Culture Japan Network TV shows us the underground bicycle-parking robots of Shinagawa, Tokyo. These machines ingest RFID-tagged bicycles and whisk them into their bowels and set them lovingly into huge subterranean crypts, from which they are robotically disinterred when their owners are ready to ride. Each machine holds 200 bikes. The manufacturer's representative explains that storing bikes underground protects them from "pranks" and frees up surface area for better applications, but inexplicably the area around the robo-ingesters is a blank field of paving bricks of approximately the same area that the bikes would occupy on the surface.
I’m slightly ashamed to admit that, as of mid-2013, my print reading has, on a whole, fallen into two categories. The first is comics. I’ll stubbornly argue the superiority of the physical media for sequential art for the foreseeable future. Even as a tech journalist, I’ve yet to encounter an experience compelling enough to convince me to swipe through panels (I love you, Comixology, but I’m just not ready for the commitment). The second is travel -- until the day the FCC comes to its senses, I’ll continue to shove a paperback into my carryon, between the laptop and Kindle. As of late, the latter has begun occurring with increasing frequency, an so, too, has my consumption of small, tree-based volumes.
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RIP Al Fritz, inventor of the Schwinn Sting-Ray.
For much of the 1960s and the early 1970s, no suburban streetscape would have been complete without them: A squadron of kids clutching sky-high handlebars on low-slung bikes in eye-popping, hot-rod colors.
Equipped with a curved banana seat, the Schwinn Sting-Ray was America's most popular bicycle. Its godfather, Schwinn executive Al Fritz, became known as an industry visionary for transforming a Southern California street fad into a national phenomenon.
"It looked incredibly sporty," said his son Mike Fritz, a bicycle industry consultant who lives in Newbury Park. "It gave kids too young to have a driver's license the opportunity to have the Corvette of bicycles."
Fritz, the Chicago-based Schwinn manager who heeded a salesman's tip that "something goofy is happening in California," died Tuesday in Barrington, Ill., of complications caused by a stroke, family members said. He was 88.
A team from the University of Sichuan won the Red Dot Design award for a concept design called "Lumigrid" -- a bike-light that projects a grid on the ground ahead of the rider, making terrain irregularities easy to spot:
Lumigrids can project a grid onto the ground. On a flat road surface, the grid will consist of standard squares. On a rough road surface, the grids will deform accordingly. By observing the motion and deformation of the grids, the rider can intuitively understand the landforms ahead. In addition, the luminous grids can make it easier for nearby pedestrians and vehicles to notice the bicycle, reducing the likelihood of collision.
Lumigrids can be fixed onto the bicycle’s handlebars. Its power is supplied by either an internal battery or by the rotation of the bicycle’s wheels. It has only one button so that the rider can easily use it while riding. The first press will turn on the power, the second press will change the mode of projection, and holding the button down for two seconds will turn the power off. Lumigrids has three modes with different grid sizes that can be used to adapt to different situations: normal mode (140x180mm), high-speed mode (140x260mm), and team mode (300x200mm)."
Back in November 2012, the New York Department of Transportation released a report called Measuring the Street: New Metrics for the 21st Century, which had some compelling figures on the way that local business benefits from bike-lanes, for the fairly obvious reason that cyclists find it easy to stop and shop, as compared to drivers, who are more likely to continue on to a mall with a big parking lot, or shop online.
In many ways, these data come as no surprise. We know that when towns invest in bicycle infrastructure, people will ride more — the number of people traveling by bicycle increases when there is infrastructure to make traveling by bike safe and easy.
We also know that people who travel along a street by bicycle have fewer barriers to stopping at a local business than people who travel along the same street by car. It's very easy to hop off a bicycle and find a place to secure the bike; not so with finding parking for an automobile. In fact, a recent study suggest that bicycle riders tend to spend more at local businesses over the course of a month.
This new study makes it clear: investing in bicycle improvements boosts small businesses. And what town or city doesn't want to boost activity at local businesses?
An outstanding Kickstarter project - a bike horn that is as loud as a car horn!
Cycling in traffic can be frightening and dangerous. The Loud Bicycle horn prevents accidents by alerting motorists with a familiar sound. The safety benefits of the horn give more people the confidence to travel by bike.
How does it work?
Drivers react to car horns before they even know where the sound is coming from. A driver that gets beeped at while backing out of a driveway for example, will immediately brake. These kinds of reflexive reactions are perfect to keep cyclists safe. Some motorists don't realize that their driving habits can be dangerous for cyclists. Drivers will learn to be more aware of cyclists after a Loud Bicycle horn is honked at them.
I want a loud horn for pedestrians.
Zaz Von Schwinn uploaded this 1969 Popular Mechanics diagram showing the specs for a spectacular dragster bicycle with all the trimmings.
Popular Mechanics July 1969 page 152 (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
Last night I went to Crash Space, a hackerspace in Los Angeles, to see the cool things that its members have been working on. One of my favorite projects was Naim Busek's "Bike Luminance," a signal light that you can attach to a bike helmet so drivers can see where you are and where you plan to go. When you tilt your head back, the bright LED light strips blink red. When you tilt forward they turn green. When you tilt your head to one side or the other, the light strips become turn signals.
Filmmaker Casey Neistat writes in the NYT about his recurring project to steal his own bicycle in really obvious ways in places across New York, to see if anyone intervenes. Very few people do.
I recently spent a couple of days conducting a bike theft experiment, which I first tried with my brother Van in 2005. I locked my own bike up and then proceeded to steal it, using brazen means — like a giant crowbar — in audacious locations, including directly in front of a police station. I wanted to find out whether onlookers or the cops would intervene. What you see here in my film are the results.
Solutions to the bike theft problem are hard to find. More bike racks in better-lit areas, stronger locks and bike garages all help. But ultimately, greater public awareness may be the only way to substantially curb theft. If someone saw a car being stolen, they would surely call the police. Why should a bike be any different?
Here is a video of a person in a Darth Vader mask and cape, and a Utilikilt, riding a unicycle, playing Star Wars music on a bagpipe, in Portland, OR
As you do.
Darth Vadar bagpipe unicycle (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)