Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Getting My Advocacy On

On Saturday I attended the launching of BikeMore, a new bicycle advocacy group just starting up in Baltimore. (Note: group does not yet have a website, so that link goes to Twitter.) Some random thoughts:

  • It makes me ridiculously happy to pull onto a sidewalk and see three dozen bikes parked there, and know that almost everyone at the meeting got there on a bike. I didn't snap a picture because I'm not yet at the stage of my blogging career where photography is second nature, but rest assured, there were plenty of bikes, and I hope to get to the point where it's common to walk down a street in Baltimore and see three dozen bikes (although hopefully with better parking).
  • I was quite happy to see a diversity of ages and genders represented... okay yeah it was still largely white males in the 30-50 range but maybe a fifth of the attendees were chicks? Not so much racial diversity but hey, gotta start somewhere. And a focus on diversity (both of the members of the group and of the eventual board of directors) was one of the main things talked about so I am pretty confident that this isn't just going to become a conglomeration of vehicular cycling advocates with their insane hatred of bike lanes.
  • Still a little confused about how advocacy at this level actually WORKS. Like, say you have an awesome idea, like taking out all the on-street parking on Calvert Street and putting up a sweet two-way bike lane with a barrier. (Note to politicians: steal my idea!) If you're like me and have no political connections or desire to BE a politician, what then? But I guess this is stuff I'll learn as I get more involved!
  • The most contentious debate seemed to be about the name of the group, and at some points nobody really had anything to say and I wondered if the facilitator was getting peeved. I don't know if that means we're all on the same page or if everyone was just really shy.

So anyway, it was a fun experience even if I got a little stir-crazy by the end. (Eight hours in a room with no windows, oh my!) I am looking forward to being a part of this group even if I'm still a little new to the idea of organized advocacy in general. Once again, BikeMore's the name, and I'm sure I'll be posting lots more about it!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Random Thoughts from an Increasingly Infrequent Blogger

1. I listen to music while riding now. Yeah, I know, it's dangerous. Still not as dangerous as driving, of course! My new commute is around forty minutes each way, and truth is, I was getting a little bored, and also very, very tired of listening to nothing but wind and cacophonous engine noises. Right ear only, of course, and not ALL the time, although most of the time. I find my music choices on the bike are slightly different from my music choices at home: more dancey, electronic-y type stuff, no folk rock by bearded hipster dudes. Some current faves: Cut Copy, The Go! Team, Tune-Yards, Aesop Rock, Los Campesinos! (Looking at that list, the unifying factor seems to be "bands with exclamation points in their names." If only I liked !!! more.)

2. It's sorta funny to me that as much of a transportation snob as I am, and how much I truly believe in sustainability and urban living and whatnot... in some ways I will always be a suburbanite. Take my food choices, which would probably horrify most bike bloggers. My diet is that of the typical five year old without parental supervision: we're talking corn dogs, Mountain Dew, giant blocks of processed cheese, and candy. Oh, so much candy. And even though I know this stuff is bad for me (and the planet), it's easy to believe it's not, because I'm at a weight I'm happy with and I don't feel any better when I don't eat crappy. In fact, I feel worse, because I'm denying myself my favorite foods! So at least for now, I'm going to continue eating dirty and traveling clean, the exact opposite of most "health nuts" I know.

There's also the fact that I sort of love big box stores, at least in concept. I like doing all my shopping in one place, especially since I don't have a secure trunk to put my purchases in. Anything I buy has to come with me to the next store, so yeah, cutting down on trips is definitely something I look for when I'm planning any consumerist activities. Of course, in my fantasy world, big box stores would pay a living wage and not be surrounded by miles of shitty parking lot and would sell only fair trade or locally sourced goods. It's more about convenience than price, for me. (And hey, it's not like I could find locally sourced versions of most of the stuff I buy at Target anyway, no matter how much I'd be willing to spend.)

3. Drop bars: what's the deal with them? I'm starting to think my next bike is going to have drop bars. I have no interest in racing, but I DO have interest in doing recreational rides like Tour Dem Parks and although it's certainly possible to do a 30+ mile ride on a comfort hybrid with BMX handlebars, it seems like it might be easier on a more aerodynamic bike. Like, I even found myself struggling to keep up with Critical Mass and I don't know how much of that is because I'm just slow, and how much is the bike's set-up. A little of one, a little of the other, I'd reckon. But then, drop bar bikes look more difficult to ride and someone might mistake me for an athlete, which would be the worst thing ever, am I right? So, mental note: if I get a bike with drop bars, I have to be sure to always wear an evening gown and/or clown costume when I'm riding it.

4. I know it's old, but this Portlandia clip still cracks my shit up:

Cars, man, WHY???