Friday, September 30, 2011

BikeyLinks

Hey, so, I've read some interesting stuff in the bikeosphere this week, so how about I let other people do my work for me and just link to them? /lazy

First off, if you like bikes and you like comics and you like humor, you need to put Another Bike on your RSS feed, like, yesterday. Even if you only like one or two of those things, still read it. How can you not love a girl who treats her new bike to a bath by candlelight?

Credit to Lulu @ Another Bike

Second, Sam at Brown Girl in the Lane perfectly sums up how I often feel when I think about people I know taking preventable car trips (FYI, most car trips are preventable), and how hard it can be to support them in their decision:

When I see a friend is a car, I immediately think of studies I've read, about the toxins the very existence of car creates, about the number of lives lost....for no good reason.
It is at times like this I wish I could get a lobotomy and just put myself out of this misery. I wish I could just forget everything I've read, everything I've seen, and everything I've smelled and just be happy and enjoy the fact that I'm lucky to live in a world where so many people are privileged to have such an abundance of luxury. [....]
But I can't forget it, and I'm not being honest when I say that I can really, truly appreciate this gift.

Thirdical, a recent only-tangentially-related-to-bikes article at NY Times caught my eye: Keeping (Weaker) Eyes on the Road. Apparently, people seeking license renewal in New York will no longer have to take eye retests. I didn't know that any state required retests, so I did a little digging and found out that most states don't require a retest if you renew by mail (Maryland is one of the few exceptions, although you can have eyes as bad as 20/100 and still drive here with a doctor's note). I do sympathize with sucky-eyed folks who are in danger of losing their licenses, since I know first hand that not being able to drive and living somewhere that isn't transit or bike friendly is a major handicap when it comes to employment, social life, education... well, everything! It's incredibly isolating. However, that pain just doesn't compare to the thousands of people who die every year in car accidents, many of them caused by people who should not be driving. (P.S. I include myself in this. I don't believe my optometrist should have written me an exemption, because I don't believe there should be vision exemptions. I'm still planning on taking my driver's road test because I've put a lot of money into this thing, but I also think a truly safe driver vision policy would be one that excludes me and people whose eyes are even worse than mine. And I don't plan to actually drive.)

Finally, is bicycle commuting really catching on? Well, it depends on where you live, but I'm pleased:

Credit: The Atlantic Cities. Boo on you, Newark!

Who's that at the largest increase in the Northeast US? Why, it's my old hometown, Pittsburgh! And coming in at #2? You guessed it, Baltimore! As I've never ridden in any area other than Baltimore City and County, I don't know how our cycle facilities stack up against more world-class places like NYC or Boston. I do know, however, that in general I feel very, very safe riding in the city, and while I can imagine things being better (as can anyone who doesn't live in Amsterdam or Copenhagen), I'm ridiculously pleased with the amount of lanes and sharrows we have already. Also, 1% ride share seems kind of low, I'd say the ratio of bikes to cars is more like 1:20 or even 1:10 on the Avenue or around JHU. But if they're only counting people commuting to jobs, that changes things, I don't even commute to a job (because I don't yet have one).

Pittsburgh being at #1 is a surprise, because it's just so ridiculously hilly everywhere. You'd have to be pretty athletic already to tackle Pittsburgh as a transportation cyclist. I also don't remember many lanes, although I wasn't looking for them when I lived there. I'm going back in two weeks and I'll look for bike infrastructure then! I would definitely continue riding if I moved back to Pittsburgh, although I'd have to get a bike with more than seven speeds. More like thirty-seven.

The biggest increases, though, came from the Midwest, although the overall percentages there are pretty tiny, except for Minneapolis (which I gather is a lot like Portland, only with snow, so, worse than Portland). If you live in the Southeast or certain parts of the Southwest, sorry guys, better luck next time.

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