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Friday, April 27th
First Test Cut
Okay, folks, I'm wearing the first test cut of the Bicycle Fixation Hemp Blend City Knickers right now, and have been wearing them on and off the bike for about three days now.

They're NICE! Not as light feeling as the gabardines, but casual-comfy without being sloppy looking in the least. And they feel tough!

I'll be putting a lot of miles on them tomorrow, with meetings and obligations spread out all over town, and I'm looking forward to the rides.

This first sample has cargo pockets, which will NOT be on the production models. No one--not the iBOBs, not the shop owners, not the customers I buttonholed in the various bike shops--wants cargo pockets. And I don't either; my contractor wanted to try them on the pants, and they look nice, but they just get in the way on a bike, and don't add much off the bike.

They do have an articulated knee, a drawstring hem on the leg (and you can throw away the drawstring if you don't want it; it'll look fine either way), adjustment tabs on the waistband in lieu of belt loops, and a fitted yet not strained line with a real nice drape.

Pictures soon, once I get a pair without cargo pockets.

Stay tuned!

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 27 Apr 2007 20:49:14 -0800 [link]  

Monday, April 23rd
Bicycle Valet Parking
Pretty happy little article from the Transit Coalition about the burgeoning of bicycle valet parking in several California cities.

A few good quotes:
"You can have all the bike lanes you want, but when you get to your location, you need a place to park," said Russ Roca, 29, of Long Beach. Roca, a freelance photographer, travels exclusively on a bike retooled to carry 200 pounds of camera equipment. He is a regular at the local Bikestation, which, he says, has become a social spot for area cyclists.

Kristin Mongiello, 35, of Santa Monica sped up to the valet table, her bike pulling her son, Riley Egan, 5, who was behind her on an attached wheeled contraption called a "Trail-a-bike." They were rushing to a super-hero themed birthday party, and Egan was dressed in a blue and gold hero costume. On the way, they needed a few things from the farmers market, where she has become a regular valet parker.
See Cities Peddle Parking for Bicycles, and forgive them their bad pun....

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 23 Apr 2007 21:47:41 -0800 [link]  

Friday, April 20th
Hemp Knickers Ever Closer....
Okay, folks, I will be picking up the first sample of the Hemp City Knickers Monday from my sewing contractor, and with luck I'll have some pictures by mid-week. Keep an eye on Bicycle Fixation, as regular updates will be following.

We're also working on some minor improvements to the Classic Wool Knickers, which we'll announce in due time. And it looks like a contact in New Zealand may be able to hook me up with a supplier of knit Merino wool, which means that the jersey may be on its way soon as well.

All original Bicycle Fixation designs, of course, which means they're meant for use in the real world you all ride in every day!

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 20 Apr 2007 19:59:58 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, April 14th
Coming Soon: Hemp City Knickers & More!
Yes, we finally received the first shipment of hemp/Tencel blend fabric for testing the design of our new Hemp City Knickers!

Hemp requires little water and no pesticides, and the industrial hemp comes from a different variety of cannabis from the cannabis sativa of hippie fame, and does NOT contain THC, which will please some of you and disappoint others, I am sure. Industrial hemp is famously rugged--think clipper ship rigging and sails. By itself it may be a bit too rugged for wearing, but blended with Tencel (technical name is lyocell), it is a delight.

Tencel is a synthetic made of wood--NOT petroleum--and while a solvent is used in its manufacture, the solvent is recaptured and recycled almost endlessly. (Furthermore, the incentive to recycle the solvent is largely economic for manufacturers, so you don't have to count on them being good souls; they'll do it anyway!) It is far less damaging to the environment than any petroleum-based synthetic, and feels cottony while having wool-like perspiration-handling characteristics.

The cut itself will be less formal than that of our Classic Wool Knickers, but still elegant and practical for both on- and off-bike wear. And we should be able to keep the price below $100, as with our gabardine model.

Keep your eyes on this space for announcements.

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 14 Apr 2007 06:48:20 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, April 10th
Google, China, and Labor Law
Yesterday, I posted a reference to an article that incuded Google among the US corporations lobbying against a proposed Chinese labor law reform that could greatly improve the lot of China's working people. I also noted that it seemed unlikely that Google, of all large companies, would actually support such a lobbying effort, and that I would see what I could dig up about their involvement.

The Business and Human Rights Resource Center invited Google to respond to the assertions about its involvement in this disgusting effort, and they did:
Google response to concerns regarding amendments to Chinese labour law
16 January 2007

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Google to respond to concerns raised about opposition by industry groups to proposed reforms to Chinese labour law, including in the Global Labor Strategies report, “Behind the Great Wall of China”, available at:
Andrew McLaughlin, senior policy counsel at Google, provided the following response:
Google has taken no position on labor law reform in China. Our presence in China is small but growing, and we haven't studied this issue in any depth that would enable us to have an intelligent opinion about it.

We belong to numerous large-scale trade and industry associations, and don't necessarily agree with every position they take on every issue.
So it looks like Google's off the hook, and I'll keep their ads on Bicycle Fixation for now...but I'll keep my eyes open too. Talk is cheap....

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 10 Apr 2007 21:00:56 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, April 8th
Just when China, which holds 25% of the world's labor force, is beginning to head towards a new humanity in its laws which Westerners of all people should be applauding, it turns out that a loose grouping of largely US-based corporations is lobbying the Chinese government not to pass laws improving the health, happiness, and prosperity of its won people.

A couple of quotes from Asia Times:
[There is] a behind-the-scenes battle that is raging worldwide over reforms in China's labor law. On the one side are Wal-Mart, Google, General Electric (GE) and other global corporations that have been aggressively lobbying to limit new rights for Chinese workers. On the other side are pro-worker-rights forces in China, backed by labor, human rights, and political forces in the US and around the world.


In March 2006, the Chinese government, with considerable popular backing, proposed a new labor law with limited but significant increases in workers' rights. But the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Shanghai, the United States-China Business Council, and US-based global corporations are lobbying to gut the proposed law. They have even threatened to leave China for such countries as Pakistan and Thailand if the law is passed.
Of course, to speak of moral issues to most business people is like teaching algebra to a canary...but even in a purely practical sense, to oppose workers' rights doesn't make sense. Even Henry Ford, a card-carrying fascist and admirer of Hitler, knew that: he doubled his workers' wages over the apoplectic opposition of his fellow industrialists, explaining that now his workers would be able to afford his own (and the other industrialists') products.

And so it was.

And the Thirties, which proved so fertile for the efforts of labor leaders (called "agitators" then), when the Depression, caused largely by the greed of non-productive speculators, forced the people to see the faux-aristocracy of the US differently enough to fight for their own welfare against it, though often at the cost of blood spilled by corporate goon squads as brutal as those operating still in Third World countries. The high wages labor enjoyed as a result of those struggles made the postwar prosperity possible--and enrichened those very moral ciphers who are now trying to make wage slaves of the entire world.

The Chinese have struggled for millennia to achieve a modest comfort and a bit of freedom. How dare the corporate pimps say they may not do it?

Morality aside, didn't they ever think that maybe they could sell something to the Chinese people? Is their greed so blinding that they cannot even see their own self-interest?

In the end, the world is worth living in only when we treat each other well. Bicycle Fixation focusses more often on chemical pollution and a waste of space, but there is a moral pollution, and a waste of souls, that is even more dangerous--for the one makes the other inevitable.

Read the article and take heed of who is perpetrating this cruel folly.

I myself will write Google (and I find it difficult to believe they are involved), and will remove their ads from Bicycle Fixation if they are truly part of this.

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 08 Apr 2007 16:51:07 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, April 7th
The Time Is Now
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its latest report yesterday, effectively making it official: we have met the Global Warming Enemy, and he is us. This in spite of changes forced on the panel by influential countries such as China and Saudi Arabia that resulted in softening of some of the language.

Read the entire report (reprinted from the New York Times) without having to register on

Then get on your bike and ride. Wherever you're going next. Just park your car if you have one; don't sell it, because then someone will use it--just park it.

Otherwise the next stop on this ride is Armageddon.

You don't have to wait for your government to do something about it. Almost everyone can ride a bike; almost everyone can afford one. Put your ass on that saddle and save the world! It's up to you, not them.

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 07 Apr 2007 08:30:11 -0800 [link]  

Friday, April 6th
Rail Transit & Civic Wealth
A posting on the American Public Transit Association's website lists a long series of articles exploring the inevitable rise in property values associated with being near a rail transit station.

These increases appear to be rigorously determined, since they generally evaluate properties that were in existence before the transit system was installed, though in some cases they explore the valuations of similar properties in a neighborhood and correlate them to their distances from the transit stop.

Western, eastern, and midwestern cities are examined, including San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara County (San Jose, where we saw the sleek trams operating when we visited the North American Handmade Bicycle Show last month), Chicago, Boston, DC, Dallas, and Atlanta,as well as several others.

In cities old and new, east and west, with rail transit either long-established or brand-new, the effect held: property values, both commercial and residential, were higher the closer the property in question was to a rail transit station.

As we know, proximity to a freeway interchange has an opposite effect.

So this seems to represent an indirect vote of the people for rail transit, since property values generally represent the attractiveness of an area to residents and business operators.

Higher property values generally mean higher property tax collections, resulting (ideally) in better schools, more libraries and parks, more diligent maintenance of public infrastructure, more comprehensive services such as police, fire, and health protection, and so forth.

Furthermore, since rail can move many people while using little surface space (none, if it's a subway), rail corridors do not remove as much land from use for living or working as do freeway corridors.

All in all, rail transit makes for a happier economy, no matter what sort of economy you have.


Richard Risemberg on Fri, 06 Apr 2007 06:57:37 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, April 3rd
Chrome Nickel Plating - but not for bikes anymore.
This just in from a reader: Chrome Nickel Plating, the company that plated "Vivian", is no longer working on bicycles. It is a mystery as to why.

Gina Morey on Tue, 03 Apr 2007 13:43:52 -0800 [link]  

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