Monday, December 17, 2007

'Tis the Season for Giving - Bicycles

xmas wheel

It's that time of year when we are reminded that giving is (supposedly) better than receiving.
In that spirit, I'd like to remind all you apartment dwellers that you can get approximately 4 square feet more living space - for FREE!
That bike's been sitting there untouched since July. It would gather dust, but you've been using it as a combo coat-rack/laundry hamper and it's buried so deep, you don't even remember what that patch of floor looks like.
Sure you could sell it on Craig's List, but haven't you been saying that since September?
Take back your space! You pay enough for it!

Here are some folks who actually want your used bike in December:

The nice people at Recycle A Bicycle will take your reusable bike and teach kids to refurbish it either to give away in exchange for volunteer work or to sell in one of their stores. They are happy to give you a tax-deductible receipt in exchange.

For a more political donation, go to The FreeWheels Bicycle Defense Fund "dedicated to providing the resources necessary to fight New York City's attack on the civil rights of bicyclists and assisting those arrested, ticketed, or harassed for bicycling."
They have non-profit 501(c)3 status.

Or how about Time's Up NYC's Direct Action Environmental Organization. These guys do a great deal of advocacy in NYC. Their free bike maintenance classes - held year-round in a space they are about to lose - have been a godsend for untold numbers of NYC bikedummies like me.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Well That Sucks

I started a new job recently, which I find pretty traumatic even though all of my jobs have basically been in the same one square mile of Manhattan.
You have to figure out what subway to take - and where to stand on the platform to get to the secret exit that gets you closest to the side door of the building. What time you have to leave - in order to miss the worst of the crowds and not be late. Where to get food from - and how long they will take to get to you.
Are the elevators packed to bursting twice a day? Do they wax the halls at night? Is it freezing or broiling or both?
It's the little things that can make or break a new work experience, not just the salary, the perks, or the hours.
My new building doesn't allow bicycles.
Not after hours. Not via the freight. Not using the stairs.

This is a first for me. Everywhere I've ever worked let you bring a bike. And usually your dog, your six-foot tall purple friend Barney, and anything that wasn't on fire at the moment. I mean nobody ever cared. We had security, just not this kind of security.
So I looked it up, and this is what I found in the NYT...


Twelve flights of stairs. That's pretty serious.
The article is also from 1895. (See the whole thing here)
Apparently bicyclists and buildings have been having this problem since the first person tried to bring a bike inside for safekeeping.

Lynette Chiang at Bike Friday has been doing an interesting study where she tries to enter NYC Office buildings with a folding bicycle to see if she'll be turned away.
With a FOLDING bike. And LEGALLY. And she still has problems.
See her study here

I guess everyone knew this was an issue except for me.

It's not a problem today. The sleet and snow is keeping all but the hardiest (craziest) bicyclists off the streets, but I am going to want to start riding in at some point.

I'm concocting a plan. We'll see how it works.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

CrashStat 2.0 is Online

Bicycle and Pedestrian advocacy group Transportation Alternatives
just launched a new and improved version of CrashStat - a web site which maps the locations where bicyclists and pedestrians have reported being hit by vehicles.
In some ways this is just another collection of information that is going to get used by proponents of one agenda or another to advocate less cars, more bike lanes, no bikes allowed, whatever their "thing" is. On an individual level, this map is already useful for me.
It's pretty easy to leave the house with a kind of WTF attitude about biking in NYC. You know that "I'm biking where I need to go and Fuck You Too."
The sheer number of collisions along the routes I take normally isn't surprising - it's just eye-opening.
I love my bike, but maybe a little more caution wouldn't hurt.
It certainly wouldn't hurt as much as a broken leg.