Category: Travels and Adventures

Hey there U.S.A Bike Commuters: yours truly, Mir.I.Am reporting from the good ol’ Southeast in Asheville, North Carolina! “Asheville?!” you say. “What the eff, Mir, I thought you were a Honolulu heat-stroke commuter!” Normally, you’d be as right as a Waikiki double rainbow, but the boyfriend and I have relocated to Asheville for ten weeks this summer.

Asheville Downtown

Asheville, not Nashville – Bike Lanes and friendly drivers compared to Honolulu. Oh yeah, the mountains and hills are whoopin my ass. Photo cred to chris_lanzarotti on flickr.

Shamefully, I must admit that my mainland geography knowledge is limited and underwhelming… a few months ago I was convinced that Asheville was actually Nashville but mispronounced, in a whole other state called “Tennessee”. Now I find myself in the midst of a quasi-Berkeley, CA in North Carolina. Complete with weirdos on tall bikes, organic farmer’s markets, and – as my local friend says – a strong whiff of patchouli in the air.

Tall bike Nun

Keep Asheville Weird: Yeah, this is the local nun on a tall bike riding through downtown AVL, photo creds to clarkmackey via flickr.

Little did I know that this bearded Smoky Mountain summer destination town would be full of all sorts of fun Cycle Ladies and Gents. I showed up a week ago bikeless yet again (is there such a site as www.footcommuters.com?) debating if I should have my sister ship my orange bike from Cali or buy a used one here in town. We strolled over to the local Asheville Recyclery to check out their new-used rides:

AVL recyclery flyer

This laid back “volunteer-run community bike shop” is SO low-key – good luck finding them on the web!

The shop is located under the French Broad Food Co-Op, in a garage-like spot with a mural on the front. The bikes are made up of local donations. You can build your own for free or buy a shop-built ride if they have one in your size.

AVL recyclery entrance

All my inner hippie-in-denial dreams come true: organic produce stacked on top of used bikes! I nominate this building as the epitome of Mir-ness in all of Asheville!!!

Apparently these crazy folks operate on ZERO FUNDING and are not a typical non-profit with a board of important peeps, just local bike lovers keepin’ it real… a.k.a. real cheap! I almost needed a pair of
Oops I Crapped My Pants when the shop guys told me I could have a Frankenbike for only $40 (or like 20 ChickenBiscuit things from Bojangles). Asheville Recyclery for the win…!

avl recyclery Bianchi Mir

**GASP** A Bianchi Frankenbuild just my size for only forty dolla-I-make-a-you-holla!? “Impossible,” you say. “Wrong” I reply, “anything is possible in AsheVegas.”

Oh southern hospitality is where it’s at folks. Helmets for $10, cable combo locks for $5, smiles and bike advice for free… what more could a cycle lady want? Maybe a power stance with my new summer commuting stallion in front of the Recyclery Logo? That could work:

AVL recyclery mir

It’s time to get real, Ashevillans. I be on your hills like ALL DAY! TGIGGG: Thanks Goodness It’s Got Granny Gears!

Or maybe a $6 pulled pork plate from a BBQ joint that happens to be a Presidential favorite?

pork plate

That’ll do, pig. That’ll do. Skippyhaha on flickr.

Guys, I feel like a complete Cycle Lady again with my new Frankenbike. The free Mejor en Bici bike share in Buenos Aires was good enough at the time, and the bike tours with Biking Buenos Aires made up for my bikeless butt envy… but nothing beats your very own commuter beater sitting pretty on your back porch. If you’re in Asheville, keep an eye out for a suspicious looking asian girl climbing hills in super low gears. She may be after your Sweet Tea. I’ll leave you lovely Bike Commuters with a final image from my local commute:

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It’s fairly rare that anything positive in terms of bicycle-infrastructure news comes out of Florida, but here’s something pretty big: lawmakers have approved $50 million to create the Coast To Coast Connector:

The Pinellas Trail could become the first leg in a 275-mile bike and walking path stretching from St. Petersburg to Titusville.

State lawmakers recently approved $50 million for the Coast to Coast Connector, which will link more than 200 miles of existing bike paths.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s goal is to bridge seven gaps among more than a dozen regional trails that snake across Central Florida. Collectively, the gaps cover 72 miles.

Once completed, the trail would be longest continuous bike path in Florida and among the biggest in the nation.

Read more about the plan by visiting the Tampa Tribune page.

Coast-to-Coast-Connector-Map

Link to larger version

The plan still has a number of hurdles to overcome…namely, Governor Rick Scott’s potential veto (he’s no fan of sensible transportation/recreation plans). In addition, similar connector trails in Florida have been fraught with hassles from landowners balking at selling portions of their properties to complete trails. Here’s a perfect example of an existing project that has been languishing for years.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the kinks can be ironed out — this will be a great project to commingle Florida’s many disparate regional trail systems.

Hey everyone. Mir.I.Am here, wrapping up a solid summer season in Buenos Aires… The leaves have begun to change color just as platform birkenstock sandals are changing into platform oxfords.

I may have missed this trend elsewhere in the world, but this was the summer shoe of choice in Buenos Aires… pedal power?

As boyfriend and I count down the days until our departure, I thought I’d share one last WTF travel-themed post about our time here and the weirdo things I see during my bike commute.

But first! Why don’t we take a look at some of the bikey highlights of this last couple months of free bike love in Buenos Aires, Colonia del Sacramento, and Mexico City, huh? The Mejor en Bici program turned out to be a little better than I thought… I ended up using it about 1-2X per month for errands and coffee dates. Check out the pics:

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Mejor en Bici free bikes – better than nothing, but only used them once every 2 weeks.

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Bikes in Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay – locked up to windows.

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Tourists sight-seeing on bamboo bikes in Buenos Aires.

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Knife sharpening skills – A bike turned into a grinding stone!

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Heavy-duty delivery trikes, complete with safety flag in Mexico City.

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The best Colombian cortado in Buenos Aires, and the only reason I’ll incur a penalty for taking a free yellow bike out longer than the allotted 1-hour at Full City Coffee House.

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Mejor in Bici, hanging out in the garden courtyard in Full City Coffee, with a flat-tired purple friend.

Ahh yes, the seasons are all reversed on the other side of the equator… as the bike commuters of Buenos Aires gear up for fall with long sleeves and scarves, Boyfriend and I will soon return back to the states for swimsuits and sandals.

So, let’s wrap up this bikey roundup with the real  reason I’m writing today: weird things I’ve seen on my commutes. Let’s sum it up with a list, shall we? (Note to readers, Mir is a terrible smartphone user, and cannot take photos while actually bike commuting, so all images of weird things seen while bike commuting have been hastily “curated” from the Google machine).

Weirdest Sightings while Bike Commuting in BA:

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This custom paint-job is one of a kind. What are they chances I’d see it in real life!?

  1. A woman riding the bike-crush of my dreams (the Rainbow folder I was drooling over on Mercado Libre a few months back) riding in Retiro.
  2. A 20-foot length of green painted bike lane + a can of spray paint + a dirty mind = Bike Lane Male Genitalia in Palermo Hollywood.
  3. A guy drinking a mate while riding a bike slightly uphill and weaving back and forth in the bike lane in Recoleta.

    Yerba Mate: sometimes you just can’t get enough, even if you’re biking.

  4. Monsato demonstration with people dressed in Haz-mat suits and Corn near Plaza de Mayo.
  5. A dude riding a sweet pink cruiser who was totally covered in tattoos (including his face and bald head) in Barrio Norte.
  6. Batman touching the hand of God Joker in Palermo.
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Insert “Arrested Development” quote here.

I know we’ve all seen our fare share of parked cars, dumpsters, and piles of fruit crates in the bike lane, but sometimes you just can’t beat Batman touching the hand of the Joker while you’re biking on your way to work. If only I had the smart phone skills to snap a photo of the obscene bike-lane-turned-male-genitals… Enjoy the weirdness, Bike Commuters!

This past March I ventured (for the second year) to Washington, D.C. for the National Bike Summit.

For those of you unable to attend the event “in-person” I hope that the insights of these next few posts about the National Bike Summit may inspire you to go in future years or to at least check out the presentations now available online for your viewing pleasure.

This year “more than 750 attendees from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces participated in the 2013 National Bike Summit!”

Let’s start from the beginning…

Upon my arrival in D.C. (much chillier this year and not a cherry blossom in bloom!), I perked up at sight of the bright red Capital Bikeshare bikes.
capital bikeshare bikes

I, however, passed by the bikeshare bikes; instead I borrowed a bike from Miriam’s friend (who graciously lent me her bike “Cherry” last year and this year – thank you!).
Cherry

Once on bike, I was equipped to join an evening bike ride organized by the group Black Women Bike. Bundled up, we cycled past several D.C. monuments before circling back to a launch party for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA)’s Women & Bicycles campaign – an outreach and education program geared to get more women on bike.

The event was full of bike love:

Plus books and such from Elly Blue and WABA:

My initial day in D.C. would set the pace for a jam-packed week of everything bike advocacy and meeting awesome bikey folks… especially meeting these other fine ladies named “Elizabeth”:

Ladies named Elizabeth

Hello hello from Buenos Aires again, bicikids. A group of friends and I (including my new pals Will and Robin from Biking Buenos Aires) were sitting around a salad pile at lunch yesterday, and we started musing about how we would regulate on the city to make bike commuting the ultimate BEST. Translation: if you were King in Da Castle in charge, what rules would you apply to your city as a bike-commuting all powerful ruler of the streets? Here are some reasonable (and unreasonable) regulations we came up with:

13 Ideas for 2013, as a Bici-Regulator:

  1. Install a “Bicipista” – like an autopista but instead of cars, only for bikes. It would stretch all across the city from Palermo to Belgrano to San Telmo.
  2. Put all the buses in the middle of the six-lane roads like the Metrobus in Mexico City, with footbridges to the bus stations at the median to keep the buses away from the bike lanes.                                                               
  3. Initiate a mandatory “bicisiesta”… if you ride your bike to work, you get a two-hour lunch, so you can eat and then have a siesta!
  4. Count the hours of your bike commute towards your 8 hour work day. Biking on the clock!
  5. Make a new rule that all apartment buildings should allow bikes in the lobby, so that residents don’t have to bring them up the elevator to store them in their apartments.
  6. All parking garages must provide secure 24 hour bike parking.
  7. Connect all bike trails to all schools: high schools, middle schools, elementary schools, and universities. All bike paths should get the students where they need to go!
  8. “Bicibars” in the downtown areas: provide incentives for the bars to include bike parking and bike repair stations in the bars.
  9. Offer business incentives to make more bike kitchens and bike fixing collectives like La Fabricicleta.
  10. Let’s get harsh: Get rid of all street parking in downtown and replace it with separated bike lanes!
  11. “Bicitaxis”- illegal for taxis to cruise around certain parts of the city, so replace them all with bike taxis… hey if rickshaws work in India, this could work in Argentina, right?
  12. Replace city school buses with Bike buses, where the driver is the teacher, and all the kids pedal.
  13. Provide city wide showers, lockers, and changing rooms for all bike commuters so they can change before and after work.

 

I love lists, and I love Friday Musings. So, Bike Commuters, hit us up in the comments box if you’ve ever had some crazy ideas that you wanted to regulate in your city.