Sunday, November 30, 2008

Support international bicycle businesses through microfinance

Kiva is a Web 2.0 microfinance community allows the affluent to support and interact with small businesses in remote places. Lenders give loans as small as $25 to enterpreneurs all over the world. One kind of business that participants can support through Kiva is bicycle shops. Consider for example the Reaksmey Sar Group of Ta Reab Doun Sar Village, Cambodia:

This village bank loan which consists of twelve people is located in Ta Reab Doun Sar village in Kandal Province. Mrs. Reaksmey Sar is the village bank president who has been selected by the members. She is a 43 year old housewife and the mother of four children, all of whom are attending the local school. Her husband, Mr. Koem Muny, repairs bicycles. In this business, he now faces a small problem because he does not have enough money to buy bike equipment for his customers. Thus, his wife, Mrs. Reaksmey Sar, decided to ask for a loan to buy more bike equipment for her husband's business.

The Reaksmey Sar Group needs $175 in increments as small as $25 each to complete their loan. Why not support cycling in Cambodia this holiday season? And if you do join Kiva, be sure to sign on to the "Move Your World" team of cycling supporters.

Abio shaft drive folding bike

A box from Abio Bikes in New York landed on my front porch Saturday morning. The Albio Penza I received is a shaft drive folding bike, but when I pulled it from the box Mrs. Fritz squealed with delight at the wonderful purple color of this bike.

While the looks of the Albio Penza appeals to the right brain, here are the left brain details of this bike:
  • Folds to 32" x 23" x 14"
  • 3 speed Shimano Nexus hub
  • Kenda Kontact 1.95" x 20" tires with reflective sidewalls
  • V brakes
  • 30 lbs
  • Fenders (front and rear)
  • Rear rack
  • Tail light built into rear of saddle
  • Kickstand
  • Shaft drive
  • MSRP $790
The beefy 1.95" tires and stiff locking hinges give this bike a very solid and smooth ride. The bike folds in half with a swing hinge in the top tube, similar to the way the Dahon Curve folds back on itself. Like some Dahon models, the handlebar also folds down, the seat post can be pushed all the way through the open bottom seat tube and the pedals fold in.

The differentiating feature of this folding bike is, of course, the shaft drive: the Abio Penza is one of the very few non-chain folding bikes available.

Shaft drives are heavy and noticeably inefficient -- I can feel the bevel gears as they grind against each other, there's resistance when I pedal backwards, hard pedaling bends the shaft enough so it rubs against its housing, and the shaft bike weighs two pounds more over the similar belt driven Abio bicycle. According to shaft drive afficiandos, the efficiency loss is about 8% compared against chain driven bicycles.

There are notable advantages of a shaft drive over chain drive bicycles: the completely enclosed drive shaft reduces maintenance, protects moving parts, and keeps your pants clean. You don't need to bag this folding bike to keep chain grease from soiling bus seats and other passengers. Some people also like the compact design of shafts over chains, especially if you want to completely enclose the chain in a chaincase. There's no danger of pinched or severed fingers, and with good maintenance the shaft drive can last for tens of thousands of miles.

When I ride the Abio Penza, I don't notice the shaft's presence unless I really pay attention. I believe the everyday bike commuter will not notice the 8% power loss, and the disadvantages may very well outweigh the benefits. I'll put the Abio Penza through its paces in everyday riding over the next couple of weeks and report the results at Commute By Bike.

In the meantime, I know Bike Hugger has received the belt drive Abio Verdion. Momentum Magazine will also feature several folding bikes in the January/February issue including, I'm told, the Abio bicycles.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

General James Jones and his bicycle commute

Carlton mentioned General James Jones on his blog and on The Spokesmen podcast this week because General Jones -- Barack Obama's choice as National Security Advisor -- was a bike commuter when he Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and Commander of the U.S. European Command in Belgium. He retired from the U.S. Marine Corps last year

According to the New York Times, Jones still bikes to his job as chairman of the board of directors of an influential Washington think tank.
At 64, General Jones bicycles from home to work twice each week, riding the nine miles from McLean, Va., to the offices of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, two blocks from the White House, where he runs a task force on energy.
Read more.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hear me on The Spokesmen cycling podcast

I got up bright dark and early Thursday morning to join David Bernstein and Carlton Reid for a new episode of The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast. Listen to us here where we discuss leg waxing, indoor trainer tips, a little bit of politics, Twitter, and Thanksgiving. We had probably two hours of material and covered maybe half of what we intended.

This is the Continental Hometrainer tire David mentioned. Here's the broken bike I mentioned. And I think of Chico as flat because the stretch from Sacramento to Chico is flat, but Carson Blume pointed out to me that mountains with excellent riding are very nearby.

David also posted the missing Issue 34 from Interbike.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Black Friday Bicycle Deals

I won't be shopping this weekend, but I know plenty of people will so here are some Black Friday deals for you over the holiday weekend.

Xtracycle offers $10 off the ShowerCap and DryLoader and any non-Xtracycle items with the coupon code "radishical". This is on top of the 20% off they'll offer on Friday.

Twin Six started a three day sale on Wednesday. TRUNK t-shirts will be $16, new t-shirts will be $20, the brand new BACK SACK and T6 SACK are both marked down to $100.

This isn't really a bicycling specific thing, but I am an Amazon affiliate. Besides the normal Black Friday Specials, they're running the popular Amazon Customers Vote promotion where you compete to get deals on product (think random selection, though, not cage fights).

My buddy UltraRob in Colorado is 10% of his sales proceeds to World Bicycle Relief through Christmas.

Rivendell Bicycle Works is giving 30% off from Dec 10 to Dec 17, but only for Rivendell members who have lost their jobs or their retirement income. See their Holiday Flyer [PDF] for details.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

If you're an American and read this blog on Thanskgiving you need to get away from the computer

I'm posting this now before I run out of time: Have a great Thanksgiving, all.

Times are comparatively tough for many people. If you're not one of the million who are newly jobless this year in the United States, you're faced with the insecurity of not knowing if you'll be employed in the next few months.

For perspective, I think back to what's seen as the first Thanksgiving feast at Plymouth Colony in 1621. Of the 102 original colonists, only 53 were alive for that first harvest meal; only four adult women survived the first year. They enjoyed their feast with the Wampanoag, gave thanks to Massasoit and to God, and they didn't even have bicycles for the after feast fun!

I'll be up early Thursday morning to record a new episode of The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast with David in Utah (except when he's in California), Carlton in the UK, and Phil Gomes in Australia. We'll talk about belt drive bikes, politics, Tour Down Under, Cyclocross (hence my inquiry yesterday), and Viagra among other things. After that, the family is headed to a friend's house where we'll make gluttons of ourselves and have a good time.

What are your plans for the long weekend? Does anybody plan to get any riding in?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


It's cyclocross season, but I know nothing about that sport. I know lots of mud and cold and rain can be involved, just like a good football game back in the days when football was still played outdoors. The bikes are a little different, and there's some lifting and running. Aficionados write and say "CX" or "cross" when referring to the sport.

So somebody school me: What attracts you to Cyclocross? Why is it fun to participate or fun to watch?

Cyclelicious Way Back

Today in history: Here's what Cyclelicious looked like way back on this day in 2005.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Why HAL sang Daisy Bell as he died

In one of the more poignant moments of the film "2001: A Space Odyssey," the HAL 9000 computer sings the song "Daisy Bell" (A Bicycle Built for Two) in the final moments of its consciousness. Why was this song chosen? The use of this song was among the many inside jokes for computer nerds in the movie audience.

In 1961, "2001" author Arthur C. Clarke attended a computer music demonstration at Bell Labs using Max Mathews' pioneering MUSIC program. Mathews, who just turned 82 years old this month, is still professor of Music Research at Stanford University. At his 80th birthday bash, Mathews gave an encore performance of a computer generated "Daisy Bell."

Hat tip: Ed Borasky. And Elias says that it was also used by Alexander Graham Bell to demonstrate the telephone (although Daisy Bell was written nearly 20 years after Bell patented his "Improvement in Telegraphy.") Does anybody have evidence of other early technology demonstrated with this song?

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do
I'm half crazy all for the love of you
It won't be a stylish marriage
I can't afford a carriage
But you'll look sweet upon the seat
Of a bicycle built for two

We will go tandem as man and wife
Daisy, Daisy
Wheeling away down the road of life
I and my Daisy Bell

When the nights dark, we can both despise
Policemen and lamps as well
There are bright lights in the dazzling eyes
Of beautiful Daisy Bell

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Formula 1 Racer Mark Webber rides bike, hit by car

Australian Formula 1 racer Mark Webber was injured after he was hit by a Nissan as he participated in a bicycle charity ride sponsored by him.

Webber was riding down a road in Tasmania when he was hit by oncoming traffic and broke his leg. He was attended by event paramedics before being airlifted to a hospital.

He was participating in the Mark Webber Pure Tasmania Challenge, an extreme sports charity event organized to raise funds for Australian charities.

More at Formula 1 Blog.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Holiday greeting cards for cyclists

It's that time of year to send greeting cards to your friends, and I recommend the bicycle themed cards from Skeese Greets. They have a number of new designs for Christmas, Hanukah, and the New Year that feature bike parts in the artwork.

I first noticed Skeese Greets Bicycle Christmas cards a couple of years ago and it's good to see the cards are still selling. Skeese Greets is Stacy Keese (S + Keese = Skeese) of Austin, Texas. As a child she wanted to be a fashion designer and grew up creating things: clothing, ceramics, and even greeting cards for family members. "In fifth grade I told one of my teachers that I wanted to be a fashion designer when I grew up," Stacy says. "He kind of laughed at me and I think that threw me off the art / design path until after college. Now I wish I could find that teacher and tell him not to dash the hopes and dreams of students; we really can be what we want in life."

Stacy got into creating sports greetings cards because they're so hard to find. Her dad was a football coach, and her mom "searched endlessly for football themed Christmas cards each year."

"When I got into cycling and triathlon, I quickly realized that there were few choices for bike themed gifts and cards. So after I helped my husband open a bike shop in Austin, TX in 2004, I started creating some designs for cyclists. I felt there was a need for it and that I was in the right environment to make it happen."

When she's not helping at Jack and Adams Bicycles or designing and selling greeting cards, Stacy runs the Skeese Greets Women's Triathlon and supports other events through the year including duathlons, triathlons, cyclo-cross, charity rides, and other fundraisers. " I think these events are really important for communities and for health, so I support them however I can."

"The Skeese Greets Women’s Tri is an event that I started in 2007," Stacy says. "I produce and direct the triathlon and have a lot of help from race day volunteers. Although directing a triathlon is highly stressful and time consuming, I enjoy it because it’s like throwing a party for 500 friends. It’s fun."

Although Stacy is a tri-geek, Stacy rides a cruiser bike to get around "because I have very short commutes, plus it feels care-free and fun."

Skeese Greets cards are sold in several online stores including They can also be found in bike shops across the US and Australia. "If you want to see the cards in your favorite bike shop, tell them that you discovered the coolest bike cards ever."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sinyard: Specialized could buy GM, but won't

[Parody News Service] During a lunch time press conference at Specialized's Morgan Hill, CA headquarters, Specialized CEO Mike Sinyard announced that his company "could buy General Motors, but we don't want to."

"We sold nearly two million Langster road bicycles so far in 2008," said Sinyard, referring to his company's high margin "fixed gear" bicycles that are popular with those who emulate urban bicycle messengers. "With the profit from those bikes and record sales of Specialized's Globe commuter bicycles, we realized we can afford to buy GM."

While General Motors stock has plummeted to 10% of its year ago value, bicycle sales have soared as commuters look for ways to avoid high fuel prices. GM closed at $2.98 in regular trading Wednesday for a market capitalization of just $1.7 billion.

"The Specialized family was excited at the prospect of joining GM's team last spring," Sinyard continued, referring to an attempted merger between GM and Specialized that failed to pass muster with antitrust authorities. "I looked forward to private jet rides, but Specialized is, for now, a healthier and happier company because I'm a healthier and happier chief executive. Look at me: I could be sweating bullets begging for money on Capitol Hill, but instead I'm smiling in Bay Area sunshine in my bike shorts getting ready to have fun on my bike. And GM wouldn't have let me keep my old VW microbus."

At this point, Sinyard unveiled a chart showing "Things we could buy, but don't want to." His list includes: 6,000,000 feet of lead tubing; 3,000,000 cartons of cigarettes; 1,500,000 barrels of oil; and 2,000,000 head of cattle.

Sinyard closed the press conference with a short Q&A, where he was asked if he was interested in buying GM if Ford was thrown in for free, which he declined immediately. During the Q&A he also declined to buy 3,443 bank-owned homes in New Jersey, but said that he was interested in another cup of mint tea. Journalists attending the press conference were then invited to join Sinyard for the "Big Easy" bike ride.

Thank you to Chris for the heads up on this important press conference.

To stud or not to stud

I don't want to sound preachy especially as I know that winter riding conditions vary quite a lot depending on where you live, but as my wife has been saying of late nothing slows you down more than falling.

Some folks live in places where there's no snow at all, some live where snow is all there is during the winter. We live in a place where we get some snow, but a fair amount of ice. What happens is that it will snow, then melt the next warm day and then freeze again overnight forming patches of ice all over the place, often times hidden in the dark or under a fresh dusting of snow. Since the snow from the roadways largely gets plowed into the bike lanes during the winter here, those burms can go through these freeze and thaw cycles for a couple weeks after a decent storm before the coast is "all clear".

Studded bicycle tire
My thoughts regarding studded bike tires is several fold. First of all, I like riding, so if it takes a few minutes longer to ride, thats ok, its not torture its fun. Second I ride for transportation everyday no matter what the weather does, so I treat it like most would a car (do you make homemade studded tires for your car?), third nothing poses a greater threat to me enjoying my bike than crashing or be crashed into (car). For all these reasons, I find the added cost and extra rolling resistance of studded tire a non-issue for the way it transforms my winter riding experience.

Regarding cost, as this is often brought up, I spent $65 per tire last year on my Schwalbe Marathon Winter's, they have around 3,000 miles on them from last winter and I'd venture to guess from the look of the carbide studs and tread that I can get about that much more out of them before replacing. Most decent commuter tires, by the time you factor in their mileage lifespan will work out to about $40 per tire. So assuming you're going to ride anyway, you're probably only going to save yourself $20-$30 over 5,000 miles running any other decent commuting tire. Consequently, if you don't like falling, price really isn't that big of an issue all things considered.

Ian rides his bike in the snow
As for what studs will do vs. what they will not do. They won't make riding on fresh snow over clear pavement any different, nor will they make riding on layers of partially packed snow any different either. This is where tread, rubber compounds and supple tire casings come into play.

What they will do is help whenever there's been either freezing rain or some kind of freeze and thaw cycle as back roads can often do that aren't well maintained or like the morning after a warm day where you get glare ice. They will also make a difference on some SERIOUSLY packed snow that can almost function like ice (the smooth shiny white stuff on heavily traveled roads). Also, that rutted icy stuff that forms on roads regularly traveled but rarely plowed is also prime stud territory. Tires with studs, especially towards the edges of the tires make a big difference.

Lastly, studs won't make it like you're riding on dry pavement, but they will make it all predictable, in my book thats the big difference. You may lose traction if you brake harder or corner faster, but because they bite into the ice, it slows the slip enough that you can make corrections and regain traction. I've even gone so far as locking my front tire briefly and released and regained traction just to see how far I could push it. BTW this little test was on a high stud numbered tire 240 per tire.

And as Peter White says on his page about studded bike tires, don't forget after you've been riding about capably on your studded tires, that you do NOT have studded shoes, and fall getting off your bike ;)

Wishing everyone the very best of traction this winter,


Fixed and broken

I normally zip through congested downtown traffic on my fixed gear bike with confidence, but last night my bicycle felt oddly non-responsive, as if I was sailing with a missing dagger board. I figured I either drank too much coffee or I didn't get enough sleep. It was an uncharacteristically non-zen feeling for a fixed gear bike.

This evening, the front end of my bike shimmied like a freshly landed trout and creepy groanings emanated from my headset. The front of my bike flopped weirdly as if possessed. Captain Howdy in my bike is definitely a non-zen feeling for a fixed gear bike.

I was within a half mile of home when I got under a street light and finally noticed what was wrong. The top tube cracked just aft of the lug holding it to the headtube.

Broken top tube

What should I do with this bike?

I bought the bike in 1987 so I guess I got my money's worth. Does anybody know if Centurion had a lifetime warranty on their frames? Centurion became Diamondback which is now owned by Raleigh, but I don't know if Raleigh just bought the name or if they own the warranty obligations also.

The headset and bottom bracket are original and probably not worth salvaging. I'm not inclined to build a frankenbike. The pedals, wheels and tires are in decent enough shape, along with the other parts like handlbars, seatpost and the saddle. I'll probably call the Santa Cruz Bike Church and see if they want the bike for parts.

Does anyone have any other ideas? What should I do with this broken bicycle?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Guitar Hero + Bicycle Mashup

Via Bike Radar.

This is way too cool. I suspect these folks had a ton of fun putting this together.

Trek belt drive bicycle on CNN

Trek's belt drive bikes that were unveiled last August at Trek World are getting quite a bit of press this week in an AP story. The Trek Soho and District city bikes come in a belt drive version that's getting a lot of interest from consumers and the story is now at CNN:
Trek Bicycle is part of a movement to bury the finger-pinching, pants-munching, rust-prone sprocket and chain, and usher in an era of belt-driven bikes that might have the inventors of the self-propelled transportation Schwinning in their graves.

Wisconsin-based Trek is introducing two models this holiday season that are chainless, instead using technology most often found in things like motorcycles and snowmobiles. While some smaller custom bike makers have used them before, Trek is the first to use the technology for mass-produced bicycles.
I'm a big fan of belt drive bicycles -- no mess, and little fuss. What are your thoughts? Better than chains? Do they work well for fast riding, or should they be limited to slower, urban and utility riding or even for folding bikes like this Abio?

Another method that's sometimes used to reduce maintenance and mess is the use of a shaft drive. What about shaft drive bikes like this Biria Newport? Is a shaft drive a realistic way to get the wheels moving on a bicycle?

What Measure B means for South Bay transit?

The Santa Clara County Registar reports Measure B is now (as I write this) at the required 66.67% approval required to pass by just eight votes as of Monday's tally. With thousands of ballots left to go, the VTA sales tax to fund BART to Fremont is too close to call.

Here's my prediction if the final count shows this sales tax passing if Federal funds are received to fund the BART extension in to San Jose and Santa Clara.

* The sales tax revenue projections will be off by as much as 50%. The projections assume a growing economy, which is not what will have for the next couple of years. VTA announces service cuts on its existing bus and light rail lines and reduces funding for Caltrain.

* Finance costs will be much higher than projected because of the credit crunch. VTA announces more service cuts on bus and light rail lines.

* Construction costs is a hard one to call. This may be less expensive than projected because of an good supply of labor and construction materials. On the other hand, much higher costs for raw materials may offset some of that.

* Once operation begins, ridership and revenue will be far below projections, forcing VTA to cut service elsewhere in the system just like SamTrans had to do. VTA will eliminate all funding for Caltrain.

* Carl Guardino and all of those other Measure B promoters will still drive their cars to work, if they're still employed in the Bay Area when the BART extension is complete ten years from now.

Ah well, what's done is done.

Cyclelicious for mobile devices

I've modified Cyclelicious a little bit to present simplified content when a mobile device is detected. The sidebars are eliminated along with some of the ads. I'll probably make a smaller header banner with my woefully meager graphics editing skills.

Right now, the full content of the last six articles is still presented for mobile devices. Would you prefer just a simple index of recent articles on the home page with links to the full article? Or is it okay as it is?

How many of you browse the web and Cyclelicious with a mobile device?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

London bike share

London considers bike sharing program.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson is known for his everyday use of a bicycle for transportation, and now he wants to encourage more people to ride their bikes by inviting companies to submit their bike share plans for London. He would like to see 6,000 rental bikes available at 400 locations throughout London.

"I have long held the view that a cyclised city is a civilised city, but if we are to get more Londoners on to two wheels rather than four we need to provide the facilities to help them do so," says Johnson. "I hope a central-London cycle-hire scheme will inspire Londoners as a whole, and not just the adventurous few, to get on their bikes and give cycling a go. I believe that the work we are carrying out can make the capital a city of cyclists, where to use two wheels is common, not curious."

Read more in the Guardian. See also Transport for London's cycle hire plan.

In the meantime, a little rain doesn't stop the Mayor of London Boris Johnson as he rides his bike after a function at London's Claridge's hotel. Boris even had to fix his chain after it fell off.

Boris Johnson keeping it real Boris Johnson keeping it real Boris Johnson keeping it real

It slices it dices it...

Sometimes when something does all that it was meant to do its all too easy to take it for granted, but sometimes the capabilities are just so exceptional that its hard NOT to take note. Xtracycle's and Surly's Big Dummy frameset are just like that.

My wife and I had been researching the best solutions for ourselves as a car free family with kids, and it seemed obvious that at one point or another an Xtracycle was going to be a part of that picture. Last spring when we were about to pull the trigger on an xtracycle kit, the Big Dummy framesets finally came available and we jumped on one.

This bike is simply tremendous it what in makes possible by bike. Most of the time its what you don't have to think about or plan ahead for that makes it great, those daily errands before that required juggling who had the kid trailer and needed to make which trips. For most folks these would be car days. This bike made a tour possible through the rocky mountains this last summer that I simply don't think would have been possible any other way. We took such extensive measures to bring gear weight down, and make our setup as efficient as possible, and I can promise you relative to towing two kids in a trailer this thing is a huge improvement and it can carry the gear too :)

The load at the top of this post is one of those perfect examples of when this bike is simply too cool not to take note. My wife and I were riding over to her parents place a couple towns away, myself with the Big Dummy and the trailer with our younger child(we had our kidseat on the bike but they had picked up the older child and dog earlier for a playdate and sleepover).

My wife had been fighting a bad cold and was short on sleep so a couple miles out of town she was one sad puppy running out of steam. I asked her if she wanted a ride over to their place. After much reassurance that it was possible, we pulled over to the side of the road and began shuffling things around and strapping stuff on in creative ways. We moved our younger child to the trailer, put the kid seat setup on the wide loader, our stuff on the other side, lashed the other bike's fork to the rear of the trailer, had her hop on the back of the Big Dummy and away we went.

The amazing thing about it was how easy it actually was to make this all possible. The whole xtracycle concept truly is the swiss army knife of bikes.

Let's Get Visible

Momentum Magazine publisher Amy Walker channels Olivia Newton John as she exhorts a Bike Ninja to "Get Visible" with lights and reflectors in this cute and campy video for the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition.

Starring Amy and the B:C:Clettes. Ride with lights at night!

See here for higher quality and for information on the lights and other stuff used in the video.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy Monday

It was another awesome weekend in Santa Cruz, California. The kids and I went mountain biking from the UC Santa Cruz fire roads and into Wilder Ranch State Park, where I made a wrong turn so we ended up halfway to Davenport, California when we popped out on Highway 1. We rode a couple of miles east (nominally south) to the Wilder Ranch visitor center, then continued via bike paths and surface streets into downtown Santa Cruz where we enjoyed a nice snack at the Jamba Juice on Pacific Avenue. That photo is my daughter and I on the bike path into Santa Cruz from Wilder Ranch.

I had breakfast this morning in Palo Alto with Murph the Holier Than You cyclist, who writes Huzzah to Shirley for her efforts chairing the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Caltrain Bikes On Board subcommitee.

The Scoutabout travel blog writes about Bicycle Friendly Hotels that offer bikes to hotel guests.

Viva Lance Armstrong: Lance will meet with TdF officials.

Eco Velo: Alfine Shifters on drop bars.

Folding bike vendor Dahon is still raking in the cash.

Bicycle Design: His favorite bike design.

DIY: High power LED bike light. I've tried to do this. There's a reason I'm a software engineer.

Carlton's bike anatomy video got a mention at the MAKEzine blog.

Yet Another Homemade Bamboo Bicycle. This one's a road bike.

Chris writes about bikes as part of the solution.

Cozy Beehive compares and contrasts the various folding bikes. I have more to write about this if I ever have the time.

Ridiculous cool double bike that you have to pedal backwards.

Grist: UPS hiring bicycle delivery people?

Grist: Against a gas tax? I have more to write about this also if I have a chance. It occurs to me that now is the right time to increase the gas tax.

Sombody likes my bicycle Christmas lights.

Meligrosa has a cute cat.

Cycle Dog has a disgusting snot rocket haiku that might possibly even qualify for a Vogon poetry contest.

Cycle Dog: What to do if you're hit by a car.

Bike light reviews.

Barack Obama's policy on bikes.

Grist: Bike To Work video.

Lady Di rode a Raleigh. Except it was seen as "not seen as fitting with her future status."

Eco Velo: Bike Bus. I've participated in one a couple of times. I know Organizes a bike bus in Kansas City. Does anybody you know do this?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Important automotive recall

Read this important recall notice carefully to see if this applies to your vehicle.

Via various sources; image from NY Times Special Edition (a parody of the NY Times). I don't know where the blog post this goes with is, though.

I hope you're' having a good weekend. The kids and I went mountain biking through UCSC, Wilder Ranch and into Santa Cruz today. Photo here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Gun racks for bicycles

In response to my rednecks on bikes post last August, Russ in Cleveland sent me this photo of his dad's bike with his old .22 rifle.

Russ's dad's gun bike

Russ writes of his dad and his dad's bike:
It's a pretty simple rack using two wood mounts and some elastic to hold it in place. He is not a hard core gun nut or anything crazy like that, just a practical person trying to protect his garden, farm, and beehives from critters.

The bike is a new addition. My brothers and sisters bought my parents two second hand bikes in December for Christmas presents. After not having bicycles on hand for twenty years my parents have embraced cycling again usually going for 5 to 10 mile outings once a week. Both are in their sixties, and my dad newly retired now uses the bike for lots of neighborhood commuting (ex. cycling to church, to the neighbors, to creek). Its pretty cool to see.

I looked around the web and found another DIY rifle carry for a bike. This guy just attached a backpack scabbard to his front basket.
Guns on bikes

There's even a commercial gun rack that mounts on the handlebar. Do you point the rifle toward or away from traffic?
Guns on bikes

Finally, here are some historical guns on bikes photos.

Guns on bikes Guns on bikes Guns on bikes

I'm still looking for an NRA bike jersey, BTW. Has anybody ever seen one?

New York City bike rack contest: Hoop wins

Ian Mahaffy and Maarten De Greeve's "Hoop" was selected as the new standard bike rack to be installed by the city of New York.

This cast metal circular design is evocative of "an abstracted bicycle tire" according to the City transportation department judges who selected the winning entry.Eco Jym likes it because it reminds him of "Ron Cobb's ecology symbol." Read more.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tech bike jersey shootout

Bike Hugger Byron posted a photo of his new Intel bicycle jersey, and several people responded with jerseys from VMware, Garmin, Microsoft and others. Here's my employer's jersey as modeled by Ahpook.

Ahpook behind!

Here's Keith the Googler who I saw in East Palo Alto a couple of years ago.

Googler in distress

Who has the coolest jersey in the tech industry? Make your contribution to the discussion here at Bike Hugger or in Byron's Flickr stream.

Grandma on a bike

Thanks for all of the wonderful comments on Anthony's post about a "United Front". Please be sure also to submit your pro cyclist questions to Michael before noon today (U.S. Eastern Time).

This cute short film features a humorous car chase by Mormor on a bicycle.

Girl Power

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Q&A with Professional Cyclists

Within the next few days, I will be interviewing numerous cyclists in the professional peloton. Now is your chance to ask questions to professional riders that you haven't had the opportunity to ask before...

If you would like to submit a question to be asked, email me at The current list of riders who are on for questioning are:
And we will be interviewing cancer survivor Chris Brewer of the Lance Armstrong Foundation as well.

If you have any questions for any of these people, be sure to email me by Noon EST on Thursday, November 13th. Keep an eye out for updates as more cyclists sign on for getting interviewed.

A United Front

When it comes to bikes as transportation, and infrastructure, I can't help but feeling that what we need most is a united front.

All you have to do is peruse the comments on bike advocacy forums, or the comments section of Yehuda Moon, to see that we do anything but present a consistent message about what we see as the future of cycling infrastructure.

Its tremendously encouraging when I see the kinds of changes that places like NYC are making, even going so far as physically separating the bike lanes in a place where any road infrastructure changes are tremendously difficult to implement. Or Boulder who recently caught up with Portland on the platinum rating as a bike friendly city.

Bike lanes all by themselves which both of the examples above include, manage to flare up comment wars between "vehicular cyclists" and the rest of the bike transportation folks. I can certainly see the arguments of both sides. Vehicular cycling is learning to make the most of a road infrastructure designed for cars, and honestly much of the time I ride like one of these. But at the same time, just because we've had to make the most of a road system meant for cars doesn't mean it always HAS to be that way, or how bout the fact that no 8 year old kid is going to feel comfortable "taking the lane" or even be able to for that matter.

I think this is one area where I think Portland has got a head start on the other bike friendly communities. There is no wheel to reinvent here they're acknowledging that. There are and have been for some time now cities where bikes truly are equally billed as transportation, and they've been able to successfully get all cross-sections of society out on bikes, not just active males between the ages of 22 and 35.

What do you think, is our message as a group as scattered as it seems to me?

Angry Kid Road Hog

Aardman Animation Angry Kid series features the Angry Kid, a bike riding British teen with an attitude problem.

See in higher resolution at Atom Films.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Santa Cruz bicycle photos

Here's how we roll in Santa Cruz, California. Most of these are along the sidepath along West Cliff Drive. Click on the photos for details.

Hub motor cyclist

Surfer dude on bike

West Cliff Drive cyclist

Having fun

Surf helmet

Steamer Lane surf watchers

West Cliff Drive traffic

Monday, November 10, 2008

Actor James Cromwell injured in bike accident

Actor James Cromwell was hospitalized over the weekend after he broke his collarbone while cycling. This news article describes Cromwell as a "serious" cyclist who was out on a training ride in a Los Angeles canyon when he fell. The 68-year-old Cromwell is coached by "Coach to the Celebrities" cycling guru David Brinton. Cromwell also supports the Veterans Road 2 Recovery benefit bike ride. Via Jamie in Columbus, OH.

Carrying surfboards on bicycle

While much of the United States is in the throes of early winter storms, winter time is surfing season in Santa Cruz. I spent Sunday afternoon taking photos while my son surfed at Indicators in Steamer Lane.

Because traffic and parking are typically choked along the prime surfing locations and surfboards are prohibited from Santa Cruz buses, many locals ride their bikes to the beach. Most surfers just carry their short boards under arm while riding slowly.

Surfer on bicycle

Many bikes in Santa Cruz are also equipped with a surfboard side rack like this one.

Surfboard and bicycle

Surfboard rack

You might also see a handful of homebuilt trailers designed specifically to carry surfboards. The guys with longboards will use trailers like this one made from PVC pipes.

Surfer with bike trailer

Commercial surfboard bike trailers are available, but I haven't seen one yet. I also haven't seen any of the rear mount Huntington bike racks shown here.

I have more surfing and bicycling shots from the weekend in my Flickr pool.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Parking? Or Bike Lanes?

Urbana, Illinois...
Business owners on the north side of Main Street love the idea of adding diagonal parking while some council members are strongly committed to adding 5-foot-wide bicycle lanes along Main Street.

City Public Works Director William Gray says flatly that bicycle lanes and diagonal parking aren't compatible on Main Street between Broadway and Race, that the street isn't wide enough.

Main Street business owners say they like the fact that diagonal parking would add eight spaces on the block between Broadway and Race.

"The idea of going green is all good, but my shoppers aren't going to ride a bicycle," said Van Boyd, manager of Heel To Toe, a shoe store at 106 W. Main St.
Read more in the News-Gazette: "Cycling concerns have Urbana in parking predicament"

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Davis Bike Church ordered out of UC Davis campus

The Davis Bike Church is a volunteer run bicycle repair cooperative located in the midst of student housing. Citing safety and liability concerns, University officials ordered the Bike Church to dismantle their ad-hoc geodesic repair shop by the end of this year.

From the UC Davis Bike Church web page
On October 29th, 2008, UC Davis Student Housing sent the Bike Church a letter stating that we have until December 1st, 2008 to dismantle our structures, and until December 31st to completely remove all traces of the Bike Church from our current location. The reasons given essentially revolve around the perception that the Bike Church grounds are a health and safety risk, that our dome is an unapproved structure and a fire hazard, that our methods of collecting donations in the form of money and goods are a liability, and that the fact that we are open to the Davis community-at-large is also a liability due to the presence of non-students in a housing area (a security issue). Student Housing has not given us any possible alternatives, stating only that we need to get out.

Needless to say, we are all quite shocked at this turn of events, especially given the amount of progress we have made in renovating our space, making it safer, cleaner and more functional. We are currently exploring a number of options for our future, but being an ever-optimistic bunch of people, we are also looking forward to working with the university to stay in our present location that we have come to love, and which we have made so beautiful. The last thing you should expect is for the Bike Church to disappear completely. We will continue to exist, even if we have to do it somewhere else.

We need your help to keep the Bike Church going. Many of you have been blessed by the Church in the past, but we need your blessings and voices now. Come to our fundraiser on November 8th at the DOV, sign a petition and write some letters. Participate in our future. The Bike Church has been there in your time of need... now the Bike Church needs your help.
More about this in the Sac Bee. Davis Bike Church photos.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Boulder Velodrome grand opening December 1

The long awaited Boulder Colorado Velodrome plans a grand opening party and open house on Sunday, November 30th, 2008. This new velodrome is located in a former warehouse building at 3550 Frontier Avenue, near where Pearl Street crosses Foothills Highway (Hwy 157).

Via Ultra Rob.

While we're in Boulder, let's also visit Community Cycles, a group of bicycle enthusiasts whose mission is to educate and advocate for the safe use of bicycles as an affordable, viable and sustainable means of transportation and personal enjoyment. The Boulder Daily Comrade just posted a nice Community Spotlight on them. Community Cycles is located conveniently on the Goose Creek bike path and (literally) just across the tracks from the Boulder Velodrome.

Elsewhere, I've been busy posting stuff to Commute By Bike... Have a wonderful weekend, all.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Bike advcocate wins city council seat

CPA Gary Wysocky of Santa Rosa won a seat on the Santa Rosa, CA city council this week. Wysocky is a founding board member of the Sonoma County Bike Coalition and ran on a platform of reducing car traffic by promoting "alternative" transportation.

Among his endorsements are those from world class cyclist Levi Leipheimer and Bike Monkey Magazine publisher Carlos Perez.

Santa Rosa Press-Democrat: "SR council race brings political shift."

Hat tip to Murph. Do you know of other local elections where cyclists running on transportation issues did well?

Win Cordaround bike pants

Instructables is doing a Light Up Your Ride Contest.

Question from me: Are entries supposed to be DIY "instructables"? Or are they just looking for pictures of brightly lit up bikes? From the contest rules it's not that clear what you're supposed to enter.

Deadline is November 16. Via.

Federal Safe Routes funding 80% distributed

More than 4,000 programs across the U.S. have received Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Federal funds to improve sidewalks, crosswalks, signage and other infrastructure in the vicinity of schools, as well as provide education programs to teach children and motorists about safe walking and bicycling, and encouraging walking and bicycling to school once the environment is made safe. States' Departments of Transportation have awarded more than 80 percent of available Safe Routes to School Federal funds after only three years of the start of the Federal initiative.

"This is impressive progress for such a new program," said Lauren Marchetti, Director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School. "This reflects how the Safe Routes to School program touches so many of the things people care about these days — increasing physical activity among children, reducing congestion and improving air quality around schools, improving safety and creating a sense of community."

Safe Routes to School funding was made available through the transportation legislation (SAFETEA-LU), passed in 2005. Funding is distributed to individual states by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration. State DOTs then award the funds to local communities. Each state works within its own guidelines, and within Federal rules, to award funds in a competitive process — with some states receiving hundreds of applications for a limited amount of available funds.

The goals of the Safe Routes to School Federal program are to enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school; to make the trip to school safer and more appealing; and to facilitate planning, development and implementation of projects that will improve safety, and reduce traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution in the vicinity of schools.

"The early success of Safe Routes to School clearly shows a demand for transportation choices that go beyond the automobile," said James L. Oberstar, Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. "This program will shape the habits of an entire generation by providing transportation options that are safe, environmentally sound, and healthy."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Blumenauer as Secretary of Transportation?

Some people speculate that Earl Blumenauer, the famous bicycling Congressman from Oregon, may be invited to join Barack Obama's cabinet as the Secretary of Transportation.

What do you think?

More: Planetizen, Gristmill, Bike Portland.

Bay Area and California transportation measures

Sonoma and Marin Measure Q -- the ¼¢ train sales tax -- passed. This provides funding to operate a 70 mile commuter rail service from Cloverdale in Sonoma County, through Santa Rosa, Petaluma, into Marin County through Novato and San Rafael to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal. The sales tax will also fund construction of a bike and pedestrian path along the entire length of the rail corridor. SMART, which already owns the rail right of way, says the trains will be up and running within 5 years with onboard WiFi and snacks and bikes permitted on board. They'll use Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) trains, which are self propelled trains that combine the locomotive and passenger car into a single standard gauge unit. More. See also some excitement from the Wine Country.

California Proposition 1A -- High Speed Rail (HSR) from San Francisco to Los Angeles -- looks like it will pass. Although HSR for the entire distance is a long ways off, because HSR will run along the Caltrain corridor from San Francisco to Gilroy, Bay Area transportation officials expect HSR funds can be used to help electrify the Caltrain Corridor over the next five years. More.

Santa Clara Measure B -- the VTA sales tax hike -- seems to be failing. And good riddance.

Monterey Measure Z -- general transportation funding -- is failing.

Los Angeles Measure R -- LA transportation funding -- is passing. More.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Bicycle industry tweeters

Lance Armstrong and I have a few things in common. We both participated in the 1987 Hotter N Hell Hundred Century Ride in Wichita Falls, Texas, we both like bikes, and we both use Twitter, as do several other bike bloggers and bike industry people. Carlton lists several bike trade tweeters over at If you're in the bike trade and use Twitter, give Carlton a Tweet and ask him to add you to the list.

If you Tweet please feel free to leave a comment with your Twitter account here. I'd especially like to know about the enthusiasts and people who just like to ride a bike.

You might also like my silly Bicycle Tweets page, where you can find fun tweets like this one:
I hate it when I forget to bring a change of undies and have to wear my sweaty bike ones all day.
Or this...
I think I was ma'am'ed at the bike store. SERIOUSLY. MA'AM'ed.

Snot rocket haiku

Well, it's almost a haiku. He just needs to swap his 2nd and 3rd verses.

Monday, November 03, 2008

California transportation and energy issues on the ballot

Here are my last minute commentary on the various propositions and a few local measures on the 2008 ballot in California.

Proposition 1A: High Speed Rail. Support. Many environmentalists are concerned that HSR will open up more sprawl in the Central Valley -- the fear is that High Speed Rail (HSR) will enable commuters to buy a home cheap in Fresno or Gilroy and take high speed rail to work in Silicon Valley. Those traditionally opposed to anything other than highway and air travel and who style themselves, oddly, as fiscal conservatives oppose Prop 1A because they believe spending should be reserved to expanding and maintaining only freeways and airports. I believe, however, that HSR is an intelligent and wise use of transportation funds and that there is sufficient travel demand between San Francisco and Los Angeles to make this endeavor more than worthwhile. As energy costs continue to rise (and they will rise), something besides highway and air travel needs to be available. My fear is that this already too late to build -- we needed to plan for something like this three decades ago when land, energy and credit were cheap.

Proposition 7: Renewable Energy Initiative. Oppose. Prop 7 is poorly written and adds considerable expense to regulators and consumers while doing very little to actually encourage generation of renewable energy in California. Prop 7 will just make energy generation more difficult for all providers, make energy more expensive with no benefit, and could even shut out smaller businesses that are working to generate electricity from renewable resources. Read why the Sierra Club opposes Prop 7.

Proposition 10: Alternative Fuel Vehicles. Oppose. Prop 10 provides funding to implement "The Pickens Plan," which borrows money to provide rebates for consumers who purchase natural gas powered vehicles. Taxpayers will subsidize the purchase of new vehicles with no new funding source, and the primary beneficiary will be owners of corporate fleets. Read why the Sierra Club opposes Prop 10.

Santa Clara County Measure B: VTA sales tax increase Oppose. This is the infamous "BART to Fremont" measure. VTA famously mismanages their generous funding. VTA can't be trusted with even more money after their broken promises to county voters and persistently poor service to those dependent on their transportation services. VTA will divert funding from Caltrain and their existing transit services to pay for service to Fremont from San Jose. Much more info at No VTA Tax, especially this page. See also VTA Riders Union, 295Bus, and The Bay Rail Alliance. Those who actually use public transportation on a day to day basis oppose Measure B.

Santa Cruz County. There are no measures that directly impact transportation in Santa Cruz County. The perpetual issue of Highway 1 widening, however, will be discussed (again) along with other transportation issues by county supervisors and Santa Cruz city councilors who will be selected this week. People Power in Santa Cruz has their endorsements for representatives [PDF] with good discussion on the candidates' positions, histories and qualifications.

San Mateo County Measure Q: Commercial Parking Tax. Support. Measure Q imposes an 8% tax on the gross receipts of commercial parking operations in unincorporated San Mateo County. This would affect many businesses who provide parking for SFO Airport patrons.

San Mateo County Measure R: Rental car tax. Support. Measure R adds a 2.5% tax on the gross receipts of rental car businesses in unincorporated San Mateo County, affecting many businesses who rent cars out to visitors coming through SFO Airport.

Redwood City development measures. Redwood City Measures V and W impact future development there. I haven't been following these issues closely but read up on them to be educated on them.

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition candidate and issues endorsements are here.

Marin County Measure Q & Sonoma County Measure Q: Tax for Passenger Rail. Support. This is the proposed Sonoma-Marin SMART service.

Brookings Institute Report: McCain and Obama on transportation issues [PDF]. Via.

Complete Streets Forum in Redwood City

Michael Ronkin of Salem, OR will present "Complete Streets: Designing for Transit, Pedestrians, Bicyclists, and Cars" at the
Redwood City Forum on Thursday, November 6 beginning at 6 PM. $10 at the door.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

San Mateo County draft transporation plan INPUT BY 5 PM MONDAY

Sorry for this late notice, but I haven't been paying attention.

The San Mateo County Transportation Authority has created a 45 page draft of their transportation strategic plan 2009-2013 and they want public input by 5 PM Monday November 3.

Send input by phone (650-622-7845) or email tastrategicplan at smcta dot com.

Thanks to Margaret Pye for this info.

Bicycle safety video 1969

"Bicycle Today, Automobile Tomorrow" was released in 1969 and produced with input from the Inglewood, CA police, the Inglewood, CA school district and the Los Angeles Board of Education. The idea is that children who learn to ride their bikes in traffic will become better automobile drivers as adults.