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The Heat is ON for U.S. Bicycle Infrastructure

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.

Guest Article: Ann’s DIY “Porteur” Rack


Our friend Ann Rappaport has been at it again…some of our readers marveled at her homemade kitty-litter bucket panniers, but that’s nothing compared to this incredible feat of DIY engineering! She was gracious enough to document the process in words and photos for us. Here it is:

The rack

Front Rack Supplies and Construction:

-Metal shelf supports/rods that are a squared off U shape:
Four @ 3 foot
One @ 4 foot
-Electrical Conduit Hangers
Two @ ¾?
-U bolts, threaded at each end and have the flat metal piece that runs between along with the two nuts
Two @ the size to fit your bikes front forks
-Clear aquarium tubing (One foot is more than enough)
-Metal Screws — I used 20 total, but the lengths may vary; buy a few extra of each size
10 @ 3/16?x3/4? long
6 @ 3/16?x 1? long
4 @ 3/16?x1 1/4? long
-Lock Nuts
20 @ 10-24
-Lock Washers
20 @ to fit screws
-Screws to fit your bikes predrilled holes on the bottom of the bikes front forks
Two

Tools:
-safety glasses
-Drill
-Metal drill bits
-Screwdrivers
-Hack Saw
-Metal File
-Pliers

Points of Importance:

1. These shelf rods have an “up? end. Always measure from that “up? end. This allows you to make use of many of the predrilled holes. To check this, measure the distance between the holes before starting. Mine were 12? apart from “up? end going down, but different when starting from the other end.

2. There are slots cut into these rods to put the shelf support into. When cutting place your blade at end of the slot but not any closer to solid metal between each of the slots (some of the predrilled holes are in this solid metal area as well). If you cut “too short? you will need to improvise.

2. Don’t use a drill in one of these pre-cut slots; use a hammer and a punch instead. The drill will grab and get caught. Once a large hole is punched you can enlarge it with the drill.

3. Very important to mark first, then cut/drill each rod piece after you have held it up to the portion of the uncompleted rack that is attached to your bike. Mark all drill holes this way, cut off waste end/extra rod length this way.

4. File every cut [of the rod] as you make them.

5. Verify before you get all those screws, lock nuts and washers that 3/16? is the correct size for your brand of shelf rod.

The Shelf Rods:

The 3′ lengths will each be used for one 12.5 ? piece and one 23.5? piece. From the resulting four 12.5? pieces you make the rack frame (the square). From the remaining 23.5″ pieces you make the uprights that support the rack from below at the fork as well as the ones that connect to the handle bars and the back of the rack.

The 4′ length will be used for two 12.5? pieces which bolt on the rack’s center. Also the uprights from the fork attach to them. The remaining length, under 2′, is used for the various braces.

Order of Construction:

Use these instructions as a guide. They worked for my bike. Your bike is different; it may need a different sequence of steps. I put lock washers on every time I used a screw. You have to assemble, then attach the rack while building it in order to mark where the cut or drill hole should be on the next piece [to be worked on]. Then take parts off/apart so you can cut and drill. It was the only way to ensure correct placement of cuts and/or drill holes. Note on the pictures which side of the shelf rod faces out. I made mine so that the finished side was out and all lock nuts are inside the shelf rod itself.

1. Make the flat surface of the rack; mine is 12?x12?

platform

2. Using a predrilled hole, if available, attach each upright to the bottom of the fork in the existing holes.

struts

3. Place the next two 12.5? lengths onto the rack frame while holding it in position so that you can mark where you need to drill the screw holes both in the uprights and the two 12.5″ lengths.

supports

You will need another person to help with this step. The two 12.5″ lengths will each have 3 holes marked (one at each end and one in the approx. center); the two uprights will each have one hole marked. You will continue with this approach to marking, then drilling or cutting.

4. After drilling these 8 holes, screw the two 12.5? pieces to the frame and then screw the frame to the uprights. The four pieces that are parallel to one another on the flat surface of the frame should all be either on the top of the other two perpendicular ones or all under. I put them on top.

parallel

5. Mark where you will cut the extra length of upright off — the mark/cut should be on an angle so it lays flush to the bar it is joined to.

flush cut

6. Make the uprights that hang from the handlebars. I cut and bent the end to allow the two surfaces to meet better.

handlebar uprights

Measure and cut the other end for the conduit hangers. I did not have any shelf rod extend above the handlebar. This is contrary to any of these types of racks I’ve seen.

conduit hangers

7. Measure and cut the cross brace at the top of the lower uprights (just under the rack but over the tire).

8. Do the same for the cross brace on the uprights attached to the handlebars.

9. Use clear mineral oil to help the tubing slide onto the large U bolts. Cut it so that it does not extend onto the threads. Hold a piece of shelf rod near so that you can mark the location of the drill holes and cuts. Put the metal cross piece that came with the U bolts against the fork; I put the label touching the fork/paint.

u bolt

Notes:
The many slots have been great for attaching those small bungee cords. It wouldn’t be hard to engineer a way to attach panniers under the rack. The benefit of this being just a platform is that you can attach whatever is needed and are not limited to one thing such as a basket.

We’d like to thank Ann for sharing this with us, and we can’t wait for the next incredible project to come…this lady’s got SERIOUS DIY skills!

D.I.Y. Xtracycle Flagpole

I used to own a beach cruiser equipped with a tall flagpole so I could fly a “Jolly Roger” flag at bike events (check it out on Velospace). Well, that bike rusted away, but I still had the flagpole, so I thought I’d attach it to the back of my Xtracycle.

This project took all of 10 minutes to complete — all that is needed is a length of PVC pipe, two eyebolts and corresponding nuts, a strip of aluminum or steel to make a bracket, one long machine screw with nut and a few zipties. Luckily, I had all that on hand, so this project cost me the princely sum of $0.00 — the BEST kind of project!

First, the flagpole was constructed — a couple of holes drilled and the eyebolts mounted to hold the flag. Next, the base of the pole was ziptied to the crossbar at the back of the Xtracycle’s frame:

base

Then I used a piece of aluminum strip and bent it to support the flagpole on an angle away from the back of the rig. One hole is drilled into it and a corresponding hole goes through the PVC pipe. Put the long screw through both holes and snug down. Then, this aluminum bracket was bent around the back of the V-racks, using a couple extra zipties to hold it in place:

bracket

Finally, the flag is attached and we’re off — our pal Val Kleitz has the most modded Xtracycle that I know of, but I’ll bet he doesn’t have a wicked flagpole for his rig!!

Arrgh!

Tampa’s First Critical Mass Ride

On July 25th, a historical event took place here in Tampa — the city’s first Critical Mass ride. Our sister city on the other side of Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg, has had a CM ride for at least a year now…but like so many bike-friendly things, the folks on the Tampa side of the Bay lag behind.

Our friends from the Tampa Bicycle Co-op helped get this event up and running. Well over 50 cyclists showed up, from kids to mothers, senior citizens, punks and everyone in between — a nice mix from all cycling disciplines. The ride began at the Lowry Park Zoo and the route took the group from there to Channelside, Ybor City and other city highlights before looping back.

The group begins to gather and tires are pumped…
a little pre-ride maintenance

We had to wait out a bit of rain before getting underway — and that was a good time for the group to mingle and catch up with each other. I ran into some familiar faces and met a bunch of new folks (even some faithful Bikecommuters.com readers!). When the thunder and lightning died down, Co-op cofounder and CM ride “leader” Lily Richeson said a few words, encouraging participants to be friendly and courteous to motorists, to be safe and to have FUN. Then we were off.

Florida Ave.

The chosen route was a good one — multiple travel lanes in both directions. That way, the group could use a full road lane and still leave at least one other lane for cars. This seemed to work out well, and we didn’t have any incidents. In fact, I was surprised at the positive reaction from motorists; we got a lot of “hello” honks, whistling and cheering from passing vehicles. Who knows? Maybe we blew their minds — Tampa motorists are notorious for not really knowing what is going on around them. Perhaps they thought we were some sort of Tour de France parade or something!

route
(photo by Inertialily)

And now for a little commentary: As you can see from the photos, the group took up an entire lane. Is this in violation of Florida’s “two abreast law? Yes. At intersections with stop lights, did “corking” take place to keep the group together? Yes. Did we stop at every stop sign? No. Is the world going to come crashing to a halt because of this? Absolutely not. Naysayers can say what they want, but it has been my experience that in EVERY group ride, club ride and charity event I’ve ever ridden in for the past 25 years (literally HUNDREDS of rides), the very same actions take place. These “bendings” of traffic laws are not unique to Critical Mass rides, despite the many negative press articles about CM events. In some circumstances, bending the rules keeps the group together, thereby safer. Think of it as one really l-o-n-g vehicle than 60 or more individual vehicles.

Does it make me uncomfortable to bend (or break) traffic laws? Sure it does…nevertheless, I strongly feel that this group didn’t go out of their way to interfere with traffic flow like so many other CM rides I’ve heard about do. There was plenty of hand-waving and shouts of “thanks” in spots where traffic was briefly held up to allow the group to pass through major intersections, and I feel that motorists probably appreciated that if they gave it any thought. Bottom line is — I firmly believe this group is on the right track in terms of road behavior. Certainly, as the subsequent monthly rides attract more and more cyclists, there will come a time when things could get out of hand — it takes only one stupid incident to ruin the “vibe” for everyone. Let’s pray that the organizers (whose hearts are firmly in the right place) continue to encourage participants to get out there and do the right thing — otherwise, motorist hostility, police crackdowns and all those other negative aspects come into play.

rain rollin'
(photo by Inertialily)

I’m already looking forward to next month’s ride!

Review: Ryders “Oasis” Sunglasses

A couple months back, the folks at Ryders Eyewear sent me a pair of their “Oasis” sunglasses to try out. I’ve been wearing these sunglasses exclusively for all that time…to the beach, to work, on recreational bike rides, to events and out on the town. So, I think I’ve developed enough of an impression to write something about them.

Oasis

Here’s a little bit about the glasses from the Ryders website (these glasses are part of their “Chill Collection“):

    FRAME: GLOSS BLACK, DURAFLEX
    LENS: GREY, POLYCARBONATE, 100% UV PROTECTION
    TINT: 15% VLT
    FIT: MEDIUM
    FEATURES: ANTI-SLIP NOSE PADS AND TEMPLE TIPS
    PRICE: $39.99

Although these glasses are not sport-specific, they seem well designed for active lifestyles. The lens material is tough, the hinges and finish are durable and the temple and nose pads do their thing without slipping.

There are three major attributes I really liked about these sunglasses. First, the lens is almost completely uninterrupted by the nose bridge…that bridge is just a tiny vertical strip of plastic, giving the wearer a great field of view with no obstructions. Here’s a shot of the lens as viewed from the inside:

nose bridge

Secondly, the shape and curve of the lens gave me great peripheral vision. While the temples and hinge area of these glasses are chunky, they are set back far enough in my field of view that I can barely see the edge only if I really crank my eyes over to the side. With other sunglasses I’ve tried, my peripheral vision tended to be obstructed unless I turned my head. Not so with these glasses — I get the full sweep with no head-turning!

Third, the glasses fit very tightly to my face. I have a very narrow face, and sometimes sport glasses stick out past the sides of my head, giving me a rather “insect-like” appearance. Also, if there’s a big air gap at the top or bottom of the lens, this can cause my eyes to tear up when the wind hit them at speed (I like to ride fast…what can I say?). The Oasis lenses curve both horizontally and vertically, snugging up to the contours of my face. In fact, the tops fit so closely to my eyes that I actually have to tuck my wacky, Leonid Brezhnev-style eyebrows in!

Untucked:
untucked

Tucked:
tucked

For those of you who live in hot, humid environments, have no fear…the hydrophilic nose pads and temple inserts WILL NOT slip, no matter how much you sweat. Sunglass slippage is the bane of many a cyclist — it’s a safety hazard! And, while many reasonably-priced sunglasses have rubber pads that claim to be slip-free, they don’t often deliver; good pads are usually in the realm of really expensive sport-specific eyewear. Not so with Ryders…these rubber pads are the real deal.

So far, I’ve been incredibly pleased by these sunglasses. They filter out a good amount of light and glare on sunny Florida days, they stay in place and they keep my eyes from watering. Sure, they look a little “pimp”, but hey — that’s how I roll!

Check out the full collection at the Ryders Eyewear website…oh, and Ryders, if you’re reading this, I’d sure love to try out some of the other models (hint, hint).