Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Quick, name that tune! (hint: it mentions potholes)

The song is "A Day In The Life" by the Beatles, which was partly inspired
by this newspaper tidbit and ends with

I read the news today oh boy 
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire 
And though the holes were rather small 
They had to count them all 
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall. 
I'd love to turn you on.

NDLR: to learn about the unrelated company started by Jim Blackburn, 
nowadays a well-known maker of bike lights, pumps, water bottle cages,
and especially pannier racks, click here or here.

Anyway, I read the news today, oh boy. Town Topics has declared 2014
to have been Year of The BicycleScroll down around half-way to read
their synopsis. Town Topics and I are out of sync vis-a-vis word usage,
it should say "synchrony". But kudos to PBAC for an action-packed year.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

the gift of a bike

The following review was posted by Toronto-based Jenny Treash. It concerns the latest animated short
film by the award-winning Torill Kove, which recounts memories of growing up in an unconventional family
in 1960s Norway. Kove earned a masters degree in Urban Planning prior to becoming an animator. 

As kids, I think we'd all admit to being embarrassed by our parents at one time or another.  In Torill Kove's 
animated short film "Me and My Moulton," a seven-year old girl struggles with the notion that her family 
is unconventional and different and she's quite bothered by it.  She's envious of the family living downstairs 
because she views them as normal.  The father is clean shaven.  Her dad has a moustache – the only man 
in a town of 10,000 people with one.  And this makes her stomach hurt.

The little girl and her two sisters long for a traditional bicycle like the one the children downstairs have.  They 
ask their parents for one and are told that a bike has been ordered for them from England.  When it arrives, 
it is a Moulton; a folding bike with small wheels and a tall seat and handlebars.  "Our parents have bought 
the bike they wanted," the little girl remarks.  It can be taken apart to fit inside the truck of a car, her parents 
proclaim proudly.  But they don't have a car.  They don't drive.  Despite their initial dismay at seeing the 
unique bicycle, the three sisters climb on their moulton and take it for a ride.  Though not on the bike they 
had in mind, they're happy.

Watch the 1-minute trailer here or the entire 13-minute animated film at at this link. Soundtrack is by
Kove's husband, jazz musician Kevin Dean.

In this short excerpt, the anxious young protagonist from Me and My Moulton looks on as her architect 
parents re-design Christmas. The tree, presents, and cake are all re-made in simple, clean lines using 
the principles of good design. But will Santa be able to get through the contemporary chimney on the 
family's flat-roofed home?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Philadelphia Story: Zagster

The launch of Paris' pioneering VĂ©lib' bicycle sharing system in 2007 made an impression 
on two visiting Drexel University students. Timothy Ericson '07 and Jason Meinzer '09 were 
studying abroad as part of the Drexel in London program and witnessed the rollout of Europe's
biggest bike-sharing system on a serendipitous weekend trip to France. Seeing bikes
as such mainstream, ubiquitous elements in the urban landscape sparked a vision they'd
bring back to Philadelphia. Read the story here or watch How to Start a Bike Sharing Company,
a video interview with Jason Meinzer. Tim Ericson, CEO and co-founder, is interviewed here:

    "The twenty to forty year-olds are really shifting into the sharing economy. I, for one, don't 
      want to own anything. I think that people are moving away from buying expensive things. 
      We're seeing it in a lot of different industries. In transportation, I see bike sharing being 
      a key part of the overall trend of people moving back into the urban core, not owning a car, 
      and utilizing public transit."

In starting the company, initially named CityRyde, Ericson and Meinzer were able to leverage
Drexel's Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship. Two years ago, the company took part in the 
TechStars Boston and MassChallenge startup accelerators, and scored a $1 million funding
round led by LaunchCapital of Cambridge. The funding also included participation from 
Detroit-based Fontinalis Partners, whose founder is Princeton alumnus Bill Ford '79, and
Jean Hammond, prolific angel investor notably of Zipcar. Cambridge became HQ for Zagster.
whose "elevator pitch" goes like this:

       71% of Americans say they'd like to bicycle more yet list access to a bike as the number 
       one barrier to doing so. Zagster provides bikes where people live, work and visit; giving them 
       access using their mobile phone. We've found property managers (e.g. Related Management), 
       universities (Yale, Princeton), businesses (Cisco) and hotels are willing to cover the costs of 
       providing bike fleets as an amenity.

Meanwhile back in Philly, Mayor Michael Nutter was raising awareness by subtle fashion statements.

Through a partnership announced in 2013, Advanced Sports International, a 15-year-old bicycle distributor 
in Northeast Philadelphia, began supplying Zagster with Breezer brand bikes, and provided space in ASI's
warehouse to add its electronic system and other touches to the bikes. 

When Mayor Nutter made a surprise trip to France last July, conveniently timed to watch the concluding
stages of the Tour de France and of La Course, he was accompanied by ASI's chief executive officer, Patrick 
Cunnane, and by state rep Madeleine Dean, who is Cunnane's wife. This bike-oriented trade mission
also involved a visit to Brian Cookson, new president of Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). As a result,
the Parx Casino Philly Classic next June has become a UCI-sanctioned women's World Cup event.

Mayor Nutter's wife Lisa is an avid and ASI-sponsored track cyclist. She is no doubt enthusiastic
about Project 250, a plan to convert 4 acres of the Olmstead-designed FDR Park to an Olympic-class
velodrome. In September, she accepted the inaugural Advocacy Leadership award on behalf of
Mayor Nutter at the huge Interbike Expo in Las Vegas.

The Project 250 velodrome is described, per this 68-page "Alternatives Analysis", as a "MULTI-SPORT,
is hugely interesting, but also an 8MB download. And by the way, Philly might bid on the 2024 Olympics.

   "During the last three years there has been an upwelling of enthusiasm for cycling and cycling in sport 
   as a path to healthy living and as an inexpensive out of school opportunity for boys and girls to develop
   character and find fulfillment throughout the City of Philadelphia, otherwise likely unrealizable. The City's 
   recognition of its inherent potential, combined with the diligent efforts and analysis by the Mayor's office, 
   local business professionals, and cycling enthusiasts, have reached a logical conclusion, plan, and vision
   for the City of Philadelphia. On October 2nd with the Honorable Michael A. Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia, 
   we will unveil the Vision – a multisport/use facility, focused and centered on a 250 meter, Velodrome meeting 
   Olympic Standards, housed in a World Class, Iconic Green Building, which we believe will become known 
   internationally as a symbol of cycling sport and youth development, and as a symbol of green power, with 
   its design adding another graceful icon to Philadelphia's beautiful skyline."

Last month, Mayor Nutter signed an Executive Order to create the Philadelphia Bicycle Advocacy Board,
whose chair is Karen Bliss, Vice President of Marketing for ASI. The other fourteen appointed members 
include: Philip Senechal, Velodrome Planning Team; Patrick Cunnane; Lisa Nutter; Marty Nothstein, Olympic
gold medalist for track cycling; Matt Diefenbach, track racer and Motorola account manager, and
Kristin Gavin, executive director of Gearing Up. 

The latter is a unique bicycling program to help women in transition find new lives by giving them a chance
to get outside, build self-esteem and bond with one another. It originated as a business plan when Kristen
Gavin was a graduate student at Temple University.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sourland Cycles set to open tomorrow, in Hopewell !

The address is 53 East Broad Street, in Hopewell.

Bonus trivia, from the annals of cycling numerology:

      In the Tour de France, the race number 51 is considered
      lucky. The number has been worn by several winners of the race:
      Eddy Merckx in 1969, Luis Ocana in 1973, Bernard Thevenet in 1975
      and Bernard Hinault in 1978. All four men won their first Tour while
      wearing Dossard 51.