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Bike Your Drive!

D-Tour Safety Flag Update

Last month, we posted a first impression of the D-Tour Bicycle Safety Flag. For those of you who missed the article, the flag itself is made of highly reflective nylon — fluorescent yellow-green for the body and silver for the stripes and trim. This fabric flag and “sock? fit over a springy metal arm. The flag “arm? appears to be made of stainless steel, and the attachment bracket is machined aluminum with plastic frame clamps. The flag comes with two pairs of two different sizes of Cateye plastic frame clamps and very clear and concise instructions for mounting the assembly. Once assembled and deployed, the flag device sticks out about 24″ to the side of the bike. It then folds straight back when not in use.

It’s really a clever and simple device. Better yet, it seems to work! We’ve ridden with these flags on the streets of California and Florida, and can honestly say that it seems motorists WILL give you a bit of extra room when you have this flag deployed. Another phenomenon I noticed while riding around the mean streets of Tampa is that motorists seemed to be less likely to turn left in front of me when the flag is extended. Apparently, the bright yellow flag captures more motorists’ attentions than a cyclist rolling full-tilt towards them! It was certainly a nice phenomenon to experience…I don’t know if it was the “placebo effect? or something, but I did notice it.

I must admit — intially, this is not something I would have bought for my bike. To be honest, I prefer less hardware and gadgets on my “fast commuter? bike…a couple of lights and a rear reflector are the only safety equipment it has on it. But, now that I have experienced the benefits of this flag, I am forced to reconsider. The flag retails at $20.00 + shipping — is that worth a couple extra feet of passing room from motorists? I think so!

Overall, this seems to be a great product — solidly constructed, reasonably priced, and surprisingly effective at its job. For more information or to purchase a D-Tour Safety Flag for yourself, please email developer Glenn Hanson at dtourltd(at)aol(dot)com.

A New Excuse to Ride My Bike

Today I discovered a new and altogether great excuse to put some more miles on my bike. My son started his first day of school today! He’s in the Florida voluntary pre-Kindergarten program…they got a late start this year, but today’s events are his first steps down a long road — education ROCKS!

I figured I’d bring him in style today — riding my singlespeed “Patriot”, adorned with Sweetskinz “Nightwing” tires. Grey rides in a Nashbar trailer — he’s getting a little too big for it, but until he’s got the skills to navigate his new trail-a-bike, this is what he’s stuck with.

The school chariot

The ride to school is only a hair over a mile and a half…silly to fire up the car for such a short drive, and there is a nice, quiet residential street to take him there and back. I do have a short stretch on the sidewalk, which sucks, but otherwise I’d have to dodge the crazies in their cars on one of the worst traffic streets in Tampa (Nebraska Avenue, home of the transvestite hookers).

Alright, let’s make sure all the gear is there: got your helmet? Check. Got your lunchbag? Check. Got some clean underpants? Check! Let’s DO THIS!!

Let's do this thing!

Of course, everyone else brought their kids via giant, gas-sucking SUV. Dammit! I talked to a couple parents, and many of them live even closer than I do!! That’s a bummer.

Finally, here is a picture of some of the other kids in his class…and his teacher, Ms. Perez. Let’s pray that our boy is well-behaved — he can be a wild one!

School time!  Education ROCKS!

You wanna fight?

People can be brave while they’re in their cars because they feel safe inside. But out of all the drivers that I’ve stood up to…none of them have gotten out to try and fight me.

Don’t get me wrong there are tons of wackos out there that are more than capable of ripping your head off…but I’m going to take a wild guess that most of the people that cut you off, give you the finger, yell at you and etc…would not get out of their car to pursue a fight. Just think about it…if you were in your car and some bike rider did something to cut you off, would you get out and confront him or her?

Just Ask Jack — Still a Commuter?

One of our readers posted the following questions the other day:

“If you commute to work but bring all your work clothes on the Monday that you drive to work are you still considered a commuter? Lets say that you live oh…36 miles from you job and it takes about two hours to get there (one way) and you park your truck half way — is that still commuting to work?”

The way I see it, you are a bicycle commuter if you do even a portion of your commute via bicycle. I don’t care if you live 10 blocks or 20 miles from your job…as long as you bike, you qualify!!!

Bringing a load of work clothes on Monday (with the car) is a time-honored method many commuters use. It’s not cheating…merely a great way to make sure you look presentable at work. The other four days are on the bike, so don’t even feel guilty if you’re driving that one day…

Multi-modal commuting is quickly becoming a viable way for folks to reduce their impact on the environment, get some exercise and enjoy nature. Quite a few people bicycle to their nearest bus or train station, load themselves and their bikes onto said bus or train and get off at a station close to their jobs. Still others drive their cars partway and ride the remainder. I have a friend and coworker who takes the cross-Bay bus from St. Petersburg to Tampa (Hi David!) and rides his bike to work from the bus depot. He’s getting some fresh air, he’s reducing his impact on the environment and he is saving significant wear and tear (and expense) on his vehicle.

The bottom line is that there is no “one right way” to commute via bicycle. You’ve got to stick with what works for you and discard other methods. Now get out there and ride!

Have a cycling-related question? Just Ask Jack! Click on the link in the right-hand column to send me your questions.