Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday Night Pick Me Up - Tom Waits

As a little reminder that despite the oh so popular recent mashup with cookie monster singing this Tom Waits song, it really is a great song from one of the most talented songwriters of the last 50 years.

Bicycle Travel in Comfort

If only it was a Lazy-Boy!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bicycle Outlaws

So I'm sitting behind another cyclist at the intersection of Mayberry and McCarran heading west waiting for a red light to change.  I'm in the newly painted bike lane with cars next to me when another cyclist comes up from behind and blows the red light crossing McCarran.   Three seconds later the light changes to green.  All I can do is shake my head and look over at the drivers next to me and wonder what kind of negative effect this has on bicycle/motorist relations.  Especially as the RTC is making more efforts to embrace cycling and create infrastructure conducive for all road users and pedestrians.

With that in mind this video recently came to my attention.  While I think law enforcement need to prioritize a bit better when they set up stings to ticket cyclists, I can't argue that there are cyclists out there that are aggravating and blowing through stop lights, etc.  It's hard to have a whole lot of sympathy for cyclists who flagrantly ride in an illegal and unsafe manner.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Inner Tube Vending Machine

Not sure how cost effective this would be for most shops but I like the commitment to customer service.  It's a pretty obvious idea really.

More info or link:
Installed in 2005, our vending machine sells items like inner tubes, patch kits and energy bars & gel. It is just a regular snack machine with the coils that drop product to a trap door. It is at our front door and is accesable 24/7. It takes bills up to $20 and gives dollar coins for change (the smaller kind: Susan B. Anthony, Sacagawea or Presidential). If you have any ideas for items you would like to see vended, please email
If you are thinking of installing your own vending machine, know this: We did it as a customer service more than anything else! We sell only 2 or 3 tubes per week. It is NOT a money maker, but when a customer comes by before or after hours it is usually for a tube and "Vendy" helps them out! Our machine cost $3000 and as of early 2010 it has almost paid for itself. There is no secret to the installation. It is just a regular snack vending machine like you would see at a freeway rest stop. People ask if it has ever been vandalized or broken into. Someone tagged the glass with scratches, but it is not bad. We were going to replace the glass, but it is not really noticable. The lock is not very secure and the door is prone to prying open with a crow bar. The lock mechanism is made out of aluminum. We installed a large hocky puck type lock they use on storage containers. We also bolted the feet to the concrete. We had to make a custom bracket as it is not designed to be bolted down. It is very secure now. One time, when we were doing inventory, and collecting the money, all of the money was gone! It turns out the money release switch is accessable thru the bill slot with a bicycle spoke, or similar. We installed a guard on the inside to make it impossible. We have had very little problem with the operation of Vendy. She seems to work great. A yearly cleaning and a little Boeshield on the moving parts and on the electrical connections helps. The machine needs a chip upgrade whenever new currency comes out. It did not accept the new $10 and $20 bills until we upgraded.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bicycle to Work Challenge 2011-12

As the school year revs up I've been pondering what my goal should be for mileage.  Last year I didn't quite make my goal of 1500 miles missing it by less than sixty miles.   I suppose I could beat myself up over it but I put in in so many miles this summer plus have met my goal the previous couple of years when I was aiming for 2400 miles.  Of course, my commute used to be longer in those days.

Anyway, this year's goal is 1600 miles.  With a sixteen mile commute that makes for approximately 100 days of riding to work out of my 180 contract days plus or minus extra miles for errands and such that might get tacked on the ride.   Here's to some nice riding weather. 

This year I'd also like to try doing more riding in my work clothes rather than changing into and out of cycling togs each day.  We'll see how that goes.  In the past I've found that my route is just long enough with enough of a hill to make it worth it to stick to cycling specific gear.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bicycling Across America!

The NY Times has been running a series on cyclist, Bruce Weber's bike tour across the country.  I've been living vicariously and lamenting the canceled bike tour for myself this summer.  Read his posts here and here!

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Benefits of a Public Bicycle Sharing Program

I thought this study on the benefits of a bike sharing programs was worth passing along.   I'm curious if mid-sized cities like Reno will one day be able to support a bike share program.  Clearly the benefits are there.  Excerpt:
Dr David Rojas-Rueda and his researchers at the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, Spain decided to study the health impact of the public bicycle sharing initiative in Barcelona called Bicing that was started in March 2007.

With 182,062 subscibers to Bicing by August 2009, representing 11% of Barcelona's municipal population, the average distance traveled by Bicing on a working day consisted of 3.29 km with an average of 14 minutes.

Researchers estimated the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and number of fatal casualties linked to biking compared to driving for three main areas: physical activity, road traffic incident and exposure to air pollution. The study was based on a health impact model to integrate existing data from scientific studies and local travel information.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Flywheel Bicycle

Pretty fascinating look at this technology.  Frankly, I tend to not be that open to "enhancing" the human power of a bicycle.  But it's pretty fascinating to see how this work and maybe one day when I'm 80 this will be just the thing to keep me on a bike.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011


This might be the single best performance from XTC's touring days that I've found.  Smokin'!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Marble Bicycle Stand

I'm always interested to see bicycles displayed in ways that call attention to their elegance as machines.  Even though they are great efficient tools for transportation there is something quite beautiful about an object that weighs around 20 pounds and yet can transport a human so easily for thousands of miles.  Racks or stands that make the focus the bicycle are always preferable.  Such is the case with this marble stand.  I don't know how well it works but it certainly looks nice.  More on the design here.

Monday, August 08, 2011

On Bike Lanes and Infrastructure

I left town for a couple of weeks ago and came back to find the much awaited “road diet” of Mayberry Street from McCarran to Hunter Lake had been completed. Actually, I didn't actually see it until the following day but I got an earful from a cyclist friend regarding a portion of the new striping. But more on that later....

I knew that this change along Mayberry was in the works for months, if not years, because of sitting on the RTC's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. It's a logical extension connecting the portion of California Avenue that has already been striped with bike lanes (disregarding the always problematic hill near Newlands) and the portion of Mayberry on the west side of McCarran that underwent a road diet over a year ago. Of course, I can't help but wonder if cyclists heading in or out of Reno along that route aren't more likely to continue on California Avenue, hit the bike path under McCarran, and reconnect with Mayberry.

After getting some negative feedback the night before riding the route I was expecting it to be a bad experience. But frankly, since I use a portion of Mayberry on my regular commute home, the first thing I noticed when riding it last Saturday morning was that the automobile traffic was going a good 5 to 10 mph slower than normal. Meaning, it was going a reasonable 35 mph which is the posted speed limit. With the two full lanes going either way prior to the restriping, the typical speed seemed to be in the 45 mph or higher range. Now all of sudden the riding experience seemed much more pleasant. Of course, the real benefit of slower speeds even with the same posted limit isn't that it is nicer for cyclists, but that it is nicer, and safer, for everybody using the space, including pedestrians trying to get across the road. That little drop in speed gives motorists that much more time to spot and react to other users of the urban space. There is a reason that this model for urban transportation is called “complete streets.”

Now for the problematic part of the redesign. Smack dab in the middle of this new stretch of resurfacing, heading west to east, cyclists are going to be running into this:

Maybe literally. Essentially this is a ramp up to the sidewalk that blocks the bicycle lane for a few short feet. In order to create the ramp up they had to bow the sidewalk out into the bike lane which leaves a cyclist very little room to get through and possibly a precarious situation as the cyclist merges into the other lane of traffic to get around the obstruction. I don't know the reasoning behind this design. I suspect it has something to do with ADA and/or the proximity to Swope Middle School. After talking with a fellow BPAC member I found out that the paint/striping in this location was actually a mistake on the ground and will be corrected to accommodate the bike lane.

It's an interesting situation to contemplate and I don't have a perfect answer for how to address it.  When you are integrating bicycle infrastructure over a car centric landscape what issues do you need to keep in mind?   Bicycles are considered vehicles and the city is creating a bike lane, then abruptly stopping it, then continuing it. I saw this kind of thing in Portland, OR, on a visit about a year ago. Legally I can't help but wonder what would happen if a cyclist was hit at this crosswalk. Where does urban design responsibility start and end and where do the responsibilities of the cyclist pick up? There doesn't seem to be an easy answer to this quandary and I would be suspicious of anyone who believes they have an easy answer.

This NY Times article brings up some of these same issues that we in the U.S. (and in Reno) are grappling with that many European cities have already dealt with over the last 30 or 40 years.  How do you transform an urban environment into a place that doesn't cater only to cars, but to bicyclists, and pedestrians as well, thus creating a better quality of life for all users?  Here are some choice quotes from the piece:

Dutch drivers are taught that when you are about to get out of the car, you reach for the door handle with your right hand — bringing your arm across your body to the door. This forces a driver to swivel shoulders and head, so that before opening the door you can see if there is a bike coming from behind. Likewise, every Dutch child has to pass a bicycle safety exam at school. The coexistence of different modes of travel is hard-wired into the culture. 
This in turn relates to lots of other things — such as bread. How? Cyclists can’t carry six bags of groceries; bulk buying is almost nonexistent. Instead of shopping for a week, people stop at the market daily. So the need for processed loaves that will last for days is gone. A result: good bread.
There are also in the United States certain perceptions associated with both cycling and public transportation that are not the case here. In Holland, public buses aren’t considered last-resort forms of transportation. And cycling isn’t seen as eco-friendly exercise; it’s a way to get around. C.E.O.’s cycle to work, and kids cycle to school.
For American cities to think outside the car would seem to require a mental sea change. Then again, Americans, too, are practical, no-nonsense people. And Zef Hemel, the chief planner for the city of Amsterdam, reminded me that sea changes do happen. “Back in the 1960s, we were doing the same thing as America, making cities car-friendly,” he said. Funnily enough, it was an American, Jane Jacobs, who changed the minds of European urban designers. Her book “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” got European planners to shift their focus from car-friendliness to overall livability.
When I noted that Manhattan’s bike lanes seem to be used more for recreation than transport — cyclists in Amsterdam are dressed in everything from jeans to cocktail dresses, while those in Manhattan often look like spandex cyborgs — Mr. Hemel told me to give it time. “Those are the pioneers," he said. “You have to start somewhere.”
 It's easy to forget that a city held up as a great example of a bicycling friendly city like Amsterdam was created quite consciously over decades of concerted efforts to adjust the emphasis of the urban landscape away from a car centric one by bicycle advocates, political leaders, and urban designers.  Case in point, a recent assertion made by the creator of Copenhagen Cycle Chic that the "cycle chic" movement over the last 4 years has done more to increase bicycling around the world than the decades of bicycle advocacy that created the infrastructure that he takes for granted.  Talk about myopic.

So perhaps the place that many noted bicycling cities in Europe were in the 60s and 70s is where so many U.S. cities are now.  We are slowly laying the groundwork for what in a few decades time will change the mindset of our culture about the viability of the bicycle as a more obvious choice for transportation in our urban landscapes.  I, for one, am hopeful.

Cyclists Are Tough!

This series of photos from the 2011 Tour de France published in  the Atlantic is pretty stunning.  The photography manages to capture some of the more playful and dramatic moments you are likely to find on a grand tour.

Even though professional cyclists are generally relatively pint-sized compared to many other athletes, I'm not sure you can get much tougher.  I suppose few would survive the pounding that NFL players endure.  Can you imagine what would happen if a linebacker tackled Alberto Contador?   Perhaps Thor Hushovd would be ok.  Still, for sheer suffering, it's hard to imagine a more grueling sport.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Hot August Bikes Show and Shine!

The Reno Bike Project's Hot August Bikes "Show and Shine" event was last night at the Nevada Museum of Art.  I took a few photos and the Reno Gazette Journal has a gallery of shots of the event.  I wish I had a run down of the winners of all the different categories in the competition which ranged from Best Townie to Best Vintage Road Bike and everything in between.  There were some absolutely stunning bicycles at the show. 

I was too busy catching up with friends during the winner announcements.  Except that I managed to snag the Best Touring bike for my Burnt Orange Rivendell Allrounder.  Ironically, I had recently pulled the touring gear (racks, fenders, drop bars) from the rig and opted for the more stealthy, Bridgestone XO-1 configuration.  When I first bought the Riv I wanted it to fill the void created by my regret over not buying the legendary Bstone.  The AR has thrived in all sorts of configurations over the years including Monster Cross Bike.

Love the chainstays on this Della Santa even if there is not functional reason for them.

Ed Gresham's bikes are absolutely stunning!  I believe he plans to head to the NAHBS in Sacramento next year.

The go everywhere, do everything, Swiss Army Bike with trailer.

And it wouldn't be Reno without a Burning Man Bike.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

The PopCycle!

It's one thing to build a bike out of popsicle sticks but it is quite another for it to be a functional bicycle.
It took him four long months to finish it, but 35-year-old Sun Chao doesn’t regret one second of the time he put into the world’s first popsicle stick bicycle. At 1.5m long, 0.55m wide, 0.95m high and 25 kg heavy, it’s smaller than the average bicycle, but works just as well. Sure, those wooden wheels don’t provide the comfort of air-inflated ones, but Sun Chao rode it for 20 minutes, when he unveiled it in the city square, on June 1, and he didn’t complain. It’s worth noting he is 90 kg heavy, but the popsicle stick bike easily handled the weight. The only metal parts used on this unusual bicycle were the chain and bearings.
 If you go to the story here you'll see that there seems to be very little actual riding going on.  The inventor is using it more as a dandy-horse.

Hot August Bikes Show and Shine Tonight!

Don't forget the event tonight at the Nevada Museum of Art!

Lindsey Lohan might be there...

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Bike Lane Vigilante!

This vid is making the rounds so I thought I'd to my bit and share as well.  I've seen plenty of cars parked in bike lanes over the years and at least a few times I would have been tempted to do just this if only I had an armored take thing to do it in.

Full story about this Mayor from Lithuania is here.

Imagine what the tank could do to these cars here in Reno!

Reflections on the Tour de Nez 2011

As I mentioned in an earlier post, it had been a couple of years since I have been able to attend the Tour de Nez because of bicycle touring trips.  I was pleased that this year's event was moved to late July, and had been billed as a "return to its roots" event.  Even though I enjoyed volunteering a few years back when they had a stage up at Tahoe it has always felt like the heart of the race needs to be a weekend crit through downtown Reno.

Judging from an overheard conversation between two of the pro women racers my feelings are confirmed.  One of the racers was exclaiming just how great the course is.  I couldn't agree more.

Numbers seemed a bit down from the race's peak from a few years back but overall I think it felt more like an authentic celebration of cycling in Reno.  The crowd was still pretty strong.  Ultimately, focusing the event back to its roots is a good thing.  It's a stepping stone to making the TdN one of the signature events of summer in Reno (again).

The RGJ write up on the event is here.