Sunday Reading

photo from the awesome Copenhagen Cycle Chic

Yeah, it's been awhile. I'm not going to explain why. I'm just going to try to make up for it with a long commentary on the peddle driven, human powered machine known as the bicycle.

photo from fixedgear

I love bikes. They're romantic and sexy and simple and good for people and good for the earth.

I don't ride. When I lived in San Diego I did. All the time, and I loved it. If I lived in a city that had dedicated bike lanes everywhere and beautiful weather, I'd like to think I'd do so again.

But in Austin, where during the summer months, triple digit temperatures are the norm, hopping on a bike isn't at all appealing. Plus I don't trust the road conditions or drivers. My roommate is currently bedridden after falling off her bike and breaking her ankle. She went in for surgery last week, and will be out of work for 3 weeks.

This morning's disturbing NYT article about anticyclist hostility didn't exactly sell it for me either.

Moving Targets

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Save gas money, be environmentally correct, lose weight — just by biking to work. And so after two decades, Dan Cooley, 41, saddled up a silver 21-speed Raleigh in April to make the daily two-mile commute to his nursing job at a senior citizen center in Louisville, Ky. In four months, he lost 15 pounds. Way to go, Dan!

Friday morning, July 25, around 6:50 a.m., he was pedaling on a residential street, wearing his green hospital scrubs, when a Volkswagen roared out of a driveway in front of him. Swerving to avoid the car, Mr. Cooley cursed loudly and rode on.

The driver and his passenger cursed back. As Mr. Cooley pulled over to the sidewalk, the car turned onto a driveway, knocking him off his bike. In Mr. Cooley’s narrative, the passenger, swearing, jumped out and pummeled him. Then he got back into the car, which zoomed away. Mr. Cooley lay prostrate on the sidewalk, bloodied, with a concussion and a torn ligament.

“We’ve had a car culture for so long and suddenly the roads become saturated with bicyclists trying to save gas,” Mr. Cooley said 10 days after the attack, still feeling scrambled, in pain and traumatized. “No one knows how to share the road.” He doesn’t plan to bike to work again this season. (Link to rest of article here.)

But on a lighter note... other interesting bike stuff from around the world:

David Byrne designs bike racks for NYC:
From the NYT:

"In recent years his interest in bicycles has expanded from riding them to thinking seriously about the role they play in urban life, as he has started making connections with politicians and international design consultants keen to keep cars from taking over the city. So when the Department of Transportation asked him to help judge a design competition for the city’s new bike racks, he eagerly agreed — so eagerly, in fact, that he sent in his own designs as well."

from Copenhagenize:

"The local trains in Copenhagen are called the S-trains. Like the red one below. They serve Copenhagen and connect the city with the distant suburbs."

and from another great opinion piece in the NYT yesterday:

Unlike America, Denmark, which was so badly hammered by the 1973 Arab oil embargo that it banned all Sunday driving for a while, responded to that crisis in such a sustained, focused and systematic way that today it is energy independent. (And it didn’t happen by Danish politicians making their people stupid by telling them the solution was simply more offshore drilling.)

“I have observed that in all other countries, including in America, people are complaining about how prices of [gasoline] are going up,” Denmark’s prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, told me. “The cure is not to reduce the price, but, on the contrary, to raise it even higher to break our addiction to oil. We are going to introduce a new tax reform in the direction of even higher taxation on energy and the revenue generated on that will be used to cut taxes on personal income — so we will improve incentives to work and improve incentives to save energy and develop renewable energy.”

(approximately half of Copenhagen commutes to work on bike).

from Amsterdam Bicycles:

" many Amsterdam Bicycle Trends in one picture. First of all, the lady is wearing a nice dress. Second, there are two people riding on this bicycle. Next, she is talking on a cell phone while swerving and navigating through this busy intersection and it doesn't bother her at all. Next, she is sporting a generator bicycle headlight . There is an enormous "work basket" configured on the FRONT of the bicycle, and she has one of the circular rear wheel slide security locks for when the bicycle is parked. Spectacular! If she had a dog along it would be a perfect clean sweep of Amsterdam Bicycle Trends. "

From the NYT:

"A year after the introduction of the sturdy gray bicycles known as Vélib’s, they are being used all over Paris. The bikes are cheap to rent because they are subsidized by advertising.

About 20,600 Vélib’ bicycles are in service here, with more than 1,450 self-service rental stations. The stations are only some 300 yards apart, and there are four times as many as there are subway stations, even in a city so well served by its metro system.

In the first year, the city says, there have been 27.5 million trips in this city of roughly 2.1 million people, many of them for daily commutes. On average, there are 120,000 trips a day."

Washington D.C.
From the NYT:

Clear Channel Bikes

SmartBike DC will make 120 bicycles available at 10 spots in central locations in the city. The automated program, which district officials say is the first of its kind in the nation, will operate in a similar fashion to car-sharing programs like Zipcar.

Cities realize “they literally have to spend no money on designing, marketing or maintaining” a bike-sharing program, said Martina Schmidt of Clear Channel Outdoor. Washington will keep the revenue generated by the program.

Bike-sharing has become a “public service subsidized by advertising,” said Bernard Parisot, the president and co-chief executive officer of JCDecaux North America, an outdoor advertiser that made a proposal to bring bike-sharing to Chicago.

From YouTube:

From Austin's Yellow Bike Project


  1. thank you for this post!

    as a cyclist, i love reading about fashion & biking!

  2. What a great post. I don't have much to add except:
    1-My parents just got back from Denmark. They did a lot of biking.
    2-If you moved back to NYC you could ride your bike at Prospect Park every day.

  3. great post!

    we just got back from scandinavia where basically all we did was ride bikes. copenhagen definitely has the most bikes (as noted in your post) but of 3 captials biking there was also the biggest pain and they also seemed to have the most cars and general traffic. stockholm gets my vote for striking the right balance. there were ample, safe, segregated bike lanes, and not so much car traffic. also, as a non-local, attaining a bike was much easier in stockholm and oslo than in copenhagen where we had to resort to paying hefty fees to our hotel for daily rentals since no city bikes were EVER available and the one "bike rental" place anyone knew of (which was less expensive than our hotel) was always fully booked by early morning.

    returning to brooklyn and then last night riding bikes into the city made nyc seem like a sketchy shithole. dangerous as fuck, and even more polluted. they're adding "bike lanes" here willy nilly these days, which are totally welcome (if not altogether adequate, as they are just painted lines commingled with traffic), they added one outside our apartment just before we left town even. but even with these additions, riding last night still felt like we were gambling with our lives after what we'd become accustom to in scandinavia. we got pretty spoiled, and fast, it seems.

    thanks again for the great post, as everyone else has said. and i'm happy you're back at it again. it's a nice welcome home to have your interesting and insightful posts to read each day!