While I prefer the aesthetics of a delicate, high profile cantilever or a classic, dual-pivot caliper, I have to admit that nothing quite beats the overall performance of a high-quality, cable-actuated disc brake (also known as “mechanical” disc brakes). Drum/roller brakes are heavy and generally provide only mediocre braking performance, and most every other type of performance brake uses the rim wall for a braking surface, a fact that guarantees your rims will be toast long before your hubs go. Rim brakes can sometimes be poor performers in wet conditions, they make an awful mess in the rain, and the caliper variety rarely provide sufficient clearance for robust tires and fenders. Hydraulic discs are typically more powerful than mechanical discs, but the difficulties associated with cutting fluid lines and bleeding brake systems are not a fair trade for their slightly better performance over their easier to set-up and maintain cousins. A high-quality mechanical disc brake such as the Avid BB7 combines the simplicity and user-friendliness of cable actuation, with excellent all weather performance and long-term, wheel-friendly reliability. Setting aside aesthetic considerations and tradition, cable-actuated discs are hard to beat from the standpoint of pure functionality.
This new survey, commissioned by Transportation For America, found that Americans overwhelmingly support increased investment in public transportation and biking and pedestrian facilities. Eighty-two percent of respondents said that “the United States would benefit from an expanded and improved transportation system, such as rail and buses”, and fifty-nine percent prefer improving public transportation and bike/ped facilities over expanding the road network.
Recent developments in New York City and San Francisco have me thinking about Critical Mass, wondering what kind of future it has, wondering whether it’s run its course. In New York we have new police department rules requiring that groups of 50 or more bicyclists obtain a parade permit before embarking on a group ride (reportedly, parade permits are not easy to come by in New York, so this new rule has some teeth). And in San Francisco, we have a Chief of Police who recently went on a bike ride with representatives from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, while during the same month, made a public statement about “cracking down” on Critical Mass.
It goes without saying that how we ride is a personal matter as long as we’re obeying the law and not endangering other road users. But when we make choices to break the law (running red lights, blocking traffic, etc.) in the name of calling attention to the rights and needs of bicyclists, we invite the question of whether the ends justify the means, and whether we’re doing more harm than good at a time when transportational bicycling is receiving more coverage than ever in the popular press.
What do you think? Is Critical Mass still a viable method for drawing attention to the rights and needs of bicyclists or would we be better served by other, less confrontational approaches?
I’m opening this up for (moderated) discussion, but please, let’s keep it civil. This is an emotion-packed, polarizing topic, but I have faith we can stay away from name-calling and personal exchanges. If you’re a regular contributor, you know the drill; if you’re new to the site, please take a moment to read our discussion guidelines before hitting “submit”. Thanks! —Alan
The identity of the hitherto anonymous master of bicycle satire and sarcasm, Bike Snob NYC, was finally revealed today in the Wall Street Journal. His name is Eben Weiss and he’s a 36-year-old former literary agent from Brooklyn. A book deal and upcoming book tour finally brought him out from behind the curtain.
Yesterday’s Tweed Ride in Sacramento was a perfect example of how to grow bike culture, and it proved that it doesn’t take substantial amounts of money or official government involvement to do so.
The ride organizers, Rick and Erin, first had the idea to host a tweed ride in Sacramento back in October of 2009. With zero experience, but loads of talent and enthusiasm, they pulled together Sacramento’s inaugural tweed ride in a little over a month. It was a stunning success with at least twice the expected turnout. To follow-up, they hosted a smaller “Tweed Lite” ride in January that was attended by a small cadre of hardcores who came out and braved the rain and cold. But the real follow-up to the inaugural ride was yesterday’s big spring ride. Many people have been anxiously awaiting this ride, and once again, the turnout was amazing, with an estimated 150 attendees.
We find it so impressive that a couple of people with no background in bike advocacy or ride organization have pulled together a trio of well-organized rides in less than a 6-month period, and in the process, have fulfilled an obvious desire within the community for this type of ride, while also bringing together people from the bike industry and the bike advocacy community. It shows that citizen advocacy is alive-and-well, and that sometimes the best strategy is just to get out there and do it yourself. Kudos to Rick and Erin for a job well done!!
And now to yesterday’s ride…
Some riders met early at the Zebra Club for breakfast, while others arrived later for the meet-up at the Sacramento Bicycle Kitchen. We arrived at the Bicycle Kitchen at around 10am to find a small gathering of riders, but within 30 minutes it became clear that the turnout was going to be bigger than what we saw in November. We milled around and chatted with friends we haven’t seen since the last ride, sipped free coffee provided by Temple, and admired the beautiful bikes and fantastic outfits. We noticed that folks ramped it up this time, with a higher percentage of riders fully decked-out and dressed to a tee.
Somewhere around 11am the group of approximately 150 riders rolled out onto I Street and headed southwest toward the Capitol. The pace was slow and relaxed, and the group was courteous and cognizant of the few cars on the road. Our group was proof that a large number of riders can navigate through a city together while obeying traffic laws and cooperating with other road users. Most of the motorists we encountered were friendly and curious; I think our outfits helped to diffuse any potential conflicts that could have resulted from the minor inconveniences introduced by the large group.
The first stop was to take a group shot on the Capitol steps. After the brief photo session, we headed south on a lovely stretch of off-street bike trail that parallels the Sacramento River. It was a nice respite to be off of public streets where we could relax and chat away from automobile traffic. The trail runs along the Sac River levee and is paralleled by Interstate 5. A friend pointed out that it was an interesting contrast to see a long stream of bicycles quietly rolling along the river bank, while just 200 yards to our left, there was an unending stream of automobiles noisily rolling along the freeway.
We took a long break at William Land Park for a picnic lunch. Some people packed their own lunch while others ordered Paninis from Hot Italian that were delivered by Bakfiets courtesy of Edible Pedal and My Dutch Bike. It was a nice time to get around to meet people and take photos of some stunningly beautiful bikes (the yellow Wilbury was a personal favorite). We had a kick getting together the three Rivendell Betty Foys. Beth just picked up her apple green Betty last week and the Tweed Ride was her first outing; what a way to go.
As people finished their lunches, most headed across town in small groups to the Shady Lady Saloon for refreshments. A few of us went on ahead to Hot Italian to cool off and relax before the full group arrived. On display at Hot Italian were some beautiful Dutch bikes that Soraya from My Dutch Bike brought all the way from San Francisco for the event. There was considerable interest in the Bakfiets, Workcycle, and Gazelle on display. The Gazelle was particularly stunning. Also on display were the Breezer and Fuji donated by The Bicycle Business for the raffle to benefit the California Bicycle Coalition, and a pair of antique bikes from College Cyclery.
To cap off the day, a number of prizes were given away in a drawing for the attendees. Contributors included Rivendell Bicycle Works, The Bicycle Business, College Cyclery, B. Spoke Tailor, One Speed, The Waterboy, Shady Lady Saloon, Hot Italian, and others (sorry if I missed you). It was a fantastic day that was enjoyed by one-and-all; we can hardly wait for the next ride!