Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Throne of Rattan Cane

Wicker bike by brasil- eiros artist Jarbas Lopes shown at Arizona State University

A conversation with a bike acquaintance concluded, “Withstand sand.” So well covered last month, was tempted rather to reply, “Mind the moguls.” Labann surely does. A double entendre, could mean pavement humps or privileged punks. Frost heaves left a lot of skill challenging, tire slashing runs, similar to what skiers stumble over in Aspen. Mogul Empire declined because of popular reaction to same corruption that describes corporations and government today: Disgust for depravity in high places, excessive luxury, and exploitation of peasants; failures of conservatism; revolt against religious rule; social independence. Rattan unravels under bloated 1% gluttons. Monarchs insist their right to rule is divine and succession to throne, so much the topic of recent British press, secured by birth. Atheists disagree; secular commerce ignores royalty. Nothing more than a tourist attraction, the Crown Jewels have lost any ruling sway or trendsetting cache.

Though Paris strives to be Europe’s bicycling capitol, you might be impressed by an official report from London’s Road Safety Observatory. It makes an important distinction: "Cyclists opting for assertion want infrastructure that helps to establish their right to be on the road and that clarifies how the road is to be shared; and, cyclists opting for avoidance want infrastructure that gives them more opportunities to avoid traffic." If anything, it demonstrates riders aren’t a homogenous group, don’t necessarily concur, and probably require both.

Just as pelaton devotees who call bikes racing equipment do not epitomize all cyclists, "avoiders" don't represent majority, either. America’s Federal Code of Regulations and state laws grant pedestrians first rights to shared pavement, followed by cyclists, commercial operators of taxis and trucks, and lastly private car drivers. In a conspiracy of greed the amoral and illegal reversal of this order was choreographed by automakers, Big Oil, and their lobbyists, who for decades urged parents to deny children their bikes. Sure, why not curb sustainable alternatives and ensure everyone the right die at speed and take out others? As Hunter S. Thompson observed in Kingdom of Fear (2003), “We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world, a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us. No redeeming social value. Just whores. Get out of our way, or we'll kill you.” Capitalists declared war on low consuming, slow moving cyclists; they're not supposed to fight back? Freedom Day, the 150th Juneteenth, may only be a month away (June 19th), but reforms should begin today.

What’s unbearable is having to repeat songs of fire and ice for the umpteenth time. Bicyclists shouldn’t have to put up with bridge bans; lack of lanes into and racks at airport, bus and train terminals; loss of shoulders at intersections, where many cycling accidents occur; rotaries that require instant acceleration. It's bad enough bikes are banned from >25% of roads (interstates, limited access highways), discrimination that favors motorists. Like all of roadnet, bikenet must be continuous to offer a real alternative, preserve pavement, relieve gridlock, and stop pollution. Why not bar motorists from some streets to create corridors through cities that segregate cyclists from noxious odors, traffic worries, and unhealthy fumes? Yet saving shoulders on streets makes them safer for everyone. Cars can pull over in emergencies. Bike riders can ease over to let cars pass. Shoulderless, 2-lane, undivided roads account for majority of accidents of all types. Federal law says streets need to be complete, or provide, at least, a nearby parallel route for vulnerable users; if a bikeway, it must be lit, patrolled and swept. States that don’t comply either forfeit federal funding or pay fines; legislators don't care because it's your taxes they squander.

What you begin to trust then let in ultimately defines you. Sly pundits advise you to dismiss negative spokesmen; beware their treachery. When status quo gets ugly, one ought to say so loudly, not schmooze gentry and smooth over transgressions with pleasantry. As soon as anyone imposes senseless rules, patriots circumvent them. Most, though well intentioned, are inapplicable or unenforceable, or just cannot be abided. As John Barlow wrote and many have adopted as a mantra, "We'll go right through the book and break each and every law." How else can boundaries be tested? It's a marvel anyone still believes that dicta serve any purpose other than domination by insane ideologues, who’d curtail your rights to expand their own, or those less intelligent or talented. Clearly, some can’t handle freedom, but isn’t that for them to decide after frequently exercising? Whoever doesn’t assume responsibilities inherent in liberties lives to regret consequences: disrespect, homelessness, illness, poverty, probable death, punishment enough. A society that allows a few to rise only to be let down repeatedly has every right to complain and remedy the problems that power invites. Instead people persecute a harmless crank… too easy to kick a dog, too hard to depose a king.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

“Jobular” Vein

Do your part, fulfill some destiny, get a job, and satisfy society. Asking the impossible? By what criteria do you claim success? How do you determine this miracle has occurred? Important conditions must be met. Have walked on water, though it was frozen at the time, and stood on Brook loath to serve. Farmers routinely turn bean into bounty, dirt into dollars, mush into wine, and seed into loaves that feed multitudes. What can wordsmiths do to compare with completing such life sustaining equations?

Writing isn’t a job, it’s an avocation. The universe chooses those who do. If you question whether it's for you, you'll never compete with millions of others already wordsmithing for fee or free. You need no permission even when forbidden by decree. Just open a vein to bleed onto page after page. Can’t expect pay, yet must earn the right and like to write about the bike fight. Unless you’ve completed centuries or multi-day tours, have ridden as profession, recreation and transportation, mastered bicycle handling and wrenching, and sustained injuries, what more can you offer that hasn’t already been said? Labann surveys bicycling counterculture because it’s ongoing and underreported, though has to carefully select news to not repeat yours.



With 135 million titles lying unread in The Library of Congress, why would anyone want to add to this dust collection? The best distributed book in history has been The Holy Bible, all you need to get by among puritanical westerners, though Book of Mormon, Quran and Red Book of Mao vie for devotion. Writing sermons is still writing. In fact, clerics and preachers have an interested audience, more than most writers, who struggle to attract their own tribe. About 75% of writing involves mainly unsuccessful marketing, so you’ll spend 10 years creating a masterpiece that won't circulate before you're dead, mimicking evangelists, therefore wasting time better spent earning. Writing without a signed book deal is about as good an opportunity as winning a lottery. Doesn't deter gamblers or wannabe novelists, though you'd do well to doubt their sanity.

Borne out by historical records and media news, last economic recession directly resulted from conservative austerity measures. Dubya’s dopey domestic policy of tax cuts for the affluent put millions of workers on the dole, for which states have been unable to raise revenues. Declaring government doesn’t make jobs condemned millions of people to poverty. He lied. Government does make jobs. In fact, federal agencies constitute the nation’s largest employer. States also account for 20% of local jobs, more than any single private company. Only small businesses taken collectively rival government for job creation. Where else will a Wolverine Mario [shown] temporarily rack your ride? Corporate welfare winds up as class warfare, taxes collected from middle class redirected to the rich. Better to hire public servants since cuts in corporate surveillance cause many a consumer calamity.

Was managing editor of a newswire, but that dried up. Then published a book and started a blog. Skilled wordsmiths compete with unschooled commentary tapping hot topics on social media. News, per se, is passé. People only ever followed it to inform decisions. Trend has been for immediate televised coverage that isn't necessarily up to journalistic standards. Talking heads pump a story until viewer share diminishes. Followup with facts has been supplanted with sensationalized infotainment. As far as printed stories, some publishers are reviving local reporting for smaller targeted audiences, so they can sell classified ads to neighborhood merchants rather than national brands who focus on television commercials. This requires local spokespeople who know the turf, but all shares of small pies will always be crumbs.

Job offers over a career arc represent a bell curve. You'll struggle in 20’s through Catch 22, no experience off which to springboard. By 35 you will get most offers; choose wisely. After 45, plan on becoming an entrepreneur since few will hire you. Not even fast food joints bite if you've had any business experience; you're a threat to teenage hiring managers. From 55 to 65 you supposedly manage amassed fortune, survive stints in a contingent workforce, or take whatever comes in. After 65 you might learn a craft, glue or sew, and sell at a mall show, while waiting for retirement checks government might bestow. Thirtysomethings would rather claw the eyes out of rivals than make do with this malthusian inevitability. Heaven help whoever isn’t fit after grinding adversaries and sniggering at cycling, since whatever he or she amassed won’t cover 6 months of medical bills. Or you could ride your bike to a state mandated meeting meant to improve your employability.

“To hell with unemployment: I think it’s a fine thing. I like sleeping all day and having nothing to do but read, write and sleep whenever I feel tired... In short, I think it’s a fine situation for a man to be in: provided, of course, that he has enough money to eat and pay the rent. I don’t... and therefore I must work: but what the hell? Is it something to cry and pray for forgiveness about? Is it some sort of heinous shame, some great soul-sucking agony for which universal pity is the only cure?... eviction is second only to hunger as the dirtiest word in the dictionary.”—Hunter Thompson, late and unrepentant slacker, 1958

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Child Restrain

Blog logic requires regular posts to maintain interest, though this never worked here. Still survey issues and write essays, but spending every available hour riding or working to recover from worst winter in recent memory. Crocuses and robins don’t lie, say next generation has arrived. Bike paths provide a way to regain the stamina you need for running roads.

Zipping down a long decline had to brake hard to avoid a toddler walking a tiny bike at a 90° angle to path. Likewise, parents stood sideways astride their own taking up rest of pavement. No harm, no real foul, simply said, “No problem,” to their, “So sorry,” and resumed scorching. While nice every so often to forget traffic, recognize bike paths are bunny slopes and dog walks. When a friend bragged of his urchin taking to 2 wheels like a duck to water, shot back, “Whoa! Set limits.” Tykes don’t know any better than to ride trikes under trucks. Adults must supervise children until they’re ready to go solo or tragedies ensue.

Independent of age, all users of roadnet must know basic traffic code, personal safety protocols, and who to contact for help. Bikes need to be maintained. Pays to check carefully and clean before heading out, or you might wind up unsafely without or worse when far from nest. Trek recalled all bicycles with both front disc brakes and quick release hubs made from 2000 through 2015, which affects almost a million units sold in North America. Lever might jam in disc causing a sudden stop and endangering riders. Facial injuries, fractured wrist, and paralysis have resulted. For details go to www.trekbikes.com and click on "Safety & Recalls" at bottom of page. Who can say how many other makes might be similarly defective? Most are definitely not designed for wet weather. Global warming guarantees rainy days. You can wear a wetsuit but won’t keep bearings and chains from seizing with rust, or frames, handlebars and saddles collapsing from damage or rot.

Despite perceived perils, managed to bike over 100,000 miles alongside truckers with fewer close calls or mishaps than during 500,000 miles driven in about the same amount of hours. While motoring appears 5 times faster, always says that cycling is 20 times safer, walking 8 times, both more practical when trips are short. All cyclist and pedestrian deaths in recorded history do not equal what motorists sustain every year. Yet news neglects to mention this while hammering cycling for comparatively minuscule menace.

Cyclists continually encounter road rage of impatient motorists. Children’s book Ben Rides On depicts the inhumanity of bullies being transformed into bike repair and personal redemption. Ordinarily, Labann steers clear of juvenile literature littered with lessons intended to scare. But cartoonist Matt Davies does an excellent job describing situations to which anyone can relate.

“Any fool will load his bike so much that he can’t see; he rides on sidewalks, so what happens? A catastrophe! ...I play safe for you and me, ‘cuz I’m no fool. Show off is a stupid thing... He thinks it’s fun but what a sorry ending to his show.” – Cliff Edwards and the [Disney] Mouseketeers, 1956