Monthly Archives: May 2013

Victorian pictorial delights

If I were in London tomorrow night, an event that I’d definitely have on my calendar would be a presentation by two bicycle historians at an Islington bike shop.
The event, called “Hug an Historian: A night of Victorian pictorial delights,” will feature Carlton Reid and David Herlihy, both of whom I’ve written about in this blog.
Herlihy, a friend and author of Bicycle: The History and The Lost Cyclist, is planning to show newly digitized photographs of and by pioneer round-the-world American cyclists Thomas Allen and William Sachtleben.
Hug_an_Historian_posterThe pair embarked on a globe-girdling trip on British “safety” bicycles in 1891, and both figure in The Lost Cyclist, a 2010 book about the search for another round-the-world cyclist, Frank Lenz, who went missing in a turbulent part of eastern Turkey. (See March 26, 2010, blog post, “The search for the lost cyclist.”)
The photos, which David discussed with me during a stay at our house in Fort Worth in March, were scanned from circular Kodak plates that had ended up in the archives of the University of California at Los Angeles. They include images shot by Allen and Sachtleben in Greece, Turkey and Persia.
Reid is author of an upcoming book called Roads Were Not Built for Cars, which tells the story of how bicyclists became a powerful special-interest group in the United States and Britain during that turn-of-the-century period of transition from horse-powered transport to motorized vehicles. (See Feb. 9, 2012, blog post, “How’s that for a thank-you.”)
Reid’s book is due to be published in August after he raised 17,000 pounds sterling (about $25,700) on Kickstarter from more than 600 backers.
So, if you’re lucky enough to be in London Thursday night and have a fancy for bicycles, it would be well worth your while to stop in at the Look Mum No Hands bike shop at has 49 Old St., EC1V 9HX. The program begins at 7 p.m.


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Filed under History, Journeys, Travels

‘Mike bikes’ take to the streets

After five years of planning, hundreds of public meetings, a delay caused by Hurricane Sandy and a last-minute flurry of complaints about the size and location of the docking stations, New York City’s bike-sharing program began operation today.
citibikeMayor Michael Bloomberg and the city’s transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, launched the system Monday morning with a news conference beside a bike station near City Hall.
Roughly 6,000 bicycles are now available for public use at more than 300 bike docking stations in Manhattan south of Central Park and in some neighborhoods of Brooklyn. The system already has sold 13,000 annual memberships.
The installation of the bike docking stations over the past few weeks prompted a spate of complaints about their placement in historic neighborhoods and the amount of sidewalk space they occupy.

Photo by New York bicycling and photography friend Sean Park of a docking station near City Hall

Photo by New York bicycling and photography friend Sean Park of a docking station near City Hall

That followed early grumbling about the hundreds of miles of bike lanes — put in by the Bloomberg administration over the past five years — interfering with motor vehicles.
But Bloomberg has called the public meetings in advance of implementing the bike lanes and the bike-share program “the most extensive outreach effort ever done for a transportation project.”
If the bike-share program succeeds, some expect that the bicycles will be called “Mike bikes” or “Bloomberg bikes,” as bikes on the London bike-share system are called “Boris bikes” for London Mayor Boris Johnson.
Launch of New York’s bike-share system was expected to occur last summer, but it was delayed first by computer software problems and then on Oct. 30 by Hurricane Sandy, which flooded the facility at the Brooklyn Navy Yard where the bikes were being stored.
New Yorker cover on bike-share systemThe delays meant that my hometown, Fort Worth, was able to beat New York in starting a bike-share program. Fort Worth’s system was launched on April 22, Earth Day, with about 300 bikes and 28 docking stations.
By this summer, New York expects to have 10,000 bikes available for rental, which would make it the largest such program in the United States and one of the biggest in the world.
By then, the bike-share network is expected to cover the Upper East and Upper West Sides; Park Slope, Cobble Hill and Crown Heights in Brooklyn; and Long Island City and Sunnyside in Queens.

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Filed under Americana, Cool stuff, Environment, Urban cycling

This crazy Texas weather

This Texas spring of 2013 is downright perplexing.
During Wednesday evening’s
ride with our bicycling mayor, Betsy Price, on one of her “rolling town halls,” and later with the Fort Worth Night Riders, we wore T-shirts, short-sleeved jerseys and Hawaiian shirts. The temperature was in the 80s, as was fitting for May 1 in Texas.

Bicycling Mayor Betsy Price ready to lead Wednesday night's "rolling town hall' ride

Bicycling Mayor Betsy Price ready to lead Wednesday night’s “rolling town hall’ ride

Today, during a 26-mile bike ride with a neighbor, the temp was in the 40s, and the stiff northerly wind felt like it had come straight from the Arctic Circle. I wore three layers of winter wear and still felt chilly.
For Thursday night and Friday morning, the National Weather Service in Fort Worth forecasts northwesterly winds of 20 to 30 mph, gusting to 40 mph, and the prospect of freezing temperatures on the northwestern edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.
A couple weeks ago, in mid-April, when the temperature was pushing toward 90, we discovered that our 33-year-old air-conditioning system was kaput. Nary a breath of cool air emanated from the ducts.
Now, with a new system installed and up and running as of Wednesday evening, we haven’t even had a chance to try it out.
“The weather of Texas is remarkable for its versatility and suddenness,” a wag once said. “Oftenest told on this subject is the one about the farmer who started to town in a wagon drawn by an ox team. On the way, one of the oxen froze to death and, while he was skinning it, the other died of sunstroke.”
That pretty much sums up the past few days.



Filed under Americana, Texana, Urban cycling

Getting oriented on the Trinity Trails

A cityscape can look strangely different from a bicycle trail.
Familiar landmarks and thoroughfares,
viewed from behind the wheel of a car, afford a quick fix on a location. But from a bicycle saddle, riding along a trail, those landmarks and thoroughfares take on a different, disorienting perspective, and it’s sometimes difficult to figure out where you are.
Trinity Trails logoBut that problem is being remedied along Fort Worth’s Trinity Trails network, thanks to new signage being put in place by the Tarrant Regional Water District, which oversees the Clear and West forks of the Trinity River in Tarrant County.
Twenty-six new trail map signs that say “You are here” provide information on nearby amenities such as water fountains, restrooms, fishing piers and canoe launches. They also include mile markers so trail users can easily determine how far they are from certain destinations.

My bike at the trailhead at Southwest Boulevard

My bike at the trailhead at Southwest Boulevard

Identification signs are also being placed on 26 bridges that cross over the Trinity Trails, allowing trail users to know at a glance where they are in the city.
The Tarrant Regional Water District maintains the 27-mile Fort Worth Floodway as the local sponsor for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It has built and maintains more than 40 miles of biking and walking trails and numerous trailheads that provide such amenities as restrooms, water fountains and parking areas.
I’ve been riding the Trinity Trails for more than two decades, and it took a while before I always knew where I was in the city. Now, it will be much easier for newcomers, especially for those who come from out of town to ride our trails.
More information on the Trinity Trails is available at

Welcome to the Trinity Trails


Filed under Texana, Urban cycling