I just learned that from this great Op-Ed in the NY Times. Randy Cohen makes some great arguments for his own ethical code for riding in NYC, which this blogger totally agrees with:
Thanks to feminist zine writer Elly Blue for pointing this out.
NY Times Sunday Review If Kant were a New York Cyclist
By: Randy Cohen
Published: August 4th, 2012 Art by: André de Loba
THE rule-breaking cyclist that people decry: that’s me. I routinely run red lights, and so do you. I flout the law when I’m on my bike; you do it when you are on foot, at least if you are like most New Yorkers. My behavior vexes pedestrians, drivers and even some of my fellow cyclists. Similar conduct has stuck cyclists with tickets and court-ordered biking education classes.
But although it is illegal, I believe it is ethical. I’m not so sure about your blithely ambling into the intersection against the light while texting and listening to your iPod and sipping a martini. More or less.
Here is an interview profile with Orange20bikes.com’s cat 3 racer, Fabian Vasquez talking all about why he races and the underground bike culture that is thriving on that other coast.
The underground racing scene in LA is blowing up, especially with the amazing races of the wolfpackhustle.com.
Here is an article from the LA Times about a recent drag race they did at midnight through a major traffic tunnel, downtown.
Renegade bike race in L.A. tunnel goes mainstream
By: Ari Bloomekatz
Published: July 30, 2012 Racers push hard off the start during a street bike race inside the 2nd Street tunnel in downtown Los Angeles late Saturday night. (Gina Ferazzi, Los Angeles Times)
It was an unlikely setting for a bike race.
But as night fell Saturday, more than 2,000 spectators filed into the 2nd Street tunnel in downtown Los Angeles to cheer on riders. With their heads down and legs pumping as fast as they would go, the cyclists blazed through the tunnel in pairs at a pace that reached well over 30 miles per hour.
The best of the riders didn’t even have brakes — slowing down was not their concern.
“You just give it all you can, just pedal as fast as you can,” said 29-year-old Mike “The Cheetah” Chitjian of Monterey Park, who was one of about 200 participants. “Your legs hurt, but you just block out the pain.”
There have been bicycle drag races in the city before, but what made Saturday night’s event unique was that it was legal, permitted, and endorsed by city officials and the police.
That’s a big change for bicycle groups like Wolfpack Hustle, which created the event, because they have not always played by the rules of the road. For example, they have sometimes treated red and green traffic lights the same and have seldom — if ever — sought permission for their rides.
“We’re not trying to be outlaws,” said Don Ward of Wolfpack, who is known as Roadblock and was the event’s lead organizer. “We’re just trying to get our bodies in shape.” He hopes “The Midnight Drag Race: Codename ‘The Final Effin Sayso’ ” will become an annual event.
Don’t worry, Nona has great stuff planned no matter what coast she ends up on.
Here is more about what’s going on with this bike community super star:
First the bummer: The cycling apparel concept (pop-up) that I had been planning with Hudson Urban Bicycles is NOT happening. The good news? I’m taking it to Los Angeles!
More than just a project: I’m moving myself and the production of my apparel line out to LA. I’ve accepted a role with Orange20 Bikes to develop their community outreach, development and sponsorship programs. (shhh!) Plus a super fun LA-based bicycle travel project that’s yet to be announced! No launch dates yet, but by XC season, be prepared for things to get super awesome in Southern California.
The apparel line will go on hiatus while the move, projects and production come online over the next year.
In NYC there’s a bunch of exciting bike culture surprises coming up, from other pop-up’s to new shops, parties & events. I will be releasing ‘The Golden Bike Shop List’ a zagat like guide of the best, friendliest and most innovative bike shops in NYC. With the cooperation of Transportation Alternatives and a few fantastic sponsors, I’m hoping that the Golden Bike Shop List will grow into a trusted guide for a new audience of cyclists in NYC and expanding to LA & beyond.
The Bird Wheel will continue to be an active voice in bike culture and cycling for women. My partnership with Mike Green’s BikeBlogNYC.com will grow as the ‘sister blog’ focused on the female perspective, but the content will also develop a bi-coastal emphasis on events in both NYC & LA. Liz Jose, who organizes the amazing WE Bike Program in NYC has generously agreed to take on much of the NYC specific advocacy work that I have done over the last several years through the resources and people that are working to make women’s community development in NYC the gold standard (sorry! couldn’t resist There is the very good chance that through Liz and Transportation Alternative, The Ladies Program for Bike Month will also continue as well as the events, shop outreach and creative side projects. I have absolutely loved creating the ‘Meet Your (Bike) Match parties, Maintenance & Manicures, women’s intro rides, Ladies Bike Brunch and so much more. I would like to thank everyone who has been so supportive and encouraging over the last several years.
I’m not disappearing – I’m just bringing the party to a new city! More than NYC, #BikeLA needs help to get the tidal wave of support and participation happening for everyday riders. I would please ask that you extend your talent, experience and generosity in helping me crush car culture! There will definitely be times that I will need all of you to give a little advice, make something happen or just send goodwill out to the giant car-clusterfuck that needs to be saved and that takes everyone working together.
Together we’ve changed NYC. I hope you’ll continue to support me as I move my efforts to #BikeLA.
You can get a chance to say goodbye to Nona and meet great #bikenyc people at a going away party hosted at:
I got an email from Eugenio H. Villasante, Assistant Director of Communications for SEIU’s local 32BJ. This union has more than 120,000 members in eight states and Washington, DC, and is the largest property service workers union in the country.
He wanted to let me know about an upcoming ride in solidarity with workers rights. Always down to support my local brothers and sisters especially when they taking it to the streets…on bikes.
“Hey Mike, I’ve seen your blog and I may want to give a heads up to NYC bikers on 32BJ’s Bike Ride for the American Dream to call attention on some luxury real estate developers like T.F. Cornerstone denying their building service workers, safety-training and advancement opportunities afforded to 55,000 building workers in NYC.
“I feel I’m stuck as porter for life,” said Danny Carranza, one of the worker who will be riding on August 10th against the race to the bottom that is undercutting standards and opportunities for workers like him.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer described this fight as “an issue about fairness and equality,” and many of the workers at the Chelsea and Long Island City luxury Cornerstone developments where residents pay “big bucks” in rent think is a matter of developing the skill they need to advance in this industry.
Earlier this week I had a rare night out. First stop, I meet up with Rydel, organizer and blogger with Miami Bike Scene for drinks in Bushwick at the Trophy bar.
He got a special deal through Jet Blue, which they DON’T seem to advertise much, where they allow bikes to fly for free in the month of July, waiving an annoying $80.00 plus fee. It’s a Tour de France deal and Rydel was keen to take advantage of this to visit friends in NYC, put in a ton of mileage from the Bronx to Ft. Tilden and hop in on some pickup bike polo down in the pit.
I have always wanted to meet this guy in person because he single-handedly transformed the bike scene in Miami, a city known for hyper aggressive drivers where hit and runs are common. He took over organizing the monthly critical mass rides back in 2007 and morphed a sluggish attendance into a thriving mobile party on the last Friday of each month into numbers topping 1000 riders.
He said the strategy that worked was less democracy. Ride routes are picked in advanced and rotated semi-randomly between 1-4 set paths. There are also dedicated riders who act as ride leaders, corking intersections and keeping everyone together.
We had a real good bike blogger pow-wow discussing each others cities cycling culture histories and what has worked and not towards our corresponding critical mass rides.
He seemed really modest about his involvement in the scene, but still with numbers into a thousand riders at their critical mass, in a such a car culture heavy city like Miami, he’s obviously doing something right.
Then I went to meet with fashion designer and sister blogger, Nona Varnado of thebirdwheel.com She has found some great opportunities in Los Angeles and sadly, will be leaving us within the month. We have been collaborating on few projects and she has vowed to keep her organizing of ladies events and female enriched cycling content alive and well no matter what coast she’s on. Besides, LA can use a real infusion of her community building, marketing skills, fashion sensibilities and bike culture creating. She was having drinks with Joshua Rechnitz, and wanted to introduce me to the wealthy patron and cycling enthusiast who’s donated 40 million dollars to Brooklyn Bridge Park in the hopes of creating NYC’s first indoor velodrome. This is the largest donation to an NYC park to date.
Oddly enough, that night was an article in the NY Times about the current status of Josh’s cycling dream.
A $40 Million Gift, a Proposed Bike Arena, and Now Skepticism in Brooklyn
By: Lisa W. Foderaro
Published: July 30, 2012 (photo by: Ruby Washington)
It may very well be the $40 million dollar gift horse.
In April, Joshua P. Rechnitz pledged that amount — the largest single gift in the history of New York City’s parks system — to build a field house in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
The gift was heralded as a much-needed boost for the 85-acre waterfront park, which is still under development. But attention quickly turned to the centerpiece of the plan: a velodrome with a 200-meter inclined indoor cycling track and stadium seating for almost 2,500 spectators. At the track’s center would be limited space for more traditional sports like basketball, gymnastics or tennis.
I can’t help but draw parallels to the new Barclay’s stadium about to open in downtown Brooklyn especially when listening to local community critics who seem opposed based merely on not knowing what a velodrome is. If rich rap star Jay Z can get his dream of bringing professional basketball to Brooklyn, why can’t Josh get a sports facility that has way more participatory potential and good for the health of NYC? This is also a facility that wouldn’t require any eminent domain to remove local businesses, but rather a vast improvement to an abandon space. Friends of mine often try and call me out on the Nets stadium, saying I wouldn’t be kvetching if it were the NY Rangers hockey team. I always tell them that’s not the point…Now if it were professional track cycling…I’d be in line for tickets faster then a Jewish Mom looking for seats to Barbara Streisand. Babs is returning to her home in Brooklyn, Thursday October 11th…I mean, if your into that sort of thing.
Sunday, August 5th, 11:30am–Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn.
From Time’s Up: Bike ride to Rockaway Queens beach (Fort Tilden). Bring swimsuit, towel, sunscreen, food and/or money for food, lock for bike, or leave your bike on the beach. Come prepared (tools, tubes, water, etc.) to ride some miles at a brisk pace.
Walking to the beach on a beautiful sunny day.
Communal picnic on the beach, paradise!
We will be having a big communal picnic lunch so BRING SOMETHING TO SHARE (or take a quick detour to the grocery store in Breezy Point or the concession stands at Jacob Riis Park).
Critical Mass is a spontaneous cycling event that occurs in over 300 cities around the world and has been doing so since it started in San Francisco, coming up on 20 years ago. In most of the participating cities it is held on the last Friday of the month which can often coincide with other worldwide spectacles such as this years 2012 Olympic games in London.
Regardless of the peaceful history of the mass, law enforcement are so jacked up on security detail, when they see a thousand cyclists grouped together in a bike ride, they immediately assume the critical mass is some sort of violent anarchistic cabal, hellbent on destroying capitalism and blocking streets. After all, you have to justify the billions of dollars spent on militarizing the police force, especially around major events like the Olympics which are reported to be costing 17 billion dollars, 10 to 15 more than originally projected.
This was the case, last Friday when critical mass occurred in London, like it has been for decades and 182 cyclists were arrested.
Read more here.
Kind of ironic when pro-cycling mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has constantly been encouraging people to choose cycling at the Olympic games as a better mode of transport due to crowded streets.
Seems like the police were participating in their own version of the para-olympics by pepper spraying and arresting a violent threat to them…a man in a wheel chair.
Rumor has it, the biggest threat to London streets caused by critical mass, was delaying super soccer star, David Beckham from getting through in his motorcade.
If you were to actually protest the Olympics, people might be a little upset, that while the world financial crisis has caused massive austerity with social services cutting their livelihood, while at the same time fronting a bill with their tax dollars for an Olympics they can’t even get tickets too.
Sadly, many of the seats promised to local residents have gone to more deserving institutions that have done great things for the planet, major “non-people” corporations such as DOW chemicals (1984 Bhopal disaster killing 3,800 people) and BP (2010 Deepwater Horizons oil spill in Gulf region) major sponsors of the games.
Bikes are the world’s most fun, accessible way to get around. Posters are the world’s most fun, accessible art form. ARTCRANK™ brings them together.
ARTCRANK is a show of bicycle-inspired poster artwork that introduces people to talented local artists and sends them home with affordable, original works of art. Every ARTCRANK show features posters created by local artists from the host city. Admission is always free, and posters are priced to let everybody take home at least one.
ARTCRANK began in Minneapolis in 2007. Since then, we’ve held shows in Denver, St. Louis, Portland, San Francisco, Des Moines and Bend. In September 2010, we held our first international show in London. And in September 2011, we held our first show at Interbike, the bike industry’s annual convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. For 2012, we’re adding new shows in Austin, Los Angeles and New York.
RSVP here. for a chance to win a $100 gift card from Bicycle Habitat.
Birks & Birks
Mads Jakob Poulsen
Meera Lee Patel