BikeCommuters.com

Basic Commuter Skills

Reflective Tape DIY – “Get Visible!”

Holy Reflective Metal, Cyclists! Agent Mir.I.Am reporting for duty here:  Check out this little DIY project I’ve had my eye on for quite some time: Stealth Reflectors from Bike Commuters.com reader, Raiyn…  It’s based on the fact that I am underpaid and unlikely to buy that spiffy Bright Bike kit or not quite crazy enough to “Get Visible” like these luminous peeps in this email forward inter-tube video.  Anyway, if you’ve recently cleaned your frame you might be interested in this easy number.

One lovely afternoon, boyfriend tells me that he gets free shipping through the Jungle Website if he spends a couple more bones so do I want anything from Jungle Land?  YES PLEASE!  Last week the postal service delivered our Jungle package and it was this

3M reflective tape for less than three bones each!? I'll take two.

Praise to the Amazonian Jungle Goddesses for taking my (boyfriend’s) sacrificial three dollars for a 36″ long sliver of Ruban Adhesif Reflechissant! Or, thank you tricksy false Amazon.com for convincing us to spending more money on your website with promises of freedom of shipping…   With this new gift bestowed upon me, weekend crafties were in order.  Finally!

Yes I had one of these, and it is now dead after two weeks of approximately 1-hour night time commutes. Time to change a battery!

Super Tangent: I ADORE BLINKY LIGHTS.  Brian (aka boyfriend) will often enter the LBS with me in search of something simple like a spare tube, a shopping trip he envisions taking only 5 minutes tops.  It always ends with him dragging me away from the blinky lights display; I can sit there -literally- for a half hour playing with Knogs, Planet Bike headlamps, and those ghetto spoke multi-colored LEDs that die after 6 hours of commuting. **GASP! Shiny Things!!! Yes, yes, I do need more than two headlights.**  I also dig reflective and neon colored shiz  and don’t care if this makes me a visibility dork…. My next reflective purchase will definitely be a pair of these hotties at Art n Flea from Vamos Threads.  Needless to say, I freaking love reflective and hi-viz anything!!!  On to the DIY part.

Please excuse the hipsta-matic photo qualities, as I have yet to purchase a digital camera of considerable quality (my current cameras include broken underwater digital camera from WalCrap, outdated Kodak Polaroid, cell phone without internet access)… Thus, we are relegated to the use of boyfriend’s so’called “iPhone” and emailing photos back to myself.  Bear with me, bike commuters.

Some tools required for the DIY “Get Visible” installation:

This photo was apparently taken from a DIY scene in 1776. *Dirty cutting board optional, clean cutting surfaces are also acceptable.

STEP 1: Cut a hole in the box.

STEP 2: Put your junk in the… oh wait. No, step two is measure the length of piece you want to cut against your bike frame.  Here is a picture of me and the bumblebee Scott Speedster doing just this, way back… back in TIME.  Like 1972, considering the amber glow from the hipstamatic iPhone thing.

Really, accuracy is not much of an issue...

STEP 3: Now you cut it using your fangs!!  Like this:

Anything semi-sharp with the exception of a plastic spork should do it!

STEP 4: Apply willy-nilly!  I stuck these reflective tape pieces all over my bike-parts that were white so it has the same bumblebee Scott Speedster label-whore design as the original.  Maybe if I happen upon a large amount of scrap reflective tape, I will just bling the whole damn frame!  Another idea for acquiring reflective tape comes from this Instructable, where they suggest hitting up your local safety equipment store and asking for reflective sign scraps for free!

Hopefully this increases my visibility.  If any of you Oahu riders happen to see my Bumblebee Speedster cruisin’ around Chinatown, take a pictha with a flash so we can check if this reflective tape works… Lacking photography apparatus at the moment.  Anyone else have super easy DIY tips on how to get visible like the crazy headband  chick in that video?!! (Seriously watch this lady, she is cracking me up!)  I’ll start with Vamos Threads reflective leggings…  In the meantime, maybe it’s time to change the battery in my Spoke Light:

TRON TIME!!! Blinky crack party!

Hopefully this post will show you how 15 minutes, some shadow fangs (or scissors) and reflective tape can add a little bling to your frame without breaking the bank.  So easy, why did I wait 2.5 years?  Maybe it’s the fact that I only clean my bike once per season… oops!  Wham BAM!  Mir.I.Am.  Catch you next time my cycle monsters.

Pop Quiz: Which is the Commuter Bike?

Based on some comments in our recent Torker Interurban bike review, I wanted to put something up…a “pop quiz”, of sorts, to address some points made.

This is a multiple-choice quiz. Let’s begin:

Which is the “commuter bike”? Is it

a) the fixed gear machine
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b) the cargo bike
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c) the fully-dressed urban bike
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d) the high-end touring rig
kgs

or e) All of the above?

If you’ve been reading our site for a while, you know that “E” is the correct answer. All of these bikes have their place in bicycle commuting, and in fact all but “D” are actual “commuter bikes” that I ride on a regular basis to and from work or to run errands around town. The point is, there is no “one” solution for bike commuters. We all have different needs and terrain, different ideas about what we like or don’t like, different distances or places to secure our rides once we get to our destinations. A bike that works for me may not work for you (and vice versa), and it is foolhardy to think otherwise.

If you’re newer to this site, I have a couple of tidbits for you, too: This is a good time to link back to a couple of our articles from the past, such as “Can’t We All Just Get Along?” and “What Bike Do I Buy?”

Bike commuters are still but a tiny minority here in the U.S. Divisive attitudes, elitism and snobbery serve to tear us apart, not bring us together. As far as we’re concerned here, if you’re on two wheels you’re ok with us.

Happy Bike to Work Week Chicago

Needless to say, everyday for me is bike to work day and every week is bike to work week.

But here in Chicago, the Active Transportation Alliance puts together a fun line-up of Bike to Work activities – purposely in June when the “iffy” May weather is behind us and we hopefully have sunnier skies and warmer temperatures to brighten up our daily bike commutes.

b2ww

This week is the Bike Commuter Challenge in which businesses “compete with other businesses to get the most employees biking to work during the Bike Commuter Challenge, June 11-17.” Active Trans is behind this challenge and the concept has grown over the years; this year more than 400 teams are signed up as of this posting. For more info about registering your Chicago area company / school / nonprofit for the challenge, go to the registration page.

Winners are determined by the percentage of team members who biked to work during the Bike Commuter Challenge at least once. Participation is scored when someone bikes part or all of the way to work. Even if your officemates bike to the closest train stop, that counts as participation.

You can likely find me this week helping out at one of the many bike pit stops organized for morning commuters throughout the city and suburbs. In fact, my own company hosted its own bike commuter stations this morning to rally employees to bike to work.

Go Team — of all Bike Commuters!

A Hat Tip from The Greenists

Here’s something to share — our site was featured on the excellent “The Greenists” online magazine. I was able to answer some general bike-commuting questions for the author, Jacob Johnston, and his article “Pedal Power to the Rescue”. Jacob is a new commuter, and seems very excited by the prospects of riding two wheels instead of four.

Spin on over to The Greenists to take a look at the article…a nice roundup of tips and observations for the first-time or newish bicycle commuter. You can read the full article by clicking here.

Thanks to Jacob for a very pleasant interviewing experience and for being eager to learn and share tips with his readers at The Greenist. Enjoy yourself out there; get on that bike and ride!