Monday, July 30, 2007

Cyclist's smorgasbord

Bikes vs Cars--the debate moves indoors

The Bus Project's latest Debate Club series event is Monday Tuesday the 31st:
Prepare to be infinitely infotained as the PDX pedal pushers take on the galloping gas guzzlers in a Debate Club duel of dazzling derring-do. Derring-don’t miss it!

Featuring special guest moderator, Portland Transportation Commissioner Sam Adams.

Team Bike:
Jonathan Maus of
Scott Bricker of the BTA

Team Car: Sreya Sarkar of Cascade Policy Institute
Mel Zucker Oregon Transportation Institute

PLUS a wacky video adventure like nothing you’ve ever seen before. We promise.

Monday Tuesday night, 7pm, at rontoms, 600 E. Burnside.

Trains and bikes: A 19th century technology meet-up

Crossing the Willamette Friday on the lower deck of the Steel Bridge, I fell in alongside the Amtrak Cascades, creeping into Union Station on its way from Eugene up to Seattle and Vancouver BC. Several faces were up against the windows, waving and grinning. A Portland moment.

(If you take Amtrack between Portland and Seattle, always get seats on the left side of the train going north [right side coming back]. That side has the best view.)

It's not easy being green

Coming through downtown on Friday, a hybrid car cut into my lane barely a car length in front of me, accelerated to pass the car in the lane where it had been, then whipped back into that lane again. If their turn-signals were working, you couldn't prove it by me.

Later, I saw another hybrid make a fast--and signal-free--right turn, cutting off a cyclist in the bike lane in the process.

There's a lesson there for anyone who figures that hybrid owners, having dropped $25K for a pro-environment statement, are therefore by definition going to be sympathetic and respectful toward all other forms of alternative transportation. If you're thinking about jaywalking and you pick the hybrid to step in front of on the ideological assumption that they'll be less likely to mow you down--well, you might want to rethink some of your premises. That's all I'm saying.

My yellow-shirt moment--almost

One of my favorite post-atomic war novels from my youth begins with a nuclear strike wiping out the President, the Vice President, and most of the cabinet and Congress, leaving (I believe) the Secretary of Agriculture as the next in line to become president.

Watching doping allegations take out one Tour de France competitor after another this year, I began to understand how the Secretary felt: Every time the phone would ring, I was expecting it to be The Call:
"'Allo, Beel? Eet ees incroyable--everyone else more qualified zan you 'as failed zee drog test! You must suit up and feeneesh zee Tour for zee honaire of your countree and zee sport!"

The New York Times asks, perhaps needlessly apocalyptically: "You can fix a game, dope an athlete, bet on a dog’s carcass. But can you kill sports?"

Yes, we know what's in it

If you want to prove you're tough, you can compete in a triathlon. If you want to prove you're invulnerable--or at least adventurous to an arguably clinical degree--you can compete in the Portland Triathlon on September 2nd, which will actually involve swimming 0.9 miles in the dubious waters of the Willamette River. According to a write-up in the Trib:
According to the city’s Bureau of Environmental Services, the water quality of the Willamette is safe enough to swim in as long as it’s not done within 48 hours after a heavy rainfall, which prompts a combined sewer overflow. The city sends out public warnings to the media and posts on its Web site,, when the water is unsafe.

Well, I think we all feel better now.

Actually, the triathlon, true to its Portland origins, is going to be a highly eco-friendly event, right down to the swag:
The 32-year-old North Portland resident [triathlon organizer Jeff Henderson], who moved here two years ago from New York, also decided to use bamboo for the shirts rather than cotton. It’s “softer than the softest cotton,” he said, as well as biodegradable, moisture-wicking and antibacterial, to prevent odor.

The T-shirts will be emblazoned with the message "Yes, we are going to swim in the Willamette."

And as long as we're talking about bamboo

I've blogged about this elsewhere, but I think it's just too cool to resist another chance to mention.

Behold bambucicleta, the bamboo bicycle:

It's stylish, it's elegant, it's rugged, and it's largely biodegradable. It's also rather spendy for something of such humble material--in part because, like a TARDIS, it's as much grown as it is built.

(Images via The Duff Brewery [Blinky] and The American Bamboo Society [bicycle].)

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