An Amusement & Diversion for The Genteel Cyclist. Daily.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Seventh Seal: The wicked shall tamper with ghost bikes

Here's another sign of the End Times: The thieving of ghost bikes. In  Albuquerque, New Mexico, cyclists are scratching their heads at the theft of a ghost bike marking the intersection where Matt Trujillo was killed in 2011.

This ghost bike commemorating cyclist Matt Trujillo was stolen from Indian School and Washington NE, where Trujillo was hit by a car and killed four years ago. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)Here's the silver lining of the story, though. Ghost bikes in many other parts of the country are routinely removed by city workers or police for various reasons -- often because they become another distraction in what are often dangerous intersections to begin with (duh! chicken, meet egg!) and at other times simply because they can be an ever-expanding eyesore.

But the encouraging thing about the ABQ story is that it's a reminder to all New Mexicans that it's actually illegal to tamper with or move a ghost bike in their state. They fall under the category of descansos (ad hoc memorials similar to, say, a shrine by the side of the road marking the place of a violent death) and are protected. We'd like to see similar laws passed in other parts of the country.

Finally, as more than one person has pointed out, ghost bikes are rarely rideable -- at least by the living. So pinching a ghost bike seems like an especially mean-spirited thing to do, along the lines of desecrating a grave, which is sorta lowest of the low IMHO.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Glock 9MM = Fuji Feather? Miami's Guns For Bikes trade-in program

Guns and bikes: Why must they be mutually exclusive?

Down in Miami, one bike shop owner has partnered with police to launch a Guns for Bikes program, wherein -- you guessed it -- guns can be traded in for bikes. It's not clear how many South Beach thugs are carrying heat because they lack adequate transportation or exercise, but whatevs.  If fixed gear bikes have risen to that level of cool, then so be it.

If you will indulge us for a moment, though, we would like to point out that "More Bikes, Less Guns" is just as gramatically incorrect as "More Beers, Less Gears."  (Hint: It's the same reason why  the "Less than 10 items" express check-out at your local grocer is an abomination.)

With that anal grammarian moment behind us, I'd like to aver that for a small but vocal contingent of cyclists, guns and bikes are not in any way incompatible.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd: Europe loves bikes!

This is an Amsterdam bike parking zone.
Apparently with room for 1 million more!
Bike sales in Europe are exploding, according to sources all over the Olde World. Italy is the Eurozone's biggest bike producer and exporter, but per capita, the Netherlands seems to be consuming the most new bikes. In 2014, the Dutch bought more than 1 million new two-wheelers -- even though the total population of the country is just 16 million.

That points to an especially interesting fact: This growth in bike use in an already bike-crazy culture is not due to population growth.  Most Northern European countries, the Netherlands included, are desperately close to zero population growth, which is a real problem longterm because these highly socialized and progressive countries rely on new taxpayers to help pay for their famous social safety nets -- like paid maternity leave, and liveable pensions.  
Anyone who has ever been to Amsterdam will wonder out loud: How can they even find room for another 1 million bikes per year?!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Please, no politics in the peloton: Wisconsin bike tax could be a shot at the grupetto

Wisconsin civil war now extends
to bike culture?
Fresh back from a lovely trip to Wisconsin's magical Driftless country, we were demoralized today to read that Gov. Scott Walker is floating the idea of a bike tax, to the tune of $25 attached to every new bicycle sold in the Dairyland.

Mainly, two responses:  Every regular bike commuter has heard this ridiculous rant from an angry car driver who didn't want to share the road: "Get on the bike path, I paid for this road and you didn't!" Simply not true. Aside from the fact that just about every cyclist I know also owns and happily drives an automobile (thus using gasoline, thus paying transporation related taxes), it's not like we don't pay every other tax under the sun, and mosts states have complex tax structures that are never so quid-pro-quo.

Second, there is no way this is not political and personal, considering that one of Walker's main opponents and critics has been  former Trek executive Mary Burke. Converse theory: Now that Burke has been downsized by her former employer, conservative brass there are OK with a new bike tax. Wait, did I just say that? Conservatives are OK with a new bike tax? Has the world gone insane?

True, some are floating the idea that Republicans often stereotype Democrats as tree-hugging bike nuts. But that just shows how out of touch the politicians actually are. Every successful (fun! sustainable!) cycling group with which I've ever biked has been unofficially  "social, not political," in recognition of the fact that a long group ride turns into a  miserable marathon when politics are in the peloton.