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Tag Archive: urban cycling

Eulogy for a broken bike

A few years ago, I penned a silly eulogy to a rear derailleur. One of my riding partners reminded me of that the other day when he forwarded the following article, written by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson:

At first, I couldn’t believe it. No, I said when they told me of the death of my bike. Get away, I said; and then they made me look at the appalling wound, and it was only when I had run my fingers round the almost invisible injury that the news sank in. And then I felt like some relative coming to terms with the loss of a loved one.

Think of Alexander grieving for his favourite mount Bucephalus, or Wellington mourning the death of the great Copenhagen. After eight years of uncomplaining service, the venerable steed had charged his last. This was the bike that had taken me every day to distant parts of London, carried me into battle in two elections, heard my agony as I cursed up hills and listened in reassuring silence to my whispered rehearsals for the speech I would have to make when I arrived.

Read the rest of his eulogy by clicking here. I’ve got to say that Boris outdid me…his eulogy is eloquent and heartfelt. It’s worth a read!

How technology is changing the face of bicycle commuting

Here’s an interesting article that appeared in our Google News Feed the other day — from Fast Company, folks who know a thing or two about technology and new businesses:

Bicycles, with their gears and pedal power may seem like the Luddites of the transportation family, but the technology available to improve your ride is out there, it’s growing, and it’s helping more Americans consider bikes as a method of transportation than ever before.

If you’re a cyclist, or have friends who prefer two wheels to four, you are aware of how passionate people can be about bicycles, and specifically their enthusiasm for bike evangelism.

Tyler Doornbos, of Bike Friendly Goods in Grand Rapids, Michigan, chatted with me about some of the “barriers to entry” for getting more people on bikes, and how new technologies are addressing some of those issues. I’ve taken his advice and put together this short guide to digitizing your bike commute.

Read the full article by visiting the Fast Company page here. The article serves as a rundown of emerging new tech and devices to make your commute safer and easier. You may have heard of some of the technology already, but there were a few products in the article that were completely new to me, and I try to stay abreast of the trends in the industry. The article is worth a look, in any case.

Review: Bolle “Copperhead” polarized sunglasses

Just before Interbike, the good folks at Bolle sent over a pair of their “Copperhead” sunglasses to try out. We’re big believers in protecting our eyes when we ride, whether it’s to the corner store or across town, so we jumped at the chance to check out a new pair.

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The Copperhead glasses come in a padded case with a microfiber cleaning cloth included. I got the “Shiny Black” color; the glasses come in five other color combinations. The frames are nylon with small hydrophilic rubber pads on the ends of the temples and at the nosepiece to prevent slipping when things get sweaty. The lenses themselves are polarized to help fight glare, and are coated with both anti-fog and anti-smudge treatments. The glasses themselves are suited for smaller faces, like my own — our pal Jim Katz, the PR man for Bolle, helped determine that these would fit my face better than some of Bolle’s other styles.

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As you can see, these are more of a casual style — lending them the ability to go with office attire as well as cycling togs. I found the temples to restrict my vision a bit, which may be an issue for those of you who prize extra peripheral vision while dodging traffic. The frames around the lenses are suited for riding more upright bikes; I also had obstruction issues when I rode my more aggressively-set-up road bikes. Hardcore roadies might be better served by rimless lenses.

Despite the minor issues with the frames getting in the way, the Copperhead glasses fit nicely, provided great coverage for my eyes, and stayed in place. No one wants to fuss with readjusting glasses on the go. The temples hugged close to my head, allowing me to tuck them under my helmet straps (decidedly “un-PRO”, but hey, I’m not fooling anybody).

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The lens clarity is great and the polarization really helps, especially when going from brightly-lit areas to more shaded parts of the road. And the glasses are pretty stylish — I didn’t feel like I was wearing sportswear; in other words, the glasses didn’t clash with my casual work clothes.

After I wore them for a bit, our friend Wesley (an alumnus of our mountain bike racing team) reached out to us — he was training with the U.S. Navy near Chicago and desperately needed a pair of sunglasses he could wear out on the water. Always one to support our troops, I got the glasses into Wes’s hands in short order with the request that he snap a photo wearing them in uniform:

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Wes reported that the glasses worked perfectly for him, and also looked pretty snappy with his “blueberries”. I wholeheartedly agree!

The Bolle Copperheads retail for around $99, and are available directly from Bolle or at retailers near you. If you’re looking for a casual pair of sunglasses that have performance features, but you’re not sitting on a fortune, these might do the trick nicely.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Bixi files for bankruptcy

Have you heard about this? One of the nation’s largest bike-sharing companies — Bixi — filed for bankruptcy a few days ago:

By the time it happened, it seemed almost inevitable. On January 20, the Bixi bike-sharing company, based in Montréal, announced that it was filing for bankruptcy protection, citing debts totaling about $49 million, including a total of nearly $38 million from the city of Montréal.

Bixi, also known as Public Bike System, is based in Montréal, but its reach extends around the globe, with systems in place in more than a dozen cities in North America, Europe, and Australia, mostly operated by third parties. Mia Birk, vice president of Alta Bicycle Share, which operates eight Bixi-provided bike-share systems in the United States and Melbourne, Australia, said in an email shortly after the bankruptcy announcement that operations of those systems would be unaffected.

The good news is that current systems are supposed to be unaffected by the move. Read the full article by visiting the Atlantic Cities page. I would imagine that it WILL affect rollout of bike-share systems in new cities, however.

Luckily, there are other companies stepping up to the plate. For example, CycleHop and Social Bicycles recently announced that they will be backing a bike-share system in my old hometown of Tampa, Florida.

Bike sharing schemes are important for cities…one smart way of rejuvenating downtown areas and urban corridors. Let’s hope that Bixi can recover from its financial woes and continue to support its existing city clients.

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Bike infrastructure = must-have for today’s cities

A couple of news items and an associated report caught our attention this week — based on a study jointly conducted by advocacy groups PeopleForBikes and the Alliance for Biking and Walking, cities simply cannot afford to go without modern bike infrastructure:

It isn’t window dressing. Or a “hip cities” thing. Bike infrastructure — not the watered-down stuff, but high-quality bikeways that get more people on bikes — is becoming a must-have for cities around the U.S.

That’s according to a new report from Bikes Belong and the Alliance for Biking and Walking. Researchers at these groups interviewed 15 business leaders from around the country about what impact bike facilities are having on their bottom line.

Read the article covering the release (including important key points) by visiting the D.C. Streetsblog page, or download the PDF report directly by clicking here. Although the report focuses its attention on protected, separated bike lanes, there are important lessons here for city planners and politicians to learn.

In any case, it’s an interesting and eye-opening read…but what I liked hearing from the report is that people who use a bike to get to and from work are smarter, healthier, and more creative. No surprises there, of course — we’re smarter and better-looking on two wheels than the average car-bound citizen!