Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

23 April 2017

If The Shoe Fits, Go To Woolloongaba

On my refriegerator, I don't have any kids' drawings because, well, I don't have any kids.  But I do have photos of my cats--along with cards for upcoming appointments with my opthamologist and dentist, as well as various notes to myself.  They're all held by magnets.  Some are souvenirs of places I've visited, like the mini-replica of a Paris street sign for St. Germain des Pres and a Mucha illustration from Prague.

One of those magnets, though, reads, "She who dies with the most shoes, wins."

In the early years of my life as Justine, I lived more or less as if that were true--at least, to the degree my budget allowed it.  These days, though, my shoe collection isn't nearly as expensive or flashy as it was then.  I am long past that stage of wearing high heels to go to the store for cat food, for one thing.  Also, I guess you could say that I simply feel more secure of who I am now.

But I must admit, I like to kick up my heels now and again.  I also like to see interesting unusual and beautiful shoes, whether or not they are practical.  Sometimes I'll go shoe "shopping" without any intention of buying anything--though, rest assured, I don't try them on unless I'm thinking of buying!

So, of course, a "shoe bike" is going to get my attention.

You might remember the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.  That shoe-bike, and others, accompanied the "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" float in the parade.

That shoe-bike, and one other, are for sale at an antique shop in the Brisbane, Australia suburb of Woolloongabba.  I mean, any place where such things would be sold has to have a memorable name, right?

Maybe I'll buy a lottery ticket and, if I win, take the next flight out.  Actually, I might be able to afford an actual trip to Australia, whether or not I win.  And I could even buy one of the bikes.  The problem would be in getting it home:  It would probably cost as much as the trip itself, maybe more!

Besides, I don't know where I'd keep it.  Max and Marlee won't question my buying another bike (They don't ask, "Why do you need six?"); they might even like curling up on it.  But   I would have to get rid of--my other bikes?  my books?  my bed?  OK, maybe the bed can go! ;-)  Or the sofa.

For the record:  Inside each of the "shoes" is a three-wheeled adult tricycle.  So, technically, they're shoe trikes, but it doesn't sound as catchy as "shoe bikes".

22 April 2017

Earth To Mingus: Kiddical Mass Today!

Today is Earth Day.

The first Earth Day was celebrated on this date in 1970.  It is widely agreed that the "Bike Boom" also began that year.  Of course, nobody can pin down an exact moment when the "Boom" began, but I would reckon that if there is one, it came some time around Earth Day.

I was 11 years old then, so I can remember the beginnings of Earth Day and the Bike Boom.  Thus, they are intertwined for me:  I cannot think of one without the other.  Although the tie between cycling and environmentalism loosened during the '80's and '90's, I think they have been drawn together again in recent years.

So, not surprisingly, many people are going to get on their bikes. Some will go on organized rides.  One of the most appropriate for this day, I believe, is the "Kiddical Mass" ride.

Speaking of a bike ride:  On occasion, I post a song or piece of music related to cycling.  Here's one appropriate for this day, or any:

Yes, it's "Pedal Point Blues" by Charles Mingus.  Were he alive, he would be 95 years old today!

I couldn't find any images of him on a bike, but I have heard and read that he did indeed ride bicycles for transportation, sometimes while carrying his bass!

Hmm..Could it be that the organizers of Earth Day were really celebrating his birthday? After all, he is a musician of the world--of Earth, if you will!

21 April 2017

Why Do Most Bike Thieves Get Away With It?

In today's Los Angeles Times, an editorial writer asked the question on the minds of many cyclists:

"Why are cities allowing bicycle theft to go virtually unpunished?"

The editorial points out something that most of us already know:  Bike theft simply isn't a high priority, if it's a priority at all, for most police departments.  There are a variety of reasons, valid or not, for this.  One is that police tend to concentrate on high-profile, high-value crimes.  So a stolen Maserati gets more attention than a missing Masi, possibly because insurance companies and lawyers are likely to have similar priorities.  

Another reason might be one a police officer expressed to me:  "Well, if you have a good lock and insurance policy, you can replace your bike."  This is true, up to a point:  Most policies--whether from lock makers or insurance companies, have deductibles.  But, even if a bike's owner is reimbursed for its full value, he or she may not be able to replace the stolen bike with another like it, especially if it is a custom or discontinued model. 

Even if a cyclist is reimbursed for the full price he or she paid for the bike, that amount of money probably won't buy as good a bike as the one that was taken, especially if the bike is more than a couple of years old.   And, of course, the deductibles and depreciation mean that the cyclist is likely to get considerably less than he or she paid for the bike.

From Priceconomics

What that means is that the newly-bikeless rider will buy a lower-quality bike than the one that was stolen--that is, if he or she buys another bike at all.  The LA Times editorial points out that according to one study, 7 percent of bike-theft victims in Montreal never replace their bikes.

The article makes a point that for many cyclists (such as yours truly), not having a bike is not merely an inconvenience.  An increasing number of people, mainly in cities, are depending on their bikes for everyday transportation.   Most of us aren't rich:  According to a Federal government survey cited in the editorial, the people most likely to cycle (or, for that matter, walk) to work are those with household incomes of less than $10,000 a year.  That group of people is likely to include, in addition to low-wage workers, the unemployed, retirees and students.  

Also in that group  are many who make their livings on their bicycles.  For a year, I was one.  In nearly every city--and in some suburban and even rural areas--there is an army of folks who deliver everything from documents to dim sum on their wheels.  For them, losing their bikes is catastrophic.

And they, as often as not, are the least able to afford to buy another bike of any kind.  In much the same way that Kim Kardashian being robbed of 10 million dollars' worth of jewelry is not going to affect her lifestyle as much as the average person is affected by losing the watch he or she wears every day, the guy (or woman) who loses a Porsche can more easily afford to replace it than the delivery person who purchased a Peugeot U-08 from a tag sale.

That, I believe, might be the most important "take away" from that L.A. Times editorial.  It may be that law enforcement authorities still see bicyclists losing their bikes as kids losing their toys but someone whose luxury sports car is stolen as the victim of a "real" crime.  Unless that changes, bike theft will be a mostly-unsolved crime and bike thefts will continue to be under-reported.