Friday, September 30, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

October 1st Bicycle Parade!

It has been a while since I've mentioned the upcoming parade to celebrate bicycle awareness and a couple of laws that were passed this legislative session to protect cyclists.  I'll let the Nevada Bicycle Coalition description of the event speak for itself but I hope to see a big group of cyclists down at city hall:

The Nitty Gritty Details:
Start / End – Reno City Hall Plaza, 1st Street and South Virginia Street, RenoRoute – we’ll ride mostly on 4th Street and Prater Way to Sparks City Hall at a leisurely pace and return mostly on Victorian Avenue and the Truckee River Bike Path: 8 miles total.When – Assemble in the Plaza from 9:30 to 10:30 and get a chance to thank the bicyclist friendly politicians who made these new laws possible. Teresa Benitez-Thompson, author of the law that increased penalties for injuring a bicyclist, plans to ride with us.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bicycles Kill Fascism

One of the things I love about this t-shirt design (recommended for purchase by an old college friend) is that I can make a case for every one of the claims listed here.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Morning Music - Velvet Underground/Bill Cunningham

Watching Bill Cunningham New York last night and couldn't help but be both inspired by his singular mission in life to document fashion design, and depressed by his this singular vision of life.  I've often said that we seem to live in an era where everyone knows a little about a lot of different things but few have true depth of knowledge.  It is quite the opposite for Bill Cunningham who knows so much about fashion that it is dizzying but it has been to the exclusion of almost everything else in life.  But I suppose that was his choice to make.   Love his bike.

Below is the trailer for the documentary and the perfectly chosen, I'll Be Your Mirror.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bicycle Cockpit

This is what (one of) my commute bicycle cockpits ends up looking like come fall.  A bit busy but the bell, computer and light are all very nice to have on those early morning rides in particular.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bicycle vs. Car Efficiency...

His argument kind of falls apart when you get into any sort of further analysis of the costs of driving cars but it's still a fun read....

By  on September 13, 2011
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood wants to get people out of their cars and start riding bikes and walking to work. Unlike LaHood, I’ve actually done 18 mile commutes on a bike, five days a week, seven months out of the year, and when I worked only 3.5 miles from home on nice days I’d sometimes walk.
Once, while doing intervals on my way to work and with my heart close to terminal rate and breathing pretty hard, contrarian that I am I wondered just how much CO2 a person puts out on a bicycle and how it compares to a car with an ICE. It turns out that it’s a non-trivial amount and it’s possible that with enough passengers a car-pool or bus filled with commuters has a smaller carbon footprint than the same amount of people riding bicycles to work.
Some said that I need to be a more focused and a more disciplined writer, that I must be more ruthless when excising or editing extra, redundant, superfluous, unnecessary, and/or gratuitous words. So I’m not here to talk about CO2, though I am here to talk about bicycles. Another of those funny thoughts occurred to me while out on the *Litespeed this morning : Are bicycles really more efficient than cars?
Bicycles are one of humans’ greatest inventions. The frame geometry of the modern “safety” bicycle (perhaps when compared to the old penny farthing high wheelers – bicycling still injures more children than any other recreational activity) hasn’t changed in 130 years. Though there have been innovations in the design of sprockets and chains, the basic drive layout, with a large front chainring driving a chain connected to a smaller sprocket on the rear hub, also hasn’t changed in over a century. Tests show that a bicycle can be up to 98.1% efficient in terms of converting energy at the pedals into forward motion.
The notion that bicycles are the most efficient form of human transportation has become a watchword among environmentalists and alternative transportation supporters. Cycling is said to be more energy efficient even than walking.
It’s true that on a kcal or btu per mile basis, a bike wins hands down over a car. A typical car with one passenger uses 50-80 times more energy to travel the same distance as an average person on a bicycle.
Energy, though, isn’t the only measure of efficiency.
What about cost?
A twenty mile round trip in a car that gets 30 MPG costs $2.00 when gasoline is $3.00/gal. According to Bicycling magazine, a 180 lb man going 12 mph burns 37.50 kcal/mile. That rises to 55.16 kcal at 19 mph. Everyone has their own comfortable speed, but let’s take 15 mph as a decent commuting speed. At that speed, a 180 pound man uses 42.13 kcal per mile. For a 20 mile commute, that’s 842.6 kcals. So how much does it cost to buy about 850 calories to fuel your body?
For the purposes of this comparison, I’ve decided to use what I call the BMI. No, not Body Mass Index, but rather the Big Mac Index. If there’s anything close to standard fare in the world, it’s a McDonald’s Big Mac sandwich. I see 540 kcals quoted as the caloric content of one standard American Big Mac (in Australia, they’re smaller). There are regional variations in price but in general, in the United States a Big Mac costs between $3.29 and $4.10. Big Macs aren’t kosher and I don’t know which part of the spectrum is most common so I’ll just take an average, $3.69.
Eight hundred forty-two point six kilocalories works out to 1.56 Big Macs. At three dollars and sixty-nine cents per, that bike rides going to cost you $5.75.
So in terms of fuel cost, it can be almost three times as expensive to ride a bike as it is to drive a car. There are cheaper bicycle fuels than Big Macs. Before Red Bull, cyclists refueled in the middle of rides with Coke. A twenty ounce Coke is 240 kcals. Those are ninety-nine cents at the corner 7-11. Fueling up with Coca Cola will still cost you three and a half bucks, 75% more than gasoline for the same commute. I suppose you could just eat refined sugar, at the world spot sugar price in September, that would only cost you about six and a half cents, but not many people are going to eat a 1/4 lb. of sugar in one seating.
So bicycles can be much less efficient in terms of fuel cost than cars. Bikes are great. Provided that nobody runs you down, they’re great fun to ride terrific exercise and can be, in some cases, a practical alternative to driving, but in terms of fuel cost, they may not save you any money.
*My bike is made of titanium and magnesium, is your car?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Premium Rush Or Quicksilver 2? - Bicycling Messengers Hit the Big Screen

I saw something about this movie a few months back when it was filming and thought, uh oh!  Another attempt to capture the urban bicycle messenger scene albeit with a murder mystery plot.  It actually is a strikingly similar idea to a mystery novel I read several years ago that wasn't very good but had a messenger protagonist who got caught up in murder.  We'll see how this one the very least it has decent production values and a good cast.  Some nifty bicycle riding in the trailer here with a few CGI shots to enhance the experience.

Bicycle Perch

Easily one of the nicer designs of this type of bicycle "holder" out there.  If you're tired of the large rubber coated screw drilled into a wall look (my basement has for of those) this might be just the ticket.  I particularly like that it has a useful spot to put other bicycle gear.   More here...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Morning Music - Talk Talk

I know I must have posted this before but I woke up with it in my head.  Probably because I was downtown last night and the Cal Neva was doing some sort of 80s night thing.   This is one of the best songs from that decade.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A World-Wide Bicycle Sharing Movement!

In the midst of all of the news about how China is forsaking its historical embrace of the bicycle as a primary means of transportation, here's news that they actually have the largest bike share program in the world (50,000 bikes and over 2000 bike stations!).  The rest of the article details many of the other bike share success stories from around the globe.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bicycle Funding Under Attack!

On the heels of these recent articles and studies on the benefits of bicycling for our economy comes news that certain members of congress are refusing to fund transportation infrastructure for bicycling.  I understand the fiscal conservatism at work here given our current global economic crisis.  But it truly is so short-sighted to not look more deeply at the far reaching positives to increased cycling for our society.

It reminds me of a student I had a few years ago when I was teaching college English who believed that any funding for the arts by the federal government was a waste when people were going hungry.  There is a certain logic to this on the face of it.  But it ignores the far-reaching long-term impact of arts funding on the very core things that the arts teach us as humans.  I pointed out to this student that statistically speaking people who studied art no matter what genre were more likely to donate their time and money to charity later in life.   So while there is a direct logic to what she was saying it doesn't take into account the larger benefits of the arts funding to society.

Likewise, seeing federal funding for bicycling as less than a priority doesn't take into account the far reaching positive effects of cycling to our quality of life.  From the more human friendly urban design that often accompanies cycling infrastructure, to the health benefits to our physical well-being as humans, it is (almost) impossible to quantify how important cycling funding can be.  I urge you to contact your legislators to insist that bicycling be a part of the transportation budget.
A type of bicycle and pedestrian funding that has allowed the region to improve things for cyclists and pedestrians is under attack at the federal level.
Several congress members are saying they won’t reauthorize the federal transportation program unless the transportation enhancement segment of the program is cut. Transportation enhancements are the biggest sources of funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects in the United States.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Reno is a Bicycle Friendly City!

The official announcement isn't until Wednesday but Reno has been designated a Bronze level Bicycle Friendly City by the League of American Bicyclists!   Congrats to all of the people who worked on the application and most importantly to all the people out there on the streets of Reno utilizing the ever-growing cycling infrastructure in the Biggest Little City.

Vintage Bicyclists

I find these old shots of bicyclists fascinating and this one even more so for some reason.  Her expression, the geometry of the frame, and what she is wearing!  Mesmerizing.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Years Ago Today...

PJ Harvey won her first Mercury Prize but was unable to attend because she was trapped in Washington D.C. watching smoke rise from the Pentagon.  2011 and she receives her second Mercury Prize (the only artist to ever win two) for an album chiefly about the costs of war.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The Economist on Bicycle Safety

I'm always curious when an article on transportation cycling makes it into a major non-cycling specific magazine.  Unfortunately, when the journalist opens with anecdotes to prove how unsafe cycling is I can't help but get annoyed.  What else can you make of the headline, "With a very few exceptions, America is no place for cyclists."

That being said there are some interesting points made here.  Most notably regarding how motorists should be forced, via infrastructure and enforcement, to slow down!  It is called "traffic calming" for a reason and a whole lot of cities have figured out this is the way to make the streets safer for all users. 

Calmer traffic is just the beginning. In much of northern Europe, cyclists commute on lanes that are protected from cars by concrete buffers, rows of trees or parked cars. At busy crossroads, bicycle-activated traffic lights let cyclists cross first. Traffic laws discriminate in favour of people on bikes. A few American cities have taken European-style steps to make streets safer for cycling, most notably Portland, Oregon, which has used most of the above ideas. The result: more bikes and fewer deaths. Nearly 6% of commuters bike to work in Portland, the highest proportion in America. But in five out of the past ten years there have been no cycling deaths there. In the nearby Seattle area, where cycling is popular but traffic calming is not, three cyclists, have been killed in the past few weeks.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Pump It Real Good!

This is a great idea for a growing urban cycling center.  With a nice clean design they would be perfectly suited for bike share stations around a city.  More on the pumps here:
Cyclehoop, those innovative designers who brought us public bicycle locks have now created, and had installed, a series of elegant bicycle pumps for public use. They are at two bicycle parking lots, and hopefully more will come.
The pump is hand operated and features a high pressure gauge with a pump hose which fits a wide range of tire valves. It is housed inside a robust stainless steel body with a solid steel pump handle and an armoured air hose. The pump is designed to withstand constant public use and vandalism, as it needs to be in riot-torn London.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Cycling is Good for the Economy!

I'd love to see a thorough study on the Economic impact of increased cycling on the U.S. and in particular for Nevada, and Reno specifically.  This study from the UK certainly confirms a number of assumptions and other smaller studies I've seen over the years on cycling's effects on the economy.  I particularly like the evidence that cyclists miss less work and have less impact on the health care system.

Here is a bit of an excerpt:

The report says that regular cyclists take 7.4 sick days per year, compared with 8.7 sick days for non-cyclists, saving around £128m through reduced absenteeism, with projected savings of £2bn over the next 10 years.
Dr Alexander Grous, of the LSE, who conducted the research, said: "The good news is that structural, economic, social and health factors seem finally to have created a true step-change in the UK's cycling scene."
Stewart Kellett, of British Cycling which is the governing body of UK cycle sport, said: "This report is further evidence that when more people get involved in cycling there are measurable benefits to the individual, their family, their employer, the environment and the economy as whole."
For a more thorough collection of stats on the benefits of cycling to our society you should read this series of articles.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Smoothie Bicycle!

I've seen bicycle technology used to power a whole lot of things but never as a smoothie maker.  I suppose the extra benefit is that you could make your own recovery drink at the end of a long ride.

More pics and the article here:
“We’re always trying to be playful and think outside the box,” said Elan Margulies, farm manager and educator at Pushing the Envelope Farm on Geneva’s southeast side, as he showed off his latest “green” creation.
This week Pushing the Envelope Farm offered fresh blueberry smoothies, made with organic yogurt, Michigan blueberries, locally produced milk and honey, mixed to order in a blender attached to the back of an old three-speed bicycle. For $4, patrons can watch Margulies measure out the ingredients, mount the blender pitcher into its base, hop onto the stand-mounted bike and pedal until the mixture is smooth and creamy. For a discount, patrons can pedal the bike themselves.
It took Margulies less than a minute of pedaling to whip up my smoothie to a creamy froth.
“It wasn’t hard to adapt the blender to the bike,” he noted. “We took out the motor and connected the spindle to a bolt with a rubber bumper on the end. The bumper is turned by the bike wheel, which turns the spindle, which turns the blades inside the blender.”