PJ and his Big Dummy in Antigua, Guatemala. Photo from PJ’s blog.
Last week, I wrote a short post about an awesome organization in San Andrés Itzapa, Guatemala called Maya Pedal. The group re-purposes old bikes into bicimaquinas—pedal-powered machines used for washing clothing, drawing well water, shelling nuts, milling grain, and more. After I posted it, a friend of mine told me that one of his co-workers at the Mt. Rainier Bike Co-Op in Mt. Rainier, MD is currently volunteering for Maya Pedal. That co-worker is MRBC founder PJ Park who is not only volunteering for Maya Pedal, but rode his bike all the way to San Andrés Itzapa to do so! PJ told me about his work with the organization so far, his long tour from the United States to Guatemala, and what Maya Pedal needs to continue to succeed.
Pedal-driven water pump. Photo from Maya Pedal
Utility bikes have seen a surge in popularity in North America in the last few years. Seeing a long-tail cargo bike or a Dutch Bakfiets go rolling by is no longer cause for a head-snapping, slack-jawed stare—for bicyclists at least; the general population might feel otherwise. I recently learned of an NGO, however, that puts bikes to work in such remarkable and utilitarian fashions that it puts even the finest smugness flotilla (see BikeSnobNYC for that reference) to shame.
It seems safe to assume that you, the reader of this post on a site dedicated entirely to bikes, are intimately familiar with the special vitriol American drivers reserve for bicyclists. The worst rhetoric presents itself in the comments underneath nearly every mainstream media story that so much as mentions bikes (it’s hard to get in a full rant as you speed by that bastard cyclist rudely using the road built for your car. “Get off the rooaaaa” is usually the best they can muster). Comments range from screeds about bikes not paying for the roads therefore not deserving to ride on them to disgusting quips about injured cyclists getting what they deserved for riding where they don’t belong.
The ignorance and faulty logic of bike-hating Internet commenters is frustrating to no end, but it’s somewhat benign in the grand scheme. When that same hatred manifests in the mind of someone behind the wheel of a two-ton vehicle, however, it is incredibly dangerous. Enraged drivers suddenly feel justified as they try to scare cyclists by “buzzing” them, honking, cutting them off, yelling, or throwing something.
What the drivers often don’t take into consideration (at least I don’t think they do) is the razor-thin line between a scared cyclist and a severely injured cyclist that’s been hit by a car or run off the road. Occasionally drivers take that hatred to extremes and try to intentionally injure or kill cyclists. On of the most sickening examples of this happened in late February when a 47-year old man intentionally plowed his car through a large group of cyclists riding in critical mass in Porte Alegre, Brazil.
Not quite like getting a new bike, but pretty damn good.
As cyclists, I’m guessing most of you have experienced the warm, wonderful feeling of New Bike Day. Whether its brand new from the shop or a new-to-you bike from Craigslist, you’re smitten with puppy love and want to spend endless hours locked arm-in-arm (or foot-in-pedal as the case may be) with the new ride. When I brought home my first cyclocross bike, I spent a few hours riding the bike in circles around my front yard, in the dark, just trying to learn mounts and dismounts.
That’s pretty much how I’m feeling about The Bicycle Story’s brand new logo. Astute readers that you are, you probably noticed it prominently displayed at the top of the page. Perhaps you also noticed it on our Facebook page (which you should go give a Like) and as our Twitter avatar.
Robert Higdon, the man behind Bunnyhawk Illustration, deserves a huge thank you for all his work on the logo. Thanks to his talents, the logo went from a late-night idea and some chicken-scratch drawings in an email to the beautiful final product I got. Robert has lots of experience doing illustration, web design, and logo work in the bike industry. Drop him a line next time you need some creative and artsy work done.
Arleigh racing cyclocross in North Carolina.
Arleigh Jenkins, known to some as the Bike Shop Girl, worked in the bike industry for over a decade. From shop rat to manager to wrench on the pro mountain bike circuit, she’s had a hand in nearly every aspect of the cycling world. She’s since moved on from the bike industry, but Arleigh’s used her knowledge to help cyclists empower themselves, first through CommuteByBike.com and more recently BikeShopGirl.com. I spoke to Arleigh about the barriers women (and everyone) sometimes face in cycling, the need for independent bike shops to evolve, and her struggle to get back into the saddle after being hit by a car.