Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Monday, April 28, 2008

Bike sharing program in D.C.

The New York Times reports on this.

Seems useful for a place like NYC, where many people don't bike because they have nowhere to keep a bike.

We'll see if it works. I always feel it's best to let another try these things out first, to work out the kinks.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Pete of Dishwasher Fame

And his lovely wife, Amy.

You may know Pete Jordan as author of Dishwasher (and infamous Dave Letterman no-show). I went up to their bike store in the North of Amsterdam to meet them, drop off a copy of my book, and get an Egyptian bike bell put on my bike.

Peter wasn't in. But the bike store is great. And Amy is a gem. Best of all, she let me work on my own bike while she had to attend to other customers (she made clear that this is not their standard operating procedure). I wish I had had more time so that we could have had a few drinks and chat longer, but I had to get back into town for a 4pm meeting.

Amsterdam (3)

Approaching a bike parking barge of the River IJ (pronounced "eye")
The entrance to the bike parking.
Mural on the bike parking barge.
The lighting on this bike path going over a canal and under train tracks is so nice. And it could so easily be so ugly. What could be a scary place, is actually quite beautiful.
The famous multi-level bike parking garage by Centraal Station.
Bike parking on a barge on the Single near the Muntplein.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Amsterdam (2)

I'm in Amsterdam, trying to remember to take some pictures. There are so many sights that seem unremarkable to people who live here. But I've been gone for a while so things like this stand out. These pictures are from parts of town you won't see on postcards.

Here's an average Dutch street with an average Dutch bike path. Nice.

When they do construction (and they always do construction here, and it can take years), they set up a "temporary" bike lane. Note that it's still physically separated from car traffic. That's my brother, posing. I have to apologize for his stupid mountain bike. There's nowhere in the world a mountain bike is less appropriate than in the streets of Amsterdam. But it's not his bike. Really. He just wanted to test ride what he thought was a "nice bike." I mocked him.

A typical line of bike racks.
And finally, one of the many pedicabs you see here (or at least in the center). It's not clear if this will become a normal mode of transit for some of just a tourist gimmick. My brother claims they're pricing themselves out of the "normal" market.
They're kind of complicated machines. I haven't figured all the parts out yet.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Amsterdam (1)

I arrived in Amsterdam today. I'm staying on a houseboat where I used to live. Being on the water is good for the soul.

I've been away for more than a year, which is the longest I've ever been away. I was very happy to find my lovely Batavus Barcelona waiting for me. A little dusty, yes. But just a little air in her tires and she was ready to ride. That's always a great feeling.

Yes, it is a beautiful city. Yes, it is in many ways a bikers' paradise. But still, it's amazing how cars (and there aren't that many in the city center) manage to make everything worse.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Biking to Newark?

Does anybody know how to bike from NYC to Newark? I figure taking across a ferry across the Hudson. But can one get from Jersey City area to Newark without going on a freeway?

What's the second choice? Staten Island and up? Or George Washington Bridge and down? I doesn't have to be a pretty ride, besides, I like going through industrial areas.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Brooklyn!

I biked to Cobble Hill the other day. Has it been that long since I’ve been that way? There are minor but significant changes everywhere. New buildings. New pavement. New painted bikes on streets.

Maybe I should leave my borough more.

Coming from Astoria, it seemed like whole new city, and a more bike friendly city at that. But also lots of wasted opportunity. Why don’t all these new painted bike lines actually connect point A to point B?

Why isn’t there a proper way to get back from Flushing Ave. to Kent St. without having to cross the freeway twice or ride on a sidewalk with high curbs?

Why isn’t there a dedicated bike lane on the wide and just redone part of Kent St, where it hits Williamburg St. W., where a lot of people actually bike?

Coming back, on Tillary St—not very bike friendly, but what *is the best way for a bike to cross Flatbush Ave and get to Flushing Ave?—a charming young woman on a charming old bike asked me how to get to Kent St. I told her to follow me through the mess to Park Ave. and then to Flushing Ave.

It was her first day biking on her new (used) bike and her first day biking in New York at all! Almost made me cry little joyish tears of emotion. She was fresh out of San Francisco. I was happy to help.

Sure I felt a little old when she asked me if I was married. Granted, I am married. And maybe I’m not 21 anymore, but am I really too old to just have a girlfriend? No matter, we ended up having a wonderful little talk all the way to Greenpoint, chatting about bikes, and life, and the sights on the way. I love bikes!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Bikes and Books

All right it's not about bikes. But it is about Astoria and books.

I wish I loved Seaburn Books, our neighborhood book store. And I'm not the only one who's got an issue... or two. Here a petition to get them to alphabetize their books. I recommend you sign it.

Astoria Bike strongly advises against reading while your ride ...but it would be really cool if you did.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ring, damnit. Ring!

I’ve been fine tuning my Egyptian spoke bell for a while. The positioning is kind of finicky. It’s got to be just the right distance from the spokes. And the pull’s got to be right so you don’t have don’t worry about doing it wrong. And truth be told, I don’t really need a bell here in Astoria.

But then I biked to Flushing. Coming from a side street to Main St., a sold mass of people, all in my way, all crossing against the light. I had the green. They didn’t. And I knew things weren’t going to get any better if I waiting for the light to change.

And ring I did. I just brinnnnnnnnnnnged and kept going. Not too fast mind you. I don’t actually want to hit anybody or knock over an old person, even if they are in the wrong.

But I don’t mind making you jump out of the way when I have the green: “This is for all those sharp elbows in the Chinatown produce stand!” I didn’t actually say that. I didn’t need to. The crowd parted like the Red Sea. Alas, my wife, behind me, refused to tail me through the crosswalk. So then I had to wait for her for the whole damn light cycle anyway. But it was still a turning point in the glorious history of Sino-Astoria relations.

Yesterday, I had things to carry to I rode this bike into Manhattan. was testing the bell on the bridge, and it didn’t work. When you go to fast... and not that fast, the clapper doesn’t have time to hit the bell before the next spoke pushes it again. So instead of brinnnnnnnng, you get Clickclickclickclickthwackclick. The problem is that the bell is designed for people who bike slowly, with bread on their heads (even though our Egyptian friends on Steinway swear the bell is the bell of the milkman).

I adjusted and readjusted. I thought and thought. I though about moving the bell further out and attaching zip ties to every 4th spoke. I think I have the answer: I decided to drill a new hole and move the bell closer the clapper. We’ll see if it works, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t.

Bendix

My kickass Bendix kickback hub finally arrived today. My God it's heavy. Almost 4 lbs. This was build back when A-myrrh-ica still build steel. It's so heavy, I'm having second thoughts about using it for a bike I want to be fast and nible. But I am going to use it and convert my fixed gear into a 2-speed

I got my (no longer) bianchi back from the bike store. The one with the cracked frame. Now it's got a new (used) steel frame. New headset. New (used) brake levers. New carbon fork. It's not as pretty as my old celeste frame. But it seems to ride just fine. $380 all together. But what can you do? I guess not buy a carbon fork. But I had a carbon fork and I don't want a worse bike. Carbon forks really do turn small bumps into butter.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Boo

The Times reports: congestion pricing is dead.

I hate Sheldon Silver even more than Peter Vallone Jr.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Janette Sadik-Khan is A-OK

The other day I was bitching about biking and NYC and a trusted person said, no, the DOT had gotten much better. Like in the past year. He mentioned Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan as the reason and gave two examples:

1) they're starting the judge traffic flow by people moved rather than cars moved. That seems minor, but it's actually huge since in the past the DOT had the wrong prime directive: how to maximize number of cars moving in the city.

2) they're starting to actually do and improve things and not just holding meetings where cranky people tell them how bad change is.

To wit: Central Park was not reopened to extra traffic between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I didn't know this. I don't use the park much anymore because, well, there's traffic. I mean, there was still traffic in Central Park this year. But this year there weren't more hours for traffic like has been tradition in all years past. This year, there were no meetings. She just did it. And the city survived just fine (better, some might say). That's what's needed! Maybe Central Park really can become car free.

And now here's an interesting piece in the Post. State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is pissed because the city began installing pedestrian islands on his turf and he didn't know about it. Silver, the idiot, wants this stopped. "I would like for someone to explain the need," he said. "I do not understand the need."

"Sadik-Khan said that between 2000 and 2005 there have been 16 serious traffic injuries and four fatalities on the Lower East Side involving seniors."

I understand politics is about turf, but any man who doesn't want a pedestrian island on a street where lots of pedestrians have been killed is a fool. I hope some old lady in his district slaps him silly.

But leaving aside the politics, what I really like is that the DOT just did it. Make things better. Do it. That's what has been lacking. Not the ideas. Not the money. The will! Maybe Sadik-Khan has the will!

"She conceded the community was notified only last week - after the project was already under way." Good weather, she said. Things happened a little faster than planned. Of coooourse... Bravo!

I think I'll write her about fixing bike access for the Queens side of the Queensboro Bridge. And might I recommend more bike lanes in the 22nd District? And don't bother asking the bastard Peter Vallone Jr. Just do it!