Friday, April 15, 2016

Back to life & a new series on bike stands...

In case anyone is actually interested, this post is meant to formally "reactivate" this blog.

Some months ago I was diagnosed with cancer. Many things changed suddenly and dramatically. My focus went to addressing the illness and my life. Blogs (I write for two of them) took a back seat (or, more accurately, a trailer well behind the back seat). 

I am grateful that the cancer was detected while it could be treated surgically (it was of a type that tends to be lethal once its gets away from stage I). I am also grateful that I am pretty much back to my usual level of energy and stamina; however, cancer does really change one's life. In my case, it may well have been for the better. Greater appreciation, intentionality, focus, gratitude, humility, and recognition of the preciousness of even the smallest gift...these are all fruits of an unwished-for-but-not-without-blessings experience. I can also say that the folks who work at the Salem Hospital Oncology unit are amongst the best in the business. My trips to the hospital on pastoral work now usually include a visit to that floor to remember and say "thank you" to anyone I meet there who served me then. 

One other thing: if you have symptoms of a serious change in your body...get to the doctor (or, as in my case, the ER, which proved to be the better choice). Delay can be costly.

But, this is not really a cancer recovery blog, so I'll just leave it at that. I'm glad to be back, writing occasionally on biking issues in Salem...for anyone who still is interested in reading.

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With the change in weather these last weeks I have been out on my bike more, soaking up the sun and enjoying the many blooming trees. I've had some seasonal maintenance to do on my bike (mostly tightening up things that tend to get loose), and I have noticed even more folks out there in Salem biking from place to place on what I would call honest-to-goodness commuter or utility bikes. That is good to see.

My trips from place to place occasionally take me to new stops and the bicycle infrastructure provided there. That brings up the other subject of this post: bicycle parking stands.

As the season progresses, I plan to take pictures of a number of different types of bike stands in town (there are a surprising variety of them) and then discuss each. This is the sort of heavy-hitting investigative journalism I prefer. So, fasten your seatbelt for controversy ahead; I'm taking no prisoners and sparing no reputations...especially my own.

#1: The Yellow Postal Special - A Classic Bike Stand

When a person pedals to Pringle Park Plaza for postal purposes (wow...a lot of alliteration there), this is the bike stand that awaits you. It is perhaps the most classic design in America from the pre-security days. This is truly a "stand." Its purpose is to keep the bike standing up while you are in the Post Office running your errand. 

Such stands were de rigueur when I was a child; they were ubiquitous at schools, post offices, and grocery stores (where they had any). They harken to a time when theft was much less likely, or when a simple long padlock was considered suitable protection (I well remember one such lock my mother had for her one-speed back-pedal brake Sears special). In those days bikes were rarely so expensive or exotic as to motivate anyone to go to the effort of cutting the shank of a lock. The lack of quick release anything made such theft a bit more difficult, as well. I remember putting my Schwinn Typhoon in many such stands years ago and thinking nothing of it.

Gradually, however, I heard about more bike theft and decided to purchase a chain lock (covered in groovy translucent blue plastic) to discourage joy-riders. Such stands as this worked OK with such locks.

These reminders of halcyon days gone by (imagined or real) are no longer very good for security purposes; the u-lock I normally employ really doesn't work with this sort of stand, forcing me to use the cable lock I still carry. However, such stands do accommodate a large number of bikes for their size--and they really do work well to stand a bike up by its wheel (front or back), something the now-ubiquitous Bike Staple doesn't do as well. Ah, the give and take of life....

Bike stands like this are an inexpensive way to provide for the needs of cyclists. If, like me, you have a bike that is probably not high on the list of types ripe for theft, such a stand can still be made to work. This kind of stand is, however, generally only seen on the grounds of older public buildings today--a testimony to the design's durability, changing times, and the place of bike infrastructure in the priority list of civic life. I'm not really complaining...just noticing. I'm also just glad I don't have a bike that says "steal me" when faced with this "honors system" sort of stand.


  1. Glad to have you back and in good health! I was just thinking about how I haven't read anything new from you in a while. I'm weirdly looking forward to the bike stand coverage. I was able to take out my bike for one perfect day in March here in upstate NY, but next week is looking like the real start to bike season.

  2. Salem Bike Boulevard Advocates just published a bike parking guide to encourage/help local businesses to create bicycle friendly parking. No "wheel benders" please. You can see it on our Facebook Page (March 31st post).

  3. Welcome back! Here's an older series on bike parking that might be useful, especially if you find that an installation has been improved or otherwise changed. We need more eyes on bike parking in Salem as there are so many examples, like this one at the post office, that are minimally useful or substandard.

  4. I'm glad you are back and doing well. I missed your thoughtful posts, and look forward to reading more.

    I learned as a young lad the value of locking up the bike. I had one stolen right off the sidewalk in my own front yard when I was 7 or 8. I had left it there when I went in for dinner. Amazingly, the police did recover it, but it had been stripped and never felt the same after.

    Here's to your ongoing good health.

    Stan from Michigan