Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bicyclist Graffiti

I spotted this pro-bike graffiti underneath the I-83 bridge in Harrisburg. Seems to be the same author of the train bridge tag I found a few months ago in Lemoyne. Long live the message!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

College Park Cycling

I visited friends in College Park, MD, this past weekend. It was not hard to find bicyclists nearly everywhere with so much of this community affected by its large university. One of the rather dominating features of late in College Park are towering brick monoliths designed to hold a seemingly unheeded number of students. Evidence of how jam-packed these monstrosities are consists of the bicycles arranged like sardines along the apartment exteriors. But that's not the only clue of biking culture in College Park. These masses of students have given rise to bike paths and bike friendly neighborhoods.

A friend's high aesthetic fixie.
One of those neighborhoods is inhabited by my friends who take advantage of the cluster of biking here. One of them, in addition to biking to work each day, uses a simple trailer to carry soccer balls for his coaching, while another has tapped the brain trust of College Park Cycles to create this slick fixie.

All of this is a refreshing contrast to the roads of Central PA which are comparatively empty of cyclists. 

Another friend's elegant uni-wheel trailer (perhaps a Bob Yak?).

For instance, the possibility of a bike stickered with Buddhist references would be an astounding find in PA, especially if it's next to a large building labeled, "Mathematics" or "Physics" as the one below was. Such an intelligent, if accidental, pairing of philosophy, transport and architectural purpose would be anathema to the proclaimed "intelligent" designs the current PA legislature is likely to hold. Alas, my local politicians are more likely to give gas frackers a tax-free ride in our state parks than offer to bike commuters some infrastructure that facilitates their ride.

A stranger's dharma cycle.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Well Burst My Panniers!

This photo illustrates the maximum capacity of my panniers (or it's a birthing photo of a mother grape). I pushed their limit today with a grocery list that was a bit over-zealous for a biking day. If I recall, my two panniers held: one loaf of bread, 2 frozen o.j.s, a jar of peanut butter, 5 pounds of apples, 3-4 pounds of bananas, one pack of American cheese, one package of 100 paper lunch bags, 6 Greek yogurts, one package of hamburger buns, a veggie burger mix, and 2 bags of pretzels. And frankly, I had to use the pannier's bungee cords to secure one plastic bag of groceries onto my rack. I'm thinking the rear of my bike weighed forty pounds all told.

And for you jazz heads out there: since my son was practicing saxophone while I've been composing this, I will honor his hard work with some Coltrane:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

More on NYC and Bike Lanes and Mindsets

With my last post on NYC biking being both brief and somewhat uninformed, I thought it prudent to reference the NYT's recent piece (3-6-11) on Janette Sadik-Khan, NYC's controversial transportation chief. She's doubled the number of bike lanes since taking office, up to a total of 561 lane miles by 2009. Apparently her unilateral decision-making and ill communication methods (allegedly insufficient in number and short on describing bike lane rationale) have made her expansion of bike lanes and pedestrian areas a very angering development for some borough leaders. Is this really a surprise? No. It is the sad state of affairs. It’s the status quo that, covertly/subconsciously, resists cycling. In NYC I imagine there is another layer too, which is the city’s collective neurosis that gets tweaked every time individuals must fight veritable wars only for some meager change for their neighborhoods. 

But it’s not just some tense New Yorkers who hit the ceiling about bicyclists and their agenda. Tom Vanderbilt recently wrote in Outside Magazine that, "To cycle in America today is to engage in an almost political act...".  I’d have to agree. Bikes are progressive in their tacit eshewment of gasoline, in turn ruffling those who prefer status quo. Bicyclists also symbolize a level of energetic self-efficacy that some sedentary types might resent. Jeff Lockwood reflects this in Issue #9 of Bicycle Times when he contrasts cyclists versus drivers, “there’s a distinct lack of respect for each other’s choice of transportation…[and] there remains a strong sense of entitlement within each group.” I’m not sure how entitled I feel, but I’m certainly convinced that the green, quiet and mind-body benefits of cycling are a far more intelligent approach to travel than to continue to assume that driving is the only way.