Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

29 June 2013

Pedaling In Protest

Last night,  I stayed out late, but with good reason.

I volunteered to help the Anti-Violence Project with its outreach.  That meant handing out cards with safety tips and "survival" packets (consisting of male and female condoms and cards with emergency phone numbers) in the Village.  I worked with two other volunteers--one male, the other female, but both named Dan--until about 10 pm.

At the end of our "shift", we came to the Stonewall Inn just in time for a commemoration of the historic event that made the bar famous.  On the night of 28 June 1969, cops showed  up to raid the place.  Such raids of gay bars, most of which were operated by the Mafia, were common in those days.  But on that particular night, bar patrons defied the police.  Several nights of rioting ensued.

In all of the photos I've seen from those demonstrations, I haven't seen anyone on a bicycle.  Admittedly, few adults cycled in New York--or just about anywhere in the US--in those days.  

Now, of course, it's common to see cyclists involved in public protests:  The Occupy demonstrations come to mind. I don't know when bicycles first became a regular feature of  street protests, but I suspect that moment may have come (at least in New York) in 1980.  Then, cyclists rallied to prevent then-Mayor Ed Koch from removing the bike lanes the city had only recently installed:


Hal Ruzal, the longtime mechanic of Bicycle Habitat (and the person who turned me on to Mercians) took this photo.  He and CHarlie McCorkle, the owner and founder of Habitat,  helped to organize those demonstrations.  In those days, the cycling community was smaller and, in many ways, tighter-knit than it is today.  

I wonder whether Charlie, Hal or any of those other cyclists (who comprised much of the early membership of a fledling organization called Transportation Alternatives) had any idea that they were changing the face of public gatherings.

27 June 2013

Bicycles Make Sweden Green

The recent demonstrations in Turkey and Sweden--and the Occupy protests--got me to thinking about the roles bicycles (and cyclists) play in public demonstrations.

By chance, I stumbled over a website containing this:

From 591 Photography Blog



Now, if you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I'd publish that photo just because of the chainguard on the bike in it!  But it has historical significance:  The bike and rider were part of a massive Stockholm demonstration in 1972.


Some argue that this demonstration is to the international "green" or environmental movement as the Stonewall Rebellion is to the LGBT rights movement.  Thousands of people--mostly young, mostly on or with bicycles--brought the city to a virtual standstill for several days in April.


25 June 2013

For Love And Gear Shifting

In all of the time I worked in bike shops, I saw one of these derailleurs.  The other day, I actually saw a kid riding with one.  I didn't have the opportunity to photograph it.  But Michael Sweatman, the author of Disraeli Gears (worth the read even if you're not a "gear head"), did:




In the 1960's and 1970's. most childten's bikes,and many city/commuter bikes, had three- or four-speed rear freewheels.  So, a derailleur didn't need much capacity to shift reliably.  

It was for precisely such bikes that the SunTour Love was made.  


Usually, the derailleur was monted with the hanger-plate you see.  The effect is almost surreal:  The plate is about twice the sixe of the derailleur itself.

I never tried one, but I susupect it worked well on the bikes for which it was intended, as did nearly all SunTour derailleurs before the Trimec.

Can you imagine, though, being in the peloton with a derailleur (or any other part) called "Love"?


24 June 2013

To The Airport


Today I rode Tosca to the airport.

No, I didn’t embark upon some exotic adventure.  I did nothing more, or less:  I rode to the airport.

 
 
Now, you might be wondering what kind of airport this is, or whether I’ve truly gone mad.  (A few people I know would argue that I can’t “go mad” because you can’t go to someplace where you already are.)  But, I assure you, I rode to an airport.


Unless you’re a fan of dirigibles, have flown private aircraft or know more about the history of aviation than anyone should (or you’re of a certain age), you’ve probably never heard of it.  Now I’ll assure you of something else: It’s just like most other airports in that it’s not located in the place for which it’s named.  Well, not exactly, anyway,

 

Flushing Airport is actually in a Queens neighborhood called College Point—which only briefly had an institution of post-secondary education anywhere within its environs.  The terminal opened in 1927 and, for the first decade of its existence, was the busiest airport in the New York Metropolitan Area.  Believe it or not, it actually had more competition than any area air terminal now has.

 

What most people don’t know is that Newark Airport opened only a year later than Flushing, and LaGuardia a decade after that.  (John F. Kennedy International Airport opened a decade after LaGuardia, under the name of Idlewild.)  And, around the same time that the first aircraft alighted from, and landed in, Flushing, Floyd Bennett Field and a few smaller air terminals opened. 

Like Flushing, most of those early airports are gone.  Floyd Bennett Field became the first Naval Air Station in the United States and, later,  part of the Gateway National Recreation Area and hosts a few bike races, rallies and rides for charity.  Others, like Flushing, are all but forgotten. 


After the first flights departed from, and arrived in, LaGuardia, Flushing served as a staging area for military flights.  After World War II, it served private aircraft as well as skywriters and blimps.


The airport was, unfortunately, the site of several accidents during the 1970’s, including one that killed the pilot and two passengers of a small private plane.  After those accidents, the Federal Aviation Administration determined that Flushing Airport was directly in the flight paths of LaGuardia, JFK and other airports.  (The government needed a study to learn that?)  Finally, in 1984, Flushing Airport was closed.  Even so, it still is listed on the registry of air terminals under the code FLU. 

Since its closure, Flushing Airport has reverted to the marshland it was.  (A creek bisects it.)  The main access road has been blocked off.

 

However, the parking lot is still in use, mainly by contractors. 
 

 
 

 

If nothing else, pedaling by the airport gave me one of the more interesting morning rides I’ve had.  In another irony, Flushing is less than two miles from LaGuardia “as the crow flies”.  Still, it takes about half an hour to drive—or pedal—from one to the other because the irregular shape of the Long Island Sound coastline renders a direct route impossible. 
 
 

 

Driving and pedaling between the two airports takes about the same amount of time because motor vehicles are relegated to the expressways, while cyclists can take a route that, as it turns out, is more direct, via side streets and the World’s Fair Marina promenade. 

23 June 2013

Citibike: The New NIMBY?

It looks like Citibike is becoming a NIMBY issue.  

To the great surprise of media pundits (who are, or pretend to be, surprised by just about everything), rich people are getting Citibike kiosks moved away from their fancy buildings while the poor and downtrodden artists of SoHo and The Village are stuck with them.

Only a real-estate lawyer could make such an argument. (I don't think even Citibank's lawyers resort to such duplicity.)  The emphasis, of course, would be on the "lawyer" part:  Any real-estate person worthy of the name would realize that poor, starving artists haven't been in The Village since, say, about 1965 or in SoHo about fifteen years after that.  Even the ones who were starving artists when they moved into their tenements and lofts are probably living off their living spaces, which are worth millions of dollars.



One of the greatest ironies of this story is that it comes in the wake of hysteria about what the supposedly all-powerful "bike lobby" is foisting upon honest, hard-working citizens of this city.  If we are such a powerful lobby, why couldn't we stop Barry Diller and other mega-magnates from having bike stations moved away from their buildings?  I mean, if we're so powerful, why couldn't we prevail over Hasidic Jews who prevented the construction of bike lanes in their communities (South Williamsburg and Borough Park) because they claimed to be offended by scantily-clad female cyclists?

Oh--here's another irony:  A group of Hasidic Jews in Williamsburg has started a Facebook page to campaign for Citibike kiosks in their neighborhood.  Apparently, they recognize the benefits of cycling--for men, anyway--and realize that getting more people out of cars will mean more parking spaces for those who still drive.  Also, I suspect that some want to ride to school, work or whereever, but don't or can't own bicycles because they have large families and live in small houses or apartments.

Having spent a fair amount of time in Hasidic (and even Orthodox) neighborhoods, I can tell you that most are far from being wealthy, even if they own successful businesses or have well-paying positions.  If Steven Sladkus wants to stand up for the "little guy", he might start there.  Oh, and while he's at it, perhaps he can campaign to get Hasidic women on bikes.  After all, you don't have to wear lycra kit to ride a Citibike!



22 June 2013

Which Way?

Today I hopped on Arielle with no particular direction in mind.  After wandering down a street near the Botanical Gardens, I found myself entering an expressway:  No sign indicated I was pedaling in its direction.  I couldn't very well turn around, so I channeled my adrenaline, remaining testoserone (if indeed I still have any), and all of the aggression I could muster from thinking about the boyfriend who cost me a job and the girlfriend who cost me my sanity (well, sort of) to high-tail it to the next exit, which got me onto a street I'd never heard of before.  But, I figured, that was better than the world hearing about a cyclist who's a direct descendant of Christopher Columbus and inherited his navigational skills.

About half an hour later, I found myself pedaling up and down hills in Westchester County.  I didn't mind; in fact, I was enjoying the challenge, which I needed.  The day was perfectly clear but warmed up quickly, though not oppressively so.  

In my effort to avoid that same wrong turn, I headed back in the direction of the Throgs Neck Bridge.  There's no way to walk or cycle across it, but there's a rather nice (though often crowded) next to it.  Plus, I know my way home, more or less, from there.

The plan worked until I had to detour around a street that was torn open.  I then found myself wandering, and coming to a place I seem to encounter only by accident:  Westchester Square in the Bronx.  In fact,  I've never cycled to the neighborhood intentionally, although I never regretted finding myself there.  From what I've seen--and what Forgotten New York says--it seems like quite an interesting area.  It's one of the most architecturally varied parts of the city, with everything from churches and cemetery structures built early 19th Century to saltbox houses and Art Deco-inspired apartment buildings. Also, the shopping area  and it's odd to find streets with names like "Mayflower" anywhere in the Big Apple.  

I didn't bring my camera with me, but here's a streetscape from Forgotten New York:


Given that I seem to end up in the neighborhood only by accident, I wonder whether I'd get there if I set out for it on my bike!

20 June 2013

Less Powerful Than Sandy, But Hotter Than Liberty

Today I took a ride I've taken many times before:  up to the Bronx, across to Harlem and the George Washington Bridge, then down the Palisades to Jersey City, Bayonne and Staten Island.  

Although high, puffy clouds floated across the sunny sky and breezes lightened the early summer warmth in the air, surprisingly turbulent waves chopped against the Jersey City shoreline:





The water is actually closer than it appears: It lapped up against my tires.  If the Hudson River--really an estuary of the Atlantic at that point--could be so roiled on such a serene day, you can only imagine the storm surge that Sandy brought.   

On the ferry from Staten Island, I got to talking with a young woman and a friend of hers who'd just arrived in New York from California.  So, of course, he wanted to get a look at the Statue of Liberty.  We exchanged e-mail addresses before embarking.  As I crossed Battery Park from the ferry terminal, I chanced upon this:

"My Girl Is Hotter Than The Statue of Liberty"
    

19 June 2013

How Real New York Cyclists Cross The East River

When you live in any place--especially a major city--for any period of time, you realize that there are certain "things only tourists do".

For example, Parisians don't visit the Eiffel Tower or go to le Boulevard des Champs-Elysees unless they absolutely must.  And, no Parisian--unless he or she is a student or oherwise on a really tight budget--eats in the cubbyhole restaurants and frites stands along la rue de la Huchette, known locally as Allee des Bacteries.

(OK, so I went up the Eiffel Tower once.  But I was new to town at the time!)

Likewise, New Yorkers don't go to the Statue of Liberty or Radio City Music Hall.  We also don't go to the Empire State Building unless we work there.  (The same held true for the World Trade Center.)

What don't New York cyclists do?  Well, the first thing that comes to my mind is this:

From nycentralparktours



These days,  no Big Apple bike rider pedals across the Brooklyn Bridge unless he or she is part of an organized ride-or under extreme duress.

Of course, at one time there was almost no other practical way for a cyclist to cross between Brooklyn and Manhattan.  For many years, the bike/pedestrian lanes of the Manhattan Bridge were closed.  (Recently, the north walkway reopened, making the Manhattan the only New York City crossing with more than one usable bike lane. )  And, if you entered the Williamsburg Bridge, you really had to wonder whether you and your bike would both make it to the other side:  If the condition of the walkway didn't shake you or your bike apart, you and your bike might be parted from each other en route by someone who, shall we say, knew that you were riding a good bike but had absolutely no intention of riding it himself. (Yes, the thugs were all male in those days

But now, the condition of the Williamsburg has greatly improved and, while we might bemoan the proliferation of hipsters in the neighborhoods on either side of the bridge, you have to say at least this much for them:  They're not going to mug you for your bike.  And the north lane of the Manhattan Bridge offers easy access to one bike lane that actually makes sense: the one that separates cyclists from the traffic entering and exiting the bridge and expressways at Sands Street in Brooklyn.

Plus, there are now daytime ferries between Brooklyn and Manhattan.  I've seen people ride their bikes to the boats in Williamsburg and Grand Army Terminal and disembark at Wall Street.

So now New York cyclists don't use the Brooklyn Bridge, not to show how sophisticated they are, but because, at times, it seems as if all of humanity is walking across it.  And, of course, they're not watching for cyclists:  They're craning their necks, taking photos, embracing, eating, drinking or doing almost anything else you can imagine.  And stateboarders are weaving among them. 

So, it's much easier to ride over the Queensborough (what I usually take, as I live near it), Williamsburgh or Manhattan Bridges to Manhattan.  Besides, if you want a view of the Brooklyn Bridge (and the lower New York harbor), your best bet is the south walkway/bike path of the Manhattan.

 

18 June 2013

Without Mike Or The Green Light



Now that the latest Gatsby movie is in theatres, I thought a North Shore ride was appropriate.  (I'm still not sure of whether I want to see the movie.)  Anyway, here's one of the novel's most iconic scenes, minus the green light.



Then, on my way back, I stopped for a "snack":





Of course that sign for "Mallow Marsh" was placed during the reign of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.  Can you imagine Mike Bloomberg allowing such a thing?

17 June 2013

The Burn

As I mentioned, on Saturday I rode to Connecticut.  It is my second-longest ride (75 miles or 120 km) this year; only the Memorial Day ride I took to and from Somerville (101 miles or 163 km) was longer.

However, I felt more tired at the end of Saturday's ride, in spite of the fact that I spent some time in the saddle between those two rides.  There are several possible explanations.  

One is that Saturday as a warmer day.(86F or 30 C in Greenwich vs. 72 F or 22C in Somerville). Another is that on the Somerville ride, I did almost all of my climbing on the way out,whereas I had to contend with a couple of upslopes (albeit smaller) on my way home from Connecticut.

But I think the most important factor was the sun.  Both days were nearly cloudless, but I think that in the two weeks between the two rides, the sun's rays had grown more intense.  I used even more sunscreen the other day, but I still burned:





Well, at least I didn't have any interviews today:




I will be more careful about my jewelry selection on my next ride:

From the Unofficial Ride To Biking In Boulder



All right. So that last picture isn't mine. But you get the idea.

At least I didn't get the "waffle burn" on the backs of my hands, even though I was wearing my crochet-backed gloves!

In all, though, I can't say it's any worse than getting "road rash",although the latter can give you bragging rights in some circles.

16 June 2013

Finnegan's Ride

Way back in the snows of antiquity, I read James Joyce's Dubliners, Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake.  Call me a philistine, but I haven't touched any of them since.  Not that I wouldn't; I just don't feel the urge to do so.  

Plus, I really think Ulysses--all 800 or so pages--has to be read in one sitting.  I am reminded of that after tuning into WBAI, the local Pacifica radio station, for its annual Bloomsday reading of the book.

Ulysses is a stream of consciousness (or a collection of the world's longest run-on sentences) that describes a single day--16 June 1904.  

One thing I might do some year soon, if I have the money and time, is to go to a Bloomsday bicycle rally in Dublin.  If nothing else, the sight of all of those people, attired in the vetements of the period and riding delivery bikes, riding from pub to pub in through the streets of Dublin.

15 June 2013

It's All About The Shoes!

I think I've found my next pair of cycling shoes:





And they'll only cost me $300.

Never mind that they're the wrong size.  They're in my color:  purple.  (Well, OK, lavender).  These shoes are actually much prettier than they appear in this photo, which I shot through a display window.

I mean, what's not to like?  In addition to the lovely color and details, they're from Chanel, made in France:  no knock-offs here.

So where did I find these chaussures carines?

Well, since you're reading this blog, you probably have guessed that I saw them during the course of my ride today.  So, of course, the question becomes:  Where did I ride today?





OK, so Arielle is telling you that it's next to a body of water.  So what other clues can I give?



I don't know how those blotches got onto that photo.  But at least you know that there were boats moored where I cycled today.

And they weren't just any old boats.  Nor were the others I saw at my destination.  They belong to some of the wealthiest people on the planet.


If your "Great Gatsby" associations led you to think I was riding along Long Island Sound, you'd be right.  Except, I wasn't riding much along the Long Island part.

Rather, these photos came from Greenwich, Connecticut.  The consignment shop in which I saw those lavender Chanel ballet flats is just up the hill from the yacht club, where I saw those boats.

You might think that I'd need to butcher modify the shoes to make them suitable for cycling.  I'd have to add a carbon fiber insert to the insole and drill them for cleats.  Or so one would think.

But, given the kinds of pedals I ride these days, I think I could get away with pedaling in those Chanel ballet flats as they are.  Would Coco approve?


The idea that I would use them for cycling made me think of a joke I played on Stella Buckwalter, who worked at Open Road Cycles and later opened, with her then-partner Stelios Tapanakis, Rock'N'Road in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Orange was her favorite color.  In a thrift store, I found a pair of pumps in that color with 15 cm (6") heels.  

She had recently bought a new bike, onto which she had installed a pair of SPD pedals.


So--you guessed it--I drilled out the soles of those shoes to accept SPD cleats!

She got a kick out of them--even though the shoes were the wrong size.  I figured as much when I found them, but they were only $1--and worth much more than that in the laugh I got out of her.

Of course, drilling the shoe and installing those cleats defeated one of the purposes of off-road SPD shoes and pedals:  It was impossible to walk in those pumps with the cleats on them!  

Then again, knowing Stella, I doubt that she would have tried such a thing, even if the shoes fit!




14 June 2013

Phil Anderson's Five Stars

I was trawling eBay for a small part when I came across this:





 In spite of its bright blue paint (which, actually, I like), the bike seemed, somehow, almost quintessentially British.  I emphasize the "almost".

While its lugwork and fork crown remind me of at least a couple of old-time builders in Albion, this bike comes from the other end of the world.  

Yes, it's Australian.  The frame--the top-of-the line "Five Star",  was built in 1950 by Malvern Star.  They're still building bikes today and, in fact, someone named Phil Anderson still rides one.  Who is he?, you ask.  He's just the first Australian--and non-European--to don the Yellow Jersey in the Tour de France.  He would complete le Tour 13 times from 1981 to 1994 and finish as high as fifth (in 1982 and 1985).

What really caught my eye about the bike in the photo, though, was its headtube:




Five stars.  Where have you ever seen a head badge like it?  


 

13 June 2013

Coming To A Kiosk Near Me

Citibike, New York City's bike-share program, will probably be expanded to Western Queens by the end of this year.  So says City Council member Jimmy Van Bremer, who represents the area.



In other words, it's coming to my neighborhood.  The first kiosks will probably be installed by Socrates Sculpture Park and the Noguchi Museum, which are (literally) steps apart--and, ironically, next to a Costco store.

I used to live half a block from the museum.  In the seven years I lived there (2002-2009), I noticed more and more people going to it and to Socrates.  I also noticed that increasing numbers of those people came from Europe, Japan and other parts of the world.  

Those tourists--especially those from Paris and other capitals with extensive mass transportation systems--would be surprised at how difficult it was to reach those places, in spite of their proximity to Manhattan.  Really, you can't get much closer to Manhattan without being in it.  But they're still about a mile from the nearest subway station, and on weekends, only one bus line serves them.  And, it seems, the buses run every hour.

So, Socrates and Noguchi would seem to be great places for Citibike.  Socrates is popular with cyclists, as one can bring his or her bike into the park,  touch the sculptures and installations, and enjoy a little picnic by the river.  I have done that many times.

However, for Citibike to be practical, other kiosks will need to be installed near the subway stations--unless Citibike plans to increase the 30-minute time limit (45 minutes for annual members).  Most people, especially those who are not regular cyclists, would need half an hour, or maybe twenty or twenty-five minutes just to get to or from Manhattan by bike.  Socrates and Noguchi are halfway between the Queensborough (59th Street) and RFK (Triboro) Bridges, both of which let cyclists off on the easternmost extreme of the island.  

Of course, if anyone wants to use Citibike for commuting or transportation, the things I've mentioned are even more critical.  And, of course, that begs the question of whether said commuters and errand-runners would ride the bikes into and out of Manhattan, or to the subway stations.

Don't get me wrong:  I'd be happy to see Citibike come to Queens.  I simply think that its planners have to re-think the current limitations of the program in order to make it practical, let alone enjoyable.

12 June 2013

I Want A New Bus (Apologies to Huey Lewis and the News)

I grew up during the 1960's and early 1970's, when all sorts of upheavals and other changes were roiling.  There was, of course the Vietnam War--would it still be raging when I was old enough for the draft?--and the protests related to it, the civil rights movementand other events of the day.  

Some of those protests involved school busing.  It was being used to intergrate previously single-race schools, whether those schools' monochromaticness (Is that a real word?) was by design or a consequence of history (i.e., segregation).  As you can imagine, a lot of white parents weren't happy to see their kids bussed to schools that had been all (or mainly) black or Latino (the two main non-white groups of the time),  Some fierce protests ensued--perhaps the most notorious being the one in South Boston.

(It should also be noted that many parochial and other private schools opened their doors during that time.)

But all of those parents who didn't want their kids to ride buses or sit in classrooms with kids darker than themselves (I don't mean to imply that this was the sole motivation behind opposition to busing) were tilting at the wrong windmill.  Actually, there was a much better reason for them to keep their kids off buses and, instead, attending their local schools.

Most of the kids who were forced to ride buses would have otherwise walked or ridden bicycles (or, today, skateboards) to their local schools.  That's more exercise than a lot of kids get today:  I can't help but to wonder if the skyrocketing rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes among children and teenagers would have been prevented, at least in part, if more of them weren't riding buses to school.

Now, of course, I realize that in some places, particularly rural areas, the school is too far away for someone to commute on his or her feet or a pair of wheels.  So, perhaps, they have no choice but to take a bus.

Here is a solution to that dilemma (and the high cost of fuel) from--where else?--the Netherlands:


From PBT Consulting
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11 June 2013

Into And Out Of The Rain

Yesterday I went back to the college to pick up a few things I'd left.   The sky was swaddled in clouds that looked utterly pregnant with rain. (How's that for a bad metaphor?)  I decided to pedal in anyway.

The rain started when I passed Citifield, a bit more than halfway there.  It wasn't too bad; I'd brought my rain jacket with me and I was wearing shorts.  Plus, I was riding Vera, which has full fenders and a flap on the front.

Also, I was riding faster without really trying.  Although I normally try to avoid riding in the rain if I can, once I'm riding in it, I get a strange but good kind of "high", as long as it's not cold.  In addition, I think the slick roadway makes for faster (if slipperier) riding.  

Then, when I got to the college, I stayed and chatted with a couple of people in the hope that the rain would let up.  It did, finally.  I pedaled to Jackson Heights--about 3/4 of the way home--before I started to feel more like I was on the Maid of the Mist and that I was riding right into the Falls.

About a kilometer from my apartment, the rain stopped abruptly.  But the sky looked as ready as it had been to drench me and anybody else who, whether through necessity or insanity, were on the streets.  Still, I made it.

From Bike Riding Guide


One day, I'll ride in the rain the way she does.  Until then...

10 June 2013

My Bike For A Tart!

"A Cronut!  A Cronut!  My Citibike for a Cronut!"

All right.  So The Bard didn't write that line in Richard III.  However, it seems like an apt headline for a story that appeared in Thursday's  Gothamist.  

A Cronut looks something like this:




Chef Dominique Ansel created it and  it's available only in his ShHo bakery.  It opens at 8 am, but in otder to score a Cronut, one has to arrive before 7 and wait on line. 

That is what someone with a Citibike did.  I don't know whether or not he had an annual  membership or was renting by the hour.  if the former is the case, he is limited to 45 minutes.  For the latter, it's  30 minutes.  If he doesn't check into a Cititbike kiosk before his time is up, each additional half hour is $9.00 (for an annual membership) or $12.00 (for a one-time rental or holder of a seven-day pass).






Now, if said cyclist were to abandon the bike, the Cronut run, as the Gothamist wryly noted, would cost $1000.  Cronut fans claim that is a small price to pay.  As I haven't tied one--or a Citibke-- yet, I couldn't tell you for sure.

08 June 2013

Two Wheels vs Two Feet In Bucharest?

Many of us have an image of Europe as a place where cycling is revered, or at least respected.  Even if you haven't been to Amsterdam or Copenhagen, you've seen images of streets full of people riding to work, to school, to go shopping, or just because they can, wearing everything from fashionable suits to flashy racing gear.

Even in less bike-friendly European cities, one finds accommodations, if not in physical accoutrements, then at least in the attitudes of local motorists and pedestrians--and, sometimes, even the police, who are often recreational or sporting cyclists themselves.

But, believe it or not, there is a major European capital in which officials actually seem to be discouraging cycling.  Or, worse, they seem to be pitting cyclists against pedestrians and motorists--and everyone else in the city.

That place is one I've never visited:  Bucharest, Romania.  Believe it or not, the city's to build bike paths on the sidewalks.  This would endanger both cyclists, for both will have less space than they would have were the bike lanes in the roadway--or if there weren't bike lanes at all.  

Riding to Bucharest City Hall to protest the Mayor's decision to place bike paths on the sidewalks.  From Demotix


As I've never been to Bucharest, I can't comment on its motor traffic or cycling conditions.  However, it does seem as though there is a growing number of commuting  and recreational cyclists--and people who would like to be one or both.

What's interesting is that, according to a poll, 81% of motorists believe that cycling and walking should be encouraged.   Perhaps they're thinking about the study that rated Bucharest the most polluted capital in Europe in 2011 and the second-most in 2012.  I would imagine that even those who wouldn't normally think about the environment could be noticing an increase in the number of respiratory ailments or cancers.  Perhaps those motorists have contracted one or both themselves.

Those same motorists, for the most part, agree that making cyclists and pedestrians share the same ribbons of concrete is a terrible idea--at least for a city that should encourage cycling and walking.