Tag Archive for it ain’t satire if it’s not funny

Metro motion rethinks bikeshare system, Flax says sharrows are bullshit, and McSweeney’s says fuck you, I’m a cyclist

Metro is rethinking their bikeshare program.

Which could be a good thing.

A board motion submitted LA Councilmember Paul Krekorian, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, County Supervisor Shiela Kuehl and Pomona Mayor Tim Sandoval proposes a number of changes to the Metro Bike system, in part to address theft of the bikes.

Currently, Metro only has 38% of the total original fleet remaining in operation. Metro Bikes have been targets of theft, and rates of fleet loss ebb and flow as new methods of theft are discovered and addressed. The Metro Bike Share team has increased efforts to recover lost and stolen bicycles but this is not sustaining the fleet and the program does not have an established fleet replenishment strategy. As a result, fewer Metro Bikes are available for use, which degrades the quality of service available to the public.

Although I’d think having nearly 40 percent of the original bikes still in operation after five years is pretty damn good.

Regardless, the five are requesting that the Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins report back in 90 days on a number of proposed changes, most of which have nothing to do with addressing bike theft.

A. An action plan to stabilize the current fleet size including actions for how to identify, prioritize, and address new mechanisms of theft as they arise.

B. An action plan to address equitable access in the current program and in any future form of the program. This plan shall include recommendations on issues such as serving people who may be unbanked, addressing the digital divide, and keeping fare cost low.

C. A plan to provide uninterrupted service as the next iteration of the program is determined and executed.

D. A plan to convene an industry forum (as was performed for Metro Micro) to bring together academics, cities with existing bike share programs, community stakeholders, and industry experts to provide recommendations on advancing Metro Bike Share beyond the current contract in one of several forms including but not limited to

  • Continuing Metro Bike Share as a contracted service,
  • Operating the program In-house with Metro employees,
  • A private-sector model with financial subsidy provided by Metro.

E. Performing a market survey to identify best practices and business models among existing bike-share systems in the US, and comparable global systems (e.g., Paris, London, Barcelona, Madrid, and Mexico City), and to develop comparative data on subsidy cost per ride, total ridership, size of fleet, vehicle technology, theft and damage loss and prevention, and alternative financing sources like sponsorship and advertising.

F. Recommendations for continuing and evolving the Metro Bike Share program to meet the goals of the agency, with countywide stakeholder engagement and consideration of cost-sharing, with the goal of expanding service area and local participation to all subregions in the County. These recommendations should include eligible local, state, and federal funding sources for capital and operations budgets, as well as legislative opportunities to expand such funding eligibility.

All of these should be positives, if they’re carried out with a clear intention to maintain the bikeshare system and improve service.

Especially finding better ways to equitably serve low income communities.

As it stands right now, there doesn’t appear to be reason for concern. The question will be what form the response takes when Wiggins reports back in February.

That’s when we’ll want to give her recommendations a close look. And make sure the program is moving forward, not back.

Thanks to an anonymous source for the heads-up. 

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Somehow I missed this one from our friend Peter Flax, who politely proclaims that sharrows are bullshit.

But we haven’t even gotten to the suckiest part yet. These days sharrows are deployed as a bad-faith alternative to actually making roads safer for bike riders. In recent years, sharrows have become increasingly popular as cities try to balance calls from safety advocates to install quality bike lanes — you know, so folks feel more encouraged to ride and get killed a little less often — and grumpy motorists who don’t want to relinquish driving lanes or parking spaces for bike infrastructure. To the politicians and engineers stuck in the middle, sharrows seem like a devilishly perfect compromise — a way to placate the pro-car populists while still being able to claim you did something.

In short, they are perfect for city officials who care enough about safety to do the very least. There’s only one problem: Sharrows are make believe safety infrastructure.

By now, you probably already know my take.

That sharrows are nothing more than an attempt by transportation agencies to thin the herd, with little arrows painted on the pavement to help drivers improve their aim.

The best you can say is they offer a placemaking guide for people on bicycles, while showing riders where they should position themselves to control the lane.

If they’re placed correctly, that is.

And if riders feel comfortable in the middle of the lane in front of too often impatient and angry drivers.

Instead, you usually see people riding next to them on the right, increasing the risk of unsafe passes. If you see them at all, since many riders seem to prefer other routes that place them in less risk of getting run over.

Which is probably smart. Because as Flax notes, a 2018 study found that sharrows are actually worse than nothing when it comes to safety.

It’s worth taking a few minutes to read the whole thing.

Because he’s right.

Sharrows really are bullshit.

Thanks to Keith Johnson for the tip

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Then there’s this bizarre, incomprehensible, and supposedly tongue-in-cheek screed from McSweeney’s.

It gets worse.

That was followed by this tweet from McSweeney himself, justifying the piece.

It’s a sure sign you missed the mark when you have to tell people something is funny.

Or when you have to say, no, really, we ride bikes, too.

Because it ain’t satire if it’s not funny.

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When is a protected bike lane not a bike lane?

When it’s a parking lot for government cops.

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Recently retired pro Tejay van Garderen had his own bikes stolen recently while moving to Denver.

So if you’re in the Denver area, keep an eye out for them. And it wouldn’t hurt to watch out wherever you are, because high-end bikes like these could turn up anywhere.

According to Jonathan Vaughters, that second bike is the one that put van Garderen in the white jersey signifying the best young rider in the 2012 Tour de France.

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Love this photo that’s the very definition of fin de siècle style and cool.

Here’s what the tweet says, for those of us who are Español challenged.

Bicycles have remained remarkably the same for over 100 years, elegant in their efficiency and simplicity; the look of the cyclists has not changed much either.

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Another reminder of the exceptional efficiency of bike lanes.

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Tonight would be great for a not-so-moonlit ride, with the eclipse starting around 9 pm on the West Coast, and reaching it’s peak around 1 am, if you can get away from the coastal fog and clouds.

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Sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly. 

Singapore police are looking for a hit-and-run bicyclist who fled the scene after crashing head-on into woman on a bicycle.

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Local

Long Beach’s multi-modal, bike-commuting captain of the annual floating Christmas tree display is retiring after 39 years on the job, without a single day driving to or from work.

 

State

A 75-year old man was seriously injured when he was run down from behind by a driver while riding his bike on Cushing Road near San Diego’s Liberty Station; fortunately, his injuries aren’t expected to be life threatening.

 

National

Talk about a misguided take. A writer for the New York Times calls out “obscure” “fringe, niche” measures and “special interest breaks” included in the Build Back Better bill currently under consideration in the US House — like the not-so-obscure $900 tax rebate program for ebike purchasers, which has been openly discussed and debated.

The hometown paper in Grand Junction, Colorado, when my former Iditarod-mushing brother lives and rides these days, says there’s plenty more the city could do to make riding a bike a safer and more enjoyable experience. Pretty much like everywhere else.

Colorado police have busted an eight man bike theft ring responsible for $1.5 million worth of stolen bicycles; they face a combination of more than 200 charges.

Chicago Streetsblog calls out a Chicago-style hot dog stand for banning bikes from its drive-through. Although another Windy City hot dog purveyor says bikes are more than welcome at theirs.

A Cleveland TV station talks with several bike commuters about their safety concerns, including better infrastructure and getting more respect from drivers.

A 22-year old hit-and-run driver will now face a murder charge after a preliminary investigation showed he was speeding on his way to work, and high on weed, when he slammed into a six-year old Detroit boy just riding his bike across the street.

The Philadelphia Inquirer joins a mounting chorus saying the recently signed infrastructure bill may be big, but it won’t change America’s misguided focus on cars.

‘Tis the season. Alabama’s 91-year old “Bicycle Man” rescued and repaired 30 discarded bicycles for a holiday giveaway program for children in need.

The mother of the 14-year old Palm Beach, Florida boy who was found dead hours after leaving for a bike ride says he lost control and flipped his bicycle, and there was no foul play involved.

 

International

Treehugger rates the best cargo bike trailers of 2021.

Cyclist offers a beginner’s guide to every part that makes up a road bike.

Smart move. Montreal is setting up an online reporting system just for pedestrian and bicycle crashes in the downtown area, where most such crashes occur. Something we could use here, where police too often don’t even want to take a report unless someone is seriously injured.

In another step backward, the Swiss government is calling for mandating bike helmets for anyone over the age of 12. Before anyone gets upset, I never ride my bike without a helmet. But helmet laws have repeatedly been shown to be counterproductive, while giving police an excuse to target people on bicycles. And too often people of color and homeless bike riders.

What to give your favorite Philippine bike rider this holiday season.

 

Competitive Cycling

Slovenia’s Primož Roglič says he’s not the cycling Terminator everyone thinks he is.

 

Finally…

That feeling when you rescue a bike from the trash because it has the weirdest, coolest brakes you’ve ever seen. Nothing like a casual bike ride up an 18,000 foot Peruvian peak through two feet of snow.

And what’s the underwater equivalent of Viking Biking?

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.

Possible justice for Andy Garcia, Frye flips out after getting flipped off, and a big bike drag in HP

Looks like there may be justice for fallen cyclist Andy Garcia.

And the riding companions who were injured with him.

Streetsblog’s Sahra Sulaiman reports that 21-year old Wendy Villegas was arraigned last week for the hit-and-run collision that left Garcia sprawled in the roadway, where he was hit and killed by a second vehicle.

Fortunately, the judge seems to be taking the case very seriously.

Not only is Villegas facing a sentence of between 5 – 7 and 10 – 15 years, but the unnamed judge wanted nothing to do with her lawyer’s complaints that an ankle monitor would cramp his client’s lifestyle.

Not to mention her choice of fashionable footwear.

According to them, the judge told Villegas she will wear the device because she is a danger to society. As such, she is no longer able to drive a vehicle, must obey a curfew, and is obligated to appear in court by 4 p.m. today (Oct. 11) to both pay for the monitor and have it placed around her ankle. Should she choose not to do so, the judge advised, a warrant would be issued for her arrest, she would be placed in custody, and her bail would be revoked.

Villegas was still drunk when she was taken into custody hours after dragging Garcia’s bike several hundred feet beneath her car.

Meanwhile, Sulaiman reports the survivors have been deeply affected by the collision. Mario Lopez suffered fractures to his back and leg, and now requires a walker and back brace to get around, painfully.

And Ule Melgar, the other rider hit by Villegas’ car, suffered severe road rash and leg pain; fortunately for him, his backpack broke his fall.

The other riders in the group have to live with watching their friend killed before their eyes.

As do the occupants of the car that took his life after Villegas left him sprawled in the road.

A memorial carwash will be held this Saturday in Garcia’s memory, and to raise funds for his family.

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Ever think there might be a reason why a cyclist might flip off a friendly driver just trying to give a helpful honk?

Evidently, a thought like that has never passed through the head of Chicago Sun Times, Men’s Health and ESPN.com columnist Andy Frye.

In what he (mis)labels as satire, Frye reports a recent incident in which he drove up behind a bike rider who apparently didn’t know he was there. So he “tooted” his horn lightly.

Guess I should have known better. Not that I expected a waive from the cyclist, nor did I expect him to stop and say thank you, but I didn’t expect him to give me the one-finger salute in a long, protracted, five-second long flip-off accompanied by a scornful face.

Suddenly I was the bad guy, and apparently an archetype that embodied everything that is wrong with society, at least in the eyes of this self-proclaimed roadhog radical. I had become “The Man” and perhaps a symbol of an oppressive oil-oligarchy, hellbent on usurping all that is good by bumping this free-spirited city cyclist off the road.

I never knew a single digit could convey so much deep meaning.

And “The Man?” Seriously?

What, is it 1968 all over again?

Meanwhile, I’ve scoured my car horn, but can’t find the light toot setting, let alone the friendly warning button. Call me crazy, but I always thought car horns make the same sound regardless of your intent in honking.

So how, exactly, was the rider supposed to gauge the supposed purpose behind Frye’s honk? Especially when even the most well-intentioned honk sounds loud and angry to anyone not encased in couple tons of relatively soundproofed glass and steel.

Chances are, the rider already knew Frye’s car was there; loud, hulking vehicles are kind of hard to hide, even without looking. And if not, all he managed to do was scare the crap out of the poor guy by hitting his horn behind an unsuspecting rider.

Under the same circumstances, I probably would have flipped him off too. And I guarantee I would have known he was there long before his misguided finger hit the horn.

And he’d know I was there long after.

So for anyone else as clueless as the self-proclaimed bike-riding Frye, never, ever honk at a cyclist. It will almost never be taken well, regardless of what’s hidden in your heart of hearts.

And as Bike Snob so succinctly pointed out, that old cliché of “I own — or ride — a bike too…” is the moral equivalent of “Some of my best friends are (insert ethnicity here)…”

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This coming Saturday should be a major drag in Huntington Park.

The city is teaming with the LACBC and Wolfpack Hustle to host a bike drag race compete with full support, including barricades, medical emergency response teams and police services. Registration is just $10 — and free for HP residents.

In addition, participants and spectators are invited to give your input on the city’s new Bicycle Master Plan at the LACBC booth.

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More on Mayor Garcetti’s plan for Great Streets, which doesn’t exactly jibe with proposed plans for a deadly virtual freeway on the Hyperion-Glendale bridge complex. The Times says men downplay the risks of texting and driving; oddly, I see more women texting behind the wheel, myself. Rick Risemberg reports riding in Portland is sort of like having CicLAvia every day. UCLA makes progress on their 2006 bike plan; I’d be happy if the red light on westbound Charles E. Young at the entrance off Sunset Blvd would just recognize my bike. The artist behind those incredible gates on the LA River. Governor Brown vetoes a poison pill bill that would have effectively halted a surface route for the long-planned extension of the 710 Freeway, but signs Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s bill extending the statute of limitations in hit-and-run cases. Celebrate the newly bike-friendly Colorado Blvd on Saturday the 26th. A little 80-year old lady from Pasadena hits a salmon cyclist head on in broad daylight. Bike thefts spike in Torrance. Long Beach is scheduled to hold their bike count this week.

Bike Newport Beach introduces a bootleg bike master plan. After losing both his legs in Afghanistan, a San Diego vet rides 160 miles for charity. Thousand Oaks is striping roadways to reduce collision — not accident — rates, thank you. A Lake County CA cyclist is killed in a head-on collision with a sheriff’s deputy speeding in response to a reported home invasion. The musician behind last year’s viral hit Bike Path Love is arrested for DUI after colliding with a pedestrian. San Francisco firefighters are worried bike lanes and traffic calming are narrowing the city’s streets too much.

Elly Blue calls for putting a kickstand and other crap — her word, not mine — on your bike. Your helmet could text for help the next time you wipe out. Tacoma WA is ordered to pay nearly a quarter million dollars to a cyclist who did a face plant after getting a wheel caught in a crack in a bike lane. An Arizona writer says life is cheap in Tucson, at least when it comes to cyclists and pedestrians; evidently, it’s not just Tucson, as an El Mirage driver drags a rider 108 feet down the street before fleeing. A string of bad decisions is blamed for Boise bike and pedestrian collisions; then again, isn’t that the primary cause of virtually every collision? A Texas cyclist discovers the downside of riding into a closed national wildlife refuge during the government shutdown. Indianapolis residents want a butt ugly bike sculpture removed; it’s supposed to look like Kurt Vonnegut but instead looks like a tangled jumble on a pole. A New Hampshire woman administered fentanyl to calm down a young driver hours before she plowed into a group ride, killing two cyclists; I was given fentanyl for outpatient surgery a few years back, and was completely and totally unable to get out of bed for the next three days, let alone drive. A year after a liver transplant saved his life, a Boston area cyclist loses it to a hit-and-run driver. The Wall Street Journal questions the risks of unsanctioned bike races as they rise in popularity. NYC bike advocates predict even more bike lanes in the city. A New York rider ends up with nerve damage after being cuffed by police for running a red light. Don’t ride onto a Pittsburgh parade route, even if you’re in the bike lane. Sometimes you have to — politely — explain the law to the cops, like this rider did.

Hermes introduces an $11,000 handmade carbon fiber bike for casual cyclists with more dollars than sense. Will robocars be good for bike riders? British bike rider is escorted off the equivalent of the 5 Freeway, in the rain, no less. Brit track cyclist tracks down his stolen bike on Facebook. The women’s Tour of Britain receives equal standing with the men’s race, while UK’s Olympic champion women’s pursuit team calls for a women’s Tour de France. A USC professor — no, not that USC, the Australian one — determines cyclist safety is degraded because roads weren’t designed for cyclists’ needs; well, duh. Ride South Africa’s wine routes on your next vacation. An 81-year old Aussie man rides 30 miles a day; I want to be like him when I grow up. A New Zealand cyclist is dead, and two others injured, because a driver didn’t bother to wear his contacts and only saw two of the group of 10 riders he plowed into.

Finally, there’s no longer a need to choose between your cleats and sexy high heels.And there’s no need to ever shift again if you can afford this $1000 virtual automatic transmission for your bike.

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