28 February 2019

For Once, I Hope The Results Are Fixed

Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.

Michael Cohen echoed something I've thought for some time.  But even if he hadn't made that the remark at the end of his testimony yesterday, the talking heads and political bloggers would have been talking about who might run against the incumbent, and whether Cohen's testimony makes it more likely that Trump will indeed lose to one of them.

So many people have already "tossed their hats into the ring" for the Democratic nomination that it's no surprise when anyone else--including someone almost no one outside of his home towns has heard of--does the same.

Until last fall, Beto O'Rourke fit that category. Then the three-term Congressman narrowly lost an election for one of Texas' two US Senate seats to Ted Cruz, who himself came in second to Trump for the Republican Presidential nomination two years earlier.

I'm still learning about O'Rourke.  He sounds pretty good to me.  I must say, though, that even though I like most of his views, there is something else about him that appeals to me:

Lest you think he is trying to appeal to the hipsters on his Surly Steamroller fixed-gear bike, here he is on an '80s Bridgestone:

Waddya think? Could he beat el Trumpo?

27 February 2019

From The Water To The Port

Three years ago, the Canal St. Martin was drained.  The City of Paris does that about every ten or fifteen years.

In dredgings past (sounds like a series of old therapy sessions!), the "treasures" at the bottom of the Canal included home furnishings, street signs, gold coins(!), World War I shells and even a car.  But the most recent drainage served as a sort of geological record of changes in the neighborhood around the canal--mostly the 10th Arrondissement--and in the City of Light itself.

The streets around the waterway have become the sites of bars, restaurants and clubs.  (The Bataclan, site of a mass shooting during a November 2015 concert, stands literally steps from the canal.)  The area is home to "Bobos"--a term combining "bohemian" and "bourgeois".  They are probably the Parisian equivalent of hipsters. At any rate, they share many of the same tastes with their Brooklyn counterparts.  

They include a thirst for craft beers (French as well as American) and wines.  Empty bottles and cans bearing those labels littered the bottom of the canal when it was dredged. So did another passion of that evanescent group:  bicycles--specifically, those from Velib, the city's bike-share service.

As far as I know, neither of the city's two canals--the Harlem River Ship Canal and the Gowanus Canal--has ever been drained.  Interestingly, the Gowanus--one of the most toxic waterways in the United States--flows, like the St. Martin, through a hipsterizing (Think of it as the hipster equivalent of gentrifying.) neighborhood.  According to an urban legend, the Mafia used to dump their "hits" in the Gowanus because the bodies would dissolve.  

Which brings me to this question:  Could a Citibike survive a dive into a city canal?

Somehow I doubt it would be even as intact as the bike in the photo.  That Citibike, missing since September 2017, showed up in the bike-share service's port at 73rd Street and Riverside Drive, where filmmaker Ted Geoghegan found it.  Its coating of barnacles and mud indicates that it spent time in the Hudson River--which, at that point, is actually an estuary.  

No one, it seems, can explain how it got from the river (or wherever it was) to the bike dock?  Did a thief take it, dump it, feel guilty and dive into the water to fetch it?  That seems unlikely because, well, that's not what thieves usually do, but also because if the thief did indeed dump the bike in the river, he or she wouldn't have found it in the same spot, or anywhere nearby.  The more likely scenario is that some boater or fisher found it and, not knowing what else to do, quietly brought it to the bike port.

That bike is more than likely beyond repair.  Spending almost any amount of time in the water would have destroyed the bike's electronics, and the growth on the rest of the bike indicates that the brackish water has corroded the rest of the bike so that it's structurally unsound, and its moving parts are probably irreparable. 

(Interesting aside:  The Gowanus and Harlem Ship are the only two canals in New York City today. In the 17th Century, however, lower Manhattan was laced with canals. That's not surprising when you realize the area was then called Nieuw Amsterdam, and the Dutch settlers were following a model of urban planning for which their capital is famous.)

26 February 2019

I'm Such A Rulebreaker, Sort Of...

I wear a helmet when I ride.  Well, most of the time, I do.  Whatever the naysayers might say, I have had two occasions when wearing my helmet probably, if not saved my life, then at least prevented serious injury.  In the second of those incidents, my helmet actually broke in two but I escaped with only a few scratches.

I admit, though, that I've ridden bareheaded, even after those incidents.  When I ride in Florida, I don't wear a helmet:  Even on cool days, most riders, it seems, aren't wearing them. And on my recent trips to Paris, Rome, Cambodia and Laos, I went sans casque, except on the Grasshopper tour in Siem ReapI think the only reason we had those is that Grasshopper tours is run by Westerners and was probably covered (pun intended) by insurance regulations in the US or someplace else.  Otherwise, in Southeast Asian countries, I'm not sure I could have even found a helmet: I didn't see any in the bike shops I peeked into, let alone the bike stalls of the market places. 

In the Italian capital, I followed the age-old advice: Do as the Romans do.  I did the same in Paris, which meant that in both cities I didn't wear helmets.  It wouldn't have been hard to find a hardhat in either city:  In fact, some rental services offer them. But it seemed that no one else was wearing them, so I didn't.

So, even though I have had occasions in which wearing a helmet might have saved me, I am still hesitant to support laws requiring every cyclist to wear one.  We don't have such a law here in New York, though every once in a while some police officer tickets an unsuspecting rider who isn't wearing one. In some places, like New Jersey, helmets are mandatory for kids; a few other places require them for adults.  But even though helmet-wearing has become more or less the norm in much of the US, there are still relatively few places that require it.

I am more ready, however, to support another ban:  one on headphones, at least ones that cover the ear.   Right now, the city of Washington, DC forbids cycling with headphones.  So do a few other jurisdictions; more, however, do not allow motorists to drive with mini-speakers covering their ears.

Now some startup company, Conduit Sports, has come out with a headphone that doesn't cover the ear and block the ear canal.  Its creators say their device allows for "situational awareness". By that, I assume they mean that you can hear horns and other traffic sounds while you listen to Cardi B or Brockhampton.  

Riding with such headphones may well be safe.  Still, I'll stick to riding without them, or without any other audio stimulation other than what's provided by my surroundings when I ride. Even if I'm doing a ride I can do in my sleep, I prefer to hear what's around me, in part because it helps me to think, meditate or simply relax while riding.  Also, I reckon it's safer than riding even with those new headphones.

But I'll still wear my helmet. Most of the time, anyway.

25 February 2019

They Extended The Road Ahead Of Him

If you've been reading this blog, you know that I take, on average, a trip to Florida every year.  Really, I go to visit my parents!  But you know that I enjoy the cycling and, if I'm lucky, good weather.

If you've read any of my posts about my time in Florida, or have spent any time in the Sunshine State, you also know that it's car-centric.  People travel greater distances to shop or do just about anything than we do in New York, mainly because development is more sprawled (at least in the parts of Florida I visit).  I don't even need to ride my bike to buy groceries when I'm home.  I know that no one in my parents' part of Florida enjoys that level of convenience; I doubt that very many people anywhere in the state have it.

Still, I see a fair number of people on bikes whenever I visit Florida, even when the weather is unusually cold, as it was last year.  (The temperature actually dropped to 23F one night!)  Some, like me, are visiting; others are "snowbirds" who spend part of the year in the state and the rest in some point north or west.  

There are, however, cyclists for whom their two wheels and pedals are their sole means of transportation.  These day-to-day riders include a whole range of people, from homeless veterans to latter-day hippies and those who can't drive because they're too poor or for other reasons.

Among those reasons is age.  While Florida's regulations on senior-citizen drivers are, not surprisingly, less restrictive than those of most other states, they still mandate shorter license renewals and vision tests for older drivers.  Moreover, the state's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, which issues licenses, also conducts unsafe driver investigations upon requests from family members and others.  As a result of such investigations, as well as vision and driving tests, the state can also impose restrictions on elderly drivers, such as a ban on nighttime driving or a requirement that the driver has to wear a hearing aid or glasses.  In a few cases, senior citizens are banned from driving if they are believed to pose a safety hazard to themselves or others.

So, I suspect that at least a few of the seniors I've seen on bikes--and a fair number of those I've seen on three-wheelers--are pedaling because they can't drive anymore.  And, I suspect, at least a few are riding their bikes because they can't afford to drive anymore, or just enjoy cycling.

Whatever his reasons, Bob Wingate's bicycle was his only means of transportation.  The Cape Coral resident parked it at the Winn Dixie supermarket in his town.  A thief cut the cable he'd used to secure his bike.  Field Training Officer Ken Cody and Officer Trainee Guang Song of the Cape Coral Police Department were called to the scene.  

After taking the report, Cody and Song decided they couldn't let Wingate be without a bicycle.  So they went to a nearby Walmart and bought a new one, which they brought to Wingate's house.  Before they left, they even adjusted the seat and handlebars for him.

Those officers not only gave him back his means of transportation and his independence; they may have ensured that he'll live well beyond his current 80 years.  I suspect that other senior citizens I've seen on bikes in Florida, and elsewhere, realize that when they are on the road (or trail), there is more road ahead of them.

24 February 2019

Small Wheels 4 Women

Some of the early Terry bicycles for women had a smaller wheel in the front than in the rear.  You still see them from time to time.

But I don't think Terry ever designed anything like the bike on the left

or, for that matter, the one on the right!

23 February 2019

They Turned Their Bikes Into TVs

If you ship your bike, what are the odds that it will be damaged?

Last year, according to Dutch manufacturer Van Moof, some 25 percent of their bikes were damaged before they reached their destination.  The problem was particularly bad when the bikes were shipped to the US.

So what did the folks at VanMoof do?  They made their bikes go stealth.  Well, sort of.  They thought about what Americans "really love," according to VanMoof co-founder Taco Carlier. "What would prompt couriers to be delicate with a parcel?"

The answer:  a television. Turns out, a big flat-screen TV in its box is about the same size and weight as a high-end commuter bike in its box.  So, the company started imprinting their boxes with images of televisions.  The boxes still have logos identifying them as bicycles, but at first glance, they look like they're bearing TV's.

So far, it's worked--even after a Wall Street reporter "outed" the contents of the boxes.

22 February 2019

Going Dutch In Colorado

You all have heard of NIMBY--Not In My Backyard.  It's how people react when their city wants to build a waste treatment plant, homeless shelter or anything else that brings people or things darker and dirtier than they are (on the outside, anyway) to their neighborhoods.

Me, I'd say NIMBY to big parking lots, high-speed roads and expansive lawns.  Then again, I've never owned a car (or house) or even had a driver's license.  

It seems that Pete Adeney shares my sentiments.  Known to readers of his blog as "Mr. Money Mustache", he is the guru of the Financial Independence, Retire Early" movement he proselytizes on his blog.  Its acronym, FIRE, also just happens to be the acronym for the industries--Finance, Insurance and Real Estate--that are the engines of the sorts of cities that are the antithesis of the one he wants to create. 

Now, he admits that he and his wife lucked out by finding tech-sector jobs that paid them extremely well. One of his tips, however, is to plunge yourself into DIY (He even built his own house.) and put even small change into investments. But the best thing anyone can do to stop up "the exploding volcano of wastefulness,"  he says, is to drive less.  He cites Ivan Ilitch, author of Energy and Equity, who in 1974 calculated that the average American male devotes more than 1600 hours a year to his car, whether on the road or gathering resources for his machine.  Or, you can look at it this way:  In 2017, the average amount borrowed for a new car was $31,099, which translates into a $515 monthly payment. (Those figures were $21,375 and $398, respectively, for a used car.)

A conception of Cyclocroft.

This knowledge informs his idea for a planned community, provisionally called Cyclocroft, between the cities of Longmont and Boulder in Colorado.  He's teaming up with B4place, an urban-planning consultancy based in the Netherlands, to try to bring the project into being.

Their proposed community would encompass approximately one square mile and be home to 50,000 people.  It would be a "compact" place, he says, where cyclists and pedestrians rule the roost, as in some Dutch cities, and automobiles wouldn't be allowed.  Nor would malls:  Instead, the small stores, like the parks and other public places, would be close to people's homes.

His choice of site, he says, will make the project possible because other "sustainable" projects" like the Google-funded "smart city" planned for Toronto's Quayside, "aren't creating any magic."  It, and other projects like it, are being built in cities that have sky-high costs because they "already destroyed by cars," he claims.  So the benefits of a pedestrian mall and bike lane accrue only to those who can afford to move to those places, and are lost the moment one ventures into the rest of the city.

Although Adeney is optimistic about his idea's chances of becoming reality, B4place's managers realize there are obstacles, such as NIMBYism and "the entrenched" who are "unchallenged and lawyered up," says B4place's Tara Ross, an American.  But, she says, even if it isn't built, it's a sign of eco-friendly urban developments to come because current development practices are neither environmentally nor economically sustainable.

21 February 2019

Beer and Bikes Go Together Better Than...Bell-Bottoms and Ten-Speeds

You can really date yourself if you had a pair of these

or even remember them. I'll just say that I recall them from the time I was in 8th grade, which is about when I got my first ten-speed bike.

It's kind of funny to realize now that bell-bottoms in any fashion became so popular right around the time people like me, young and old, were getting our first bikes without full chain guards!

Of course, fads are not always synchronous. (Bikes are still around, but ten-speeds now refer to cassettes, not bicycles!)  I have been cycling almost continuously since those days, but I can't remember the last time I wore a pair of bell bottoms.

The new pairing these days seems to be beer and bikes.  At least, that's the case with hipsters and milennials--though enjoying a brew after a spin is a custom as old as, well, two wheels.

So, it makes sense that two companies extremely popular with the demographic I've mentioned are teaming up to create a special edition:

I rather like the bike but I must say that I don't want to pay for something that's a vehicle to advertise someone else's products.  Still, the New Belgium Brewing graphics on the Brooklyn Bicycle Company machine isn't as blaring or glaring as the "billboard" graphics on bike jerseys worn by wannabe racers.

20 February 2019

Don't Move These Bikes!

Although it's only 80 kilometers from London, the land on which the town of Milton Keynes stands was mostly farms and woodland until the town designation order was made in 1967.  Though equidistant from London, Cambridge, Oxford, Birmingham and Leicester, MK, as it's known in Britain, was never meant to be a suburb of any of those cities.  Instead, it was planned as a hub, albeit a smaller one, in its own right.  Since then, it's become one of the UK's technological incubators--which is somehow appropriate, given that some of the oldest Bronze Age tools were found when it was excavated.

Some people deride or even loathe it for its modern architecture and art. (The "concrete cows" are the butt of many jokes.)  Other people love, or at least appreciate it, for the very same reasons.  One thing that can't be denied is that some of it, especially the public art, won't be found anywhere else.

An example is this mural:

John Watson created it in 1978 and, with the help of students from the nearby Stantonbury School (now known as the Stantonbury International School), installed it on the side of a building in the Stantonbury retail centre.

Well, a retailer wants to destroy the retail centre.  Aldi, based in Germany, has supermarkets all over Europe and in the eastern US.  They want to demolish the building the tile mural adorns.  The supermarket chain says, in its plans, that the mural could be "reprovided somewhere (nearby)".  However, Ian Mitchie, chairman of Public Arts Trust Milton Keynes, is applying to Historic England to have the artwork listed.  Moving it, he said, is almost certain to destroy it, as ceramic tiles don't take well to relocation.

19 February 2019

Pumping His Pedals Into Plowshares

Do you love to ride your bike but hate to shovel snow?

If you answered "yes", meet Rob Wotzak of Milford, Connecticut.  He shares your passions and came up with a way to indulge one while making the other less onerous.

Although his pedaled tractor plow is new, the idea had been simmering in his mind for years.  "I had a rusty old tractor plow sitting behind my barn," he said.  Finally, two years ago, he "grabbed the plow and a pile of bike parts" and "started cutting and welding" his first prototype. 

As the saying goes, the third time is the charm:  The model he's using came after that first attempt and another.  One of his motivations to create such a machine, he said, is that "legs are stronger than arms" but that using it is still a "workout."

Still, it looks like a good example of Yankee ingenuity to me!

18 February 2019

When We Have A Female President....

Three years ago, I wrote about how, late in the 19th Century, Presidents' Day was bicycle day.

Back then, it wasn't called Presidents' Day:  On 22 February, George Washington's birthday was commemorated.  (Abraham Lincoln's birthday was remembered on the 12th; in some states, such as New York, it's still a holiday.)  In the early 1970s, the US government decided to move certain holidays to Mondays.  Thus was Presidents' Day, observed on the third Monday of February, created. 

Today's the day.  A few shops and online retailers are running sales, as they do on other holidays.  But in the Bike Boom of the 1890s, new models were unveiled and bike shows, along with sales, were held on that day.

On this blog, I've also mentioned that during that first Bike Boom, Susan B. Anthony said that the bicycle has done more than anything to liberate women.  

We haven't had a female President yet in the US. However, in Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt was the Prime Minister from 2011 to 2015.  Here she is, doing what many of her countrywomen do every day:

17 February 2019

Follow The Money?

I suppose we should be grateful any time a town installs a bicycle parking rack.  And we should thank whoever donated the funds for it.

Still, this one left me wondering, "What were they thinking?"

A special bike parking rack was unveiled the other day, for Valentine's Day.  It's red, which is appropriate enough.  And I can understand the wish to use the unveiling to celebrate some aspect of the town's history.

But I think there's something a bit incongruous, to say the least, about putting an image of an oil rig on the bike.  

Maybe I shouldn't complain too loudly. After all, cycling, like the arts, have been used to glorify or sell all sorts of things that haven't been good for the planet, or the spirit.  The Charge of the Light Brigade, anyone?

16 February 2019

What We Can See Because of Ken Bukowski

During a conversation with an acquaintance of mine, I mentioned that I served as a "captain" on tandem rides for the blind and visually impaired.

This acquaintance, who makes workplaces ADA-compliant, wasn't surprised.  "Really, the only thing a visually-impaired, or even a blind, person can do that you or I can't is to drive a car," she declared.

Still, I must admit that of the ways one can become disabled, losing my sight is the one I fear most.  Even after hearing my acquaintance's words, and similar claims from others who are, or who work with people who are, visually impaired, I have a difficult time imagining how I would do almost anything I do now without my sight.

Certainly, I don't know how I'd ride (except, of course, on the back of a tandem) or how I might have worked as a bike mechanic. There are, however, people who have assembled and fixed bikes without the ability to see.

From The Buffalo News

One of them was Ken Bukowski.  Until September, he'd worked at Shickluna Bikes and Darts in Buffalo, New York.  For more than three decades, he assembled and repaired bikes, and gave customers lessons on how to shift gears and ride safely.  He was so good at all of these things that some customers were unaware, at first, that he was blind.  According to shop owner Tom Pallas, "many times he steered us to a missing tool because he heard where we had set it down."

Left sightless from a gunshot wound to the head at age 24, Bukowski went to the Blind Association of Western New York (now the Olmsted Center for Sight) to learn how to type.  Soon, he was enrolled in the Association's pilot program for bike repair.  When he completed that training, the Association convinced Pallas to hire him.

They worked--and-- rode together.  In fact, they pedaled the Five Borough Bike Tour on a tandem in 1987.  The thing that made him a good rider is probably the same thing that made him a good mechanic:  "concentration", according to Pallas. 

In addition to fixing bikes, riding and organizing rides, Bukowski did other things people don't normally associate with the blind:  bowling, skydiving and cooking. About the latter, his wife, Elaine Filer, said that because he didn't work much during the winter, by the time she got home from work "he'd have almost the whole dinner prepared."  

She was not the only one to benefit from his culinary skills:  For many years, he also volunteered as a cook at the Little Portion Friary, a homeless shelter in Buffalo.

He finally stopped working at the shop because of his bout with cancer, which claimed his life on 11 November.  He was 65.  Whether or not you think he lived a long life, you can't deny this:  He left an example. That, certainly, is something any of us, regardless of our abilities or disabilities, can do. 

15 February 2019

Motorist Who Mowed Down Cyclist Arrested

On this blog, I have often decried the lackadaisical or even hostile response from law enforcement officials when a cyclist is maimed or killed by a motorist who was speeding, driving while impaired or operating the vehicle in some other illegal manner.

I also try to bring attention to law enforcement officials who are diligent in pursuing those who endanger or destroy lives by hurtling down the road inside two tons of steel.  In Michigan's Macomb County, just outside of Detroit, such work by the constables has led to the arrest of a man who blew through an intersection at 70 MPH, mowed down a cyclist who happened to be crossing the road, and didn't stop or even slow down.

Randy Menendez  

Randy Menendez, a 60-year-old father,  was riding his bike home from a friend's house at 6:27 pm on 3 February.  He'd planned to watch the Super Bowl with his family, according to his sister Roseanne Menendez.  He was crossing Groesbeck Highway in Warren when a gray Dodge Charger with a temporary tag in the rear window, and tinted side windows, struck him.  

He didn't make it. His clothes and mangled bike were scattered across the road.  

Some time after the crash, the driver had the Charger towed to a house in Detroit, where police found it under a tarp.  

The car, it turned out, had been leased.  That no doubt helped police in finding the driver, a 24-year-old man whose name hasn't yet been released.  He faces a charge of leaving the scene of a fatal crash, a felony that carries a 15-year sentence.

Although I commend the police officers' work, I have to wonder whether other charges will be brought against him.  At the risk of seeming vengeful, I'd like to be sure that someone who took a cyclist's--and father's--life with such seeming disregard won't get out for "good behavior" after, say, five years.

14 February 2019

Happy Velo-tine's Day!

To my readers:

I love you!  

The Velo-tine's Day bike tour will take place on Saturday the 16th in Albuquerque, New Mexico,  and has been organized by Routes, a local bicycle tour and rental company.  If I were in the neighborhood, I just might join them!

13 February 2019

Performance: The End Of An Era?

When I first became a dedicated cyclist, as a teenager, I discovered the mail-order catalogues.  They had all sorts of exotic bikes and parts, most of which I couldn't afford and weren't found in the local bike shops.  I pored over those catalogues the way other kids devoured comic books or teen magazines--or the way some young person in a remote village might indulge him or her self in magazines filled with images of the latest fashions from New York or Paris.

Before the '70's Bike Boom, there was Gene Porteusi's Cyclopedia, that printed cornucopia of, seemingly, all things bike-related.  He was one of the old-timers who kept the flame flickering during the Dark Ages of cycling in the US.  

Somehow I don't think much of anything changed in his catalogues during their history.  For most of his career, he was dealing with a small audience--few American adults were cycling during the quarter-century or so after World War II--and a limited selection of goods.  Actually, in the later years of Cyclopedia's run, he limited his selection:  He didn't offer any Japanese parts, not even a SunTour derailleur, even after people started to choose them for custom-built frames.

For making those wonderful V-series and Cyclone derailleurs, and other great stuff from the Land of the Rising Sun, widely available, much of the credit goes to the mail-order companies that launched in the wake of the Bike Boom.  I am thinking now of Bike Warehouse, which later became Bike Nashbar; Bikecology, renamed Supergo; and, possibly the 800-pound gorilla among them:  Performance Bike.

Well, it looks like Nashbar is the last catalogue standing.  Well, not exactly:  Nashbar still exists, but I reckon that hardly anybody shops from its catalogue anymore. For all I know, they might not even have a printed catalogue these days:  I'd guess that, save for their outlet store, all of their sales are on the web.

And the web, ironically, is one of the things that destroyed the other two.  Actually, Performance took over Supergo.  But now it looks like Performance is nigh:  Its parent company filed for bankruptcy protection last fall, and all of its retail stores will close next month.  In addition, over 100 staff members have been laid off at Performance's Chapel Hill, North Carolina headquarters.

Add caption

Although you could buy stuff from Performance's website, it never seemed to generate business in the same way that other retailers' websites did for them.  Plus, the web made it easier to order from overseas retailers when they offered better prices or the exchange rate was favorable. As an example, during the past few years, it's often been cheaper to buy Shimano components--Performance's bread-and-butter, if you will--from UK retailers like Ribble or Chain Reaction because, in addition to the favorable exchange rates, US customers benefited from not having to pay the value-added tax (VAT) levied on purchases made by native or European Union customers.

The coup de grace for Performance, though, might have been tariffs the Trump administration imposed last year on bikes, e-bikes and products related to them.  An already-reeling Performance was hit with higher overhead costs and, from what I've read, had no choice but to raise prices.  That, of course, would drive away an already-dwindling customer base that was attracted mainly by the company's low prices.

So, for better or worse, we may be witnessing the end of an era: the one of the mail-order catalogue, in the bicycle industry as well as in other businesses.   

12 February 2019

How Would Honest Abe Ride?

In almost any capital city, there are people—mostly young, and mostly male—who pedal to work.Some, especially in European cities, ride in the suits, dresses or whatever they wear to work.  Others make their commutes in bke in bike team kit or other athletic garb.  Then there are the hipsters or wannabes on fixed-gear bikes.

Which would Abe Lincoln be?

11 February 2019

Caught In Hipster Hook

Yesterday I was riding up and down Hipster Hook.  As far as I know , it’s not an official designation. Roughly,it extends along the waterfront from the Brooklyn Navy Yard to the  Socrates Sculpture Park, about a kilometer from my apartment.

Along its length, an interesting combination of bikes are parked on its streets.  Some were inherited from parents or other family members.  Others were bought in yard sales, retrieved from basements or have more mysterious or unspeakable provenances, if you know what I mean.  Then there are the Dutch city bike- shaped objects and objects shaped like imitations or mockeries of vintage bikes.

In the latter category, I saw this on Franklin Avenue in Greenpoint, near the dead center of the Hook:

It looks like a Motobecane mixte from the ‘70’s, sort of.  Emphasis on the “sort of”:

Fortunately, a really nice vintage bike was parked just a few sign posts away:

Miyata has long been one of the mass manufacturers I respect most.  This particular bike is interesting because it alsobears the Koga name on its head tube.  To my knowledge, only in Europe were Miyatas sold as “Koga-Miyata.”

10 February 2019

What's His Motivation?

Some kids are burdened with the weight of parents' unfulfilled (and perhaps unfulfillable) dreams.  You see them on Little League fields, in Pop Warner classes and ballet classes.

A few of those kids may actually want to become ballplayers, dancers or whatever, and will do whatever it takes.

What about this kid?

09 February 2019

Riding Into Public Service, And Through History

He starts every morning with a ride.  He's retired, and the rides are for his health and fitness.

Back in 1965, however, he pedaled to get around.  He was 19 then and looking for a job.  So he pedaled 2 1/2 miles (4 kilometers), resume in hand, to someone who might be able to help him.

Now, I should mention that the fact he was doing so in 1965 was significant.  For one thing, relatively few Americans rode bicycles if they were old enough to drive.  For another, Reginald "Reggie" Brown was applying for a job for which his mother was rejected two decades earlier.

She had done military service during World War II.  Still, she didn't get the job in her local post office because it didn't have segregated bathrooms.

Now, as a transgender woman, I know a thing or two about being denied the use of a bathroom--and about not getting a job because of an identity you've always had!  I can understand whatever anger, grief or resignation she might have felt.  And I imagine that those things were on Reggie's mind when he tried to get a job as a mail carrier.

Governor John McKeithen and his staff were so impressed with young Reggie that they passed on his information, and added their own recommendation.  Two months later, he was working as a substitute mail carrier.

As satisfying as the job was, Brown did not see it as an end unto itself.  His goal, he said, was public service, and his real passion and dream was to work in law enforcement.  

Eventually, he joined the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office, where he became the first African American to become a Chief Administrative Assistant and attain the rank of Major.  After 25 years in the office, he was elected to the Constable's Office, where he served another 18 years.  There, he worked on raising standards for the deputies as he started community programs to do everything from raising public awareness of their rights and responsibilities to helping the needy.

He has written My Bicycle Journey.  Proceeds from the sales of that book will go to St. Vincent de Paul charities.  He hopes, however, that its message will benefit everyone.

Who wouldn't be inspired by someone who rode his bike into public service, and through history?

08 February 2019

How Not To Go To Court

A guy has a court hearing.  He rides a bike to it.

This could mean he doesn't have a car or can't drive.  Or, perhaps, it's the easiest and most convenient way to get there.  Another possibility is that he's trying to turn his life around by getting sober and exercising.

That last possibility seems plausible given that one of the charges against him is drug possession.  

But he arrives late.   All right, maybe he got lost or got a flat along the way.  Or there might be some other reason.  Perhaps it might have to do with the stolen property he's was charged with receiving.

Turns out, that stolen property included a chainsaw, an iPhone and groceries--in addition to an adult tricycle and two bicycles.

Oh, and those two bikes aren't the only stolen wheels he's had in his possession.  When he arrived at the courthouse in Laconia, New Hampshire, police detained upon the request of police in nearby Gilford.

Two nights previous, there'd been a break-in at Piche's Ski & Sport Shop on Gilford Avenue.  Guess what was taken during that burglary.  

Jeffrey T. Wyatt, a local transient, admitted knowing that the bike he rode to the courthouse--valued at $1800--was stolen.  He denied, however, any involvement in the burglary.

In addition to the thefts, receiving stolen property and drug possession, he also has charges of threatening with a deadly weapon, criminal trespass and willful concealment pending against him before he was arrested at the court house--for arriving on a stolen bicycle.

20 Million Hacks

Mumbai has two and a half times as many people as my hometown of New York.  Its population is also about half that of Canada, and a third of the UK or France.

It's been said that there are 8 million stories--the same as the number of people--in the Five Boroughs.  Well, one might say that there are 20 million ways of using a bicycle--one for every resident--in the City of Seven Islands.

At least, that was the impression I got from yesterday's post on HackadayIn the Gateway to India, it seems that bicycles are used, not only for transporting one's self, but also for moving other people, cargo that seems better suited for ship containers, hay, livestock and even gas cylinders--12 to 16 at a time!-- that weigh 15 kilos empty and 30 when full. 

I don't know which would scare me more:  the potentially-explosive cargo, or that those bikes, with 300-kilo loads, have the same brakes found on typical roadsters.  Come to think of it, I shudder thinking about maneuvering such rigs through winding, narrow, crowded streets that make Broadway in lower Manhattan seem like a Dutch bike lane.