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Archive for April, 2010

U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame Grand Opening

April 26, 2010 By: Peter Smith Category: Advocacy

Davis, California (wiki) was in the spotlight this weekend for the grand opening of the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame. It used to be located in Somerville, NJ. I’d read something about the upcoming festivities on Friday evening, and decided to take the train from SF to Davis on Saturday.

The train ride was great-ish — lots of nice scenery along the way. Apparently, you used to be able to take a boat from SF all the way to Sacramento — all of this is visible from the train:

Still, he said, he looks forward to certain landmarks: the Rio Vista bridge rising to accommodate the Bay Breeze passing beneath; the ghostly “mothball fleet” of retired ships moored near Benicia; the old C&H Sugar refinery at Crockett; and the East Brother Light Station, now operating as a bed-and-breakfast on an island in the straits separating San Francisco and San Pablo bays.

The train seemed to run about hourly — I used Google Maps to plan my route. I rode my bike to BART (our metro/subway), headed over to Oakland, rode about a mile to the Jack London Square Amtrak stop, hopped on board (there were plenty of bike racks on the train), then about 80 minutes later hopped off in Davis.

I had forgotten until I’d stepped off the train that Davis was a real bike-friendly town — Platinum. There were bikes parked everywhere — it seemed like a smaller version of Amsterdam. Crazy.

Met another biker on the train, Malcolm, who volunteers at the bike shops in both Davis and SF, so we rode over to the Hall of Fame together. It was a quick two-minute ride on what seemed like very calm downtown streets. Malcolm warned me to actually stop at stop signs — the cops in town were sticklers for that sort of thing.

We reached the Hall of Fame at about 4:45 pm — after it’d closed for the day, and just as the evening’s ‘private’ festivities were about to begin. Someone (not mentioning names) heard I was from out of town and managed to get me an ‘Inductee’ badge — and I managed to sneak in after that. Malcolm said he spent a lot of time in the area so he’d get to see the Hall soon enough at a later time.

The place is very cool. I can’t say I’m big into roadie/racing-type biking, but there was lots to see, even if racing is not your thing. Here’s some pre-event press from a Sacramento paper. The SacBee has some day of coverage with details on days and times open, admission fees, etc. The UC Davis (wiki) newspaper, The California Aggie, provided some great coverage, including details of Sunday’s Breakaway from Cancer bike ride from Davis to Santa Rosa:

Yesterday’s Breakaway from Cancer event gave hundreds of cyclists the chance to ride the same 114-mile route that the professionals will race during Stage 2 of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California.

Cancer survivors and four-time Amgen competitor George Hincapie led the pack of amateur cyclists yesterday morning from Davis’ Central Park to Santa Rosa.

Cycling fans from all skill levels could choose to complete 50- or 22-mile segments. The Breakaway Ride, presented by Specialized, was founded in 2005 by Amgen and fundraises for nonprofit partners and those affected by cancer.

The Tour of California is almost here — May 16. Davis gets the start of Stage 2, on the 17th.

George Hincapie (R). Source: The Aggie

A few people spoke at Saturday’s evening event — it was mostly thanking sponsors, but I think everyone was a bit excited to hear what George Hincapie (wiki) had to say. On locating the Hall in Davis, he said, approvingly:

All you see is bicycles and bike lanes.

And he’s right — that’s your first, and probably overwhelming, thought when you first arrive in Davis (assuming you’re not from or used to visiting bicycle meccas). As he was speaking, the crowd could look behind him onto the street and see bicyclists streaming by at a leisurely pace — mostly younger student-types, beach-style cruisers with baskets, wearing flip flops, etc.

Going there I was able to settle one question I’d been curious about — would the Hall talk any about…’regular cycling’ — i.e. commuter cycling, etc. That answer would appear to be, ‘no’ — aside from choosing such a bicycle-friendly city (relatively speaking) to locate in. I wasn’t greatly disappointed because I didn’t expect it, but it made me want to establish a Commuter Cycling Hall of Fame or something like that. Why not? There’s a Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. Our place would basically celebrate the heroes (Streetsblog, Sadik-Khan, etc.) and villains (GM, Moses, etc.) of the bicycling world. In fifty years, people probably won’t believe what we had to put up with. :)

Speaking of Mountain Biking, there was some of that on display. I even managed to meet Ned “Deadly Nedly” Overend. I saw this hard-core dude on the wall, on some wicked bike, ripping down some hill, and I thought, “Wow — for this mountain bike stuff alone, and this guy crushing everyone for, like, decades — this place is worth a visit.” Then I met him outside when I was making another beer run. Thanks to Sudwerk Restaurant and Brewery for keeping my glass full.

I got a kick out of seeing Gracie Sorbello and her awesome unicycles grace the walls of the Hall. I met Gracie during a 100+ mile Waves to Wine MS event a couple/few years ago. She was riding it on her unicycle. Crazy, and awesome. Gracie’s photo album is here.

The Six-Day Race exhibit — about the Europe-born event which packed Madison Square Garden back in the day — was cool. I guess all sorts of endurance racing was possible a long time ago - before ‘occupational health’ was too much of a concern. :)

I was pretty anxious to leave the Hall event because it was so nice out, and I just wanted to ride around Davis a bit before it got dark. I did finally jet and cruised around a few blocks in downtown. I have to say — there were too many cars, and as soon as you ventured just outside the down-downtown core — boom — cars and aggressive drivers and all that — definitely not what I was expecting, but I did hear that Davis’ bike mode share had been dropping for some time. It made me wonder if a town could lose its bicycle-friendly status, or get dropped from Platinum to Gold? Even in Davis, providing even minimal infrastructure for cyclists is not a guarantee.

I think a new Platinum+ rating might be in order — it gets conferred upon your city only when you hit 40% mode share of all trips. Why not? Nothing left for cities to grumble about when the League either does or does not honor your city with a particular award level — either you have the mode share or you don’t.

On another topic, Google Maps added kinetic scrolling. Click through to find out exactly what that means — if you use maps a lot, you’ll probably find it useful.

I’ve been using Google Maps bike directions a lot. I can’t wait for the mobile version to drop.

Final note — I added a couple of ‘Thank you’s to the original “We’re live!” post — The Rails to Trails Conservancy (RTC), the SFBC, and the MCBC. We talked about the RTC a few months ago, and said they were, “an awesome bike and walk path-creating and and right-of-way-preserving organization.”

[Update:] OK, this is really weird, but I actually started looking into this idea of starting a sort of ‘national bicycle museum’ (for ‘lifestyle’ cycling) — probably either in my current hometown of San Francisco, possibly Portland, and maybe even somewhere else. Well, it turns out that the US Bicycling Hall of Fame (USBHOF) is actually co-located with the California Bicycle Museum (CBM) — I just didn’t realize it! Most if not all of the bottom floor of the USBHOF building is actually the CBM — I think.

There is also a Bicycle Museum of America in Bremen, Ohio — which is located outside of Lancaster, Ohio — which is located outside of Columbus, Ohio.

I have to say, I really like this idea of creating a world-class bicycle museum. Imagine being able to go into  a big, nice building in downtown somewhere and being able to check all the incredible bikes and lifestyles that biking offers. See Portland’s rain-ready bikes, San Francisco’s bike messenger bikes, Oakland’s scraper bikes, Austin’s custom bikes, Walmart’s cheap bikes, LA’s low-rider bikes, Huntington Beach’s beach cruiser bikes, New York’s fixed-gear bikes, Amsterdam’s cargo bikes, Ho Chi Minh’s pedicab bikes, London’s mail bikes, Paris’ beautiful delivery bikes, Copenhagen’s Christiania bikes, etc. etc. etc.!