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Tag Archive: bicycles

Friday Musings: What Got You Pedaling?

Utterly Shameless Bike Love Month: May 2012

New Recruits: May is just around the corner, and so the creeper approaches: National Bike to Work Month!  And, like every fun-loving, zero-emissions, two-wheeled, “coffee + eggs = bike fuel”, transportation cyclist, I always wonder if this year’s Bike to Work Month will bring new commuter faces beyond the month of May.  Yes Velodactyls, this is what keeps me up at night (either that or the heaping tablespoons of Nutella I shoved in my face post-dinner).

How can we get more people to commute by bike? May 2012 will be a barrage of Bike to Work Week challenges, workshops, rallies, and bikey SWAG, as local bike organizations shotgun their way through possible Spring recruits.  Our own star staff writer Elizabeth posed the question in 2010: We all know bike commuting is the best thing since the Jammy Shuffle, so why aren’t more people doing it?  I gotta admit, I’m on bike commuting like a woman on smack, so I surely don’t know the answer!

Calf-Envy, this is RL when he commutes sans SPDs.

Minority Report: As the minority, commuter cyclists face the same puzzled looks from co-workers, semi-sweet concerned lectures from loved ones, and blatant stares of calf envy (hello Mr. Officer, I’m up HERE) as we think to ourselves – if only you’d know the glories of the dark side, you’d be out of excuses and on a bike too!  Nevertheless, we’ve had some progress.  Last year, this Atlantic Cities article reported increased bike ridership across the U.S.  (If you like colorful graphs, you should definitely click the link to this article).

Overall, a universal increase U.S. Bike Commuters over the past decade! I'll take it!

Converting to bicycle commuting is all the rage in U.S. cities, if the proliferation of blogs devoted to the topic is any indication. But we wanted to know: Just how big have increases in the percentage of bike commuters been in specific cities? Are there regional differences? Cities where bike commuting isn’t catching on at all? We surveyed 55 major U.S. cities to see if we could find the answer.  While there are stark differences across individual cities, taken as a group these metros saw an average increase in their percentage of regular bicycle commuters of 70 percent between 2000 and 2009.

The chart-laden article concluded that Portland had the highest percentage of trips taken by bike at 5.8% with a 222% increase from 2000 to 2009 (Don’t make me graph battle you, Portland.)  I can say for my office, the percentage of riders has increased since I started three years ago from 1 out of 16 to 6 out of 16!  HUZZAH!

Majority Report! Best Monday of my life: 7 bikes for 10 employees at the office... fist pump.

So, we all agree we need more bike commuters on the road to alleviate traffic congestion, stress, obesity, arthritis, pollution, drugs, guns, high fructose corn syrup, and other bad stuff (we can solve world peace with transportation cycling, right!!?)

My question today is what got you pedaling?  We weren’t all born on fetus-sized bikes so it had to start somewhere!  A lot of bike commuters have shared our first bicycle memories, but what converted you to utility cycling?  Was it a Bike to Work Month challenge, an enthusiastic bike-loving friend, a hand-me-down bike, a car in the shop, or an inspirational blog on bike commuting (hint, hint!)?  Safety in numbers means that bike commuters need more bike commuters!  So, muse along with us and share your thoughts!

~Happy Friday Bike Commuters.

Best parking spot at the beach - that's what's got me pedaling!

Bike Rack Faves – LOCKitUP!


"Look, this rack was nice enough to grow a roof for me!"

Yello mighty Bike Commuters!  Mir.I.Am here working double duty as a green “snarchitect” and cycle lady today.  As the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system is becoming more and more prosthetic… err, prolific in the states and abroad, snarchitects and designers are incentivized to provide more bike racks and showers for cycle monsters in their buildings.  Here in Honolulu, all new construction projects that are publicly funded are required to meet a minimum requirement of LEED Silver rating.  An easy way to contribute towards achieving a LEED rating for a building is to provide secure bike rack parking close to the building entrance and showers for a percentage of the occupants!  Not all LEED rated buildings are required to provide this amenity, but it is usually included… (secret fist pump under my desk each time I get to nerd out and specify bike racks at work!)

Crowded "Bike" bike racks in Waikiki

Of course, as bike commuters, we know that the statement “If you build it, they will come (by bike and then take a shower)” is not necessarily true!  New racks and showers for buildings may not transform cities into Mini-Apples overnight, but it’s a chest-bump in the right direction.  As we all know, not all bike racks are created equal, and not all cyclists are equally enthusiastic about showering after a commute…   Sometimes I spice it up at work and arrive looking like I drank a bottle of Sriracha on the way over and don’t change into my office attire until my 4:00pm meeting, but that’s just me!  SRIRACHA FACE!!!!  Witch hazel in your swamp crotch isn’t for everyone.

Architects and builders listen up, straight from the mouth of the cycle monsters, here are some of our fave bike racks that help us commuters LOCKitUP!

Most Bikely Bike Rack: Dero Bike Bike Rack – nothing screams bike rack like a bike-shaped rack!  These are the ones installed by the city and county of Honolulu around the island.  They can hold up to four bikes unless some idiot has locked their moped to it illegally.  It works well in situations where you have lots of long skinny space, like sidewalks.  I like them because the height of the “wheels” makes it easy to tie up your steed through the rear wheel and triangle of the frame.  I have seen some bikes fallen over next to these racks that have been only loosely cabled.  My only gripe is sometimes the are positioned a little too close to the street side and you have to squeeze in between parked cars ad the rack to try to get to your bike.    http://www.dero.com/products/bike_bike_rack/bike_bike_rack.html

Easy to spot from faraway, functional for multiple locking points, AND fun for Japanese tourist photo ops!

Green is the new Black Rack: Dero Recycle Rack made from 96% Recycled steel rebar!  As you can see, the racks come in two shapes: bush or tree.  Always a plus for bush-hugging architects like myself.  (I’m over hugging trees, that’s so 2010).  Steel rebar rack holds up to two bikes. The loops onthe tree seems small to me in the photo as I’ve never used one personally.  However the steel rebar has a much smaller diameter than most racks so maybe they would work well for cycle monsters using mini U-locks for their frames.  This is a smaller rack than most and requires only one connection point to the concrete, which could be advantageous for designers with tight space planning requirements.    http://www.dero.com/products/recycle_racks/

From the Dero website… where’s the lock!?

Stealthy Designer Bike Rack: Forms+Surfaces  Olympia Bike Rack is a nice choice for a bike rack that can double as a bollard!  For designers that want something more discrete and architectural (read: no wavy racks or fence racks), Forms+Surfaces also carries a variety of options.  Maybe this one is a little too discrete, but seasoned bike commuters know how to lock it up in any situation (in a tree, top of a chainlink fence, handrails or my favorite is a fat crippled horse). I personally prefer anything with a vertical post so I can loop a cable through the front wheel, helmet, and use the vertical post to secure the frame and the back wheel in my U-lock.  http://www.forms-surfaces.com/olympia-bike-rack.  Looks like the slot in the center leaves room for pedals and keeps your ride on all two wheels.  Ooooh, rack envy:

Who taught this doofus how to lock a bike!?

What Makes a Nice Rack: And because it is 1:30 am Pacific Grandma Time and I only have one brain (currently maxed out on MSG/noodle/rice overload), here is a cut and paste to an article for those of you interested in reading about how to choose a nice bike rack for your next building.  Check it out if you have the energy to click here.  If you have a lot of energy and some friends over, you can read it aloud since reading is not really a spectator sport.

Ok Bike Commuters, paste some links into the comments box if you have any opinions on your hometown racks, your fave place to LOCKitUP around your neck o the hoods, or maybe what you don’t like in a rack!  Us architects and designers would be much obliged….

Panties in a Twist… Just Not Comfortable Biking!

Have you ever been in a situation that was so ENTIRELY awkward, uncomfortable, and near puke-inducing that the only way to get out of there fast enough would be to go back in time and put yourself in a sleeper-hold!?  I have.  As my train of thought is more like a train wreck on an acid trip than a linear thought process, I ask that the lovely and becoming Bike Commuters readers bear with me… I promise journey will end with bikes abounding!

This photo is a carrot to keep you reading on...

Ultimate Fail: The other day I decided to try to be a supportive co-worker by joining my colleague (let’s call him “Bloop” for the sake of anonymity) after work in his sport of choice: ULTIMATE. FRISBEE.  Bloop is a new co-worker at the office who bikes to work (he has single-handedly dismantled our 100% female bike commuters record) and is as enthusiastic about playing some Disc as I am about riding some Bike.  Bloop teaches a beginner workshop on how to play Ultimate at the Ala Moana Beach park only 5 minutes away from the office by bike.  Let’s all recap that I am anti-sports involving balls, equipment, and coordination of handling said balls or equipment.  I generally abstain from flying discs and balls but decided to make an exception.

I roll up to this beyotch (Macedonian pronunciation of “beach”) and see 30-40 people in cut-off tanks running, chasing, discing, throwing, and yelling simultaneously.  No noodley-floppy, dorktastic, non-disculated newbies eating shit and listfully prancing in the sunset like I had envisioned.  I frantically scan for Bloop who is sitting on the sidelines waiting to “sub in”.  Well shoot me in the faccia (Italian for “face”)!  I had shown up on Hardcore Pick-Up Ultimate Frisbee Day instead of Newbie What’s a Frisbee? Day.  Before me, the spartan kings of all unconventional, hippie, drunken-athlete sports were tearing it up on the beyotch.  Bloop insisted that this was “really no big deal, and nobody cares if you suck! It’s all just for fun!”  RIIIIIGHT.  I attempted to throw and catch some disc with Bloop for a solid minute (backhand, forehand, WTF??!!!) and then almost vomited on myself right before I grabbed the Xootie, hurriedly shouted goodbye and rode home.  Panties in full twist, I had to stand on the pedals the whole way back…  In a panic, I then plunged head first into the jacuzzi for an Ultimate cleansing, figuring the high temps would kill off the awkward germs.

Faccia is Italian for Face.

Back to Bikes: There are some individuals I know who will again remain nameless (for the sake of this article, let’s call them “Lumps”) who must feel the same way about cycling!  One of my aunties is a self-proclaimed Lump: she attended UC Davis in the 70s and wanted to fit in with all the bikey college students.  Auntie Lump was so uncomfortable with the act of cycling that she bought a bike just to walk around campus with it everyday!  Other Lumps tell me all the time, “No way in HELL I’d get on a bike… I haven’t been on one of those contraptions since my abacus broke!”  Some people have no desire to try, claiming phobia of two-wheeled objects, that pedaling gives them carpul tunnel, or taintal allergies keep them from perching their sensitive bums on bicycle saddles for longer than 5 seconds.

To me, and many bike commuters, riding a bike may have been a bit uncomfortable at first… the first time I used hand brakes instead of coaster brakes, road drops instead of flat bars, or clippie shoes have all put my bike shorts in a temporary twist at one point in time.  But eventually we come around.  I honestly have ZERO desire to ever come around to Ultimate Frisbee, or doing something weird with a “disc” that they call a Land Shark.  Are there Lumps out there with equivalent sentiments towards bike commuting?  You guys must know a few…  In the Lands of Nether, biking is an everyday means of transportation.  If that’s the case then maybe Tron is the the land where Disc is an everyday means of beating the living crap out of your enemies.

Anyway, thanks for sticking with it, Bike Commuters.  For those of you who made it to the end of this crack party ride, I leave you with some images from my Bike P0Rn presentation last summer.  Thanks to the readers who contributed their photos!

Me likey your Bikey!

Us V. Them – More Aloha, Please!

APEC protesters and HPD Bike Officers side by side, by Matt Ursua

With all the animosity between Bike Commuters, Rollerbladers, Mopeds, Pedestrians, Car, Trucks, Buses, and Trolleys encountered on my daily commutes, I’m surprised that others haven’t realized how far a little Aloha can go!  In past weeks, presidents galore have been abounding in Honolulu, clogging up the streets, protesting, making front-page headlines, and creating extensive roadblocks in Waikiki and Ko’Olina thanks to APEC (Asian Pacific Economic Craziness).  Here are some tips for the world citizens to help keep their sanity in traffic: Ride Aloha, Live Aloha! 

Thanks for the photo, Kate B! I had the same one on my BMX, but it cracked and died.

1.  Bike V. Pedestrian –  Cyclists, a bell or a shout out is helpful here.  If you start getting bike path rage along Ala Moana beach park, consider RL’s advice and take it slow…  If auditory warnings are being blocked by impenetrable headphones and Lady Gaga earwaves, wait for a large enough opening and zip past without giving them the finger!  Pedestrians, “on your left” does not mean jump direcly in front of the bike.  Just one-two step to the right to allow the cyclist to pass you on the path!  Courtesy shaka as you pass for good measure! 

2.  Bike V. Car – I’m going to share my all-time favorite bike commuter Aloha move  that seems to put traffic-angsty drivers at ease.  It’s like a Bike Side-Step.  So you’re riding in the right lane (I like to ride aligned with the back right tire of cars, a tip I LGRAB’ed from Dottie) and you come to a stop at a red light.  You are first on the line with cars behind you.  I turn around, do some attmpeted sign language to determine if the driver wants to turn right (blinker, what’s a blinker in Honolulu?) and then move over to the left side of the lane to allow the car to pass.  Wave and smile to encourage the driver to pass through…  Even if they cannot make the right turn before the light turns green, this move is like when your grandma gives you candy in church – an unexpected surprise that makes church tolerable and makes you adore your grandma!  Strangely enough, my grandma was diabetic and I had ADHD, so I’m not sure if it was a good idea for everyone else, but I thought it was awesome.

Who drew these cheesey cartoons!!? Will they draw one for me of the Bike Side-Step?!

3.  Bike V. Bus:  Some people tell me horror stories of drivers of TheBus in Honolulu, how they intentionally persecute cyclists up hills, or honk and scare the living sh*t out of you when they zoom past.    Some people tell me stories about a-hole cyclists who almost ran them over on the sidewalk as they stepped off the bus.  Well, Some People, have I got news for you: some cyclists are a-holes, and some bus drivers are a-holes.    Major Digression/Minor Rant:  I don’t think I am an a-hole cyclist, so don’t tell me this story expecting apologies.  Similarly, I would not tell stories about terror-children on 8-hour international flights to my friends with kids expecting airline vouchers.  So, lovely Bike Commuters, consider several options to deal with the Bike V. Bus scenario.  I often avoid streets laden with bus thoroughfares and opt for the back roads.  Or, you can just slow down a bit to avoid bus-frogging all the way to your destination.  As for the honking, this can’t be avoided!  Apparently it is a local rule that buses honk twice to alert cyclists that they are passing.  Hold on to your spandex for that one, Honolulu commuters, HBL already asked the Dept. of Transit to delete that rule from the training book when we met with the cartoon mayor… TO NO AVAIL!

Or we could just make a bike bus....

I had a great ride in today, where I stopped (yes I stopped, and put down my goofy foot) at the last 4-way stop intersection before my office.  There was one car and one truck, and they both gave me extra Aloha and let me cruise through first, waving me on by.  Thanks lady in the big silver pick-up, I will remember you the next time I feel like flipping the bird at some a-hole driver.  A little goes a long way!  No reason for road rage when we only have first-world traffic jams!  I don’t think I could ever go back to the motherland:

Beijing 2010: longest traffic jam ever on the way to grand opening of City Wok!

Bike Share in Fwance – “But I am Le Tired!”

Bonjour Bike Commuters!  Have I got a tasty post-Halloween PG treat for you.  Put down your slice o’ wonder bread and pick up your baguettes, because France is killing it on the bike share scene with these two amazing programs:  Velib in Paris and Vcub (V3) in Bordeaux.  I just returned from a jaunt in Europe and was swooned by the cities after stepping off the train and encountering bike share stations at every turn.  Both Velib and V3 are sponsored by the local governments and offer budget-friendly rates with plenty of stations around town that make renting the bikes a convenient and competitive option for commuting and running errands!  The heavy bikes have three speeds, fenders, front baskets, generator-powered lights, chainguard, kickstand, and a bell.  Similar programs are offered in the U.S. of Americans, like Hawaii’s own pilot project of B-Cycle in Kailua. 

Girl on Velib in Paris, courtesy of Lezarderose on Flickr

I couldn’t believe my four eyes as we power-walked the streets of Paris in a mad hunt for signs of the Da Vinci Code, the Velib bikes were EVERYWHERE!  It was a Velib Bike Zombie attack: there were more Velib bike commuters than Parisians on their personal bikes!  This article from the Scientific American (whose author was trolling the streets the same time we visited) gives a logical explanation: 

Vélib’ is utterly inescapable, which is what makes it work so well. Paris has 20,000 shared bikes at its 1,800 stands…spaced about 300 meters apart. The system’s density is so great that a novice does not need any help in finding bikes. Even without a map or a smartphone, my friend and I rarely failed to find a stand of gray cruisers standing at the ready, just by walking a few blocks while keeping an eye out for the glowing LEDs of the bike stands. 

Clever move, la France: bombard your citizens with bikes every 300 meters and there is no excuse not to try one! 

Fire Ze Missiles! Then have a bike.

In Bordeaux the V3 program rents their bikes for free for the first 30 minutes and charges 2 euros for each hour therafter.  A monthly or annual pre-paid subscription reduces the rate to 1 euro an hour.   And – hold on to your butts for this one, loud engrish Americans – the website actually encourages riders to switch bikes every half hour should they need it longer, in order to avoid paying for usage at all.  This puts my capitalist knickers in a twist, but hey, I’m down for some PG-rated V3 bike action.  Bike availability by station can be accessed via the web, and stations are paired with the brand-new bus and transit lines, so it’s easy to switch from bike to bus or bike to tram if needed.  And now for graphic indulgence: 

A cheeky V3 on a sunny Sunday in Bordeaux. Courtesy of Oncle Tom via Flickr.

In Paris, the Velib is only 1.70 euros for the whole day.  My French girlfriends rolled up to the bar on Velibs, and took them to the train station each day for their out-of-town work meetings.  Taking the Velib for a downhill ride is always a Parisian favorite, as the trucks cart them back up the hills and refill stations on a daily basis.  After seeing the popularity of this program in Paris, I am crossing fingers that B-Cycle in Hawaii explodes and takes over like weevils in my oatmeal… With a wimpy 12 bikes and two stations available in Kailua, the one-year pilot is targeted more at B&B tourists exploring Kailua Beach.  (Boo! sad face.)  See this article from the Honolulu Magazine for more deets.  Bike share lust abounded for me in the city of tongue-kissing and croissants! 

I said BRRRR!

Back in Bordeaux, to top it all off like a glass of champagne, I came across this mysterious bike habitat, closed on a Sunday: 

The window showcases piles of bikes... must be source of French Bike Zombie outbreak.

After a bazillionth of a second Google search, I used my high-school French translation skills to decipher that this is a bike library of sorts, sponsored by the City of Bordeaux.  The Maison du Velo’s slogan is:  Ici, le velo est roi, or “Here, the bike is king.”  (Double swoon!)  With 48 bikes to check out for free, an open shop, and classes on safety and maintenance, it is the ultimate stop for new Bordelais riders interested in bike commuting.  Riders must undergo safety training prior to receiving a bike and have the option to check out accessories, helmets, and even baby carts!  So jealous.  Imagine how easy it would be to convince your friends to ride bikes to work with you if there were free bikes available!  A surefire cure for the self-proclaimed members of broke phi broke – who’ve got no extra cash in this down economy to spring for a bike.  Sign me up for socialism and foie gras! 

And for you curious and scrutinous clever BikeCommuters readers, segregated bike lanes in Paris and Bordeaux.  J’adore!  The French bike-share riders don’t seem too keen on helmets, but I suppose you could always bring your own.  

From the Cycling is Good for You blog to you...

Anyone else tried out any bike share programs out there?