owning a car, you can save a lot of bread. Conversely, if you don't
have a lot of bread, riding a bike is a good option.
The Union of Concerned Scientists, and many other groups, say that a typical
American's car, compared with all other objects or activities, has the largest
environmental impact by a wide margin. They recommend tuning cars regularly,
keeping tires inflated, and shopping with gas mileage in mind. They also
recommend reducing use. Try using an alternative method once a week. Try to
go car free one or two days a week. The statistics for car trips are
huge majority of auto trips are under one mile.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Thursday, August 9, 2007
A tornado hit Brooklyn, NY, this week. Not something that has hithertonow been a common occurance. Additional circumstancial evidence of global warming. Actually, I'm more worried about ocean acidification. Well, not so much worried as interested in how people will react. The rich will figure out how to keep their lifestyle afloat and poor will suffer disproportionately, same as it ever was. I imagine a continuation of increasing corporate control of global markets and politics. Anyhow, bicycles often come in handy in the aftermath of so-called natural disasters. This was posted by jill on the NYT's website:
"A hellish walk from Greenwood Heights, across and along Gowanus, to downtown Brooklyn. I noticed the bikers [SIC] are especially smug today!"
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
I got an email yesterday that read:
I have a friend who wants to buy a bike. He is 5'-11",
would a 26" bike be the right size for him?
This is what I wrote back:
This is problematic and confusing.
'26"' typically refers to the wheel/tire size used for most mountain bikes and some hybrids bike. Bikes with this size wheel are typically made with a range of frame sizes, which are typically specified in one of two ways: either by the length of the seat-tube, or by a generic SMLXL designation. Someone 5'-11" would typically ride a size "L" bike, or one with a seat tube between 18 and 22 inches. Here is a picture of how to measure the seat tube, but it's more complicated than it looks. Depending on where you take your measurements, results could vary by 6 inches. And even then there are too many variables to count.
This type of confusion is all too common. I think it stems from the fact that we Norte Americanos think of bike riding as recreation, and something we did when we were kids. Kids bikes are sized by the wheel/tire size, starting with a so-called 8 or 12 inch wheel, and going up to 24" or 26". Actually, there are more wheel/tire sizes than you can count, and it's a topic of which I'm quite fond. This is a handy resource if you want to know more.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
----- Forwarded message from firstname.lastname@example.org ----- Date: Wed, 01 Aug 2007 19:26:16 -0700 From: Ben Sarrasin - Xtracycle <email@example.com> Reply-To: Ben Sarrasin - Xtracycle <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Mundo @ Xtracycle To: email@example.com
The Mundo is going to be available this fall as a complete bike. We are expecting to receive them at the end of October. We forecasting the following MSRP 1-speed $599, 6-speed $649 + shipping (UPS ground $30-45). We are currently collecting preorders, there's quite a lot of demand already. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks, Ben --------------- Ben Sarrasin firstname.lastname@example.org xtracycle cell: 415.823.8074 office: 415.681.1275
----- End forwarded message -----
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Labels: family cycling