Though increasingly it is becoming known as the least bike-friendly (or most bike-hostile, take your pick) place on earth--a reputation that is further cemented by this article, which was written by the patriarch of what may be the most smug family on earth:
What we can't work out is why governments don't make it easier for those like us actively bringing down our carbon emissions, why there aren't incentives, even rewards for cycling commuters and travellers. In an era of unfolding climate change you'd expect that governments would be falling over backwards to support people who are actively disengaging in the economies that are most harmful.
Really, you can't understand why governments don't reward people who are "actively disengaging in the economies that are most harmful?" The global economy is entirely based on what we can rip out of the earth. The whole goddamn thing's harmful! If you can't eat it, burn it, smelt it, build shit with it, or blow shit up with it, it's pretty much worthless.
If nobody's getting hurt, nobody's getting paid.
Moreover, where you lie in this chain of eating, burning, smelting, building, and killing entirely defines your value as a human being. So expecting the government to provide you with incentives so that you can remove yourself from this chain and use fewer resources is like expecting McDonald's to give you money for not shopping in their restaurants.
Where are the public transport visionaries in government who want to create better access for car-free or car-reduced households? More bikes on our roads means less health-related costs (particularly obesity and heart disease), less wear and tear on expensive roads and infrastructure, fewer PCBs, heavy metals, dioxins and toxic detergents in our water systems, less roadkill, fewer roadside memorials, less carbon pollution, more space for those who still require the use of a car and, quite simply, happier people. It is well known that active travel, and of course exercise more generally, oxygenates the blood and releases endorphins in the body that help combat anxiety and depression.
Yet, NSW has a transport ministry that seems ideologically opposed to such wellness and mobility. It is pulling out cycle paths and wanting to introduce punitive laws for cyclists such as the mandatory carrying of ID. This is very alarming to a family of bicyclists and public transport users from Victoria. While there is much to improve in Victoria when it comes to bicycle access, it seems positively enlightened compared to its neighbouring state. From our perspective the NSW government appears backwards and contradictory in its efforts to stifle cycling accessibility when everywhere else in the world bike culture is blossoming. Why is this? One can only think it has to do with lobbyists.
Lobbyists! See? Now you're getting it! Don't feel so bad though. Apart from the usual suspects in Europe, "bike culture" isn't blossoming at all. In fact it may be wilting. New York City's best days are behind it as far as developing infrastructure goes. San Francisco's being overridden by luxury buses full of tech bros and sisses. And Portland, once the most bike-friendly city in America, is experiencing "biking stagnation."
Don't feel bad, Portland. You're under a lot of stress. We can try again tomorrow.
Of course, just because a family rides bikes and is almost pathologically naive doesn't mean they deserve this sort of treatment:
From our experience, riding around the state and occasionally catching trains over the past two months has been a nightmare. We've been refused entry onto trains when it has been pouring with rain or we've been freaked out by dangerous driving and just want to rest from it. We have had our heavy bikes fall on us trying to walk them down multiple flights of stairs to get to a platform, we've been abused and had things thrown at us when the shoulder of the road we've been riding on has disappeared and we've risked venturing into a lane. To us about 60 per cent of drivers don't realise that a bicycle has an equal right to use the entire lane. It is just common courtesy and common sense that cyclists don't.
Though as far as this guy's concerned it just means he's doing his job:
In fact he's so flattered by that last paragraph he's nearly blushing.
Also, let's not forget that Australia is the country that has perfected victim blaming in the same way that Japan once perfected making reliable automobiles. Consider this infuriating video, forwarded by a reader:
(If anything there should be laws against wearing helmets on scooters.)
It's not that we're any better at dealing with murderous drivers, it's just that we haven't yet attained that same degree of moral absolutism with regard to helmets that Australia has.
But we're getting there.
Meanwhile, one study suggests that helmets may make you stupid--or at least inspire you to take gratuitous risks, which is basically the same thing:
Walker admits to having been puzzled by the findings. “The helmet could make zero difference to the outcome, but people wearing one seemed to take more risks in what was essentially a gambling task,” he said. “Replicated in real-life settings, this could mean that people using protective equipment might take risks against which that protective equipment cannot reasonably be expected to help.”
Yes, whether it's a monarch's crown or a Fred's lump of polystyrene, people tend to make rash decisions when they're wearing hard things on their heads. This is why you should always remove your helmet as soon as you get off your bike, let you get taken in a game of three-card Monte.
Speaking of getting off your bike, legislators in South Dakota want you to do it for every passing driver:
The certain conditions, in this case, are when a person is riding a bicycle in a no-passing zone on a roadway that has no shoulder, or a shoulder of less than three feet. In this case, the person on the bike would have to stop the bike, move off of the roadway, and allow faster vehicles to pass. Given that “faster vehicles” are going to be every single vehicle with four wheels and an engine versus two wheels and a set of pedals, this is going to result in a whole lot of pulling over and stopping for the people trying to ride bikes.
No word on whether or not you'll also have to remove your helmet.
And from the same publication comes this "pop-up hotel room," complete with bicycle:
This may be even more stupid than the mandatory dismount bill:
Austrian design firm Juust has recently introduced the Travelbox, a portable pop-up hotel room designed for active travellers or urban dwellers who frequently switch locations. Aiming to cut down on the costs and waste associated with moving regularly, the Travelbox comes with the essential furniture for a single individual’s living needs, as well as a bike to enable transportation upon arrival.
As a city person myself I deeply resent the way that "urban dweller" has become designerspeak for "complete and utter douchebag."
The 132 pound case folds out into a bookshelf/ room divider, a table and chair which can double as a desk, a bed with a mattress and two pillows, and the bike. You can store your things, get a good night’s rest, check your email in the morning and then head out into the city on two wheels.
Eew. If you could walk a condo like a dog this is what it would look like if you failed to pick up after it.
The Travelbox is a pretty interesting solution to a problem not common to many people, but pressing for those whose lifestyle creates it. Frequently moving, especially internationally, means frequently buying new furniture, or scrambling to find an available furnished apartment. Either option is costly and time consuming. To cut down on costs, many travellers end up simply living without furniture for longer than is comfortable or desirable.
What kind of lifestyle is that? The only one I can think of his being homeless, which would make this the world's most fashionable refrigerator box:
Actually, it looks kind of familiar:
Remember that eerie scene where they all started touching it?
I can totally see something similar happening here, too:
It's like a remake of "2001" directed by Jonathan Adler:
The single biggest performance improvement you can make on your bike isn’t a lighter set of wheels or electronic shifting. In fact, it isn’t an upgrade at all—and it won’t cost you more than some time and, maybe, what you’d spend on a new roll of bar tape. It’s tire pressure. And if you don’t pay attention to it, yours is probably wrong.
But...but...what about the beefy bottom brackets and the specially-shaped stays and the crabon layup and the lateral stiffness and the vertical compliance?
You mean to tell me adjusting the cushion of air I'm riding on makes more of a difference than all of those things put together?
Still, Bicycling being Bicycling, they now want you to be a complete pressure weenie and do ridiculous stuff like this:
Step 1: Weigh yourself holding your bike and wearing your kit (including shoes),
Step 2: Put the scale under one wheel and a block of the same height under the other. Have a friend hold you up, then read the scale.
Step 3: Swap to the other wheel.
The total amount should match your static weight from step 1, and the weight from steps 2 and 3 give you the percent of total weight on each wheel. The bad news: I know of no scientifically backed formula for adjusting tire pressure based on weight distribution. This is an instructive test because it tells you what your weight balance is, but it won’t give you a firm equation to adjust tire pressure.
If you ever find yourself tempted to do this, just save yourself some time by having the friend in Step 2 slap you across the face instead.
Then check your tires (a quick squeeze is fine, no super-accurate gauges necessary), adjust as needed, and go for a ride.