Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sonoma County's visionary bike advocates

Image of bicyclist on Santa Rosa Creek TrailCyclists' trail-rail vision not over yet:

At times, bikes seem a much smarter way for rubber to meet the road. As morning commuters jammed highways entering downtown Santa Rosa, I sailed by. I was pedaling down the Joe Rodota Trail. This smoothly paved, bike-and-pedestrian route offers a 5.5 mile straight shot from Sebastopol, right into town.

If the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition's vision is achieved, this type of muscle-powered transit will be replicated, not only through the county seat, but across its 1,500 square miles of rural area.

Image: San Francisco Chronicle

Has the tide turned in our favor?

Americans drive less for first time in 25 years
Higher gas prices cut not only sales of SUVs, but also time spent on the road:

HOUSTON (Reuters) -- High gasoline prices not only slowed fuel demand growth and cut sales of gas-guzzling vehicles in 2005, they also prompted Americans to drive less for the first time in 25 years, a consulting group said in a report Thursday.

The drop in driving was small - the average American drove 13,657 miles (21,978.8 km) per year in 2005, down from 13,711 miles in 2004 - but it is more evidence that the market works and prices help control consumption, Boston-based Cambridge Energy Research Associates said.

Is the so-called "American Love Affair With the Car" coming to a close? Can we expect the messy and emotional breakup? I suspect that many motorists would welcome an alternative, such as bicycling. Other modes, such as intercity rail and commuter trains, are also showing increases. People want options, clearly.

If we build it, they will come. Every bike commuter provides a model, a mentor, and an inspiration. Or a nuisance. In my office during the minutes before a meeting officially begins and there's time-killing idle chatter about weather and such, I'm usually the one who asks: "Just what does a gallon of gas cost these days, anyway?...Really, how bad was the traffic backup?...Huh, how far away did you have to park?"

Yes, and the donut crumbs come flinging at me.

Bicycling beats petrol dependency

Koren cartoon Oil Addiction Treatment CenterThis cartoon appeared as part of Chevron's "Will You Join Us" campaign. Greenwashing?

Image: Edward Koren.

So, like, who's Jim Morrison?

Image of sticker on bike rack at Rainbow Grocery in San FranciscoPhotographer Jym Dyer writes: "A sticker somebody made and put on the bike racks at Rainbow Grocery: 'Warning to Bicyclists: Getting Doored by a Car May Result in you Joining Jim Morrison. Check Windows and Car Mirror for Occupants as you Pass.' Scrawled in pen underneath, 'Yeah right! Better: Don't ride in the door zone!'"

Of course, many younger cyclists locking up will ask: Who's Jim Morrison? "Dunno, wasn't he that guy on 'Scrubs' or somethin'?" No, you're thinking of the dude who played with Dave Matthews Band. "Yeah, maybe."

C'mon baby light my fire, yeah!


Image: Jym Dyer. Of course, Rainbow Grocery pales in comparison to the Davis Food Co-op, in the cycling capital of North America, Davis, California.
Visit: It's not just a bike, it's a statement, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Get out of your car and onto a trail

Image of bike path in Mill Valley, CaliforniaFrom the Marin Independent Journal, 11.28.06:

"Marin County has $25 million to spend on traffic congestion by building a network of walking and biking trails. The problem is that county officials and bike advocates have at least $100 million worth of ideas to achieve that goal.

"We totaled the infrastructure costs back in 2001 and came up with $100 million. And we've come up with a number of new projects going forward," said Deb Hubsmith, advocacy director for the 1,500-member Marin County Bicycle Coalition.

"The pilot program will pick the projects most suited to our long-term goal, which is to create a bicycle and pedestrian network that gets people out of their cars," she said."

Cyclists in Marin County are so lucky. Sure there's lots of low-density sprawl and plenty of traffic. But they have great weather, great scenery, great bicycling facilities, and the incredibly effective Marin County Bicycle Coalition (MCBC).

Early this decade, the MCBC successfully lobbied Congress for federal funding to support a pilot Safe Routes to School program, which the coalition used to leverage additional local and state funding. The MCBC's Safe Routes to School pilot program has inspired hundreds of communities to create similar youth cycling education and enhancement efforts.

And the MCBC built on its Safe Routes success, obtaining a $25 million grant--one of four in the entire U.S.--in the 2005 federal surface transportation bill to support Marin’s Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program.

The future is bright for bike commuting in Marin County. It never hurts to ask your Congressperson what they can do to improve bicycling in their district.

Image: Mill Valley Bike Path, courtesy Marin County Bicycle Coalition

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Safe bicycling video from LAB


This is pretty basic, and I might quibble with the road placement of some of the featured bicyclists (take the lane!). But it provides a good general overview of cycling safely for beginning bicyclists. Produced by the League of American Bicyclists and the National Highway Safety Administration.

Compared to driving, bicycling is safe. One concern I have with many bicycling organizations is that they emphasize safety concerns, while minimizing the fun of bicycling. Bicycling is safe, period. Bicycling injury statistics suggest that if you are over 20 and are not under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, your chances of getting killed while bicycling are much less than while driving. More than 40,000 people are killed every year on U.S. highways as a result of vehicle collisions.

Santa brings goodies to good cyclists, Part 3

Image of Santa Claus on a bikeTo conclude this week's discussion of holiday gift ideas for bike commuters, I'll offer a few suggestions for a few less expensive items.

LIGHT UP THE HOLIDAYS
Every cyclist needs good lighting, especially during the darker months of winter. I'm shocked by the cyclists I see without any illumination--especially when they're riding the wrong way and straight at me! Don't let your beloved bike commuter ride without adequate lighting.

There are many inexpensive lights available these days. I've written earlier about my admiration for efficient and bright LED headlights. Many companies make great, inexpensive LED headlights, including Cateye, NightRider, and Light & Motion. PlanetBike, which dedicates a share of its profits to bicycle advocacy, makes the great Beamer 3 and also a smart combo pack Beamer-1 and 3-bulb rear red blinky light. Similar LED headlight/tailight combos are also made by Cateyeand Topeak.

SHOW OFF YOUR BIKE STYLE
Bicyclists are just like any other commuter, except we take more pride in our travel mode. There are many ways to show off our enthusiasm for bicycling. There are bicycling lapel pins, cuff links, charms, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, ornaments, and other decorative items. One place to start is BikeGifts.net.

There are many great bicycle calendars to hang in your office. Among the long-time favorites is the calendar featuring racing images by famed bike photographer Graham Watson. Or you could enhance your office and demonstrate your bike pride with a wall clock.

TIS THE SEASON TO BE CREATIVE
In earlier posts I talked about bicycling-oriented films that are available to please your household bike commuter. And you might also consider a lightweight portable radio that would entertain the bike commuter on their way home (use only one earbud, it's smart and it's the law.) And there are several books that aid the bike commuter, first and still the best is Dave Glowacz' comprehensive Urban Bikers' Tricks & Tips: Low-Tech & No-Tech Ways to Find, Ride, & Keep a Bicycle.

You might also consider giving your favorite bike commuter a gift membership to the League of American Bicyclists. Member benefits include a subscription to both Bicycling Magazine and the League's magazine American Bicyclist. And your contribution will help support critical advocacy to improve cycling across the U.S.

AND A HAPPY 2007 TO ALL
Whatever your winter solstice traditions or religious beliefs, I wish you a happy and safe new year of bike commuting. Happy holidays to all.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Santa brings goodies to good cyclists, Part 2

Image of Santa Claus on a bicycle
In yesterday's blog entry, I began a discussion of holiday gift ideas for bike commuters. The first post offered suggestions for those cyclists who are visited by an affluent St. Nicholas, or who have been especially good this year. Today I'll consider a few mid-range gifts for bike commuters. My suggested items are only a sampling of categories; your bicyclist might already have favorite brands or models. Hey, everything's subjective.

THE SOLE OF CYCLING
A pair of lightweight, hard-soled cycling shoes combined with clipless pedals will enhance your household bike commuter's pedaling efficiency by improving power transfer. I've tried many kinds of cycling shoes over the years. My present favorites are the Sidi Dominators. These are pricey, but worth it. They are durable and comfortable, and just ooze Italo-cool. I've had my current pair of Dominators since 2000, and they'll likely last another five years. Worth the investment. Of course, comfort and taste are subjective. Any high-end MTB shoe (Diadora, Shimano, Vittoria, etc.) will deliver similar benefits; and get MTB and not smooth-soled road shoes. Your bike commuter may need to walk around some, and will appreciate the MTB's sole.

DRY AND HAPPY
Winter is a challenging season for cyclists. Make your household bike commuter happy with some warm and waterproof apparel. I'm a fan of Bellwether, among other reasons because until recently they are based in my hometown of San Francisco and have been supportive of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. I really appreciate my Bellwether Aqua-No Jacket, which combined with my Goretex® Pants keep my core pretty dry. Add some warm shoe covers or booties, a reflective waterproof helmet cover, and warm waterproof gloves, and your bike commuter is sure to return home each day dry and happy.

My wife Marianne and I have also had great success keeping dry with rainwear from Burley Design.

GOODS TRANSPORT WITHOUT REINDEER
If your bike commuter regularly transports substantial loads (change of clothing, tools, office materials, etc.) then some kind of secure pannier is critical. Few panniers come any better than Jandd's Large Mountain Pannier. In addition to everyday commuting, these will be very appreciated if your biker has plans for touring.

If your bicyclist needs to carry dress clothes for the office, Jandd also makes a very nice Commuter Garment Pannier.. A similar product I've had good experience with is made by Two-Wheel Gear.

WHEN YOUR WORKSHOP DOESN'T HAVE ELVES
Riding a bike everyday means there will be a fair amount of needed bike maintenance. Your household bike commuter could do what I've done--acquire tools one at a time as needed which get lost amongst the other household tools--or you could spare him or her that nonsense (and expense!) by gifting a set of great tools. For decades, Park Tools have been the industry leader. Your biker will be delighted to receive a Park AK-32 Advanced Tool Kit complete with 35 tools to make almost any needed repair.

If Santa is in a generous mood, add the four-volume professional-level Barnett's Manual: Analysis and Procedures for Bicycle Mechanics and your bicyclist will be set for any necessary repair. (More likely, the amateur-level mechanic can get by with The Bicycling Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance and Repair.)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Santa brings goodies to good cyclists, Part 1

This week brings Thanksgiving, traditionally the start of the holiday shopping season--though the Christmas goods started appearing at my neighborhood Walgreen's before Halloween.

Granted that the holiday season has become an orgy of crass consumerism and that many people have spiritual traditions not involving mistletoe, holly, and decked halls--and regardless of my own religious non-belief, which is slightly beyond that of Nietzsche--there is an undeniably pervasive tradition of year-end gifting to loved ones. Nearly every culture has some commemoration of the winter solstice, often involving some gesture of affection.

If you do have a current or prospective bicycle commuter in your household who has behaved well this year, and if you do exchange gifts in December, you might want to consider adding a few bicycling items to your gift list. As I describe on my bike commuting tips site, my own bike commuting is due to an inspired winter solstice gift from my wife. (Like most American males, I stopped biking the moment I got my drivers license, and only smartened up and recovered cycling 18 years later.)

I'll spend some time this week looking at the gift options for the bike commuter in your household. Here are a few suggestions that might enhance your cyclist's commuting experience:

FOR THE VERY, VERY GOOD: NEW BIKE

I can't imagine any cyclist who wouldn't be enormously excited at the sight of a new bike under the tree. Perhaps your present or prospective bicycle commuter has a road or mountain bike, but not a dedicated commuting bike. Your favorite cyclist's enthusiasm for biking will be enhanced with options, one bike for weekdays and another for weekends. Variety is the spice of life and bicycling.

A bicycle is a high-ticket item, so your biker will need to have a spotless year of good behavior. Here are some suggestions on two categories of bicycles popular for everyday travel: commuter and folder.

Famed mountain bike pioneer Joe Breeze shocked the bike industry a few years ago when he shifted his company, Breezer Bikes, into an operation that only offers commuting bikes. No kid's bikes, no mountain bikes, no touring bikes--just smart, practical commuting bikes, inspired by the utilitarian bicycles of Europe. Many thought Joe Breeze would be bankrupted quickly. "There's not enough demand for commuting bikes."

However, Breezer Bikes is still around, still making only commuting bikes, and has inspired bike industry titans Trek, Specialized, and REI to introduce commuting bikes.

Another exciting bike trend is the broader availability of folding bikes, which are designed specifically for intermodal bike commuters. Folding bikes compact down to smaller size, allowing the rider to board any train or bus to continue their trip. My present commute is three-miles sans transit, so I don't have a folding bike in my stable. My wife has a Bike Friday, which is a great bike, but more suited to travel rather than everyday commuting. Among the available options, I like the Breezer Zig Zag folding bike, and the famed English folding Brompton.

If your gift budget can accommodate it, a new commuting-specific bike would assure another year of good behavior from your household bike commuter. My bike commuting tips pages have additional considerations for buying a bike. My best suggestion is to visit a trusted local bicycle specialty retailer and consult with the staff.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Bicycling sound systems

Image of Sony SFR-M37V FM/AM/Weather/TV
Why should motorists be the only ones with audio entertainment as they travel? Over the years, there have been manufacturers producing bicycle radios, such as those sold by Sunrise Cyclery, Bicycle Revolution, or Active Tunes. Often these include horns or lights. I haven't been very impressed by the sound quality of any of them, plus they take up scarce handlebar space. I also think riding with a high-volume speaker is possibly dangerous and also kind of inconsiderate. Maybe the pedestrians you pass aren't as enthusiastic about Rufus as you might be.

In most states, it is legal to listen to a portable audio device, as long as you use only one ear. There are a number of earphones or earbuds that work with helmet straps, including my favorite, the Sony MDR-J10headphones. I suggest that you keep your left (traffic side) ear open, to hear approaching traffic, sirens, screaming pedestrians, fast approaching dogs.

Most days I bicycle with my Ipod, having downloaded audio programming from various sources. Some days--say, if there's a baseball game on during my ride home--I use my Sony SFR-M37V FM/AM/Weather/TV radio (pictured above). Reception is very good, it's durable, lightweight, clips on a belt or fits easily in a pocket, features button lock-out, and is reasonably inexpensive. Don't use the headphones it comes with, shown in the picture. It works with any earbuds or earphones you might already have.

Boogie while you bike!

Get on your bikes, the green Prince of Wales tells staff

Bicycles parked in London
From the Telegraph, 11.16.06:
"The Prince of Wales is urging his staff to help fight global warming by providing bicycles for them to make short trips around the capital instead of taking cars or cabs. As part of a new 'bicycling to work' scheme, bikes are available at Clarence House for staff to borrow rather than using gas-guzzling cars."

Being a committed small "d" democrat more inclined to Jacobinism, I'm not generally a fan of royalty. However, Britain's Prince Charles is a committed organic farmer and the UK's most prominent environmentalist. My wife, Marianne, born in Uxbridge and holder of a British passport, will take pride in this environmental initiative from the Prince of Wales.

It will be a great day for American bike commuters when the U.S. government finally takes global warming seriously. Maybe then we'll get a fair share of federal transportation investment.

Image: Bikes parked in London, photo by Rob Norwood

Clean-up made easy with latex

Image of latex glovesImagine. You pull over to change a flat tire. Reaching into your pannier or the back pocket of your jersey, you pull out the most critical item needed for the repair: latex surgical gloves. Your cycling pals make jokes about prostate exams as you snap them on.

You make your repair, set up your inflated tire, and put your wheel back on your bike. You roll off your latex gloves inside out, containing the dirt and grease neatly, and put the soiled gloves into your pocket or pannier, because you are a conscientious cyclist and don't litter. "I'm cleaned up, ready to go," you state, as your pals' chuckles turn into amazement. That's smart, they say. You smile.

It's a drag if you have to make a dirty repair (tire change, chain link repair, etc.) out on the road, far from a washroom sink and degreasing soap. Latex gloves make clean-up a snap. I carry a pair on all cycling outings, usually in a small plastic prescription bottle. They are inexpensive and available at most local drug stores; get the ones without powder.


Image: Web capture.
Visit: Grease Monkey wipes, Cyclelicious
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Odense Model: More bicycling, less illness

Image of bicyclist in Odense, Denmark
More American bicycle commuters and bike advocates should pay attention to what's happening in Odense, Denmark. The national government has made Denmark's third largest city a laboratory for bicycling, investing much money in bicycling facilities and encouragement.

And there are signicant results, including less illness. Suggest your employer might encourage bike commuting to reduce sickdays!

From The Copenhagen Post:

Efforts to make the city of Odense more bike-friendly are showing results--fewer people are calling in sick.

Odense Cycle City, an ongoing, multi-million kroner effort to improve conditions for bicycle commuters, is proving to be a good investment. Begun in 1999, project initiatives include improved bike paths, free air pumps set up around the city, and a website where commuters can do everything from finding a new bike to warning each other about potholes.

The programme cost the city DKK 20 million (EUR 2.68 million) and has transformed Odense into one of Denmark's most bike friendly cities, increasing the number of two-wheeled commuters in the city of 186,000 by an estimated 25,000 per day.

Additional statistics showing that car ownership has increased at a slower pace in Odense than in the rest of Denmark may have city fathers seeing green, but their efforts also have a financial benefit--active citizens are low-cost citizens.

Odense estimates that over the past four years, a decrease in the number of sick days has saved DKK 33 million (EUR 4.4 million) in health service costs and unemployment benefits. Thanks to biking, say project leaders, Odense residents have fewer broken bones and fewer tumours than average.

'We have a lower death rate in Odense. People are living longer and we know that illnesses related to physical inactivity have fallen,' said Troels Andersen, the head of the Odense Cycle City programme.


Image: Web capture. Bicyclist in Odense, Denmark.

In praise of chainguards

Image of Specialized Globe commuting bike with chainguard highlighted
Today I received an email from a visitor to my bike commuting tips webpage. "I go to college by cycling over 5 miles every single day. One thing that has annoyed me is protecting the side of my trousers from getting totally ruined by oil."

I replied with suggestions that this young bike commuter 1) roll up pant leg; 2) wear shorts and change; or 3) use an ankle strap, such as my favorite, the Jandd Reflective Ankle Strap.

A better solution for commuters is a chainguard, which once was standard equipment on most bikes. But then bikes became toys and recreational devices rather than utilitarian vehicles, and the chainguard disappeared, along with fenders, lights, bells, and kickstands. Fortunately, the trend in the bike industry looks better. Breezer Bikes was the first bike manufacturer to dedicate their entire line to commuting. Many other companies, such as Specialized and Trek have introduced commuting model bikes.

Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

US, China Rank Among Worst on Climate Change

Image of Beijing bicyclistI couldn't resist posting this image, when I saw it on CommonDreams.org. In one picture it captures the contradiction of China--the greatest number of bike commuters and utilitarian bicyclists in the world, combined with some of the dirtiest energy plants on the planet. Sadly, China's bicyclists are being crowded off the roads by the growing motorist plague, with resulting injuries and fatalities. That's progress?

See: The Bicycle's Long Way to China: The appropriation of cycling as a foreign cultural technique (1860-1941)
See: As China becomes richer, its clean, energy-efficient bicycles are giving way to cars
Image: Web capture.

Election turns wheels of power in favor of bikes

Image of Congressman Earl Blumenauer and constituents during 2006 National Bike SummitRoads - Cyclists are pumped as advocates move into key House transportation roles

The Oregonian, 11.14.06: "Andy Clarke, who heads the League of American Cyclists, says he won't advocate that interstates become bike paths after last Tuesday's elections. But cycling enthusiasts are dreaming big after their three biggest supporters in Congress -- including two from Oregon -- were swept into powerful new transportation positions after the Democrats took control of the U.S. House."

See: Bicyclists relieved election over
Image: Congressman Earl Blumenauer, founder of Congressional Bike Caucus, with cyclists during 2006 National Bike Summit. Image by BikePortland.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Connecticut bike commuters on Tee-Vee

Image of female bike commuter from WTNH in Connecticut
"Some of the biggest complaints we've heard about commuting are that traffic is too bad, gas costs too much, trains are too crowded and the commute takes so long people don't have time to go to the gym and exercise. But a growing number of bicycle commuters have solved all those problems by switching from four wheels to two. (Hamden-WTNH, Nov. 14, 2006 6:25 AM)"

This video report on WTNH features several lucky bike commuters in Connecticut riding through beautiful New England fall foliage. Lucky folks. Makes this native Red Sox fan homesick. It also seems that intermodal access is an issue for these bicyclists, especially on trains. The lame excuses offered by the bureaucrats interviewed for this WTNH-TV report are familiar to all of us who were intermodal bike commuters a decade ago on CalTrain between San Francisco and San Jose.

Caltrain was "persuaded" with vigorous effort to provide better access for bicyclists. And today it's a national model for intermodal bike commuting. The most exciting recent development is the new "bike depot" now under construction at the San Francisco Caltrain Station, which will provide bike parking, maintenance, accessories, and information.

Resources: BikeStation.org

Monday, November 13, 2006

It's not just a bike, it's a statement

I wish my boyfriend was as dirty as my bike
When wheels turn, it must be revolution
Dog is my co-pilot
meaningful overnight relationshipBike stickers serve many purposes:
1) To make a statement, political or personal
2) To cover chips, dings, scratches
3) To prevent chips, dings, scratches
4) To discourage theft by making bike less salable
5) To personalize (make unique)

Bike stickers are available from many organizations. See the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, StickerGiant.com, or PeaceSupplies.org to start. If you do sticker your bike, my suggestion is to get the better quality vinyl ones. They weather better, and if you ever want to remove them, they peel easier. Otherwise, plan to spend ample time with Goo Gone (or another eco-friendly citrus cleaner.)

Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bicyclists relieved election over

Image of kitten sitting on bike voter T-shirt
According to the League of American Bicyclists: "The mid-term U.S. elections were very successful for the Bike Caucus." Minnesota Congressperson James Oberstar--a cyclist and one of the main leaders of the Congressional Bike Caucus founded by Oregan Congressman Earl Blumenauer--seems likely to chair the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. And maybe the success of the Democrats will cause the Bush Administration to pay some attention to pressing domestic needs, like, say, developing energy-saving transportation alternatives.

However, some cyclists are less sanguine. For one thing, California voters approved Proposition 1B, a $20 billion transportation bond funding lots of freeways while providing mere crumbs for pedestrian or bicycling facilities. The bond was opposed by nearly every bicycling and environmental group in the state.

In San Francisco, several local pro-bike candidates lost, despite strong support by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, most importantly District 8 supervisoral challenger Alix Rosenthal.

But other pro-bike candidates in San Francisco did win. And California voters defeated the noxious "eminent domain" Proposition 90, which would have blocked many necessary bike or environmental protection measures. A local initiative to increase the parking tax by 10 percent to raise money for transit, bicycling, and other city services, Proposition E, passed. And many local cyclists--not me, for sure--will be pleased that San Francisco's Nancy Pelosi will be the new speaker of the House of Representatives.

Now that the election's finally--finally!--over, maybe we can get some riding in before the cold wet weather.

Image: Web capture. This "Bike Voter" t-shirt is available from the California Bicycle Coalition.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Baseball and bicycling shouldn't be strangers

Image of bike parking at San Francisco GiantsOnly one Major League Baseball franchise offers secure bike parking for its pedaling fans: the San Francisco Giants. Sadly, the Giants' cross bay rivals, the Oakland A's, seem not to be interested in offering more diverse transportation options for their patrons.

According to today's San Francisco Chronicle, the Athletics' are pursuing a new stadium in the nearby city of Fremont. The team has longed for a new facility for many years, and is apparently frustrated by the failure of Oakland city government to offer any assistance. The attraction of Fremont? Easy freeway access. As the Chronicle reports: "For many Bay Area residents, Fremont remains elusive--just another low-lying community straddling Interstate 880 between Oakland and San Jose."

Cursed by ancestry to be a Red Sox fan, I've made the annual pilgrimage to the dreary Oakland Mausoleum to view the Boston team lose to the locals on their yearly visit. One of the things in the A's favor (beyond great young talent and smart management) is the stadium's proximity to BART and now the new AMTRAK Capitol Corridor Oakland Coliseum station.

I was heartened somewhat by sportswriter Ray Ratto's almost "New Urbanist" column, which flatly dismissed the Fremont ballpark idea:
"The history of ballpark construction in the last 15 years has been about big-city downtowns. It is the nexus of traffic and social-activity patterns, there are businesses and restaurants and nightclubs and lots of pregame and postgame entertainment, and it has the capacity to take crowds and make the most of them. Suburban stadiums have been all but abandoned for the perfectly good reason that people drive to a park, and if they can't walk to anything afterward, they drive back home again."

Boy, it will be a sad day in Oakland if the A's leave. Especially if it creates a greater challenge for non-driving baseball fans.

Image: Valet bike parking at AT&T Park in San Francisco, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
See: "Bike Me Out to the Ballgame", San Francisco Bicycle Coalition

Cycling Humor: Campagnolo bottom bracket

Image of Campagnolo bottom bracketSomewhere in Washington, a talented marketing pro (or political consultant?) is selling his surplus cycing supplies. From Craigslist in Washington, DC:

-----------------------------------------
() NEW Campagnolo Bottom Bracket [total chick magnet] ()
Date: 2006-09-27, 12:31PM EDT

You're riding down 18th street on a cool fall afternoon. You notice all the women aged 21-35 are standing along the sidewalk, all staring at you. As you stop for a red light, one approaches:

HER: Pardon me, is that a Campagnolo bottom bracket?
YOU: Why yes... it is.
HER: [blushes] Wow, you must be a man of true discernment... tell me big boy, how big IS it?
YOU: 111mm.
HER: [stammers, begins to twitch] E-english threaded?
YOU: ENGLISH threaded...
HER: [tearing off clothes] YOU TOTAL HUNK OF A MAN, TAKE ME NOW!!!!
YOU: [under your breath] Thanks, craigslist!!

Seriously dudes, it could happen to you. This thing is BRAND-FREAKING-NEW! Reduced price!

* this is in or around Columbia Heights/Petworth

-----------------------------------------

To understand the reverence some cyclists have for Campagnolo, see:
CampyOnly.com
Sheldon Brown Bike Glossary
Image: Campagnolo Chorus bottom bracket
Tip of the Campy cap to Bob Debarge of Portland, OR.

Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Monday, November 06, 2006

LED Headlights: Just better and better

Image of Planet Bike Beamer 3
It seems to happen every year, just after the end of Daylight Savings Time. You're out for a bike ride, and the daylight runs out. You're in the dark without lights.

This happened to my wife and I this weekend. Fortunately, we were close to a bike shop in San Francisco. So I bought a Planet Bike Beamer 3(above) and attached it to her bike. I've since used it on several rides, and have been very impressed. In general, I like Planet Bike products; and I like their policy of donating 25 percent of profits to bicycle advocacy.

The development of Light Emitting Diode (LED) bike lights has been a great boon to bicyclists. I've tried many kinds of bike lights over the years, and today's LEDs are far better than the old battery-killing halogen lights available at the sub-$30 price point. These new LEDs--such as the Planet Bike Beamer 3 or another personal favorite, the CatEye Bike Head Light HL-EL410--are inexpensive, light-weight, long-lasting, and very bright for most urban riding. (For darkest rural night riding, I also have an exceptionally bright Light & Motion Solo Logic head light.)

These days, there's no excuse for bicycling at night without lights. Except stupidity.

The New Yorker: Holy Rollers

Image of bicyclist in Times SquareThe New Yorker for November 13 has this provocative article by Ben McGrath, HOLY ROLLERS: The city’s bicycle zealots:

"New York is by no means a bicycle haven, like Copenhagen or Amsterdam, or even San Francisco or Madison, Wisconsin, where cycling, despite hilly terrain, is three times as common as it is here. But a smaller proportion of New York residents own automobiles compared with any large city in the Western world, and the local bicycling movement now includes more than twenty groups, with names like Right of Way, FreeWheels, and Revolution Rickshaws, drawing inspiration from sources as varied as the French Situationist philosopher Guy Debord, the civil-rights leaders John Lewis and Hosea Williams, and the urban sociologist Jane Jacobs."

One major opposition to bicyclists in New York City is, surprisingly, pedestrians. When cyclists proliferate on sidewalks, as they seem to do in New York City, it's generally because the streets are perceived as unsafe. Create more bike lanes, and the sidewalks become less appealing to bikers. Most responsible bike organizations, such as Transportation Alternatives in NYC, or the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, strongly discourage sidewalk bicycling, which generally creates unnecessary enemies for bicyclists.

As I wrote on my Bike Commuting Tips website: Many beginning cyclists think that riding on the sidewalk is safer than riding in the street. They couldn't be more wrong. Cycling on the sidewalk means you have to dodge pedestrians, pets, scaffolding, garbage cans, parking meters and signs, vehicles exiting driveways and garages, landscaping, trees and leafy debris, motorists turning off the street, pedestrians leaving buildings without expecting a high velocity traveler sharing their space, and police officers with a ticket quota to meet. Ride in the street. It's safer.

See: Times Up NYC
Image: Web capture