Thursday, July 24, 2008
Thank you Mr. Bono!
Novak cited after hitting pedestrian
By JONATHAN MARTIN & CHRIS FRATES | 7/23/08 2:02 PM EST Updated: 7/23/08 2:02 PM EST Text Size:
Novak, 77, has earned a reputation around the capital as an aggressive driver.
Syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak was cited by police after he hit a pedestrian with his black Corvette in downtown Washington, D.C., on Wednesday morning.
A Politico reporter saw Novak in the front of a police car with a citation in his hand; a WJLA-TV crew and reporter saw Novak as well. The pedestrian, a 66-year-old man who was not further identified by authorities, was treated at George Washington University Hospital for minor injuries, according to D.C. Fire and EMS. Novak was later released by police and drove away from the scene.
“I didn’t know I hit him. ... I feel terrible,” a shaken Novak told reporters from Politico and WJLA as he was returning to his car. "He's not dead, that's the main thing." Novak said he was a block away from 18th and K streets Northwest, where the accident occurred, when a bicyclist stopped him and said he had hit someone. He said he was cited for failing to yield the right of way.
The bicyclist was David Bono, a partner at Harkins Cunningham, who was on his usual bike commute to work at 1700 K St. N.W. when he witnessed the accident.
As he traveled east on K Street, crossing 18th, Bono said "a black Corvette convertible with top closed plows into the guy. The guy is sort of splayed into the windshield.”
Bono said that the pedestrian, who was crossing the street on a "Walk" signal and was in the crosswalk, rolled off the windshield and that Novak then made a right into the service lane of K Street. “This car is speeding away. What’s going through my mind is, you just can’t hit a pedestrian and drive away,” Bono said.
He said he chased Novak half a block down K Street, finally caught up with him and then put his bike in front of the car to block it and called 911. Traffic immediately backed up, horns blaring, until commuters behind Novak backed up so he could pull over.
Bono said that throughout, Novak "keeps trying to get away. He keeps trying to go.” He said he vaguely recognized the longtime political reporter and columnist as a news personality but could not precisely place him.
Finally, Bono said, Novak put his head out the window of his car and motioned him over. Bono said he told him that you can't hit a pedestrian and just drive away. He quoted Novak as responding: “I didn’t see him there.”
A concierge at 1700 K Street said that she saw a bicyclist yelling and walked outside to see what the commotion was about.
"This guy hit somebody and he won't stop so I'm going to stay here until the police come," Aleta Petty quoted Bono as saying, as he stood in K Street, blocking traffic.
D.C. police confirmed that there was an accident at 18th and K streets NW at approximately 10 a.m. involving a black Corvette convertible and that the driver was a white male.
The intersection is in the hub of Washington’s business district and is filled with pedestrians who work in the law firms and lobby shops that line the corridor.
Novak, 77, has earned a reputation around the capital as an aggressive driver, easily identified in his convertible sports car.
In 2001, he cursed at a pedestrian on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 13th streets Northwest for allegedly jaywalking.
“’Learn to read the signs, [bodily orifice]!’ Novak snapped before speeding away,” according to an item in The Washington Post’s Reliable Source column.
Novak explained to the paper: "He was crossing on the red light. I really hate jaywalkers. I despise them. Since I don't run the country, all I can do is yell at 'em. The other option is to run 'em over, but as a compassionate conservative, I would never do that."
Two years later, the same column reported that Novak had gone to a racing school in Florida.
"I've wanted to be a racecar driver all my life, and anyone who has watched me drive can tell you that,” Novak said.
Anne Schroeder Mullins and Adrienne Smutko contributed to this story.
More from ABC7 News: http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0708/537957.html
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Here's the relevant text. It looks like it would give $50 a month for an undefined 'qualified bicycle commuting month' (as opposed to the $20 that made it through the House last time round). Additionally, it also proposes to actually fund and pay out that tax-free benefit for Federal employees, lucky ducks. It would also crank up the existing mass transit benefit cap to $200.
As always, do not get your hopes up. It just hit the House floor, and if it comes out of committee(s), who knows what it might include. I did not see any paygo provisions, which will need to be tagged on there, and often act as poison pills. And finally, it needs to tickle the tastebuds of 60 Senators (why 60, not 50?). Anyway, the tracker widget on the right has been edited.
If, unlike a majority of the readers of this blog, you are represented by a fully-empowered Senator or member of Congress, please write or email yet again, voicing your support for this bill.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Come on in to tell him job well done, or to apply a tourniquet to any wounds incurred, or whatever. Don't worry, it's all clear.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
And here's the memorial. Note the size of the crowd, lots of folks turned out. Including friends and/or family, more than a few tearful folks left flowers. I just didn't have the stomach to capture them on film, so look elsewhere for that sort of thing.
I got myself into a frightening conflagration as I soft-pedaled my way home. I was approaching a line of cars stopped at a stop sign on S street eastbound, and passed the line on the right. About a block or two down the road, an old white Chevy van with a smashed in front-end and a bad exhaust system laid on his horn, was beating on his steering wheel as he passed me, and screamed about how he was going to kill me if he ever saw me on the streets again. Because I passed him on the right? I guess? I don't know, I wasn't holding anybody up, there was plenty of room to pass.
I was pretty ragged already, and pulled over to back down from the fight and take myself out of harms way. I know this is the logical thing to do, but I'm still stewing over it. I've been yelled at plenty of times, even been threatened, but the ferocity of this guy, combined with the events of the day, scared the crap out of me. Thanks to the pedestrian who witnessed it, and asked if I was OK. Everybody be safe.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
[edit -- turns out, this exact scenario reportedly occurred in Ohio. I plagiarized reality.]
Monday, July 7, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Monday, June 30, 2008
Note: This is the third in an ignorant eight-part suggestion of some measures the bike brands could take to better appeal to the majority of Americans, who have little or no interest in cycling.
Part 1 described the situation, the challenges, and some important caveats.
Part 2 examined the importance of cosmetics, and our lack of visual differentiation.
In this part, we will discuss approaches to designing bikes with broader appeal.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Part 1 described the situation, the challenges, and some important caveats.
In this part, we will examine cosmetics and visual differentiation.
If you've ever browsed the listings at match.com (and yes, you have, quit lying), there were probably quite a few perfectly dateworthy men or women you passed over in 7 milliseconds. Entirely because of appearances, of course.
Is it any different with bicycles? Yes. But no.
Those of us who have been riding our bikes for a long time, whether for commuting, racing, touring, or whatever, probably take a good long look at a spec sheet, or take a good long test ride, when making our bicycle purchase. We think practically, because we know what works for us. Cosmetics still matter, but they face stiff competition from fit, features, and function.
When somebody comes into the store who is new to cycling, we tell them about the warrantees on our bikes. The quality and serviceability of the running gear. The relative merits of different frame materials and geometries. The luxury of having multiple sizes to choose from. But, for somebody who may still be in the "dabbling" phase of their cycling journey, is any of this compelling? Do they come through our door seeking these things, recognizing their merit?
I think style will hold greater sway over the novice cyclist's purchase decision. It hurts to say that. We want every new cyclist to immediately adopt our practical, utilitarian view of how to pick a bike. It validates our expertise, borne out of our many hours in the saddle. But a pretty face goes a long way, longer than we would prefer.
To test this crackpot notion, I sent the picture below to a bunch of friends and family who don't care a lick about bicycles, and have so demonstrated by making fun of my bike collection, and occasionally, my vocation. Two of these bicycles are sold in big-box discount retailers, retail in the $150-200 range, are only available in one size, are built by somebody wielding a plumber's wrench and a hammer, and feature the finest in craptacular breakomatic parts. One of these bicycles is sold in our shop, retails for over $350, features nice serviceable components, a frame warranty, is built up by a pro who builds safe bicycles for a living, and is available in a range of sizes.
I offered my guinea pigs a few options -- If they were throwing down for a bike like the three pictured this weekend, they could select one of these bikes based on what they see in the picture, or some other non-visual criteria they would find important ("the cheapest one", "best warranty", "most comfortable", "the one sold by my favorite local bike store," etc).
I got 24 responses. ALL (100%) made selections based on aesthetics. Commence attacking my research methodology, but I'm ready to conclude that style matters. A lot.
So, since I am concerned with getting people onto a correctly-fitted, reliable, quality bike-store bicycle that they will enjoy riding for years to come, did my sample end up on the "right" bike? Well, 17 out of 24 (71%, eek!!!) liked Bike #1, the one all the way on the left. And you guessed it, Bike #1 is sold in a big box retailer whose name rhymes with Malwart, and was the cheapest one of the three.
That's a huge problem for the bike store, and the bike brands who produce our offerings. If we want to appeal to non-cyclists, this little experiment convinced me that we have to do it with a greater helping of style. We shouldn't dispense with all those practical things that make a bike-store bike the best option. But we'd better start recognizing that while some will pay twice as much (and more) for all those necessary things on a cosmetically-similar (or cosmetically-deficient, if you believe my 24 jurors) bicycle, there are a bunch more that will look at some pictures online, see our visually-undifferentiated bike, and never come in our shop doors to listen to our compelling and rational argument.
People will even pay a premium for style. And pretty needn't cost a lot more than homely. So, I vote for pretty. But, what is pretty? We'll hash through that in the next installment.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Well, there's no reason to believe that any plans have changed, but the County finally worked out the land-swap deal with a developer that is allowing the Long Bridge park project to plow forward. The nice bit (for local resident me, at least) is the planned connection someday to the Mt. Vernon Trail that will run through the area. No more dodging Gravelly Point zombiedestrians. No more trying to block out the stanky porta-potties. No more near-collisions in the tunnel under the train tracks. No more of any of that, beginning.... Oh.
No schedule yet.
Anyway, here's the backdrop. In the past few years, the industry veteranati have come around to the hard truth that our little corner of the world (bicycle retail manufacturers selling through independent bicycle dealers) is eating it's own tail. Besides our steady/falling sales, and sharp declines in the number of bike storefronts, a big call-to-action was the market research project undertaken by Shimano for their Coasting project. That research told the sad tale that very few Americans were cycling even occasionally, and laid out many of the reasons that people just are not interested.
A further study, commissioned by the BPSA, described how the industry has focused too hard on the enthusiast cycling culture, which makes up a ridiculously small proportion of the total US population. We spend most of our resources clubbing each other trying to bag a bigger share of the static population of longtime hardcore enthusiast cyclists, who are also the most apt to go online to do their bike shopping.
The flipside of this is the opportunity, especially amid our obesity epidemic and the rising cost of energy, to take a fresh approach to the business of bicycle retail, and put a whole lot of new people on bicycles. A lot of folks are taking the message to heart, even within the industry Cosa Nostra, and are committed to knocking down some of the barriers that turn away the casual or potential cyclists.
IMPORTANT qualifier -- One of the most compelling barriers cited in these studies was the shoddy in-store experience. Bicycle shops are considered intimidating places, full of unfamiliar merchandise and sullen unwelcoming employees. I'm not going to delve into this aspect, because it's both obvious, and well-covered. Every bikeshop who is serious about this new mission knows what they need to do. City Bikes decided a few years ago that creating a more welcoming instore experience was a necessity, and while there's still a lot of ground to cover, hopefully progress has been made, and real action is definitely underway.
But what if a whole bunch of bikeshops embrace this challenge, like the folks at Bike Gallery in Portland, Oregon have? They invest in signage, they train on customer service, they hire employees who smile, they stress a welcoming inclusive atmosphere. What if they do all that, the customers come beating down the doors, and what they get from the bike brands to sell are the same bikes we sell now, at the same price, same conditions, same everything?
I see a lot of product coming down the pike that strives for this broad appeal. And I see a lot of marketing and PR muscle being applied to the chore at hand. But I wonder how much of this represents real structural change in the industry, and how much is bringing to bear the same old approaches to pursuing new market niches?
So, in the next seven (7!) subsequent installments of excruciating insider bore-fodder, I will suggest some ways that the industry -- or at least those in the industry serious about broadening their appeal -- can approach this new mission. I am truly sorry to any/all regular readers, as this blog was conceived to get people excited about cycling. This business-case dissection of the industry will probably read like a cue-sheet to Sleepyland. But I'll try to sprinkle in some lighter fare from time to time.
Credit where credit is due -- many of my opinions on this were formed (consciously or unconsciously) by talking to Jay Townley and Elliot Gluskin of the appropriately-named Gluskin-Townley Group. Ironic that a true industry veteran like Jay has very much been the canary in the mineshaft on this whole situation. More clarity came through a rather intense email brainstorming session with our ex-merchandise guy Mike. He was approached by one of our vendors, who (motivated by our falling orders, of course) wanted to know what they could do better. Rather than providing the usual feedback ("deliver faster," "better availability data," "bigger margins"), we started reeling off all the big things that any and every bike brand could undertake to better align with our desire to broaden the appeal of cycling.
So, with all due apologies and qualifiers out of the way, I'll start later today by looking at the products themselves....
Friday, June 20, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
...riding on the sidewalk?
...with big ole canister earphones?
...on a bike a size or two too small?
No, no, no, no. Gil, please let us hook you up with a helmet. And once you get that fat new contract signed, we have a ride far more appropo for a max player, in stock, much closer to your size. Caron knows bikes, bring him along. gwadzilla likes it, and may be sad to see it go, but it's our shared civic duty to get Gil in shape to rain buckets on those lousy Celtics next season.
Monday, June 16, 2008
I have an eight-part rant on what the bike brands could do to better appeal to the general public. One of those points is to make better use of different brands for different audiences. The folks at Specialized are obviously on top of it, see below for presser on their new Globe sub-brand for their enhanced lineup of commuter bikes.
Regardless of how the products turn out (and no, I don't know how this new Globe line of commuter bikes differs from the existing Specialized Globe City line), it's good to see that Specialized acknowledges that a big red slasher "S" might not play as well on these downtubes as it does on Tom Boonen's, and that both will be the better for the change.
Stay tuned for bike details, I'm interested to see what they come up with. That little pic down there would suggest something that resembles the existing Globe Centrum, but with 700c wheels. Details should be available at their big dealer shindig in July.
June 5th, 2008
Specialized Launches Improved Globe Line of Bikes
To aid in the development of Globe bikes and marketing, Specialized worked all year with a group of dealers who have achieved great success in the transportation and utility bicycle segments. These dealers clearly communicated what their consumers were asking for and what Specialized could do to help them sell bikes like these. “Dealer focus groups and other research informed us that commute and utilitarian riders have different sensibilities and motivators than enthusiast riders”, says Ben Capron, Specialized Director of Global Marketing. “We created the Globe line with distinct branding to connect with this different rider group, similar to the way BMW redeveloped the Mini Cooper or when Apple developed the IPod branding. The result is a diversified line of Globes built around clean design, high functionality, great durability, light weight and tires with puncture resistance technology like Armadillo."
Because there are different types of commutes and utilitarian purposes for bikes, Specialized has developed four families of Globe bikes, each named after a city that typifies that form of riding. These bikes will begin shipping to dealers in early July.
All four families are very light for their class and feature appropriate geometry for the application, along with ergonomic contact points everywhere the body touches the bike.
Later this summer, Specialized will launch a several-pronged promotional effort around the Globe to drive consumer awareness and demand. Efforts will include cooperation with local advocacy groups, extensive PR, a stand-along Globe catalog and partnerships with dealers through SBCU education and full in-store promotions, including window display, floor display and other unique pieces.
"This is the right solution for wellness, the environment and the fuel crisis, but this will also be a huge factor in the future health of our industry, " Sinyard concludes. "First it was the mountain bike, then the road bike, and now transportation bikes will be the third wave to stimulate growth in our industry over the coming years."
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Well anyway, it is definitely open to pedestrians now. Huge milling herds of pedestrians pose with cardboard cutouts of Dubya, dart around like nervous 800 pound hummingbirds on their rented Segways, and squint at their surroundings through their viewfinders. Wait, how is this an enticement to bike to work?
The protesters. They are simply wonderful. Primarily liberal, at least in my experience, often kooky, always passionate, sometimes completely incoherent. Exhibit A. I couldn't work out exactly what this guy was for or against, but he has obviously put a lot of thought and work into it. Regrettably unseen behind the "Wheel of Death" is the 4-foot-tall Kermit the Frog stuffed toy he had sitting in a lawn chair.
Then there was bizarro Austin Powers, who was trying to convince a pack of corn-fed middle schoolers that in the eyes of God, any less than unconditional support of Israel was akin to supporting the terrorists."Israel has mojo, baby, yeah!!!" No, he really said that. Agent Powers' sign reads, "I (the Hay God of Israel) will bless America if America blesses Israel. I will curse America if America curses Israel."
Then there's this encampment, which has been in place for months. Anti-war, they sometimes have a four-wheeled bicycle contraption with speakers and signs that does a few laps of the promenade, blasting protest music.This guy was wandering around the other day. Here's his myspace page. Take a minute to scan his platform. It addresses everything from the war and Israel, to gas station restrooms and landscaping practices on Federal property in DC.Odd that all this nuttiness can take place, and be photographed, within a few hundred feet of the residence of the President and the Executive Office Buildings, but couldn't in the cubiclehood of Crystal City. Anyway, the most cringe-inducing was probably this pack of semi-clothed bicyclists.Anyway, if you are driving or taking Metro to work, you are probably missing all this fun. Besides the two-block respite from riding in traffic, the White House stretch of Penn Ave provides a daily reminder of how the First Amendment is, "smashing, baby, YEAAA!!"
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Monday, June 9, 2008
Hypnowheel says, "Buy me!"It takes awhile, but if you stare long enough, you can see the jumping dolphins. Just relax your corneas. Other side of the same wheel:Classy, and deep, like Love/Hate knuckle tattoos.
Anyway, this cold has me pretty zapped. So just persuse the photos, I might post a few more here when I shake off the effects of the Hypnowheel, and add some descriptions to the photos.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Anyway. Things convened in MacPherson Square around 3PM. For Erik, the obligatory folding bike pic. They're just so darned useful.
I heard rumors that MPD or NPS or somebody was threatening to arrest anybody who went all-in. Plus, DC is just a low-key city. So, lots of socks. Eavesdropped quote of the day -- "OOOO, is that moleskin?" Lots of folks like me, who just wore shorts. Like these guys:A brief debate erupted over the permissibility of miniature Crown Royal bags as conforming attire. Legal rights were asserted, case law was cited, phone calls were made....But it was all good. The Honest Tea folks, who also cosponsored Bike to Work Day, popped up to hand out free drinks to all riders, so kudos to them for their apparent liking of biking. By the way, I have no scruples -- give me free stuff, I'll talk it up.And off we go, with police escort from MPD.Down 14th to Penn...Tourists REALLY got a hoot out of the whole thing. I think. Down to the Capitol....With a stop for a minute to conduct vital business.Then back down Independence. Appropriate, because while many of us were there mostly for a fun afternoon, the point of the whole shindig was to rally against our dependence on oil.Awkward.... We were urging other cyclists, rollerbladers, skateboarders, etc. to join us as we rode. We then pulled alongside a pack of rental Segways, moving at exactly the same speed, on the sidewalk. Nobody quite knew whether they were worthy of inviting onto our little caravan.They hummed along beside us for a minute or so, each party avoiding the other's eye. The Segway ride leader in particular had his eyes locked straight ahead. Just up the block, I think we ruined this lady's vacation.We then convened in front of the White House, where middle schoolers giggled at us, a surprising number of freelance photographers took pics, Laura Bush was no doubt taken aback, and we all got sunburned. Semi-official count was 40-ish riders, which doubled last year's total, apparently.Anyway. My favorite pic, I'll just link to it, as it's pretty questionable. A man backdropped by the White House, wearing an eerily realistic fleshy stocking on his stuff, proudly standing beside his bike, the "Softride" brand prominently displayed. There's a great joke there, just beyond my reach. Suggestions?
Saturday, June 7, 2008
On the way in, I ran into opposing traffic on the Mt Vernon Trail from the Arlington and Alexandria Community Bike Ride. The downside of all these people excited to ride, even on such a sweltering day, was the downright dangerous congestion on the trail. I had to come to an emergency stop, and even bail onto the grass, numerous times to avoid oncoming traffic. And a special swing of my frame pump to the guy who thought it prudent to pull out and blast past a slow group of 20 down in his aerobars. Seeing this guy doing the aerobar snake-charmer wobble straight at you, 25 feet away and closing, did as much as my iced venti americano to wake me up this morn.
It was HOT. [how hot was it?] It was so hot, the glue on my tubie tires was melting. Not a great punchline, but true.Anyway, enough grousing. A hearty crew of four joined Sol and I.......ladies are obviously made of tougher stuff. Away we went, down to the Rock Creek Trail.
Plenty of other folks were out riding, despite the schvitzy weather.Rock Creek Park really is a beautiful place, it's nice to ride it at less than a time-trial pace (perhaps the Mt. Vernon Trail contre-la-montre champion will give it a try). It is just a little bit more uphill on the way out of town (no, really). So that, and some underinflated tires, meant we took our time making our way to Chevy Chase. After going under the trestle bridge....... we got to the Chevy Chase shop, where we sat down for some of Sol's baked goods. I especially enjoyed the gingerbread.Yum! After pumping up some tires, choking down lots of water, and convincing ourselves that the ride back was a lot less tiring, we set off.What a difference a litre of water, some gingerbread, 60psi in the tires, and a slight downhill will make. We were practically pacelining back.Back in town, headed for home. Come on out and join us, every Saturday at 11AM. That was my very relaxing morning. Stay tuned for the afternoon report, from World Naked Bike Ride DC.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Saturday morning at 11AM, I'll be tagging along on Sol's Cupcake Ride, leaving from the Adams Morgan shop.
Later that afternoon, I'll squeeze into my Cipo skinsuit (yum, still smells like cocoa butter) and be the guy who is dressed and makes everyone else self-conscious at the World Naked Bike Ride, gathering at 3 and leaving at 4 from MacPherson Square.
Sunday, Cirque du Cyclisme in Leesburg. If you see me around, please say hello.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Pic below is from the Velo Orange photoset.