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‘Don’t Be a Jerk’

by Ted Johnson

Don't Be a JerkIs all hell breaking loose in New York City? If it were, would anyone notice?

A few days ago, I linked to a Fox News article which ridiculously framed New York City’s efforts to increase bike commuting as a “war on cars.” (And there I go repeating that nonsense again.) Forgive me, but I’m now watching this drama with great fascination. Many of the people who work in City government are using the bike infrastructure they have helped to establish–including Lisa Kaplan, the 60-year-old chief of staff to Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, who has been biking to work for nearly 30 years. (You’re not the only bike-commuting sexagenarian, BluesCat.) Yet, civil servants who practice what they preach could not stop the removal of at least one bike lane.

Readers of Commute By Bike already know that, when it comes to incivility between bikers, motorists, and pedestrians, there are plenty of pointing fingers to go around. New York is realizing that as well. Last fall, Scott Stringer, President of Manhattan Borough documented “1,700 total infractions by drivers, bikers and pedestrians, many of them egregious.” To try and mediate peace between the bikers and the drivers, New York will launch an ad campaign called, “Don’t Be a Jerk.”

The campaign, titled “Don’t Be a Jerk,” will feature prominent New Yorkers preaching bike etiquette. Mario Batali, the famed chef and restaurant owner, recently filmed a spot.

Commute By Bike

Washington DC is not only a leader in bike sharing, but (not to be outdone by New York City) the Nation’s Capitol is also developing some pushback for it’s recent improvements in cycling infrastructure.

[T]hanks to the work of advocates and responsible and responsive government officials …, every time a member of Congress goes out their door to head down to the Capitol, or one of the myriad government buildings in/around downtown DC, they’re going to see bikes — lots of them — and more and more of them as time goes on. I think this will have a profound effect on how elected officials view biking, and it will translate into more political and financial support for biking. It’s super-important to keep DC moving forward on all livable streets policies, but especially on biking…

Commute By Bike

And while we are keeping our eye on the prospects for future Federal funding for cycling infrastructure, The League of American Bicyclists provides this example of Federal funds at work:

Kauai Path, Inc., a non-profit in Hawaii, offers a fine example of federal money funding bicycling education. Using funds from a federal “Communities Putting Prevention to Work” Grant from the CDC, Kauai Path Inc. will train 20 to 30 new League Certified Instructors (LCIs) in the state during two weeks in February. The new instructors will train more than 200 school students and 50 adults and implement a new bicycling curriculum in the school system. It will be done in coordination with a Safe Routes to School program on Kauai.

Hang loose. Or, as they say in New York City, “Don’t be a jerk.”

Utility Cycling

Melanie, over at Utility Cycling, posted this video on The History of Dutch Bike Paths contrasting it to the history of roads in the United States.

Watching that video makes Fixing the Great Mistake all the more heartbreaking. If you haven’t watched it, grab a hankie and sit down:

Commute By Bike

In our Holiday Gift Guide, I claimed, “These are products that we use, love, and endorse.”

Bionx Electric Assist KitWell, there’s one exception: The Bionx Electric Bike Kit. Although we test drove bikes with this kit at Interbike–and we liked it–nobody here actually owns one. Fortunately, our friend Pete at Electric Bike Report has this favorable review, thus saving our endorsement.

I have ridden many different bikes with the Bionx electric bike conversion kit and I have to say that it is probably the most refined ebike kit that you can buy. To compare it to cars, it is like the Mercedes Benz of electric bike kits.

EcoVelo

And if you have any thoughts for or against e-bikes, you might consider this reasoned article from EcoVelo:

There are many reasons why a person might choose to ride an electric-assist bike. A few examples include a physical limitation or medical reason; to avoid perspiring in work or dress clothes; to overcome impossibly difficult terrain; or, to reduce the commute time of an unusually long commute. We see these as valid reasons, and if they get someone out of a car and onto a smaller, less environmentally impacting vehicle (perhaps someone who would otherwise not be on a bike), then we fully support their use. We view e-bikes as enabling and inclusive, and we certainly don’t see them as “cheating”.

Commute By Bike

If your brain is full, or if you need yet another Holiday gift idea, here’s a hand painted Phrenology helmet (via Bikerumor):

Phrenology Helmet

Protect your noggin with some knowledge, even if it is a 17th century pseudo-science. This awesome hand-painted helmet is available from helmet artist Danielle Baskin on Etsy for $250.

 
Burley nomad 229

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