Category: Friday Musings

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Hey there Bike Lovelies. It’s fall/autumn/friggin’-awesome season for commuting again! Has everyone sufficiently converted an office-mate to stick with bike commuting since the ye ole days of Bike To Work Week back in May? I hope none of you have decided that Spring and Summer are over, and fenders and rain slicks are just not your jam… But even if you are a fair-weather commuter, high five, my friends. High Frickin Five. I’m personally a big fan of the autumn season, as there are some days when you can ride up a big hill and still miraculously arrive at your destination sweat free and rain gear free. Gone are the hot hot days of summer. Bring on the apple cider themed drinks and galoshes.

Yellow Boots #cambridge #street #bikeride #bikes #ground #wet #rain #feet #boots #lowangle #2012 #downpour

photo: courtesy of David Bunting on flickr

So, enough of the rambling. And on to the musing. It’s been awhile since we’ve come up with a Friday Musings posts, but I decided to bring it back, because, well – there’s just no other explanation for why the hell this topic would be on the blog!

It all started with a recent realization that I may be a paranoid bike commuter. What the eff does that mean, you ask? I mean the kind of commuter that thinks that every living, breathing, opposable-thumb having soul is OUT TO GET YOUR RIDE. A group of visiting clients from Honolulu asked me, “So, is Seattle the type of place where people get their bikes stolen? Or no, because so many people ride bikes that no one would steal one?” I responded that I assume everyone ever wants to steal my bike from everywhere. But, honestly, I had no idea! (You can have a better idea, if you want to click on this link for bikewise.org, where people report thefts and crashes and they populate to a google map).

Then, I looked around at all the bikes parked at my office indoors, with keycard access only, at the bike lounge/loading dock area and realized that my bike had a very high lock-to-bike-value ratio compared to some of the other pickins’ in the corral. Take a looksies below…

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One cable lock, with helmet, panniers, and lights all up for the taking!

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Cannondale road bike tied up with a garden hose, lights, bike computer, saddle bag AND helmet – open season!

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Completely UNLOCKED Marin Hybrid. The equivalent of free-ballin. Just letting it all hang out there.

This was a huge leap of faith in my fellow office companions today, as I decided to leave my planet bike blinkie and front lights on the mount, instead of grabbing them and stowing away in a Golom/my precious, LOTR, creepy fashion. Trust in humanity was confirmed, when I returned 11 hours later, and my lights were still there. I’ve got to say, however, that I was still skeptical and kept a backup set of lights in my bag in case someone decided to get frisky.

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Cantaloupe, a clunker bike that’s no good for hills, U-lock on the back tire and frame, cable through the helmet straps and front wheel, and debating if someone might want my blinkie lights.

So, since I forkin’ love lists, I thought I’d write one for you.

5 Signs you may be a PARANOID Bike Commuter:

  1. No Accessories Left Behind
  2. U-Lock + Cable, Even Indoors
  3. You Lock Up for a Coffee Run/Mail Box Drop, Etc.
  4. You Think About Stealing Unlocked Bikes, Always
  5. You Get PTSD When You Think About That One Time  A Homeless Dude Stole Your Seat Post/Wheel/Etc.

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Lucky for me, there’s only been one time an unlocked (non quick release) wheel was stolen from my bike while at the movies. And I don’t act on my evil intentions of stealing unlocked bikes. And my crazy paranoid precautions have kept my bikes within my possession, regardless of how unnecessary they may seem. Any other Bike Commuters readers out there partake in other paranoid lock-up behavior? Or do you have more faith in humanity and the greater bike population? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Did anyone out there in readerland participate in the World Naked Bike Ride?

If you did…or you participate in other group rides and bike events of the more clothed variety, you may actually be helping to make biking safer for EVERYONE:

Just when you thought everything had been said and (blush) done in connection with this year’s World Naked Bike, along comes an compelling theory about the annual event’s societal benefits: It makes traffic safer.

In fact, according to a story on the Treehugger blog, the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s safety experts are big fans of the group rides (not just the naked ones) that are rolling through the city daily as part of June’s Pedalpalooza bike-culture festival.

Read the full article by visiting the Oregon Live page.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on bike events like this — do you feel it helps make us all safer? If so, why? Please leave your comments below.

The other day, I stumbled across a great essay on the somewhat controversial “Idaho Stop”, where cyclists are allowed to treat stop signs as yield signs if the coast is clear. The concept tends not to be too popular with “vehicular cycling” proponents, who believe that bicycles must follow all of the rules and regs that are applied to motor vehicles. The rub is that in a number of areas, the “Idaho Stop” is a law on the books, geared specifically to cyclists’s unique road needs.

If you’ve looked around a city lately, you might’ve noticed that many cyclists don’t obey many traffic laws. They roll through stop signs, instead of coming to a complete stop, and brazenly ride through red lights if there aren’t any cars coming.

Cyclists reading this might be nodding guiltily in recognition of their own behavior. Drivers might be angrily remembering the last biker they saw flout the law, wondering when traffic police will finally crack down and assign some tickets.

But the cyclists are probably in the right here. While it’s obviously reckless for them to blow through an intersection when they don’t have the right of way, research and common sense say that slowly rolling through a stop sign on a bike shouldn’t be illegal in the first place.

Take a look at this thoughtful and comprehensive essay by visiting the Vox page here.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the Idaho Stop, and other cycling-specific laws or practices. Leave them in the comments below.

Dear Backup Bike,

Not everyone is lucky enough to have stables full of two-wheeled steeds, fleets with a ride for every need, and extra backup bikes to lend out to friends. But for those of us who do (exclude me, but include my friends) an official round of applause for the Backup Bike on lend from a friend.

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Columbia City Bike Works – origins of the Backup Bike on loan from the Bike Doctor… Dr. Roberts… this is how you build a fleet of bikes for every need.

Oh, Backup Bike, you save my asparagus when I’m caught in a pickle. You remember when I borrowed a rear-mounted grocery rack and installed it on my main ride, Cantaloupe? Cantaloupe, she’s great and all, my main steed for sure… But sometimes Ye Olde Reliable has a bit of a breakdown and ends up in the hospital: the hardware failure left me and Cantaloupe in a giant rack/fender/brake mess that merited a trip to the Bike Doctor… Cantaloupe was down for the count. Damn those bumpy hills that can take out a pair of lock nuts like nobody’s business!

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More shout-outs to friends… it was my Seattle-local-commuter-hero, Christian Kittelson who lent me the rear-mounted grocery rack for utilitarian hauling purposes.

But then there was you: Backup Bike.  Oh, Marin comfort cruiser, light as a feather, fenderless and free… I even like that little swatch of duct tape on the smooshy saddle that says “Hey bike thief, choose a different quick release today…” With your triple crank and upright ride, it was a nice change of pace from Cantaloupe’s ten speed stand-up hill climb. You’re the universal perfect bike for a last-minute fix: a one-size-fits most that’s good enough to get the job done, and simple enough for most rides. From your cushy saddle, we had some good times enjoying nice blue skies and picturesque hilltop views of the water.

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Oh Montlake, there you are: from the saddle of the Marin comfort cruiser – Backup Bike, you saved the day!

Thanks for saving the day, Backup Bike. It’s always fun to mix it up and ride a new set of wheels. And to the friends out there with bikes on loan, you make commuting a breeze. And, on behalf of all potentially stranded bike commuters out there, a big thank you to the commuter collectors who are always willing to lend an extra set of wheels to a friend in need.

Pedal on, sweet commuters… pedal on!

Yours forever,

Mir.I.Am

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Cantaloupe with the Bike Doctor, Dr. Roberts.

Portland bike commuter. #bikecommuter #gobybike

image courtesy of Mike Bitton on flickr

Oh Bike Commuters… they say” April showers bring May flowers.” I say “several months of rainy Portland winters bring out the crazies the first sight of sun!”  If you’re not careful, you could end up sun-drunk the the first weekend the of Spring. This year, the trees were blooming, the unemployed were tanning shoulders in the park, and acro-yogis were showing off their moves down by the waterfront.

Acro-yogis.

So Portland.

Can everyone agree that Portland in the Spring is just too much fun? Let’s hope your sunshiney spring commutes are just as lovely as this one was a few weeks ago.

Friday Musings Portland Pano

So,  my local barista friend and I (yes, I am friends with my favorite barista from my favorite coffee shop … SO PORTLAND!?) decide to joy ride from NW to SW in search of kale-oriented food stands, parsnips, and cherry blossoms. Oh, and maybe stop along the way for some bike selfies and shoulder-sunning. The city may have been putting on the best Spring show ever.

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Cycle ladies in Portland, legs powered by Sterling coffee.

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Check out Couch Park by my apartment. Trees are blowing up!

On this particular day, I even decided to bike completely out of my way just to get a little hill-action in. And by hills, I mean climbing a bridge so I could scope out the cherry blossom trees down by the waterfront.

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Name that bridge, Portland Bike Commuters… :)

Holy lacey-flowered wonderland. Was it worth scoping out the trees from above on that little hill climb. From the bridge, I could see piles of white fluffy trees and swarms of nutty Portlanders roller blading, walking, biking, and unicycling. We rolled down to the water to capture some of the shenanigans. Portlanders were definitely out of their minds over the cherry blossom explosions! Every pale-legged individual was donning a pair of shorts or a tank top and laying out like it was a day at the beach. Check this out:

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Okay, so I may have accosted this tree to make flower showers.

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And there are those pale-legged acro-yogis… you didn’t believe me, did you?

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Oh, and then we accosted this family portrait session.

Last stop on this lovely day? How about those PARSNIPS! PSU Farmer’s market for piles of veggies is a must-do for  a sunny Saturday. I think I need to get me a Box ‘n’ Rack setup for more pumpkin soup. Parsnip Paleo spicy hummus will have to do until then. I’m not sure that anyone gets more excited about farmer’s markets and veggies and bikes than I do. It may be the ultimate combination: utility cycling, vegetables, and sunshine. My favorite Saturday agenda.

Balloon Animals ON A BIKE

image courtesy of Sharat Ganapati on flickr

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PSU farmer’s market always delivers. Giant parsnips for the win!

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And Verde Cocina – my favorite kale-oriented food stand complete with Buenos Dias breakfast and cubes of slabby bacon.

Enjoy the spring time bliss, Bike Commuters. For you year-round die hards, peel off those layers and rain slicks and get some sun in your daily ride. And for you fair-weather commuters, pump up those tires, grease your chain, and get ready to roll. Spring is here, and I hope your city is as fun to ride as mine!