Tour de Lab September 1st

The Monday Roundup

Posted by on February 16th, 2009 at 10:10 am

Happy President’s Day to you all. Here’s the roundup for this week:

After the jump: Scientists call for fewer roads; pimp your ride; environmental racism; transit news; and the masked rider speaks!

– President Obama is creating a panel, rather than appointing a single “car czar” to oversee the auto industry bailout and reform process.

Streetfilms interviewed bike-friendly US Rep Earl Blumenauer of Portland, and the Oregonian picked it up. In the video, Blumenauer urges bicycle activists to “keep the pressure on” Obama about federal transportation spending decisions this year. Meanwhile, at least one voice in the media is calling for stimulus dollars to be put into bike boulevards.

– The Portland Tribune calls Alta Planning principal and former Portland bike coordinator Mia Birk the “Bike Queen” of Portland, and talks about her work, through Alta, on trying to turn Dallas, Texas into a bicycle city.

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– Scientific American has joined the growing chorus pointing out that more roads and more traffic control cause more congestion. Why? Because of “selfish” driving behavior.

– The automatic transmission for the bicycle has arrived: Shimano has introduced a battery-powered derailleur, so you can shift gears by simply flicking a switch.

– A meditation on “Why cyclists need transit” prompts a response about “Why transit needs bikes.”

– The Oregonian reports that Trimet is planning service cuts on bus and MAX lines due to the down economy.

– There’s an extremely cool new google maps mashup out there — the Transit Shed shows you every where you can go using TriMet within a certain time from a point and departure time of your choosing.

– Browne Molyneux on the Bus Bench has posted photos of a “literal demonstration of environmental racism” in the transit system.

– In Britain, the idea of carfree housing developments is being debated at the government level as a potential strategy to combat childhood obesity and “boost play.”

“Rider Spoke” is an interactive art project in which participants ride their bikes around a city and discover hidden stations where they can record their thoughts and listen to those of others.

– Self conscious about the mountain bike you ride all over town? Maybe you need to take a cue from Queer Eye for the Mountain Bike Guy over at Totcycle, who has pimped out his old bike with fat tires, a baby seat, and all sorts of nice utility-biking bling.

– And finally — the bike phantom superhero we brought you word of last week has written in to the Mercury’s “I, Anonymous” forum. His message:

Yes, I am him. And I do exist. I simply extend a kind hand to those in need.

I know several people have benefited from my benevolence and have decided to blog about it. But I offer this ideal instead.

Reach out to others in need. Smile often and say “Hi” to people on the street. Be the act of kindness you’d like to receive. Wave at motorists who acknowledge you on your bike.

And if I do stop to offer assistance to you, please do not ask me my name. I prefer to remain anonymous.

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8 Comments
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    wsbob February 16, 2009 at 11:04 am

    “Who was that masked man?”….”Why, he’s the Lone Ranger!”…. .

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    browne February 16, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Thanks for the link Elly and thanks for all the other great info. I would love for there to be some carfree developments in LA. Especially in the downtown area where that would be completely doable. Instead we have this wannabe yuppie paradise being built.

    Maybe I should move to Portland? Oddly I get more support from outside of the state and country in regards to readership than in LA where I’m viewed as a “troublemaker” with a “bad” attitude.

    Cheers,
    Browne

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    John Lascurettes February 16, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    On those electronic shifters, why externally rechargeable batteries? How hard would it be to recapture some kinetic energy?

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    Pat Malach February 16, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    The prototype sifters are currently designed for and used in racing. My guess is that capturing kinetic energy would require some kind of resistance. That’s the last thing you want on a racing rig.

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    Opus the Poet February 16, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    I wish them luck in getting Dallas to be a cycling city. We have been working on the Veloweb since the late 80s, and we still have a imaginary system of bike paths on paper (or web pages at http://www.nctcog.org/trans/sustdev/bikeped/bikeweb/ ) and you know what we have? 13 miles of bike paths that go nowhere. The plan is for 622 miles of interconnected paths that allow a person to get from one side of the metromess to the other without driving or competing with cars for space on the roads. Only in our dreams.

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    Zaphod February 16, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    The Shimano electronic shifters add ~$1200 to the bike. And we’re talking absolute top of the line Tour de France grade machinery. This is a world where spending many hundreds of dollars for ceramic bearings is no big thing. There will be no recapturing of kinetic energy here.

    The only reason that these devices are remotely being considered is that there is a minimum weight for these bikes (I think around 15 pounds) and they’re coming under that. So they have mass to burn. Some riders are opting for wattage meters instead.

    This Shimano technology will surely offend the practically minded.

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    mark February 16, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    yeah, I moved here from Dallas and as a daily biker it is a scary place. more so from the sheer anger at people directed at you for not being in a car. I had a guy hit me on purpose then yell at me for scratching his truck!

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    Pete February 16, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    “This Shimano technology will surely offend the practically minded.”

    Agreed. More practical uses of electronic shifters include finally being able to build a bike for my roommate, who has a birth defect with her right hand making shifting nearly impossible. I once wrote to Shimano suggesting they make ‘inverse’ shifters where the left hand controls the rear derailleur (and included a photo of her hand).

    Another potential use of electronic shifting may be a racing bike frame used for both road racing and time trialing by switching handlebar setups. Brake cabling would need re-engineering, but shouldn’t be difficult. Shifter ‘cables’ would simply be wires with electrical connectors, or even wireless.

    Many folks appreciate nostalgic bicycles and their hardware, and I can dig that. Me, I personally think bike technology has a long way to go and dream about radical progressions. It thrills me to see innovative materials like bamboo and hemp in use. I live for the day when I can swap wheels and not have to shim cassettes and re-tune derailleurs… I hate steel cables!!

    (Yeah, yeah, I know, ride a fixie 😉

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