Category: technology

Here’s a neat article one of my coworkers turned me onto…as bike-share schemes grow in interest and more cities adopt them, that growth leads to a number of problems. For one, popular spots around a given city with a bike-share program will have too many or not enough bikes available at checkout stations, and this can lead to user dissatisfaction. To combat this issue, researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel have come up with a potential solution:

About seven percent of the time, users aren’t able to return a bike because the station at their journey’s destination is full. And sometimes stations experience bike shortages, causing frustration with the system.

To solve the problem, Dr. Tal Raviv and Prof. Michal Tzur of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Industrial Engineering are developing a mathematical model to lead to a software solution. “These stations are managed imperfectly, based on what the station managers see. They use their best guesses to move bikes to different locations around the city using trucks,” explains Dr. Raviv. “There is no system for more scientifically managing the availability of bikes, creating dissatisfaction among users in popular parts of the city.”

To read more about this mathematical model, please click here for the rest of the article.

Well, whaddya know…only three weeks late with this one. What can we say — we’ve had a lot of stuff to report on!

2010 was a good year for the staff here at Bikecommuters.com. We got to test a lot of great products, we were able to attend a number of wonderful events and we met a few new faces in the bike-commuting community. Let’s take a look back at some of the highlights, shall we?

We got to test a pair of e-bikes in 2010, namely the OHM Cycles Urban XU700 and the Urbana Current. As the e-assist market and its attendant technologies mature, we’re going to see a lot more of these kinds of bikes in the commuting realm. A lot of folks are up in the air about bikes that offer electric assistance, but regardless of how you feel about them, they’re getting folks out of cars and onto two wheels, and these bikes are here to stay.

RL got his hands on the Soma Double Cross DC frameset to test…and it’s fair to say that he LOVES this frame. The frameset won one of our coveted Editor’s Choice awards at Interbike 2010. RL has ridden this bike in every conceivable condition, and it asks for more abuse. Good stuff!

soma

Speaking of Interbike 2010, that was my first trip to the big bike throwdown held in the Nevada desert. “Overwhelming” is the word I’d use if I had only one word to describe the experience. In addition to going to Interbike, I experienced a couple of personal “firsts” with the trip: first visit to the West Coast, first time seeing (and touching) the Pacific Ocean, and the first time I got to meet RL and Moe in person. Yep, you heard that right — while we’ve talked on the phone and emailed each other many times a day, I had never actually met them face-to-face. Needless to say, it was ten times better than I even hoped! We had a blast together and I look forward to traveling with them (and the great staff at our sister site Mtnbikeriders.com — Art, Khoa, Priscilla, Joe and all the others) again in the future.

boys

In our recurring commuter profiles, we got to meet Evan, Miriam (Miriam’s going to do some guest articles for us…stay tuned for the hilarity!), Peter, Hilary, Gene, Andrea, and John. Nice to see more women in the mix — you’re woefully underrepresented on too many bike blogs — and happy to learn more tips and tricks from all of our profilees. Thanks again, everyone, for submitting yourselves to the harsh light of Internet celebrity.

We dropped our old Facebook page and started a new “fan page” in 2010…and the thing grew like gangbusters! There’s some exclusive content over there, some interesting discussions and the occasional contest. If you are an FB user and haven’t done so, swing on over to our page and say howdy.

We printed up a run of t-shirts…our first tentative steps towards our goal as a bike-apparel juggernaut…and shirts are still available to order. You too could look like this:

shirt

On a final, personal note, I was chosen as one of Ergon USA’s 2011 Ergon Commuter Team — one of 12 North American riders selected out of an applicant pool in the thousands. Thanks Ergon! I’ll be testing and reviewing a number of their commute-friendly products right here and also on our Facebook page.

Thanks for sharing 2010 with us, and we look forward to meeting more of you in 2011 and having some interesting conversations here. As gas prices keep rising, there are going to be a lot more folks ditching their cars and hopping on bicycles, and we should all welcome them with open arms!

Interested in learning about bikes with those cool belt drives you’ve probably heard a lot about over the past year or two? Well, go no further: our friend Paul Tolme let us know about a new blog by the folks at Gates Carbon Drive Systems — called the Carbon Drive System Blog. The blog is filled with tech tips, links to bike manufacturers using the Gates Belt Drive and many other useful tidbits.

Spot + NuVinci CVP buildup
(photo courtesy of Richard Masoner/Cyclelicio.us)

Another resource for consumers and fans of the belt drive system is Beltbik.es — described as “The Definitive Source”. Beltbik.es is packed with a complete listing of bicycles equipped with the Gates drive, product reviews and a host of other information.

Check them both out…I think we’re going to see a lot more commuter-oriented bicycles with the Gates Carbon Drive in the coming months as it has already proven to be a low-maintenance and robust setup.

When we stopped by the Hutchinson Tires booth, we ran into our friend Steve Boehmke. He gave us a quick video rundown on the new Hutchinson “Serenity” flat-free tires:

I got a quick ride on carpeted show floor, so I really can’t tell you how they “feel” in real-world conditions. But, with a little luck, we’ll get a sample to test in the coming weeks. I know what you’re thinking: “hasn’t this been tried before by dozens of other companies?” Perhaps, but this is a different technology and one I hope is valid. Initial indications are pretty amazing, though.

You may have read about the following elsewhere, but it is worth sharing here, too. Our friend Frederick sent a link to an article on Wired’s site about a novel concept in city bike-sharing setups. This one is from a startup in New York City called Social Bicycles (SoBi) and operates without dedicated kiosks or other infrastructure, and at a fraction of the per-bike cost of other bike-sharing schemes like Velib or B-Cycle. And, it has some really cool features that make the setup eminently user-friendly.

From Wired’s article:

SoBi doesn’t use cycle stations; the bikes are parked throughout the city (starting in New York) at regular racks. Bikes could, in fact, be anywhere at any given time, not just at a designated station that could be blocks away. Users can grab any bike that isn’t already reserved and drop it off anywhere. No need to search for a drop-off station.

Like a Zipcar, each SoBi bike has its own “lockbox? (shown above) that communicates wirelessly with SoBi servers via GPS and a cellular receiver (an H-24 module from Motorola). When you make a reservation online or via smartphone, a map displays all the bikes in the area and gives you the option of unlocking a specific bike by clicking on it.

Read the full article by visiting Wired.

If this scheme is successful, such technology and the relative ease of the setup may encourage other cities to try their hand at bike-sharing.