Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Yay Bikes Newsletter - October 2009

The Yay Bikes newsletter is back for October - there are some great thing afoot with Columbus's grassroots bike advocacy group so check it out!

Thanks to all of you who came out to see our new office at 82 E. 16th Ave. - we're all dressed up and ready to become Ground Zero of bicycle brainpower in Columbus! We hope you'll visit Yay Bikes! during our regular office hours Tues 6-9, Fri 2-5, Sun 12-3. And planning meetings will be scheduled soon, so stay tuned.

yb office

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yb teeGet one today from Skreened! It's über lovely, and $3 of your purchase goes to support our efforts!
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Columbus's League-Certified Instructors are offering two six-hour (2-8pm) commuter courses for riders who are already comfortable on the roads but need support to master them. All for the price of a tank of gas - $35 per person! EmailMeredith if you'd like to ride more confidently and commute to work with ease.

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This casual ride along the Olentangy bike path, between theNorth Market & Hills Market, kicks off Local Food Week. Start with breakfast at either market and ride to the other for a bag of freebies & discounts. Register in advance to pay just $10; $15 at the door. Support healthy & delcious local food - your biking legs need good fuel!

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Beginning at 7pm from Studio 35, Ray George of Columbus Rides will lead a tour of 4 North Side Taco Trucks for dinner. We'll then return to watch ¡Three Amigos! at 11:30. $5 donations will be accepted that evening to benefit the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

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The Ohio Transportation Engineering Conference is themedMoving Ohio into a Prosperous New World. Register online to attend the conference; YB! will be presenting "Strategies to Promote a Mode Shift of Transportation to Bicycling" at 2:15pm on Wednesday.

People, not speed.

Meet Your New Columbus Alternative Transportation Examiner

... Me!

Yes, that's right. In addition to this blog, I'm now also the Columbus Alternative Transportation Examiner over at Examiner.com - a national news and commentary website with local focus for their various topics (which are pretty comprehensive!). I'll be mostly posting about bicycles over there, but also plan to keep track of what's going on with the Ohio railroad changes, local COTA news, and issues related to walking as well.

Some of the content may be repeated between sites, some of it won't. And some of it may be similar but have different focuses depending on which site I'm writing for. I hope to keep both sites interesting without simply repeating the same posts in two places consistently.

And if you'd like to keep up with what I'm writing over at Examiner.com, you can check out the feed I'm tracking in the right column of this blog. Hope you visit both sites, and enjoy!

People, not speed.

EveryoneBikes.org To Host Fundraiser

Columbus's bike share program, EveryoneBikes.org, is hosting a fundraiser movie party with the film Road to Roubaix (a story about the classic Paris-Roubaix ride, also known as the Hell of the North).

Stop by and join the fun as yet another fantastic bicycling organization in Columbus looks to expand its offerings and make Columbus a better place to live.

Here's the text from the Facebook invitation:

Date: Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Time: 6:30pm - 9:30pm
Location: Parking Lot next to Bodega
1044 N High St
Columbus, OH

Email: ryanbauer411@yahoo.com

Join Columbus Collective for an EXCLUSIVE showing of Road to Roubaix, a truly unique film about one of cycling's most historic races. We'll meet in the parking lot next to Bodega and watch the film against the brick wall of a neighboring building, an urban viewing that matches the grit of the Paris-Roubaix race. We encourage everyone to bike to the event if possible. There will be plenty of space to store the bikes towards the back of the fenced lot.

About the film, Road To Roubaix:

Celebrating one of the most historically relevant races in the world, the film highlights rare interviews with current superstars, legends of the sport, mechanics, and fans lead the audience through the brutal, unpredictable landscape that elevates Paris-Roubaix to its epic status. Director of photography Patrick Reis and his team masterfully capture the beauty of the region through stunning panoramic views and footage of the race, riders, and the infamous cobblestones which serve as the star of the film. The film deftly weaves rare behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, and a collection photographs—both contemporary and archival—that make Road To Roubaix an organic visual narrative that engages audiences from beginning to end. This is a rare look at Paris-Roubaix usually reserved for the sport's insiders. The film trailer can be seen at www.masterlinkfilms.com

About the admission price:

Please bring $5 (or a little more) to the event which will help us cover the cost of pizza (one slice included with entry) and the lease of the movie. We'll also have beverages for purchase as well. Everyone is encouraged to BYOB, preferably in recyclable cans. The remaining funds raised (after costs) will be used to purchase a bike for a Short North non-profit to participate in the everyonebikes bike-share. Developed through retailer and advertiser partnerships, everyonebikes is a Central Ohio community based bike sharing organization. Retailers partners provide bicycles to riders via a simple transaction. Users can then borrow a bike, run errands, visit the various retailers throughout Central Ohio neighborhoods, stop and enjoy food/drink/shopping and then return the bike for others to enjoy.

People, not speed.

Equipment Roundup: Interbike 2009

As most of you probably know, Interbike 2009 was last week, and the yearly bike and bike-accessory trade show was a huge success. I'm trying to keep up with all the stuff that we saw, but it's tough - there were thousands of exhibitors and everyone's got their favorite stuff to show off. Here are some of the highlights that I've seen, equipment-wise. Keep checking back for more as I find them!

180s iPhone-Friendly items (from Bike Hugger)

You may be familiar with 180s, the earmuffs that wrap around the back of your head and therefore work really nicely with a bike helmet.

The folks at 180s are back with some items that are compatible with the iPhone and iPod Touch. One complaint they hear at iPhone is that you have to remove gloves to use the thing, and when it's cold it's not always comfortable to do so. 180s has created a pair of gloves with contact pads on the thumb and forefinger to relieve you of the need to uncover those hands. Great idea.

Also, they have a new, sleeker model of their fantastic earmuffs. These will cut down on wind noise and take up less space in your helmet, jersey pocket, what have you.

Check out the Bike Hugger link above for more on these products.

Zoic Commuter Clothing

I'll let this video speak for itself.

Rapha (also from Bike Hugger)

This is a nice idea - a cyclist-specific sport coat. Too often, cycling clothing is considered grubby or just something to wear while you ride. This sport coat shows that this isn't necessarily the case.

People, not speed.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Columbus Cyclist Austin Kocher Printed in Practical Pedal

You remember Practical Pedal, right? I talked about this great magazine back in April 2007, and still love the great work they do bringing practical bikes and their operation to the mainstream.

Now, Columbus cyclist and cycling advocate Austin Kocher has an article in the latest issue entitled "Traffic: Geographies of Power." It's an interesting combination of nostalgia, traffic planning critique, and emotion that every cyclist has undergone at some point, and the struggle between cyclist and car is the focus point.

I highly recommend everyone read this article! Austin's a great, thoughtful writer, and his article shows the depth to which he's pondered these issues.

People, not speed.

Monday News Roundup: State Senators to Announce Ohio 3-foot Passing Bill

From Consider Biking:

Senators Teresa Fedor and Mark Wagoner to Announce Biking Safety Bill

Columbus, Ohio — Senators Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Mark Wagoner (R-Ottawa Hills) will announce the introduction of a biking safety bill September 28, 2009 at 10:30 AM on the west lawn of the Statehouse. The legislation will define a safe lateral passing distance of three feet when a motor vehicle passes a bicycle or other non-motorized vehicle. The Ohio Bicycle Federation President, Chuck Smith, will be in attendance to speak in support of the legislation. Local riders and those injured by the failure of drivers to observe a safe passing distance will also be in attendance.

“Cyclists often do not feel safe riding in their neighborhoods or to work because of unsafe distances between cars. We must make Ohio streets safer for our over one million cyclists,” said Senator Fedor.

Senator Fedor, joined by Senator Wagoner for part of the journey, completed her 3rd Annual Bike to the Capitol tour during Bike to Work Week. The ride reinforced the need for bike-friendly communities and safer roads for those who use bicycling as an alternative mode of transportation. The tour took Senator Fedor from Toledo to Columbus over a 3-day period on a “Campaign for Healthy Kids and Communities”. The event was geared toward raising awareness about quality physical and health education standards in schools, alternative means of transportation and bicycle-friendly communities.

I'm torn on this legislation. On one hand, it's great to see our government taking an interest in safety over speed for a change. And forcing cars to keep three feet away while passing is a wonderful way to do so. I admire the heck out of Senators Fedor and Wagoner for their efforts to make our streets safer for all operators.

But... let's be honest here. Is three feet enough? Most cars pass me with 4 or 5 feet clearance already, and three feet feels pretty close. Controlling the lane helps me to push cars over the lane dividing line if they want to pass, and in such cases three feet would seem like I was being crowded.

And is anyone actually going to enforce this? If I went up to a police officer with a car's license plate number and told them that I thought they were disobeying the three foot law, how am I going to prove it?

This seems more like a feel-good law than anything that has any sort of real power.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. If we really want to do something to make motorists respect the space around cyclists, we'll enact a law that emulates the 5th Motorist Directive from the EU, and place the burden of legal and insurance responsibility for safety on the operators of the most dangerous vehicles - the cars.

My friend CycleDog said it best: cars are weapons. You need a license to drive a car, you need a license to own a gun. And if you were to blindly fire a gun and accidentally hit someone that you didn't see, would "I didn't see them!" be a defense or an admission of guilt? There's no difference here than driving a car, and the responsibility for safety NEEDS to fall to the operators of the vehicles that are doing all the damage.

People, not speed.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bicycling Magazine Highlights for Commuters at Interbike

The bike commuter market keeps becoming more important to the bike industry, as Christine Mattheis reports in her latest column at Bicycling Magazine. And the offerings at Interbike 2009 were a great indication of that fact.

So, what sorts of things stood out to Christine among the literally thousands of new products at the yearly trade show?

How about belt drives? One of the frequent complaints of commuters is that most bikes sold in the US don't have chain guards, which would go a long way to keeping pant legs clean as we make our way around town. Belt drives help solve that problem by removing the chain and replacing it with a polyurethane belt that never needs any sort of lubrication. Ergo: no grease! The belts are smooth and strong as a chain with no discernible difference in performance, and were seen on bikes from Trek, Spot, Co-Motion, Civia, and Specialized.

Another particularly exciting trend is the increase in the number of clothing lines made especially for the bike commuter. In the past, we've seen such products as Cordarounds Bike-To-Work Pants which combine safety for commuters with everyday style, and now it seems that other companies are jumping on the bandwagon to present offerings for the cycling set. Sugoi is working on normal button-up shirts made of wicking fabric (among other things), and Shebeest is releasing slacks with a higher-than-normal waist for added modesty for cyclists bent over their handlebars. As with anything, it's the small details that really make a difference and it seems that clothing companies are really taking the challenge on head-on.

The final trend that was making the rounds at Interbike was the electric bike. More than just another scooter, this is an actual bike with electric assist to help on hills and to help avoid getting overly sweaty on your ride. As clean-up upon reaching our destinations is listed as a primary reason many people don't bike commute, this could be a game changer. Christine wasn't impressed with the range or charge time of the bikes, though - 40 miles and 8 hours for a full charge. But as the Interbike TV interview with Gary Fisher shows, her concerns aren't felt by everyone. And reports I've heard from overseas about the growing popularity of electric bikes could mean that they're not far away from being regular sights on our shores, too.

People, not speed.

Friday Link-O-Rama: 9/25/2009

Cyclelicious - Fritz is collecting photos from Interbike for us. Thanks!

UrbanVelo - Some more Interbike pics!

RocBike.com - The Marino family of Saratoga, New York, is not giving up their battle to be able to ride their bikes to school.

BikePortland.org - A new type of pedicab/cargo bike. Interesting, I kind of like it!

BikePortland.org - Portland's bike commuting population had a big jump last year.

Bike Shop Girl - A new way to dress up your bike, also from Interbike. Man, next year I HAVE to get there somehow...

DowntownColumbus.com - A little swift kick in the pants, for Columbus's lack of light rail.

People, not speed.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Feds Issue Report On State of Bicycle, Pedestrian Needs in Ohio

The Federal Highway Administration, Ohio Division Office, has done a review of the efforts of the State Department of Transportation (ODOT) and local metropolitan planning organizations (including Columbus) and come up with some recommendations for the State as it proceeds with its efforts to make the highway environment safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

A summary of those recommendations follows:

Review of Ohio Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning and Safety Efforts
FHWA Ohio Division, April 2009
Executive Summary
The Federal Highway Administration Ohio Division Office (Division Office) conducted a review of the bicycle and pedestrian planning efforts at the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) in the state. This review utilized the guidelines of a Quality Improvement Review (QIR) to provide some framework for the review in assessing how the bicycle and pedestrian planning efforts are administered by ODOT along with the MPOs in Ohio, and how improvements may be made accordingly. The approach of the review involved comparing the practices in the State of Ohio (from ODOT and from within all of the MPOs) against those of each of the other 50 States and certain localities nationally who engage in successful practices.
The intent of comparing Ohio to these other areas was to highlight those successful practices and assess which practices could be brought to Ohio to improve overall planning efforts. The safety of bicyclists and pedestrians has emerged as a priority for the Division Office as well as for ODOT, the MPOs and local communities through the course of this review. This document describes the range of opportunities to improve conditions for bicycling and walking in terms of planning and safety in Ohio. Based upon the review, several key recommendations to improve the Bicycle and Pedestrian program were identified:
  • ODOT should explore working with the State legislators to more clearly define multimodal options such as bicycle and pedestrian accommodations.

  • ODOT should consider the development of a Statewide Complete Streets policy that will aid in better planning and project delivery.

  • ODOT should consider developing a comprehensive statewide bicycle and pedestrian plan.

  • ODOT should establish policy and procedures that would address the Districts’ roles and responsibilities in implementing and encouraging comprehensive planning for all modes statewide.

  • ODOT should update ODOT Policy No 20-004(P) Policy on Accommodating Bicycle and Pedestrian Travel on ODOT Owned or Maintained Facilities and address the 2005 Division Office comments regarding the policy.
ODOT/FHWA should develop a module of training to help transportation officials understand federal and State processes, design standards, obligations, etc. This review has succeeded in conducting an assessment of the bicycle and pedestrian planning as it relates to Program and Procedures, Roles and Responsibilities, State Laws, ODOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Policies Program and Practices, MPO Planning Efforts, the 2008 FHWA Ohio Division Questionnaire Results, and Safety. The Districts and the MPOs continue to demonstrate their abilities as good managers of the TE Program in terms of project delivery in addition to being good stewards of federal dollars. There is a demonstrated need to improve upon the state of the practice regarding bicycle and pedestrian planning statewide. There is also a need to continue to educate engineers and planners alike in this area. The review has identified opportunities for improvement, as well as best practices in Ohio and around the nation that can be implemented in the state. Safety for these modes of transportation is likewise important, and further improvements to reduce accidents, injuries and fatalities are called for.
To address the review objective of assisting ODOT, MPOs and LPAs further develop in the area of bicycle and pedestrian planning and safety, the Division Office will meet with ODOT Central Office, Office of Local Projects and Office of Planning and select MPOs to discuss the above recommendations and determine which can feasibly be addressed, including working jointly with those offices. The Division Office will continue to offer technical assistance and will develop training that can be implemented statewide.
The entire report was distributed to many locations via email, and I have a copy for our readers here. Enjoy!

People, not speed.

Bexley Council Votes to Ban Texting While Driving

In an anticipated move, the Bexley City Council voted yesterday to ban texting while driving, riding a motorcycle, or cycling in the city limits. The fine is $150.

Apparently the police in Bexley are under the impression that it will be difficult to enforce, but according to this article in the Columbus Dispatch, a Cleveland police lieutenant is saying that's just not the case - it's easy to tell who's texting while driving by looking at them.

This is a great step forward for Central Ohio - law that actually requires people to be more responsible when they drive is a wonderful way to get people to begin to realize that their careless actions can affect other people.

People, not speed.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Car Free Day is Coming Tuesday, September 22nd

Looking for a reason to get out of the car and back on the bike? Look no further.

Tuesday, September 22nd, is Car Free Day! That's right, it's the perfect day to get out of your car, pull out that bike, or a handful of pocket change, or your walkin' shoes, and hit the road! Take your bike, the bus, or walk to your destination!

Car Free Day in Columbus is being undertaken in cooperation with the World Carfree Network. The goal of the World Carfree Network is to promote alternatives to driving and automobile dependence in road planning throughout the world. They aim to reduce human impact on the environment while improving the quality of life for everyone. And what better way to do that than by getting people outside!

Some of the sponsors of Car Free Day include Yay Bikes, Consider Biking, Everyone Bikes, Paradise Garage, and MORPC, among a number of others.

The Car Free Day website has a pledge form that you can fill out to show that you're taking part in this great experience, so please visit the site, fill it out (it won't take you five minutes), and then on Tuesday get out of your car and show the world how we can improve life by leaving our cars at home!

People, not speed.

Friday Link-O-Rama: 9/18/2009

Cycle Dallas - Study: Bike lanes encourage motorists to drive closer to bikes.

Cycleliciousness [Copenhagen Bicycle Culture] is doing a five-part essay on the Fear of Cycling - reasons, ways to deal with it, etc. I'll post those as they're released here - three parts are currently available.

Cyclelicious - Male cycling models needed for Interbike retailer show. I've been looking to make some extra money... ;)

BikePortland - This may be the greatest bicycle ever. EVER.

Cyclelicious - Make yourself a new ad hoc headlight with a flashlight and an old tube.

Columbus Underground - An interview with Laura Koprowski of MORPC about Car Free Day, which is September 22nd!

People, not speed.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Commuter Cycling 101: Getting Ready for Autumn, Part 3

We've spent the past couple of weeks talking about what you can do to get ready for autumn riding. Two weeks ago, we discussed everyday gear and last week we featured foul-weather gear.

This week, we're going to talk about another important part of your commute: your bike. That's right, now that we've gotten you ready to deal with the elements, it's time to do the same for your bike. In particular, we're going to discuss Fenders and Lights.


Some folks eschew fenders due to the perceived weight, mainly folks who do a lot of recreational riding or race training. But for the commuter, nothing makes it easier to simply get on your bike and go, no matter what you're wearing, than a serviceable set of fenders.

I still remember my very first commute to work - it was mid-November of 2006, and I had this brand new bike to head to work with. So I threw my backpack on, tied up my pants cuffs, put on my helmet, and took off. It was a somewhat cool, humid day. It had rained the previous day and there was still a little bit of standing water here and there, but most it was just wet pavement without standing water. In other words, I could avoid going through the puddles.

Upon getting to work and sitting down in my chair at the office, I felt a wet spot on my chair. So I headed off to our bathroom to take a look at it. And lo and behold, I had a nice little wet stripe going right up my butt where the spray from my rear wheel had gotten me. Even though I took care to avoid the standing water, just riding over the wet pavement had thrown up enough water over a couple miles of riding to make its presence known.

I looked online, and lo and behold, I found the answer: a pair of fenders. I've had them on my bike ever since and I rarely have any issue with them. The brand I use personally are Planet Bike Hardcore ATB Fenders with Mudflaps. (No Yosemite Sam on the mudflaps yet, though I've been tempted to find some that say "Back off!" like you see on some trucks). They're built wide for tires that are wide, like mine (26" x 1.95" tires).

These fenders were easy to install with a screwdriver and small crescent wrench (no special tools required), and most bike frames seem to have the mounts for them (or similar fenders) built right in (as you can see in the example picture on the left).

The mudflaps on this model (and they also come in a narrower, roadbike/hybrid-tire model in case your bike isn't quite the same as mine) are great for group rides, as well - they'll avoid spray flying up and hitting people riding with you, which your compatriots are sure to appreciate.

Another fender model that you'll see on occasion doesn't attach to the frame at the hubs, but rather to the seat post or seat tube. You'll notice the clip on the fender at the right for that very purpose. They are lighter and easier to install, but don't quite protect everyone around you as well as the model I use. Planet Bike has these as well.


The other facet of riding in the autumn is the shortening of the daylight hours. That's right, you're likely to be riding more when the visibility is bad - whether because of reduced daylight or increased rainy periods. And to that end, nothing is better for seeing the road AND being seen by everyone else than a good set of lights. And it bears repeating that Columbus Traffic Code requires you to have lights when riding in less than optimal sunlight.

For seeing the road, you'll want a good headlight. There are a lot of great bike lights on the market, with companies like CygoLite, Cateye, Planet Bike, and others making fine models. They can run a bit expensive, but you can find them for around $100 with rechargeable batteries (so that you save even more money by not having to keep buying batteries!). I personally prefer a double-light set up - with one light pointed close to the ground in front of you and one a bit ahead. That allows for the best visibility of the whole road in front of you. The model I use is the CygoLite Rover II LED. I've never had an issue with seeing the road when using this light.

Most lights attach to the front of the bike, either on the handlebars or the head tube. But there are also attachments that can put your light on your helmet. These are nice because you'll always see what lies ahead of you in the direction you're looking. A good example can seen here: the Cygo Bicycle Light Helmet Mount Kit for Rover/Night Explorer. And if you think a vehicle isn't paying attention to your approach from the opposite side, you can nod your head or wave it from side to side to get the attention of drivers. You can also do this with handlebar-mounted lights by slowly turning the bars back and forth, but obviously you need to be careful with this.

For being seen on the road, you'll want blinking lights to catch drivers' attention. And for me, nothing beats the most low-maintenance bike light there is: the Reelight. You may recall the review I did of these back in February 2008. These little beauties are great because they're bright and require NO BATTERIES. They charge themselves on a set of magnets that you'll install to your spokes on the front and rear tires, and every time the wheels revolve they charge the light. And once you've been going for a while, they'll HOLD that charge even when you're not moving, more than long enough to get through a traffic light. They are also easy to install, and all the hardware is included.

Naturally, there are also many battery-powered lights of various types that fulfill the "flasher" requirement for visibility on your bike. It's a matter of personal preference.

So as you can see, there's no reason whatsoever that you can't remain comfortable and safe while you ride in the fall and even into the winter (which we'll get into in a couple of months).

For those who are still looking around, I've added a foul weather accessories page to my Amazon Store. Please consider Bike Commuting in Columbus when you're looking for your fenders, lights, or other bike gear!

People, not speed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

League of American Bicyclists Newsletter - September 14, 2009

National News

League Invited To Distracted Driving Summit
Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists, will join other safety advocates, senior transportation officials, law enforcement representatives, elected officials and academics at the Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, D.C. on September 30 and October 1, 2009. The Summit, convened by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, will focus on determining the best ways to reduce the number of crashes and deaths due to distracted driving. Clarke will take this opportunity to highlight some personal stories from League Members who have been directly affected by crashes caused by distracted drivers. If you have a personal story you would like to share, respond to communications@bikeleague.org by Monday, September 21. For updates on Summit and to view the proceedings please click here.

Safe Routes to School Dear Congress Campaign
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership has launched a Dear Congress: Why Safe Routes to School is Important campaign. They need your help. They are striving to generate letters from children, parents, program staff and volunteers, and school and city leaders talking about why Safe Routes to School matters to individuals and communities. They will bundle your letters and share them with members of the House and Senate so that they know how many people in their states and districts value Safe Routes to School. Click here for more information on how you can join the letter-writing campaign. Please pass this message along to your own state and local list-servs. The deadline for the campaign is September 24, 2009.

State & Local News
Bike Sharing in the Twin Cities
The nonprofit Nice Ride Minnesota plans to inaugurate a $3.7 million system of 1,000 heavy-duty bikes and 80 locking kiosks in and around downtown Minneapolis next May. For an annual fee of $60 or a daily charge of $5, you'll be able to take unlimited free rides of up to half an hour between the computerized locking stations. The bike share program is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. Read more at Minnesota 2020.

Pittsburgh Works Towards Better Bike Parking
Pittsburgh's Planning Commission unanimously passed a proposedBicycle Parking Ordinance on September 1. Currently, there are no city zoning rules that deal with bike parking. What this proposed ordinance states is that anytime a new building is built, or there is a change or expansion in use, building owners must put in bike parking. There is also an incentive component to the ordinance, whereby a developer can replace up to 30 percent of their car parking requirement with bicycle parking. If you are a Pittsburgh resident, write or email your councilperson and ask them to support the proposed ordinance when it comes through.

Capitol Corridor Train Car Retrofit Accommodates Cyclists
Hot on the heals of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition's success to getting better bike access on Caltrain comes news of improved bike access to another critical rail corridor. The September 10 report on Capital Corridor bike access reports that due to the growing trend of bikes on board Capitol Corridor trains, Caltrans and the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) retrofitted 14 train cab cars-increasing on-board bike storage by 34%. Nearly 9% of Capitol Corridor's 1.7 million annual passengers use a bicycle to gain access to the Capitol Corridor intercity passenger rail service.

League News

D.C Forum: Demark Cycle Chic
The cool factor of the bicycle has come a long way in the U.S., but nowhere is it as mainstream to bike in your suit and tie or your fashionable dress as it is in European cities like Copenhagen. Danish bike culture, often called cycle chic, is central to the Danes' approach to sustainable living, and one of the key factors in their ability to remain energy independent. This supportive culture combines with supportive transportation infrastructure to make biking the mode of choice for nearly 33 percent of local trips in Denmark, compared to just 1 percent of local trips in the United States. What have the Danish done to make biking a national habit?

Join us for a lecture and discussion with Mikael Colville-Andersen with an introduction by Andy Clarke, League President. Check outwww.copenhagencyclechic.com; www.copenhagenize.com for more information.

RSVP for the forum here.

Become a League Board Member
If you are interested in serving on the League Board of Directors, or if you know someone who would be a good representative for cyclists, the Nominating Committee is now soliciting recommendations for candidates for the 2010 board appointments. The deadline is this Friday, September 18. The 12 Directors on the board are responsible for setting broad policy and direction for the League. Six represent specific regions and are elected by League members. One seat is an at-large position, elected by members. The board selects the remaining five seats. Four of the board-selected, at-large seats are open in 2010. Read more.

Other News
Ride 2 Recovery eBay Charity Auction
Ride 2 Recovery is holding an eBay Charity Auction. It began September 8 but will run to September 18 at 5 PM. The money raised from this effort will go to support the participation of wounded heroes in the R2R program and events, purchase bikes, helmets and other technical equipment required for the wounded heroes. R2R has 10 auction items to choose from, including a dinner with Sarah Palin. The other items offered include a lunch with Karl Rove. Please go toeBay.com/Ride2Recovery for all of the auction details.

World News

Light Electric Vehicle Industry Meeting
Last week the first steps were made to lobby for better European regulations for 2 and 3-wheeled Light Electric Vehicles (LEVs) at Eurobike. The Light Electric Vehicle Association (LEVA),is organizing a parallel meeting for the American and Canadian industry on Friday, September 25 at the upcoming Interbike Show in Las Vegas, Nev. while a meeting for the Chinese industry could take place in Beijing, China mid October.

North American companies that would like to participate in the meeting at Interbike are requested to register in advance with the ETRA-secretariat: tel. +32 9 233 60 05, E-mail etra@pandora.be.

CPH Bike Share Competition
In 1995, Copenhagen was the first city to introduce a modern bike share system - Bycyklen - or The City Bike. Much has happened since this Bike Share v. 1.0 was launched and, over the past ten years, many large cities now enjoy exciting, new bike share systems. Copenhagen is searching for a bike share system that reflects their city's unique, world-class cycling city culture. Therefore The City of Copenhagen is pleased to launch an open design competition in order to determine how a bike share system v. 3.0 would look and work in the city in the future. Click here for further details.

The League of American Bicyclists promotes bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation, and works through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America. The League represents the interests of America's 57 million bicyclists, including its 300,000 members and affiliates. For more information or to support the League, visitwww.bikeleague.org.
People, not speed.

Equipment Roundup: The Trail-Gator

My son is at an age now where he's ready to start some real cycling. He has had a Specialized Hotrock bike for a couple years now (he's a big kid and outgrew tricycles pretty early in life), but he's always had some trouble with the pedalling action - trying to stand on one pedal and then not continuing the momentum to keep the other pedal coming around.

Well, we wanted to help him to get the feeling of riding the road even though his pedalling isn't superb yet, partcularly the balance factor of riding. Training wheels aren't the best way to do this, as many of you may know. They don't allow the rider to lean into turns and use their body to turn more than their hands.

And to that end, my wife and I were looking at various trailer-bikes - you know, those half-bikes that latch onto an adult's bike and basically turn your bike into a tandem. The rider in the rear can even "stoke" a bit - being pure power as you pedal up hills and the like.

But my son (who's slightly autistic, as many of you may know) loves his bike. And I was a bit concerned about him riding on something with which he's not familiar. I also didn't want to spend the money on a full trailer-bike.

Enter: The Trail-Gator.

Basically, as you can see from the picture, it's a tow-bar that attaches from your bike to the front of your child's bike. It suspends their front wheel off the ground, fixes their handlebars in place, and allows you to tow your child on their existing bike. The child therefore gets to know the feeling of riding their bike, which is key in learning to ride alone.

When not in use, it telescopes closed and attaches in place out of the way to the left of your rear wheel (via a small attachment that fits under your rear quick-release). And you can also get optional training wheels for the child's bike that flip out of the way when you're towing, and flip back down if you want to let them ride unassisted.

Installation of the Trail-Gator is pretty easy, though there are some steps that are variably difficult depending on the type of bikes you have. But the instructions are pretty easy to follow.

The pieces that attach the bar to your child's bike are difficult enough to install that you probably want to leave the piece on the child's bike and buy another optional one in case you have two kids you want to be able to tow (Or you could just buy another Trail-Gator, I suppose, if you have two bikes that can do the towing as well). The piece that attaches to your bike is less complex - just slipping over your seat post and tightening with a wrench. But for convenience, you can also buy extras of those as well.

Once you get the pieces attached firmly and tightly, the ride is very smooth. Yes, you feel it if your passenger leans too far to either side but that's a good training tool, in my opinion. The tow-er knows when the tow-ee is not taking a good position on the bike that way. And also, the tow-er knows if the child isn't pedalling properly. If the child is trying to pedal backward, especially if the child's bike has coaster brakes, you'll know it... trust me. I disable my son's handbrake during our rides, but I like knowing when he's not pedalling right so I can remind him.

This item's great for family rides to the park, getting your kids to school (and allowing them to have their own bikes at school for the ride home if necessary), and even for longer-duration rides. My family has done some charity rides with me pulling my son and my wife pulling my daughter in a trailer and it's worked great. He's comfortable on his own bike, and if he wants to do some solo riding it's easy to disconnect him and let him go a bit.

So I give the Trail-Gator an A plus. It's a simple item that works well and has good flexibility to be used in a number of different ways.

People, not speed.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Link-O-Rama: 9/11/2009

TreeHugger - West coast Burgerville chain finally serving bikes in the drive-through lane.

The Fredcast - Stay tuned to one of the best cycling podcasts for updates from Interbike this month!

BikePortland.org - Care about Safe Routes to School? Tell Congress about it!

Urban Velo - Driver punches cyclist in face for pointing out they were in the bike lane, police ignore crime.

Bike Shop Girl - Her guide to your flat kit - both for racers and transportation riders.

BikeHacks - A dictionary of commuter slang. Can't say I've ever used any of these terms... but it cracked me up.

Bike Hugger - Nothing too bike-related here, I just like the idea of using a bike to herd camels.

The Bike Nazi - A bit of an extra look at one of those oft-publicized distracted driving studies.

The Bike Nazi - And more from our Idaho friend, as he discusses the phenomenon of cops being above the law. Particularly poignant to me after nearly being right-hooked by a cop today at the corner of S. High and Livingston.

People, not speed.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday Cycling Soapbox: Bike to School!

The school year is upon us here in the United States, and the morning sidewalks and streets are full of children walking, biking, and riding the bus to school.

Whoa... wait a minute... did you say biking? A rising trend in this country is schools BANNING kids from riding their bikes to school.

The reason for this is... yes, you guessed it: liability over students' safety on the roads, especially all those roads around the schools. And a major reason for the problem is that more and more kids are being driven to school by parents instead of walking or riding themselves.

The reason for a lot of this can be laid at the feet of our media. Lenore Skenazy, of the blog Free Range Kids, points out that streets are a lot safer now than when we were kids. She likes to point out that, statistically, you'd have to leave your child out alone for 750,000 years if you wanted to ensure that they got kidnapped. But our media has hyped up our fear of pedophiles and kidnappers to such an extent that many parents don't dream of letting their kids get away with the same sorts of freedoms that we had as kids. Hence the constant need to drive kids to school. And the scary thing is that the odds of getting into a car accident in a year are close to 1 in 20,000. Compare that with the risk of a child being kidnapped: 1 in 300,000.

Combine that with the horrid cheap carbohydrate-rich diets that are foisted upon us and it's no wonder there's an obesity epidemic. The results of this hyper-paranoia and poor diet is that our kids are fat, can't think for themselves, and can't pay attention in school.

Now, the topic here is cycling to school, specifically. We're fortunate in our neighborhood that we have a lot of kids who bike to school. The newly-renovated school down the street has two large bike racks for kids to lock their bikes up during the day, and as I tweeted about a couple weeks ago, I was heartened to see six kids riding to school before I even got down to the first main thoroughfare. And I haven't heard of any schools in the Columbus area that have bans in place for riding (if you know of any, let us know in the comments).

But that doesn't mean that there aren't horribly backward school systems in other parts of the country where bikes aren't allowed. Many of them go so far as to tell parents that THEY can't ride their kids to school on a bike, either in a trailer or in a bike seat. And the reason is that the schools don't think it's safe to ride on the streets around the schools, because of the traffic.

This thinking is, of course, entirely backward. Instead of banning the kids from riding, getting exercise and fresh air, they should be the BIGGEST advocates in the world for safe roads. They should be telling local planners to lower speed limits around the schools 24/7, and put in permanent traffic-calming measures like rumble strips and speed bumps. They should be lobbying the police to enforce traffic laws on the various approaches to the schools. They should be encouraging parents to let their kids ride. All they are doing by banning bikes is making certain that parents make the problem worse by driving their kids to school more often!

And the kids get to school, full of carb-loaded breakfasts and with no exercise to settle them down a bit, and then the teachers wonder why their kids are fat and more apt to suffer from hyperactivity and the like.

And another reason that fewer kids ride to school - the schools are put in some of the worst places now. Last weekend, my family was driving through Canal Winchester when we passed two elementary schools right next to one another on a busy road. Two separate elementary schools, right next door to one another. Why weren't these schools located in neighborhoods where people could walk or ride to them? Why were they out on a busy road? Why would you purposefully create a situation for your city's kids where they were forced to be bussed or driven by your parents? This is an example of HORRIBLE city planning and indicative of more problems such as sprawl.

I recommend that people take a look at some of the stories that are floating around the internet about this topic. It's insane to think that our school systems would be advocating making our kids fatter and less healthy.

Also, take a look at the website for the National Center for Safe Routes to School. It's got lots of information on how to help kids stay safe on the way to school and how to fight for your kids' right to ride to school if they want.

People, not speed.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Commuter Cycling 101: Getting Ready for Autumn, Part 2

Last week, as fall began to approach and the weather took a turn for the cooler, we discussed recommendations for what to wear during your commute - on a normal day. But as people in Ohio like to say about the weather: "if you don't like the weather here, wait a minute." And nothing is worse than getting caught in the rain or worse while riding when you're not prepared.

So let's take a look at some good ways to be prepared for wet weather, particularly in the fall. Wet weather in the summer isn't that big a deal. So it rains, so you get a bit wet, and it feels pretty good. It's hot out, and a little rain doesn't bother you.

Not so in the fall. It's getting cooler, and if you're not careful you could end up getting sick during your commute, which sort of does in the whole goal of staying healthy by riding to work. No, the fall is a time when you want to keep dry as much as possible.

There are two contingencies to prepare for in this regard:

  1. You start your ride when it's not raining and it starts to rain.
  2. You start your ride in the rain.

The first contingency - you start your ride when it's not raining and it starts to rain - is easily solved by bringing some rain gear with you on your ride. Waterproof panniers or another waterproof bag are the easiest way to accomplish this. Toss a poncho, some rain pants, and an extra pair of socks into your bag and you're ready to avoid the elements no matter when they pop up.

I personally use a rain cape instead of a standard poncho. Not that popular (yet!) in the US, a rain cape is basically a poncho, but as you can see from the picture to the right, it does NOT open on the side and it has finger/hand holds to allow you to cover your handlebars. The model I have also has a waist band to keep the cape from flapping up behind you as you ride (hard to do with a standard poncho). This site has more on rain capes.

But for avoiding the rain when you know it's coming, nothing beats a good rain suit. These are easily found at a lot of places and require little in the way of specialization - it's just a rubber or plastic suit that fits over your clothes. I wear a Columbia Sportswear Ibex Rain Parka and Pants. They're cheap but do a great job of shucking the water.

As for footwear, keep in mind that I do not have clipless pedals, so I generally throw on a pair of hiking boots. Not only does this keep my feet warm, but it keeps them dry. And if I have to walk the bike at all, which does sometimes happen, I am all set. And having a higher heel than normal shoes helps keep water from running into them and getting my feet wet.

I've heard good things about helmet covers, but having short hair I rarely worry about this. The rain cape has a hood, which easily fits under my helmet. And I always carry a small towel with me on my bike so that I can quickly dry off if I need to - whether it's sweat or rain.

Gloves are a key item in the rain. Even a cool rain can make your hands very cold when you're wet and the wind is rushing past them. I recommend wearing full gloves in the rain, especially at this time of year.

The final item I'll mention is a pair of good glasses. A quality pair of cycling glasses is one of the few nods to standard cycling gear I make. If you've ever been riding and gotten a rain drop square in the eye, you'll know why. Good cycling glasses wrap around the eyes and make it nearly impossible for water to get in. I personally use a pair of Tifosi Slip Sunglasses.

Note - you'll find that cycling glasses fog up when you come to a stop at times. I find that pulling them a bit further out on your nose when you come to a stop helps avoid this problem, then as you take off just shove them back up on your face and you're ready to fly again.

Next week, we'll talk about gear for your bike - including lights and fenders.

People, not speed.