When Aaron Latzke and David Delcourt launched the Kickstarter campaign for their "Siva Cycle Atom" on Tuesday morning, they gave themselves a month to amass $85,000. When I spoke to Latzke yesterday afternoon, some 54 hours later, they'd raised more than $58,000.
The masses (at least, those among them willing to send money to strangers on the Internet) have spoken: charging your iPhone with your bike is an idea worth throwing lots of cash at.
I ride a bike for many reasons --and almost all of them are boring. Convenience, independence, a desire to be passably healthy and to spend as little money as possible on my own transportation -- all of these factors contribute to make cycling my preferred method of conveyance. These are, with some variation, the same reasons that most regular bicyclists choose to get around the way that they do and they are all perfectly mundane, personal, and apolitical.
So I'm always a little surprised how any discussion about cycling can easily devolve into a frothy-mouthed squabble over city planning or the California Vehicle Code. But really, I shouldn't be surprised, says Jason Henderson, an associate professor of geography at SFSU, because, as he puts it, the "allocation of street space" is always an inherently political proposition.
At first glance, you might have thought this mustachioed bike was a new addition to the Lyft family -- a taxi transport for our two-wheeled friends. But alas, this bike parked in the Financial District yesterday afternoon is neither a member of the Lyft family, nor does it belong to Mayor Ed Lee.
In fact, as were admiring the creative cycle, its owner appeared and informed us the mustache on this bike was a product of Molletta Design, a San Francisco-based company/coffee shop that "really gives a crap about what goes on you and your bicycle."
I wade into the ongoing debate over CEQA, with much unease.
For starters, the minute that I start to explain that CEQA stands for the California Environmental Quality Act and that San Francisco City Hall's administration of that particular law is the subject of a long-running and heated political discussion, particularly over the question of which municipal body gets to adjudicate which appeal and in regard to the timing of the petition process and ... never mind, you've probably already hit the back button.
For those of you still with me, here's the other reason I worry about writing this: Those who follow this issue seem to follow it very closely and with a level of vociferous conviction that makes my equivocating self a little nervous, because as a cyclist and a citizen, I can sympathize with both sides of this argument.
To back up, CEQA is the 1970 state environmental protection law which says that any project built, funded, or approved by a government body in California needs to pass ecological muster. Whether it's major city development projects, state high-speed railway plans or that tool shed you want to build in your backyard, the relevant agency has to ask whether "there are feasible alternatives or feasible mitigation measures available which would substantially lessen the significant environmental effects" before signing off on anything.
Key to all of this is that the law also allows for us lowly plebs to engage in that review process.
No matter the grade of the street, getting a separated bike lane installed anywhere in San Francisco is always an uphill battle.
On Polk, local businesses have stalled an MTA proposal that hinted at the possibility of a cycle track, decrying the plan's removal of parking as an attack on the economic vibrancy of the neighborhood. Over in the Panhandle, the vision of twin lanes on either side of the DMV building funneling cyclists safely between the Wiggle and the park remains glaringly unfulfilled as the Oak project is delayed yet again. And all along Market Street, where the Bicycle Coalition has been pushing for separated lanes from Octavia to Embarcadero for years, well, why would you want to bike much farther than 8th Street, anyway?
Fortunately for local bike lane backers, Martha Roskowski is on the case. As the director of the Green Lane Project, Roskowski is leading a two-year effort to help six cities that are "national leaders" (that includes San Francisco) to get an Amsterdam-grade system of separated bike lanes on the ground as quickly as possible.
In celebration of the project's first birthday -- and to get Roskowski's thoughts on the future of cycling in the city -- I spoke to her via phone at her Denver office this week.
The bill would prohibit, with specified exceptions, the driver of the motor vehiclethat is overtaking or passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on ahighway from passing at a distance of less than 3 feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator. (emphasis added)
If you have both a car and a vested interest in actually being able to park it somewhere, it's possible you're feeling a little put upon these days.
Indeed, such that San Francisco's War on Cars exists (and don't worry, it doesn't), the last week has seen major developments on three of its fronts.
The onslaught began at Market and Dolores. By approval of the Planning Commission late last week, that intersection is soon to be "bulbed-out." That means more sidewalk, more greenery, more walkable, sittable, and hang-outable plaza space where multimodal urbanites can lock up their bikes, tie up their dogs, and munch on their kale chips outside the Whole Foods which will soon occupy that corner.
That also means -- you guessed it-- one less lane to drive in on either side of the street.
Heads up, BART riders: the cyclists are coming.
Once again, BART has decided to temporarily drop its rush-hour bike blackouts and open its (often dysfunctional) doors to pedalers for the morning and evening crush. As seasoned BART riders already know, bikes of the ungainly, unfoldable variety are usually kept off the trains between 7 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and again between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m, but starting Monday, it'll a multimodal free-for-all.
Perhaps you don't welcome the prospect of having to cozy up with some stranger's Cannondale during your ride to work. Perhaps you foresee scads of inconsiderate cyclists illegally descending the escalators upon the work weary commuters, helmet-butting their way onto crowded cars and knocking over priority seaters with their angular metal handlebars. Perhaps you've heard that if this pilot is deemed a success, the laissez-faire policy will probably be made permanent and that this dystopian vision of the future -- an oily chain stamping onto the side seam of your pants forever -- fills you with dread.
Stop your worrying, bike-less commuters.