BikeCommuters.com

Tag Archive: Commute

Product Review: BTB Sunglasses

I’ve been testing the BTB 500 sunglasses out for our sister site, MtnBikeRiders.com, but have ended up using them for commuting even more than mountain biking, so I’m giving them a shout out here as well! I started out only wearing them off-road, but as time progressed I found myself reaching for them when commuting, walking, running, and even driving (even though they’re not polarized!). I liked them so much that I even returned the last pair of (more expensive) sunglasses I bought.

For more info, check out the full review!

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!

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!

Preview: Bontrager Funk Trunk – Party in a rack top bag!

Cooler and Tunes on the go!

Exciting news, me Bike Commuters!  Trek’s Bontrager Funk Trunk is in our line-up for product reviews.  To give you a preview here are some photos.  Looks like a fun bag for a picnic, trip to the beach, or mini-flash mobs and impromptu dance parties.  A cooler with a built-in speaker connection, this looks like it should be a fun one.  We’ll test this funky trunk out and get you the review just in time for the nice commuting Spring/Summer season.  Check out the pics:

photo 1

Lookin' good, with mini speakers!

photo 2

Just waiting for the good weather and a photo op at the beach!

Hang on to your bikes, weekend fun is just around the corner…  Catch you later, cycle gators.

DJ on the Bike – More Tickets?

Caught in Amsterdam by the Prudent Cyclist on flickr

As a follow up to Elizabeth’s article on TWB (Texting While Biking) I have always wondered about Biking With Headphones (BWH)!  There are several methods of executing the BWH for bike commuters.  Some wear equipment that would be impossible to wear with a helmet (perhaps they are commuting to their job as jackhammer/leafblower testing facility), some use tiny earbuds, and there’s always the one-in and one-out set up.  I’ve tried commuting before with one-in and one-out earbud shenanigans with my crappy ibroke, but I usually ended up shoving it in a side pocket and singing out loud instead.  Like acapella karaoke commuting.

But Holy Moly Me Oh My, Montreal police have taken steps towards “enforcing” the no BWH laws as described by this article from July 2011, titled Cyclists Warned that Headphones Illegal in Quebec. The article cited that in 2010, the police ticketed 296 cyclists for this infraction.  At a price of $52 (Canadian) per ticket, that’s a whole lotta cash for poutine!

At least the cops are on their bikes, right?

Quebec’s highway safety code prohibits riding a bicycle while wearing a personal stereo headset or earphones. It’s the only Canadian jurisdiction where it’s illegal to ride while listening to headphones.

In the U.S., Florida and Rhode Island have made it illegal to use headsets while cycling. California, Maryland and Delaware also regulate use of headphones or earbuds. In those states, cyclists must leave one ear uncovered while riding.

…Police will continue to warn cyclists about the hazards of riding with earphones in July and expect to start handing out more tickets in August…Police said Wednesday that headphones make it more difficult for a cyclist to be aware of their surroundings as they move through traffic and pedestrians.

Oregon attempted to pass a similar bill HB 2602 that would fine cyclists using headphones a whopping $90!  No dice in passing the bill just yet according to BikePortland.org.

Then there’s the California Legislation where riding with one headphone is okay, but two will put you in the hole for $189 according to the Davis Wiki Bicycling Tips. Or there’s this girl who’s found a loophole:

Anyway bike commuters, whaddya think?  People drive cars and listen to their stereos all the time while stuck in traffic.  Plus cycling to music can be some good old fashioned fun.   Are headphones in the same “danger zone” as texting while cycling?  And, if so, does it warrant $189 fine?  I know the state is broke and all, but that’s a lot of In-n-Out cash right there.