Monday, February 17, 2014

The Thousand Pound Bike in the Room . . .

Happy Presidents' Day everyone!  I think we spent enough time on politicians and bikes on Thursday, but, with pitchers and catchers having reported,  I can't resist posting this one:

It's tradition for T.R.'s attention deficit to get the better of him in these races (normally on foot) around the Nationals' Park warning track, but it looks like the bike (as it has for many with ADD) has brought him an increased level of focus here.   As detailed in the Bicycling Magazine article "Riding Is My Ritalin"  that may not be a mere coincidence.  I don't need scientific evidence to convince me of the benefits biking has for the brain, as I experience the soothing effects of pedaling every night as I escape work, but it's fascinating (and encouraging) to see that biking and exercise in general can trigger positive reactions akin to those brought about by prescription drugs.  Leads me to wonder whether we truly have a modern epidemic of ADD and ADHD, or just a predictable by-product of kids being so much less physically active than their historical predecessors.

Shifting gears a bit, our big-headed heads of state are pictured pedaling DC Bikeshare bikes (sure hope Teddy remembered where the docking station was).  Despite the fact that the company that manufactures these bikes for DC, NYC, and other cities recently went bankrupt (click HERE to read more), the program there is still considered to be a wild success.  New York City's program, despite apocalyptic predictions, has also been extremely popular and, dubbed a success by terms only true New Yorker's could appreciate:  "No Riders Killed In First Five Months of New York City Bike-Share Program." 

Even Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show" took a pessimistic (albeit, hilarious) approach to the Citi-Bike program:

But, I'm sure you're asking yourselves at this point, what the hell does any of this have to do with San Diego?  Well, I'll tell you:


Imagine, you, too, will soon be able to cruise up Golden Hill on one of these sleek rides:

It looks like it only weighs about 1,000 lbs. or so -- very practical for all sorts of journeys (so long as they are about a mile or less with little elevation change).

"Wait, wait!" you say -- didn't the Bikeist say that the company that makes these went bankrupt?  Perhaps San Diego took the opportunity to contract with a company supplying something more practical!

Perhaps.  I'll have to admit that when my crack research team identified "DecoBike" as the supplier of the 175 bikes about to descend upon San Diego and presented me with their logo, I had a sudden rush of optimism:

Wow!  A time-trialist on the logo!  What a good sign.  Surely we learned from the clunky design used back east and are going to go with something more useful for covering ground and getting some useful exercise!

-- Or not --

You've got to be kidding me.  Couldn't we have gone with something that actually resembles a real bike?  From the time of the first "safety bike" built in the 1800's to present day, the classic diamond frame (that gives the bicycle so much of its utilitarian elegance) has been almost ubiquitous in all styles of bikes, be they racing, touring, fitness, or just delivery bikes.  Now, I'm not saying we should have racks filled with carbon fiber racing bikes with drop-bars installed all over the city.  But, how about something like this beauty (which Kimpton Hotels uses as its "loaner" model for guests and which I witnessed two tourists easily taking on and off the water taxi to Coronado on Friday):

And here's the ladies model, for those who might need clearance for their hoopskirts:

Frankly, I think I like it even better than the men's model!  How about that -- share-bikes suitable for just about any journey a tourist (or even a local) might want to take.  These bikes actually look rugged enough for touring  if one was so inclined.  Don't you just want to hop on one of these right now and go for a spin?  Certainly not the feeling I get when I look at a Citi-Bike.

Kimpton devotes a page of on its website to its own bikeshare program for its guests, with this explanation of why they went with bikes by "Public" --

"Design has always been a part of our DNA, which is why our newest partnership with fellow San Francisco native PUBLIC was a natural fit to craft our debut fleet of Kimpton bikes.

PUBLIC shares our avid belief that design matters in everyday life. These European-inspired street cruiser bicycles offer 3 speeds for easy shifting and navigation, perfect for the novice cyclist or avid biker, like myself. Take a spin on these cherry-red rides for free."

How about that -- taking design into account -- what a novel idea!  I'm not sure if this is the perfect illustration of private vs. governmental decision-making, but it sure feels like it.   Really underscores the irony of the private entity going with a bike manufacturer calling itself "PUBLIC" - doesn't it?

Wow!  This post was all over the place -- must be the lack of structure resulting from my day off.  Better go hop on the bike to help get my mind back on track . . .

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