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Author Archive: Vince Rodarte

BIKE TRAIN…. What is it and what is it good for???

A few months ago I was reading an issue of  Bicycle Paper, a Pacific NW regional cycling publication covering all aspects of cycling in Washington & Oregon. I found an article about a gentleman by the name of Kiel Johnson. Kiel is a local advocate of cycling. When I say advocate, I MEAN ADVOCATE! He is involved!

This particular article was centered around a movement aimed at our cycling future. KIDS! (and their supportive parents)

Imagine… instead of big, yellow, diesel smoke spewing school buses there were ‘trains’ of bicycle riders following a set route to school. Picking up riders along the way, growing in numbers along the way to school! This is what Kiel has started here in Portland.

I conducted an ’email interview’ with Kiel, shown below:

BC: Kiel, tell our readers about Bike Trains, What are they and what is this about?

KJ: Bike trains are about creating communities of people who bike to school. They are a group of parents and students that bike together to school on a prearranged route. The bike trains in Portland run one morning every week.

There are lots of other positive things that have resulted from helping organize this community. The streets around schools are safer for all users. There is a study that found that 20% of all morning commute traffic comes from parents driving to drop their kid off at school. We should be doing things around schools that make them safe places to be. Kids are our most valuable investment and when we design a school so that everyone uses a car you are creating a dangerous situation. Last year two students in Portland were sadly struck in a hit and run crash while crossing the street to their school. (http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2010/01/two_students_hurt_in_hit-and-r.html)

We need to understand these tragedies and make sure that we are contributing to a system that prevents them from happening to anyone else. Bike trains are part of finding a solution to this problem. They create a visible, fun, and comfortable alternative. They also draw in a lot of people who are more cautious about biking to school and wouldn’t do it on their own. It is about making biking to school an event, something that people can talk about and feel a part of.

BC:  How many trains exist in Portland today?

KJ: There are seven schools in Portland that have a bike train. A few of them have stopped running during the winter but there is still a lot of participation. I had one parent tell me that last year, before there was a bike train, she would be the only one locking up in the winter. Now there are about ten bikes parked everyday in all weather conditions.

Many schools have several trains that come in from different directions. For instance Beach, which started last year now has four routes.

There is also a bike train that started in Vermont.

BC: How many kids are participating?

KJ: So far there have been 1184 student and parent riders on a bike train this year. That is just counting the official bike train day at each school.

BC: How many adult volunteers does it take to make a successful Bike Train?

KJ: All it takes is one very enthusiastic parent willing to go for it.

BC: How is this type of program funded?

KJ: We just got a $5,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation. The goal with the grant is to disperse it to the different schools. Let each bike train leader spend it in ways that will improve their school.

BC: How would others go about securing funding for a Bike Train in their communities?

KJ: I wouldn’t worry about funding. I’d just go out and start it.

BC: Do you think business sponsorship might work for a program like this?

KJ: There is a lot of potential for local businesses to sponsor a bike train. There was a bike train in Portland a couple years ago that was sponsored by REI. On a couple occasions the bike train stopped by the REI and staff handed out energy bars and let the riders climb on the climbing rock. REI wins because they look like they are participating in the community and are helping establish future customers. The bike train wins because it makes the riders feel like they are a part of something.

BC: What are your expectations for 2011, in regards to the Bike Train program here in Portland?

KJ: I think April is going to see an explosion of families biking together to school. Everyone feels like we are at a tipping point. Biking to school is becoming “the thing to do”. It is exciting to be a part of this movement.

Kiel has put in tons of work to make biking to school a viable form of transportation for many kids here in Portland. I have done it for my own kids since moving here, now it’s time to move onto a much bigger stage. I have been talking with the PTA president at my kids’ school and Kiel. We are planning on starting our own Bike Train here in NE Portland. I will keep you posted!

If any reader(s) would like to contact Kiel to pursue a Bike Train in their area, the best ways to contact him are shown below:

Email: biketrainpdx@gmail.com

Check out the progress of the Portland area bike trains at http://www.biketrainpdx.org/

Product Review/Sneak Peek: Planet Bike Super Flash….TURBO!

(STAFF WRITER’S NOTE: Due to technical difficulties, this post was delayed…A WHILE)

I arrived home from work the other day to find a small brown box addressed to ‘lil ol’ me!

Oh! What could it ever be!?!?

Planet Bike

Mark from Planet Bike sent out a new product to try out that will be released this  Spring!

<INSERT DRUM ROLL HERE>
Introducing the NEW 2011 SuperFlash TURBO!

Planet Bike Super Flash Turbo

Here is an into from the ‘wordsmiths’ at Planet Bike:

In 2006, our introduction of the Superflash tail light ushered in a new era of innovation in bicycle lighting.  Building on our tradition, we are now proud to introduce the evolution of bicycle safety: the Superflash Turbo.  We paired our time-tested design with a powerful 1 watt LED, then added the new attention-grabbing Turbo flash pattern. It’ll give you peace of mind riding day or night.

Superflash Turbo tail light (#3070)

  • 1 Watt Power LED plus 2 red LEDs for visibility up to 1 mile
  • New attention-grabbing Turbo flash pattern
  • Soft-touch power switch accesses flashing or steady mode for up to 100 hours of run time on two AA batteries
  • Ultra compact vertical design is weatherproof, lightweight and durable
  • Includes bike mounts and clip mount for multiple mounting options

MSRP     $34.99

In my initial inspection of the light I couldn’t find any major differences. The Turbo is the exact size of the tried and true original Super Flash. The housing is identical, with the exception of the red “TURBO” printed on the clear face and the big RED Super Flash lense

Since I had just ridden home from work, my first chance to test this light out would be on my next trip to and from work.

The next day, I suited up and clipped the Super Flash Turbo onto my bike. It was a bit overcast, so ambient light was at minimal levels. I felt as if I was being followed by a group of glow-stick swinging club kids! The TURBO light pattern is definitely more eye catching…

(side by side comparison of the Turbo & Standard Super Flash light pattern)

I am excited to say I was one of the most visible people out on the wet streets of Portlandia!

Many more miles of commuting ahead of me… I’ll give you an update at a later date…gotta ride!

5th Annual Portland Transportation Safety Summit Feb. 8th

Portland’s Mayor, Sam Adams, released information in regards to the 2011 Transportation Safety Summit. The summit will cover updates from key players in the Portland transportation arena (Portland City Government, TriMet, Portland Police Bureau, PBOT & ODOT).

I will be attending and will give you a full rundown…

Read below for a post from our friend, Jonathan Maus @ BikePortland.Org :

Mayor releases details on Transportation Safety Summit

Mayor Sam Adams has released details of the fifth annual Transportation Safety Summit which is scheduled for February 8th from 6:00 to 9:00 pm at Marshall High School (3905 SE 91st Ave).

Here is the updated list of keynote speakers:

Mayor Sam Adams
Susan Keil, Director, Portland Bureau of Transportation
Tom Miller, Incoming Director, Portland Bureau of Transportation
Todd Wyatt, Captain of Traffic Division, Portland Police
Jason Tell, Region 1 Manager, Oregon Department of Transportation
Neil McFarlane, TriMet General Manager

In addition to updates and insights from keynote speakers, there will be two discussion panel sessions on these topics: East Portland Active Transportation Plan, Innovations in Pedestrian/Bicycle Safety, Safe Routes to School; High Crash Corridor Program. Following the panel sessions, there will be a wrap-up speech by Mayor Adams where he’ll outline a series of next steps.

Here’s a blurb from the Mayor’s announcement about what you can expect at the event:

The Fifth Transportation Safety Summit is an opportunity to learn more about Portland’s transportation safety trends, increase your awareness of recently completed and planned projects, identify innovative tools and techniques that can assist your work, collaborate with transportation safety professionals, and share your feedback.

Mark your calendars and plan to be there. This is a great opportunity to learn more about traffic safety in Portland and to let show the Mayor and policymakers what an important issue this is.

If you are in the Portland metro area and would like to attend this event, register here.

So you wanna ride in Oregon with your children??? Well…you may want to think twice…

I’ve been following this topic to see what our “powers that be” here in Oregon will decide on a  new measure going before committee soon. As far as I can tell, without some amendments, this bill will not pass as is.
Oregon State Rep. Jules Bailey has been working with the draftsman of state measure HB 2228, Rep. Mitch Greenlick to amend the proposal.
Below is an article from Bicycle Retailer & Industry News reporter, Lynette Carpiet.
BIKE TRAILER BILL NOT LIKELY TO PASS
SALEM, OR (BRAIN)—An Oregon bill seeking to make it unlawful for a person to carry a child under 6 years old on a bike or in a bike trailer most likely will not advance out of committee as it is currently drafted, say people close to the matter.

Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland), a health researcher and former professor at the Oregon Health and Science University’s school of medicine, introduced the measure (HB 2228), saying he wasn’t “convinced that we are doing all we can to protect the health and safety of young children who join their parents bicycling on the streets and roads of Oregon.?

In a statement that followed, Greenlick cited a study completed at OHSU that showed that about 30 percent of riders who bike to work on a regular basis suffer a traumatic injury every year. In the same letter, he said the bill was not “anti-cycling,? but that he hoped to start a “rational discussion? about bike safety and children.

But the bill caused quite a stir throughout the Oregon bike community last week. A post on the popular BikePortland.org website about the bill drew more than 100 comments, and subsequent updates kept readers glued to the site.

“The nature of what this rep was proposing was over the top so you sort of expect a similar reaction from the community,? said BikePortland.org editor Jonathan Maus. “It was so preposterous, that it upset people on a personal level.?

The Oregonian, the state’s newspaper of record, reported that Rep. Greenlick received 100 emails the morning the bill became public, many from angry constituents. News stories on its site about the bill generated more than 300 comments, the paper reported.

Burley Designs, a 30-year-old company in Eugene, Oregon that sells and manufactures child trailers for bikes, ensures all of its trailers meet ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) safety standards on frame strength, durability and safety harnesses, said product and marketing manager Garrett Barnum, adding that no accident data specific to bike trailers or children on bike carriers exists.

“Since he proposed it, we’ve talked to a lot of media and state reps and legislators. They all responded and said the bill will not pass,? without amendments, Barnum said, adding that Burley was never approached by Rep. Greenlick on the matter of trailer safety. “But if that’s a result of this discussion, a study around child safety and trailers and bikes, that’s great. We are excited about the discussion around safety because that’s the strength of our products over lower-cost trailers sold at big-box stores.?

—Lynette Carpiet
lcarpiet@bicycleretailer.com

To read more about this heavily debated topic, check out BikePortland.Org
(Thanks go out to Jonathan Maus of BikePortland for keeping his finger on the pulse of this topic!)

Design a helmet! Clever Cycles & Nutcase ask YOU to ‘Bring It!’

Clever Cycles and nutcase are offering a chance to design your own helmet, See Below:

In coordination with Portland-based Nutcase Helmets, Clever Cycles invites you to take part in our “Design a Nutcase? helmet design contest.

The winning design will receive a $500 Clever Cycles gift certificate! We’ll also give a $5 gift certificate to everyone who drops off a design at our shop. Limit one certificate per customer.

We like Nutcase helmets because their thick shells and fewer vents make them more durable and protective than sport-oriented helmets, perfectly suited to the lower intensity of everyday urban riding in our cool climate. Instead of the usual faux-aerodynamic alien insectoid styling, Nutcases feature whimsical, ironic, sometimes loud, other times just plain pretty designs. Go nuts; any design can win. Mixed media, limitless themes — no subject is off-limits (as long as it’s family friendly). Just let it happen. Totcycle has the spirit!

  1. Download your entry form and create your design using the blank helmet on page two of the form.
  2. Print and drop off at Clever Cycles at SE 9th and Hawthorne before January 22nd, 2011.                 You can also email your designs to info@clevercycles.com
  3. Come to our Winter Cycle party at Clever Cycles from 3-6pm on January 22 and see if your design wins you a $500 Clever Cycles gift certificate. Remember, every design submission will get a free gift card.

Download your entry form now!