Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Get lost?

Don't forget this ditty from the Dec 3, 1926 New York Times:

Verse Affords Means to Get About Queens
E. P. Butler's Rhyming System Guides All Folks When Street Plans Twist 'Em.

I want to get this framed in needlepoint. I don't why; I just do.
In Queens, to find locations best
Avenues, roads and drives run west;
But ways to north or south ’tis plain
Are street or place or even lane.
While even numbers you meet
Upon the west and south of street.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Jersey Farm Stand in Astoria

On that least rural and worst of streets to bike down, there's a Jersey farm stand in Astoria!

He's there Saturday and Monday. It's on 21st Street, west side, between 30th Road and 30th Drive (next block from the post office).

Good stuff. Good produce. Give him business.

Why I should leave the house more

Of all the places for heaven on earth, people rarely think of Queens.

I was just about to get to work when a friend called and said to meet him in the park for a picnic. So off we went to meet him and his son. My friend, a Steinway-Street restaurant owner, is a well traveled man. And his favorite place in the world? Astoria.

"It is heaven," he said. "Where else do you find the whole world in a few blocks? And everybody getting along."

He may have a point.

We got left-wing art:



Right-wing art:


And then in the park, a man approached looking suspiciously like Buzz Lightyear on a bike.

Turns out the man was carrying a plane. A small plane, but one that indeed flies. A model plane? Well, yes, but cooler. FPV-flying, I learned, means first-person-view flying. There's a camera on front and he puts on goggles and flies from the plane's perspective.

There's also a second camera to record. He was trying out a new hi-def camera. Hopefully there will be a video of it soon.


"Like a predator drone?" I asked.

"No," he said, "Because they can fly on their own. Without me, this crashes."

Contact! (For take off, there are no wheels)

I'll be damned if it didn't fly around Roosevelt Island, buzz a tug boat, and make a soft and successful landing (especially when you consider there are no wheels).

Then on the way home we passed a Jersey farm stand on the most un-rural of streets (21st Street) and bought some peaches, corn, and tomatoes. (see next post)

And this was just today. Last week we even our very own alligator on the loose just two short blocks from my home.

I really should leave the house more.

I probably would if it weren't for the loose gators!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stop with the honking

I hate honking cars. Probably more than most people. I mean, have you thrown eggs at honking cars? And that's only after getting pissed off, putting on pants, leaving my house, and talking to the offending driver. And they still honk?! Usually, when the eggs flew, they were honking at the garbage trucks. That's a long time to be honking! (I haven't chucked an egg ever since I moved to a quieter block).

I've thought about solutions: what if you only gave drivers three honks per ride? Or fixed horns so you have to be moving? But all these could endanger safety at some point. And they involve complicated electronic tinkering.

I was just going through a Transportation Alternatives email discussion and came across this brilliant idea (I'd be happy to give credit, but don't want to without permission):
Make car horns punishingly loud inside cars as well as outside. That way people will still use them for safety but not for mere aggression.
Now why didn't I think of that? So simple. So brilliant. And it would be so effective. If you're willing to listen to your own horn, lay on it. In the meantime, stop thinking about only yourself, you selfish self-obsessed driving schmuck! Now how can we make it happen?

Friday, August 20, 2010

The two-speed kickback hub is back!

Indeed, after a 30 to 40-year hiatus, the kickback hub is back! I have an old Bendix 2-speed kickback hub on one of my bikes.

I love it. It's really the perfect hub for a simple tooling-around-the-city bike. The only problem with mine is that it is four pounds. I assume the new version is much lighter.

The way it works is that every time you back-peddle it switches between low and high. And it has a coaster brake. You can switch gears without braking but you cannot brake without shifting. It kind of sounds like a pain in the ass, but it's not.

Why is this this good? First of all because two-speeds is perfect for 80 percent of your biking needs. Second, basically I use the low gear for starting (sometimes) and for going uphill. I use the higher gear for everything else. And how many other two speed bikes do you know? This gear has no cables, no handles, no derailleur, nothing external, no nothing that needs maintenance or can break. It's the perfect city hub.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bikes don't hurt people. Cars Do.

Ben Fried over at Streetsblog has the data.

In New York, about 10,000 pedestrians are injured in motor vehicle crashes per year. About 50 in bike collisions.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Biking Google Maps

A story by Lionel Beehner in the Times.

I still say Ride the City is much better. But I assume Google maps in catching up every day.

Monday, August 09, 2010

HOT Pepper

The generally unremarkable Indian (or Bangladeshi or Pakistani) Bodega on 31st Street just north of the 30 Ave Subway Stop (east side of street) -- which does, finally sell beer -- has some of the ab-so-lute-ly most fucking hot peppers in the world on sale. They're laid out on a Hindi newspaper by the register. Two for a dollar. "They better be hot," said, I, with attitude. My fucking God! I can eat the hottest hot pepper (please don't doubt me on that). And I bit the teeniest little tip of one of these. They are fucking HOT!

Buy them while you can.

[Update: The crack research staff here at Astoria Bike has identified this pepper as a Bhut Jolokia.]

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Bike Lanes Update

The DOT has confirmed that there will be no bike lanes above 29th
Street on Hoyt/Astoria Blvd. The proposed bike lanes in the Astoria
Triangle Redesign were eliminated due to CB1 opposition.

However, given this change, the DOT has decided to widen the parking lanes
where the bike lanes were supposed to be, so as to give cyclists more room
on the shoulder between parked cars and moving vehicles.

The bike lanes from 29th street to Shore Blvd on Hoyt South, and from 29th
Street to Astoria Park, and from Hoyt to 20th Ave along 21st street have all
been kept and will be painted this summer. I believe some portions have
already been painted.