Monday, June 30, 2008
You may not be able to see it here at this size, but if you look at the image at 1024 x 681, you'll see it. First take a look at the image by clicking on it below. Then follow the link at the end for another example. Oh, and I photographed this while riding across the Williamsburg Bridge on Sleipnir.
My friends tell me that this photo has a much stronger effect on me then on them. If you don't really see it flashing, check this out. this is what it looks like to me: Another example of the Scintillating Grid Illusion.
Wait, really? Yes, really.
Wow, Thank you IKEA!! I don't know what to say. I"m speechless! six or maybe even TEN bicycles could park here! I knew this day would come... And, the best part, it's only about 300 feet away from the store, past the car parking lot...check out Hub and Spokes for more details.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
This is a quick post to welcome the newest member of our bicycle family. In addition to Gregory's Velorbis Churchill Balloon, Jennifer's Velorbis Ivory Victoria and my Velorbis Vegan Churchill - Jason has adopted this Schwinn from his Swedish friends Håkan and Elke.
Jason is tall, very tall. Håkan is even taller, so this frame turns out to be perfect for him. It's 69cm. You can tell by looking at the geometry that it's huge, check out the distance between the back wheel and the seat post. I've suggested that he raise the handlebars, but we haven't been able to figure out if they can be raised on this model, or if they're just stuck.
Jason has been riding his Schwinn to work every day. Even in the rain.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
The Downtown Alliance (I shudder to think what kind of terrifying organization that is...) says they have a "free bicycle rental program" for downtown Manhattan. It's called "Bike Around Downtown." Sounds good...
"It's simple to register, reserve and ride! Just click on the link below to get started. Registrants must be 18 years of age or older and adults can reserve for a child. Children's bikes as well as tagalongs, wagons and bayseats are available free of charge.Looks like the reality is that it's a bit limited, it's nothing like we should have, but it's a start and it could still be useful. NOTE: A credit card is required to register for the program. Check it out here.
Once you register, reserved bicycles may be picked up at Bike and Roll NYC, located at the South Street Seaport, under the FDR Drive at Fulton and South Streets.
There are 30 free bicycles available for each of the sessions below:
Monday through Friday:
Saturday and Sunday:
"Commuters are lugging so many bicycles aboard FrontRunner trains the bikes are piling up, blocking doors and tipping over one another like dominoes. The Utah Transit Authority says it will have to dedicate more space inside train cars for bicycles. That could mean fewer seats." Read more...
Thursday, June 26, 2008
It makes sense, then, that the NYC DOT would confirm I live right in the center of the cycling universe in NYC. Hurrah!
From the Queens Ledger:
"According to Jon Orcutt, senior policy advisor for the Department of Transportation (DOT), Greenpoint and Williamsburg have the highest number of cyclists in New York City, and the city is responding to the popularity of the bicycle with several brand new cycling paths in the area.
“This neighborhood is the cycling epicenter of New York, and we want to achieve a synergy with riders and drivers to make cycling safer and bring more people out,” said Orcutt at a special meeting held last Wednesday by Community Board 1’s Transportation Committee."
"The lockitt.com pany" sells motorcycle security products and carries the whole ABUS line:
This is mostly Gregory's fault. He is still a bit concerned about leaving his bicycle locked up outside for any length of time and that has me concerned again. We're both using the Kryptonite New York U-Lock and some cables for the saddle and front wheel. But now, I'm thinking about upgrading to a chain and dedicating the U-Lock to the front wheel.
Originally, I didn't buy the chain because I realized that it's just a U-Lock extender. The chain is locked with the same Kryptonite U-Lock. I don't know why I didn't realize this before - but when I was sitting there at the bike shop looking at the locks, I suddenly realized that the chain isn't any more secure than the U-Lock because the only thing holding the chain together is a U-Lock.
We made sure that our renters insurance would cover the theft of both of our bicycles, and it does - the Agent assured me of that. But the problem is loosing a wheel or the saddle or something that's less than the deductable. Now, if I could get my hands on the ABUS lock, that would be a different story, as that's a different beast altogether. I had originally planned on getting the Granit CityChain X-Plus 1060 - but the Dutch Bike Co. Seattle no longer has these. Anyone know where to get one?
So, how do you lock your bicycle? Have you ever had one stolen? What did you do differently after? Do you lock your saddle, or take it with you? What about your wheels?
Amusing Bike Lock Pages I've Read:
Slate.com's "Avoiding the Bicycle Thief" is kind of how i might go about testing locks if I could afford to.
Bikeforum.net "2005 Bike Review Thread" is old, but pretty interesting discussion.
Transportation Alternatives "Locking your Bike - Do's and Don'ts" from '92, check out the 'crack' reference...and the strange logic 'u-locks are useless, so use a chain with a u-lock instead...' huh?
Got any others? Post them in the comments.
2nd Place goes to Winston suggested by William
3rd place to Almafuerte, suggested by Almafuerte
4th place to Vegan-orbis, suggested by Gregory
I'm very pleased with the result. I really took a liking to Veganorbis the last few days of the poll and was hoping it might come from behind - but I always loved Sleipnir and conclude that the readers have chosen wisely.
Velorbis has generously offered to print up the winning name as a decal for the back plate of my Churchill Classic. I love my bicycle and I'm going to love it even more with it's new name proudly across the name plate! Sleipnir, the Churchill Classic, truly a legend.
"In Norse mythology, Sleipnir is Odin's magical eight-legged steed, and the greatest of all horses. His name means smooth or gliding..." Read more...
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
We spent a day this weekend enjoying the lovely east river state park. Here's Gregory's Churchill Balloon lounging in the sun with some company.
Nearby another pair of proper bicyles and thier riders enjoy the sun.
The sun sets over Manhattan. More photos in the flickr stream.
Monday, June 23, 2008
"Imagine what would happen if you took down road signs and traffic signals. More accidents would surely result, or at least significant confusion and slower traffic. Or would it? The surprising thing is that a number of cities around the world have actually done this, and experienced dramatic declines in traffic accidents.
The idea is based on an urban design philosophy known as “shared space.” When drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists are forced to develop their own natural ways of interacting with each other, goes the thinking, they work out better social behaviors than the rule-driven behaviors dictated by professional traffic engineers. This does not mean an abandonment of design considerations, but rather a commitment to the larger public space designs instead of overly prescriptive traffic control devices such as traffic lights, signs and road markings.The Dutch town of Drachten adopted this “unsafe is safe” approach in 2007 and found that casualties at one junction dropped from thirty-six over the previous four years to only two in the two years following the removal of traffic lights. Traffic jams no longer occur in the town’s main junction, which handles 22,000 cars a day."
Friday, June 20, 2008
Brooklyn, NY: "It's very much the traditional bike - with a twist. There's the 18-inch frame size, 26-inch wheels, front and rear brakes plus seven-speed Shimano gears. But it's also got the looks of a vintage motorbike, right down to the mini 'petrol tank' panel and built-in headlight."
Brooklyn, NY: "Hi! I'm selling my very cute bike and throwing in the basket for a little extra! Good cruiser, but not good for long hauls, since there's just one gear. The brake cables need to be replaced as well, should be about 20 bucks, depending where you go."
Queens, NY: "This bike is cool. So cool that my neighbor was really into it, despite my pleadings that it was too tall. So we took it to the bike shop, where they put on a new seat, tires, cables and housings, and gave it a tuneup. You can figure out the rest. The bike is awesome...but too tall! It has fenders, upright bars, a great commute/bomb around town bike. It has a generator, that used to work and probably needs new bulbs. It even has a sturdy kickstand, the civilized way to park one's bike."
Find more used bicycles in NYC here...
"I must have run more than a dozen red lights today. I also biked the wrong way down two one-block stretches. I went on the sidewalk twice, but I would not have done so had there been a pedestrian nearby. I scared no pedestrians. I posed no more to risk to myself or anybody than had I been a pedestrian doing the same thing. And I did stop for a school bus with flashing red lights.
What's more, like it or not, I'm not going to stop running red lights. Nor am I going to stop walking against don't walk sign. Condemn me if you want. But them's the facts.
So now, that I've got that out the way, what are we going to do about it? Encourage a civil society rather than a mindless rule-based society. The problem isn't bikes running red lights. The problem is bikes going too fast in front of pedestrians crossing with the light (which also happens when bikes turn with the light, by the way).
What does "yield to pedestrians" mean? Can I cross the same crosswalk that a pedestrian is in? Of course. But should I zoom right in front of a pedestrian even if there's no contact. No. That makes you an asshole.
In too many bikers' minds, the comfort zone of pedestrians gets no consideration. That might be safe, but it's not right.
Bicyclists need to realize that pedestrians want and deserve a little more distance than is absolutely necessary for physical safety. It might be safe to zoom one foot in front of a walking person. But it's rude. Startling pedestrians is wrong. And as a bicyclist, I make a point to never startle to pedestrian that is in the right.
We should encourage bicyclists to be respectful. Don't cross right in front of pedestrians no matter what. Right is right. Running red lights has nothing to do with it.
And I just have to mention that pedestrians who run red lights pose serious danger to bicyclists and themselves. But I don't want to start a non-jaywalking campaign. I just want pedestrians to not walk in front of me when I have the green light."
I'm against running red lights myself - based on several experiences with out of control cyclists riding the wrong way and running red lights. Gregory, on the other hand, goes through any red light as long as it seems safe. I do think Astoria Bike has a great point here though, cyclists should be respectful and do what's safest, whether that follows the 'law' or not.
Make magazine suggests we make our bicycles ugly to deter theft. The article is more amusing than anything else, especially when they make claims like:
"Start with the paint. A can of spray paint is a good start, but choose wisely. Black is out. We're talking ugly here, not cool. Think orange..."
What? Orange is ugly? Alex, please take over here, I just don't have the strength to deal with this kind of stupidity.
How about this to theft-proof your bike: Get a good lock. Secure removable parts. Replace your quick-release bolts. Lock to something strong. Get off-premises personal property coverage. And then enjoy your beautiful bike and leave the rust to Father Time...
And what did that bike look like before? Oh. Well, actually, I kind of prefer the 'ugly version'...
He reports that Norway's bicycle culture is relatively small - perhaps this is just Bergen?
, originally uploaded by escapehelicopter.
I managed to get Jenny's Orchid to bloom again... I trimmed off the original flower stem and waited and waited - and this little one has grown and now flowered... For an Orchid not living in ideal conditions, I'm impressed. Today is the first day of summer. To those north of the Equator: Happy Summer Solstice Day!
(For those south of the Equator: Happy Winter!)
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Streetsblog gives some updates on the IKEA mess. Commenters report that there are no bike racks - I repeat, NO BIKE RACKS at New York City's first IKEA. Perhaps you should call and ask why? 718-246-IKEA (4532)
After all, it turns out that IKEA promised bicycle parking in this interview on WNYC with Sam Schwartz, IKEA’s "traffic guru".
"SCHWARTZ: There will be free ferry service from Wall Street, Pier 11. Two bus lines have been extended to go into Ikea. In addition, Ikea is providing buses to the subway, it’s a free shuttle. Bike riders will have parking.
REPORTER: It’s a public transit experiment, and Schwartz isn’t particularly optimistc: he figures 85 to 90 percent of visitors will come by car. Eventually, he hopes, four in ten will come by bus, boat or bike."
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Tuesday I woke up with a swollen and sore foot. I stayed home and spent the day searching through my insurance company's impossible and totally counter-intuitive web site trying to find a doctor or something. In the process, I ran across a really cool MD in the neighborhood who is launching a new (for the US) concept in medicine.
Eventually I found a Podiatrist who wasn't too far away and called his office. His secretary answered and told me to come on down and that he would see me. Although I couldn't really walk, I could certainly ride. I hadn't really realized before that if for some reason you can't step on the bottom of your foot that you can always still ride your bicycle.
I plotted a course on Ride the City and headed into South Williamsburg. If you don't already know, South Williamsburg is primarily a Hasidic Jewish neighborhood. You can read more about the Hasidic sects of Judaism elsewhere, but in a nutshell it is a movement that originated in Eastern Europe and is distinctive because of their unique dress, culture and outward expressions of faith as opposed to a other more internal sects. Williamsburg Brooklyn is home to the largest Satmar Hasidic population in the world - tens of thousands of Satmar live just a few blocks south of the totally gentrified and hipsterized North Bedford Ave.
Personally, I love the community, the neighborhood and the people - every time I cross under the Williamsburg bridge, I feel like I've gone back in time to the 1940s - the women are all wearing hats, skirts and black shoes, there are children playing everywhere - and there is a great feeling of life on the streets as young men walk arm in arm, talking excitedly - an expression of friendship and camaraderie.
So, it turns out the podiatrist I found is right in the heart of the Hasidic neighborhood. I found his practice on the sub-ground floor of an apartment building on a residential street. There were several little boys playing out front. You have no idea how cute these kids are - in the summer the little boys all wear knickers and a button up short-sleeved shirt, they have a yarmulka on and adorable locks of curled hair in front of each ear (payot). These particular boys were very impressed with the Velorbis Churchill and gave me wide eyed smiles as I locked it up to the steel grate in front of the apartment. My favorite thing about the Hasidic kids is that they look at you like you're an alien - which I pretty much am from their perspective.
Stepping down to the Doctors office, I found his sign - old, metal and hand painted in both English and Hebrew. Yes, this was definately going to be my podiatrist.
So it turns out I managed, somehow, to get a "massive infection" overnight in my foot. And my new Podiatrist said to me in his most dramatic and wonderful accent "If you hadn't come here today, my friend, you would have been in the Hospital tomorrow! The Hospital, I tell you."
He sent me to the corner pharmacy for my prescriptions (horse pill sized antibiotics and his "custom blend of creams, that I'm famous for - they call it Dr. Beinenfeld's special").
During this short ride which took me so far away, I realized my seat was a bit low and I wasn't sitting as upright as I would like to be - so I've corrected that - raised my seat, raised my handlebars even more - and I can't wait to test out the new position tomorrow. And my foot - it's much better.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
The lane runs from around 23rd to 14th. It was good to ride in, but since there is no northbound lane, I ran into more cyclists (delivery riders mostly) who were going the wrong way on the lane.
In fact, on this night, I encountered at least 20-30 delivery riders who were riding the wrong way and almost hit me. None of them had bells or lights. Here's a typical delivery guy, as you can see he's riding the wrong way in the bike lane, on a one way street. They're everywhere and I've frequently seen them almost hit pedestrians.
The Portland Mercury launches their 2008 Bike Issue with an unfortunate error. In the article "Bike to... the Future!" they identify Dane Svend Auken as "Dutch":
"In Amsterdam, there are hundreds of miles of bike lanes, over 40 percent of trips are by bike, there are enough bikes in the city for nearly every person, and fatality rates are incredibly low (1.6 deaths per hundred million trips, compared to the US's 21). In nearby Copenhagen, as Dutch politician Svend Auken told a ballroom full of Portland urban planning geeks at the June 6 Portland Plan kickoff, 40 percent of "business movement" is done by bike."
Now, this is a real pet peeve for Danes. And it's especially awful when you have the word Copenhagen and Dutch in the same sentence. (This fundamental lack of basic geography must be the fault of George W. Bush and the rest of the Canadian government in Washington D.C.)
Honestly though, I believe that US Americans do this frequently because the following goes through their heads:
"What's a person from Denmark called...? Danish? No, that can't be right, that's the name of a pastry.... it must be.... Dutch! Yes, that's it."
Well, I sent a note to the editor and hopefully they'll correct this error soon. In the meantime, enjoy The Bike Issue!
I see this a lot. A cyclist is riding down the street and cars or busses come up behind them, so they move over really far to the right almost on top of the parked cars and weave in and out of the spaces between the parked cars. This is REALLY REALLY dangerous. You need to ride in a straight line, continue on your course and let the car figure out how to move around you. You have just as much right to be on the street as they do, and it's much safer if you remain predictable.
Thanks for writing this so well Alex!
"3. stop being ms. nice gal
oh, you are so polite. always ducking out of the way at the produce section, letting someone else get their grapes. that is truly admirable. seriously. however, i'm going to ask you to get comfortable with the thought that someone might think you are being rude and taking up too much space. they might even tell you to "use the bike lane" where there is none or to "get off the road". grab your helmet, find a mirror, and say, "i will ride a straight line." look yourself in the eyes. imagine horns blaring. "i will ride a straight line." thatta' gal.
you might think that by weaving in and out of parked cars or by riding really close to parked cars that you are being nice to those cars and trucks. however, we experienced bicyclists have one wish for you: "be visible and predictable." riding in and out of parked cars makes you hard to see and unpredictable. see those parked cars? move three feet away and ride straight ahead. keep going.
4. ignore the horns
cta bus drivers are trained to give a friendly toot of the horn to let bicyclists know that the bus is approaching. do not freak out. they will pass you safely as long as you are predictable. other drivers do this too: "i'm passing you and i'm nervous, so i'm going to let you know that i'm here." and then there's the loud, prolonged horn. yep, that is ima irritated. she wants you to get the hell outta' her way. do not start weaving. do not start freaking. stay your course. other cars will soon let her pass."
I can't stress enough that if we want cars to obey the traffic laws and not race through red lights, we need to do the same. I beg those of you riding in New York to do five things:
1. Stop at all red lights and wait until they change.
2. Stop at all stop signs and look both ways.
3. Always ride the correct direction in a lane or street.
4. Ride in a straight line and outside of the door zone.
5. Watch for and yield to pedestrians.
Here's what NYC DOT has to say about riding in traffic.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Reader Rachel says:
"Hello. I recently moved to Brooklyn, and I was wondering if you could maybe give me a list of any other good vegetarian/vegan restaurants for me to check out in the area. On that note, I have also been on the lookout for a nice coffee shop that actually has seating. Any tips?"Rachel, did you ever ask the right person! Here are my favorite spots for a bite in Williamsburg:
Wild Ginger (all vegan Thai)
Foodswings (all vegan 'fast food')
Penny Licks (all vegan dessert)
Vinnie's Pizzeria (great vegan pizza and dessert)
Taco Chulo (good vegan options)
Falafel Chula (good vegan options)
LA Burrito (good vegan options)
And the best places to sit down and have skillfully prepared coffee in the hood:
Oslo (two locations)
Check out my yelp reviews, you'll find other places around the city that I like.
And check out the Discerning Brute blog for updates, he lives in the hood and always blogs about the cool vegan joints that turn up.
Here are some of the comments from members:
"I didn't just fall off, I flew off. Though I somehow managed to get away from it, with only a few bruises." - Marianne (Denmark)
"I can't even remember how many times I've fell of my bike until know being either drunk or stoned...nothing has happened to me yet...but as someone said before...driving in those conditions is art....cheers!" - Rodrigo (Peru)
"Come one, seriously, who didn't get drunk and fell off their bike while on Erasmus in Tilburg????! " - Pol (Belgium)
"A five-mile stretch of road running from Lower Manhattan to Central Park will be closed to automobiles for three days in August, as part of a city Department of Transportation program that, if successful, could lead to regular street closings.
The proposal, expected to be announced by Mr. Bloomberg at an event today, is intended to provide New Yorkers and visitors with a safe place to jog, stroll, and ride without the congestion normally associated with the city's streets. The car-free zone will run from the start of Centre Street in Lower Manhattan to 72nd Street on the Upper East Side by way of Lafayette Street, Fourth Avenue, and Park Avenue, and it will be closed between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. on three consecutive Saturdays: August 9, August 16, and August 23." read more...
Click on the route name or the image to go to the map with turn by turn directions and other options on Ride the City.