Two Races

In Rome:

Rome’s 2762nd Birthday Chariot Race at Urban Velo
A patriotic group of bikers sporting giallo e rosso (yellow and red) athletic gear cleverly transformed their bicycles into race horses that pulled bigas, or two-wheeled chariots, manned by enthusiastic charioteers. While ancient Roman chariot teams were divided by color into the greens, the blues, the whites, and the yellows, these modern day Ben-Hurs formed two teams distinguished by their headgear–the helmet heads and the brush heads. Eager for a bit of Sunday-morning competition, they lined up at one end of the Circus and at the signal, the race for glory and fame began!

In Copenhagen: – Danish Cargo Bike Championships

Anyway, the Danish Cargo Bike Championships was a festive affair in bright spring sunshine. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many cargo bikes gathered in one place. The course was set up around the square with a fine mix of smooth straights and cobblestoned corners.

There was a race for three-wheelers, with Leif Harup on a Kangaroo taking the gold medal and the three-wheeled glory. Then there was several heats for two-wheelers and Thorsten Rentel beat Hans Fogh by a spoke in the final. In both disciplines the riders rode first without cargo and then had to put three tyres on the bikes to finish.

There were many Bullitts from Larry vs. Harry, a good number of Dutch Bakfiets and quite a few Belinkys. Add to that Christiania Bikes, Longjohns, Short Johns and the aforementioned Kangaroo. Baisikeli was present with one of their ambulance bikes from their African workshops.

Oat-prices and the Bicycle

Feb. 17, 1818: Proto-Bicycle Gets Things Rolling
Bad weather in 1812 caused oat crops to fail, and horses starved as a result. That got von Drais thinking about how you could get around quickly without a horse. His first attempt was a four-wheeled vehicle with a treadmill crankshaft between the rear wheels. He demonstrated it to the Congress of Vienna (the peace confab that ended the Napoleonic wars).

That invention went nowhere, but the eruption of Indonesia’s Tambora volcano in 1815 gave Europe a snowy summer in 1816. Oats were scarce and expensive again, horses died, and von Drais got back to work.

This time, he invented a two-wheeler on a frame that looks much like a modern bicycle frame with a seat and front-wheel steering. It didn’t have a chain drive, and it didn’t even have pedals. You drove the thing with your feet, much like a scooter. You stopped it with your feet, too: no brakes.

Why don’t they get it?

You know that I am all about pushing bikes and cycling, but why do some people take such a narrow view of things? Take the post below, at, for example. Not everyone who doesn’t ride a bike is fat or lazy. My dad, who contemplated buying a Segway in his late Eighties, would have loved this machine. He could have used it instead of a car for most of his daily errands. Because a knee was failing him when he was 91, he had to drive a car to the grocery store that was about a mile from his apartment. I am perfectly able-bodied to use a bicycle, but this GM/Segway product pictured is fantastic for the elderly and people with a physical handicap. Come of your high horse bicycle advocates. I’d rather see people use these great little vehicles, which are electric and don’t take up a lot of space, than tool around in an SUV. I imagine a bicyclist coming together with this vehicle stands a bigger chance of surviving that when s/he gets hit by an SUV.

William added this piece from an article, asking the question: “Haven’t they heard of bicycles?!”

General Motors Corp. is teaming with Segway Inc., maker of the upright, self-balancing scooters, to build a new type of two-wheeled vehicle designed to move easily through congested urban streets. The machine, which GM says it aims to develop by 2012, would run on batteries and use wireless technology to avoid traffic backups and navigate cities.

Funny… I’ve been moving easily through congested urban streets for years, in cities all around the world, on a bicycle. And by the looks of that machine, I’ll stick to my bicycle. Although fat, lazy people will probably love it.
(Via – The Copenhagen Bike Culture Blog)

You have a full partner at the US DOT

Ray LaHood, President Obama’s Transportation Secretary kicked off the opening plenary at the National Bike Summit this morning. » Sec. LaHood: “You have a full partner at the US DOT”
One bright spot that did not go unnoticed by the crowd is that LaHood said he and other transportation officials plan to study European models of bike and walk-friendly facilities this spring (something Portland, New York City, and others have already been doing).

At the end of his speech, LaHood repeated his line about how the US DOT will be a “full partner to accomplish the things you want to do” and he added that, “We are on the cusp of making more progress on these issues than ever before.