Category: WTF

We’ve all heard plenty about the diamond-crusted bike lanes of Copenhagen and Amsterdam, but there are Bike Commuters in every country: from Krygyzstan, France, JapanPortugal, to Mexico! Ever since last year’s renegade DIY bike lane campaign in Mexico, Mr. Blue Jay on my shoulder has been hinting at a full-scale “Bike Revolution” for our southerly neighbors.  The quotation marks in the title and opening sentence of this post are mos DEF finger quotes, in case you were wondering.

Hipster Globalization – image from Chihuahua en Bicicleta.

Anyhoo-hoo, as I am the self-crowned hyperbolic exaggeration queen among BikeCommuters staff writers, I thought it would be fun to dive into some articles and investigate these predictions – Will Mexican Cyclists rally together carrying AK’s and demanding a ban on cars forever!? Will they fill the capitol city with Guerrilla bike lanes, painting over anyone who stands in their way?! Depende de que…

Sometimes, us Norteamericanas just can't help from grabbing some weapons before jumping on our bikes!

Since the closest I’ve ever been to Mexico City is this Del Taco in San Diego, I will rely on the BBC to relay the ¿Que Paso? (yay for upside-down punctuation!) with their article titled Mexico City’s Bike Revolution.

Sunday Fundays in Mexico City: no cars allowed! The strategy is to get 'em hooked on Sundays, so they'll want to commute M-F!

Families riding bikes, children on roller skates and barely a car in sight; it’s hard to believe this is usually one of the busiest roads in Mexico City.

It’s an eerily calm Sunday morning on the city’s Avenida Reforma, an avenue which is grid-locked on weekdays by tens of thousands of cars sitting bumper-to-bumper.

The Reforma’s closure to car traffic on Sundays in 2007 kickstarted the capital’s attempts to make life easier for cyclists. In 2010 a 17km-long bike lane through the city opened – and more efforts to promote pedal power are being unveiled in the coming few months.

DF officials have proclaimed that kilome-miles of bike lanes are on the books for Mexico, accompanying their successful weekly car-traffic shut downs.  On top of piles of bike lanes, Mexico City’s bike share program called “EcoBici” has been a huge hit in the heart of the city – expect expansions, cycle peoples!  Let’s hope all those rollerblading fun-having Sunday joyriders easily transition into sweaty weekday bike commuters as the government continues to support transportation cycling.   Here’s a video clip from Metro Planning Chicago showing EcoBicis cruising in a separated bike lane along Avenida de la Reforma:

Chicago’s Metropolitan Planning Council had a chance to visit this year to discover the successes of Mexico City’s transit and cycling initiatives; see details of the encounter comparing Mexico City’s transit plans to Chicago’s in this post from The Connector.   The popularity of the EcoBici system is unfounded in Mexico… could this be the “Bike Revolution” bloggers have been predicting?

Mexico City’s system, EcoBici, debuted in 2010 in the trendy Condesa neighborhood. It was quickly expanded down the wide, skyscraper-lined Avenida de la Reforma to connect Condesa with the Zocalo (main square) and the historic center of the city. The system was instantly popular, not only in the morning and evening rush hours, but also at midday, when many office workers now elect to ride to lunch. For a short time, demand exceeded supply and there was a waiting list to become a member. EcoBici now has 90 stations and 1,200 bikes, plenty to meet the current demand from its 24,000 members (who take some 9,000 trips every day). It will soon expand to cover two more neighborhoods, with 275 total stations and nearly 4,000 bikes. When that expansion is completed later this year, EcoBici expects to serve 73,000 users and 27,500 trips every day.

Writers from Streetsblog also toured Mexico City to observe the so-called “Bike Revolution.”  The cycle-loving mayor of the Captiol, Mayor Ebrard, promised over 300 kilometers of bike lanes for the city by the end of his term.  The promise has not been kept, but the Mayor is making a concerted effort to quell the angry fists of cyclists with EcoBici bike share and the legislature:

Ecobicis in demand – image from Streetsblog.org

In 2010, the city passed a package of bike-friendly laws. Most prominently, Mexico City repealed its mandatory helmet law on the grounds that it was discouraging cycling and leaving everyone in greater danger. “It’s safer for them to cycle, whether they have a helmet or not,” argued Montiel.

At the same time, Mexico City reduced speed limits in areas with traffic calming or heavy pedestrian traffic and hiked up the penalty for driving or parking in a bike lane.

Though cycling has made significant strides over the last five years, its position in Mexico City is hardly assured. Last year, a prominent radio host, Angel Verdugo, called on his afternoon listeners to “crush” the “red plague” of cyclists — to literally run them over. Verdugo was fired, but the moment revealed the ferocity of anti-cycling sentiment that seems to persist in some quarters of the city.

The political winds could shift after Mayor Ebrard leaves office this year. “It’s an election year,” he said, “so we have to complete every project in the city, for Ecobici, for the bike lanes.” Some of the candidates for mayor this year, he implied, might not be so bike-friendly.

I guess the traffic-congested “mean streets” of Mexico City, and A-hole radio personalities will just add fuel to the flames as transportation cycling continues to pick up in Mexico.  Full blown Bike Revolution? Maybe… in the meantime, the progress is commendable!  I want Sunday traffic shutdowns in my city!  Pedal forward… Cycle Ladies & Gents.  Adios!

Well, well, well… the weekend is just around the corner, just in time for FRIDAY MUSINGS!  Or… just in time for you to get your Fandango tickets to the Hunger Shames.  Before the spring time blooms assault your sinuses with a full-on allergy attack, I wanted to get all sentimental and mushy-gushy over Bike Commuting like the leftover V-day chocos I found in my desk drawer at work.

Bike Commuting in Spring – Bring on the Sunshine!

We have posted a bajillion reviews on Bike Commuters accessories, gear, and products that range from frivolous to frugal over the past many moons.  The “basic needs” of each cycle monster for an enjoyable commute vary according to the rider and the location.  I’m the first to admit I have an emotional (let’s hope it’s not physical) attachment to my bikes – giving them names, identities, and custom makeovers… So that made me wonder, what about accessories?  If you could only take three items with you on your commute each day, what would you choose!?  (And your bike is a given….!  We could go on and on about what makes the perfect commuter bike, but I that’s a whole ‘nother love affair.)

Here’s my top three Must-Have Bike Commuting Accessories to get us started:

RL loves the Whitey Von, but any backpack will do!

1)  Any kind of backpack – I used to be all about the rack, but have switched back to the backpack in the past few years!  I love backpack.

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So low-tech, but it WORKS!

2)  Watch face taped to my handlebars – So unimpressive and borderline ghetto, this watch is a must for me because it’s easy to read in the morning to determine how much time I have left to get to the office.  I taped it to the mount where I used to keep my wireless Cateye from the days of trying to be “fast” – clockin’ 12 mph baby!

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I love BLINKY LIGHTS more than helmets, pants, or chalupas.

3)  Blinky Lights: One rear and one headlight, these are a must for me, I have several kinds around the house and will grab one red and one white everyday.  A must-have for me as I am a blinky addict.

So cycle ladies and gents, do you have any top three accessories that you can’t commute without?  Share with us, and in the spirit of Effie Trinket, “Happy Bike Commuting! And may the odds be ever in your favor!”

Enjoy your weekend, bike commuters!

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BIKING IN JEANS! Do you do it?! Image Courtesy of Cycle Kyoto.

Helloha saucy  Bike Commuters!  Since it’s only Wednesday, I don’t know if this counts as a “Friday Musing” but we’ll post it anyway.  Let’s just say if you’ve been reading anything authored by Meeee.r.I.Am this past year, then you’ll know that you are headed down WTF road, and there’s no turning back – YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

I often joke with my family that I can never wear skinny/hipster jeans because I have a “calf-top” – that’s to say a pair of skinny jeans in my waist size can never make it up to my muffin top, because my calf top gets in the way!!!  My brother agrees, he too cannot fit a calf through a skinny jeans leg!  This has prompted today’s musing up for debate: Commuting in work clothes vs. packing them in a bag, or more specifically Commuting in Jeans. I don’t know how many of you out there have casual work environments where jeans are appropriate for a work day like Jack, but I do!  As a bike commuter and a more utilitarian fashion-person, there are several things to consider each morning when I dress OR pack my bag for work in the morning.  Let’s consider my inner monologue on any given work day:

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Me posing in my fave straight leg $35 jeans. With three pair sacrifices thus far to Bikelonius, I’ll be ready for some women’s Levi’s commuter jeans soon!

SLUM IT, OR JEAN IT!?

  1. Do I have any meetings first thing today? – Sometimes, if I am about to see a client upon arrival at the office.  In the morning, I’ll get dressed in office clothes first, make up etc., then ride “no-sweat speed” to avoid arriving in spandex or T-shirts with funny sayings on them only meant for commuting.  For me, “dressing” for work can mean jeans or business casual.  (Depende de… Numero 2!)

    LGRAB’s Dottie has got it down!

  2. What’s the weather like outside? – Of course, it’s been hot, showering, pouring, windy, and cold within the past few weeks of Oahu’s “Wimpy” winter.  If it’s wet butt commuter time, it’s jeans/dress clothes in the bag and Vanya chrome or anything quick dry on the bike.
  3. Laziness factor, do I really want to change clothes again?! – This one can go both ways, sometimes clean bike commuting outfit can double as PJs the night before (don’t call me a dirty hippie!) OR I can be too lazy to change at work and will therefore put on my jeans/dress and do the no-sweat speed thing to work.

    BIKELONIUS!!!

  4. Holes in my pockets factor: Sacrifice your jeans to the bike saddle gods? – Everyone has heard of  Bikelonius the greek god of bike commuters, who requires periodic denim sacrifices.  Whether it be chain grease smears, cuff snags, or inconvenient  and embarrassing holes in the lower saddle butt area, forcing the Bikelonians to make repeated pilgrimages to the scary Gap clearance rack/local thrift store/etc.  I have sacrificed three pairs of jeans to Bikelonius over the past 6 years.  Anyway, sometimes I don’t want to ruin my jeans so I’ll change clothes at work to avoid the holy butt scenario.

Got an extra $205 to spare? How about some Rapha Cycling Jeans?

Sometimes, it’s more convenient to show up in jeans and already be dressed.  Sometimes it’s worth the jeans-seam crotch pain if it’s a short ride.  And sometimes I wish I could be a hipster and fit my big-o-calves into some friggin’ skinny jeans so they don’t snag on the chainring!  (You gotta admit, skinny jeans or leggings ARE the best for snagless commutes!)  I dunno about you Cycle Gentlemen out there, but for Cycle Ladies, a commuter jean would need to be women-specific (AHEM! Listen up, Levi’s!) and bike specific before I would consider shelling out mas dinero for commuter pants…(Considering some of these “cycling lifestyle” jeans from SWRVE or osloh would cost me halfway to a new bike.)  Can you grind it out on your commute in a pair of your fave blues and roll up the cuffs?  Or would you rather stick to bike-specific/workout gear?

A recent Washington Post article highlights a couple ways to get exercise at work.  One of them is the ever-more-popular standing desk.  Another is the slightly-less-popular treadmill desk (most likely less popular since it requires, y’know, a treadmill… and those aren’t cheap!).

The FitDesk

The third is the Fitdesk (Amazon link), which allows you to pedal while you work away on a laptop (and folds up when you’re done).  I have yet to figure out how this would interface with a typical cubicle… but it’s an intriguing idea.  However, the Post article says us bikey people aren’t the target market:

Believing he had stumbled on a valuable training tool, [Ferrusi] tried marketing his idea to cyclists. They hated it. But fortunately for Ferrusi, others did not. “The truth is, that market has not warmed up to it as fast as everyone else,” Ferrusi told me. “The cyclist crowd, they’re self-motivated. This is a product for people who are not.”

What do you think?  Would a FitDesk fit in your life?  Would you rather pedal as you hunch over your laptop?  Or does this make biking seem too much like… work?

Via: Washcycle, Amazon.com Facebook page (via my wife, who thought I should get a FitDesk)

(Let's hope this is actually in Japanese)

Kon’nichiwa (こんにちは) Bike Commuters!  All around the world, it seems there are micro-cultures and macro-cultures of bike commuters and their preferred two-wheeled breeds of choice.  Dutch city bikes, single speeds and fixies, fendered beach cruisers, ghetto-rigged MTBs, folding bikes, electric-assist, road bikes and the like…  Going along with my love for all things cute and AZN (that’s my college sorority – Alpha Zeta Nu, we luv yoooo!) I have developed an internet stalker crush after Japanese MAMACHARI bikes!  Oh Mamachari, where have you been all my life and why have I never found you until now in my Google search results?  Apparently, there are all kinds of blogs out there for the originally women-specific bike, tailored to child/dog/grocery-toting around Japan.  Let’s take a looksy:

In Treehugger’s blog post “Introducing: The Mamachari Bicycle” their author admits to owning and riding a mamachari (as if it were a guilty pleasure).  When asked for the textbook definition of a mamachari, the author defined it as:

“…a really simple bicycle that you see all over Japan. Usually mothers use them for quick trips to the grocery store or to bring the kids to kindergarden. Thus the name, a combination of “mama” and “chariot”. Nope, the mamachari is not particularly sexy, but it is easy to ride and always comes with a basket up front. Plus a baby seat. Or sometimes two babyseats: one up front and one in the back.”

Fenders, baskets, chainguards, skirtguards (what IS that!?), three-speeds, child seats, racks galore, bells, dynamo lights, and kickstands.  Sounds like a commuter bike to me, whether you’re towing Costco groceries, kids, or other bikes!  These things are the all-in-one package, with more appendages, accessories, and equipment than the actual bike.  I’m surprised there’s not a dog-walking leash attached or something.

This photo is totally internet ganked… but it is Ultimate Utility Bike COOL!

And this post from Tokyo by Bike has a nifty table summing up the benefits of riding a Mamachoo-choo (I can’t get enough of these mash-up Japinglish words) over a good ol’ mountain bike for commuting and utility cycling:

Mamachari Mountain Bike
Unlocking The frame mounted lock can be unlocked by simply pushing in the key. A wire lock has to be untangled from around the wheel, frame and whatever the bike is locked to, potentially dirtying everything in the process.
Lights They’re attached to the bike, difficult to steal and don’t require batteries. Have to remember to bring them downstairs and attach them to the bike. Also have to remember to remove them when I arrive at the supermarket lest they get stolen, reattach them after I’ve finished shopping and remove them again once arriving home. Thats a lot of work.
Chainguard Keeps everything nice and clean. Have to remember to bring a velcro strap downstairs to keep clothing from rubbing on the chain.
Bell Gets pedestrians out of your way. Saying “Excuse me”, “Coming through”, “On your right”, or “Ding! Ding!” just doesn’t work
Mudguards Dry bum Wet bum
Parking Pull in. Kick down the stand. Push a lever to lock the bike. Go shopping. Look for something to lock the bike to, not always easy. Remove the wirelock from handlebars, lock the rear wheel and frame to a solid object. Careful, you might get dirty.
Child seat I can take someone for company, or to push the supermarket trolley for me No chance.
Basket Holds any amount of groceries I’m likely to buy in one go. Squash groceries into a backpack or hang them from the handlebars which not only interferes with the bikes balance, but is also frowned upon by the law. 5kg of rice? Impossible.

And from the mama bicycle blog (written by a Japanese dad who likes his Mamachari bike and practicing his English) I delved further into the land of cheap, heavy-as-a-bloated-ox utility bikes, and found the Maruishi Cycles Frackers bike!

Mama-Frackers in every color!

Anyway, I’d like to take a jaunt around my hood with a mamachari!  The best part is, you don’t have to be a Mama to ride one either!  Anyone seen these types of bike popping up in the USA at your local bike shops?

Image taken from Hello Sandwich. This is less "mama"-specific.