My friend Ken Sturrock turned me on to a well-written essay over at the excellent online/print magazine Momentum…in the essay, author Deb Greco describes her evolution from hotheaded badass to a more “well-tempered cyclist”.
What motorists have always suspected is true: When I get on my bike, a switch goes off and consideration for anyone else ceases to exist. Each morning, amped on fresh air and adrenaline, I fly downhill on San Francisco’s Market Street and head for the Financial District. My goal is simple: to make it to work without stopping – or at least not long enough for my feet to touch the ground.
This is how I recently found myself in the middle of an intersection before the light had turned green, when a MUNI bus came barrelling through despite a good solid red overhead. I only avoided a crash by turning in the direction the bus was travelling in; it came so close, I felt the kiss of steel along the length of my right side. The bus driver slammed on his brakes, stuck his head out his side window, looked me right in the terrified eye, and yelled, “A…”
To read the rest of the essay, please visit Momentum Planet.
This essay really resonated with me — especially because I’m steadily evolving into a more well-tempered cyclist. There were many times in the past when I was quick on the draw with a middle finger and a shouted curseword, and I made a commitment to change after spending a lot of cycling time with my good friend Alan Snel. Alan, a consummate cycling advocate, showed me that a thumbs-up, a friendly wave or any other positive acknowledgment of the motorists around us does far more to help our fellow two-wheelers than any shouting match, obscene gesture or physical confrontation ever could. Alan claims to have transformed several streets in our area into a far more bike-friendly atmosphere by simple acts like throwing the peace sign at every car that passes by, and by God — I think he’s right!
I’ve got a way to go, but Deb’s essay gives me encouragement to continue my evolution towards calmness and friendliness out on the roads.
We’ve got a slew of new products that we’re in the midst of testing. Here are a few I’m working on:
Pedro’s sent us a pair of tools to test…the Vice Whip and the Trixie. The Vice Whip is a clever device intended to replace the pesky and cumbersome chain whip used to remove cassettes and some freewheels. According to the packaging, this tool was designed by none other than legendary mechanic and VeloNews technical correspondent Lennard Zinn.
The other tool is “Trixie” — a multitool aimed squarely at the fixed-gear/singlespeed rider. Combining a 15mm axle nut wrench, a lockring spanner, a 5mm hex key, a graduated slot for metric nuts and the mandatory bottle opener, this tool is really all one might need for some quick on-the-road repairs or a fast gear change.
This lighting device has gotten some traffic on other cycling blogs, and we were lucky enough to score a sample for review. Based on electroluminescent (“EL”) wire, the Bike Glow kit adds much-needed side visibility to the bike (or rider) for nighttime commutes.
These clever little devices from the folks at IT Clips let you put your old inner tubes (and who doesn’t have a pile of these laying around?) back into use by converting them into custom-length bungee cords OR tiedown straps. The versatile IT clip’s design serves as both and comes with steel hooks to facilitate this. Folks who ride cargo bikes or who routinely carry a load on their regular bicycles should find these incredibly useful for strapping down some goodies for the trip home.
(sorry about the shaky photo…I drank too much coffee that morning!)
Stay tuned for reviews of these items (and a few more) within the next couple of weeks…
We got the following email from Susie Cooley on behalf of Someonestolemybike.com:
If riding a bike is a universal pastime, then having it stolen is a universal nuisance, and it is for this reason that we have created SOMEONESTOLEMYBIKE.COM; to give individuals a cathartic forum to share their own personal stories and express their distinct feelings and philosophies on the aggravating subject of bike theft. We’ll be updating the page weekly with new stories. There’s no gimmick or money-making intentions here, just the hope that people will enjoy the videos and find a place to vent.
Having a bike stolen is something a lot of us can relate to. Since I moved to Florida in 1992, I’ve had two bikes stolen…and my wife has also had two stolen. I can think of dozens of friends here and elsewhere who have experienced this psychological “kick in the junk”, too. It’s a bummer every time it happens. Someonestolemybike.com offers videos of bike theft victims talking about their losses…and who knows — perhaps getting the word out may even help recover a few of these stolen bikes? It definitely eases the pain when you can talk about your loss, in any case.
Check it out, and if you’ve got a story to share, the folks at Someonestolemybike.com would love to hear it (of course, we’d like to hear the stories, too).
Our friends Nick and Lynn Tucker of New Zealand let us know about a frightening news article of an incident that happened in Nelson a few days ago:
Shaun Taylor, 21, said he was riding along Rocks Rd on Tuesday afternoon when a police officer told him to get off and push the bike because he was not wearing a helmet.
Mr Taylor, a chef, said that when the officer left, he got back on his bike, but near the Tahunanui shops the officer drove up beside him again and said he was going to place him under arrest for failing to stop.
Mr Taylor said an argument started and the officer sprayed him with pepper spray, which got into his eyes and on his face, causing “excruciating” pain.
His instinct was to run, eventually getting away from the officer and back to his bike and, after briefly back-tracking towards Nelson, he continued cycling towards Tahunanui, he said.
By the Tahunanui traffic lights, the officer, who was heading in the opposite direction, saw him and did a “burnout in rush-hour traffic” as he crossed the lanes, ramming him and his bike into a bank, Mr Taylor said.
Obviously, there’s more to the story (click here to read the rest), but man oh MAN do police in New Zealand take those helmet laws seriously or what?
You may have read on other cycling sites that Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) has offered up an amendment “to prohibit funds for any bike trail path in the version of the stimulus act now in the Senate.”
We urge everyone to contact their Senators immediately to let them know that you want them to support bicycle-friendly infrastructure projects in the Stimulus package and to block the DeMint amendment. The League of American Bicyclists even has a handy Senator lookup feature and talking points for you to call their offices and let your voices be heard. This lookup feature can be found by clicking here.
Talking points for calling or writing your U.S. Senators include:
–Bike/ped projects offer better direct stimulus, because labor is a higher percentage of their cost compared to other transportation projects
–These smaller projects can start more quickly, providing immediate stimulus to local economies
–When polled, Americans call for bike trails and walking paths more than for highway projects
–Better bike/ped connectivity helps the poorest members of society, by giving them transportation options that they can afford
–Bike/ped connectivity is an essential part of Safe Routes to School
–Bike/ped projects are essential in reviving troubled downtowns
(thanks to the Virginia Bicycling Federation for providing these points).
And just so you know, this isn’t just “another day at the office for Republicans”…for U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has also spoken out against using Stimulus funding for bicycle infrastructure.
Let your Senators and other elected officials know that they’re really dropping the ball if they don’t realize that investing in alternative transportation infrastructure of ALL kinds makes quality of life better for all Americans, not just cyclists, mass-transit users and pedestrians.
Special tip of the ol’ “foam chapeau” to Fritz of Cyclelicious for bringing this to our attention.