Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bike Share?

Is this the future? I hope so. But I'm no longer holding my breath.

From the Brooklyn Navy Yard:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Astoria Bookshop! Woo Hoo!

Coming soon... an honest to God real bookstore in Astoria. Shocking, I know. But true!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Change to Broadway (Manhattan) Bike Lane

Seems like a good idea, at least on this stretch of road. Even though there's nothing like a separated bike lane, what good is it if you can't use it? Though seems like a two-way bike path might do a better job of keeping pedestrians off.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

MTA Recovery Map

And here's the MTA map as of Nov 1. Brooklyn and Queens and Northern Manhattan are now connected again via Jamaica/Sutphin Blvd!

Biking in the City

There's a good suggestion I heard to bike of the Triboro Bridge into Manhattan. It's little used by pedestrians.

What I don't get is how come when the bridge turns into a parking lot for cars, all the moving traffic (bike and peds) get's crammed into one lane and the most efficient way of moving (bike) has to walk?

Give more of the "traffic" lanes over to traffic that actually moves! It's more efficient. Using a bridge as a parking lot doesn't help anybody get into the City.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Support Bike Parking at Queens Kickshaw

Our fucking local community board (#1) sucks ass.

The latest stupidity (just the latest) is denying a request from Queens Kickshaw (40-17 Broadway) to provide bike parking in front of their store. Bike parking is more parking. Since our community board cares more about parking than the community (see the massive failure to vote for Newtown Ave Pedestrian Plaza), you'd think they would support more parking in front of a business. But no. Evidently they hate people without cars more than they love parking. That's to say: a lot!

Anyway, the least we can do is sign an on-line petition is support of Queens Kickshaw's request to create a bike parking space in front of their store.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How to ship a bike for (relatively) cheap

Not that you asked, but still might be useful to some. $100. I've never tried them. Here's a useful summary.

No Plaza

In a sham of a meeting -- where the speaker somehow ignored the fact the 3/4 of the people present supported the plaza -- the community board voted 25-7 against the plaza. The business owners of 30th Ave have spoken. Now I'm just waiting to see am ambulance go down Newtown Ave... it's never happened before.

But the part that really upsets me is that people on the board somehow decided that only those who live in 11102 get a voice... when HALF THE COMMUNITY BOARD DOESN'T FRIGGIN' LIVE IN ASTORIA! You'd think there might be some kind of residence requirement to sit on a local community board... or least a residency requirement to attack those who don't. But no.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Support the Newtown Ave Pedestria Plaza!

First sign this petition. That was easy. But even more important, go to the community board meeting/vote tomorrow, September 11, 2012, at Astoria Manor. 7pm. 25-22 Astoria Blvd.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Cycling in the Netherlands, 1950s

Not much of a plot, but a lot of nice shot great bikes (eg: the petrol man at 2:44) and people enjoying them.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Saturday, Aug 25: Newtown Ave Pop-up Plaza

Come and hang out tomorrow, Saturday, August 25, at Newtown Ave and 33rd St! Not only will it be great, but we can prove wrong the fools (primarily the lacking-in-manners people who own Alma Bank, Key Food, and United Bros) who think this will lead to Armageddon.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

"More space for people"

I was at the meeting about the proposed Newtown Avenue plaza. Not many of you were, I couldn't help but notice. Anywhere, there were about 80 people there. And I would say a slight majority was against.

The anti-change group were a rabble of loutish rude rich Greeks representing United Brothers, Key Foods, and the residential building next door, which I hear is owned by the richest man in Astoria (who knew?). The United Brothers folk also own the Bargain Stop building (who knew?). 

They shouted at and interrupted those who supported the plan (who were not as well organized). It was like the Greek mafia in action. I like that Astoria is like a Greek village, but I've always been treated well in Greek villages. These villagers need to learn some urban manners!

But here's where the cognitive dissonance kicks in. The Pistillis (2nd richest Astorians) support the project.
They were not at the meeting. They may be slum lords and have a horrible taste is architecture, but they're not fools! They want to open a restaurant in their ugly new building on Newtown Avenue and want a better avenue. But I don't like the Pistillis. Being on their side makes my head hurt. 

Amazingly, I heard the guy who runs the take-out coffee-to-go on 32nd Street is against the plaza? How can a guy who only sells coffee to go be against a place for people to sit and drink his friggin' coffee?! You think his arm isn't being twisted by the Greeks? 

Anyway, those against change are afraid of losing seven parking spaces and having the potential for riff-raff to congregate. The fact that this could actually make the neighborhood nicer? Doesn't seem to cross their mind. Now I'm going to keep supporting all the rude store owners because I like their stores, but maybe I'll give an little extra business to Mohammed Yafai, manager of Blue Moon convenience store on 30th Avenue. He said, courtesy of DNAinfo: "We don't need more parking spaces," he said. "We need more space for people."

Hear, hear!

Monday, June 04, 2012

Newtown Ave Meeting: Tomorrow

Let's put a pedestrian plaza in Newtown Ave between Key Food and Athens Cafe!

Not as crazy as it sounds. There's an NYCDOT and Community Board meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, June 5, from 6:30 to 8pm at Astoria World Manor, 25-22 Astoria Blvd.

No doubt Key Food will be fighting hard to save their five parking spaces. And I've got nothing against Key Food (and I do love their house DJ... their toons are always so much better than what I hear at Trade Fair), but it would be great to reclaim a underused public space for the public!

Besides, haven't you always wanted to see the inside of Astoria World Manor? I have.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Where you at?

Where you at?
I'm at that bike rack.
Where you at?
I'm at that bike pump.
Where you at?
I'm at the bike rack.
Where you at?
I'm at the combination bicycle rack bike pump!

In Amsterdam. 

Too bad it didn't work.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

No thanks

Is this real or an onion parody?

The strange thing is I think it's real.

[thanks to J.B.]

The Little Things in Life

I was heading to Long Island City and was grumbling in anticipation about the very brief wrong way under the bridge to get under the 7 tracks on 23rd Street. That short block was two-way till about a year or so ago.

Well I'll be damned if they haven't put in a little painted bike line going the other direction. It may small, but it's the thought that counts. And it actually does makes all the difference to make biking just a little more pleasant!

 Here's a picture not from the OK old days or the good new days, but the more recent, bad days:

Now there's a bike lane on the right, where the cars were. Talk about win-win!

Also, David Byrne has a nice pro-bike piece in the Times today. I'm always surprised that his writing isn't better than it is, but he's still good for the cause.

Friday, May 11, 2012

I want to share, too!

The bike-share locations are out! And Astoria gets exactly... zero. The closest is at the base of the Queensburo Bridge. And the related story in the Times.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Stupid Headline of the Day

From Gothamist: "CitiBike, NYC's Bike Share, Will Cost $77 For A Four-Hour Ride." Oh my gosh!!! Who has $77 for a 4-hour ride? They're not free! Except they kind of are... if you're willing to by a year membership for $95. The idea is you don't take one of these for a four-hour ride. The purpose is to get from point A to point B. And almost all Point A's and Point B's are less than 45 minutes from each other, by bike. And for less than 45 minutes, the bike is free (that said, 60 minutes might have been better). But if your commute is more than 45 minutes one way, maybe you should have your own bike. Here's the idea. You're not supposed to lock the bike and see a movie. You're not supposed to keep the bike with you as you make out with your loved one on the water front. You're supposed to get a bike, ride the bike to another bike station, and leave it there. That is how it works. And it seems to work well in other cities. Let's hope it works well here. Here's the actual pricing scheme.

Monday, May 07, 2012

The Bike Sharing!

This is very good, right? I'm not certain why I'm not more excited. Maybe it's because I already have a bike. Still, it looks way cool in other cities, where I've seen it.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Thank you for not stealing my bike

I've always suspected that a good chuck of stolen bikes aren't locked. Why? Because we all forget to lock our bike every now and then. Two days ago I pulled up to my house, put my bike in it's "parking place" outside, and started chatting with my neighbor and petting his dogs. Then I brought in my groceries and beer and that was that. About 30 hours later I leave the house and go to hop on my bike. I notice, quite obviously, that the U-lock is hanging from the handlebars. Not only is the bike not locked but even the casual passer-by would see so. Luckily, my bike was still there. So thank you, Astoria, for not stealing my bike. I promise to try and not let this happen again.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bike and Beer

I like this concept: "Red Lantern Bicycles, in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, is the only cycling shop in the state with a liquor license." 

Of course Andres over at Bicycle Repairman Corp has never objected when I bring my own. Though I do like to share.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Don't get smug...

...But it turns out biking actually is good for society. It's official now, because it's quantified. One mile on a bike is a 42¢ economic gain to society, one mile driving is a 20¢ loss. Don't let it go to your head... or expect a payout.

[thanks to J.B.]

Saturday, March 24, 2012


What's your favorite local theater in Astoria? Like a real theater. With seats and lights and sound and real live actors...

Ahhh, but there is one: The Greek Cultural Center. It's on 30th Street just north of 30th Ave, in the basement of one of those big apartment buildings. When else will you be able to see a Greek play? In Greek? Much less understand it? That's what I thought.

There are English super-titles.

Take about cultured!

You know, from what I hear, the Greeks invented theater. And Democracy. And maybe also maybe demagoguery and cacophony and bankruptcrasia. But I'll have to look up last few.

Last night I saw "In Laws from Tirana," that hit play from Greece.

The play was very good. It was funny. I liked it. I laughed. I cried. I give it two thumbs up. It's about a daughter bringing home a boyfriend. And he's Albanian (it's not a spoiler if it's in the play's title). Hilarius antics ensue. But seriously, it's a good play. It's a comedy but deals with some serious issues. And it's cool to see a hit play from Greece, translated, right here in Astoria.

And it's in a small cozy theater I'd never been to before. And it's all it took me all of four minutes to walk from my door to my seat (is that what living in Brooklyn is like?). Who could ask for more?

The cast of nine was even outnumbered by audience members. But not by much. The theater holds about 60 and was half empty (or half full?). Everybody was dressed very nicely and many people spoke exotic languages like, well, Greek mostly. But also Albania. And perhaps some in the audience could have been a little quieter, but have a heart. I mean, how upset can one get when an elderly Albania lady, hair nicely done, is so overcome at some of the play's better lines that she feels compelled to repeat a few words?

Info on the play can be found here.

The Greek Cultural Center's website is here. It's not fancy. But you can email or call to make reservations. The play is generally on Friday to Sunday till May 6th. It costs $20. There are snacks of donuts and cookies during intermission. You can be sporting and leave a donation.

It sort of bothers me there's a good play in a small theater right here in Astoria and nobody knows about it. So go support your local theater. The one you didn't know about. And then feel smug about your cultured Astoria life.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Welcome to Queens

Welcome to peace.
A rather pleasant piece of graffiti.

Friday, March 16, 2012

While I was out...

Somehow without my knowledge a separated bike lane magically appeared on 1st Ave. How is that for fabulous? Two nights ago, I biked in peace all the way from Chinatown to 56th Street. The 2nd Ave bike lane goes all the way up to 49th St. And even is far North as 56 St is OK. Yeah, the last few blocks to the bridge are still old-school mess. But sometimes it's nice to be reminded about how far we've come!

And it's such a joy to bike through Queensplaza now.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Happy Pulaski Day!

Yes, it's Casimir Pulaski Day! Think of Pulaski when you're biking to Greenpoint. And think, too, why the bridge named in his honor, on a four-lane road, has six lanes for car traffic (more than 70 feet) while it squeezes bikes and pedestrians into less than one lane (seven feet).

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bikes more a threat than trucks, it turns out.

At least that's what you would gather from the NYPD:
The NYPD issued more summonses to cyclists than truck drivers last year: truckers got 14,962 moving violation summonses and 10,415 Criminal Court summonses, while cyclists got 13,743 moving violation summonses and a whopping 34,813 Criminal Court summonses. Priorities!
Here's the whole story in Gothamist, covering a city council meeting where the NYPD was held to account for this absurdity.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Back in the Land of Milk and Honey!

After too many months away. I'm back in Astoria. Honestly, I haven't biked much. But I'm pleased to see Astoria looks better than ever.

On the upside:

Butcher Bar on 37-08 30th Ave sells good meat (I still haven't tried they BBQ, but I can vouch for their sauce, which is good). I don't want to be like Brooklyn, but I do want nice local places. This is one of those. Of course the meat costs more. But it's worth it. Trust me. I won't try and convince you; this is bike blog. But go there. Or Astoria Live Poultry (and meat) on 20th Ave. Or at least your local butcher. If you live in Astoria and buy Purdue chicken from the grocery store, you're an industrial-Deleware-chicken-farm-loving-Chesapeake-Bay-killing loser. Seriously, take advantage of what we have, the rest of the city is jealous!

Queens Kickshaw (40-17 B'way) was fucking packed. Good on 'em! I think their drip coffee is too roasted. But what the fuck do I know about coffee? I think Dunkin' Donuts is pretty good in the coffee department. Best coffee shop by far. Too bad it's too far for me to go to every day.

I'll be damned if Homemade Falafel (3618 Broadway) doesn't have kick-ass falafel. It's really good, at least the sandwich I had. So where the dolmas. I don't know why I think they won't make it. Too foreign? Not romantic? Maybe they do great take out and delivery. I wish them the best.

Harissa Cafe (34-05 30th Ave) still makes nice food and sells the best goddamn bread and croissants in Astoria. DID YOU HEAR ME?! Mind you, sometimes they don't want to sell the bread (cause they need it for sandwiches. But ask nice and if they have enough you'll get, THE BEST BAGUETTE IN NEW YORK CITY!!! DO YOU HEAR ME? Better yet, have a not-so expensive meal (which will be very good) and keep them in business so I can buy THE BEST BREAD IN ASTORIA! I'm done shouting now. But if Harissa closes, I will be very upset at all of you. And get your watch fixed next door.

Sugarfreak (40-09 30th Ave) finally opened. It took so long I thought they'd never make it. I had brunch there. Honestly, I wasn't so impressed by brunch. But I refuse to judge a place on brunch. Hell, I'm rarely awake for brunch. And honestly, I've had enough of Southern Comfort food since the wonderful Queens Hideaway (in Brooklyn) closed. But I wish Sugarfreak well. The decor is fab and they mean well. That counts for something. And besides, I don't have to like it. I'm just me. They don't need my business. The need yours.

I really want these places, and one's I haven't mentioned--Sparrow, Sweet Afton, Queens Comfort, Astor Bake Shop, Pachanga Patterson, that cafe-bar on Ditmars (whose name I can't this moment think of, and bar across the street, likewise)--to make it. Because these are local people bringing a good locally rooted aesthetic to Astoria.

We don't need another Euro-Cafe on 30th Ave (2 or 3 are fine). The burger bars need to settle down (may the best 3 win). And I don't want chain stores.

I mean, I imagine all these Greeks with shitty cafe's on 30th Ave thinking the secret to success is putting in a big TV and hiring the hottest skinny Slavic woman you can find (and let me tell you, I have nothing against hot skinny Slavic women). They ignored Sparrow, even though it's the best bar in Astoria, as being just about crazy hippies/liberals/hipsters. (I mean Evan, the owner--a very nice guy--looks like Jesus. Oh, my!) But then Sweet Afton opened. And it's doing very well (I think). The bartenders at Sweet Afton (generally) don't have boobs. How could it succeed? What's the secret?! Here it is: good food, good drinks, good lighting, and no TV. Craaaazy. It really can be that simple.

On the downside:

Latos Latos & DiPippo is now Latos Latos & Associates.

What happened to DiPipo?! I hope he's OK. The sign is certain much worse without his name.

I'm sad to see Walt's Hardware on Broadway closed. At least I hope the sign stays. But it won't. Not unless a hipster turns it into a bar called Walt's Hardware. (Please, rich hipster: do!) But though I loved the place when Bob Shapiro ran it, Bob sold it to some Koreans who didn't know shit about hardware. So I guess it deserved to close. I stopped going there.

So now, like everyone else, I go to the jovial bastards at R&R Supply on Astoria Blvd (1807 Astoria Blvd). If they talk like that about others in front of me, what do they say about me in front of others? Guys, you got a good store, now calm down, and stop treating your customers like ignoramuses (except the paint guy... you're pretty good with the paint). I mean I went in there to buy a large wrench and the guy laughed and said, "so you collect tools." I don't know... I just need a large fucking wrench. And one use will save me the cost of hiring somebody who has a large wrench. You sell wrenches. Why are you giving me a hard time for buying one? Grrrrrrr. Anyway, boys, see you soon. But try acting like men.

It's also sad to see what used to be Top Tomato on Ditmars closed. Where do you folks buy your produce? I'd swap you one produce stand for, I don't know, Rosarios?

And near me, Boston Pizza opened a place on the corner of 31st Street and Newtown, where Pasha used to be. Pasha was great when they were small. And then they left nothing but destruction in their wake. A bodega closed before they moved in. And then the took over the corner (the bodega is still empty, for all practical purposes), and then they got worse and couldn't make it. Folks... listen to me: gas fired grilled meats aren't good enough. You need to grill over charcoal or actually creat tasty shit. Again, it really is that simple.

Anyway, Boston Pizza has always had, in my humble opinion, the worst pizza in Astoria (Boston itself ain't exactly a pizza Mecca). I rarely wish ill will, but please close. Nobody wants fluffy flavorless crust and bad cheese.

All this in less than half a year. Settle down, now! But looking good.

What else has changed in Astoria recently?

Stay warm for the rest of the winter. Perhaps wrap yourself in plastic like these creatures on Ditmars:
It's good to be home!

Meanwhile I gotta say "hi" to my buddies at Bicycle Repairman Corp., the best bike store in Astoria (and maybe New York City). I hope (and assume) they're doing well.

Driver jailed for using a bus as a weapon

Mind you, this was in England. But still, impressive that trying to murder a bicyclist with a large weapon is actually a crime.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Paris bikes can go right on red

Common sense. But what they really need to do is allow bikes to go straight on red (after yielding). Stopping at red lights is for cars. Cars are the reason we have red lights. Because cars kill people. Red lights are not there to prove our obedience to a light that represents the authority of the state.