Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gournal. Like a journal, but with a hard 'G'

Amsterdam has been super real. Today’s tour of the city’s ‘less developed’ cycling infrastructure gave me a whole new perspective on the bike facilities here. In Eugene, a tour of the bike infrastructure would likely highlight the river path, 12th avenue, Alder st., the Amazon path etc. We have great facilities, but the vast majority of Eugene’s infrastructure is car oriented. In Amsterdam, the script, like they say, is flipped. Touring the facilities of Amsterdam might take weeks, so instead you can tour the undeveloped parts of the city. It’s a totally reciprocal ratio. When I do finally get back to Eugene, I fear the town I once lauded for it’s bicycle accommodations will see woefully inefficient. Maybe that’s the point of this trip.

On a way different note, I’m going to try my hand in bicycle propaganda by way of posting super cool bike related videos that will no doubt make everyone wish they rode their bikes everyday. Cause if marketing teaches us anything, it's that people want to do what's 'cool.' Why not make what's 'cool' also good for the people and the planet?

I'll start with a video that is catalyzing one of the bicycle communities less represented demographics. You'll notice the style of bike is similar to the upright riding style of Dutch bikes. They too, rarely wear helmets or any other cycling gear for that matter. Oakland's own Trunk Boiz.

For more info on Scraper Bikes check this video about the man behind the movement, Baybe Champ.

For more info on Baybe Champ, peep UO's own Oregon Voice Magazine's interview with the King from in the PDF of the "Rolling Issue."

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dear Diary
For the average cycling-inclined American, traveling to Amsterdam for a bike seminar is like going to Mecca. The sea of dutch bikes greeting you out of Amsterdam Centraal gives you one final reminder (as if you even need one) about what lies ahead. But as I found out, this pilgrimage features a rather steep learning curve.
Back in Eugene, I feel like I can maneuver through traffic effortlessly. I get to where I need to go in as much time as I want my trip to take me, and (for the most part) I don't mess with the flow of traffic to any serious degree. Not to say I don't break rules, that's exactly what I do so well. While staying on bike boulevards, and posted bike routes is usually in the best interest, I've got no problem cutting a few corners with either speed, or recreation in mind. I generally know where cars are and how to avoid them. In short, I feel like a 'Senior' cyclist. I've been around long enough to know what rules I can bend and what rules I can break.
Riding for the first day or two in Amsterdam, I felt much like I did after I graduated from high school. Back to being a freshman. This time I didn't waste an hour at Oregon Hall, or pay full price for my textbooks, instead I spent the last few days making every other Dutch road-users life a little more difficult. All of a sudden, the tricks I learned in Eugene, don't just not work, they lead you to the middle of intersection with a tram coming in one direction and a sea of cyclists cursing you from another. It's not particular fun, at first. Here I am two days in, and I feel like, well still a freshman, but a seasoned freshman. I know enough (i.e. follow the rules) to at least begin to enjoy the time on my bike.
And if college has taught me anything, senior year will come all to fast.

Friday, June 24, 2011

What the Heck?

Not sure what the moral of this story is. Riding a bike will likely kill you is about the only message I could extract.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cycling in Prague: Not that Chill

"Prague is a black hole on the map regarding urban cycling. Bicycles are returning to the strangest cities these days, but Prague hardly registers on the map." Copenhagenize.eu

On a trip I'd describe as purely academic, I traveled east from Amsterdam to scope the Czech Republic cycling scene. Results were terrifying.

The image in the post isn't necessarily of any significance, except that in four days, that was the only on-street marking that designated a space for bikes on the road — that I saw. (To be fair, there was a designated bike lane on the river path.) ((To be even more fair, I didn't see a single bike rack in those four days either!))

If you tried to ride on street pictured, cars would be passing you upwards of 40 MPH. And the dangers of getting "right-hooked" is higher than and tourist in an Amsterdam coffeeshop.

Although cyclists in Prague are rare, they're quite visible. Most of them appear dressed for combat, save for their reflective gear. The overwhelming majority of bikes are mountain bikes, with fat tires and shocks. Necessary for navigating the city's storm drain-laden cobblestone streets. Most people on bikes wear helmets, and its not uncommon to see gloves, eye protection, even knee protection.

The traffic is much like any large city. One-laned roads are extremely common in the city center with cars seemingly approaching in every direction. And I'm not sure what you'd call it, but their street system is laid out in exactly the opposite of a grid.

One of the safest places to bike, which I observed from other riders, was in the middle of rail lines. That opens up the opportunity for a lot of other problems, but it provided a slight bit of levity.

All together, riding a bike in Prague is great if your looking for an adrenaline rush, and not much else. I would guess that renting a bike for a day was probably the most dangerous thing I've done in Europe since I've been here.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Let my poeple ride

The interaction pictured comes via an impromptu traffic observation session last thursday night. While relaxing on a friend's front steps on 18th and Hiltard, an abnormally high number of police cruiser were noted passing by. Somewhere between 15 to 20 times the police were counted driving on Hilyard. by. In the roughly two hours observing, the only vehicle that we saw pulled over in that time was the bicyclist pictured. His offence? "Running a yellow light" according to him. His punishment? $26o ticket. The cyclist, who had front and rear lights, was being spoken to by two police officers for an unusually long time — ten plus minutes. (Both of the officer's let their police cruiser's idle for those ten plus minutes. It seemed like an odd use of time and energy from the Police Department. Further, what does it say about the way the police department is fostering the City of Eugene's commitment to cycling? Why are police singling out cyclists to give tickets to? Anyone who has been through that intersection is aware that drivers oft go much faster than the posted speed. Interactions like these aren't all that rare. I was pulled over last summer by two officers for running a stop sign on 13th and University. There were no shortage of speeders last Thursday. It will be interesting to see how cyclists are treated by the police in Amsterdam.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Taco Tire

The picture accompanying this blog post is the best visual representation of my collision with an automobile last February. Around 9 pm, as I was leaving campus going straight on 13th, a car turning left onto Kincaid hit my left side, I then promptly hit the street. Fortunately for myself, it was dollar beers night at Taylor's, so even though the dude who hit me left the seen, I had something like 100 witnesses who were still sober enough catch his license plate number. In the end, everything worked out. I was relatively unscathed, save for a pretty gnarly bruise that I was more proud of than anything. I got a new bike, I got chiropractic treatment, and I got $1,000 for pain and suffering from the insurance company. I'm using those $1,000 (American) to pay for my upcoming field seminar in Amsterdam. That seems kind of poetic, and at this point I feel blessed to have been hit by that car. And who knows, maybe one day I'll be in position to apply the things I'll learn in Amsterdam here in this country so accidents like mine are less likely to occur. Because you can't always bank on Dollar Beers night to save you from a hit and run accident.