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I usually have no use for Petunia's columns, but I appreciated this one. She accurately portrays the figurative passing of a figure from the golden age of bike messengers, with a nod to the wacky subculture they created.

These battle-scarred men and women bridged the era between the first time when bikes were widely used for urban transportation (ending in the 1950's and 60's) and the current rebirth. They were often a little condescending ("you're doing great!") toward us commuters, but never mean-spirited.

Someday our children will ride their carbon-cavorite Trekuji (don't reverse the order) Velocipede II's to see an exhibit about these figures from DC history and the battered, widely varying collection of bikes they rode, much like we see exhibits about the C&O bargemen today.

Re: the flying bike--Recumbent is definitely the way to go. You get a better power transfer from your core and it is more aerodynamic. That's why all of the human powered speed records are set by recumbent cyclists.

@Jmg:

Recumbent is definitely the way to go. You get a better power transfer from your core and it is more aerodynamic. That's why all of the human powered speed records are set by recumbent cyclists.

Exactly! And the Achilles Heel of recumbents--that you can't actually climb a hill on one--doesn't enter into the equation. It's a helicopter! There are no hills!

But aerodynamics doesn't matter because you're just hovering. I thought you got better transfer from an upright position because you can use your weight, that's why it's hard to climb hills.

@washcycle:

Uh-Oh, the genie's out of the bottle! You're going to hear from the 'bent fans now!

Jobst Brandt's hilarious take on recumbents:

http://yarchive.net/bike/recumbent.html

I don't think the next round of intrastructure improvements needs to be all that "intrusive" or "pushy" except maybe to cars looking for downtown curbside parking.

"Spotcycle is now more accurate." goes to " Twitter is over capacity " at 1:22 pm EDT.

Could this be a sign that the bike share apocalypse is upon us?

That, or the singularity.

KNowing my reputation as a critic, you shouldn't be surprised that I thought the Weds. nite program was overly self-congratulatory.

WRT the point about Tales from teh Sharrow's tale, my subhead for the weds. nite session was that build it and they will ride works "if the right spatial pattern and density is already in place."

Getting people to commute on a bike is a big deal, especially if you don't live within the city and say within 5 miles of where you work.

His tale proves that the infrastructure isn't enough in and of itself, that you have to have support programs in place to encourage people to make the change and to help them with the transition. (And that's what I write about in plans and other venues about how to move biking mode split up to more significant numbers, e.g., more than 10% of daily household trips.

Re: bike commuting, I'm speaking as a newish bike commuter, who after never riding in 5+ years, became a 2-3 rides per week CaBi member, and today bought a used Trek hybrid at Bike and Roll's inventory sale.

In my anecdotal experience, one thing I've found is that peer groups and word of mouth seem to be among the strongest drivers of bike commuting at my federal agency, and it was one of the things that got me interested. Once I realized I could get to the office in 25 minutes on a bikeshare bike (and probably less on a bike with more speeds that weighs less than 50 pounds), I didn't need much convincing, particularly as my building does have a gym with showers. But if I hadn't talked to a number of people who already do it, I probably would never have started.

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