I Try the World’s Saddest Bike Sharing Program

never
even in calmer times
have I ever
dreamed of
bicycling through that
city
wearing a
beret
—-Charles Bukowski, Paris

As Dallas finally fitfully stumbles into the twenty-first century one desperately needed innovation is a useful, healthy, bike-sharing program. Fort Worth has one – it’s pretty cool and it seems to be working. Over here, on the east side of the Metroplex, things are not going so swimmingly.

There seems to be some work going on behind the scenes. The first obstacle to be removed was the City’s helmet law (how can you rent a bike with a helmet?). It was amended to only apply to children.

A bike sharing stand then appeared as if by magic in downtown – but it is a private enterprise; only open to the company’s employees. A very cool idea – but it doesn’t do the general public any good.

Finally, late this year, the city opened two bike sharing… actually, more like bike rental stands in Fair Park. It barely made a notice. The problem is in the size – with only two stations, both on the Fair Park grounds – it isn’t useful for transportation. It isn’t useful for anything, anyway.

The local press jumped on the anti-bandwagon – dubbing the effort the World’s Saddest Bike Sharing Program. And it is.

But that is more than a little unfair. They were careful to insure that these two stands would be compatible with the system that the City eventually installs (they are a B-Cycle system, the same ones used in Forth Worth and many other cities). I prefer to think of this as a tiny baby step – the first toe in the water. When Candy and I were down in Deep Ellum visiting the Kettle Gallery for some art and Cane Rosso for some pizza I spotted a couple of B-Cycle bikes locked up outside a restaurant. Somebody was using the things.

In keeping with this hopeful, positive attitude, I think that it’s important to do something positive, so I decided to go down to Fair Park, rent a bike, and report about it here. The day was coldish, with spitting bits of drizzling rain – so I put on some Gore-Tex and headed out.

I locked my folding bicycle up behind Craft and Growler and walked into Fair Park. I suppose I could have ridden my bike right up to the bike rental stand – but that seemed too odd, so I walked a little bit. There is a bike stand near each of the two Fair Park DART stations – so you could take the train down and grab a bike with ease.

B-Cycle Bike Share stand, Fair Park, Dallas, Texas

B-Cycle Bike Share stand, Fair Park, Dallas, Texas

Getting a bike is easy. Eventually, the system will require a membership, but that doesn’t make sense with only two stations in a tourist destination. All you do is swipe a credit card and take a bike. So that’s what I did.

Bike Share is near all the beautiful Art Deco art and architecture of Fair Park

Bike Share is near all the beautiful Art Deco art and architecture of Fair Park

The bikes are really nice (made by Trek). Of course, they are heavy, but this isn’t racing, it’s transportation. They have step-through frames, which is nice when you are riding in street clothes. I thought they were single-speed, but they have a nice three speed internal geared hub. I wouldn’t want to climb a mountain with one, but it works fine for tooling around the city. The seat is wide and the handlebars upright – the seat adjusts easily, and the bike should fit pretty much everyone.

Three speed internal gear hub.

Three speed internal gear hub.

There is a heavy utilitarian basket on the front. The bike had lights, good brakes, and a bell. It also had a built-in cable lock, but I wasn’t able to figure out how that worked (OK, here it is).

I rode off around Fair Park, looping around looking at the murals, sculptures and Art Deco architecture. I even tooled by the Texas Woofus a couple times for good luck. I rode by the Leonhardt Lagoon and visited the second bike rental stand. In theory, I could have left my bike there – eventually that’s the idea – to ride from stand to stand, leaving the bikes for others while you do what you need to do. I didn’t see anyone else riding a rental bike, but there were three or four empty slots at each stand. I don’t know if that means that the other bikes were out or if they are just empty spots.

The bike share bike next to Leonhardt Lagoon, Fair Park, Dallas, Texas

The bike share bike next to Leonhardt Lagoon, Fair Park, Dallas, Texas

Turning, I mostly retraced my route back around and back to the starting point, winding around when I saw something interesting until I put in about five miles. When finished, all you have to do is push the bike back in the stand and it’s good to go for the next customer.

So, I had fun. True, it was about the same amount of fun that I would have if I rode my own bicycle around Fair Park on a cold, rainy day, but it is another option. Now we need a city-wide system that would reach a critical mass. I can imagine a B-Cycle station at critical DART rail stations, the Arts District, Klyde Warren, Trinity Groves, Main Street Garden…. That is a vision of the future.

Faster, please.

For now, as soon as the weather warms a bit I’d like to organize a writing marathon/photo trip/bike ride around Fair Park with rental bikes along with maybe a few folks on their own rides. That’s the ticket.

Stay tuned.

The Kind of Dream People Have Only When They’re Seventeen

“If I stayed here, something inside me would be lost forever—something I couldn’t afford to lose. It was like a vague dream, a burning, unfulfilled desire. The kind of dream people have only when they’re seventeen.”
― Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun

Cyclesomatic | Bicycle Brewery Tour, Dallas, Texas

Cyclesomatic | Bicycle Brewery Tour, Dallas, Texas

Jonathan Braddick, of Oak Cliff Cargo Bicycles and the organizer of the Cyclesomatic | Bicycle Brewery Tour – leaving Community Brewing Company.

What I learned this week, July 25, 2014

Love People, Not Pleasure

ABD AL-RAHMAN III was an emir and caliph of Córdoba in 10th-century Spain. He was an absolute ruler who lived in complete luxury. Here’s how he assessed his life:

“I have now reigned above 50 years in victory or peace; beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honors, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity.”

Fame, riches and pleasure beyond imagination. Sound great? He went on to write:

“I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot: They amount to 14.”


Bike Lanes on Custer Road

Bike Lanes on Custer Road

Ashley Haire On Making Dallas Bike-Friendly

Bicycle Lanes on the Jefferson Viaduct from Oak Cliff into downtown, Dallas.

Bicycle Lanes on the Jefferson Viaduct from Oak Cliff into downtown, Dallas.

7 Big Ways Cities Have Transformed Themselves for Bikes

Bike lane on Yale, near my house.

Bike lane on Yale, near my house.


Deep Ellum Brewing Company's Lineup

Deep Ellum Brewing Company’s Lineup

Life as a Beer Geek: The Lessons I’ve Learned

The Bourbon Barrel Temptress, on a Bourbon Barrel

The Bourbon Barrel Temptress, on a Bourbon Barrel


Posing with an S. E. Hinton paperback.

Posing with an S. E. Hinton paperback.

10 CELEBS WHO BIKE IN STYLE

seersucker1_s


Two Shark Tacos on the left, and two Mystery (Iguana) tacos on the right.

Two Shark Tacos on the left, and two Mystery (Iguana) tacos on the right.

One of the Dos Equis Taco Hotesses

One of the Dos Equis Taco Hotesses

The Best in DFW: Where the tacos are crazy-good

Professional competition Tacos

Professional competition Tacos


Here’s an interesting article about a little movie that I always thought was great. I didn’t realize it had reached cult status and was so hard to find – I’ve seen it on cable several times.

“Jesus Loves Winners”: How “Drop Dead Gorgeous” Found Cult Success As A Flop


13 Useful Tools You Should Only Buy on the Cheap

What I learned this week, July 7, 2014

US bike boom strongest with people over 55 (not hipsters)



ride2

Community Beer Co. wants you to name its newest brew

Riding up outside Community Brewing in the Dallas Design District

Riding up outside Community Brewing in the Dallas Design District


Slightly More Than 100 Fantastic Pieces of Journalism


Want to empower African American kids? Give them bikes


Photographer Shows Proof of Shocking Similarities In Human Templates Between Complete Strangers


In college, we managed to score a keg of beer that had been left behind from a Fraternity Party in a cafeteria cooler. It has sat there for well over a year. We threw a big party, tapped the keg, and realized it had gone bad.
“What are we going to do?” my friend asked, “The beer is bad and all these people are coming over.”

“I know,” I said, “Let’s tell everybody it’s Lone Star.”

People would complain about the beer and I’d tell them it was Lone Star – they would nod knowingly and keep drinking.

11 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT LONE STAR BEER



Bicycle Second Line New Orleans, Louisiana

Bicycle Second Line
New Orleans, Louisiana

What’s the worst thing about cycling? Other cyclists


clarinet1

The Politics of Sitting Alone

Kaboom Town

Tonight there was a bicycle ride scheduled to the Kaboom Town fireworks display in Addison.

Everybody told me, “Don’t go to Kaboom Town – it’s too crowded and the traffic is too bad.”

But you see, on a bicycle, you can sort of run around the traffic and the ride organizers had arranged to have a party on the third floor of a parking garage not too far from the show. It was a fundraiser for a French club or something – and for a reasonable donation there would be food and beverage. Sounded like a plan.

Everybody met up at a local taco place, gathered together, and rode off through the neighborhoods. It was a slow ride – and an easy five miles or so. The party was fun and the fireworks were pretty impressive.

There was an acrobatic airshow from Addison airport highlighted by someone going up after dark in an ultralight covered in fireworks and shooting roman candles off into the air. The only way that could have been better is if they had a group of them shooting at each other. Maybe next year.

The ride back in the dark was a little hairy with all the impatient traffic. There isn’t much you can do other than ride in a group and take a lane. Someone yelled at us – which is a little aggravating – I’m sure we slowed him up a good seven seconds in his driving rush (after sitting stopped in traffic for an hour) home. I guess it can’t really be a real bike ride unless someone yells at you.

Bikes lining up at Torchy's Tacos - ready for the ride to Kaboom Town.

Bikes lining up at Torchy’s Tacos – ready for the ride to Kaboom Town.

Party in the parking garage.

Party in the parking garage.

Kaboom Town

Kaboom Town

Kaboom Town

Kaboom Town

Kaboom Town

Kaboom Town

Kaboom Town

Kaboom Town

Kaboom Town

Kaboom Town

Kaboom Town

Kaboom Town

Mole Temptress

The Bourbon Barrel Temptress, on a Bourbon Barrel

The Bourbon Barrel Temptress, on a Bourbon Barrel

As I have said before, there is a local beer, a milk stout, made by Lakewood Brewing company called The Temptress. I think this is one of the best things in the world – not the best beer, best things.

The other week, at the Cobra Brewing Company event, I ran into a guy out in the yard wearing a Lakewood shirt. He worked at Lakewood Brewing. He was one of those people (at least on this day) that acted like he knew everything. The thing is, though, nobody knows everything… but he did know an awful lot.

So I stood there for a long time and pumped him for all the knowledge I could. Types of beer, good and bad local brews, the future of the local breweries, small business philosophies and how to grow, sour beers (the hottest, coolest, newest thing – awful, terrible, spoiled swill in my opinion) and on and on.

We talked about how difficult The Temptress is to make. Then he said that for this holiday season, Cinco de Mayo, they were making a seasonal special edition Temptress – the Mole Tempress.

I have mixed feelings about these special variations. Some are really good – the Bourbon Barrel Temptress is fantastic. Some are not so great – the Raspberry Temptress was too Raspberry-y. The thing is, how do you improve on perfection?

But Mole Tempress? That sounded interesting.

For those of you not from these here parts (or parts south of here) Mole is a complex, Mexican sauce made with hot chili peppers and a myriad of other spices. It is ground, reconstituted, and cooked into a thick paste that screams with flavor. It is good stuff.

This isn’t something that you would immediately associate with as a beer ingredient. But local craft beer can afford to experiment. That’s the whole idea.

Meanwhile, fast forward to now – this is the rare slice of pleasant weather time here in North Texas – the wonderful few days between the cold, wet winter and the killer summer heat. Bike riding time.

There was a terrible accident on Highway 75 – a semi tractor trailer burst into flames beneath a crossing turnpike. The entire highway was shut down. My cow-orkers were caught in the ensuing backup – some sitting stuck on frontage roads for hours. I saw the news on the early morning Television – but it didn’t affect my bike ride to work in the least.

As the workday wound down I somehow remembered a Tweet I had received from Lakewood Brewery that the Mole Temptress had been released. At about the same time I received another from the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema that they had a keg of said brew on tap.

I had never ridden my bike from my work to the Alamo Drafthouse. I sat down with Google Maps and figured out a route, winding across a busy freeway and through a few varied neighborhoods. It wasn’t very far. A single beer on the way home would be a good way to mark a Friday after work (we are broker than broke right now – it’s all the entertainment I can afford).

So off I rode in the beautiful weather of the early afternoon. I had to wind around a bit – one problem with Google Maps route-finding is that it is hard to tell in a mixed residential/apartment/commercial/retail area if you can ride from one parking lot to the next or if there is a big wall there, invisible to the overhead view. Still, it took less time than I thought.

The theater was abuzz – The Amazing Spiderman 2 was premiering and there were costumed heroes, throngs of loud kids, and a big velcro jumping-thing. But they did have my Mole Temptress on tap.

It was good, very good. A complex, spicy mix – the hot pepper and chocolate flavors came through just right. I don’t think it was as good as the regular Temptress – but few things are. Maybe nothing is.

Still, a change of pace, a hot spicy cold drink, on a nice late afternoon, on an outside patio next to a gaggle of bikes… there are worse things.

A terrible Blackberry photo of my folding Xootr Swift parked next to a Yuba cargo bike (set up to carry a whole family) outside the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Two different philosophies on urban bicycling.

A terrible Blackberry photo of my folding Xootr Swift parked next to a Yuba cargo bike (set up to carry a whole family) outside the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Two different philosophies on urban bicycling.

Spokes and Seersucker

People from the Seersucker Ride at Klyde Warren Park, Dallas, Texas

People from the Seersucker Ride at Klyde Warren Park, Dallas, Texas

A tradition in Dallas in the bicycling community is the fall/winter Tweed Ride. Last December’s ride was a lot of fun, though bitterly cold. As a bookend to that ride, the great folks at Dallas Cycle Style organized a springtime/warm weather ride, and called it the Seersucker Ride. It looked like a blast.

But I needed something seersucker to wear. I am the most fashion-challenged person in the world – but I knew what seersucker is. The only reason I knew was because once, a few years back, I had actually looked it up after seeing this scene in Sophie’s Choice.

Right now we are as broke as broke can be, so I couldn’t spend any money on clothes. Also, I futzed and dutzed, as always, around and waited too long – so ebay was out of the question. I did a circuit of the various thrift stores and actually found some seersucker (mostly pants) here and there – but none of it came even close to fitting me. It appears that only undernourished men wear seersucker.

So I was left with a journey into the heart of the beast. I actually went to a mall. Other than a trip to NorthPark for the Nasher Exchange Sculpture (and I wasn’t going to buy anything) I haven’t been inside a mall in decades. Collin Creek Mall is only a tiny jump up the freeway from where I live. I remember driving there from Oak Cliff in 1981 when it first opened – it seemed like driving forever – and how shiny, lavish, and sumptuous the enormous multi-lobed two story shopping extravaganza seemed – like a brave new world. Now, not that long later, the mall is on its last legs, barely hanging on for dear life, coasting on past glories. To walk the corridors is borderline depressing.

I found a shirt that was seersucker-like on a clearance rack for four dollars. The only open checkout was in the shoe department where I had to wait behind a woman trying to get a discount because the pair she was looking at had a tiny blemish.

“Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
—-Shelley

So I had my seersucker. On Saturday morning I packed my Xootr Swift bicycle with food, drink, and a blanket, put a fresh battery in my camera, and rode the DART train downtown to meet everyone at Klyde Warren Park.

My Xootr Swift bike with picnic supplies loaded in the pannier.

My Xootr Swift bike with picnic supplies loaded in the pannier.

The park was a hive of activity – S.E. Hinton was on her way to grace the presence of the Dallas Reads One Book celebration of The Outsiders. They gave us all paperback copies and took photos of everyone in period outfits reading the tome. We would like to have seen the author (and seen the movie they would show later) but we had a picnic to do so we all rode off across Uptown to Lee Park.

Posing with an S. E. Hinton paperback.

Posing with an S. E. Hinton paperback.

It was a beautiful spot – along Turtle Creek with a fountain in the center and a wave of purple/pink Azaleas blooming across the water. We parked the bikes, spread out the blankets, and unloaded the vittles – a veritable moveable feast. A volunteer had driven in to deliver items too bulky to bike – coolers of ice, extra water, a croquet set. Not content with pitiful portable picnic players, he brought in a generator, amp, and speakers and we had vintage music all proper – angel trumpets and devil trombones.

Seersucker Ride and Picnic, Lee Park, Dallas, Texas

Seersucker Ride and Picnic, Lee Park, Dallas, Texas

Seersucker Ride and Picnic, Lee Park, Dallas, Texas

Seersucker Ride and Picnic, Lee Park, Dallas, Texas

Seersucker Ride and Picnic, Lee Park, Dallas, Texas

Seersucker Ride and Picnic, Lee Park, Dallas, Texas

Seersucker Ride and Picnic, Lee Park, Dallas, Texas

Seersucker Ride and Picnic, Lee Park, Dallas, Texas

Such a great day. The weather was warm with a bit of a breeze. A beautiful park with a lot of cool people. There is something about wearing silly clothing and riding together through a big city on ridiculous bicycles that is relaxing and disarming. Such fun.

There were a lot of photos taken – I tried not to spend too much time shooting, but everything and everybody around was too freakishly photogenic to resist. I have a nice collection I’ll post here for journal entries over the next few days.

Shooting photographs at the Seersucker Ride and Picnic, Lee Park, Dallas, Texas

Shooting photographs at the Seersucker Ride and Picnic, Lee Park, Dallas, Texas

All good things must come to an end and we packed up and headed out. Three of us rode back downtown, cutting west on the Katy Trail which ends at the American Airlines Center. As we passed next to the building the Dallas Mavericks basketball playoff game ended, spilling an enormous throng of blue-T shirted fans out all around us – flowing like a rabid river as we worked our way through on our bicycles. It was surreal.

Luckily, the home team had won on a last second three point shot right before we arrived, so everyone was in a great mood. Everyone was yelling, “Vince Carter!, Vince Carter!”

It wouldn’t have been any fun to ride through that crowd if the home team had lost.

I rode back to Klyde Warren Park and rested for a bit. I knew the trains would be full of Maverick fans on their way home, plus I needed to decompress for a few minutes. Next to me a young couple sat playing chess – she was much better, but he liked to win, so he kept buying her wine until he prevailed. The inflatable movie screen for the showing of The Outsiders went up – but I didn’t want to stay downtown that long after dark, so I caught my train and went home.

Moore to the Point, Nasher XChange, Entry Four of Ten

Previously in the Nasher XChange series:

  1. Flock in Space, Nasher XChange, Entry One of Ten
  2. X , Nasher XChange, Entry Two of Ten
  3. Fountainhead , Nasher XChange, Entry Three of Ten

Rachel Harrison
Moore to the point
Dallas City Hall, Dallas, Texas

Ever since I first moved to Dallas in 1982, I was fascinated by the Plaza in front of Dallas City Hall. It seemed so modern, so stark, so big city. As a public space, as the years went by, everyone realized it was not all that successful – that it was too sterile and artificial and people didn’t like hanging out there. Still, it always amazed me.

There was that sculpture too, that famous piece, The Dallas Piece, by Henry Moore.

The funny thing is… the first time I saw Dallas City Hall Plaza and the Henry Moore sculpture, it was in an obscure PBS made for TV film of an Ursula K. Le Guin novel – The Lathe of Heaven. It was shown once on the little screen before disappearing for decades (now it has arisen from the dead… it is even available on Youtube). I happened to catch it and it made a huge impression on me. Enough that there was a real thrill in visiting the Dallas locations.

Now, when she was looking at the site for the Nasher XChange, looking at The Dallas Piece, Rachel Harrison noted that the sculpture had a fence, a barricade, around it. That bothered her, a work of art like that should be exposed and available, not locked up.

Henry Moore's Dallas Piece, barricaded for the Turkey Trot.

Henry Moore’s Dallas Piece, barricaded for the Turkey Trot.

I had seen the fence… when I saw it the thing had been erected for the massive crowds that throng the place for the Turkey Trot run. The rest of the time, it isn’t there.

Still, she has a point… and the point is what she built.

This was a very easy sculpture to get to. We rode over to City Hall Plaza right after hearing the lecture at the Nasher. I rode on to the Hyatt Regency then, catching the Red DART line back home.

Rachel Harrison Moore to the point Dallas City Hall, Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

Rachel Harrison
Moore to the point
Dallas City Hall, Dallas, Texas

Amanda Popken, in front of Moore to the point (click to enlarge)

Amanda Popken, in front of Moore to the point
(click to enlarge)

Rachel Harrison Moore to the point Dallas City Hall, Dallas, Texas

Rachel Harrison
Moore to the point
Dallas City Hall, Dallas, Texas
(click to enlarge)

From the Nasher Website:

Rachel Harrison
New York, New York
Moore to the point
1500 Marilla St.
City Hall Plaza
A giant arrow pointing to Henry Moore’s sculpture, Three Forms Vertebrae (The Dallas Piece), calls attention not only to the work but to the conditions that frame our encounters with works of art.
For Nasher XChange, Harrison has fabricated a giant pink arrow to be installed in City Hall Plaza in downtown Dallas. The arrow points to an existing sculpture at the site, Henry Moore’s sculpture, The Dallas Piece. Harrison’s project grew out of a recent visit to Dallas City Hall during which she was surprised to see Moore’s outdoor sculpture encircled by metal barricades. For Harrison, the barricades recalled the metal stanchions now commonly found surrounding sculptures in museums, a feature Harrison has sometimes referred to in her own work.
Although the barricades have been removed, most visitors still walk around the sculpture, rather than moving through it as Moore had intended. Harrison’s giant arrow calls attention not only to Moore’s often-overlooked piece but to the conditions that frame our encounters with works of art.

Rachel Harrison Moore to the point City Hall Plaza (click to enlarge)

Rachel Harrison
Moore to the point
City Hall Plaza

Rachel Harrison Moore to the point City Hall Plaza (click to enlarge)

Rachel Harrison
Moore to the point
City Hall Plaza
(click to enlarge)

Rachel Harrison Moore to the point City Hall Plaza (click to enlarge)

Rachel Harrison
Moore to the point
City Hall Plaza
(click to enlarge)

Seventh Street Bridge

She’s driving home Sunday morning, with the
heat turned up, the windows rolled down
to the edge.
And yesterday, snowed for the first time.
Now no one’s on the Willis Avenue Bridge.

Used to be a hard merge.

—-Willis Avenue Bridge, David Berkeley

On our bike ride in Fort Worth last weekend, we made the point of riding across the new Seventh Street Bridge. It was pretty cool.

Seventh Street Bridge Fort Worth, Texas (click to enlarge)

Seventh Street Bridge
Fort Worth, Texas
(click to enlarge)

Seventh Street Bridge Fort Worth, Texas (click to enlarge)

Seventh Street Bridge
Fort Worth, Texas
(click to enlarge)

One really cool thing about the bridge is the bike lane.

What I learned this week, November 22, 2013


5 city bikes that roll you through town in style
The latest in steel-framed, fender-clad, and leather-saddled bikes at a variety of price points.

Some of the ones that caught my eye:

Shinola Runwell

Purefix Bourbon

Public V7

If I could afford a new bike – this is what I would buy right now:
Xootr Swift



I love reading (and writing) short stories. Apparently, I’m not alone.

2013: The Year of the Short Story


In Dallas, a deafening slurping noise as the town goes crazy for Asian noodles


I’m going to have to go visit Sulphur Springs and use the public restrooms.


The Ten Sexiest Riffs in Music


You’ve probably already seen this – but it is the coolest music video I’ve ever seen. Be sure and check out all the channels.

Bob Dylan – Like a Rolling Stone – Official Video

For some reason, I really like “The Price is Right” channel… maybe it’s just Drew Carey lip-syncing Dylan.


A cow-orker is retiring at the end of the year (an awful lot are) and he stopped by my office for my help on getting his replacement up and going. I asked the innocent question, “Do you have any plans for retirement.”

He got all excited and launched into a long lecture on kayak fishing and, especially, about the particular kayak he is getting ready to buy – the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14. I have to admit – the thing is pretty cool.

The most amazing (to me) feature are the foot powered propulsion fins. Two flexible extensions underwater are moved by pedals to propel the kayak forward. Pretty cool… but not cheap.