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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Could the Seven-Person Bike Save Us All? No, But It's Awesome

Posted By on Thu, Nov 8, 2012 at 7:30 AM

Eric Staller will not have the chicken. He will have the fish. - COURTESY ERIC STALLER
  • Courtesy Eric Staller
  • Eric Staller will not have the chicken. He will have the fish.

Welcome to The Spokesman, our bi-monthly bicycle column written by French Clements, a San Francisco resident and distance cyclist who considers it pretty routine to ride his bike to Marin County or San Jose and back. He belongs to a club, the SF Randonneurs, and is active in numerous aspects of the cycling community.

Defining Eric Staller's best-known artwork is like summing up a great city: You can't do it easily. Moving sculpture? Urban interventions? Art you can lock up outside? I still don't know.

But also like a great city, there's some communal vitality that's key to understanding his work.

See also:

Day Tripping Across the Bay by Bike: A Starter Course

Bicycles Don't Have to Be Deadly to Pedestrians

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Report: More People Biking than Ever, but S.F.'s Infrastructure Lags

Posted By on Mon, Sep 24, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Something seems a little off here. - FLICKR
  • Flickr
  • Something seems a little off here.

Two years ago, after a fact-finding trip to a few bike-friendly cities in Europe, some S.F. heavy hitters came home glowing with good ideas.

Forthwith, the Board of Supervisors approved legislation laying out a goal for the year 2020: that 20 percent of our city's vehicle trips be by bicycle. Hurrah! Also, holy shit! That'd mean an increase of, um, 571 percent.

Sure, biking is infectiously popular here (up 71 percent in five years), but it ain't the Spanish Influenza.

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

We're Getting On: The Triumphs and Perils of a 2,000-Mile Bike Book Tour

Posted By on Thu, Aug 30, 2012 at 7:30 AM

Don't worry, they made fun of this photo in the movie too.
  • Don't worry, they made fun of this photo in the movie too.

Welcome to The Spokesman, our bi-monthly bicycle column written by French Clements, a San Francisco resident and distance cyclist who considers it pretty routine to ride his bike to Marin County or San Jose and back. He belongs to a club, the SF Randonneurs, and is active in numerous aspects of the cycling community.

When bike touring is good, it can be really, really good. You'll find an ideal state of being somewhere among the camaraderie and well-earned pastries at the end of a long, collision-free day.

At other times, you may prefer the life of a farmer or a couch potato.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tips for Bringing Your Bike on BART at Rush Hour

Posted By on Wed, Aug 15, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Oh dear. Just ... oh dear. In North Berkeley. - LYDIAT/FLICKR
  • LydiaT/Flickr
  • Oh dear. Just ... oh dear. In North Berkeley.

Welcome to The Spokesman, our bi-monthly bicycle column written by French Clements, a San Francisco resident and distance cyclist who considers it pretty routine to ride his bike to Marin County or San Jose and back. He belongs to a club, the SF Randonneurs, and is active in numerous aspects of the cycling community.

Government entities are hardly known for experimentation. But, like someone posting in Craigslist's Casual Encounters, BART continues to test some limits. You've probably heard how: Every Friday this month, they're giving up the rush-hour ban on bikes. They'll analyze the results (which seem promising already) and determine whether the so-called "bike blackout" is really all that necessary.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dying on a Bike Not All that Popular, Despite Recent Report

Posted By on Tue, Jul 31, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Look out dude! You're not wearing a helmet, is all. - GAZERONLY
  • gazeronly
  • Look out dude! You're not wearing a helmet, is all.

Welcome to The Spokesman, our bi-monthly bicycle column written by

French Clements, a San Francisco resident and distance cyclist who

considers it pretty routine to ride his bike to Marin County or San Jose

and back. He belongs to a club, the SF Randonneurs, and is active in

numerous aspects of the cycling community.

In a brief but yucky entry on SFGate.com, Mike Kepka recently posted this doozy of a disservice to cyclists and cyclist-hopefuls everywhere. Watch. Read. Process.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Day Tripping Across the Bay by Bike: A Starter Course

Posted By on Tue, Jul 17, 2012 at 12:59 PM

You could be here in, like, two hours! Chilling near some waterfowl! - FRENCH CLEMENTS
  • French Clements
  • You could be here in, like, two hours! Chilling near some waterfowl!

Welcome to The Spokesman, our bi-monthly bicycle column written by French Clements, a San Francisco resident and distance cyclist who considers it pretty routine to ride his bike to Marin County or San Jose and back. He belongs to a club, the SF Randonneurs, and is active in numerous aspects of the cycling community.

It doesn't matter how cool or worldly you are, the feeling of being a tourist is just the best. Especially when it's local. Clichés like "hidden in plain sight" and "in your own backyard" seem entirely fitting when you're, say, dashing past Alcatraz on a catamaran while a new version of the city's skyline shoots over the horizon.

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Monday, July 2, 2012

The Bicycle Music Festival: A Convincing Argument Against Roller Skates

Posted By on Mon, Jul 2, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Welcome to The Spokesman, our bi-monthly bicycle column written by French Clements, a San Francisco resident and distance cyclist who considers it pretty routine to ride his bike to Marin County or San Jose and back. He belongs to a club, the SF Randonneurs, and is active in numerous aspects of the cycling community. For those of you wondering, the title of this column is a slightly tongue-in-cheek merging of bicycling and blogging terms, not a claim that Clements speaks for anyone but himself.

San Francisco's Gabe Dominguez is one of the founders of the original Bicycle Music Festival. He talked with The Spokesman recently while a bike-parade of revelers flooded into Showplace Triangle last week, turning the sleepy plaza into a humming folksy venue.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Tell Me About Your Bike: Street Interviews with Cyclists

Posted By on Mon, Jun 18, 2012 at 11:30 AM

FLICKR/TORBAKHOPPER


Welcome to The Spokesman, our weekly bicycle column written by French Clements, a San Francisco resident and distance cyclist who considers it pretty routine to ride his bike to Marin County or San Jose and back. He belongs to a club, the SF Randonneurs, and is active in numerous aspects of the cycling community. For those of you wondering, the title of this column is a slightly tongue-in-cheek merging of bicycling and blogging terms, not a claim that Clements speaks for anyone but himself.

catherine_herbin_2.jpg

Catherine Herbin, acupuncturist, Market (at Third St.)

Tell me about your bike.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Opinions Clash on the Surprisingly not-Simple Topic of Bicycle Helmets

Posted By on Wed, May 30, 2012 at 7:30 AM

See? You can do it and still look cool. - HOBVIAS SUDONEIGHM / FLICKR

When it comes to polarizing social issues, the choice of whether to wear a helmet while biking is midrange. It's below legalizing same-sex marriage, but above, say, the battle to digitize the nation's medical records.

In the behelmeted corner, we've got your mom, anyone who's seen or done something like the above helmet-cracking mountain bike crash, and professional cyclists who like their job as is. Most of the facts support their case. Helmet use reduces the risk of head injury by 85 percent, and head injuries are cited in the vast majority of cycling-related deaths. And if you live, head injuries are a bad, bad thing. Ever see the film Memento, where the guy looking for his wife's killer has to tattoo things on his arms to remember them? That's the afterparty of a head injury. Avoiding head injuries where possible is a sign of basic competency in adults.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Recover a Stolen Bicycle? Maybe -- If You Do It Right

Posted By on Mon, May 21, 2012 at 8:30 AM

Thieves: Persistent bunch, aren't they? - ITSBRUCE / FLICKR
  • itsbruce / Flickr
  • Thieves: Persistent bunch, aren't they?
Whether through web-based tracking or old-timey brute force, stealing a bike still seems easy. Far easier than getting the damn thing back. All you bike-theft victims, disregard the recent case of a Washington, D.C., man spotting his stolen ride on Craigslist and executing a flawless extraction. You'll never get that lucky.

But who even knows the odds? By one estimate, only half of bike thefts are even reported. Of those, bike-recovery rates seem minuscule -- police departments don't separate bike thefts from petty thefts overall. Your thin hope lies in doing a little homework, pre-theft.

One cautionary tale. Several months ago, some turd-blossom stole the lovely leather saddle from my town bike, parked near the Metreon downtown, as I was enjoying The Adventures of Tintin. (I really should have chained the seat to my frame, or settled for something dowdier.)

Then, poking around Craiglist a few weeks back, I spotted my beloved, or so I was convinced. My better judgment took a good long nap while I dialed the seller and set up a meeting near the 16th Street BART station. Obviously, I had a plan: Grab the goods and scram.

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