DC Mayor Adrian Fenty is Cycling the City

What happens to a city when the mayor is a bicycle fanatic?

By fanatic I mean training with a competitive cycling team, DC Velo, several days a week and shutting down streets so his police escort can keep up.

fenty biking

Our honorable mayor, Adrian Fenty, now 3 years into his term is changing the city inside and out to become bike friendly. In some brilliant ways, hilarious ways, and scary ways.

First the brilliant. The city now has borrow-a-bike stations where you can check-out and return bikes. The program is called SmartBikeDC. (claim: “America’s first self-service public bike rental program”). The main trouble with this system is having enough bike stations (like metro stops) to make it easy to get around. Building each station is costly, although cheap to operate and maintain.

The word is that Fenty and his team are coming up with the “start-up money” to build new stations anywhere they can, 3 million here, 60 million there (stimulus money in partnership with Arlington county). Once built the operation pretty much runs itself with Clear Channel somehow operating the stations and advertising (?).

I think its a masterful way to turn the already pedestrian friendly DC into a bike friendly place too. Drive another stake into the heart of our driving culture and reducing all the pollution and noise that comes with cars.

Of course, this provides another problem, DC is not a bike friendly city. Every year people die from biking, accidents occur daily, and there are/were no bike lanes. The problem seems quite intractable in such an old city since you can’t pave a bike path very far when the road abruptly ends or turns into a one-way street. To fix this you have to go block by block paving new lanes and its expensive.

This is where the hilarity ensues. The other day I was crossing Pennsylvania avenue and noticed that new “street lanes”. The road went from six driving lanes to four for cars and four for bikes. That’s right four bike lanes, two each way. I guess its a slow lane and fast lane? Maybe bikers need a left turn lane too?

Check out this photo of another one of these awesome new bike lanes. Notice (1) upper right fellow doing something obnoxious, (2) the confusing array of lanes, (3) the parking lane?, (4) and what would the picture be without a fake tree on either side.

bike picsI think it’s just hilarious and even more so when you sett these things in person. As the city becomes more bike friendly its just going to get better too.

Finally, the scary part. You know this story wouldn’t be complete without some overspending ridiculousness. Ours comes complete with a super futuristic space station modeled after a bike helmet so union station folks can…park their bikes? Actually, I’m still not sure what the point of an advanced bike station at a train station is, especially considering that the trains aren’t bike friendly. Regardless, this thing is a beautiful monstrosity. First the design concept:

Screen shot 2010-05-28 at 6.37.32 PMThe finished product:

union bike stationYes this thing is crazy and scary looking. It only cost us 4 million dollars too. Even stranger a local company runs/operates this 1700 square foot location charging $2/day to park your bike. I just hope that our beautiful new bike helmet space station was on the up-up.

Anyway, I hope the cyclist are enjoying our new bike friendly city thanks to Mayor Fenty (I sure am) and you car people consider yourself warned…

More news to get you going:

Workout Buffs Are Wasting Their Time

Every time I ride my bike along the Potomac River I get so upset. There are all these folks best described as “workout buffs”. You know the ones in full running/biking gear. They would look like a hardcore biker gang if it nearly all of them weren’t overweight.

That’s the part that bothers me. Here is a group of people so intensely focused on being healthy that they will wear colorful nylon and short shorts. I can’t help but devolve into the raison d’ĂȘtre for A Clean Life (to help people get healthy through eating). I imagine these folks devouring a power bar when they get home, or even during the bike ride. They are surely drinking some sort of sugary “electrolyte” or “vitamin water” drink too.

Best case scenario is a hearty meal, but even then it has to be low quality food since only 2% of America is eating high quality food. It’s as if all of their working out is for naught when they go home and chow down on garbage.

I remember one youtube video where the professor says that running for several miles only burns through the calories of one cookie. Which means that these folks need to run/cycle for hundreds of miles per day just to lose weight. When most likely they are only burning enough calories to slowly gain weight (rather than quickly gain weight).

Ah well, such is the contradictions in American life.

Of course, if these same folks were to understand the nature of food everything would change. They could enjoy high quality food that would cause them to lose weight just by breathing. Soon their workout routines would lessen until they are no longer needed. A switch would happen to being outdoors for the fun of it, maybe even enjoying a little community activity like sports clubs (a European thing).

Not only that but their mental and physical health would improve, the environment would gain a boon in decreased pollution, local economies would flourish…but I digress.

The point here is that I want to help these folks. I really want to find a way to talk to them since they are a “target market” for the Clean Lifestyle. Instead, I am too busy feeling sorry for them or just angry at them.

Maybe one day I will figure out how to get to the “workout buff” crowd.