Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hey, Honey, can we spare a month's rent?

Staying on the topic of cycling for the egalitarians vs. the elite, the September issue of Bicycling Magazine has an article by Susi Wunsch discussing cycling clothing that doesn't look like cycling clothing. She says on pg. 49 "...With so many options, everybody wins in the race for personal self-expression....". Well, everybody in that economic one percent, to be sure.

The stuff is really beautiful and quite sexy and I am sure that with Susi analyzing it, is sure to be highly functional technical clothing as well. The punch line is that the average price of the 11 examples of cycling-urban-chic in the article is about $803, ranging from $485 to $1393. According to the Wall Street Journal, the average monthly rent for an apartment in the U.S. is $1048. So while these outfits may fit into the budgets of your average junior hedge fund manager riding on protected cycletrack to the office in Manhattan, it ain't nothin' but a poke in the eye to the vast majority of Americans left behind by the economics of globalization and the flight of middle class jobs abroad. Fortunately for everyone else, jeans and a t-shirt or a trip through the Bike Nashbar catalog is still an option, rather than starving the kids or taking out a payday loan. I hope Everyone Else gets their urban cycling infrastructure too, not just Mr. and Ms. Urban Elite.

One less car? Someone needs to tell these folks...
Yep, those cars all really do "live there"

Cycletracks? %$#@!

Me arguing for cycletracks or any cycle-specific facility? Well, safe ones, as I mentioned in my comments on Bremen, and only where it makes sense as  a dedicated people-mover rather than a feel-good exercise. Big cities should be less auto-centric. We can't keep doing things like we did in 1965. Even Los Alamos looks totally absurd with its low density sprawl and most of its commercial/residential center devoted to parking lot asphalt (including the absurd new city hall and the planned new Krogerville Mall).
View of Townsite. Acknowledgements to Michael Ronkin
Dark areas are free parking, paid for by local commerce.
How we get there in a nation that worships the Urban Assault Vehicle is a different question. I think it would be nice to have a five year plan for many dense urban areas where people would be told that every five years would bring a doubling of non-single occupant auto based transportation resources, with space and funds taken from automobile  operation and storage, until we reduce our auto dependence to something like, say, Germany. Since this is not the Soviet Union or even Germany, I doubt such a series of Five Year Plans will ever materialize. We will need to go through another crisis. And another....Or, we can privatize the costs of vehicle operation entirely, so folks actually pay for auto use rather than having tax dollars and commercial overhead doled out to hide the real expenses of single occupant vehicle operation. I wonder if the Tea Party and GOP would support that?

Keep the Rubber Side Down, OK?

I rode into the Jemez Mountains today to try to knock a cold out of my system by pinning the heart rate monitor to 160 bpm for the 4 miles up (for some reason, if I use the 85% of max/intense training rate for a 59 year old, it seems like I might as well be sitting at my desk). I did feel a lot better getting some exercise. But be careful up there. The mountain roads are a mess with gravel everywhere and shoulders washed out from the heavy monsoon rains. Be really careful on the descent. On the way down, I saw a sport motorcyclist who was on his way up the mountain looking behind him and slowing down. I figured "uh-oh, where is his buddy?" Sure enough, on the last sharp hairpin above Back Gate was a woman, having gotten her sport bike horizontal on gravel and sand. A guy in a pickup truck got there first and was helping her up. She was ok, fortunately. She was in a full coverage helmet and full leathers. Her clutch lever didn't look so good, but her PPE worked just fine.

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