Bike bells, veggie hot dogs and much, much more

If you saw the earlier post regarding unusual bike racks around town, you may remember this shot, taken over at the UO’s Jacqua Center, the building that puts the “student” in “student-athlete”:

I happened to pass by again this week …

As you can see, the racks themselves appear to be holding up nicely to the merciless passage of time. As for the bike, we are left to wonder: Has the athlete been inside studying all this time, as the bike is slowly stripped to the bare frame? Or perhaps this is Jeremiah Masoli’s bike.

Anyway, it’s certainly solid testimony to the effectiveness of a U-lock, though we’re thinking the rear wheel will be next to go.

Hey, as long as we’re over on campus, look at this interesting photograph, which shows the verdant foliage and calming waters of the Jacqua Center’s reflecting pool, while into the frame from the left rolls none other than … Albus Dumbledore! On a bike!

* * *

If you are the kind of person for whom a vegetarian Polish sausage or a vegan philly steak is not an oxymoron or an outright abomination, ride your bike over to 12th and Willamette and see this guy.

He offers a discount (50 cents) on a purchase if you ride your bike to his place. Sure 50 cents may not change your life, but you know what? Riding your bike around town just might. And I like anybody who offers discounts to cyclists.

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Some of you may remember my post on the futility of yelling out “On your left” as you approach a cyclist or pedestrian from behind on a path. As a result, I now am the proud papa of a new bicycle bell.

I’ll be honest with you. This was difficult. I used to think bells were only for kids and dorks. It is the old roadie snobbery in me.

Not that I ever had any right to roadie snobbery. I last pinned a number on a jersey something like 12 years ago (Do they still use pins for that? Probably not. Too much added weight.) And even then I did so only so that the people checking the race course long after most riders had finished would recognize that I was actually part of the race and thus know that the guy with the stopwatch manning the finish line should not be allowed to go home just yet.

But roadie snobbery dies slowly.

The only thing that was acceptable to mount on my handlebars, I thought, was a little computer that told me my current speed, maximum speed, average speed, distance traveled, time elapsed, calories burned, cadence, heart rate, maximum heart rate, watts output, current place I’d be in if I were racing in the Vuelta de Espana, amount of weight I could save if I switched over to titanium brake levers, date of expiration of my subscription to VeloNews and the number of hours until the next suggested Shaving of the Legs.

I’m happy to say the battery died some time ago and I have not felt moved to replace it. A huge step, this was, in overcoming Roadie Snobbery Syndrome. It also cleared off some room on my handlebars for the bell — but that extra space actually turned out to be unnecessary.

Yes, it seems I’ve gotten over the bell issue. Although, my wife suggested, when she saw how it was mounted, that I wanted “to hide it.” Au contrair, said I!

I simply didn’t pay enough attention when I picked it out and realized later that the mounting bracket was too small to fit around my handlebars. What sort of handlebar it would fit I have no idea. But it did fit on my stem, so rather than go back to the bike shop to exchange it, there it was mounted.

And let me declare right here: Does the ring of a bell ever clear people out of your way! It’s positively Pavlovian. It’s like these people were conditioned long ago to believe that the sound of a bell means there’s a load of nuclear waste coming through. It even seems to work if the person up ahead is wearing an iPod.

* * *

Hey, let’s stop in at the Letter-to-the-Editor Watchtower, from which vantage we spot a missive, signed by one Robert Bolman of Eugene, printed in the Aug. 8 edition of The Register-Guard. Salient excerpts:

If the city of Eugene wishes to improve conditions for bicyclists, it should instruct the police to stop issuing citations to bicyclists who run stop signs or red lights. When a bicyclist can see with certainty that there are no cars coming for more than a block in either direction, it is absolutely absurd to expect her to discard the kinetic energy that her leg muscles have been working to maintain by coming to a full stop. … Talk about a victimless crime! Riding a bicycle through a stop sign makes smoking funny herbs or paying someone to help you have an orgasm look like grand theft auto! … Bicyclists are doing exactly the right thing. Their exemplary behavior should be rewarded, not punished by imposing on them the same laws that were written to apply to automobiles traveling at high speeds, weighing over a ton and suffering from restricted visibility.

When broaching a controversial topic such as this, it is best to start off by establishing some common ground, in order to make all parties feel comfortable, to allow them to see each other as fellow human beings and to thereby warm them up to the possibility of compromise, peace and understanding.

So. Raise your hand if you like orgasms.

Good. Having established our shared humanity, I’d like to take issue with the red light idea. I mean, sure, do I come to a complete stop at every stop sign I come to? Oh, but of course I do!

But letting cyclists run red lights? Is it really that hard to stop? Also, one could argue by his logic, that it is absurd to ask a motorist to waste fuel by actually stopping at a stop sign and thereby “discarding kinetic energy.” Moreover, I don’t feel the need to be “rewarded” for riding a bike. Call me old-fashioned, but I also believe that traffic is more predictable and safe if everyone follows — or at least is expected to follow — a common set of rules.

Not only that, but you have to remember that stuff like this incenses some people who do not cycle, which may not do much to help the cause of cyclists. And indeed, on Aug. 14, came the inevitable “WTF” reply from Sara Mach of Florence, representing the rest of humanity who don’t quite understand why cyclists should be exempted from laws when so many cyclists already disregard many of them at will anyway:

What an idea Robert Bolman proposes … that officers of the law not write tickets to bicyclists who run red lights or stop signs because 1) the cyclist might lose momentum by stopping, and/or 2) there is no “traffic” coming so what’s the harm? I say fine. I’m all in favor of reducing the idiot gene pool before they breed. There is one tiny little problem: What if a car is pulling out of a driveway and sees the green light, or decides to turn and there is the bicyclist? What about the irreversible harm the driver suffers who accidentally hurts or kills the bicyclist? Stop signs and traffic lights are there to protect all people using the road …

Seem like relatively good points to me, Ms. Mach.

The way I feel about this sort of thing: If you want people in cars to have some respect for cyclists, start by having some respect for them and for the rules we’re all expect to follow. I know, some cyclist’s jaw just hit his top tube, and he’s about to cry, “But they don’t they respect us!”

That’s like that thing I keep hearing (speaking of letters to the editor) about how there shouldn’t be a mosque in New York City because a church wouldn’t be allowed in Mecca. Talk about an argument that completely misses the point …

* * *

I like to think I care not about such vain things: But if you kinda sorta feel like maybe you might like this blog, you know, on a good day or maybe when you are otherwise excruciatingly bored — then go here and vote in Eugene Weekly’s Best of Eugene contest (specifically take notice of, ahem, first item under the heading “Arts”).

9 thoughts on “Bike bells, veggie hot dogs and much, much more

  1. Great post today – though, it may be seen as controversial to step up your writing like this while bsnyc is spending the week with his chain dropped.

    With respect to bells, I went to Arriving By Bike for the first time this week… I have never seen so many bells in one place! I wasn’t really looking for one, but I was hoping I might spot one that I could mount incognito like yours on my more recent vintage headset/stem, but nothing looked promising.

    With respect to stop sings, I respectfully submit:

    I read a comment on another blog where somebody said “I treat stop signs the same way cars do, I roll through them.”

    I’ve also wondered if the perception of space and time and movement are just different on a bike – when I roll through with what feels like a huge margin to me, do the cars feel like they just had a near miss? I’m no daredevil, but I think it’s possible that it looks like I am to motorists sometimes.

    (like, when I’m through the intersection with 4 car lengths to spare, does that look super close to them?)

    1. I’m going to take the Alberto Contador defense and say I just didn’t know that BikeSnobNYC was taking a week off.
      Truth be told, I decided a while ago that I had to stop reading his blog — even though I like it a lot — to prevent myself from unconsciously or consciously stealing from him any more than I already have.
      (further comment on the stop sign issue below)

  2. With regards to bells I offer up:

    I love the escalator & shopping aisle bits. I’m not one to write it usually but… I did laugh out loud.

    Stop signs… no comment from me, but I do like Pedalon’s link.

  3. I may not have been totally clear how I feel about a law to make it legal for a bike to “slow and go” at a stop sign, sometimes referred to as the “Idaho law.” (Thanks for the links, guys).
    For the record, I’m on board with that. My understanding is that it’s been introduced in the Oregon Legislature a couple of times, but failed to pass.
    It was the idea about letting cyclists legally run red lights that gave me pause. But, hey, I’d listen to an argument (that goes beyond the one that letter-writer Robert Bolman offered) and any evidence that such a law would be safe and effective. I’d listen, but I am skeptical.
    For some reason — that maybe I should try to articulate sometime — I make a distinction between stop signs and red lights. I’m not bothered by cyclists who “slow and go” at a stop sign. Of course I do it myself. We all do.
    What bothers me are things like red-light running, riding the wrong way on a one-way street, and other violations that I see often and that, to me, are more blatant and potentially dangerous and, I would argue, damaging to our image and cause.

  4. I seriously almost spit coffee on my computer with the “raising hands” comment. I then almost spilled coffee while raising my hand. I’m dying to figure out if I know you “in real life” or not.

    As for the Vegan Cheesesteak, THOSE ARE AMAZING. Viva occasionally carts the Ninkasi patio and I had one there with a pint. Perfect! Although it gave me crazy gas later.

    As for the Idaho Stop law, the BTA tried for the second time to pass it in 2008, but if failed for several reasons. It died in committee because there were more important issues (budget) and they were getting heat for fiddling with bike stuff while “Rome was burning.” Bicyclists also lost a lot of ground because of a slew of rude and vicious letter responses to the bike registration bill that was proposed. Also, Scott Bricker, the BTA lobbyist, was fired during the legislative session. And finally, even BTA members were divided on the bill, and the City of Eugene came out against it (and then changed to a neutral stance after an advocate outcry.)

    It’s important to note that the Oregon version of the bill didn’t allow treating red lights as stop signs like the Idaho Bill does. It only included stop signs as yield signs.

    Personally, I role stop signs if it’s safe and consider it an act of civil disobedience. I treat them like yields, of course, cars always get their fair turn. I try not to run stop lights unless it’s 4am and no-one is around. :)

    If you haven’t watched this, you really should. The best argument for Idaho Stops I’ve ever seen:

    Wouldn’t it be sweet if bike blogs took the #1 and #2 spot in the Best of Poll?

    1. Hey Seager,
      Thanks for the update on the stop sign bills. My earlier comment suggested the Idaho law was just about stop signs — and I realize that’s not right. It also does have the actual red light part, too. In which bikes can go through a red light. I didn’t actually realize that. Heck, I’m even from Idaho. But I haven’t lived there for a long time. I moved away a long time before that law was passed.

      No, I’m almost certain I don’t know you in real life! Maybe we should meet sometime — just not after you’ve had a vegan cheesesteak.

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