Friday, August 31, 2012
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Since the newer issue of Bicycle Times is now out I thought I'd post my essay from months back. I think BT is one of the most enjoyable bike rags out there and I'm not just saying that because I was in it. It's nice to see practical bikes front and center. Hopefully this is readable when you click on the images.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Monday, August 27, 2012
Since this area is one of my favorite places to ride here is a little shout out to the St. George, Utah, folks who are making some big improvements in cycling infrastructure. Apart from the oppressive summer heat (although morning rides are cool enough) the place already has a lot going for it with bike lanes and scenery but the addition of some wider lanes in Snow Canyon (see above) plus improvements north on the highway out of St. George. Interestingly, the Utah Department of Transportation folks saw these improvements as an investment in their local economy. With a growing number of cyclists in the area, the St. George Ironman, and the Senior World Games, you can see why supporting cyclists is a good investment.
State transportation officials are planning $1.6 million in improvements for bicycle travel on a scenic stretch of state Route 18 disrupted by a recent highway project north of St. George.
The stretch of highway through Snow Canyon State Park was one of the most popular in the region before the Utah Department of Transportation repaved it earlier this year.
New "rumble strips" along narrower shoulders made it safer for drivers but nearly impossible for cyclists to navigate the road.
"I would say 99 percent of people decide not to ride it at all, which from a tourism side is horrible for us," said Ryan Gurr, co-owner of Red Rock Bicycle Company and a board member with the Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance, an advocacy group that organized in the wake of the SR-18 construction to represent cyclists' interests in the area.
The group joined with local officials and convinced UDOT that the safety concerns for cyclists and ensuing loss of tourism revenue warranted a change.
Now the state has agreed to improve the roadway.
Kevin Kitchen, public involvement manager with UDOT, told The Spectrum that the agency plans to add six to eight feet of shoulder width on both sides of the roadway on a four-mile stretch from Diamond Valley to the Ledges development, as well as on another stretch of road already under construction near Snow Canyon Parkway.
The route is a key part of the St. George Ironman, Huntsman Senior World Games, the Tour de St. George and other major events.
The project still must go through design and environmental study stages, which could cause delays, but the general plan is to get the project done as early as possible next year in order to accommodate the cycling season.
"We want to do something out there as quickly as possible," Kitchen said.
The project, which officials hope to start over the winter, could make a huge difference for cyclists, Gurr said.
"We didn't expect this level of commitment from them," he said. "We realize it's not the best economic time, so they can't just pull money out and pay for everything that's an issue, but they listened, and they saw this as a big economic issue."
St. George city and Washington County also have agreed to sweep the shoulders more often, perhaps four times a year instead of annually. St. George Mayor Daniel McArthur said the project fits in well with the city's recent push to make St. George friendlier to cyclists.
"Our emphasis in St. George this year is bike trails and bike paths," McArthur said, alluding to the city's plans to add 5.3 miles of bike lanes and 8.4 miles of bike routes in the next few years.
As plans like that develop, cyclists are hoping to be a part of the discussion, and the bicycle alliance already has organized the region's first cycling summit for late next month.
Kai Reed, an Ivins resident and member of the association, said the bike summit would include speeches and presentations from a number of local officials and experts on cycling, and provide a setting for stakeholders on all sides to understand each other better.
"What we're hoping is to create an event where everyone can come to the table, just a wide diversity of stakeholders," she said. "We're just excited to bring everyone together to talk about cycling in Southern Utah.
Friday, August 24, 2012
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Ok, it's really a bike part, but it has been a while since I continued this thread of reports on past bikes I have owned and loved and the arrival of the TRP Tektro RRL Brake Levers reminded of me of a past bike lust I had. Years ago I walked into Deluxe Bicycles in Lincoln, Nebraska, a great shop that had owners who taught me everything from gluing sewups to appreciating the fine lug work of Albert Eisentraut to the quirky pleasures of various wonderful Bridgestone Bikes.
The particular day I am remembering was when one of the owners pulled out one of these Campagnolo SR brake levers with the "perforated" design. They looked almost unnecessarily, over the top, fancy, but ultra cool at the same time. I don't know if it is true or not because I never weighed them but I was told that even though the little holes seemed obviously created as a weight savings measure on the part of the ever weigh conscious bike racing population, these levers were actually heavier because in order to stand the pressure of drilling the holes the metal had to be that much thicker.
As the owner said though, "they may be heavier but they look so good that these levers will get you laid." No confirmation on that since I never owned a pair, just admired them afar. I would go further and say that if you happen to be sporting a pair of these on your bike and they really do make you so sexy that someone throws themselves at you MARRY THEM IMMEDIATELY because clearly if someone is driven wild by a vintage pair of Campy bike levers it must be a match made in bike geek heaven.
Anyway, when I saw these newish TRP Tektro levers I had a little flashback. I might not have pulled the trigger on buying them but the really smart flared shape was too much to resist. I haven't yet mounted the levers (this is a random photo from the web) but you see the smart design features that feel very ergo. What do they weigh? Who cares when they are this damn sexy!
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Last year I failed by about 100 miles to achieve my total mileage goal for bike commuting and it's still bugging me. Now here I am starting the new school year today with the first contract day of the year for teachers (students show up next week) and trying to decide on what my goal should be. Complicating matters is that I have switched schools this year to the Academy of Arts, Careers, and Technology and the commute is much shorter. So short and without hills in fact, that I think I'm going to be able to do without most of my bike specific clothing. At least until the weather starts getting extremely cold.
The shortest distance getting to school is almost exactly 4 miles and even though I'm an English teacher I can figure out that means an 8 mile round trip unless I take a slightly more scenic route home which I'm wont to do. This is about half the miles as my last commute at my old school so the potential mileage will be drastically reduced. It seems my goal this year should be more about consistency so my plan is to ride 80% of the time which keeps me consistently riding. As usual the challenge will come if we have a harsh winter but I'll deal with that if it happens and not begrudge lots of snow if it comes our way because we certainly need the precipitation.
So, the goals I will be keeping track of will start with riding 140+ days out of the year and hitting at least 1,100 miles. Not bad for commute miles but I'll have to pick up the slack in my recreational, weekend, or after school riding to be where I want to be for total mileage.
I mentioned that I'll be at a new school (AACT) and it is worth noting the cool things going on there. I'll be continuing to teach English but they have a great bike shop and there is more here about their programs including the "build a bike" and bicycle "moonbuggy."
Monday, August 20, 2012
Ridley Scott's first film was this Boy and Bicycle short (this is an excerpt with added audio) featuring his brother, Tony Scott, who committed suicide yesterday. Reports are saying that he had terminal brain cancer. Sad and beautiful little film. Tony was a prolific action film director and will be missed.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
I'm not sure how I missed this trailer but it's a pretty cool illustration of what the cargo bike can do for your riding and your community as more people buy into it. There's even a nice call to action towards the end for budding directors out there to submit footage of people who have been using some form of cargo bike in your community to help create a crowd sourced documentary on this growing trend. The opening minute of the trailer I was wondering, "what is this?"... then it kicks in.
Friday, August 17, 2012
Here is a more detailed followup piece to the economic benefits of building cycling infrastructure and a city's commitment to promoting cycling. Long Beach, California, has continued to see the benefits of supporting cyclists which I previously wrote about here. Now comes this new report detailing more ways that cycling is helping businesses and the synergy that can be created between economics and cyclists. I'm particularly intrigued by the notion of building specifically bike friendly shopping districts. It seems to me that the growing Midtown District in Reno is ripe for enhancing the bike friendliness of the area. It's already a pretty safe neighborhood for cycling but where are the bike racks, signage, and maybe even some window signs for shops proclaiming that they are bike friendly?
Here's the excerpt from the full article :
Over the past five years, Long Beach has invested more than $20 million from state and federal grants in its bicycle infrastructure.
The city has installed more than 130 miles of bike roadways, established protected bike lanes on major commuter thoroughfares, created bike boulevards to provide safer routes, and installed 1,300 new bike racks.
City officials say that investment is starting to pay off in the business community.
As of May, Long Beach has had 20 new bike-related businesses open their doors, said Allan Crawford, Long Beach's bicycle coordinator.
Other businesses have benefited as well, he says, as riders have taken to the streets to rediscover their neighborhoods.
"Biking is local. We are creating an atmosphere for our residents to use a bike as their main mode of transportation," Crawford said. "In doing this, it increases business to all businesses in Long Beach — the more someone is out-and-about, the more they are shopping or dining."
Among the efforts lauded by business owners and bike advocates are the city's new bike-friendly shopping districts -- the first in the country, officials say -- one of the biggest reasons for success.
Bike-friendly shopping districts engage local merchants by showing them how biking can actually bring more customers and vitality to shopping districts, said April Economides, principal of Green Octopus Consulting, which the city hired to provide outreach to local businesses.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Remember all that buzz about how the length of your commute affects your happiness? “A person with a one-hour commute has to earn 40 percent more money to be as satisfied with life as someone who walks to the office,” wrote Jonah Lehrer, God rest his soul, in 2010. (Can probably assume that wasn’t a Bob Dylan quote!) Turns out going to work not only stinks, it leaves psychological scars.
The studies were treated as a revelation, but why? We’re all well aware that our surroundings — maniacal bosses, dreary weather, cable news — mess with our heads. And yet, we haven’t historically made mental well-being a lodestar when it comes to urban design. “We’re at the point where we’re just getting people to think about the mental health implications of the urban environment,” says Lynn Todman.I remember that study on our commute times and feeling a bit smug because not only was my commute pretty short at the time, I was continuing my long-time commitment of cycling to work which must be doubly awesome for my quality of life, right?
That makes sense for me in my own little bubble but isn't the point to get others to feel better about their quality of life, improve their commutes, and ultimately get them out of their cars at least occasionally for a nice bike ride to work? Easier said than done of course. I have typically tried to keep my residence close to where I work which can sometimes be a challenge when you switch teaching jobs in the school district.
Then this article came across my desktop and I found the study pretty fascinating as it determined stress levels created in an urban situation as it relates to bikeability of a community (in this case San Jose). I'm excerpting a pretty big portion but the full article is worth looking at if only for the mapping that was done in the study.
"Nobody wants to ride their bike in the left lane of a six-lane road with 40-mile-an-hour traffic. It's crazy," says Peter Furth. He's a civil and environmental engineering professor at Northeastern University and co-author of a new report out from the Mineta Transportation Institute that looks at how varying levels of "traffic stress" on different city streets can limit where people are willing to ride.
Furth and his colleagues mapped out the different levels of stress on the streets of San Jose, California, and they find that while many streets are calm enough for most riders, they're sliced up by streets with high levels of stress. High-stress streets are measured as those with high speed limits, limited or non-existent bike lanes and signage, and large distances to cross at intersections.
The map below shows how high stress streets create islands of low-stress bikeability that are disconnected from each other.
A map of San Jose, California, showing only those streets that have been deemed to have little to no traffic stress.Though 67 percent San Jose's streets were measured as low or very low stress streets by Furth and his colleagues, 20 percent were measured as high stress streets. These are the main traffic corridors and major roads that help connect the city. But for bicyclists, a low-stress ride across town basically does not exist.
"The difference between bicycling and other modes of transportation is that if you aren't willing to risk your life on a dangerous road, you often simply can't get from here to there," says Furth.
Furth says that much of the problem has to do with typical transportation planning in the U.S., where streets are designed primarily as pathways for cars to move across as quickly as possible. The residential streets that make up most of a city's road system are much more amenable to bike riding than the larger traffic streets, but when residential meets arterial the network of bikeability is breached. That means fewer parts of the city are easily connected and fewer people are likely to consider a bike as a viable transportation option for going across town.
But the stress levels that create these barrier can be reduced. Furth and his colleagues note that with a modest investment, the city of San Jose could dramatically improve the connectivity of its bike network. Suggested improvements include traffic calming measures, intersection safety measures like median refuge islands, bike lanes and separated cycle tracks.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
If you haven't signed the petition supporting the redesign of Plumas Street between Plumb and Moana now is the time to do it. This one-mile stretch of road is unsafe for all users with a disproportionate number of auto accidents, and stats showing that over 75% of autos speed along this part of Plumas. Never mind that the sidewalks aren't consistent or ADA approved and the area is not safe for bicyclists.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Apparently it's fashion week with cycle chic doing a blitz of cycling fashions and this Vogue spread incorporating matching bicycles as fashion accessories. Don't think I'd look good in any of these outfits but I like looking at good fashion even if it's not very practical for riding. I wonder when the last time was that any of these model actually rode a bicycle? Or the designers for that matter?
Monday, August 13, 2012
Saturday, August 11, 2012
|From HAB 2011|
Friday, August 10, 2012
I'm not sure I've come across a better collection of photographs detailing bicycles in our culture than this group in Facebook. They include categories or galleries of photos with celebrities, artwork, racing, and regular folks having fun on bikes. And most of the images are very high quality and often ones I have not seen before. Often it seems like many famous historical bicycle images just get recycled over and over again but there is a freshness to these photos that is welcome.
Thursday, August 09, 2012
While Reno is in the midst of celebrating car culture with the annual Hot August Nights...or Fossil Fuel Festival it makes me wonder what will it take to get people to reduce their addiction to the car. For Greece, the debt crisis is having just that effect as detailed in this article. The prevailing wisdom used to be that the $4 a gallon threshold would prompt change. Now, I'm not so sure if you consider that we are floating awfully close to that price.
While I don't want to wish more debt crisis suffering on anybody, particularly when the people suffering most tend to be from the middle and lower socioeconomic classes, it does make me wonder if pulling the proverbial band aid off quickly wouldn't be better.
Excerpt (full article here):
Greece's dire economic plight has forced thousands of businesses to close, thrown one in five out of work and eroded the living standards of millions. But for bicycle-maker Giorgos Vogiatzis, it's not all bad news.
The crisis has put cash-strapped Greeks on their bikes - once snubbed as a sign of poverty or just plain risky - and Greek manufacturers are shifting into fast gear.
The high cost of road tax, fuel and repairs is forcing Greeks to ditch their cars in huge numbers. According to the government's statistics office, the number of cars on Greek roads declined by more than 40 percent in each of the last two years. Meanwhile, more than 200,000 bikes were sold in 2011, up about a quarter from the previous year.
Shops selling bicycles, and equipment ranging from helmets to knee pads, are spreading fast across the capital, popping up even between souvenir shops on the cobbled pedestrian streets of the touristy Plaka district.
"They're sprouting up like mushrooms," said Vogiatzis, who designs and builds tailor-made bicycles in his workshop on the Aegean island of Rhodes.
A former cyclist on Greece's national team, Vogiatzis opened his business in the mid-80s, combining his love for drawing and mathematics, but only recently watched sales boom from a modest 40 bikes a year to over 350.
"There's no more money for luxuries and that helps," said Vogiatzis, who works away furiously with two other staff to meet demand for all sorts of bikes - some lavishly hand-painted in glitter, others flaunting the Greek flag.
"People who were never interested in cycling are buying bikes," he added. Vogiatzis now exports to seven countries including Germany and the United States, and opened shops across Greece, including in Athens where competition is fierce.
A far cry from the shuttered shopfronts in the capital that have become a painful reminder of the country's worst downturn since World War Two, bike shop owners estimate that at least one store opened every month in 2011.
Wednesday, August 08, 2012
There is a fascinating piece from the NY Times on the ethics of riding a bicycle when virtually our entire infrastructure is designed around the physics of driving vs. something more human centric such as bicycling or walking. I must admit I tend to follow more of the laws than some cyclists. But I also bear in mind that traffic signals such as stop signs are particularly ridiculous for certain situations. All the more reason that an Idaho Stop law should spreading around the country. Allowing cyclists to treat stop signs as "yield" signs makes sense given the physical demands placed on a bicyclist.
Bicycles, Rolling Stops, and the Idaho Stop from Spencer Boomhower on Vimeo.
When I hear people decrying bicyclists who flagrantly disregard traffic laws (there are many examples and some of these complaints are pretty spot on) I do like to point out that it works both ways. If you took a couple of hours and observed a small section of urban space and counted the number of traffic violations I'm pretty sure you'd see far greater percentage of jaywalkers and autos rolling through stops than bicyclists breaking laws.
Many cyclists do need to do a better job of honoring the social contract between all of the other users of the urban space to keep everyone as safe as possible. It strikes me that watching a well-designed intersection really looks like an orchestrated dance between different users.
Here is an excerpt from the article:
THE rule-breaking cyclist that people decry: that’s me. I routinely run red lights, and so do you. I flout the law when I’m on my bike; you do it when you are on foot, at least if you are like most New Yorkers. My behavior vexes pedestrians, drivers and even some of my fellow cyclists. Similar conduct has stuck cyclists with tickets and court-ordered biking education classes.
But although it is illegal, I believe it is ethical. I’m not so sure about your blithely ambling into the intersection against the light while texting and listening to your iPod and sipping a martini. More or less.
I roll through a red light if and only if no pedestrian is in the crosswalk and no car is in the intersection — that is, if it will not endanger myself or anybody else. To put it another way, I treat red lights and stop signs as if they were yield signs. A fundamental concern of ethics is the effect of our actions on others. My actions harm no one. This moral reasoning may not sway the police officer writing me a ticket, but it would pass the test of Kant’s categorical imperative: I think all cyclists could — and should — ride like me.
Tuesday, August 07, 2012
A nice little clip of Graeme Obree talking about his need to attempt the human powered vehicle speed record happening next month in Battle Mountain, Nevada. For more on what the HPV record is about check out this site for Human Power - The Film. It was passed on to me by Tarik Saleh so a quick shout out to him and the team creating a film about the hpv record. For more information about the event itself running September 10-15, 2012, go here.
Monday, August 06, 2012
How is it that on the face of it a town like Sonoma, California, can seem so positively bike friendly with various sharrows, street signs that indicate good bike routes, and mostly flat geography in town, and yet have its signature park in the middle of the town center be off limits to bicycles? In case you've never been there, Sonoma has a great central park surrounded by many shops, restaurants, and wine tasting rooms. Yet these signs appear all over the park. To say nothing of not allowing dogs (or horse skateboarding apparently).
Is it a situation of a small minority ruining for the majority because they wouldn't pick up after their dogs? All I know is given the nature of the urban space and the traffic, it would seem logical to encourage cycling in any way possible into the city center, and keeping the park in that space bicycle friendly would be an extension of that bike friendliness.
Friday, August 03, 2012
Thursday, August 02, 2012
This is a pretty clever way to recharge your phone mostly because it is versatile enough to be used and moved from bike to bike. More here on the Tigra Bikecharge. For a bike tour I'm a bit more enamored of the solar recharger option, but this seems like a good option as well.
The BikeCharge fits to any spoked wheel, slotting onto the axle between the hub and the fork. Once clamped into place, you slot the “clutch” over a spoke and attach it to the body of the unit, letting the movement of the wheel spin the dynamo.
And that’s it. The half-kilo (about a pound) unit provides enough power for any USB gadget and a range of handlebar mounts can be had for various phones, including the iPhone.
The charger goes for $120, which isn’t far off the extra you would have paid to get a proper dynamo hub. Then again, you can quickly swap it between bikes.
Wednesday, August 01, 2012
There is something wonderfully peaceful about this video of a morning preparation and ride. Even though this isn't a commute ride, I've always found morning rides to be the best time with the light and the clearing of the cobwebs.
the cyclist - morning escape from El Zumpango on Vimeo.
the cyclist - morning escape from El Zumpango on Vimeo.