bikes visual

The rider completes the bike

Shinya KimuraShinya Kimu­ra is a cus­tom motor­cy­cle builder, and the sub­ject of a beau­ti­ful short pro­file on YouTube.

bikes california

Only worn when mobbin'

Scraperbike - Oakland

So I was catch­ing up with the haps in my new city today on Berke­ley­side, and I noticed a ref­er­ence to yet anoth­er cool thing that orig­i­nat­ed in Oak­land. No, it's not turf danc­ing, or whis­tle tips, or ghost rid­ing, or even hyphy. It's scrap­er­bikes, old beat­ers total­ly tricked out with col­or­ful, cheap, home­spun dec­o­ra­tions. Not only are they cool-look­ing, the scraper crew wrote some by-laws to keep it all legit:

In order to become a mem­ber of the Orig­i­nal Scraper Bike Team, you must: Be a res­i­dent of Oak­land, CA. Be at least 7y/o or old­er. Retain A 3.0 Grade Point Aver­age (GPA), Cre­ate your own Scraper Bike…(It Has To Be Amaz­ing, Or Else You Can't Ride.) A sin­gle-file line when rid­ing. After 10 rides The Scraper Bike King and his Cap­tains will decide if your bike is up to stan­dards and if you can fol­low sim­ple guide­lines. After your eval­u­a­tion we will con­sid­er you a mem­ber and hon­or you with an Orig­i­nal Scraper Bike Team Shirt. Only worn when Mobbin'.

The above quote, and the still are from a beau­ti­ful short movie called Scrap­er­town by Zackary Canepari & Drea Coop­er, which you should def­i­nite­ly watch for the sheer awe­some cam­er­a­work alone. They have a series of love­ly videos about Cal­i­for­nia called Cal­i­for­nia is a place, also worth check­ing out.

bikes california new york san francisco

Why does cycling in SF suck more now than in 1994?

Cycling seems more dan­ger­ous, more has­sle-filled, and gen­er­al­ly more aggro than when I moved here. Why? Maybe it's me. I moved to Berke­ley recent­ly, and I'm pret­ty close to hav­ing a lawn that I can tell kids to get off of. Maybe it's that the city has changed a lot. There are more cyclists, more peo­ple in gen­er­al (60,000!) and more den­si­ty, espe­cial­ly down­town. On the oth­er hand, there are more bike lanes and sig­nage, and there's more bike aware­ness among the pedes­tri­an and motorist pop­u­la­tions. You'd think that more cyclists + more cycling aware­ness + more cycling accom­mo­da­tion would have result­ed in some kind of net improve­ment, but it hasn't. Pedes­tri­ans seem more antag­o­nis­tic to bikes; motorists of all types are much more antag­o­nis­tic; and some of my fel­low cyclists seem to be the most antag­o­nis­tic of all. Why?Felix Salmon has writ­ten a real­ly inter­est­ing, and wide­ly quot­ed, "uni­fied the­o­ry" of cycling that touch­es on what I think is the heart of it all: That most cyclists think they're pedes­tri­ans, when we're actu­al­ly more like motorists.

Bikes can and should behave much more like cars than pedes­tri­ans. They should ride on the road, not the side­walk. They should stop at lights, and pedes­tri­ans should be able to trust them to do so. They should use lights at night. And — of course, duh — they should ride in the right direc­tion on one-way streets. None of this is a ques­tion of being polite; it's the law. But in stark con­trast to motorists, near­ly all of whom fol­low near­ly all the rules, most cyclists seem to treat the rules of the road as strict­ly option­al. They're still in the human-pow­ered mind­set of pedes­tri­ans, who feel pret­ty much com­plete­ly uncon­strained by rules.

I real­ly agree with this. I don't know how to make it so, and I'm real­ly not a law-and-order type. But I think that agree­ing to fol­low the rules of the road would do a lot to make us all more pre­dictable. Also, I'd like to add: Pass on the freakin left.

bikes outdoors

Vintage bike camping

A small com­pa­ny called Stephenson's Warm­lite makes some of the world's best gear for camp­ing. I've long admired their bomb-proof tents and burly sleep­ing bags, and of course the unabashed, straight-from-the-70s nud­ism in their vin­tage paper cat­a­logs [a PDF is avail­able here, for now]. Which is why I couldn't help but be deeply charmed by the men­tion of Stephenson's in this old Pop­u­lar Sci­ence arti­cle about bike camping.

Popular Science - Bike campingFrom the April 1972 edi­tion of Pop­u­lar Sci­ence — avail­able in Google Books!

I won­der how many earnest, sci­ence-mind­ed read­ers sent away for a Stephenson's catalog?

bikes ixd

Bikes / Key ingredients for interactive bike maps of the future

Flickr photo

ByCy­cle and Bike­ly both bring bike route map­ping to the web, and not a minute too soon. Find­ing bike routes through cities (espe­cial­ly unfa­mil­iar cities) can be a lone­ly, scary process of elim­i­na­tion. After much exper­i­men­ta­tion, the best route often ends up being a patch­work of qui­et side streets, alleys, and paths that would be impos­si­ble to piece togeth­er in advance on a map. Ide­al­ly, you'd get to share ideas and infor­ma­tion with oth­er cyclists when you're try­ing to, say, get from the Mis­sion to the Explorato­ri­um for the first time. Yeah, straight up Van Ness is prob­a­bly not the best way, even though it looks like it on the map.Online com­mu­ni­ties to the res­cue, right? MySpace and Wikipedia are doing some­thing right; they've both found ways to tap into the moti­va­tions of a par­tic­u­lar group of peo­ple, pro­vid­ing forums to share infor­ma­tion and build con­nec­tions. Exact­ly what each has done right is anyone's guess. MySpace is ugly, con­fus­ing, often annoy­ing­ly incon­sis­tent, and gen­er­al­ly unus­able. Wikipedia is unre­li­able, bad­ly writ­ten and pret­ty much a total free-for-all. So the bike route map­ping thing doesn't need to be per­fect, it just needs to pro­vide the right envi­ron­ment and func­tion­al­i­ty to do the fol­low­ing things:

  • Eas­i­ly post routes. Use the pow­er and knowl­edge of the bike com­mu­ni­ty to record the best routes around the city. Bike­ly does this, and they've built a sim­ple, most­ly straight­for­ward process. I cre­at­ed a route of my Sum­mits of San Fran­cis­co run/ride, and it pret­ty easy, though the are some fair­ly uncon­ven­tion­al inter­ac­tions. Kudos to Bike­ly for get­ting my mind going on this.
  • Edit and anno­tate any route. Lever­ag­ing the knowl­edge of the group requires an approach like Wikipedia's. Each route should be editable, and anno­tate-able by the com­mu­ni­ty. This is the only way to get dis­cus­sion started.
  • Empha­size tag­ging and cat­e­go­riz­ing routes over nam­ing. Bike­ly is very free-form right now, and post­ing routes has quick­ly become a free-for-all. They recent­ly added tag­ging, but it's fair­ly con­strained to a few route attrib­ut­es — recre­ation, com­mut­ing, urban, rur­al. A more Flickr-like mod­el, where one tags can be any­thing relat­ed to the route (marin, tiburon, ocean, gold­en gate bridge, etc), gives peo­ple the abil­i­ty to make their routes find­able by their impor­tant char­ac­ter­is­tics. Of course, as much tag­ging as pos­si­ble should be auto­mat­ed — the route length, the streets cov­ered, the cities vis­it­ed — all of this should be extractable from Google Maps, right?
  • Dis­trib­ute admin priv­i­leges to local experts. Peo­ple have post­ed routes that are almost iden­ti­cal, named them dif­fer­ent things, and there­fore search­ing for routes brings up lots of repet­i­tive junk. Here's where Wikipedia pro­vides a good way of allow­ing the com­mu­ni­ty to police itself. A ded­i­cat­ed San Fran­cis­co cyclist could ensure that clas­sic routes are estab­lished and maintained.
  • Pro­vide inline dis­cus­sion of routes. An addi­tion­al prob­lem with lots of peo­ple post­ing sim­i­lar routes is that they're miss­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ty to have an inter­est­ing dis­cus­sion about that route. There IS knowl­edge out there that can be brought to the fore! Like Wikipedia, each route should be editable, and those edits of course should be revertable, and there should be a forum for dis­cus­sion about the route.
  • Allow peo­ple to sup­port routes. This is the sixth item, but it's real­ly one of the most impor­tant. Peo­ple should be able to join or approve routes, like "friend­ing" some­one in MySpace. This is where MySpace comes in. By "friend­ing" a route, so to speak, you give it your approval as safe, real­ly, and you also begin to build your own profile … 
  • Pro­vide a user pro­file page. It's an essen­tial com­po­nent of MySpace, Wikipedia, Flickr,, etc. Peo­ple love them­selves. They like to aggre­gate stuff. This site doesn't need to be MySpace, but it does need to pro­vide the notion of a pro­file, where a user can share some­thing about them­selves, and view the routes they've joined or friend­ed or whatever.

There must be more, right?I got to think­ing about this after read­ing these two inter­est­ing pieces on ByCy­cle — Online bike maps and Mak­ing Bicy­cle-Friend­ly Cities.

bikes san francisco

Bike-to-work day 2006

Today is Bike-to-Work Day, which means that Mar­ket Street was slight­ly more alive this morn­ing. As every­day is bike-to-work day for me, I would real­ly rather see the "ener­giz­er sta­tions" (PDF map of the Bike Coalition's cov­er­age) out there dur­ing the win­ter, when the wind is howl­ing, the streets slick, and the cyclists few in num­ber, but still, it's nice to see a few more peo­ple out there dodg­ing pot­holes and Muni tracks, and the snacks were tasty. Thx, SFBC.