Category: Friday Musings

Holy Rusted Metal-colored leaves, Bikeman – fall is here, and I hope you commuters haven’t missed out on the lovely leaves spiraling from the trees around your neighborhood. After several years in a less-than-autumn climate known as Hawaii, Mir.I.Am muses on a bike bliss, a.k.a. the awesomeness of autumn commuting!

Untitled

Last week, I was swept away by a colorful, picturesque commute along the river. Bike sharrows, blue skies, falling leaves, and a wide greenway was a recipe for Ultimate. Autumn. Bliss. I’ll take a lovely 3-mile jaunt like this at no sweat speed any day… Move over, Portland Streetcar, Cantaloupe is out in full fall force!

Untitled

How do you take a picture like this? Maybe assault random strangers walking on the Greenway and beg them to be your mom-shot photographer? Oh. Yeah…

Cantaloupe decided to chill out on the waterfront as I went in search of foods and hot beverages…

Untitled

I’m pretty sure this is one of those fancy bridges over the river.

First stop: waterfront coffee at the Bean and Tree and some laptop work time.

Untitled

Is it just me, or does lipstick on a cup always remind you of your mom’s coffee?

Second stop: Verde Cocina Buenos Dias Breakfast – featuring giant cubes of sweet ‘n’ savory bacon and local greens at the Portland Farmer’s Market.

Untitled

This is food for two cycle humans, by the way. I did not eat this all on my own.

And SURPRISE: if you take a new route back home, you might pass by some space tubes.

Untitled

Just kidding! They are lockable rain covers for your bikes.

Sometimes it’s worth it to take the long route and enjoy the ride. Forget rushing and cranking and sweating and red light cursing, slow it down for a little autumn bike commuter bliss before it gets too cold.

Here’s one we hope will get the conversation started on this lovely Friday — a tale of a wronged cyclist forced to defend himself with video footage available all along to law enforcement folks:

Getting in a crash is one of the scariest things that can happen to a cyclist. Even worse is when police assume that bicyclists are always at fault, even if they’ve got evidence to the contrary.

Read the full account by visiting the Greater Greater Washington website.

We’ve long talked about inaccurate reporting (by the media AND by law enforcement) in bicycle/motor vehicle collisions, and we’ve also discussed recording your every move with personal camcorders. It’s a shame that we have to resort to being our own detectives after a crash…but it’s been made clear time and time again that the law is not often on our side, even when we’re in the right.

Happily, in the story above, the author successfully defended his actions on the road.

Do you have any similar stories to share? Any thoughts on additional steps we can take to protect/defend ourselves on the streets of our cities? We’d love to hear them in the comments below.

Here are a couple of oddities that popped up in the Google News feed recently. The first is an experimental bike by the Czech manufacturer Duratec:

More information is available here.

The second is a project developed by two British creators. Dubbed the Paravelo, it’s a bike/plane hybrid:

More information on the Paravelo can be found here.

Now, the big questions: Would you ride these things? Are flying bikes the future of two-wheeled commuting?

Following the theft of my beloved commuter bike – Toro – last summer, I had the good fortune to test ride some bikes…. and at long last I’m letting you know my thoughts on this Torker bike that I previewed for you.

T300_white

Torker graciously sent me their T300 step thru model to ride for review. (After a bit of a snafu, I was finally up and running on this great new ride!) Quite a snazzy set-up. Almost reminds me of a Dutch-style bike.

I must admit that I was initially a bit skeptical of the sloping step through configuration. While I have always loved the look and comfortable feel of the bike, I never bought one of my own. Both the heft and the awkwardness of carrying such a steed up and down the rear steps to my apartment have led me to prefer a bike with a diamond frame so I could haul the bike up by the top tube.

Now for the specs:

• Stylish alloy twin top tube frame in 2 styles.
• Sturmey Archer 3 speed internal hub.
• Dependable rear coaster brake.
• Includes fenders, chainguard, & rear rack.

Available sizes: 15”, 17”, 19”,
15” step thru, 17 step thru”.

Torker sent me a 15″ step thru to fit my 5’4″ stature. This bike also comes in a more “unisex” style diamond/mixte style frame.

You’ll notice that this bike comes with a rear coaster brake and front hand brake. Since this is a Friday review, I’m including a Friday musing with this review….. “how did I ever ride a bike with a coaster brake?” After many years of riding free wheel bikes with hand brakes, I missed being able to reposition the pedal after I stop so that I can push off again (known as the power pedal position). And I think I’ve forgotten “how” to get started (without some awkward shove off) after I do stop when I ride with coaster brakes. Oops. Is there a trick I’m missing or have forgotten?
Note: I didn’t let this forgetfulness slow me down with my riding and I did adapt.

But this bike is fun and riding it around Chicago made me feel like a lady.

Riding in style (and value)

My friend rides the T300 around the parking lot; the 15″ frame bike accommodates a wide range of heights and even comes in a larger size.

Its upright riding position is suited for city navigating and being able to see around traffic.

the cockpit

View from the saddle (riding along Chicago’s first 2-way protected bike lane)

This bike already comes standard with fenders, rear rack and chain guard, so you could wear your suit or dress to the office without worry. Its plush saddle means you don’t have to worry about needing padded shorts; plus, the rear of the saddle is reflective, which is a great safety factor after dusk. The pedals also nicely work with any shoe – even dress shoes – as they are not made with sharp metal edges that could scuff or damage nice shoes. As an added bonus, the pedals also have reflectors built in, so they’re noticeable in headlights when out pedaling after dark.

plush saddle with reflective material facing rear and pedals with reflectors

The upright position maybe slowed me down from the speeds I’d grown accustomed to attaining on Toro which was more of a road bike. For my usual sub-5 mile bike commuting route there wasn’t a considerable time difference. I did notice the difference when I pedaled to a further work location and it took longer.

With 3 internal speeds this bike is suitable for most conditions, especially in the flatlands of Chicago. But the gearing gaps are sizeable and I sometimes struggled with finding the best gear. In most cases I stayed in the middle gear (the usually “just right” sweet spot).

Internal gearing and rear coaster brake

Front rim brake

For carrying my work necessities, the rear rack accommodated my panniers – and I tested out multiple brand panniers with this bike’s rear rack – without an issue.

The Detours Ballard Bag easily clips to the rear rack

Out of the box, it was such a convenience to not have to worry about equipping the T300 with the necessary commuting accessories of fenders, rack and chain guard, plus reflective accents on the saddle and pedals.

Ready for urban riding right out of the box – with fenders, chain guard and rear rack

At the pricepoint of $439 for this Torker T300, I recommend it to anyone seeking a comfortable entry level urban bike.

While it was challenging at times to haul this bike up and down to my apartment, I did find a manageable way to carry it. By simply grabbing the bottom of the sloping tube with one hand and the handlebars with the other to steady the bike, I could lift it just high enough to carry it down the steps.

Some evenings I was able to haul it back upstairs in the same manner. Other nights (maybe I was too tired) I had to implement the technique I used to use to haul my old Schwinn mixte frame upstairs — by turning the bike around and hauling it upstairs rear wheel first; in this case I would grab the seat tube and the sloping down tube and be lifting the heavier rear end up first.

Bottom line — I have enjoyed riding this Torker T300 bicycle around town, especially for its comfort and style. And that makes this bike a winner for me.

Hello hello from Buenos Aires again, bicikids. A group of friends and I (including my new pals Will and Robin from Biking Buenos Aires) were sitting around a salad pile at lunch yesterday, and we started musing about how we would regulate on the city to make bike commuting the ultimate BEST. Translation: if you were King in Da Castle in charge, what rules would you apply to your city as a bike-commuting all powerful ruler of the streets? Here are some reasonable (and unreasonable) regulations we came up with:

13 Ideas for 2013, as a Bici-Regulator:

  1. Install a “Bicipista” – like an autopista but instead of cars, only for bikes. It would stretch all across the city from Palermo to Belgrano to San Telmo.
  2. Put all the buses in the middle of the six-lane roads like the Metrobus in Mexico City, with footbridges to the bus stations at the median to keep the buses away from the bike lanes.                                                               
  3. Initiate a mandatory “bicisiesta”… if you ride your bike to work, you get a two-hour lunch, so you can eat and then have a siesta!
  4. Count the hours of your bike commute towards your 8 hour work day. Biking on the clock!
  5. Make a new rule that all apartment buildings should allow bikes in the lobby, so that residents don’t have to bring them up the elevator to store them in their apartments.
  6. All parking garages must provide secure 24 hour bike parking.
  7. Connect all bike trails to all schools: high schools, middle schools, elementary schools, and universities. All bike paths should get the students where they need to go!
  8. “Bicibars” in the downtown areas: provide incentives for the bars to include bike parking and bike repair stations in the bars.
  9. Offer business incentives to make more bike kitchens and bike fixing collectives like La Fabricicleta.
  10. Let’s get harsh: Get rid of all street parking in downtown and replace it with separated bike lanes!
  11. “Bicitaxis”- illegal for taxis to cruise around certain parts of the city, so replace them all with bike taxis… hey if rickshaws work in India, this could work in Argentina, right?
  12. Replace city school buses with Bike buses, where the driver is the teacher, and all the kids pedal.
  13. Provide city wide showers, lockers, and changing rooms for all bike commuters so they can change before and after work.

 

I love lists, and I love Friday Musings. So, Bike Commuters, hit us up in the comments box if you’ve ever had some crazy ideas that you wanted to regulate in your city.