Mid-May miscellany

Quick links! The new site isn’t ready, and CNU XV is next week. Wow!

1. “Everyone should bike to work for a week, if for no other reason than the people who complain about bikers breaking the law would shut the hell up…. Bicyclists disobey traffic regulations is very predictable and self preserving ways.” — BrodyV at DCist

2. A new bike’s on its way! Looks like this — a Surly Long Haul Trucker, 52cm, which I test rode at Hub Bike Co-op in Minneapolis recently but have ordered from Boulevard.* The thought process behind that particular frame was similar to this guy’s: a solid road bike, eminently practical and comfy on short or long rides. Although everyone says I should go for a faster, lighter cross bike — like, say, the Cross Check. On my test rides the Cross-Check wasn’t any more responsive or sprightly (a tad squirrelier, maybe), although it did corner ever so slightly better. Oh, and touring bikes are trendy in a retro-’70s way, unlike, say:

“In the last few years, however, track bikes have won over a decidedly nontough, unathletic batch of acolytes: hipsters. Grab a latte on any random corner in the Haight, Castro, Mission, etc., and you’ll be treated to a veritable parade of carefully coiffed thin mints trucking along on bikes like me. Zut alors!” — Ephraim the Track Bike (SF Weekly)

However, I’m still leery of touring, if only because I find American countryside to be supremely boring. French countryside, though — Paris-Brest wouldn’t be my first choice, but it *is* awfully famous.

Update, 4 July: Photos of the bike. After the little Wisconsin journey, I’m looking into Amtrak supported tours along the Allegheny Passage from Pittsburgh, Lake Champlain from Burlington, and the Niagara region from Buffalo. Hmm — funny how a different perspective changes everything.

* Update, 9 May 2008: Boulevard now has a few Surly models built-up and in stock, so future purchasers can stay on this side of the Mississippi. North Central Cyclery in DeKalb always keeps some in stock, but (as with much else in exurban Illinois) it’s honestly easier for me to go to Minnesota.

3. Design your own street.

4. Unlike here in Illinois, state legislators in Pennsylvania are paying attention to transit funding solutions. An editorial in the Morning Call by Rep. Douglas Reichley (R-Emmaus) calls for integrated regional transit funding:

[W]e should look seriously at the model for mass transit in New York City, where bridge and tunnel tolls subsidize fares for buses and subways. We should determine if the same kind of system could be implemented in individual cities, such as Philadelphia, or even on a regional basis.

A Lehigh Valley transit authority consisting of the parking bureaus from the three major Valley cities, the Lehigh Valley International Airport, and the Lehigh and Northampton Transit Authority (LANTA) could set up a system of fees and excise taxes to help LANTA stand on its own feet financially.

Such a transition would help to end the annual plea from mass transit systems for taxpayer bailouts, and relieve the financial drain of mass transit systems on the state budget.

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3 thoughts on “Mid-May miscellany

  1. it sounds like we’ve got similar bike needs.
    i too am in the market for a ‘workhorse’ bike. that trucker might be just the bike for me too! besides the surly bikes, what else did you look at?
    i’ve also got my eye on the jamis aurora, but haven’t had a chance to test ride it yet. in fact, none of the shops in ann arbor even carry steel frames.
    any advice?

  2. I didn’t look too far past the Surlys (surlies?) since their geometry on the smaller frames is quite excellent. Glanced past Bianchi, Marin, Cannondale,* and Trek and didn’t see anything really compelling below $2K; everything around $1K was pretty generic. And apologies to TEW, but I didn’t see anything all that exciting about the cyclocross frames in that price range. I was also looking for smaller names, just because I’m elitist like that.
    Surly also has the advantage of being carried by almost any bike shop — but finding built-up test rides is tough, hence my trip to Minny. Another possible option was heading to Toronto to try out Rocky Mountain or Urbanite cycles, both made in Canada and thus cheaper.

    * Actually, Cannondale has lovely urban-touring bikes among their Euro offerings; these may be similarly expensive, but I wouldn’t know.

  3. “learning a track stand is a skill you acquire as a natural consequence of riding a bicycle in traffic, or off-road, or at a velodrome. It should not be an end goal in and of itself… I can’t wait to see people practicing trackstands in McCarren park, like a bunch of trendy garden gnomes that occasionally fall over.” — The Bike Snob

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