Friday, February 25, 2011

Cycle Path in Qatar

Tour of Qatar Stage 5 068
What one usually thinks of when (rarely) thinking of cycling and Qatar - the Tour of Qatar race event

Web announcement (with mocked up photos) of a proposed 35 km bike path in Qatar to promote the health of the local over-wealthy, under-healthy population. Some of it seems unintentionally funny.
. . . problem is the fact that Qatar's climate is intensely hot and humid. The project group therefore came up with the idea of cooling the entire cycle path using cold ground water.
The American consultancy firm the Rand Corporation has been leading in advising the Emir on the realisation of his goal of getting Qatar's population to cycle.
Oh, the Rand Corporation, consulting on bike paths! That's . . . absurd, actually. But they are probably quite happy to take the money. And involving consultants like Rand gets you a proposal to make the thing 35 km long when a more reasonable start would be to see if anyone uses a cycle path that was 3 or 5 km long - but the longer the trail, the more it costs, and the more the consulting fees presumably are.

Another blog post refers to it as being "air conditioned" but in fact it just has a mister - like riding in the vegetable department of the grocery store. Sorta.

The Velomondiale announcement has a photo at the bottom of four "trendsetters" - cyclists in Qatar today - but these look like guest workers who can't afford other transport and not the target audience the Emir has in mind. Strange.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Video "Me and My Bike" (from Kenya)

Short article about the video that was produced as part of a contest to create one-minute advocacy videos in support of the environment. Besides being energetic, gives a good street-level view of that part of the world. (Uganda looks much the same - I have not been to Nairobi.)

The video apparently won the contest (

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cycling "Round the Clock" in the Netherlands

Found this on a blog I just saw for the first time, A View from the Cycle Path" about cycling in the Netherlands (by a non-Dutch long term resident).

18 million bikes for less then 17 million people. And on a typical work day, five million of them take more than 14 million bike trips.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Church Leaders & Morality of the Wheel (Bicycle), 1896

Article from the Washington DC Morning Times, August 9, 1896.

Sunday Morning Cycle

The illustration with the article provides the idealized view of the situation - bicycle as means to get to church on Sunday

This full page article looked at "the moral, the physical, and the commercial effects" of the "craze." Firsthand opinions of church leaders were gathered and presented as evidence ~
The clergy men whose views on the moral side of wheeling are given below were selected at random, the only object in view being to secure opinions to secure expressions which would represent the various denominations.

Their opinions are practically in accord, and, as will be seen, form a strong verdict in favor of the bicycle for both men and women, Practically the only point of difference among them is the question of Sunday riding.

REV. GEORGE LUCCOCK, D.D., Metropolitan Presbyterian "As I ride a wheel myself, I naturally approve of the invention, of course it can be used to an immoral end, like everything else. It's greatest abuse, to my mind is using it as a means of desecration of the Sabbath, but this in not the fault of the wheel; it is due to the ungodliness of the riders."
In other words, this minister assumes riding bicycles as a Sunday activity is in competition with church attendance but otherwise fine. He doesn't mention the compensating possibility shown in the illustration of cyclists using their wheels to get to church.
REV. I. J. STAFFORD, of St. Patrick's "I have given the bicycle subject no thought. I, therefore, have nothing to say for the present."
Well, that's clear enough!
REV. THOMAS CHALMERS EASTON, Eastern Presbyterian. "So far as the immodesty of dress is concerned, I believe every gentleman will admit with me that the decollete dress of ladies in the circles of fashion are more suggestive and imprudent than the a la bloomer costume of the wheel."

"I endorse the wheel and regard it as healthful exercise, which can only be made a means to licentiousness where the tendencies are already immoral on the part of its patrons. Unfortunately, I have not a wheel of my own, and no doubt I would be a greater enthusiast for its use if I possessed the 'flying iron steed.'"
A number of the ministers focused on the morality (as they saw it) of women's cycling attire.
REV. W. R. STRICKLEN, pastor Hamline M. E. Church, Ninth and P streets Northwest. "As Washington is the wheelman's paradise, no minister who propose to do his whole duty should be without a bicycle. Mine is as much a facter in my work as my study. By its aid I have gone through a hard season's pastoral work with comfort and delight. I would not part with my faithful companion under any consideration. All hail to the ever increasing army of wheelmen!"
So there you have it - Washington DC, in 1896 a paradise for cyclists!

These are just excerpts from the statements in the full article of ten representatives of different denominations whose opinions were mostly positive - which isn't too surprising since judging by the content of typical articles in the Morning Times at the time it seems to have been trying to attract cycling Washingtonians as readers.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The GW Parkway Bike Trail Detour - Enhanced!!

GW Parkway detour
Looking up - new asphalt "speed bump" covers the previous ruts

So, I had this email address for a fellow at the Park Service who is a manager for the GW Parkway and I wrote him over the weekend saying that the bike path detour seems rutted and dangerous - I got a reply today and he said he would send some fellows out to look at the situation although he wasn't sure if the Park Service had jurisdication. I wonder if this is the result . . .

Anyway, in order to solve the rut problem, which I guess someone thought was the most important, they have put in soft asphalt "speed bumps" with nice yellow stripes on them. The one on the top end is already (after less than a day) a wreck since the narrow bike tires have cut through it, creating a mess. The one at the bottom seems to be holding up better - assuming that is what one wants.

The main virtue of the previous iteration was that it was a wide detour, but that has been "corrected" with a new fence - now it is narrower. I can't imagine why they did that. Perhaps they will come back and fix it some more??

GW Parkway detour
Rider prepares to navigate soft aphalt bump at top

This isn't one of those "instead of making it better, they made it worse" situations but more like "instead of making it better, they made it different - and still bad."

Previous Post on this topic.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Encouraging Fashionable Cycling Attire (1896)

An article on August 30, 1896 in the Washington DC Morning Times anticipates colder weather with advice on fashionable attire for women riding in the coming winter.

Winter Bicycle Girl
"Winter Bicycle Girl" with her fashionable boots (rather than leggings)

The article starts off in a whimsical tone ~
Bicycle Girl of Winter - She Has Solved the Problem of Wet Weather - Jaunty Cold Day Suit.

The bicycle girl is spinning up the high road of favor and Fortune, on her wheel, leads the way.

When an oracle more dyspeptic than Delphic howled forth the prophecy that the wheel was not the sphere for woman, somebody blundered-but it wasn't the bicycle girl.
She knew she was right, and Dave Crockett himself could not have surpassed her in the art of going ahead.

She is no longer an innovation but a fact, and collectively considered, such a vast and ever-increasing fact that her disapproving sisters, cousins and aunts, who only a little while back flung criticisms at her in the same spirit that boys stone frogs, now find themselves, to their astonishment, figuring as exceptions rather than as a rule. Only a few days ago one of those uncompromising creatures who have a fiendish fancy for adding the world's affairs into figures that nobody can deny, made the announcement that for every woman between fifteen and thirty-five years of age who walk the streets of a city there are two such women who wheel.

At the strictly present time the bicycle girl is spinning all over the country in nondescript skirts that are too long to suit her and too short to satisfy her friends. It is hard work serving two masters, but the fashion-plates are hurrying to the rescue, and the bicycle girl's last trial the uncertainty of what to wear and how to make it will banish with the coming of the fall.
The article continues at length, including an imagined conversation between several young women of the fashion options available, such as the choice between leggings and boots.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Poor Bike Trail Detour, GW Parkway

I took some pictures of this yesterday and Washcycle has a blog entry using them.

New Detour, south end 14th St bridge
New "cut through" detour near south end of 14th St Bridge

The photo doesn't convey the difficulty of riding this particularly well - the construction people followed the natural contour of the hill so the lower section is shallow and then it quickly gets pretty steep for most cyclists. When riding up this, about one in four cyclists gave up part way through and dismounted. Even though it is quite wide, many riders have difficulty focusing on both the difficult surface straight down and other riders and pedestrians.

In the photo above, the old-timer recumbent rider was able to pedal straight up the incline; the other fellow ahead of him slowed down and stood up to make his way to the top. Of course, when he stood up to pedal he immediately slowed down and the recumbent is practically running into him.

New Detour, south end 14th St bridge
Loose gravel at bottom - similar ruts are at top

In addition to being steep, there are these ruts to navigate successfully.

My thought is that if they do nothing else, there should be "walk your bike" signs (much as I don't like those). I contacted the Park Service management for the GW Parkway here to suggest there was a problem at this location that needs correction or people may well get hurt. No reply so far.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Idaho Rolling Stop Law Video

Excellent video about the Idaho "Rolling Stop" law for cyclists for use in Oregon as an advocacy tool.

Bicycles, Rolling Stops, and the Idaho Stop from Spencer Boomhower on Vimeo.

Makes it clear how the law operates in Idaho and what is allowed - and prohibited. Also, points out that this law increased the fines for violations.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Growth of Cycling - 1891-1896

Article in the Washington DC "Morning Times for June 21, 1896, describes the phonomenal growth from less than 1,000 to 30,000 plus in 1896, with a graphical representation of this growth.

Cycling Growth in DC, 1896

There are several places in the city at which the bicyclers meet unconsciously in the great afternoon tours which are usually taken to the north into the lovely suburbs. One or these places is on Capitol Hill, Second street and Pennsylvania avenue southeast. A writer from The Times took the pains the other afternoon to watch the stream or bicyclers as they passed that point, some going down the grade toward the Botanical Gardens, others north toward new Library Building, and all heading for points west and north. He counted the flyers for forty minutes, and found that the average was nine per minute. This, of course, does not mean all day, but in those, at present, delightful hours of the after noon, when the Departments are closed and the prospective tourists have dined well.
INCREASE IN SALES. Another measure of the phenomenal increase of sales is had from the records of the dealers. The record of one of these is as follows: In 1892 he sold 12 machines; In 1893, 80; In 1894, 124; In 1895, 200; and 633 so far in the present year. He expects to make a record of 1,500 sold for the whole year 1898. [Well, 1898 was not so good, I expect]
The police bicycle squad is doing good work. Although comprised of but three officers and organized less than one month ago, the silent riders have made nearly 100 arrests for reckless riding and other offenses against the bicycle regulations. Scorching- has now become the exception, where heretofore it was the rule. This city, with its smoothly-concreted and splendidly shaded streets and avenues is a paradise for wheelmen and a standing inducement for speedy riding. There are thousands of bicyclists In Washington, and while manly of them are careful and cool headed, there are others who are reckless to a degree bordering on criminality.

Riding on Arlington Streets - WebCam View

East on Wilson/Clarendon Boulevard from Mark Blacknell on Vimeo.

This isn't my video, and it isn't the kind of street riding I do much of in this weather, generally - the motorists around here don't tolerate bikes so well in the best of weather but in winter conditions . . . their tolerance falls off, it seems to me. Mostly I can stick to trails to get to and from work, so that's what I do. Although as we see in the last few seconds of the video, below, the trails can have some issues too.

Mt Vernon Trail Access, Rosslyn VA