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Tag Archive: bike commuter

Commuting in Style (Pint-Sized Edition)

In two of my semi-recent posts, I laid out some of the choices in traveling by bike with kids, and in choosing a helmet for those pint-sized commuters. Since then, we’ve acquired both a front-mounted seat and a helmet for our youngest, R. We’re in the early stages of use still… but so far so good!

First… the seat. It’s a Yepp Mini we got with our REI dividend (yeah, we shop there a bit!), and it is the coolest bike seat I think I’ve ever seen. I’d assumed it would be plasticky, but it’s actually a pretty soft – but shape-holding – rubber texture. R thinks it’s about the coolest thing ever, and couldn’t stop grinning during our first test ride! The only bad thing about it is we don’t have a bike that it fits really well on – right now it’s on my wife’s hybrid, but she has to pedal carefully so she doesn’t bang her knees, the footrests affect her turning radius (although not terribly), and she can’t slide forward too easily when she comes to a stop. So… we’ll see how it works out. We’re huge fans of the seat itself, but not quite as big fans of how it works with us and our bikes. I’ve got my eye out for a bike it’d work better with though – I figure I can find a used city/cruiser-style bike with a friendlier geometry for less than the cost of the Yepp mini! These seats are hugely popular in Europe for use with Dutch-style bikes – but the Dutch-style bikes here come at a prohibitive price point. I’ll be reporting back in the coming months on what we end up doing!

For the helmet, we went with the Lazer BOB infant helmet, and it’s working out pretty nicely. It fits R a lot better than other helmets we’ve tried, though it’s not as easily adjustable as some (you have to remove the helmet completely to adjust the straps, which is less than ideal), and… yeah, it still looks kinda huge! We’re still working on getting the fit 100% dialed (we make a small adjustment every time we put it on her), but overall we’re pretty happy with it.

Post-ride Contemplation

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!

Look What the Postman Brought in! Preview: LED by LITE System 36 Plus

LEDbyLITE

System 36 Plus Bike Light & Turnsignal Kit - Ultimate Blinky O-face.

WOOOOHOOOOOO!  Look out night riders, we have been ogling the LED by LITE Bike Light Kits since RL spotted them at Interbike last year! And we all know that a great set of blinky lights is a must-have for all ye Cycle Monsters out there bike commuting in the darkness.  The good people from LED by LITE (pronounced “lead by light” in case you were confused like me) have sent us a System 36 Plus demo kit to test out!  Let’s check out the obligatory cut and paste specs from their website, since I know I would be too lazy to browse the site for data if I were reading this post! (wink face):

System 36 Plus

Price:
$150.00
Weight:
2.00 LBS

This shows how the system works. The 48 System Plus is pictured, which has longer LED strips than the 36 System Plus we'll be testing.


Product Description

System 36 Plus

The LED By LITE bike light Systems include up to 36 state of the art, High Intensity LEDs to provide a cyclist with the most radiant 360 degree “to be seen” visibility. The LEDbike lights are encased in  flexible polyurethane/silicone straps making them waterproof and extremely durable.

The LED bike lights are powered by our BlackBox, a 12 Volt single cell Lithium Ion Battery Pack, which produces intense lighting without sacrificing run time. The technology of the microchip circuitry includes “dimming pulsating” modes, not blinking on and off. The BlackBox can be recharged with the wall adapter or from a computer using a micro USB cord.

The Plus of this system is our innovative LBL Wireless Dashboard.TM A wireless controller mounted on the handler bar controls both pulsation mode and directional turn indicator system. Your bicycle becomes a more relevant vehicle for the road. The LBL System 36 Plus improves your safety as a cyclist by illuminating your turning intentions and helping you to see and be seen.

  • Total of 36 LEDs front and rear
  • Weighs in at 250 grams
  • 12 Volt single cell Lithium rechargeable batterypack

Full Mode 3 hrs, Front on Rear Pulsating 4.5 hrs, Front and Rear Pulsating 6 hrs

  • Easy to detach cables, for quick system setup and break down
  • Wireless Dashboard: Turn on and off Pulsation and turn indicators

*Price subject to change after pre-sale ends

*Using your arm is still considered a universal turning signal

Blinky Light Lust!! I - I - I Lufff Eeet! <3

Thanks LED by Lite – shout outs to Salt Lake, UT! I love blinky lights more than robots that do chores for me! I think I might buy the postman a 6-pack of beer.  Until the review…!

EcoBicis & the Mexico City “Bike Revolution”

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!

Friday Musings – Top 3 Must-Have Bike Commuting Accessories?

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.

025

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!

028

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!