BikeCommuters.com

Bike Your Drive!

Just Ask Jack — Arriving Sweat-free?

Rick sent me the following question:

“I am going to be carless in a few weeks. I am a good cyclist and riding to work 4 miles one way is easy. I do have to wear a shirt and tie and dress slacks. How do I get to work without a sweat??

Rick, we’ve discussed “Beating the Heat? in other articles, such as this one. While nothing you do can guarantee you arrive to work absolutely sweat-free, you can certainly minimize the effects.

As for the problem of clothing, you could either carry week’s-worth stack of pressed shirts and pants to work on Monday via pannier or get a friend, coworker or spouse to drive a supply over. I don’t recommend wearing your fancy clothes to ride…I used to try riding with a tie on; only the chilliest days let me arrive to work without being sweaty. Wear something comfortable to ride in (performance-based clothing or a t-shirt and shorts) and find a place to change into more professional duds at work.

Fitness is a good thing to have on your side if you want to arrive to work sweat-free. If a four-mile commute is easy for you, your body won’t produce as much waste heat as someone less in shape.

Finally, use time to your advantage. If you can spare some extra minutes, ride slowly to work or arrive early and use the extra time to cool down, change and get presentable before the workday starts.

Good luck out there!

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

Turning Traffic Lights Green

I was talking to one of my friends named Ralph Boaz about the subject of bicyclists turning traffic lights green. You see, Ralph is a Transportation Engineering Consultant with Pillar Inc. So he knows all about what makes traffic flow better and where to put traffic lights and stuff like that.

So here’s what he told me:

In actuated traffic signals (not those just on fixed timing plans), there are various types of detection methods including: Inductive Loops (wires in the ground), Video Detection, microwave, and others. Inductive Loops are the most common. An Inductive Loop is somewhat obvious because a groove has been cut into the road, the wire has been dropped in it and it is then filled with sealant that can be seen from the surface.

While there are preferred loop designs for bicycle detection (see http://www.humantransport.org/bicycledriving/library/signals/detection.htm and http://www.humantransport.org/bicycledriving/library/signals/green.htm), the average loop should be able to detect a bicycle with metal rims (any type). The key is for the cyclist to cross the loop over the most wire. On diamond and oval loops, cross left or right of center. On a square loop, ride down the right or left edge. On a quadrupole loop (often looks like a box with a line down the center), ride down the center line.

Photo courtesy of Human Transport.

Loops can get damaged or may need to be tuned. If you find that you cannot actuate the signal (be careful practicing), call your local traffic department.

Pay attention, people

I received an email from Tom Hewitt regarding a Bike Commuter being “right hooked? by a car. This article reminded me of my incident with a motorist last week. Bike Commuters are still a very small minority, we are still regarded as a pain in the ass, but when are drivers are going to understand that what we do also benefits them as well? Anyhow, here’s a little excerpt of the article on StarTribune:

“When are drivers going to learn?? a still-sore Guernsey wants to know. “People are in such a damn hurry. When are drivers going to start paying attention? I could have been paralyzed; I could have been killed. … Why do those who choose to drive treat bike riders as a nuisance rather than equal users of the road?

“Pay attention, people.?

Click Here to Read the entire article.

California STRS Bill

AB 57 Update: Contact the Governor with Letters of Support

Sixty organizations have signed on to support AB 57, California’s 2007 Safe Routes to School bill which would provide $24.25 million each year (in addition to the federal funding) for SRTS construction project. On September 12, 2007, AB57 (Soto) passed off the Senate and Assembly Floors and headed to the Governor’s desk. Unfortunately, in Senate Appropriations on August 30, the committee struck the language from the bill requiring that the Governor include $24.25 million for a state Safe Routes to School program (SR2S) in each year’s budget. Senate leaders contend that they like SRTS but that it’s better fiscal policy to not have ongoing appropriations. Despite this set-back, the bill is still extremely important as it will: 1) enable $52 million in existing state SR2S funding to be spent after January 1, 2008 (the date that the current SR2S bill expires), 2) allow for federal SR2S funds to be swapped for state funds (easing administration burdens on local agencies), and 3) create a framework for state SRTS funding to be included in the state budget. We urge Safe Routes to School supporters to contact Governor Schwarzenegger’s office as soon as possible with your support for AB57. Click here to see a sample support letter. Call (916-445-2841) and Fax (916-445-4633).

Banjo Brothers Commuter Backpack Review

Product Tested: Banjo Brothers Commuter Back Pack

As described on the site.

COMMUTER BACKPACK (waterproof) – Messenger bags are great, but with two straps to distribute the load, a backpack is often a more comfortable option for longer rides or heavier loads. Unfortunately your options have either been student backpacks that leak like a sieve, sit up too high, or cost a fortune. We designed our backpack with a full welded waterproof liner that is removable and replaceable if it is punctured.

* Medium – 1500 Cubic inches / 17″Tall x 12″ Wide x 8″ deep
* Waterproof 2-layer design: outer ballistic nylon layer wears like iron; replaceable waterproof liner keeps contents dry in a downpour (will not keep water out if submerged, in case underwater-riding is your hobby).
* Wide padded straps distribute load more evenly than messenger bags
* Sits lower on the back than standard backpacks to reduce blind spots while riding
* Chest strap and removable waist strap for stability
* Large reflective stripes and tab for safety light
* Quick-access side pocket fits mini-U lock
* In-Stock
* MSRP: $79.99

The Banjo Brothers Commuter Back Pack is a pretty strong and reliable bag. I’ve been using this baby for a many months and it hasn’t failed me yet.

The bag has a few highlights that I really like such as the side pocket in which is big enough to carry a u-lock. Though they said it was more designed for a small u-lock, my normal sized piece fit just fine. I also like the zippered storage and of course the little blinkie hanger on the lower section of the bag.

The back pack is a bit more comfy than a traditional student bag. The padded shoulders and padded back helped ease the strain of carrying a bag full clothes and gear to work.

Ok now here’s my MOST favorite part of the bag….the reflective “racing stripes? on the back. I mean talk about killing two birds with one stone! Not only did they make this back pack more safe, but its even cool looking with the reflective stripes. Don’t worry, those stripes do work at night. They’re kinda like the reflective arm/ankle bands you can get at the bike shop.

I talked about how comfy this thing is right, well when you have way too much things to bring with you, the back pack doesn’t disappoint. Just check out the things I had to carry on a recent liquor run. All that was pretty darn heavy, almost felt like I was carrying a ruck sack for an army of drinkers…Banjo says that the back has something like 1500 cubic inches of storage….1500 sounds allot! It’s actually way more than I really had to use. Even after our little trip to the liquor store, the bag still felt fine. I didn’t feel it cutting into my massive body builder like shoulders, not did it tear or rip at the seams. In fact, the bag is so well made that not even a thread came undone in the months that I’ve had this. Now that’s quality if you ask me. I’ve had other bags…one even a hand made customized hydration pack that started fraying on me after a few months of use. But the Banjo factory seems to know what they are doing.

The bag has a white water proof liner that protects all your goods from getting wet. I like how it’s white, makes it easier to find things that are in the bottom of the bag. You can actually remove the lining from the bag. But I never did, I like the fact that it was there constantly protecting my skivvies and work clothes due to wetness from my sweaty back.

One of the claims that Banjo Brothers says this bag is capable of or has the ability to be is…?WATER PROOF?. Since it hardly rains in sunny Southern California, and it is September right now, I enlisted the help of my kids to see how “WATER PROOF? this bag really is. So if you check out the video you’ll see that the bag pass our test. Now I’d imagine if you’re someplace that rains allot, this might be a significant factor in your choice of buying a bag. Now I’m not so sure if our water test will impress you folks up in Seattle or Portland, but as you will see, it did really well.

Bottom line, I really dig this bag. For the folks that don’t like to ride with a messenger bag or panniers, I’d tell them to get a Banjo Brothers Commuter Back Pack. It’s a great deal, waaaay cheaper than any other messenger bag out there, more comfortable…and I know what I’m about to say next will get some smack, but it LOOKS WAAAAAY COOLER THAN A PANNIER COULD BE. So if you’ve got a strong back and Ginormous shoulders like I do, and you think you can huck around your stuff in a back pack, then get this bag. Like I said, its cool, not just cool, its UBER cool!