A companion site (THE PRACTICAL CYCLIST) is home to
genuinely practical information about using bikes for transportation.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Randall O'Toole got me to thinking...

*This needs some serious editing, but that's unlikely to happen soon.*
The WashCycle blog has a nice interview with Randal O'Toole, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. While he rides a little to the right of the path I like, he makes some excellent points. One of his points is that bike-ped traffic enhancements are often intended to restrict or reduce automobile use, and he does not believe that this will be an effective strategy in the long run. He takes the point of view that planners are generally trying to funnel people's activities into specific channels: bicyclists here, cars there, pedestrians over here. In addition, he says, many traffic calming techniques actually make bicycling more difficult rather than easier and safer. In another article, he points out that planners are often trying to solve problems caused by previous the previous generation of planners. O'Toole is generally in favor of letting planner-free free-markets sort out transportation issues. At the moment, that means we need to build more and better roads. To be perfectly honest, he's right about a lot of things. This is painful to acknowledge, but the alternative, to maintain a comfortable fantasy, is clearly not the the right way to go. Now, we still need to keep our spirits high, and to do this, we have to have a goal. It's all to easy to build a Lego city where pedestrians rule the roads and bicycles are primary vehicular choice, but to the extent that New Urbanism looks like the Garden City movement, it ain't good. I keep thinking back to the beatified Jane Jacobs, who was something of an anti-planner herself. The Great Cities, she said, maintain a kind of mystical ordered chaos. They are dynamic, always changing, and they have a defiant quality. Cities are swarms of human activity. They are alive, and the metaphor of life can be drawn out further--a city can be healthy, sick, dying, or even dead. Cities are also collections of individuals, so the notion of health has two distinctive elements. One is the health of the collective: the ability of the city to sustain itself. Sustainability is a hip phrase these days, and rightly so. It is one of the distinctive features of life itself. Its importance depends on several assumptions related to life, the universe, and everything, so I'll just skip ahead. The second element of city health is the health of the individuals who make up the city. Here it is important to make sure our metaphor is based on life outside Kingdom Animalia, cities are more like plants or fungus or algae, rather than a person or dog. You can cut a city in half, and you get two smaller cities. They might die, but they might live too. And after a mashup like that, they are likely to change in ways we may not be able to predict. Anyway, I'd like to get back to the bike project. No time, no time. Rush rush rush.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Current Thinking and a Vision Statement

WashCycle has a nice Epic Bike Sharing Post that is at least in part a review of Paul DeMaio's recent presentation in Arlington, VA. Dig it. (I wish that phrase had not been trademarked.) I think I'm going to re-arrange this blog, yet-again, to make it first and fore-most a resource for people who need information and encouragement to ride for transportation--practical information that reduces the barriers to riding, eliminates the excuses. Here is my vision statement:

It should be easy to ride a bike for routine urban transportation. Riders do not need expensive or cycling-specific clothing, bags, or other gear. Riders should not be intimidated by other bicyclists, by bike shop staff, by automobile traffic, or by anyone else. Riding a bike should be an unremarkable activity, it should be de rigueur: the standard thing, the routine.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Lot 31, Bethesda

The Montgomery County Gazzette reported on September 28, 2005:

In June, the county awarded PN Hoffman and Stonebridge Associates of Bethesda the development rights to lot 31. Currently, the parking lot holds 270 metered parking spaces, but it will become a mixed-use development that includes parking, residences and shopping. Hoffman⁄Stonebridge was chosen over 12 other development companies that submitted proposals for the site, after county officials solicited developers to present ideas for ways to improve the property.

The plans also include a $3 million reconfiguration of the intersection of Woodmont and Bethesda avenues, narrowing the roads in order to slow traffic and provide a shorter distance for pedestrians to cross the street.

Retail plans include a possible bike shop to accompany plans for a ‘‘bicycle depot,” a rest area where bikers on the adjacent Capital Crescent Trail would congregate, said Doug Firstenberg, a partner of Hoffman⁄Stonebridge.

That was two years ago. I wonder what's going on these daze?

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Brooklyn Paper: Bicycle rider reads riot act

David (red3red3@gmail.com) has sent you this article from brooklynpaper.com (Fri. October 26, 2007 09:21:26 MDT):
Bicycle rider reads riot act

By Dana Rubinstein
The Brooklyn Paper

Nearly every morning, in what is for me a supreme effort of willpower, I put on my helmet, unlock my bike, and ride to work.

I'm generally allergic to excess movement, but there's something about bike riding that gets me going. I'm very liberated by the notion that I can convey myself to work with nothing but some aluminum between my legs. And then there's the ever-present (and ever-unfulfilled) hope that so much cycling will give me long, lean gams. But above all, there's that rarely mentioned companionship among riders and drivers and cyclists. There's the sharing of the road.

So it irks me whenever the Fort Greene pro-bike-lane, anti-bike-lane conflagration flares up -- again. The issue's been a hot potato since July, 2006, when the community board chose not to support a plan that would add five new miles of bike lanes along Carlton and Willoughby avenues and Cumberland Street.

At the meeting, drivers tore into cyclists, cyclists skewered drivers. Pedestrians were occasionally deplored, too.

The kvetching continued this May, when the city went ahead and painted the bike lanes anyway. And now, after merely five months, the partisans are at it again, this time on the local message board brooklynian.com.

A local blogger named arZan lit the fire this time, when he began a thread by recounting two incidents in which he had "literally been blindsided by cyclists who are traveling in the opposite direction of traffic."

Seems like a legitimate complaint. But then arZan extrapolated that "bicyclists are the worst offenders when it comes to traffic rules. They do not stop at stop signs or lights, cut in and out of traffic at their will and then when someone cuts them off, they throw a ruckus."

Then, a third commenter kindled the flames, retorting that, "There are just as many idiot pedestrians."

A commenter named Daver responded by listing the offenders in order of worst to best: pedestrians, cyclists and then drivers. (I wonder which one he is.)

Sorry if this sounds misanthropic, but yes, folks, there are jerks out there. There are driver jerks. There are pedestrian jerks. There are cyclist jerks (tons of them). There are also stroller-pushing jerks, skateboarder jerks, and Vespa jerks. There are even (gasp!) wheelchair jerks.

That said, the lovely thing about bike riding is the civility it so often induces.

On my way into work today, as I was riding down a bike lane, the truck driver behind me patiently waited for a wide enough space to pass. When I reached a busy intersection and stopped at the red light, a driver moving perpendicular to me reached the same intersection, began slowing down for a yellow light, and waved at me, indicating that I was safe to go. On my way up the elevator at work, as I was toying with my loose seat, a fellow rider offered me a tool with which to tighten it. All that civility in a 15-minute ride!

Sure, I could bitch about the vans blocking the bike lane on Carlton Avenue, the drivers passing so close to me that my heart stops, the pedestrians apparently unaware that crossing on red in front of a speeding bicycle is dangerous, and the cyclists who seem to think that a commute its actually a race to the finish line. But what's the point? They're jerks. Screw 'em.

Dana Rubinstein is a staff reporter of The Brooklyn Paper.

==== The Kitchen Sink ====

Our former Fort Greene pal Rick Field continues to attain new heights in the pickling world. This week, Field's pickle company, Rick's Picks, announced that the November issue of O Magazine features a Smokra Cubano, made, of course, with his smoked, pickled okra. Congrats! ...

The flying saucer has finally landed on the front lawn of 313 Clinton Ave. (between Lafayette and DeKalb avenues) in anticipation of an alien invasion (just in time for Halloween). Check it out for yourself, if you dare. Mwa-ha-ha-ha!

Copyright 2007, The Brooklyn Paper


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

OPEN FOR BUSINESS, or so I'm told...
1320 14th Street, NW

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Deliveries of Bakfiets Cargobike Delivery Bikes

Opgeheven zonder schande van "Bakfiets en meer." --d

Sent to you by David M via Google Reader:

via Bakfiets en meer by henry on 10/9/07

workcycles bakfiets cargobike delivery bike

We like building special transport bikes… at least when they're useful, cool and we get to make them in series. Here are some photos of the latest version of the Workcycles Cargobike Delivery, based on the now famous Bakfiets.nl Cargobike child-carrier frame.

This is one of a series of five Cargobike Delivery bikes for London organic delivery restaurant Farm UK. Farm UK makes sandwiches, ciabatta rolls, bloomers, salads, drinks and cakes entirely from UK farm sourced ingredients. They're apparently super "lekker" though I always thought a "bloomer" was something old women wore while playing tennis.

Regardless of what tasty bits Farm UK puts in their sandwiches and salads, they deliver them by bicycle. Feeding entire office buildings requires loads that normal transport bikes can't dream of carrying, but getting through downtown London's urban jungle on a three-wheeled delivery bike would be an exercise in frustration (though still not as bad as with an automobile). Thus we've built Farm these supersized Cargobike Delivery bikes.

work cycles bakfiets cargobike delivery bicycle work cycles bakfietsen cargo bike delivery bicycle work cycles cargobike delivery bikes

The boxes are made from an extremely tough and water resistant treated plywood normally used for concrete molding. Its called "betonplex" here in the Netherlands. Its very hard and stiff so we're able to keep the walls quite thin and light. The box has a hinged and locking lid to keep the goods safe and dry while Mr. Sandwich Salesman is making his deliveries.

Dom and Ben from Farm UK have promised to send pictures of their bikes in action, complete with their Farm UK livery. Perhaps this post will spur them on to stop being productive for a few minutes and get that camera out.

Things you can do from here:

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Efforts Afoot in Boston

Nice graphic. Here is the Original Article.

Workcycle in Alexandria, Virginia

This image belongs to rllayman, originally uploaded by %2.

This is great news. Richard Layman posted this last week. If you haven't read his stuff, get on over there: Urban Places and Spaces I'm glad people like him keep track of what going on, because I know I can't manage to do it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fisher Porteur

This image belongs to arsbars, originally uploaded by %2.

Rumor has it that it will be available in early 2008. Good stuff. I'm particularly fond of tires with reflective sidewalls. Other's have commented, so I don't have to... http://commutebybike.com/2007/08/22/gary-fisher-commuter-bike-spy-photo/

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bikey Movey? Bikie Movie?

Bike-Sharing Consultant

Not exactly new, but recently incorporated...

Listed inPlanning.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The New York Bike-Share Project

Well would you look at that...

Powered by ScribeFire.

New SunRace/Sturmey ASC fixed gear 3-speed


--- In KOG@yahoogroups.com, "Kogswell Cycles" wrote:

I've heard rumors lately that the new SR/SA ASC hub is going to
happen. Those of us who emailed SR about it just got an email asking
for our opinion re: the acceptable amount of backlash in the hub. So
it looks like it's on. That question makes me want to ask Sheldon to
explain what backlash is and ask him how much we want. Please.

I'm guessing that it's the amount of play between you letting up on
the pedals and the hub catching. I've heard that it will be based on
the SRF3 hub: http://www.sturmey-archer.com/hubs_3spd_SRF3.php

And I hope the next question is: what over-locknut should we use?

I hope SR/SA sells a container full here. Who would have ever
guessed that FG would become this big? (those of us who've done it
our whole lives?)


--- End forwarded message ---

Recommended Bike Shops

(Remember to look under Youth Bicycle Programs too.)

Washington, DC area:

Seattle area:

Portland, OR:

Boston area:

New York City:

Saturday, October 6, 2007


Good Stuff


Stuff Comma Fun

To add a link, send it hither.

Bicycles and the Arts

Want to add a link? Put it in a comment, and I'll check it out.

Youth Bicycle Programs

If you have a link to add, please put it in a comment.

Advocacy and Transportation

If you want to add to the list, just put it in a comment, and I'll incorporate it.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Safety Bikes

Here's an interesting article that makes me want to know a lot more about safety metrics: Is Bicycling Safe? I've got think about this some more.

The Year of the Xtracycle

It's the truth, baby. And it's good.
Reports from Interbike (the annual bicycle industry tradeshow in Las Vegas) universally indicate that public interest has acknowledged the utility of the Xtracycle Free-Radical. At least three full-frame longtail cargo-bikes are expected to be available in 2008: The Surly Big Dummy, Kona's Ute, and YubaRide's Mundo. RAD!
Commuter bikes and other practical designs are also becoming more visible (Civia Cycles looks promising). It may be that industry folks are paying attention to a small but loyal following, but I'd prefer to think that the demand is broad-based, and expanding. Of course, what I prefer doesn't matter. Nevertheless,
Mo' Bikes Better and if they can carry lots of stuff, that's just gravy.
Break out your copy of The Tipping Point, this is a great time to be alive and riding a bike.

Screen 'n Spokes

Hey, some folks had a great idea. They solicited a bunch of printmakers and poster artists to design bicycle-theme posters to raise money for the National MS Society. This hits lots of birds:

  1. Inexpensive Original Art, one of my favorite things in the world.
  2. MS stinks, and the medical community is often at a loss to help.
  3. Bikes.

So, go buy some:

Screen 'n Spokes Blog Screen 'n Spokes Etsy Storefront Screen 'n Spokes MS150 Team site
The author is unaffiliated with the MS Societies or the S'n'S folks

Re: Starting a Youth Bike Program

I wrote this a while back, thought I should put it here, instead of tossing it... =================================== R. I. P. Chain Reaction Chain Reaction, a Washington, DC, community bike and youth program, shut down in 2006. It had been around for 10 years, give or take, and had become a genuine community resource. I have lots of strong feelings about this, likely because I spent a few years working with the kids there, a while back. If you're thinking about Bike/Youth programs, and you're starting with THE KIDS, then you're right on target. Recycle-A-Bicycle is a good resource. Karen Overton, their ED, has written two books on starting neighborhood bike projects. One is the mechanical side--teaching kids how to fix'em up. The other is about ride clubs--how to help them develop safe habits. She is a terrific person, and was happy to sit down with me and talk turkey, but I would start with her book One Revolution at a Time. There are lots of bike programs out there. I think someone started keeping a comprehensive list, but its tough, since they are usually very close to the ground (that is, grassroots). Some of my favorites are The Community Cycling Center in PDX and Bike Works in Seattle, there's a short list I've collected on The Practical Cyclist. I'm sure there is one nearer to you, though. If you can, visit a few of these places, or look at their websites. They're all unique, and it helps to see the different ways that folks have dealt with the various universal issues--some work in school systems, some stay independent, some have retail ops, some don't, etc. I strongly recommend that you should not start with the mechanical side of things. Chain Reaction was a "Youth Bike Shop," and while folks love the idea, and people would be banging down the doors to get us to fix their bikes, we ended up with a bifurcated program: one side for retail, on side for education. Retail, especially bike retail, is hard enough without having to teach as well. I've talked with Karen (from Recycle-a-...) a bit, and I think that she came around to the same conclusion, which is why she came out with the second book, One Revolution At A Time. The Ride Club is the ticket for maximum community involvement, and to maximize the "benefits of cycling" educational lessons, not to mention the love of bicycling. Now that said, be prepared to fix a lot of cheap, mistreated bikes. It's my opinion, however, that retail and education have fundamentally opposed goals (which are: do it right, do it quick v. make mistakes and learn from them). Bicycles, it turns out, are terrible vehicles [ha] for vocational training. It's one thing to teach a kid how to build a Hardrock from a box, and then have 'em repeat the process until they've got it down. It's somewhat different to give a kid a bunch of old bikes and help 'em work out the compatibility issues. Old bikes are a lesson in diversity, which is a good reason to love them, but makes them a difficult teaching tool. I mean really, do you want to give a bunch of disadvantaged kids a wacko bike obsession, or get them into a business (bicycle retail) that suffers from chronic unprofessionalism? (Not all, but certainly some. You know who I'm talking about.) Underserved communities, and especially poor kids, need to experience the joys of riding, rather than trauma of bicycle retail/repair. Bicycles are a fringe subculture in America. Poor kids don't need a subculture, they need access to mainstream culture. I know, mainstream culture means suburbs and SUVs and materialism and obesity. But it also means reasonable housing, nutrition, education, health, self-image... Safe Routes To School may be the only good thing in the Federal Budget. It is a program leveraging FHA funds for pedestrian and bicycle advocacy specifically focused on encouraging kids to walk and bike safely to and from school. Every state in the US has money designated for Safe Routes To School, and should have a Safe Routes To School Coordinator. Find them--efforts are multiplied when coordinated. There are several useful links at The Practical Cyclist. If there's an local bicycle advocacy group active in your area, they may have some ideas and resources, or a project up and running already. At the very least, they should be able to get you a couple dozen free helmets, which is a good place to start. The League of American Bicyclists is also a good resource, and as a member organization you can get some basic insurance coverage, which is not fun to think about, but even less fun to do without. I guess I'd been saving up for a good rant/rave.--d

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

We Ride in a Liminal Space

Here's one that was written a while back inresponse to some posting somewhere. I can't decide whether to call it "The American Pedestrian," or "A Cowboy Without A Horse," or something else. Without being explicit about it, this is the justification for cyclist violating traffic laws, like running stop signs and red lights, and why counter-cultures are important. There is more to say about this last bit though, because staying too long in the liminal space is tantamount to refusing to grow up, or being adolescent, or just naive. Paul Farmer and Susan Sontag, come on down...

We're all about radical acceptance and ruthless pragmatism now. That's the new thinking, and it really is different from the old thinking.


Cars take up so many resources that all the other modes of tranportation get ignored. For peds, it's a bummer. A person walking is virtually defenseless, and really can't get very far, very fast. The American pedestrian is a cowboy without a horse.

A person with a bike, on the other hand, is perfectly scaled to the urban environment. She can get herself where she needs to go, squeeze through tight spots and traffic jambs, sprint out of harm's way, and generally have a good time doing it (and get a decent workout).

Cars are regulated because they kill people on a regular basis. When bikes start doing that, I'll be happy to pay my registration fee and sit for a license. It's nice to inhabit a liminal space. It is the traditional hang-out of the Other, and the locus of freedom in increasingly commodified culture.

And that's why bicycle culture is great.

That's the point: stop whining. Get a bike.

----- End forwarded message -----

Some thoughts I had back in May...

I must have been trying to convince my neighbors that bicycles deserve
more than they are currently allotted in the early 21st century urban
and suburban transportation culture.


So, generally, I don't like to push bikes on people who don't already want or
like them. I'm going to break my own rule here in a moment, and in support of
the creation of additional convenient bicycle parking in collectively
owned space.

First though, I want to say that I am not strictly anti-car. I own a
car, I use
it, I enjoy driving it (sometimes). I think cars a terrificly useful and fun

Now that I have that out of the way, I'd like to talk about other things:
community, health, economic diversity, environmental degradation (including
global warming), and finally, convenience.

Nothing builds community like personal contact between people. It's
easiest on
foot, but walking is sometimes too slow, and has a limited range in general.
It's hard to stop and chat with someone going the other way when
you're driving
a car. Bicycle: just right. Without the glass and steel shell, you
the physical community, rather than watch it go by on the other side of the

No social speech needed here. Exercise is good for you. Walking is good.
According to the CDC, people are healthier in "walkable communities." Biking
is healthy too.

Economic diversity:
Aside from the cost of the car itself, owning a car costs an average of $7000
each year. Plus, the more you use it, the more you pay in gas and
Walking? Free. Riding a bike? Maybe $1000/yr, maybe less. If you can live
without owning a car, you can save a lot of bread. Conversely, if you don't
have a lot of bread, riding a bike is a good option.

Environmental degradation:
The Union of Concerned Scientists, and many other groups, say that a typical
American's car, compared with all other objects or activities, has the largest
environmental impact by a wide margin. They recommend tuning cars regularly,
keeping tires inflated, and shopping with gas mileage in mind. They also
recommend reducing use. Try using an alternative method once a week. Try to
go car free one or two days a week. The statistics for car trips are
nutty. A
huge majority of auto trips are under one mile.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Tornados and Bicycles

A tornado hit Brooklyn, NY, this week. Not something that has hithertonow been a common occurance. Additional circumstancial evidence of global warming. Actually, I'm more worried about ocean acidification. Well, not so much worried as interested in how people will react. The rich will figure out how to keep their lifestyle afloat and poor will suffer disproportionately, same as it ever was. I imagine a continuation of increasing corporate control of global markets and politics. Anyhow, bicycles often come in handy in the aftermath of so-called natural disasters. This was posted by jill on the NYT's website:

"A hellish walk from Greenwood Heights, across and along Gowanus, to downtown Brooklyn. I noticed the bikers [SIC] are especially smug today!"

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Little Cheat

R. E. Load is moving and shaking. Check out their flickr page here.

Bicycle Sizing, Fitting, and Buying, Part I

I got an email yesterday that read:

Dave, I have a friend who wants to buy a bike. He is 5'-11", would a 26" bike be the right size for him? Thanks, DF
This is what I wrote back: DF, This is problematic and confusing. '26"' typically refers to the wheel/tire size used for most mountain bikes and some hybrids bike. Bikes with this size wheel are typically made with a range of frame sizes, which are typically specified in one of two ways: either by the length of the seat-tube, or by a generic SMLXL designation. Someone 5'-11" would typically ride a size "L" bike, or one with a seat tube between 18 and 22 inches. Here is a picture of how to measure the seat tube, but it's more complicated than it looks. Depending on where you take your measurements, results could vary by 6 inches. And even then there are too many variables to count. This type of confusion is all too common. I think it stems from the fact that we Norte Americanos think of bike riding as recreation, and something we did when we were kids. Kids bikes are sized by the wheel/tire size, starting with a so-called 8 or 12 inch wheel, and going up to 24" or 26". Actually, there are more wheel/tire sizes than you can count, and it's a topic of which I'm quite fond. This is a handy resource if you want to know more.
Buying on EBay or Craigslist
Here's the rub. In order to have a good used bike transaction, at least one of the parties has to know something about bikes, and be somewhat honest. It's clear from the size designation you gave me that the seller doesn't know his seat tube from his head tube, to coin a phrase. Since you're asking me, I'll guess that your friend isn't an expert either. The result, as far as I'm concerned, should be "No Sale." Sometimes friends send me craigslist or eBay postings to evaluate for value and fitting. It usually works out pretty well. If you want to get into it, this is the most reasonable article I've found on bicycle fitting, but it's not much help in this case, since the bike and the rider aren't right in front of you. This (Sheldon Brown's article on bike sizing) is also a good site about bike sizing, and all things bike. Bike fitting is like chocolate chip cookies: everyone has their own recipe and they think it is the best, and if you challenge it, then you're challenging the knowledge and expertise of challengee, his mentors and gurus, and all those who came before him, including his grandmother, from whom he got the recipe in the first place. Have a good night. Oh, thanks to Martin for being cool with me using a picture of his bad-a** Armageddon bike (that is, the bike you ride out of town on when the Armageddon comes).

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Fwd: Mundo @ Xtracycle

Um, RAD!

----- Forwarded message from ben@xtracycle.com ----- Date: Wed, 01 Aug 2007 19:26:16 -0700 From: Ben Sarrasin - Xtracycle <ben@xtracycle.com> Reply-To: Ben Sarrasin - Xtracycle <ben@xtracycle.com> Subject: Mundo @ Xtracycle To: damosk@monkeyjump.org


The Mundo is going to be available this fall as a complete bike. We are expecting to receive them at the end of October. We forecasting the following MSRP 1-speed $599, 6-speed $649 + shipping (UPS ground $30-45). We are currently collecting preorders, there's quite a lot of demand already. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks, Ben --------------- Ben Sarrasin ben@xtracycle.com xtracycle cell: 415.823.8074 office: 415.681.1275

----- End forwarded message -----

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Kids Road Bikes

Now here's something you ought to see everyday, but generally don't. Kids on road bikes!
Anderson Custom Bicycles has a nice page on the topic, and clearly has made a few kids' road bikes, using iso 520mm wheels. Mike Flanigan made a few practical kids bikes, under his A.N.T. brand. MG, aka Kogswell, threatens every now and then to design and order a container full of practical 520 bikes. Go G.
A quick search yeilds a few brands, but nothing as nice as Anderson or A.N.T.:
And this page, from folks who cobbled together something from a few old frames. I know a guy in DC (NOVA actually) who did this. His kids may have outgrown the bikes by now, but I think the racing club (NCVC) probably kept them, to pass on down the line. Also for DC area folks, I know Linda Mack's shop, Silver Cycles, in Silver Spring, had a few European youth road bikes, but I can't remember the brand.
If you know of more kids road bikes, send me the deets, you know, 4-1-1.

Don't get your fur stuck in the chain...

Practical? Not so much.

Community Bike Programs

Hooray for a new bike project. Funny about the leadership vacuum, you get sucked right into the center, not that you shouldn't be there. That's terrific. I'll be happy to help in whatever way I can. I'm going to CC David Wilcox on this e-mail, because he is (a) a generally good person, one of the best I know, and (b) more experienced than I in the bike program universe.
(For David W: Hi there. I thought you might be interested, or have thoughts about this. I can't remember to what degree you and Kevin knew each other. Kevin was SEV/CR's spiritually serene IT and More volunteer. He lives in Indianapolis now.)
Lets start with the great bifurcation, and work toward re-unification: Bike Programs, more or less, come in two varieties: (a) those with a mission to work primarily with kids under the age of XX (13?), and (b) those started by activist youth, aged 15 to 30. Both are good.
In general, type (a) focuses on a particular underprivileged neighborhood and has goals more beyond the bike, providing a constructive activity for kids, safety education, social-skills/values/character building ("leadership"), exploration and exposure to diversity (for underprivileged kids, this means visiting "places of abundance"), mechanical skills building, and empowerment. Damn!
Type (b) is primarily interested in providing a resource for an established bicycling community, and maybe growing that community, and maybe recycling. This is often combined with other community projects, such as visual arts or music. The "Bicycle Punk" and "Bicycle Lifestyle" movements, if I can call them that, are examples of Type (b) at work. If they are programed at all, the programs grow organically, and have a collective governance model (something that doesn't work so well with a group of ten-year-olds; think Lord of the Flies).
I wrote the p-graphs below assuming your program is Type (a), then I went back and wrote the above bits. If your program is Type (b), I got nuthin, but I can refer you to some folks. IBF has links to lots of bike programs, Bicas in Tucson looks like a Type (b) program, as does North Portland Bicycle Works. Those are just ones I know about. I'm sure there are tons more. Are some programs both Types (a) and (b)? Certainly. Do (a) and (b) need different things? I think they do. Dave (W)?
Back to Type (a): Do you know about Recycle-A-Bicycle in NYC? Karen Overton was the director for a long time, and has written a couple of book on bike programs, very practical guides, both free, I think:
_Tools For Life_ is a bit dated, but is a guide to starting a program in the model of Recycle-A-Bicycle. Chain Reaction was started by a group of students using this as a manual.
_One Revolution At A Time_ is the more recent publication. It benefited from a lot of practical experience, and I think addresses some of the key problems with the first round of bicycle programs. This book recommends the "Ride Club" as the fundamental basis of a bike program, and is a guide to getting one going, and keeping it going.
The donation/repair/earn-a-bike stuff really ought to follow from bicycle use. Riding bikes, after all, is the point--it's fun, practical, and accessible to young kids. Also, you have to start with the safety and riding skills thing, otherwise you'll never catch up (you're left hold a helmet and they're two blocks away, riding against traffic...). When you have kids interested in the club who don't have bikes, then the repair part grows naturally.One recommendation that came from more than one program-director is to "programatize" tightly. That is, make sure the activities are well defined and structured. You can probably imagine the kind of stuff that is important here--having a beginning, middle, and end; specific goals for participants, and reflection on the experience; a sense of order, camaraderie, and belonging; blah blah blah. Beyond that, it really depends on the particulars of the programs you create.
Definitely find local resources: advocacy groups, neighborhood associations, city programs, local gov. folks (DOT), Safekids groups, local bike industry folks (nearby distributors, manufacturers, retailers), etc. The League of American Bicyclist has links to local and national organizations, and the Thunderhead Alliance is a hub for advocacy folks. Trips for Kids is a national organization with local chapters all over the country. They can help you get things rolling very quickly.
Like I said before, some of these links are on my goofy blog, thepracticalcyclist.blogspot.com.
In fact, I may put this whole message on my goofy blog. Maybe I should remane it "mygoofyblog."
Postscript: I never got around to reunification. Next time perhaps. Also, the photo is shamelessly borrowed from the website of the Community Cycling Center, in Portland, OR.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bikes and Beers

More about beer than bikes, really. (I try to buy localish. The left coast has some greats, but then it has to get hauled across the country.) The favs: http://www.brooklynbrewery.com/ http://www.yuengling.com/ Some that I'd like to try: http://www.oskarblues.com/ http://www.surlybrewing.com/ Had this once, would like to try again: http://www.bigskybrew.com/ The local: http://www.olddominion.com/ (by bike, head out the W&OD rail-trail) http://www.foggybottom.com/ (Olde Heurich)

Bikes May Use Full Lane


Friday, July 27, 2007

A Typical Stage in Le Tour de France

Hahahahahaha! This is funny.

(it's also from The Economist)

Cycling and Doping IV

Haha, "four" in Roman numerals is spelled IV, like, as in, drugs. So this year's Tour brought more doping scandals, and I'm just shocked. Yesterday, Jean-Francois Lamour, vice president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, suggested that the cycling could be withdrawn from the Olympics. I think that's a good idea, actually, but I doubt it will happen. WTF, its just crazy. I went over to LA's website, and looked at his response to Walsh's recent book, From Lance to Landis, which I've read, and which in my opinion confirms the allegations of LA's doping beyond a reasonable doubt. Lance has posted a caustic response directed at Walsh, a threatening letter to Steffen Prentice (not surprisingly followed by Prentice's public retraction of his statements), and transcripts of testimony that demonstrate how LA's legal team badgered them until they couldn't say anything for certain. I'll tell you what I want to hear. I want to hear from his ex-wife, and his kids. Where the hell are they? Anyhow, here's a reasonablely balanced look the story: http://boulderreport.bicycling.com/2007/06/looking-for-the.html I hope this German kid, Linus Gerdemann, isn't on the sauce. The reality is that now, whenever someone wins, that's the first thing I wonder. I can't even say that his stance as an anti-doping advocate makes it less likely that he's doing it, because the governing bodies aren't on the level, the testing is never as good as the doping, and most doper aren't getting caught. This is funny though: http://www.tmz.com/2007/03/18/lances-ladies-look-alike/ --------------------------------------------- To the NYT, Vaughters denied that the IM exchange with Andeu was reported accurately. I like JV, and in particular, I like this quote, from cyclingnews:

"This message has to stop in cycling. This is a sport, not a Roman-conquered land. Directors and sponsors and fans have to be OK when their team doesn't win techanically on the day they want. We need to be OK with the tax being paid a few days late. "And you, as the press and fans, need to allow for that too. If a rider under-performs, don't say, 'he looks a bit fat' or whatever, like Manolo Saiz commenting on how 'fat' all the French riders looked. Just say, 'better luck next time'. "Part of the testing regimes like ACE is doing with us, and like T-Mobile is doing internally, is that it changes the riders' behavior, not just tries to catch them. It makes doping a bad choice as opposed to 'getting the job done'. If the peer pressure is to 'get the job done' because that's the implicit message, it will get done - in a bad way. "'Get 'er done' is for digging a five meter ditch or changing a light bulb. Anyone can do that without drugs given enough time, unless they are lazy. Riding a bike at 50 kph for hours takes a unique talent. It only happens on a good day for even the most talented athlete, and none of them are lazy. Let's not take away from the beauty of that once-in-a-lifetime natural achievement by saying 'get 'er done.' to these guys. "But if the message is, 'do your best to try and win', that is totally different - and human. Managers, fans, press, everyone needs to look at what they ask of riders. Think about it. You loved Tyler Hamilton getting fourth in the Tour and winning a stage with a broken collarbone. Think about that. What message does that send? He got the job done. He didn't let anyone down. "And now? Maybe he did make a ton of money, but believe me, most of his motivation was to not let down his family, his fans, his sponsors, the press and on and on. He didn't want anyone to be disappointed in him. He wanted you guys to love him and he wanted to be the nice guy. He wanted to 'get his job done'. "He wanted to make you guys happy and cheer! I know - that's what I wanted. And now? Tyler is still the same guy.

"People and the press need to remember, athletes tend to be very self-conscious and they want to do what makes the crowd happy. Don't criticise and push hard and then act shocked when doping scandals erupt. "Athletes are humans - entertainers - and very fragile humans at that. Think of them as shivering greyhounds on a cold day. All they want is to go fast so they can see the smile on your face."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bicycle Safety/Crash Studies


A Little Linkery

From Chris, at V-O, comes another terrific link: the ARROW bicycle company. So nice. Fun, minimalist, and practical, for the most part. My ADD envies your style. "Simple is best," is ARROW's mind. Sinse 1972. There is a corporate site, if you want to call it that, and sites for shops in several cities. One of them contained this little drawing of "Charis Angels." Nice. Thanks Chris!
Bicycle Ecology Japan: I haven't dug deep, but it has a nice name and logo, and looks promising.
And for something a little different, below is a picture of Darren's bell. It's actuated by a carbon Record brake lever. Perhaps the only carbon Record bell, ever.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Chartreuse Bike Lanes

Is this Copenhagen? Stockholm? Ampsterdam?

No, it's NEW YORK CITY, yo!



Monday, July 16, 2007

Doping and Cycling III

Cyclingnews.com has a good interview here with Bob Stapleton, the GM for the T-mobile team. Seems like a step in the right direction The URL is: http://www.cyclingnews.com/road/2007/tour07/?id=/riders/2007/interviews/tour_bob_stapleton_tour807

Doping and Cycling II

I'm reading David Walsh's new book From Lance to Landis, and it's pretty damning. It turns out the professional cycling has been a no-holds-barred game since its inception. I'm going to have to let all of this sit for a while before I figure out what I think about it, and how I feel. I certainly recommend the book to anyone interested in cycling, and to cyclists in general. One thing I know is that Armstrong's doping doesn't invalidate his wins, or his drive and intelligence as a cyclist. It's also clear to me that lots of people have attached all sorts of symbolic, iconic, or heroic ideals to Armstrong and his story. Cyclists, cancer patients and survivors, several corporations, the governing bodies of international cycling (UCI) and the Tour de France all have a tremendous stake in Armstrong's denial of doping and drug use. More to come. The truth requires radical acceptance. Oh, I found this interesting site: http://www.cheatingculture.com.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Doping and Cycling

What a mess. With all the recent admissions from folks close to the
USPS and Discovery teams, et al., I just can't believe anyone in the
sport who denies ever using or having knowledge of the use of illegal
blood doping or drugs.

The guys who knew that it was going on are no longer innocent, they
are omplicit in the mess. Unfortunately, no one can be neutral
anymore, they're either trying to stop it by telling everything they
know about everyone they know, or they're letting it happen, and
they're part of the deception and the problem.

The truth is rarely easy, but that doesn't make it less true.



Thank goodness there's other stuff to distract us...




The Title of This Blog

The Practical Cyclist is a reference to Nathaniel Bowditch's The New American Practical Navigator. Bowditch's title seemed a little ostentatious, so I shortened it. The title of Bowditch's book actually refers to John Hamilton Moore's The Practical Navigator. Bowditch's original task was to correct the errors in Moore's work, although Bowditch's book would became a far more extensive project. My desire here is to emulate Bowditch work, which would provide essential information to seamen of limited education and resources. Bowditch was a more or less self-taught mathematician and scientist who held accuracy in high regard. The New American Practical Navigator book became known as "the seaman's bible," and continues to be updated and used as a standard nautical text and reference.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Yuba Mundo

Check this out, the Mundo from Yuba: a utilitarian longtail, sold as a complete-bike, in three different models, at what are anticipated to be very reasonable prices.

Advice for Bike Buyers

So, friends and friends of friends frequently ask me for advice about buying bikes. Usually, I end up writing out a full essay each time. No more. I'll just refer people here. If you have comments of suggestions, feel free to add a constructive comment. Now then, when shopping for a bike...

(1) You should like the people from whom you buy your bike. New bikes come with free service, so you want to find a shop/staff you can build a relationship with. Let's throw this in here too: you should be shopping at a bicycle shop, as opposed to a department store. Skilled staff and quality products are indispensable, and it's good to support local businesses. See if you can find a shop within walking distance (or at worst, riding distance) of your home. (2) You’ll want to test ride several bikes, so be prepared to spend some time doing it. If you can help it, avoid bike shops on sunny weekends in spring and summer. If you can’t get there during the week, go early on the weekend, and be patient if they get super-busy. It’s more pleasant for both parties when the staff can give you their full attention. (3) The first, and potentially most, important thing is that the bike fits you, and that the seat is adjusted so your legs have proper extension. If this isn’t right, nothing else will be either. This is where the knowledgeable and attentive salesperson is useful. (4) This is a GREAT TIME to get into bike riding. The industry has undergone a massive diversification. Companies now routinely make at least half a dozen different TYPES of bikes, not to mention the various gradations of quality. Here’s a nice article with a little diagram that illustrates generally the different postures that are used when riding various types of bikes. Nice diagram! There is no single Best Bike. Rather, each type is better at some things, and not as good at others. Try several, see what you like. Good luck and remember to have fun.

Ah, I need to add an addendum for used bikes and craigslist, etc. Hmm.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Today's notes and links

Peter White Cycles PJW has been the go to guy for dynamo lighting for a long time. Because we're experiencing an expansion, and these lights are getting much more popular, you can probably find someone local who knows the stuff, but this is essential reading for the DIY folks. He also builds good wheels, and that is an understatement. This link should be over on the left there. http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/

Breezer Bikes and Bags Practical bikes and nice bags. I'm particularly fond of their Grocery Pannier and YearRounder Pannier. http://www.breezerbikes.com/

Austin's Yellow Bike Project http://www.austinyellowbike.org/ Someday perhaps I'll put up info on community bike programs. There are lots, probably one in your neighborhood. Go find it.

Oh my. This is about as sexy as bikes get: http://www.moyercycles.com/xa.htm

PaulComp's Thumbies are a super-smart item. I love Paul Components stuff, but it's vury 'spensive. http://www.paulcomp.com/

Makezine has lots of cool and useful things, like this: http://www.makezine.com/blog/archive/2007/01/how_to_add_a_le.html

Cycling Tattoo Gallery: http://cyclingtattoogallery.blogspot.com/ But, we've got to give props here to Joel Metz: http://www.blackbirdsf.org/chainwheels/

Yanco Pads (and caps) are rad: http://www.yancopads.com/

NAHBS 2008 will be in Portland. I'll try to be there: http://www.handmadebicycleshow.com/

White Industries' VBC (Variable Bolt Circle) crankset is beautiful, practical, and just a damn good idea. If there weren't b'zillions of sweet old cranksets out there, I'd probably buy one: http://www.whiteind.com/VBC.html

The KHS Green Bike, interesting: http://www.khsbicycles.com/09_green_07.htm

Shimano's Coasting project is not quite as practical as I would like, but a good effort, and good intent: http://www.coasting.com/publish/content/coasting/sac/en/home.html I think we need to support the industry's efforts here, oafish though they are.

More later.

Ooh, aah...

Volcanic Wheels:


Saturday, June 30, 2007


Friday, June 29, 2007

Bicycle Registration in DC

So yesterday...

On Thursday, June 28, DC Councilmember Phil Mendelson will hold a hearing on the Bicycle Registration Reform Act of 2007. The bill calls for eliminating the current mandatory registration system and replacing it with a voluntary registration system using a national database. The current system requires bicycle owners to take their bikes to a police station for registration. It also requires MPD to maintain a database of registered bicycles. The new system would allow bicycle owners to register on-line, over the phone, or via the US mail with a nation bicycle registration company. On the back end, MPD would run registration numbers of stolen bikes in their possession through the national database. DDOT is testifying in favor of the legislation. The hearing (of the COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY AND THE JUDICIARY) is scheduled for 2:00 PM in ROOM 412 of the Wilson Building (14th and Penn Ave, NW). Please contact the committee directly if you would like to testify. You can also submit your comments in writing to the Committee, and you can watch the hearing live on the web or DC cable.
I couldn't make it, but I'd like to hear a report. Anyone? Anyone?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bring on the Bakfietsen!

Todd, over at Clever Cycles, created or found this lil' graphic:

Nicely done. I've been looking for an alternative to the classic, " bent-over/stretched out/aggressive" language. This is a terrific diagram: just a few lines transmitting loads of information. Thanks Todd.
When I get my Honda, Heading for Peru.
That line always sticks with me.
When I get my Bakfiet, Heading for PDX.
Doesn't sound quite as good.

Silver Spring, MD

It's where I live. Here's yet another handout to big corporations and chain stores: http://tinyurl.com/2klbvl Write to the County Council, ask them to stop this from happening. I'll stick in some links to Silver Spring sites over on the side.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Who should ride a bike?

Everyone! Bikes are pretty democratic that way.

The Post That Started It All

This man should be in jail: I'll just leave it at that for now.

Bike there, with directions: