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Tag Archive: bicycles

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?

A Visit to the Bicycle Museum of America

Ladies and gentlemen, I have found the holy land…and it exists in the quaint Germanic-heritage town of New Bremen, Ohio. A few weeks ago, my family and I made the trek to New Bremen to visit the Bicycle Museum of America, and I wanted to share some of the sights with you.

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The Museum got its start in 1997, when Jim Dicke III, president of Crown Equipment Corporation, purchased the Schwinn family’s personal collection of bicycles and bike memorabilia in Chicago during the family’s bankruptcy proceedings. Dicke moved the collection to New Bremen and established this incredible facility not long after. The Museum covers the entire range of bicycle history, from draisiennes all the way to modern road racing machines and everything in between. The museum’s collection is somewhere around 300 bicycles on display at any one time, with a rotating stable of over 1000 to choose from. The building is packed to the gills with bikes, tools, memorabilia, historical artifacts and so much more — it almost defies the imagination.

“Why Ohio?”, you may ask, and that’s a good question…one I posed to the staffpeople I met there. The more I thought and heard about it, the more it made sense…after all, two very famous bicycle builders/sellers made their home about 40 miles to the southeast. Also, a number of legendary bicycle companies were based in the general area, including the Davis Sewing Machine Company, which is better known to bike historians as the company that produced Huffy bicycles. In addition, the Cleveland Welding Company produced bikes we all know and love by the brand name of “Roadmaster”. You may also know that online bike retail giant Bike Nashbar is based in Ohio. And, the state is crisscrossed with bike paths, trails and quiet country roads and is a surprising hotbed of bicycle action…who knew?

Well, onto the collection. As I mentioned earlier, there is every flavor of two-wheeled contraption on offer here at the Museum…something to tickle the fancy of every bike lover. For example, wooden bikes have become all the rage in the past few years, with a number of high-end manufacturers making stunning machines. The wooden bike isn’t a new idea, though, and the museum has a number of them on display:

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Notice the stunning chromed bracing on the bike in the foreground, and the brass bracing on the hickory-framed bike in back. Both of these vintage machines sandwich a gorgeous Renovo made just a couple of years ago…what’s old is new again in the bike world!

You like highwheelers? The Bicycle Museum of America has you covered, with dozens of models to gaze upon. Here’s one from 1882:

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The Museum even has a highwheeler mounted to a roller system so that we could try one out. Here’s Mrs. Ghost Rider enjoying her time aboard this giant pennyfarthing:

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Over the past years, a number of bike-friendly websites have extolled the virtues of studded tires for winter riding…and that’s nothing new either. Check out this amazing icebike from 1901, with a sled front end and massive spikes on the back wheel to dig in to the cold stuff:

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The Schwinn family had a giant personal collection of bikes…seemingly an example of every model they produced. The Museum has many of them on display, including this group:

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Ignaz Schwinn’s family tandem is on display here as well…with a little “baby basket” for a wee Schwinn:

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Schwinn made track bikes way back when, with their chromed Paramounts being coveted both then and now by serious collectors. Here’s one from 1937…and just above it is Frank Schwinn’s personal track bike (another Paramount, of course):

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Perhaps the most popular Schwinn of all time was the Black Phantom, dreamed about by kids from the 50s as the ultimate cruiser. Of course the Museum has a pristine copy on display, and I can completely understand why these were so popular:

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There were a couple bikes for the bike commuters amongst us, too…imagine gliding through morning traffic on this badboy, rifle at the ready to fend off wayward pedestrians and angry motorists. Actually, this is a military bike (with a Swiss Army bicyle in the background):

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Here’s something unusual in one of display cases in the Museum — another accessory that may come in handy on the daily commute. You think Planet Bike should resurrect a thing like this?

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Bicycle headbadges are a popular collector’s item, and the Museum has several cases full of them. Here’s a shot of part of one of the cases, with badges old and new on display:

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Recognize THIS bike?

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The Pee Wee bike was a special treat for me, as one of my Tampa neighbors and I watched the Ebay auction for this very bike a few years ago…we’re both big Pee Wee Herman fans, and we were blown away by how high the price went ($20K+, as I recall). It was wonderful to see this bike in person years later.

Perhaps one of my favorite bikes of all time is the Bowden Spacelander…a monocoque fiberglass beauty that captures every design aesthetic in the Streamline Age. Of course, the Museum has two of them on display, and they were both gorgeous:

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There’s no shame in owning a car…especially if it is a pedal-powered dream machine like this one. The Museum let my son and I take this four-wheeler for a spin around the third floor, and it was a blast:

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Got big thighs and a hankering for speed? The Museum has you covered…252 gear inches worth. This is a replica of the bike Alf Letourner sped to a world record 108.92 MPH in 1941:

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There is so much more to share — I took nearly 150 photographs, and I could have spent a week inside the building, gazing into cases and trying out some of the displays. The Museum staff was incredibly knowledgeable and friendly, even offering us restaurant recommendations at the end of our tour. I wholeheartedly recommend a trip here if you’re in the area — there is truly something for every bikey fan out there contained within this facility. For the rest of my photos of the Museum, please swing on over to my Flickr stream to take a look. We will return to the Museum soon…the rotating display means that there will be something new for us to enjoy on our next visit!

Double Team in Chicago!

We will double team Chicago on bikes like Miss Piggy and Kermit!!! (OK, really I don't have any pics of the Bike Commuters ladies together yet, so we can pretend for now.)

DOUBLE TEAM: You read it right Bike Commuters!  Elizabeth and I will be meeting up for a/some ride/s this weekend!  What you say? Are Honolulu and Chicago neighbor cities?  Hardly… BUT, I will be attending a conference in Chicago from Thursday through Sunday of this weekend.   Therefore, Bike Commuters will DOUBLE TEAM in Chicago for awesome bike bloggy-ness.  We may even meet up for a ride with Dottie from Let’s Go Ride a Bike… in which case, we would consider that a bike triple team.  We’re working on a loaner bike situation for meeself (anyone out there have a spare bike size 47cm or 49cm?) or I may rent a bike nearby my hotel at Millenium Park from www.bikechicago.com.  Maybe I should bring those pants that look like pants for extreme heat testing!

Rent a Bike instead of a car for business travel... Hmm, Segway OR Trek!? That's like Cuttlefish w/asparagus OR Vanilla Paste.

This will be the first time I will be “business” traveling with bike in mind… I’ve visited friends and done the bike/public transit combo in Seattle and California, but never for work!  Bring it on hot and humid Chicago: I’m ready for that sweaty back.  Does witch hazel come in a 3 oz. travel container!?

FACT: Elizabeth is officially the only cycle lady I know in all of the Middle West.  (Chicago is the Midwest right?  Being a California Native, I hadn’t driven further than Tahoe for most of my life, I used to think everything between California and New York was the Midwest… only to be corrected by an ex-boyfriend from Montana in college.)  Looking forward to taking the heat: Elizabeth + Mir.I.Am = ultimate Bike Commuters blog time weekend!!!!

We will not be creepin' around Chicago like this player! Is PeeWee a bike commuter?

Colors anyone?

I’ve noticed lately that more and more commuter bicycles are being made with loud and bright colors. Personally I like my bikes to be somewhat low-key so it flies below the radar of bike thieves. But check out these photos of some really colorful bicycles.

This was a custom built bike from Road Warrior Bicycles in Fullerton.
color bikes

A Puma bicycle that folds and uses a cable as a downtube.
color bikes

Urbana
color bikes

Another Puma bike…
color bikes

What’s your personal take on this? Is your bike colorful? If not, what color is it?