Hey Bike Commuters. Do you ever find yourself cruising on your commute to work in the happily-allocated bike lanes, only to end up dodging weird obstacles and moving individuals peppered on scooters, rollerblades, shopping carts, or rolling dumpsters? I know I have… (Honolulu commuters: think Ala Wai canal bike lane towards downtown, knowhadImean?)
Scoot it, or boot it, scooter!
Well, in the flat bike-loving city of Amsterdam, it seems a similar battle has begun to unfold: Crotch-rocket scooter commuters are fighting for space in the bike lanes with, well, bicycles! How DARE they, you say? Check out this article from the perspective of a London-based bike commuter that was just released today on The Telegraph, called Battle in the Bike Lanes of Amsterdam.
The author takes a look from both sides: one day, she and her partner rent a souped-up scooter and the next day a Dutch cruiser. Only to realize that it’s every commuter for themselves, lanes and lines be Amsterdamned!
The downside is that when you’re on a scooter all you can think about is how many cars you’ve already overtaken and when you’re on a bike all you can think when you see a scooter is “don’t be an idiot, don’t be an idiot, dontbeanidiot!”.
IMHO, there should be enough room for everybody on the streets: cars, bikes, scooters, pedestrians, and public transit. Can’t we all just get along?!
A few years ago, I penned a silly eulogy to a rear derailleur. One of my riding partners reminded me of that the other day when he forwarded the following article, written by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson:
At first, I couldn’t believe it. No, I said when they told me of the death of my bike. Get away, I said; and then they made me look at the appalling wound, and it was only when I had run my fingers round the almost invisible injury that the news sank in. And then I felt like some relative coming to terms with the loss of a loved one.
Think of Alexander grieving for his favourite mount Bucephalus, or Wellington mourning the death of the great Copenhagen. After eight years of uncomplaining service, the venerable steed had charged his last. This was the bike that had taken me every day to distant parts of London, carried me into battle in two elections, heard my agony as I cursed up hills and listened in reassuring silence to my whispered rehearsals for the speech I would have to make when I arrived.
Read the rest of his eulogy by clicking here. I’ve got to say that Boris outdid me…his eulogy is eloquent and heartfelt. It’s worth a read!
I was more than a little alarmed to read the statistics for stolen bikes in San Francisco. In 2012, one bike was stolen every three hours. Over 4,000 bikes were stolen in that year alone. And of the bikes that were recovered (about 850), less than 17% of bikes found their way back home. So many lonely bikes and wheel-less bikers!
Thankfully a new and free bike registry — SAFE Bikes — aims to improve those numbers. According to a recent update from the SF Examiner, a San Francisco police advisory board and safe-streets advocates are launching the free registration program this month to help reunite bikers with stolen bikes. The SAFE Bikes program allows riders to register a bicycle’s serial number, make/model, and color into a secure database that’s connected to the police department. The owner will receive a unique and permanent ID tag to place on the frame. If a registered bike is ever stolen and recovered, SAFE will identify the bike and contact the owner.
A quick survey of some of my fellow San Francisco bike commuters (ok, a group of friends at a dinner party) reveals that not a-one has registered his or her bike. That goes for me, too. This particular group of riders use bikes as a main form of transportation around the city, and we’re not naive—we are well aware of the dangers, even of just leaving your beloved bike locked up in front of a bar while you run inside for a quick pint of Pliny the Younger.
When I asked my cycling cohorts why they had never registered their bikes, the most cited obstacles included “hassle,” “cost,” and the belief that registering a bike “wouldn’t make a difference.”
But I believe SAFE bikes will go a long way to overcome these registration issues. In fact, I’m leading the way––I’ve registered my bike. And it was easy!
Is your bike registered? If so, what program have you registered with? Does it provide you peace of mind?
Also, side note, SAFE has a great graphic showing the best method for locking up your bike. Check it out.
Here’s an interesting article that appeared in our Google News Feed the other day — from Fast Company, folks who know a thing or two about technology and new businesses:
Bicycles, with their gears and pedal power may seem like the Luddites of the transportation family, but the technology available to improve your ride is out there, it’s growing, and it’s helping more Americans consider bikes as a method of transportation than ever before.
If you’re a cyclist, or have friends who prefer two wheels to four, you are aware of how passionate people can be about bicycles, and specifically their enthusiasm for bike evangelism.
Tyler Doornbos, of Bike Friendly Goods in Grand Rapids, Michigan, chatted with me about some of the “barriers to entry” for getting more people on bikes, and how new technologies are addressing some of those issues. I’ve taken his advice and put together this short guide to digitizing your bike commute.
Read the full article by visiting the Fast Company page here. The article serves as a rundown of emerging new tech and devices to make your commute safer and easier. You may have heard of some of the technology already, but there were a few products in the article that were completely new to me, and I try to stay abreast of the trends in the industry. The article is worth a look, in any case.
We’ve given you a couple days to guess what was in the box that came in the mail last week. Here it is, the On One “Fatty” fat bike:
The bike we received is from On One’s/Planet X’s test fleet — the bike has been ridden hard since last July by a variety of testers, so it shows some wear. The specs for the 2014 model are as follows:
Frame: On-One Fatty Frame
Fork: On-One Fatty Fork
Front Derailleur: SRAM X5 Front Mech / 2×10 / Max 38T / High Direct Mount / Dual Pull
Rear Derailleur: Sram X5 Rear Mech / 10 Speed / Black / Medium
Shifters: Sram X5 Trigger Shifter 10 Speed
Chainset: SRAM X5 Chainset
Crank length: 175 mm
Bottom Bracket: Truvativ Howitzer 100mm shell Bottom Bracket, Chainline: 66 mm
Cassette: SRAM PG 1030 Cassette / 10 Speed / 11-36T
Chain: SRAM PC1031 10 Speed 114 Link Chain
Front Brake: Avid DB3 Hydraulic Disk Brake / Front / 900mm / 20 Post To IS / Black
Brake Rotor Front Avid Clean Sweep G2CS, Size: 180 mm,
Rear Brake: Avid DB3 Hydraulic Disk Brake / Rear / 1400mm / 20 Post To IS / Black
Brake Rotor Rear Avid Clean Sweep G2CS, Size: 160 mm
Handlebars: El Guapo Ancho Handlebars, Width: 810mm, Black or White
Bar tape: N/A
Grips: On-One Half Bob Lock-On Grips / Clear
Stem: On-One Hot Box Stem 70,80,90,100 mm
Headset: On-One Smoothie Mixer Tapered Headset 1 1/8 inch – 1.5 inch
Wheels: On-One Fatty Wheelset
Front Tyre: On-One Floater Fat Tyre 4.0 inch, 120 TPI, Folding, Black
Rear Tyre: On-One Floater Fat Tyre 4.0 inch, 120 TPI, Folding, Black
Inner Tube: On-One 26″ Fatty Fatbike TubeWidth: 2.5-2.7″ Heavy Duty
Saddle: On-One Bignose Evo Saddle / CroMo Rail
Seatpost: On-One Twelfty MTB Seatpost – 31.6mm
Mudflap compatible: No
Pannier rack compatible: No
Pedals: Available Separately
Bottle cage bosses: 1 set
Number of Gears: 20
Weight: 34lb – 15.4 kg
The specs are a bit different on the bike we received to test — a SRAM 1×10 drivetrain with a single ring up front and a chainguide replacing the front derailleur being the big standouts. Also, the test bike has Avid Elixir 1 hydraulic brakes rather than the DB3s on the current spec sheet.
As you can see from the photograph above, the snow started melting the day this bike was delivered to my door. So, we’re going to have to wish for some additional snow before we can do a lot of testing.
This bike is a bit of a departure for us…it’s not exactly a typical “commuter bike”, and there may be more useful bikes/bike setups for winter riding than a fat bike. But, we wanted to see for ourselves what all the fat-tired hype is about and share our experiences with you. Perhaps a fat bike like the Fatty here really IS the “must get to work no matter what the weather” platform we’ve been looking for?
Stay tuned for updates and the review itself over the next few weeks. In the meantime, I’m going to be out getting filthy and putting a big ol’ smile on my face. Frozen slush, anyone?