BikeCommuters.com

Articles

Just Ask Jack — Still a Commuter?

One of our readers posted the following questions the other day:

“If you commute to work but bring all your work clothes on the Monday that you drive to work are you still considered a commuter? Lets say that you live oh…36 miles from you job and it takes about two hours to get there (one way) and you park your truck half way — is that still commuting to work?”

The way I see it, you are a bicycle commuter if you do even a portion of your commute via bicycle. I don’t care if you live 10 blocks or 20 miles from your job…as long as you bike, you qualify!!!

Bringing a load of work clothes on Monday (with the car) is a time-honored method many commuters use. It’s not cheating…merely a great way to make sure you look presentable at work. The other four days are on the bike, so don’t even feel guilty if you’re driving that one day…

Multi-modal commuting is quickly becoming a viable way for folks to reduce their impact on the environment, get some exercise and enjoy nature. Quite a few people bicycle to their nearest bus or train station, load themselves and their bikes onto said bus or train and get off at a station close to their jobs. Still others drive their cars partway and ride the remainder. I have a friend and coworker who takes the cross-Bay bus from St. Petersburg to Tampa (Hi David!) and rides his bike to work from the bus depot. He’s getting some fresh air, he’s reducing his impact on the environment and he is saving significant wear and tear (and expense) on his vehicle.

The bottom line is that there is no “one right way” to commute via bicycle. You’ve got to stick with what works for you and discard other methods. Now get out there and ride!

Have a cycling-related question? Just Ask Jack! Click on the link in the right-hand column to send me your questions.

Some changes coming to Nick James’ city

New York City’s bronze medal from the Washington-based bike group represents an endorsement for the city’s efforts under Mayor Michael Bloomberg to promote cycling for a cleaner environment and a healthier populace.

“The way we think about transportation and how we use our limited street space is changing,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, the city’s transportation commissioner.

The city is installing 400 to 500 bike racks a year and plans to have more than 400 miles of bike lanes and paths by 2009. There will then be 1 mile of bike lane for every 10 miles of road; the ratio is now 1 to 15. In San Francisco, it’s 1 to 7.

In Brooklyn’s hipster-heavy Williamsburg section, the city reduced the space for car parking in favor of bike parking — a first — when it widened the sidewalk to fit nine new bike racks over the summer.

“It’s better because people used to chain their bikes to trees and house gates,” said Pedro Pulido, an architect who parked his bike at one of the new racks last week.

Read More Here.

Alternatives to the Safety Flag

A few weeks back, we posted a review of a safety flag…and while the device worked well, a number of our readers commented that it might be too dorky or ineffective for their uses.

The safety flag in question:
D-Tour safety flag

Those comments got us thinking: what could be some good alternatives to this flag? We came up with a couple novel ideas that we wanted to share. Let’s head to the Bikecommuters.com Secret Laboratory, located in the hooker-infested wastelands of central Tampa, to see what we came up with!

The secret lab

Mad scientist and all-around great guy Noah came up with our first alternative. It is still a flag, but we GUARANTEE that this will draw far more attention than some puny, fluorescent flag — here it is:
Noah's pirate flag
This flag creates a tremendous racket when flown — the flag flaps in the breeze, the pole clanks and rattles. It sounds, well, like a pirate ship! We’ve found that this flag is most effective if some verbal invective is used simultaneously…you know, “Avast, ye scallywags, give me some space or I’ll SWAB THE DECK with ya!!!”

Our next alternative was created just after Florida passed their “step in the right direction, but unenforced” 3-foot passing rule. This alternative provides both a visual passing distance indicator as well as a text-based indicator. Here it is:

Friendly side

Had a rough day and don’t feel so charitable? Well, this alternative is reversible…just unscrew the two bolts and flip this badboy over to let motorists know how you REALLY feel:
Not so friendly

There you have it — two alternatives that might make you feel a bit less dorky and keep you VERY visible to motorists. That’s how we roll at the Bikecommuters.com Secret Laboratory…coming up with great solutions to all your commuting problems!!!

Thanks to my homie, Terry, for allowing me to plunder his collection of yardsticks.

Commuter Choices Week in Tampa Bay

Commuter choices week header

All this week, Bay Area Commuter Services is having their annual “Commuter Choices Week“, with festivities and bike rides throughout the Tampa Bay area. On October 1st, I attended their “Party on Poe Plaza”. There were representatives from local bike shops, bicycle/pedestrian planning organizations, the area’s two municipal bus services and many others in attendance.

part of the crowd

Even better, this event was attended by folks from the national, state and local governments. It was a veritable “who’s who” of Senatorial staff, Congresspeople, County Commissioners and planning chiefs — someone from U.S. Senator Mel Martinez’s office came and made a speech, our U.S. Congressional Representative Kathy Castor said a few words, and Hillsborough County Commissioner and all-around great lady Rose Ferlita gave the keynote address to the gathering.

Here’s Rose Ferlita (behind the podium at left) addressing the folks in attendance:
Rose Ferlita

Everyone in attendance seemed to agree that more work is needed in the Tampa Bay area to get people to use alternative forms of transportation. Although there was a lot of talk about “light rail” solutions, plenty was said about building bicycling infrastructure throughout the area. As this is the event’s 11th anniversary, it is apparent that the Tampa Bay area is really looking to change for the better — the event is better-attended every year and with all the politicians and planning professionals mingling with the crowd, good things CAN happen if we’re patient (and vocal!).

Oh, did I mention that Thunderbug, the mascot of NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning (2003 Stanley Cup Champions) also came to the event on his custom-made trike? Here he is:
Thunderbug

Going to this event also gave me the opportunity to talk with the organizer of Tampa Bay’s upcoming Bicycle Bash By the Bay, which the Bikecommuters.com team will be participating in. Stay tuned for more info on that event, which will take place on November 4th at the Vinoy Park in downtown St. Petersburg.