Turns out the sexist soap bubble we live in doesn’t pop when you hop on a Surly. If anything, people get MORE judgey: Ladies, you better not get to work sweaty and unpretty! But how dare you ride in a skirt and heels? I half expect some guy with a handlebar mustache to promote riding sidesaddle. (Lest you think we live in a post-gender society, know that women in the U.S. only take 1-in-4 bike trips.)
Former Grist editor Sarah Goodyear reached out to female cyclists, asking what it means to be feminine on two wheels (if there even IS such a thing). Reading the smattering of responses she got over at Atlantic Cities was both reassuring and eye-opening, reinforcing that there’s no one way to be a woman on a bike, just as -- WAIT FOR IT -- there’s no one way to be a human on Planet Earth. (Crazy, I know.) Here are a handful of ruminations on cycling, fashion, and gender (all of which you should read, BTW):
Grist cannot be held responsible for the crapping of your pants while watching this helmet-cam of daredevil cyclist Geoff Gulevich going down a mountain:
The GoPro video of Gulevich’s ride is from the Red Bull Rampage in Virgin, Utah -- an exclusive, invite-only mountain bike competition so dangerous it was cancelled for several years -- so it’s prrrrrobably not anything you’d encounter in your morning commute.
Plus, Gulevich is a professional mountain biker, so don’t feel guilty if you’re not as daring on two wheels. After all, YOU risk getting doored and T-boned if you ride in the city, whereas THIS punk only flirted with the edge of a cliff. Pfffft. He’s got nothin’ on rush-hour San Francisco.
My life as a bikeshare tourist began three years ago. Before, whenever I visited a new city, I felt like it was hard to get a sense of the local geography. Traveling by subway was fast and provided an excellent opportunity to check out what other people were reading. But the experience of going down into the subway and reappearing in a different location was disconcerting. I felt like I was teleporting, or a prairie dog.
When it works, bikeshare is like the Sesame Street of urban cycling: The bikes are big and cartoonish and comfortable. Cars seem to give you more space on the road, possibly because you look like a total n00b and they don't trust you to know what you're doing. And moving from neighborhood to neighborhood gives you a sense of how the city fits together.
I've only used bikeshare in three cities, but hope to use more. (Cleveland, I'm looking forward to it. San Francisco, can't wait 'til you've got enough of a network to bike to more than just the shopping malls downtown.) Here, I give you: what I've learned so far.
The first time I used a bikeshare was at a conference in Boston. At the end of the day there, I felt as though I had spent hours paddling a tiny boat through a howling vortex of schmooze, unsure of where or how I might come ashore.
But if you really want to trance out, watch this video from Jeff Ferzoco, which traces rides through time as the city morphs from lonely ambling 2 a.m. partiers to the full-fledged ant hive of 8 a.m. commuters to clusterfucks caused by traffic delays -- till everyone goes back home, and does it all again.
In olden times, back when people wore pocketwatches and used the word “gallimaufry,” Chicago’s transit system was simple. People from the city outskirts took the train downtown for work, then they hopped back on the L and schlepped home.
Nowadays, shit’s different. People live even farther out than before (sprawl!). New business hubs have sprung up -- downtown isn’t the only game in town, you might say. All of this forces people into their cars. (Well, that and the fact that when you're in a car it’s harder for strangers to judge you while you eat Doritos Locos.)
So the Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Active Transportation Alliance just proposed a new, expanded transit map to serve the Chicago of today and tomorrow. Here it is, juxtaposed with the existing rail system:
Since 2007, women haven’t been popping out as many babies (maybe it’s that pesky recession?). But they’ve been enjoying the company of something ELSE cute and tiny and full of shit: small dogs. And that's better for the population and for resource use overall.
Roberto A. Ferdman points out the trends on Quartz:
Birth rates in the US have fallen from nearly 70 per 1,000 women in 2007, to under 63 last year -- a 10% tumble. American women birthed almost 400,000 fewer little humans in 2013 than they did six years before. The drop-off has come exclusively among 15- to 29-year-olds.
Meanwhile, dogs under 20 pounds have doubled in popularity since 1999. They’re now Americans’ most common type of pup. Euromonitor research analyst Damian Shore says it’s not just an interesting correlation; women are totally choosing tail-wagging friends over someone whose college you have to pay for. As he told Quartz:
There’s definitely some replacement happening there ... There are more single and unmarried women in their late 20s and early 30s, which also happens to be the demographic that buys the most small dogs.
It is already taking shape as the 21st century urban nightmare: A big storm hits a city like Shanghai, Mumbai, Miami, or New York, knocking out power supply and waste treatment plants, washing out entire neighborhoods, and marooning the survivors in a toxic and foul-smelling swamp.
Now the world's leading scientists are suggesting that those same cities in harm's way could help drive solutions to climate change.
A draft report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), obtained by the Guardian, says smart choices in urban planning and investment in public transport could help significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions, especially in developing countries.
The draft is due for release in Berlin on Sunday, the third and final installment of the IPCC's authoritative report on climate change.
"The next two decades present a window of opportunity for urban mitigation as most of the world's urban areas and their infrastructure have yet to be constructed," the draft said.
Vincent Meertens and his girlfriend Larissa tracked all their bike trips for a year, and the result is a dense, cross-hatched map of their travels as individuals and as a couple. It's like one of those Facebook relationship pages, but centered on biking.
Meertens' routes are picked out in blue and Larissa's in red. The paths mark their solo activities, their favorite haunts, and their adventures together (although Meertens was more zealous about tracking and some of the blue-only routes, like the one around the perimeter of Manhattan, are actually trips they took as a couple). The yellow dots are places where they took photos.
Youthful San Francisco hooligans don’t exactly have access to a field of snoozing cows. What CAN they tip? Smart cars. And on Monday, four were flipped over in San Francisco neighborhoods. Reports the Associated Press:
[Officer Gordon] Shyy said ... police were looking for multiple suspects wearing black hooded sweatshirts who were in the area at the time of the destruction.
You rebellious teens with your hoodies and raging hormones and pent-up aggression! The prank seems merely silly on the surface, but it could actually point to underlying class-based tension in one of America’s most spendy cities.
Police said they didn't know whether the attacks were a prank or another episode in escalating tensions among some residents who blame the tech industry for rising rents and cost of living.
As Shelley Gallivan, who inherited one of the Smart cars when her 70-year-old dad died, told the AP: