December 2010

This is our last week of business for the year.  We will be closing early this Friday, Dec 24th, at 3 pm.  We will reopen Monday, Jan 10th, 2011.  We are (really) looking forward to a couple of weeks off, but if you need to buy a new bike or something just send us an email and we can arrange something.

For our last week of 2010 we want to do something special, so this week only buy a $50 gift certificate, and we will throw in another for $10.  Or buy a $100 gift certificate and we will give you another for $25!

Thanks for a great 2010, looking forward to riding with you all in 2011!

On my walk to work this morning I (Steve) encountered this.

Andy Goldsworthy, here, in Iowa City?!?!?  Looks like something he might do…  I mulled over his philosophy as I walked to the shop, this part in particular:  I have become aware raw nature is in a state of change and how that change is the key to understanding. I want my art to be sensitive and alert to changes in material, season and weather.

At the shop there was this Pugsley we built yesterday.  It is going to MK Fender World HQ & Workshop on Friday to have a set of full custom full coverage fenders built and mounted.  Stay tuned for follow up pics on that project!

Back to the grass patch, I took the Pugsley for a test ride, and rolled back to effect a state of change via changes in material, in this case repeated and multi-directional crossings, with the Pugsley.  Honestly, I like the previous artistic effort better, but I bet the execution of my creative process was more fun than watching the snow fall might have been.

The New Class Warfare over Bicycles

Don Cherry and Rob Ford twist it backwards. The elitists are pro-car politicians, slowing up a better life for the working class.

By: By Yves Engler, 13 December 2010,

View full article and comments:

In Vancouver the pro-car crowd criticizes the Hornby bike lane by claiming to stand up for small business.

In Toronto, after being sworn in as new mayor, Rob Ford declares an end to the “war on cars.” He plans to block a light-rail line and to abolish a $60 vehicle registration fee. Don Cherry congratulates him for rising up against the “elite” and slams “bike-riding pinkos” who supposedly once ran the city.

In Montréal a new political party that won office a year ago in the Plateau Mont-Royal borough begins to widen sidewalks, add bike paths and close some streets to traffic. For doing so, critics accuse them of engaging in class warfare.

In a much discussed La Presse opinion piece, Luc Chartrand denigrated the “supposedly enlightened urban planning” measures as “nothing but a strategy by the wealthy to grab territory in a centrally located district… to the detriment of the general interest of the City.”

This is just one more example of the Big Lie. Call black white, say war is peace, claim the media is left wing and argue urban space dominated by cars is good for poor and working-class people.

The truth is that these Montreal “traffic calming” measures will make a relatively bike- and pedestrian-friendly neighbourhood more so, and they will make it more difficult for suburban commuters to use the area’s smaller side streets to avoid the main north-south arteries. Over 650,000 cars travel through the eight square-kilometre district daily, with more than 80 per cent headed elsewhere.

Making life difficult for cars could be, in fact, described as a form of class war, but one that works in the long-term interests of the poor and working class.

Autos hailed as equalizers

Even superficially, the critics’ argument makes little sense. While the Plateau is not Montréal’s most affordable neighbourhood, it’s far from its most expensive. Many students, artists and working-class people live in this hip, politically progressive, area.

Chartrand’s claim, Don Cherry’s diatribe and Hornby bike lane opponents share a common theme: Among North America’s most extreme auto proponents, any move to curtail car domination is an attack against the little guy because automobiles give everyone equal access to mobility.

In a Wall Street Journal opinion article, Stephen Moore captured the essence of this argument. “The car allowed even the common working man total freedom of mobility — the means to go anywhere, anytime, for any reason. In many ways, the automobile is the most egalitarian invention in history, dramatically bridging the quality-of-life gap between rich and poor.”

The car’s proponents invoke class even though all other forms of land transportation are eminently more accessible. Shoes, a bike, or a metro pass are all cheaper than a car with its gas, insurance and upkeep needs. According to the American Public Transportation Association, individuals who get around with a bus pass instead of a car can save a whopping $8,368 annually.

Cars eat up smaller incomes

When the automobile is used as the primary mode of mass transit, the poorest are hardest hit. In 2008, for instance, the poorest fifth of Americans spent 13 per cent of their income on gas. The top fifth spent 3 per cent. In Highway Robbery: Transportation, Racism and New Routes to Equity, Robert Bullard notes: “Those earning less than $14,000 per year, after taxes, spend approximately 40 per cent of their take-home pay on transportation expenditures. This compares to 22 per cent for families earning between $27,177 and $44,461 annually, and 13 per cent per year for families making more than $71,900 per year.”

Nearly three-quarters of U.S. households earning less than $15,000 a year own a car, and in an extreme example of auto dependence, tens of thousands of “mobile homeless” live in their vehicles.

The poor purchase cars because there is no other option in a society built to serve the needs of the automobile. If you want to work, you need a car. If you want to visit your friends, you need a car.

Car-dominated transport eats up a disproportionate amount of working-class income. At the same time, the automobile is an important means for the wealthy to assert themselves socially. A luxury vehicle lets the whole world know that you have arrived, both literally and metaphorically. “The automobile’s a credit card on wheels,” writes Heathcote Williams. “It’s pushy to tell people how much you make, so you tell ’em through your automobile.”

Over a century ago, cars grew to prominence as technological toys for the rich. By the turn of the 20th century, New York City’s Automobile Club had more millionaires than any other social club in the world. “No American Sport,” noted the Washington Post in 1902, “has ever enlisted so much power and money.”

‘Purse-proud crazy trespassers’

Those living at the dawn of the Auto Age often viewed it as an obtrusive and “particularly ostentatious display of wealth.” Farmers and the working class were incensed by their presence. A 1904 edition of the U.S. farm magazine, Breeders Gazette, called automobile drivers “a reckless, bloodthirsty, villainous lot of purse-proud crazy trespassers.”

In 1907, rioting broke out in a working class Lower Manhattan neighborhood after two-year-old Louis Camille was run down and killed. The automobile sparked dozens of other similarly violent protests.

One reason the car was popular among the wealthy was because it strengthened their dominance over mobility, which was slightly undermined by rail. Prior to the train’s ascendance in the mid 1800s, the elite traveled by horse and buggy, but the train’s technological superiority compromised the usefulness of the horse and buggy. Even for shorter commutes, streetcars became the preferred mode of transport by the late 1800s. With respect to mobility, the train and streetcar blurred class lines. Unlike the train and streetcar, which were more available to all classes of society, the automobile provided an exclusive form of travel.

The automobile’s capacity to create social distance appealed to early car buyers. In a car, one could remain separate from perceived social inferiors (blue-collar workers, immigrants, blacks etc.) while in transit. Prominent auto historian, James J. Flink remarked that, “the automobile seemed to proponents of the innovation, to afford a simple solution to some of the more formidable problems of American life associated with the emergence of an urban industrial society.”

The different ways in which the private car strengthened wealthy people’s grip over culture and mobility have largely been forgotten. At the same time, the immense financial burden cars place on the working class seems of only passing importance to its critics.

The largest source of capitalist profit over the past century, the automobile has shaped landscapes, culture and the environment in a host of harmful ways.

It’s time for a class-focused challenge to private automobility.  [Tyee]

Yves Engler’s the author of Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid and The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy. For more info:

A long time ago, at a bike shop far away (Michael’s Cyclery), Steve bought a Bridegstone MB 2.  He rode it for years and years, and it served him well.  Over the years the bike never got heavier, but everyone else’s mountain bikes got lighter and they went faster, so Steve did not ride off road much anymore, phooey he said!  Then he heard about ss mountain biking, so he tried it and his bike got lighter and also more fun and he came to love his old Bridgestone again.

After a time he grew tired of the singleator that made the single setup work on his old steed, so he took the bike out to see the Mysterious Wizard that lived in a village nearby.  Some people said he was an Ogre, but Steve did not believe it!  Once Steve snuck past the hellhounds that guard the Castle Workshop (cleverly enchanted to look like a pole barn) he found that he had stumbled into a bicycle wonderland and the Mysterious Wizard was not an Ogre at all but an experienced framebuilder who had been building bikes for decades!

Tom Teesdale was his name and he said that he could put track dropouts in the old frame, sure thing.  And so it was.  But in time our hero Steve realized he had been Confounded by impure thoughts about fancy frame materials, or maybe suspension forks, and had forgotten to ask for fender mounts!  He was able to rig something up but it never was as solid as he desired, so he consulted with the Young Framebuilding Alchemist out west who was known to exclaim things like “Bicycles are made of fire and metal!” and, “Pull through!”  He said to just drill a hole in that sucker and thread it!

So that is what Steve did.

Drilled, tapped, and fendered it.  And racked it for good measure so it can carry skis this winter.

And there you have it, as was foretold by framebuilders of yore, a steel bike is changed to serve its master’s whims.  When young Steve bought this bike he never could have imagined all the possibilities, but that is the great thing about steel.  Rather than buying 3 new bikes over the years, a bit of work and imagination changed the bike to be what he wanted, and he still loves it 20 years later.  But disc brakes sure would be nice…

Last night JCCOG had the first public meeting as they put together the new long range transportation plan for the area.

There were copies of the current plan circulating around for us to look at as the 30 minute presentation was delivered .  John Yapp covered existing and future land use, existing and proposed trails, transit service, and commuting numbers for the area that showed how many folks come in, how many go out, and how many travel between IC/UH/CV/NL.

Fun fact: The current Transportation Plan has a pic of Cody and me riding bikes on the cover!

When the presentation was finished we were invited to give input on what areas and specific projects we would like to see the new plan address.  There was much discussion of local transit options, buses and proposed trains.  Bicyclist and pedestrian infrastructure were also hot topics for further improvement.  Not a single attendee asked for more parking garages, more traffic lanes, or higher speed limits.

This meeting was just the first in a series, if you have ideas to offer that you think would make our local transportation system run more smoothly please make an effort to attend one before the plan is finalized!  You can send your written comments or questions about the Plan to Kent Ralston kent-ralston(at)jccog(dot)org

Our demo MASI CXR is up for sale!  Steve has been riding this 57cm for less than 4 months.

He managed to put 1,300 miles, 8 cx races, and an Ultegra rear derailleur on it.  $1,785 new, now $1200 including the cages and wireless computer, but not the frame pump and pedals.  If you are looking for a bike to handle your commute, your road rides be they paved or gravel, and/or your cx race schedule, this bike will do it for you.  Stop in to check it out!