Monday, September 29, 2008

NY bike tickets! you go for your info. And I really thought for the
most part you couldn't really get much of a ticket for really
doing ANYTHING on a bike, a friend at the DMV proves me wrong!

violation code cost/surcharge notes

red light 1111d1b $75 +conv. on license
red light 2nd offense $150 +conv.
red light 3rd offense $375 +conv.
*NYC is $150/$300/$750
on sidewalk NYC 407c31 $40 *same for out of bike lane
improper operation(?)1232a $40
cling to vehicle 12331 $40 +$80 +conv. on license
fail keep right 1234a $40 *same for >2 abreast
carry art on bike(?) 1235 $40
no bell 1236b $40
on xpressway 1021a2 $40 +$80
redlight violation 30c1b $150/300/750 +conv. on license

so on the third red light, you may be listing that extra bike,
the one sitting in the corner.... or assume another identity.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

car love? could it be?

.... what is one of sixteen in the world, and $160,000? AND broke
down outside of my work today. A rare Shelby convertible. In
search of some 'car karma' I helped him push off to the side, made
some 'car talk' while he waited for a tow. Funny, as I look the car
over, this little car has the worth of my house? Is it even worth
it? No. But always consumed by cars, and now being car free, well..
it was like the first time someone quits smoking, and they go to
the bar......will they bum a smoke? Or buy a car? Well, I walked
back inside (after some documentation or proof) shaking my head.

Getting rid of my car and cycling every where has the same
feeling as taking (or as Carlin would note, "leaving") a massive
dump. "Because no one actually 'takes a dump with them? do they?"
And when I say dump, I mean one of those that makes guys think
they can relate to childbirth, kind of dumps. Where you feel like
you just lost 20 lbs., so you don't need to do any exercise.
That's how I feel every day I DON'T own a car.

So NO, it's not car love. Not even a little spark. I think I'm
gonna make it being car free, and maybe I earned some 'car karma'.
Hopefully it'll help me find the 50 year old in the gold Accord who
followed me halfway to work yesterday honking his horn, jumping up
and down while flipping me off. Angry? Just a little bike hate going
on there? Don't worry, I got your plate number too, and what street
you turned off of before I agitated you with my lowly existence.
Four flats headed your way.

As I pedal my way around town I feel like the only one who got the
joke. The joke of buying into car culture, and how even $160,000...
will leave you stuck on the side of the road.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

a critical mass of one...

... ultimately, every time you decide to ride somewhere, that's
what you become, a rolling statement or reminder, a catalyst for
others to commit to the change. I was unsure how I felt about
Critical Mass, as a statement, an assertion of rights, yes. But
somehow when you're in the middle of it, it feels like a circus.

"Is this really helping cyclists?"
"Will this just add to the tension between cyclists and drivers?"

But when I heard Chris Carlsson would be in town to promote his
book NOWTOPIA, I KNEW I HAD TO BE THERE. When will you ever
have another chance to listen to one of the founders of
Critical Mass?

It was a full house, and the front was filled with bicycles,
a sight I wish I could see everywhere I ride to. Scotty Kellogg
started off the night, and really, he could easily give week long
workshops on changing the urban landscape that surrounds us.
Time didn't allow Scott to go into detail, so luckily he wrote a
book, and I left with it. Hopefully it'll help as I transform
a slab of old grass backyard into a full garden. Convenient that
I sold my car and am planning on growing food in my backyard, and
now the economy is so battered that alot of people have to do the
same thing out of nessecity instead of "being green".

Chris Carlsson, what can I say? Like going to a local show, paying
$5 at the door and discovering your new favorite band after the
second song. You find yourself nodding along in total agreement. It
wasn't a history of Critical Mass, it was the revelation, the
verbalization of those thoughts in the back of your head as you
travel to a meaningless job. The fleeting thoughts as you pass people
on the street that mimic cows being led to the slaughter. Chris
announced there were only a couple of books left, well two left with
me that night. One for myself and one to plant seeds of change in
those I know.

With only a day into reading NOWTOPIA I do have a quote or two,

"Presumably, our "choice" of jobs is the social manifestation of our
personal worth and our life's meaning. Our jobs inform assumptions
about where we live, what we are able to buy, what we "earn," what
our tastes are, and so on."

"The vast majority of us have to sell ourselves to a paid job in order
to survive and it is precisely at that point of sale that we relinquish
control over our lives. Once sold (hired) we must do as we are told
and if we don't, we are likely to be fired and cut off from the income
on which we depend."

As the evening ended, this critical mass of one joined eight others
for the ride back home. The energy carried over into the ride, new
and old faces, and stories shared as we claimed the desolate streets
as our own. Nice to share a casual ride with those who just like to
ride, who have discovered the liberty a bicycle gives. Hopefully I'll
finish NOWTOPIA before Critical Mass next week.

Friday, September 12, 2008

just a little responsibility...

That's all I'm talking about. Own up to your responsibility.
Our society has been so car-centric and car-priority for so
long, that anything otherwise is almost like being a socialist
in the 1950's. "EVERYONE SHOULD JUST DRIVE A CAR, don't ruin it
by trying to be 'different'". A sheep mentality, undoubtedly.

But the operation of a car is seen as a right, a passage, part
of the American way. What falls out of view it seems, is that I
RESPONSIBLE WHILE BEHIND THE WHEEL. Take this seriously people!
Hope that you hit me hard enough that I can't get back up to
shove that cell phone so far that the doctor decides you can
just continually ring 'la vida loca' for the rest of your life.

Way too often people loosely throw out the term 'accident'.
WAS IT? REALLY? Hate to summon that sue happy New Yorker in me,
but I would quickly say, RARELY are there just 'accidents'.

If I went to the top of a twenty story building, went out to the
edge of the roof, and put a bowling ball on the edge and
proceeded to roll it along, WELL I NOW HAVE TAKEN ON A BIG.....
RESPONSIBILITY! And if my phone rang while I was rolling this
ball along the edge, and I MADE THE DECISION to answer it,
thus diverting my attention.....


People need to start loosing their licenses! Actually, every
person should have to ride a bike for a year or two before
getting their license, maybe that will change things.

(sign removed from the ghost bike I pass daily)

And if you do hit me, and they put up a ghost bike for me....
Don't be such a narrcicistic jerk as to post a sign in your
'unnamed driver' defense, even if it was 'my bad'.

Monday, September 8, 2008

de constructing the fixed gear timeline

The simple summary: the 'fixed gear/track/freestyler' or should
that be 'streetstyler' or maybe 'windstyler' since it is to this
decade what bmx freestyler were to the 80's. And in that sense,
the fixed gear is in 1986. A boom year, embraced by EVERYONE,
accepted by the masses, an identity you can purchase at your
local shop, practice a couple tricks in the parking lot (by
yourself, of course), then go park the bike. With the need for
such color coordination, peregrine 48's and tuffs, sorry, I mean
deep v's and aerospokes, does that make MASH/SF the GT freestyle
team of the 80's?

1986. So this is the banner year. When every major brand puts out
the ultimate, color matched, custom, 'team' model. And in three
years no one will ride or even own a fixed gear. I'm saving now!
Deals will be had, pennies on the dollar. And in another twenty years
the trend will come around, and like overpriced vintage Campy star
hubs, I'll sell it all off and retire.

"So you paid $1200 and never really used it? Here's $150, thanks!"

the city that could care less

Two days before we set out on our vacation to New Hampshire,
we had a little burst. Well, little in the amount of time
it actually rained, but during that time, it rained alot.
With the past history of rain, everything in the basement is
on shelves 8" off of the ground. And on the third round of
landscaping, we added a dry creekbed, that serves as a catch
basin during heavy rains. It all works, unless the city's
storm drains become clogged - then it's disaster!

With so much damage done to surrounding neighborhoods, there
was a meeting at the common council at city hall. What was said?
Well, after an hour and a half slide show of the history of
sewers and storm drains, the city decided there wasn't enough
enough money for any solution but to give those households who
qualify,a grant to have a valve installed. But! It'll still cost
you $1500 to $4000 (depending on who installs it?).

"Well, OK, I guess if it means I'll never have to go rent an
industrial pump and spend 24 hours pumping out my basement and
yard, maybe it's worth it."

Oh, wait. Several people had installed those valves? And they were
even inspected by the guy giving the presentation? And pitching the
grants to have the valves installed? And they STILL FLOODED?

"NO thanks!"

But you say that this is a ten year storm? That's funny, I've
rented the pump three times in two years, so I think maybe your
math is wrong. What does your job pay? Maybe I should apply?

So now you've just pissed everyone off. What's that you say?
Oh! If we don't like how the city runs it's drains and sewers we
can file a claim? That's what I was going to do. My rate of pay
for staying up 24 hours pumping out 5 yards not including mine,
three days of missed vacation, a furnace, dryer, hot water heater.
The pump rental, rebuilding three steel bikes that sat in water
past the bottom bracket, and EVERYTHING that happened to be under
the 17 inch mark in the basement.

I could see the dollar signs on the check the city would write.
Because they plainly stated 'we have over 370 miles of storm and
sewers, and only four guys to service them'. Well, we KNOW it was
clogged because water never backs up in my basement, and never
that much. And it definately does not quickly drain down an hour
later. Then came the bitter realization, as a neighborhood
association member stood up and simply stated 'in ten years the
city has never paid one claim in our neighborhood'. And with that
said, the city quicky wrapped up it's public meeting, and clarified
that in the future, it has no plans to prevent this backup from
happening again.

WOW, for such high taxes, lax police force, pampered state
employees, and lack of anything to promote people to stay, this city
has no clue. But they'll sure be happy to deliver that property tax
bill. This time, maybe I'll pay it personally, after I wipe my ass
with the check.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


The family unit managed to get away for a week in Rye, New Hampshire.

I've never been to New Hampshire, and what I could find online was
limited. I still loaded up all the bikes, and headed out. Rye is
just a few miles north of Hampton Beach, a busy boardwalk typical
tourist trap. It was the perfect vacation, being able to park the
family truckster and walk & bike everywhere. Although there are
limited walk ways along the beachfront, the traffic is slow and for
the most part bicycle friendly. This is probably the cause of my
HDT or Hostile Driver Trauma, or PVHDT - the Post Vacation version.

There wasn't any safe area for the kids to ride, besides the
neighborhood street, but I had the opportunity to stretch the legs
each day for a couple miles. Passing cyclists every few minutes has
a calming effect for the day, knowing you're just one of many
cyclists a driver notices along the way. Early morning beach
exploring, coastline hammering through tight corners, and riding
through the random afternoon bank of fog definately made it a
memorable trip. Along with meeting my seafood quota for the rest
of the year. I give Rye a recommend, and if you're in need of beer
soaked teenage spring break rehashes, then Hampton Beach.

Next year I think will be Maine, and possibly a loop over to Quebec
and then to Montreal (a favorite stop). With our week over, we
packed up and headed back to the drama of a city that doesn't care,
a police force that could care less, and drivers who deserve
even less.