Monthly Archives: March 2011

PJ Park: The Long Ride To Maya Pedal

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.

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Maya Pedal: Progress Through Pedal Power

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.

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The Psychology of Cyclist-Hating Drivers

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.

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Arleigh Jenkins: The Bike Shop Girl Talks Women, Cycling, and the Future of the LBS

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 and more recently 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.

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