Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cyclists Passed a Sketcher

Waiting in the late afternoon sun for friends to arrive at the Tibbet's Point Lighthouse earlier this month, I caught this shadow of myself and the light falling on an old shed. Several cyclists past by as I painted, as this is a popular riding spot with no traffic, and an annual French Festival to boot.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Philly Cyclists Lobby!

When I saw this mass of cyclists in front of the Cannon House Office Building this morning I didn't quite believe they belonged to Congressional staffers. It was instead a PELETON OF CYCLIST LOBBYISTS! A good omen or bike policy pipe dream?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Germans Plan Their Bike Trips Better Than Me

OK, OK! I know I could plan my rides better, but this is too much!  Well, its not really too much. It's actually very cool and aesthetically and logically and technologically super. And if you happen to find yourself in the Schleswig-Holstein region of Germany you can take advantage of it. Check out this lovely route planner... 


Despite my planning shortcomings, I can proudly state that I am among a demographic of American men that is biking more frequently. Whether or not I am a Java scripting programmer (like some folks in the Scheswig-Holstein region), I am a member of a "biking more frequently" group, according to some analysis by folks over at Rutgers. Apparently, this "surge" happens most in cities that have upped the infrastructure for bikes. Given that I haven't seen any infrastructure surging around here, I must be an anomoly!

Flat Views

Recently I hit a dry wall screw and it gave me a nasty flat. My patch kit failed twice, thus I had to walk. But from my perspective as a pedestrian, taking a step by step approach to the bicycling shop a mile ahead, I acquired a new view of the road I so usually ride on.  I very much appreciated this perspective: of the mulch the Chinese restaraunt owner is placing to improve his garden plot, two dogs who bark at those who amble past the flower stand, a woman's conversation about the bus she was waiting for, and a home renovation project tucked between narrow spaces of old home in the Borough.  These things don't usually appear us cyclists; we're moving too fast usually, and we're focused on riding safely. Yet it is those in cars who miss even more, with their air conditioners running, windows up, the engine burning fuel and maybe the radio blaring.  Again I see the amount of technology utilized as correlated with the amount of observation/experience of the natural present world one can have.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cars, Humans and a Tragedy

So many Los Angelenos enjoyed last weekend's I-405 closure. It was, I suppose, like a massive snowfall here in the northeast, when people get to interact with other people because roads are blocked with snow, and neighbors come to the streets to shovel and socialize. That is, streets and cars don't rule the day, with their danger and their noise, dividing and interrupting our natural propensity to gather for human-to-human interaction. 

Perhaps this realization of "natural" human interaction is why so many people relished "Carmageddon."  It's like a freak, massive snow. This image of a completely empty freeway published by the Times last Sunday, being traversed by a lone cyclist, seems unreal to us. It's a shift in perspective, like blanket of snow on a modern landscape. Perhaps responding to this, other Californians raced a plane on their bikes that same weekend, and won! 

The car versus bike/pedestrian struggle in our post-industrial society is a pernicious dance. Or mosh pit. While I've read about several accidents and deaths on many blogs, the great worth of each day is now ever more apparent to me: Last weekend of friend of ours was left paralyzed from the waist down when he was struck by a vehicle on a morning bike ride. 

Locking Up

I need to upgrade my locking system, but at the moment here it is:

I'm not sure if it could get more basic. The benefit of the long narrow cable is that it, being about 7 feet long, feeds through both of my pannier bag handles AND my front and rear wheels AND whatever post or pipe I'm locking to. The cost? The cable ties need only a pliers to loosen up. Somehow I've gotten away with this easy to hack assemblage..

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My son alerted me to this additional case of pro-bike graffiti on south 2nd Street, and today I snapped this pic of it. May its creator respond here to tell us his\her methods!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Canadians (the ones in Ontario) Who Bike

We just returned from a week in Canada, at a relatively remote lake two hours north of Kingston, ON. To get there we cross the border at Cape Vincent, NY, then drive briefly across Wolf Island, which is a bicyclist haven. You get to realize this soon after arriving on the island. Very little traffic, beautiful scenery form an ideal setting for rolling about. Also, perhaps, it is nature's movement of so many wind turbines on the island that also reflects the human propulsion of bicycles.

Bicyclists are most common at the northern end of Wolf Island, where a larger (and free) ferry brings many of them en masse from Kingston, ON, to the island for various day trips. Some routes are 25km, others are up to 50km. Most roads are paved, others gravel. All of the routes seem, from what you can gather in your car as you drive through, wonderful. Unfortunately, I haven't ever had a chance to ride them. I did manage to grab a couple pot-shots of cyclists as they arrived in Marysville:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Brief Bike Break

Somehow I squeezed in another “ride and sketch” this week.  It’s been quite busy with proposals and reports due, but this deskwork must be balanced with cycling and sketching. I afforded myself about 30 minutes of extra time to ride into town (by way of a long steep hill and over train tracks) and find a place to park and sketch. I came upon a small wooden bench on a brick-paved sidewalk and managed to put this sketch together prior to riding over to the kids to grab them from theater camp.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Urban Bikes

Over at Urban Sketchers there is a recent posting on bicycling in Denmark. The author writes, "Danes bike everywhere - school, job, shopping, picking up kids. Bike lanes figure prominently in major towns, not just in the centre….” Check out his sketch at the link. It reminds me of the multitudes of bikes in Western Europe. I got a chance to ride in the Netherlands in 2009 and then in the UK in 2011. Both trips made my hands very cold, as we traveled to Europe in the winter when it’s cheaper and not crowded. In the Netherlands we rode on dikes and in a national park (where bikes are left unlocked at public stands for free usage) and in the UK, I pedaled around the famed walled city of York.
Nijmegen, Netherlands, December 2008

I’m not sure if I’ve ranted about technology before on this blog, but one barely developed theory I have about technology is that the more we use it the more we are separated from natural experience. Thus we’ve read on so many blogs that “cagers” just miss so much as they press the gas and move through town without noticing the air, the surroundings, the sounds of pedestrians talking, or a better view that comes from a slower pace. Bikes, being relatively low tech, are so much less a foreign appendage of human beings; certainly in comparison to cars. As such, my daughter and our friends (above photo) talked to each other and shared the experience of a ride along a riverside at a human pace and scale.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Bike and Sketch and Bike

The logistics of kid shuttling interfered with riding into work in today's cool, blue-skied weather, although post-office I did manage to ride over to the grocery store and sketch the rising tide of commuters who arrive there as they left their respective employers (I had arrived 30 minutes prior to the rush). The combination of riding and sketching is ideal, providing the double-agency combo of self-locomotion and artistic expression in one delightful dollop. It resulted in this sketch:

After perusing a couple art magazines at the neighboring big box bookstore I headed home to pack a picnic and rendezvous with family and friends. It was then that I made a new acquaintance who had transported himself to the park on a BikeE (below), and he was kind enough to let me ride it. 

Postured with a dash of recline against a fabric seat-back is quite a contrast to my leaning forward on the Trek, on which I support my weight on rubber grips. It took a moment to realize what a lower center of gravity is like while pedaling, but it was quite a comfortable ride. I also appreciated the proximity of the controls (lights, computer, brakes, etc) being much closer than on my hybrid. I'll order two of these for immediate shipping.