Category: advocacy

Green Tuesday has come a bit early here at Bikecommuters.com…I was going to wait to publish this, but I just can’t stand the suspense!

Now that my child is back in school, I’ve got a little bit of daylight “free time” on my hands. Sometimes I go for a long bike ride, and sometimes I like to just cruise around the neighborhoods at an easy pace.

During my commutes and other bike rides, I’ve become painfully aware of the overwhelming litter issue on and around the streets of Tampa. What particularly catches my eye are all the recycleable items — bottles of plastic and glass, cans of both steel and aluminum.

Well, I got an idea about a month ago — why not combine these neighborhood “joyrides” with some community improvement? Xtracycle to the rescue!

By pulling the bag straps all the way out to their full length, I was able to strap two standard City of Tampa blue recycling bins to the Xtra:

Recycletron 1000

I call this assembly “Recycletron 1000” — it makes the bike really wide, so I can’t “thread the needle” as much as I’m used to. No matter…the streets I hit were quiet and low-traffic, and I was careful to give myself extra clearance to either side.

I wonder if Xtracycle had thought of such a use, because I discovered as I strapped the bins on, the molded corner slots on the bin mated perfectly with the front and rear FreeLoader straps. Once everything was cinched up, this assembly was rock-solid!

corner slots

I spent about an hour of stop-n-go riding around the southern part of our neighborhood district…all told, less than 3 miles or so. In that time, I nearly filled both bins, and I’m sure I didn’t spot every recycleable item! There’s a practical limit, bulk-wise…if the bins are “too” full, items tend to jump out over bumps. I determined that the practical load limit is about 3/4 full. Weight was not an issue whatsoever…the full load in both bins weighed about 40 lbs.

The motherload:
motherload

Look, it’s like this: if you want to improve your community, you’ve got to be willing to get out there and get your hands dirty. I derived IMMENSE satisfaction of making a small difference in my community, and I am looking forward to the next run. The city is so littered that I could cover some serious miles every day and not get all the recycleables, but dang it, I’m gonna try!!!

I’d like to say a special “thank you” to Mayor Pam Iorio’s office and the City of Tampa Solid Waste/Recycling department for helping me get extra bins. I promise I’ll put them to good use!

Next up in our commuter profiles is Rick Martin:

Rick Martin

How long have you been a bike commuter?

Since 1987

Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?

I got a DUI and I haven’t driven since. My daily round trip commute is 70 miles to work. Takes about 2 hours. And hill, hills, hills!

part of the route

How does Bike Commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)?

I’m in the best shape ever, I save around $300 in gas alone and I just couldn’t see it any other way.

What do you do for a living and in what city do you bike commute?

I’m a sous chef at a golf club and I commute in Portland, Oregon…until I leave the city limits!

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

I have a old Trek touring bike for around town, a IRA RYAN CYCLES 29’r MTB and I commute with a titanium Airborne road bike, and now I’m riding a brand new IRA RYAN road bike! He was featured in Bicycling last month with other Portland frame builders!

Ira Ryan

Any funny or interesting commuting story that you may want to share?

I had a guy w/ three children chase me about 3 miles because he didn’t believe I should have been on the road. He tried to door me, run me over, etc. while his kids kept telling their dad where I was hiding, plus the words he was saying to me and threatening to beat me! Crazy road rage for sure!

What do people (coworkers, friends) say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?

Close friends think it’s awesome, others………….uuhh……..are you insane? I get it all……

How about bicycling advocacy? Are you active in any local or regional advocacy groups!

http://bikeportland.org/

The destination:
destination

Anything else that you want to share with us?

The thing is…I’m training for the Race Across America and this commute keeps me in check! I’ll be doing the race in 2009 and if anyone here wants to ride with me on my commute this is where I ride…….north Portland I take Interstate Rd. to the Sellwood bike path to River Rd. then to Oregon City to 213 to Molalla! Very hilly and relentless. I can always make it more if you want……..50 miles? 80? Keep the rubber side down!! http://sponsorhouse.loopd.com/members/rickM/Default.aspx

We’d like to thank Rick for sharing his photos and profile, and we wish him luck in next year’s RAAM.

It seems like every day there is another news article stating that with the escalating gas prices and the surge in bicycles on the road, friction between motorists and bicyclists has skyrocketed. Surely, you’ve read such articles in places like the New York Times, Reuters newswire, The Wall Street Journal and a variety of other sources.

From www.taiwanderful.net
(photo from Taiwanderful)

Many of you have probably read (and responded) to such articles and discussion topics on a variety of bicycle-friendly blogs. Perhaps the most reasoned response I’ve seen comes from Paul Dorn of the excellent Bike Commute Tips blog. Check out his coverage of this issue and his thoughtful responses to this “media frenzy” by reading his article.

Another impassioned response to this media-driven “phenomenon” can be found on the Austin Cycling News blog. Writer Adriel (a frequent commenter on our site) breaks the argument down and provides some stirring rebuttals to the various “claims” of these news articles.

Put me in the “skeptic” camp…while I believe that more bicyclists are on the road and that many of them could stand to build up their skill levels a bit (something we’ve discussed before), I refuse to believe that there is a sudden rise in bike vs. car tensions. Conflict sells in the media, and with all those new bicyclists on the streets, there are a lot of “unseasoned bike commuters” out there who may perceive yelling and shouting from motorists as a terrible new development. Most of the more-experienced bicyclists out there know that this is par for the course, for the most part.

I certainly have not experienced any increase in the number or frequency of bike vs. car conflicts around here…nor have I seen a dramatic uptick in the number of bicycles on the road. But, as always, I’d like to hear your thoughts on these matters: is this all a bunch of hype to help sell newspapers? Have any of you experienced a rise in tensions on the road? Is there really a rise in these kinds of conflicts, or have a couple of highly-publicized confrontations (such as the New York and Seattle Critical Mass run-ins) put a biased spin on the public’s perception?

A friend just forwarded me a link to a resolution adopted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, held in late June in Miami, Florida.

ENSURING BICYCLING IS INTEGRATED INTO NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION, CLIMATE, ENERGY AND HEALTH POLICY INITIATIVES

Exciting news…perhaps politicians will really start to get on board with this and realize that bicycling is one of many great solutions not only to ease traffic congestion on U.S. roads, but also as a solution to America’s obesity epidemic, general quality of life decline and other facets that we commuters all know and love about riding a bike.

Read the full text of this inspiring resolution by going to the U.S. Mayors Conference website.

What do you think about this? Are we really going to start seeing accelerated improvements on our streets? As always, we welcome your comments and thoughts.