Monday, April 7, 2008

Streetsblog types on two wheels...

Continuing with my bicycle rant, please allow me to gush about my new favorite blog...

It was the April 3rd Streetsblog post that really caught my eye.


Well, this past week, I witnessed a State Farm ad in which an African American male stands in suit and spandex, embarrassed about how he needed to switch from four wheels to two because of recent surges in gas prices. He stood on a giant velvet red dot as the announcer proclaimed how "State Farm could get you back behind the wheel by saving you hundreds of dollars on car insurance." Saddened by his bicycle dilemma, the male unlocks his bike to head home as a coworker happens by, sarcastically noting, "Nice pants, Jim." Not only can he not afford to drive, but the ladies don't like his red bicycle shorts.

Needless to say, I wasn't very appreciative of the ad. Was the cyclist really put in the same situation as the yellow-plated DUI offenders of the world, mortified by the hollow gaze of his peers in the company parking lot? If anything, I hope we can say that his embarrassment was a result of his outfit. The spandex/suit jacket doesn't really work all too well, so why go aerodynamic solely from the waist-down?

Anywhoo, Streetsblog approached it wonderfully and the comment gates opened up, offering them a little more than they anticipated in terms of action. Here are some of my favorites from their contributing masses:

#12. Dan o: "...if they're trying to get crossover life insurance business, where's the guy's helmet?"

#17. Steve Ardrey: "...I routinely commute to work by public transit and BICYCLE. This keeps my mileage for insurance below 5k a year thus lowering my insurance rates."

#20. Ubrayj02: "This ad presents the option of riding a bike to work (instead of driving) as an emasculating, humiliating, experience - which will leave you struggling with a bike lock outside of work while your car-driving coworkers breeze by.

The skinny pants are meant to show how vulnerable men's genitals will be if they dare to use their bike to get around..."

Turns out, what I thought was just another good post --Freudian genital analyzation included-- was actually quite engaging. Apparently the blogbees buzzed loud enough that Streetsblog author Aaron Naparstek received a response (in the comment section, no less) from State Farm's Director of Marketing Communications, Tim Van Hoof. A proactive response to a legitimate customer a technologically advanced medium such as a blog? Huh?!?! You can read that HERE. Be sure to check out the comments, also.

So basically...(Great post + Great comments) x Great response = My new favorite blog.

Bonus? High quality, informative videos! I kept surfing and ran across these gems. My favorite so far? Their argument for the implementation of physically separated bike lanes.

Quite some time ago there was an article in Good Magazine titled, Decongestion: Five innovations in urban transportation that you won't find in America, yet. I was really impressed with Copenhagen and the length the Danes went to to create a bicycle-friendly city, so much so that we sent the link out to anyone and everyone that had local influence over urban planning and design. That was then. Now that the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission is looking for comments and suggestions as to the future of downtown Columbus, I thought nothing of forwarding the terrific StreetFilm links. Surprisingly, I received a direct response with 30 minutes from one of the Principal Planners, and hope that they truly take some of these wonderful ideas to heart.

Now, considering I was almost clipped twice last week on my ride home from work, the issue hit pretty close to home. While both of the aforementioned near-crash instances were a result of text-while-driving idiots, Ohio continues to ignore the implementation of hands-free laws nationwide. If this continues, it's safe to say (literally) that I want as much space as possible between us and them. Cement/trees/cars/pylons/unicorn statues...whatever.

What's more, is the fact that you can make some tremendously interesting barriers. While the parked cars typically act as the traditional buffer between cyclist and traffic, it's also possible to liven them up, adding trees and shrubs to the space and giving the metro area some greenscape in a place typically void of such surroundings. The more green downtown, the better.

See the StreetFilm argument for yourself:

And their movies are really catching on. Over the last year, StreetFilms has received over 500,000 views. While that might not be monkey-drinking-its-own-pee kind of numbers, it's huge when you consider genre-specific nature.

I look forward to stopping by on a daily basis.