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Turning junk into art

Here’s how one Queens artist is dealing with the large amount of abandon bicycles spread around the city: making planters.

From the New York Times/NY Region section:

When Wheels Pile Up: Plant a Bike; Save the City

by: Neil Genzlinger
Published: September 2, 2011

20110902-081808.jpg(photo by: Eric Michael Johnson)

In 1880, New York City removed 15,000 dead horses from its streets, the historians Joel Tarr and Clay McShane wrote in an essay called “The Centrality of the Horse to the Nineteenth-Century American City.” Horse carcasses, they added, were sometimes dumped with garbage into the bays or the rivers, often floating there or washing up on beaches”.

In the late 1860s, a dock stood at the foot of West 38th Street, the essay continued. From there, the carcasses of horses as well as other dead animals and offal from the city’s slaughter houses was either dumped in the bay or sent to a rendering plant.

Read the rest here.

Eurobike 2011

What do we know about Friedrichshafen, Germany?

•It is a town on the northern side of Lake Constance (the Bodensee) in Southern Germany, near the borders with Switzerland and Austria.

•It has a population of 58,000.

•It was a big center of aviation technology during the first world wars, where Ferdinand von Zeppelin established his famous dirigible factory.

•It is the district capital (Kreisstadt) of the Bodensee district (Landeskreis) in the federal state (Bundesland) of Baden-Württemberg.

And it is the home to the annual Eurobike convention, (August 31st-September 3rd) where exhibitors come from all over the world to demo bikes and show off the latest goods.

Find out more at: www.Eurobike-show.de

20110902-070704.jpg

Motor Vehicle fines, fund biking…in Brazil

How do you make money to fund biking programs? If you’re in Brazil, you take it out of the motor vehicle tickets.
(photo by: Marcel Maia.)

After Brazil’s President Rousseff created Way to School, a national program that provides 100,000 donated bikes and helmets to students in public schools, the federal government took another important step to encourage the culture of cycling in the country.

Earlier this month, the Bicycle Program Brazil (PBB) bill was approved by the Urban Development Commission of the Chamber of Deputies. Under the measure, 15 percent of collected traffic fines will be used to fund bicycle projects in all municipalities with more than 20,000 inhabitants.

As an example, the Gazeta do Povo blog on cycling, Ir e Vir de Bike (Come and Go By Bike,) explains that in Curitiba this amount would represent nearly R$10 million per year to encourage the use of bikes. This amounts to almost five times the 2011 budget provided for the deployment and infrastructure revitalization of the cycling capital of Parana.

Read more here.

Urban Design Week (UDW) coming September 15-20th


Urban Design week is a public festival designed to engage New Yorkers in the future of public space and the challenges faced with the new urban landscape. Earlier this year, to coincide with this upcoming festival, there was an open design contest called By the City/For the City, architects, designers, artists, and urbanists were asked to submit their ideas, looking for new and innovative ways to help achieve the goals of a more livable, better designed city. The project submissions began with the title: “wouldn’t it be great if…” All of the submissions were placed on an interactive map (on the UDW site)


and into an upcoming book: “Atlas of Possibilities for the Future of New York.”

The schedule for the upcoming event has just been posted with lectures, film screenings, public space events like: (park)ing day (Friday, September 16th) and the New York Century bike tour (Sunday, September 18th)

Spare parts on Bikenycthebook.com

Here is an excellent place for resource information about biking in NYC.

As many of you know, last year I co-authored a travel guide about urban biking called: BIKE NYC. There wasn’t enough room in the published print version for everything we wanted to include so we put a couple of additional chapters on the website for the book: www.bikenycthebook.com

One of those chapters is called, Spare Parts and its over 90 pages of valuable resource information, such as:

–Listing of all the bridges
–Tips on locking a bike
–Listing of all the bike shops who rent bikes and other rental outfits.
–Cheap eats (a five borough guide to great food spots with meals under $10.00)
–A listing of all the bike shops in NYC (with spotlights on some of the unique ones)
–Listing of all the events and groups.

You can read the chapters like a book on a desktop as well as your smartphone. So if you happen to be riding around the city and need a quick repair in Jamaica Queens, you may find some helpful ideas in this resource guide.

The Mellow Jihadi, a journal of experiences biking in NYC

Often blogs are just news gathering sites where events and articles are reposted. (like this one) It’s nice to occasional stumble across ones that are more of live journals where people share their thoughts and experiences with more of a literary flare. Eric, a former NYC messenger and Arabic linguist for the Navy, sent me a link to his blog, “the Mellow Jihadi,” where he writes about biking in the big city and what he calls, “Confessions of a New York City Bike Messenger.”

Here is an excerpt from his posting: Fashion Models and a New York City Bike Messenger

I brake and my derailler clicks twice. The same snare. Click click. I pull up to a bent no-parking sign and flip my chain-lock off my handlebars. Just ahead, hunched over a blue newspaper rack, another cyclist struggles with his bike.

I throw my chin at him. In greeting. Mostly because I want to stare at his track bike. Or whatever they call those one-geared dealios some guys roll. This dude is not a messenger, but he is a dude. A hipster. The kind with new facial hair not invented yet. All retro and futuristic at the same time. His shirt says something ironic, sarcasm lost on me. I snap my lock shut and dig into my bag for my deliveries.

Outside, two girls stand smoking. The models have the same shape as their skinny mini cigarillos. As in none. You’ve come a long way, baby.

I hate to break this to you, but some models are not models. Not for beauty anyway. Not up close. Nervous stringy things they are. Maybe they know how to work the camera, but as I pass them, they look like egrets, all swept hair and bob-necked. Sorry girls, I have no egrets in saying it. . .

I walk through the lobby and pass a modely type who frowns at me. I see myself in a mirror, behind the front desk, and I frown at me too.


Read more here: themellowjihadi.com

Congratulations to the winner of SUGOI twitter contest

Just wanted to give a shout out to David Patrick (@dpatrick1a) for winning the SUGOI twitter contest. Like a Mark Cavendish sprint, David responded to the last question in just 21 seconds after I posted it on Friday and won himself a new jersey courtesy of SUGOI apparel.

This was a lot of fun to do and I hope to have more giveaways through twitter soon.

Flip apartments and bicycle handles

What may be the latest selling point in your new NYC apartment? Bike storage. Here is recent article in the NY Times real estate section about buildings making room for the bicycle.

In N.Y. Apartment Buildings, Bicycles Muscle In
By: Elizabeth A. Harris
August, 26th 2011

20110829-040107.jpg(photo by: Ty Cacek)

Brian Whiteley oves his bicycle, a black fixed-gear Schwinn that he rides around New York City almost every day. His landlord, however, does not share this affection, fearing scuffed floors and chipped paint. And that has become a problem.

Brian Whiteley keeps his bike outside his building in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. He and his wife are seeking a place with indoor bike storage.
Mr. Whiteley, an artist, and his wife, Mar Granados, an architect, are not permitted to take their bikes inside the Carroll Gardens brownstone where they live. So they lock them to a railing outside, battling rust with a plastic tarp and regular applications of WD-40. In the year and a half since the couple moved in, they have spent close to $1,000 replacing stolen parts, and once, an entire bicycle.

Read more: here.

This made me think of this new product:

A new innovation for bicycles that may help with tight storage situations. The Fliphandle.

Here is a bit about them:

Once installed on a bike, the Flipphandle enables handlebars to be turned and locked at 90 degrees with the push of a button (see picture), vastly increasing the sardine-packing possibilities of your average bike room.

20110829-040421.jpg

They have a kickstarter page for potential investors which you can find out more about: here.

Helmet guide on the Bird Wheel


Nona over at the Bird Wheel has some answers to some basic concerns about bike helmets:

Concerns:

1. Helmet Hair. Sorry, there’s no science available on earth that has solved this riddle.
2. Looks. You know ugly when you see it and 90% of the time it’s all your bike shop carries.
3.Comfort. Who wants to be safe & miserable? Big head? Little head?
4. Price. You’re supposed to replace helmets when dropped or used for their intended purpose. When that happens they’re a bargain at any price but when you start going through a new helmet every year or every other year as recommended, it’s a drain.

Check out her helmet guide: The Beautiful and the Damned.

The latest on PPW bike lane

The latest from the battle of a 0.9 stretch of roadway in Brooklyn, the Prospect Park West bike lane. High power lawyer Jim Walden is representing a couple of groups of angry neighbors who just happen to include former D.O.T. commissioner, Iris Weinshall, who lives on Prospect Park West and is somehow outraged their is infrastructure for bicycles in her front yard. Recently a Brooklyn judge threw out their court case and has sent the angry neighbors searching for new tactics. Their latest move has been to write a scathing demands letter to the D.O.T. with threats of another lawsuit.

More from the Brooklyn Paper:

Lane pains! Foes of Prospect Park West cycle path threaten new suit
By Natalie O’Neill
August 17th, 2011

Opponents of the Prospect Park West bike lane — whose case against the world’s most controversial cycle path was thrown out last week — are now demanding that the city remove the bike route entirely or face another lawsuit.

On Friday, lane foes issued the ultimatum to Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan because Supreme Court Judge Bert Bunyan’s ruling required the group to “exhaust administrative remedies” before it may file a new lawsuit against the city.

To Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes — the group that has been fighting the lane ever since its installation last year — that means that the city must remove the cycle path entirely or else a second suit will be filed.

A new case can only go ahead if lane foes can prove that the city never intended the bike lane to be a permanent alteration because suits against such permenant changes must be filed within four months.

Read the entire article: here.