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Bike Messengers That Will Live in Infamy: Pearl Harbor

messenger 300x204 Bike Messengers That Will Live in Infamy: Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor skid contest.

Today’s the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Apparently the Japanese planned to deliver a declaration of war 30 minutes before the bombs were to rain down, but due to some slow work from the Japanese embassy in Washington, the message didn’t arrive in time. The good news is that the Japanese embassy was under surveillance, and Washington had the message unencrypted before the embassy did. They contacted Hawaii and sent a bike messenger to deliver the message, but the bad news is that it was two hours after the start of the attack. If they find this messenger, they should put his skinny jeans and Chrome bag in the messenger hall of fame.

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Tips for winter biking

ice bike1 300x299 Tips for winter biking

The City of Minneapolis web site has some good tips for making it through the winter on your bike safely. And, apparently a fucked up storm is going to hit the midwest this week. Bummer.

Travel slowly when snow and ice are present. Riding a bike on a street can be challenging, particularly when snow has been compacted by vehicles. Ride in bare patches of pavement when possible. Take turns and curves at a slower speed, and allow longer distances for braking. Also, be sure to plan ahead for extra travel time.

Take the off-street trails. Since Minneapolis has so many miles of trails (60 miles and counting!), urbanites from across the country often suffer from “trail envy.” To top it all off, the Park Board and Public Works Department have policies of clearing snow from off-street trails soon after the end of a snowfall. In most cases, this occurs in less than 24 hours. Leave the grime and compacted snow of the streets behind, and head for the trails!

Use an old bike in good working condition. Salt and sand can wreak havoc on your treasured bicycle, resulting in rust and breakdowns. Use an older but functional bicycle in the winter months. Two elements of a well functioning winter bike include effective brakes and a well greased chain (wet lube is ideal for snowy conditions). Wider tires with good traction are also essential.

Dress in layers. Just like other winter sports, bicycling can heat up your body rapidly. Apply layers to your torso and legs, and be prepared to strip them away as your body warms.

Cover your extremities. All of us have experienced the extremes of a sweating torso and numb ears or toes. Don’t ignore your head, neck, hands, and feet when you bike. Comfortable stocking caps, scarves, socks, and gloves (which allow dexterity) should be considered. And if you want to look extra cool, use goggles.

Ride defensively around motorists. Cyclists are more invisible in the winter (with fewer cyclists riding), and roads are more narrow (when curb-to-curb plowing has not occurred). Always be prepared for motorists to make a mistake. Follow traffic laws and be as considerate as possible. Educate yourself and your friends (motorists and bicyclists alike!) on traffic laws and safety. Please note, it is legal to ride in a general traffic lane when a bike lane is filled with snow.

Stay visible. Riding in the winter months means more darkness. Brighten your ride by using headlights, taillights, and reflective clothing and gear.

Use 311. If you see a bicycle-related problem, which involves plowing, shoveling, signing, or another traffic concern, call 311. The City relies on the public to flag problems. If you live outside of Minneapolis, call 612-673-3000. For problems occurring on park property, call 612-230-6400.

Use transit. When the going gets tough, give yourself a warm break by using the bus or train. All Metro Transit buses and trains are equipped with bicycle racks.

Embrace winter. Our identity is shaped by our weather. Snow and cold temperatures add diversity and beauty to Minneapolis. Riding a bicycle in the winter can be exhilarating and practical. It keeps you in good health, it’s good for the environment, it’s cheap, and at times, it’s even the fastest mode of travel.

Hopefully these can help out a bit. Good luck!

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Wisconsin's Finest on display through Craigslist

I scoured the local Craigslist ads for great bike buys while hanging out at my parents’ house in Wisconsin over Thanksgiving. I didn’t find any $25 bikes that would be worth the hefty shipping costs to send them back to NY, but I did find some interesting bikes people are willing to part ways with.

van halen bike Wisconsin's Finest on display through Craigslist

A kid's bike modeled after Eddie VanHalen's guitar. I guess it could be worse. It could be a Sammy Hagar bike.

three wheel scooter Wisconsin's Finest on display through Craigslist

This is sold as a "3-wheel pedal scooter with seat," but normal people call it a 'trike.'

pedal car Wisconsin's Finest on display through Craigslist

Pedal car priced to move at $800. Great if you have a few DUIs under your belt.

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Cranksgiving in NY This Saturday

cranksgiving Cranksgiving in NY This Saturday

Cranksgiving 2008

This Saturday New York plays host to one of the largest alleycats of the year. Last Cranksgiving brought out 106 riders who hauled ass all over town to pull down a bunch of food donations. Cranksgiving is the odd marriage of messengers and Saint Mary’s soup kitchen on the Lower East Side. Instead of normal drops and pickups, the riders need to go to grocery stores all over town and buy specific cans of food. At the end of the race, they’re all donated to the soup kitchen. Last year they also raised $1680 for City Harvest and $420 for the New York Bike Messenger Foundation. So help us out this Saturday and don’t get pissed when a biker blows a red light or cuts in line at the grocery store.

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YouTube Video Shows Minneapolis Bikers Getting Beaten Up and Pushed Down

greenway YouTube Video Shows Minneapolis Bikers Getting Beaten Up and Pushed Down

Greeway slugfest.

Minneapolis police are working hard for a big PR win. A YouTube video that has been removed from the site showed eight young men running down kids and cyclists. The 6-minute video shows one man wearing boxing gloves punching a cyclist on the Greenway, and similar incidents in St. Paul at the intersection of University and Lexington avenues. The man who posted the video describes it as, “a group of Somali black males pulling pranks on people.”

Running up to a biker and punching them with boxing gloves on is a bold move. A more interesting video would be the guy with gloves on desperately trying to get them off while the biker he approached ruthlessly beats him with a U-lock. These guys should stick to chasing little kids walking home from school and pushing them down hills; much safer.

A Star Tribune article on the video puts the pressure on the MPD to find these assholes quickly.

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Pedicab Peddlers Facing Deadline for Licenses

pedi cab nyc Pedicab Peddlers Facing Deadline for Licenses

Unlicensed Pedicab owners about to catch hell.

New York City’s Pedicab owners have been an ignored business since their inception. The city didn’t pay any attention as long as the bike carriages didn’t get in anyone’s way. But in the last few years, business has boomed and now they estimate that more than 1000 of the trikes are being pedaled around Central Park and Midtown. The city stepped in and required that owners and the drivers of the Pedicabs get licenses. They license only costs $60, but the owners also need to prove that they’re carrying insurance and they need to bring the Pedicabs in for an inspection. A lot of the independent owners haven’t bothered with licenses since they can’t afford the insurance, seatbelts, and turn signals required to pass inspection. It also turns out that a lot of drivers are either working illegally or have so many fines that they can’t obtain a driver’s license. No surprise seeing as how a lot of them are former bike messengers. Beginning Saturday, we’ll see how hard the city comes down on them.

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Hipster Bike Collections Begin Going on Sale

coppi rare Hipster Bike Collections Begin Going on Sale

We'll all be able to afford one of these pretty soon.

Now that hipsters have begun moving away from fixed bear bikes in favor of 1970s era mopeds and three-wheeled cars, they’re starting to sell of their fixie collections. This is great news for us. I’ve wanted to get a fixed gear for ages but it’s impossible to pull one down at a reasonable cost in Brooklyn. The demand for the most arcane and needlessly spazzed out bikes drives up the median cost on Craigslist. But as soon as they guys all get mopeds, the market’s going to be flooded with Aero spokes, cheap Brooks saddles, and obscure European frames. They’ll probably hold onto their expensive chain locks and messenger bags until the moped thing dies off, but it’ll be nice to pick that stuff up when they move onto old Nascar vehicles.

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New York Preparing for Bikes-in-Buildings Law to Take Hold

bike lot New York Preparing for Bikes in Buildings Law to Take Hold

Bike parking lots.

This December 11th a law signed last year that requires office buildings to let workers bring their bikes inside will take effect. Basically, if you own an office building that has at least one freight elevator, you’re required to provide a secure indoor spot where people can bring their bikes. This law was an easy win for Mayor Bloomberg seeing as how it costs the government no money and gets riders on his side. It’s stupid that they planned for it to start off in winter when fewer people commute, but at least riders will get to drag their slush-covered bikes across the office carpeting. Building managers are less than excited about having to provide space for no extra cash, but hopefully we’ll see bikes sticking out of cubicle farms all over the city. The NYC DOT is already prepping New Yorkers for the kickoff of Bike sin Buildings with a list of all the bureaucracy and paperwork you’ll need to deal with to get setup.

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Cyclists Set to Take Over Seattle Politics

seattle mayor Cyclists Set to Take Over Seattle Politics

Seattle Takeover.

The outspent underdog of Seattle’s Mayoral race took home the win last week, and good news for our Left Coast friends…the guy’s a biker. He actually campaigned riding around town on his bike, barking at people while wearing a helmet and blazer. Hopefully Washington takes notice and the bike lobby becomes a serious business. Mayor Bloomberg took home a third win in NYC after making vast improvements to the cycling infrastructure and promising even more. Expect good things to come in Seattle.