31 August 2023

A Once-In-A-Blue-Moon Ride

 Yesterday was a Florida day I  reverse:  It began with rain that fell “fast and furious”: I don’t think it lasted more than 15 minutes. A curtain of clouds remained, sealing this city into a cauldron that became even steamier when the sun peeked out before filling a clearing sky.*

I took a late afternoon ride in that late-summer soup.  So, not surprisingly, what I wore—and I—turned into wet rags.  I needed to do laundry anyway, so after supper, I lugged my dirty, smelly load to my usual laundromat. 

It was closed for “maintenance.”  I figured there had to be another nearby, so I walked down to 34th Avenue, where I encountered this:

Whatever others (and a government agency or two) say, I aver that I am in the middle of my life.  I claim that status because I don’t know when it will end. That means I might not see, again, what I saw last night. Or I might see its next predicted appearance—in 2037–or the one after it.

The Super Blue Moon is one of the rarest celestial phenomena.  You’ve heard the expression “once in a blue moon.” There’s a reason for it:  The “blue” moon is the second full moon in a calendar month.  Because the moon’s cycle is 29.5 days, it’s “blue” only every three years or so.

The name comes from the ok hue the orb sometimes reflects back to earthbound viewers.  But last night’s blue moon shone as bright and silvery-white as a streetlight because it’s a “Super” moon: a full moon that coincides with the perigee, or the moon’s closest approach to the earth. That happens a bit more frequently than a blue moon, but still only three or four times a year.

Thus, seeing a “blue” moon so big and bright won’t happen again until 2037. Whether or not I get to see it, I saw last night’s Super Blue Moon in the middle of my life, after a late-day ride.

*—To anyone who happens to be in Florida (or Georgia, the Carolinas or Virginia):  I hope you’re safe in the wake of Idalia.

29 August 2023

A Lane Along A Great Ride

 Bright sunshine, high clouds, temperatures gthat ranged from late-spring to early-summer from brunch time to early-dinner tine.  Those are the perfect conditions for a Sunday ride, right?

There’s no “but” or “however” in this story.  The cherry on top of this Sunday (pun intended) was that I pedaled into the wind on my way to the Greenwich Common in Connecticut—which meant that the same wind stroked my back (and stoked me!) on my way back.

At the Common, I watched folks in their most carefree moments strolling and sashaying in polo shirts tucked into navy or beige chino shorts, frilly dresses and skirts and college T-shirts over gym shorts whose wearers were trying not to show that they were showing that those shorts didn’t come from discount stores.

Was it all a great show?  Or had the ride and weather elevated my dopamine levels higher than someone who paid a visit to the local cannabis shop half an hour ago? All I knew was that I could’ve held the ride, the weather and the day, if not forever, then long enough to, well, write this post.

Oh, and along the way I found a good, if short, bike lane in the Bronx.

Built on a concrete island on Bruckner Boulevard, under the Bruckner Expressway, it runs for about two kilometers from East 138th Street to Hunts Point Avenue.  I saw some evidence that it might be extended further.  Even if it isn’t, I am sure to use it on future rides, as it will allow me to avoid the chaos of delivery trucks, tow vehicles pulling in and out of auto body shops, motor bikes making deliveries or simply trying to outrun young guys who really want to turn Southern Boulevard into their personal race track.

Finding a useful, safe bike lane during a blissful ride on a perfect day: Could a Sunday spin from Queens to Connecticut and back have been any better?

28 August 2023

The Best Reason To Close A Shop

Forty years ago yesterday, a bike shop was closed for, possibly, the best reason any shop could have been closed on a Saturday during the summer—on the last weekend before Labor Day, no less.

How do I know about that closure?  I worked in that shop. In fact, the day before was my last day there. 

On 27 August 1983, I accompanied the shop’s owner, his soon-to-be wife and a bunch of our friends and customers on a chartered bus from New Brunswick, New Jersey to Washington, D.C. The purpose of the trip? To join many, many more people in commemorating the 20th anniversary of the March on Washington:  the one that includes Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech.

Actually, the anniversary was the day after our trip—a Sunday.  But that didn’t make a difference to those of us who participated—and those who supported us.

Among those supporters were, not surprisingly, Black city residents who gave us sandwiches, snacks, fruit, water, coffee, tea, juice, sun visors and other things that helped us on a typically hot, humid day. I couldn’t help but to wonder how many of them were there—or marched—during the original rally, which took place a few weeks after I turned five. (OK, you can do the math, if you are so inclined!)

Today, on the sixtieth anniversary of the March—and the day after the fortieth anniversary of the best shop closure in history—I can’t help but to wonder how many of the people I saw that day, let alone how many marched in the original gathering, are still alive.  To the best of my knowledge, the shop’s owner—Frank Chrinko—and Wendy Novak, the woman who would become his wife, are still very much with us—and should be lauded for having the best reason to close Highland Park Cyclery on a day when, I think, they could have made a decent amount of coin.

26 August 2023

If Only He'd Done It On The Basketball Court

Being a New York Knicks fan during the 1990s had to be one of the most frustrating experiences in sports fandom.  Patrick Ewing was the Raymond Poulidor--"the Eternal Second" of basketball.  Just as Poulidor had the misfortune of having his career overlap with those of Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Mercx, Ewing entered the NBA only a year before Michael Jordan.

But MJ and the Bulls weren't the biggest source of frustration.  Everyone else lost to them, so there was no shame--and no surprise for, or hatred from,  the fans--when the Patrick and the Knicks couldn't grab the ring.  On the other hand, there was another player who, while he may not have been on Jordan's level (then again, who ever has been?), proved to be at least as much of a nemesis to the fellows from the Big Apple. 

Reggie Miller saved some of his most torrid scoring binges for games against the Knickerbockers, especially in the playoffs.  And, in contrast to MJ's efficiency and demeanor, Miller frequently punctuated his flashy play and dominant games with taunts and trash-talking.  So, Knicks fans really, really wanted to see him eat crow.

Well, they might have finally gotten their wish had they gone to Steamboat Springs, Colorado for the SBT GRVL race.  Though he has spent a lot of time on his bicycles since retiring from the NBA, and has participated in a wide variety of cycling events, he later admitted that he wasn't prepared for the Rocky Mountain race.

You see, he now lives--and does most of his cycling in the vicinity of--Malibu, California.  It stands 105 feet above sea level. Steamboat Springs is 7000 feet above sea level, and the course he chose--the second-toughest of four--included 6000 feet of climbing over 100 miles.

OK, I'll give him credit for doing the race.  But I wonder what Knicks fans would have given to see hear him admit defeat. Then again, I have to wonder whether Patrick Ewing, or even Michael Jordan, woulld or could have been more prepared.

23 August 2023

Pedaling In Smoke

Two months ago, Canadian wildfires singed the sky orange in my hometown of New York City.  At times, you could actually smell—and see—smoke from the burning trees.

Such sights and smells didn’t enshroud the ride I took yesterday. I pedaled Tosca, my Mercian fixed gear, along familiar streets from my neighborhood to Brooklyn.  While my nose didn’t detect the scent of incinerated wood and my eyes didn’t pick up ash or unusual hues on the horizon, I could sense the aftermath of a fire before I literally encountered it.

On Sunday, a fire destroyed a row of stores at the intersection of Lee Avenue and Hooper Street, by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Most of the stores were closed, which is probably the reason why no one was hurt even as the stores and their contents were destroyed.

Still, such a disaster is particularly devastating for the Hasidic enclave of South Williamsburg. For one thing, the stores and the spaces they occupied were owned by members of the community, who were also nearly all of those establishments’ customers. For another, some of those stores sold the clothing and supplies kids will need as they return to school,  But most important, those stores catered to the specific needs and religious mandates of the community, particularly in food and clothing. (As an example, Halakhic law forbids the mixing of fabrics.) Those needs and requirements are sometimes difficult, if not impossible, to meet in other stores.

Anyway, I continued my ride. Sometimes it’s seemed as if I’ve been pedaling through smoke all summer.

20 August 2023

The Chains Of Freedom

 At one time in my life, I knew just enough German to get myself in trouble in Cologne. Still, it’s more than I know now. So, I have to accept it on the authority of someone I know—a German soaker—that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels didn’t actually write “Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains.”  Rather, the last line is more properly translated as, “Proletarians of the world, unite!”  The second part, “you have nothing to lose but your chains,” was added in a translation Engels approved.

Another aphorism commonly and mistakenly attributed to the authors of the Communist Manifesto is, “The truth shall set you free.” While they may have agreed with it, they—or, at least Marx—would not have approved of its source:  the Bible, specifically, John 8:31-32.

It is therefore interesting to speculate about what they would have made of this:

Somehow I think they would recognize that the bicycle has liberated poor and working people—or, at least, given them mobility and even pleasure.

I know I have always felt freer while spinning my chains!

19 August 2023

A Thief’s Trail Ends Next Door

 On my way out for a ride, I encountered this in front of a neighbor’s house:

That both tires were flat and the chain was rusted and “pretzeled” were signs of what I suspected.

Two other things clued me in.

Not only was the serial number, except for the first digit, removed; so was another unique (for Citibikes and other share bikes):

The mechanism that locks the bike into the dock was removed.  Here is what the front of a normal Citibike looks like:

I called Citibike and brought the pilfered (and probably joy-ridden) bike to the port down the street from my apartment.

17 August 2023

A Surprise During A Ride Without A Plan

Errands and things that weren’t so complicated that a politician or lawyer couldn’t further complicate them took up my morning.  

So, by afternoon, I wanted—and needed—to ride  I had no destination or route in mind.  I didn’t even know which bike I’d ride.  For some reason, Marlee sniffed around La-Vande, my King of Mercia. For some other reason, that was the reason I wheeled her out my door.

I zigged and zagged along waterfront promenades and side streets from my Astoria neighborhood to Williamsburg. From there, a detour led me into industrial areas of East Williamsburg and Bushwick where I found myself following a string of graffiti murals that seemed to unfurl like a videographic collage along my ride and led me to this:

The word “truck” over the window hints at the building’s former role as a tire shop.  Given the location, drivers or owners of those hulking industrial vehicles were no doubt most of their customers.

The new clientele, I imagine, are more likely to be fixing or fueling their psyches and, perhaps, accompanying friends, dates or partners than to be hauling steel stock or power tools.  The Bushwick Triangle—where Johnson and Scott Avenues intersect with Flushing Avenue—is a lounge.

Even with its new look and purpose, its shape reminds me of a much larger and more famous structure:  the Flatiron Building, often cited as New York City’s first skyscraper  Somehow, though, I can’t imagine it adorned with a mural like the one on the Bushwick Triangle—even if the Flatiron’s owners were inclined to, and the city allowed, it.

I am glad, however, to have encountered a fun and interesting visual surprise during a ride for which I had no plan.

16 August 2023

What The Bollards?!

 In previous posts, I’ve written “lines of paint do not a bike lane make.”

I admit it’s not Shakespearean.  (Then again, what besides Shakespeare is?) But I think it sums up at least one major flaw in too much of bicycle infrastructure planning.

Now I have to come up with another catchy line—for bollards.

I was greeted with this scene at the other end of my block.  The city’s Department of Transportation probably believed cyclists like me would be thrilled to have a bike lane running down our street.  But I, and some other cyclists, are among its most vocal critics.The lane isn’t wide enough for two-way bicycle traffic, let alone the eBikes, mini-motorcycles and motorized scooters that, most days, seem to outnumber unassisted pedal bicycles.

Moreover, as you can see, bollards offer little more protection than lines of paint.  On more than one occasion, I have seen drivers use the bike path as a passing lane—when cyclists are using it.  I can understand ambulances or other emergency vehicles passing in the lane (as long as bicycles aren’t in it, of course) because Mount Sinai hospital is on the lane’s route. But some drivers, I think, pass in the lane out of frustration or spite.

The situation has been exacerbated by the recent construction in the neighborhood.  I suspect that the bollards were crushed by a truck pulling toward or away from one of the sites. I also suspect that the destruction wasn’t intentional:  In my experience, commercial truck drivers tend to be more careful than others and when they strike objects—or cyclists or pedestrians—it tends to be because the drivers didn’t see them.

Anyway, what I saw underscores something I’ve told friends and neighbors:  Sometimes, the most dangerous part of my ride is the lane that runs in front of my apartment!

15 August 2023

At Least He Won’t Get Away With Murder—We Hope

Today, I am going to give you some advice you probably didn’t expect to find on this blog.

Here goes: In North America, if you want to get away with killing someone  run over that person with a car, truck, bus or other motorized vehicle.For one thing, dead victims can’t tell their side of the story.  So, even with the worst lawyer (or no lawyer), the most egregiously aggressive or careless driver can make him or her self seem blameless. 

For another, North America has had a “car culture” for a century.  Roads and intersections are therefore built or re-configured to convey motorized traffic as quickly and efficiently as possible.  Such a mentality among planners has inculcated a few generations of Americans with the not heir physical fitness—is somehow a second-class citizen, at best.

Such attitudes, combined with anger at whatever or whomever or with any other mental disturbance, often lead drivers to believe they have the right to run down cyclists.  Such an attitude, I think, nearly turned Sacramento cycling advocate Sherry Martinez into such a victim.

“I have four broken ribs, a fractured clavicle, a partial collapsed lung from a collision “I can’t remember,” she said from her hospital bed.  Fortunately for her, there are people who remember it:  members of the small group of cyclists with whom she was riding, as well as other witnesses.

Their testimony, and witnesses’ photos, confirmed the charge against 30-year-old Caleb Taubman: He deliberately drove his pickup truck at Martinez.

In other words, he’s been charged with assault with a deadly weapon.  Members of Sacramento’s cycling community have engaged in a letter-writing campaign urging the district attorney to prosecute Taubman to the fullest extent of the law.

Taubman has been released and awaits his first court date.  Whenever it is, he is on a more certain timeline than that of Sherry Martinez She has no exact date when she!l be well enough to discharged from the hospital. And I imagine that when she’s released, she’ll still have a long road to recovery ahead of her.

At least Caleb Taubman won’t get away with murder—we hope.

13 August 2023

Will A Belly Rub Bring A Bike Back?

I don't mean to make levity of bike theft.

So why am I making this video this week's "Sunday Funny?"

Well, it has mainly to do with its possible "hero."

I am a cat person, but I have been known to give a belly rub or two to neighbor's dogs.  So I can understand why even a bike thief--one of the lowest forms of humanity, in my book--couldn't keep himself from doing the same for a big, fluffy Golden Retriever.

I laughed because I realized that the pooch, whether he/she realizes it or not, may assist the police if, indeed, they bother to investigate this crime.  Though the family pet may not have stopped the theft, he or she might've delayed the thief long enough for the cops, the bike's owner or someone else to get a good (or at least) better look at the crook.

I just hope the bike is reunited with its owner.  I am sure he or she treasures it, un, almost as much as that lovable canine.

12 August 2023

Beating The Men At Their Game

One of my early posts discussed Beryl Burton.

She was one of the dominant competitive cyclists of her time.  Not one of the dominant female cyclists, mind you:  one of the dominant cyclists.

Whether or not she could beat most male cyclists of her time wasn't a matter of speculation:  It was a settled answer.  Among other things, for two years in the late 1960's, she held the distance record for twelve hours.  Mind you, she didn't beat the old record by a few yards:  Her 277.25 miles was five miles more than any other cyclist, male or female, had ridden over that amount of time.

I am mentioning her in relation to something that only indirectly relates to cycling or, more precisely, women's cycling.  When the US Women's National Team in soccer (football to the rest of the world) won the World Cup in 2015 and 2019, some wondered whether they could beat most men's squads.  That question seemed especially relevant given that the team's star, Megan Rapinoe, grew up playing on boys' teams against other boys’ teams.

This year, the team won its group. Last week, however, for the first time in the history of the tournament, the US Team lost in the Round of 16. While self-styled "patriots" like the ones at Faux, I mean Fox, News and Donald Trump are using the occasion to display their prejudice against women, LGBTQ people and "wokeness," the question remains of whether that team, at its peak, could play against the US men, who haven't had nearly as much success internationally.  Some also wonder whether teams like Sweden's, Japan's and perhaps those of England, France or the Netherlands might be as good as, or better than many men's teams.

Well, such a question is not new. In fact, another women's team answered it a century ago.  

During World War I, large numbers of British men--many of whom just happened to play football--went off to fight. That meant women kept guns, locomotives and other machinery running--and rolling off factory lines. (Think of them as forerunners of "Rosie the Riveter" in World War II USA.) During their lunch and tea breaks, some of those women played pickup games in the factories’ lots.

Some of them became quite good--enough to beat young male apprentices.  Such was the case of the women who worked in the Dick, Kerr and Company factory in the northwestern city of Preston, which had a well-regarded men's professional team.  An office administrator, Alfred Frankland, recognizing their talents and skills, organized them into a team that played exhibitions to raise money for injured servicemembers.

Soon, spectators weren't showing up only out of curiosity:  If nothing else, English fans know when they're seeing good football.  They filled venues like Old Trafford (home of Manchester United), Liverpool's Goodison Park (Everton) and  London's Stamford Bridge (Chelsea).  They beat not only local factory and semi-professional teams, they also took matches from France's national squad during an international tournament in 1920.

Whatever the English fans thought of those women, the sport's governing authorities were not amused.  The following year, the Football Association banned its members from allowing women's teams to use their fields.  Their stated reason:  "[T]he game of football is quite unsuitable for females and should not be encouraged."  Some have speculated that the F.A. feared that the popularity of teams like Dick, Kerr and Company would eat away at the attendance--and profits--of men's teams.

The Dick, Kerr women, undeterred, went on tour--to North America. Upon arrival in Canada, that country also barred them from playing.  The United States--which was experiencing a brief soccer boom (only baseball, bicycle racing and boxing were more popular) proved more receptive, though there were no organized women's teams.  So they played nine games against men's teams of the professional American Soccer League (yes, such a thing existed!).  winning three, losing three and playing to three draws. 

While public reception of them was generally favorable, some  newspaper coverage reflected stereotypes of the time:  One account referred to them as "brawny Amazons" and another was accompanied by ads for corsets, skin cream and dishwashing soap.  Perhaps the worst indignity was this:  The money their games raised was used to cover the expenses of sending the US men's soccer team to the 1924 Olympics in Paris.

But, through such difficulties, the women continued to play, renaming themselves the Preston Ladies in 1926. The F.A. finally lifted its ban in 1971--some six years after the Ladies played their last game.

In the team's history, they compiled a record that I doubt any other team--male, female or otherwise--could boast:  They lost only 24 of the 828 matches they played.  Perhaps most impressive of all was a record set by the team's best-known player.  Lily Parr, a 6 foot chain-smoker "with a kick like a mule" netted 43 goals in her first season.  When she retired three decades later, in 1951, she was believed to have scored 900--many more than any other English soccer player of any gender identity.  In 2002, she would also become the only female player enshrined in the English Football Hall of Fame's inaugural class.   

11 August 2023

Bicycling And Hip-Hop: Filling A Void

On this date in 1973, a fellow named Clive Campbell threw a back-to-school party for his sister.  For admission, he charged female guests 25 cents and 50 cents for males.  The money went for his sister's new clothes and supplies.

Such a party would have been like many others except for one thing.  You see, he was a DJ with an interesting background and unique set of skills and ideas.  

Six years earlier, when he was 12, he and his family emigrated from Kingston, Jamaica to Bronx, New York.  In addition to his talents as a musician and host, he brought with him the memory of music from a dancehall near his old home--and a tradition of "toasting," or talking over the music.

He would "toast" over the records he played--as he extended their beats--"breaking" or "scratching"--to give guests more time to dance to them.  

Now, many have argued--plausibly--that other artists and performers were "breaking," "scratching" and "toasting" years before Clive Campbell's party. But that party is cited as the "birth" of what we now call "hip-hop" because it's the first recorded instance of those elements coming together to create, not just a musical style, but an artistic movement in which "toasting" came to be known as "rapping" and would include "break" dancing and the kind of graffiti that pulses like the waves of urban life across subway cars.

So what does the "50th anniversary of hip-hop" have to do with bicycling?

Well, the music, art and dance I've described are part of a response--and a way of coping--with the conditions--including poverty and violence as well as extraordinary diversity-- of life in the Bronx and other urban areas of the 1970s and 1980s. Soon, people in conditions and places far removed from those of 1520 Sedgwick Avenue--where Clive Campbell, whom the world would come to know as DJ Kool Herc threw that party--would see the music he pioneered, and the lyrics he, and others would "rap" over it--expressed something they were feeling or, at least, that it was fresh in a way that the popular music of the time wasn't.

In other words, hip hop filed, and continues to fill, a void.  So does cycling.  Shaka Pitts understands as much.  He co-founded the Baltimore advocacy group Black People Ride Bikes--and Pits Fights Battle League, one of the city's longest-running hip-hop events.  He says he's "doing the same thing" in the cycling and hip-hop worlds:  "I bring in other people.  I lateral things off."  That is how he fills the void--and helps people to cope with, and express the realities, of their lives.

10 August 2023

Some Things Can’t Hide

 For my morning ride, I turned from Crescent Street to Broadway and crossed under the elevated train at 31st Street.  I found myself in…Ukraine?

That’s what I wondered, at least for a moment.  What would it be like to ride down a familiar route and encounter a military vehicle .

Of course, that truck had nothing to do with the Armed Forces.  And its driver did nothing to menace me or anyone else.  But I had to wonder about the motivation of whoever had that cement mixer truck painted in camouflage colors!

09 August 2023

Using A Bike Lane To Avoid A “Brick”

 I don’t drive. So I am basing this assumption on being an (infrequent) passenger and (more frequent) observer:  When drivers are lost or confused, or detect malfunctions (in their cars or passengers), they pull over in the nearest place that looks safe.

That is, if the driver is human.  If the car’s driver is itself (Does that sound creepy or what?), it won’t pull over.  And, if it’s lost or confused, it won’t go to a therapist or spiritual counselor.

Rather, it will “brick.” No, it won’t build a wall—at least not literally. (Even Donald Trump and Greg Abbot have difficulty doing that!) Rather, said non-human driver will stop dead wherever it happens to be—even in the middle of an intersection.  

In San Francisco, which probably is denser with ride-sharing services and autonomous vehicles than any other city, Waymo and Cruise self-driving cars accounted for 215 crashes during the first four months of this year.

I could not find reports of injuries caused by those collisions.  The city’s transportation authority says that self-driving vehicles “will improve safety” but admits that the technology “isn’t fully developed yet.” One commenter wonders whether the city can “end this experiment now” or “does someone need to be killed first?”

He posted a video that illustrated his concerns:  a number of human drivers steered into the Valencia Street bike lane, in the city’s Mission district, to avoid a self-driving Waymo vehicle that “bricked.”

07 August 2023

Hands During A Ride

 No, they’re Michelangelo’s hands of God and Adam on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Nor are they Albrecht Dūrer’s Praying Hands

or Auguste Rodin’s Cathedrale.

Nor is it the work of any other dead white guy whose work I love.

Rather, it’s from a woman who, old and white as she is, very much lives among us.

I saw Sassona Walter’s “Touch” yesterday in front of the old Greenwich Town Hall. I pedaled Negrosa, my vintage Mercian Olympic on an all-but-perfect first-Sunday-in-August morning. 

The ride home was pleasantly uneventful until almost the end.  On the Randall’s Island-to-Queens span of the RFK Bridge, a young guy on a motor scooter just missed my elbow.  

Something seemed strange about the encounter.  A moment later, I realized I hadn’t cursed the guy out, even to myself. Was I becoming more of a lady—or simply more accustomed to such things?

Well, a couple of moments later, he took a tumble about ten meters in front of me.  I stopped, and a guy on a motorized bike pulled up.

Turns out, the guy on the scooter jammed his brake when he hit a bump. He had a few scrapes but, fortunately, didn’t hit his head. 

The guy on the motorized bike and I offered him water, which he turned down. But when we reached our hands to his, he let us lift him up. Then, on discovering that the brake mechanism had broken, we walked with him the rest of the way across the bridge.

06 August 2023

They Couldn't Keep It Clean

When I worked in bike shops, customers brought in bikes with problems I couldn't have imagined.

Note:  "Mudguards" are, to the British, what we Americans call "fenders."

05 August 2023

Bikes On The Walls

Here in the USA, the news we hear about Argentina tends to fall into two categories:

           its football (soccer) team and players

           the bad news.

In the latter category was, during my youth, the Peron regime.  These days, it's about hyper-inflation:  People spend their money as soon as they get it because it loses value faster than a dot-com stock in 2000.

What's often forgotten, though, is the country's creativity:  Not for nothing has its capital, Buenos Aires, been called "the Paris of South America."

And the city's and country's artistry isn't limited to what ends up in museums or on pedestals in public squares.  From what I've heard, few cities have more murals.  And those displays that adorn the city's walls encompass all kinds of styles--and subjects, including bicycles and bicycling.

Mart Aire started to grace buildings and other structures with his artistry in the 1990s---when he was 12 years old.  I just love the way his colors and sheer whimsicality express the flights of fancy and sheer freedom I experience when I'm spinning along a seashore, pumping up--or coasting down--a hill or zigging and zagging through city streets.

04 August 2023

What Do You See?

 What do you see in these pictures?

You've probably had some teacher, professor or, uh, official of the law ask you that question.

Of course, in any photo, some things are incontestably true.  On the other hand, other things are, if you'll indulge me a cliche, "in the eyes of the beholder."

In the polarized, hyper-politicized atmosphere that is today's America (It now seems weird to call this country the United States!), people will infer, correctly or not, your sympathies when you describe what you see.

Juxtaposing a photo of Joe Biden on his bike with that of Donald Trump disembarking from his plane is meant to show how far removed the current President is from the legal proceedings in which his predecessor finds himself.  To some, however, it shows a leader who's out of touch in contrast to one who's being "persecuted" by an unjust system.  

All right...I'm going to reveal my leanings --as if you haven't already figured them out!  Nobody can do any job 24/7.  Everyone needs physical and mental relaxation.  So, I don't begrudge Joe Biden, any more than I'd begrudge anybody else, for going on a bike ride. And, as much as I hate to engage in "whataboutism," I'll say that we didn't hear a peep from same people who criticize Joe for mounting a saddle and pedaling when Trump was cheating, I mean, playing golf.

03 August 2023

Ride, But Don’t Cross!


Why didn’t the cyclist cross the road?

No, I it’s not an “ironic” version of an old joke.  I reckon, though, that the punchline could be, “They couldn’t get to the other side.”

And it would accurately describe what cyclists encounter on a new bike lane in Newcastle, England.

 Carved out of Heaton Road, one of the city’s main thoroughfares, it features separate traffic signals for the auto traffic and bike lanes.

That would make perfect sense if they were timed so that cyclists could cross without having to worry about being struck by a turning car or truck.  The problem is that the signals don’t allow cyclists to cross at all.

Not legally, anyway.  According to local riders, the signals for cars operate normally.  The bike signals, on the other hand, are permanently stuck on red.

It’s as if the local authorities want to legitimize motorists’ complaints that cyclists are “always running red lights.”