Monday, April 30, 2007

Shelter for smokers, not bikes?

Bike parking is a critical amenity for bicycling commuters. Ain't gonna leave your Lightspeed out in the rain, right? Secure, staffed, indoor bike parking is ideal, and for a few fortunate bicyclists is provided by an office closet, an enlighted or tolerant employer, or a nearby Bikestation. Video-monitored streetside bike racks aren't quite as good as indoor parking. And too rarely, bike racks are located under some form of shelter, such as this modest structure near the Amtrak Station in Davis, California.

From the frequently-rainy Pacific Northwest, comes this account:

When will people on bikes be treated as well as smokers?

I am pissed. I just learned that my county would rather provide shelter from the weather for its employees who smoke (and drive up healthcare costs) than let those citizen-terrorists on bikes park out of the rain near the county building.

So I have to go to the county building today after a lunch meeting. Rather than drive, I hop on my bike and dodge traffic and the shards of cars swept into the so-called "bike lanes." I get to the county building and it's starting to rain.

I look up, and the massive front of the building has an extended cover running across the front of the building. In the center is an entrance. To the right are hardworking county employees (they wear badges) enjoying their hard-earned cigarette breaks, as well as what looks to be like regular citizen smokers (no badges).

I am over by the single bike rack, away from the building, in the rain. (Read more.)

Image: Paul Dorn.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips
Thanks to Portland-based Sasquatch hunter Bob Debarge for tipping this Grist article.

Sacramento: Bike Commute Month begins

Image of bicyclist and bus with bike rack in Placer County, California
From the Sacramento Bee, 04.30.07:

Ride of your life
Bike Commute Month encourages workers to give new meaning to 'day shift'


Tuesday is the first day of Bike Commute Month. And if you follow this simple advice, it could be the first day of the rest of your life as a successful and savvy bike commuter.

Whether you're 25 miles from work or eight blocks, whether you ride daily, weekly or once a month, getting on a bike makes you part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

Never mind that Al Gore forgot to mention bikes in that movie of his.

To ride your bike to work or school -- or wherever you need to -- is to free yourself from the negatives of car culture: the rudeness, the rush, the anger, the dread, the sloth, the cost, the stress, the (vapid talk radio.)

The bike is clean, green and quiet. Elegant in its simplicity, it is a near- perfect machine. You turn the pedals, you move. You move, you breathe, you burn calories. (Read more.)
This is an inspiring first-person account by a staff writer for the Bee, who bike commutes 25 miles each way, every day. (It's a shame that San Francisco lacks a mainstream reporter with such vigor.) The article has a lot of helpful pointers for beginners, and promotes the Sacramento region's Bike Commute Month.

Image: Sacramento Region Bike Commute
Visit: Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Bicycling hazardous in Los Angeles


This television report from Los Angeles is a little dated (February, 2007), but it features footage from Davis, California, one of my favorite bike towns. The report is generally favorable, and features several bicyclists on-screen. I would have liked a stronger refutation of the motorist who incorrectly thinks bikes belong on sidewalks. But on the whole this report is a good awareness raiser for El-Lay's overly privileged motorists.

Visit: Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC)
Visit: Cyclists Inciting Change thru Live Exchange (C.I.C.L.E.)
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

In praise of trees, part deux

Image of shaded bike lane on Sacramento's E StreetShade is a valuable amenity for bike commuters. Especially in seasonally warm areas like Sacramento, California. Don't let tree-hating traffic engineers remove your shade trees to speed up traffic.

Image: Paul Dorn. Shaded bike lane on E Street in Sacramento
Visit: Research: trees make streets safer, not deadlier, New Urban News
Visit: Trees Make Streets Safer, Raise the Hammer Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Bike travel not just for workday commuting

Image of bike with crocquet mallets in Sacramento's McKinley ParkIn my Bike Commute Tips site, I have a page "Beyond Commuting." There I wrote:

Expect to experience some sore muscles when you first start bike commuting. Eventually you'll gain strength, improve your balance, enhance your breathing, lower your blood pressure, reduce your resting pulse rate, sleep better, and on and on. In short, your fitness will improve, simply by commuting to and from work everyday on a bicycle.

When the weekend comes along, what are you going to do? Plop your hard-earned vitality in front of a television or something? Of course not! Get out there and bicycle some more! Recruit a friend to cycling. Find a local cycling club. Take a ride out in the country. Pack along a picnic lunch and a camera and explore your world. (Read more.)
Bike travel works for weekend activities too! Shop and play with your bike, or check out a local baseball game. Have fun getting to your fun.

Image: Paul Dorn. Bike with crocquet mallets in Sacramento's McKinley Park.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Video-monitored bike racks

Image of bike rack near City Hall in Sacramento, CASecure, interior bike parking is a great thing for everyday bike commuters. However, lacking such a facility, it's not terrible if your outside bike parking has a sign indicating: "Notice: All activities monitored by video camera." This set of bike racks is located outside Sacramento City Hall.

Slightly off-topic: The building across the street is the Sacramento International Hostel. The hostel is housed in in a beautiful 1885 Victorian mansion, one of a handful of vintage survivors of the era when Sacramento bulldozed most such historic structures to build parking lots and drab buildings for public agencies. Sigh. Hostels are popular lodging for bike tourists, and the Sacramento International Hostel website indicates: "Practical touches include a fully equipped kitchen, game room, on-site laundry and bike storage."

Image: Paul Dorn
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Critical Mass rolls smoothly through S.F.

Image of man in wheelchair participating in San Francisco's Critical Mass in April 2007Having blogged extensively on the topic already, I didn't plan to post any further on San Francisco's Critical Mass. (It's a "bike commute tips" blog, not a "Critical Mass" blog, afterall.) But I was inspired by this image in today's Chronicle; "one less car" indeed.

After its absentee columnists had inflammed the initial situation, the Chronicle sent a team of reporters to April's Critical Mass. They discovered that, gee whiz, Critical Mass is actually a fun and positive event:

The event seemed less like an angry protest and more like a rolling festival. The ride included all sorts of two- and three-wheeled pedal-powered vehicles. Some were decorated with crepe paper, signs and even large papier-mache sculptures. Several riders pulled rolling boom boxes to provide music, and one rider had a machine spewing a steady stream of soap bubbles.

"I'm not stuck, I'm watching," said Carollena Figueiredo, 44, of San Francisco, sitting in her Toyota Matrix at Francisco and Mason streets. "It's like a parade. I think it's great."

Riley Gangh, 13, was riding with his dad, Pete, and wearing an Al Gore mask and a hockey goalie mask. "I've never seen anything like it," he said. "We're just getting together to have fun and to show cars that they need to share the road." (Read more.)
Unfortunately, the television stations demonstrated--in the words of one writer to the SFBike listserve--the "blind men describing an elephant" approach to their coverage. In their view, the 20 extra cops, not cyclist restraint, kept the ride "peaceful." According to the TV news, Critical Mass was all about driver rage and police state tactics, not joyful celebration.

Let's hope this is the end of media targeting of bicyclists in San Francisco. Sadly, many bike bloggers elsewhere--not favorably disposed to Critical Mass and accepting every mainstream media account as accurate--were overly quick to bark against the event.

I've said it before: Critical Mass can energize a local cycling community, contribute positively to raising public awareness, and fuel the growth of cycling advocacy organizations.

Image: Mickey Kay pushed his way through San Francisco's downtown area to keep up with his friends on bikes. Lance Iverson/San Francisco Chronicle.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

May is national bike month



For many people, spring means baseball and bicycling. And after warming up the cycling legs after the winter, many cyclists celebrate May as National Bike Month. Bike groups around the U.S. use National Bike Month as an opportunity to raise awareness about bicycling, and offer events to encourage people to give bike commuting a try.

The California Bike Commute, a program of the California Bicycle Coalition, celebrates its 13th year. In the Bay Area, Bike to Work Day is Thursday, May 17. "Tens of thousands of residents from all corners of the Bay Area will put their car keys aside, grab their helmets, and hop on their bicycles to make their commute to work."

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition anticipates record numbers of participants this year, and will organize "energizer stations" at several locations in the city during morning and evening commute hours. The day concludes with the "Bike Away From Work" party, always a highlight of the cycling social calendar in San Francisco.

In the Sacramento region, Bike Commute Month encourages employers to organize teams in their workplace, make mileage pledges, and earn prizes. During Bike to Work Day in Los Angeles, transit agencies will offer free rides for multimodal bike commuters.

What's happening in your region during Bike to Work Month?

Video: League of American Bicyclists / Beyond Pix Studios
Visit: League of American Bicyclists
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Friday, April 27, 2007

Brewer is bike-friendly employer

Image of Fat Tire Ale neon sign
From 9NEWS.com (Colorado), 04.27.07:

New Belgium Brewing Co. (of Ft. Collins, CO), was recently voted Bicycle-Friendly Employer of the Year by bicyclists across Colorado. The award was announced at the Bicycle Colorado Gala Celebration on April 20 in Denver.

New Belgium's commitment "is at the center of who we are," New Belgium spokesman Brian Simpson said.

New Belgium gives each employee a cruiser bike after one year of employment; sponsors several bicycling activities, including its Tour de Fat events; and encourages employees to bike often.

The company also provides showers for bicycle commuters, ample bike racks for easy bike parking and "Team Wonder Bike" that asks members to pledge to commute at least twice a month by bike or alternative transport.

"This is definitely an honor and anything that can get more people on their bikes is a positive for all communities," (Simpson) said. (Read more.)
We need more employers like New Belgium. Another bike-friendly brewer is Sierra Nevada, of the beautiful cycling-hotbed of Chico, California.

For bike commuters arriving home after a long, hot ride--I no longer drink--a chilled malt beverage is carb-loaded refreshment. What could be better than a brew from a bike-friendly company? Ya gonna drink beer from some NASCAR sponsor?

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Brewery Broadens Social Bike Program, PPOL: News
Visit: New Belgium Releases First Sustainability Report, MSNBC
Visit: New Belgium heralded as a friend to bicyclists
Visit: Brewer voted most bicycle-friendly
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Bike advocacy beyond Critical Mass

Image of bicyclists in San Francisco's Critical Mass
Having published a series of inflammatory articles on Critical Mass, the San Francisco Chronicle recognizes the obvious with a highly favorable article in today's edition. From the San Francisco Chronicle, 04.27.07:

Bike advocacy evolves from Critical Mass to political know-how

The political influence of San Francisco's pro-bike movement has risen steadily over the past decade to the point where the chief advocate for cyclists sits on a powerful city commission and elected officials rarely tell them no.

It's a long way from the early days, when bike enthusiasts could barely get city officials to return their calls.

"We've achieved a lot. There's no doubt about it," said Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which boasts a membership on the plus side of 6,000, making it one of the largest advocacy groups in the city.

It was Shahum whom Mayor Gavin Newsom tapped last year to serve as a commissioner overseeing the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which is in charge of transit, traffic and parking operations in the city. (Read more.)
Challenged by San Francisco's media-savvy cycling community, the Chronicle seems to be backpedaling from its inaccurate and biased early reporting on an incident at the end of the March Critical Mass in San Francisco.

Critical Mass
contributed greatly to the progress made in San Francisco. However, as this article acknowledges, the organized energy of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has succeeded in giving effective focus to bicyclist's dissatisfaction with existing conditions on the street. Advocacy works for bicyclists.

Image: Kim Komenich/San Francisco Chronicle
Visit: Critical Mass Ride Goes Peacefully After Last Month's Conflict
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It's 5 p.m., do you know where your bike is?

Image of broken bike locks near the train station in Davis, CaliforniaI noticed this pile of broken locks near a bike rack at the train station in Davis, California. Not a strong endorsement of this brand, I'd say.

A stolen bike is a real bummer. No, repeat no bike lock is 100 percent secure. Any lock can be defeated by a determined thief. I usually advise redundancy; the use of more than one lock. Essentially, you deter thieves by having your bike better secured than other nearby bicycles.

Image: Paul Dorn.
Visit: Avoiding the Bicycle Thief, Slate Magazine, 04.18.06
Visit: Bike thefts deflating for commuters, Los Angeles Daily News
Visit: Bike Theft Real, Preventable, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Monday, April 23, 2007

Valet Bike Parking: Idea whose time has come

Image of bicyclist at valet bike parking in Santa Monica
From the Los Angeles Times, 04.23.07:

Cities peddle parking for bicycles
Communities hope that valet and other services will encourage residents to use bikes for commuting and doing errands.


Pity the cyclist with the $4,000 titanium road bike attempting to park at the Sunday farmers market in Santa Monica.

After 10:30 a.m., the meters and street signs were already claimed by early rising cyclists who chained their bike frames to the poles, and that hefty, pricey Kryptonite lock simply wouldn't fit around the nearest fence post.

Now, cyclists in search of heirloom tomatoes and organic cilantro can enjoy valet parking of the sort offered to BMW-driving diners at Ivy at the Shore or Chinois on Main, handing over their wheels to polite attendants who park them at a nearby bicycle stand.

In California bicycle circles, this kind of service is the coming thing.

Valet bike parking would seem a quintessentially Californian response to clogged freeways and overflowing parking lots. By encouraging more cyclists, cities are promoting environmental consciousness and outdoor cardio workouts.

Most important, for some cyclists, is knowing that someone is watching over their bike.

"You can have all the bike lanes you want, but when you get to your location, you need a place to park," said Russ Roca, 29, of Long Beach. (Read more.)
The article hails the Bikestation, launched a decade ago in Long Beach, and now replicated in Berkeley, Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Seattle. Secure bike parking is often challenging to find. Secure facilities will encourage more bike travel.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has been successful passing legislation requiring large events in the city to provide secure bike parking. And there is a great valet bike parking service at AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.

Image: Los Angeles Times. Santa Monica Main Street Farmer's Market shopper drops off her bike at the valet parking lot.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

St. Louis: More bike racks coming

Image of Bike St. Louis street marking
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 04.23.07:

It's that time of year again, when spinning two wheels is more appealing than spinning four.

But once you get to where you're pedaling, there's hardly a rack for parking.

The St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation is about to chip away at the problem. The organization just received a $50,000 federal grant to install between 200 and 300 more bicycle racks in St. Louis and St. Louis County in the next year.

Bicycling is gaining steam in St. Louis, thanks to rising gasoline prices and more bicycle lanes. Still, when it comes to cycling, St. Louis is no Chicago. The Windy City always seems to land on Bicycle magazine's best bicycling places in the United States. (Read more.)
Readers of this blog are well aware of bicyclists' interest in a greater abundance of secure bike parking. Great news for bicyclists in St. Louis.

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Bicycling inspiration from Europe

Image of bike parking lot at Brugge, HollandMy friend Bob in Portland--ceaseless searcher for Bigfoot, among other interests--sends me this image from his friend, who had recently returned from Europe. She writes:

Yep, Brugge, Thursday, 3/29 about 10 am. I wish the bike parking photo did justice; I think the bikes took up half the lot.

Not trenchant because it's so obvious: when I went to Amsterdam in '89 I was thrilled by all the bikes; this time they seemed even more knit into the fabric of urban life. And this time it made me sad to live in a city that can't look at Amsterdam or Belgium or any other intelligent city and see how valuable fostering this kind of transportation is. In Amsterdam, street parking is 8 euro an hour and they are about to outlaw it in the city center.

People are on the streets, businesses are thriving, and folks are healthy and happy. Here in New York City, FedEx, UPS and the NYPD treat bike lanes as reserved parking; and residents grow prematurely old breathing exhaust, stressing from traffic noise, and dodging aggressive drivers who feel entitled to run anything down to escape their gridlocked fate.

I'm totally nursing the idea of going back and doing a low countries bike tour; it's all flat, beautiful, and full of people who respect two-wheel transportation.

Image: Elizabeth Peters. Train station bike parking facility in Bruge (Brugge), Flemish area of Belgium.

Buying a Bike: new or used?

Image of Peugeot PX-10 bicycle
A question I receive frequently from visitors to my Bike Commuting Tips site is: Should I buy a new or a used bike? Motivated by higher fuel costs, expanding waistlines, or growing traffic, many visitors ask if they should refurbish their old bike now deeply dusted by decades of garage exile. Or should they buy new?

I get the question frequently enough that I added a page on the topic, where I suggest:

My advice to people new to bicycling or resuming cycling after several years is to buy a new bicycle, for many reasons. New bikes come with full warranty protection, in the unlikely event of problems. Newer bikes are less prone to mechanical failures, and most bike shops offer a 90-day "break-in" period where they'll make minor adjustments. You can find just the right combination of color, fit, style, and options buying new, where you have less choice buying a used bike. Bike technology has also improved markedly in recent years, especially shifting, braking, and frame materials--newer bikes simply work better.

It is true that you can often find great deals on a used bike. I've enjoyed finding those great older bikes and fixing them up into outstanding vintage cycling machines, as I did with my older Trek touring bike. However, buying a used bike, just like buying a used car, is risky. If you don't know exactly what you want or if you lack the mechanical skills to adapt a used bike to your needs, then you should buy a new bike. Again, the most important consideration isn't price, but comfort. Get the right bike.
I always discourage people from buying a "boat anchor disguised as a bike with a 'Motiv' label" from a big box store. Buy from a reputable bike shop. With the growth of the Internet as a sales venue, I also discourage newbie bike commuters from buying a bike without riding it. Buy new, is what I generally advise. A new bike is a great motivator, and a new bike works better right from the start.

That said, it is true that great values can be found on used bikes. I once found a sweet Peugeot UO-8 (similar to bike above, a gem PX-10) for $10 at a yard sale. After hours of enjoyable degreasing and reassembly--gotta love a project!--I had a hugely fun lugged steel bike with classic French geometry.

What do you suggest to prospective bike commuters? New or used?

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Sunday, April 22, 2007

No Brakes? No Worries

Image of woman with fixed gear bikeFrom the Burlington Free Press (Vermont), 04.20.07:

What is a bike with no brakes and no gears worth in a place with as many peaks and valleys as Vermont?

To the disciples of the fixed-gear bicycle phenomenon, the answer is an awful lot. No brakes, no gears, no worries for the increasing number of folks hitching up to the fixed gear wagon.

Fixed gear bikes, or "fixies," are the hottest thing in bicycling at the moment, but you'd be hard-pressed to find these rides in a traditional bike shop. The mass market commercial appeal of fixed gears is limited because they don't work like standard bikes. There's some skill involved in learning to pedal a fixed gear, and those who have mastered the art make up a small, though growing band of bicyclists who appreciate the simplicity and respect the individuality of fixed-gear bikes. Fixed-gear bikes seem to have reached cult status.

In addition to the fact that fixed gears look cool, they're also great year-round commuting bikes. (Graham) McDowell rides his bike all winter long and says he has more control in the snow and grit. Harris Bucklin, 20, likes the absolute control he has over his Motobecane fixed gear. "I always relate it to a Jedi experience. You're directly in control of the bike at all times," Bucklin said. "It just makes it so much fun when you're on the road." (Read more.)
I've commuted on a fixed gear, and it can work for many people. (My preference for everyday riding is a bike with gears, which is what I suggest for beginner-level bike commuters or those returning to bicycling after a few years.) This favorable article comes from New England, home to the godfather of fixies, Sheldon "Coasting is bad for you" Brown.

Image: faster panda kill kill.
Visit: One Gear, Will Travel, San Francisco Chronicle, 09.11.06
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Greensboro: Bike is first in rat race

From the News-Record (Greensboro, NC), 02.40.07:

Once again, the tortoise left the hare in the dust.

It was 5:45 p.m. on Wendover near Interstate 40, and three lanes of westbound cars, trucks and even an immobilized motorcycle cop sat waiting. They stretched two miles back to the brickwork gateway at Clifton Road, which marked the old city limit before super-size sprawl sloshed over it and kept on rolling, like an ungainly water balloon ready to burst.

That's when I saw him whizzing by on the right shoulder--a 40ish man in a T-shirt and a pony tail, riding a 10-speed bike. Between the stock-still traffic and the car dealerships where they park the new models with their hoods open, as if already overheating, the bike was the only thing in motion.

The rider labored up the slope toward the interstate, thread ing his way across the overpass and into the gathering orange sunset as that carbon-emitting misnomer of a "rush hour" ticked on.(Read more.)
This light-hearted column continues with an interview with Chris Ledbetter, an urban planning major at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, active with the student-run collective Bike Me! "A bicycle represents the ultimate freedom," Ledbetter tells the writer. "You feel a real sense of accomplishment commuting by bicycle. I can go faster than the cars. And they don't like that."

Image: Porch in Greensboro. David Gray McLean.
Visit: Gas-free Commute: Two Wheels, One Helmet, Greensboro News-Record
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

The biking parent: Interview with Jon Winston

Image of bicyclist and advocate Jon Winston, host of Bikescape podcastOne of the most common inquiries I get from visitors to my Bike Commuting Tips site is from parents, who wonder how to combine bike travel and kids. Not having any children of my own, I was at a loss to respond. So I contacted my friend Jon Winston, a San Francisco bicyclist, activist, and parent. Among his other accomplishments, Jon is the host of the outstanding Bikescape podcast.

Bike Commute Tips: Tell me a bit about your family. How many kids, ages, bicycling experience.

Jon Winston: Karen and I have been together for 17 years and married for 11. My oldest son, Cassady (from an earlier marriage) lived with us from age 12. He's now 26. Recently we added two new kids, Theo, age eight and Lillian, age five.

Lillian and Theo both began riding at nine months, the age when a baby can hold up her head with a helmet on. We started them on a Rhode Gear Copilot Bike Limo, a seat that snaps onto a Blackburn rear rack. The contraption worked well although it could have accommodated the rear overhang of the kiddie helmet better. No complaints from the kids though. A better set-up would have been the European style seat that rests on the top tube just in front of the adult. These are nice because the child can see where he's going and conversations are easier. I suppose one adult could carry two small kids at once with both contraptions but I've never tried it.

When the kids reached 40 pounds and could no longer sit behind me, they graduated to a double-wide Burley Delite Trailer. The trailer was very functional. It allows for two kids plus several bags of groceries. The Burley has nice dished wheels and kept their cargo out of the rain. On the other hand the disadvantages of the trailer were many. It was very hard to ride into a headwind and worst of all, it robs cyclists from the biggest advantage of biking: the ability to split lanes. During the trailer era we were uber vehicularists!

We were finally able to put the trailer behind us when we got a pair of Burley Piccolos, which are third wheel "trailer bikes". I like the Piccolo because it attaches directly onto the proprietary rack, rather than onto the seat post. This makes for a nice stable ride with no wobble. After a few years on with the trailer, these machines were a real pleasure. It was as if we had regained a large measure of our freedom. It was suddenly easy to take the family on the subway and we could ride like normal cyclists, immune, once again to gridlock! Another advantage to the Piccolo is that the kids learn innately to ride a bike and get to bypass the training wheel stage. After just a few rides kids learn that leaning is what makes the bike turn, not the handle bars. When Theo first began to ride a real bike, all he needed from me was a push and he was riding on his own!

I am now considering getting a Trail Gator, a telescoping tube that connects the kid's head tube to the adult's seat post. lifting the front wheel of the small bike from the ground. Then, when you arrive at the park, you can set the child free.

Bike Commute Tips: You are a dedicated non-motoring bicycling enthusiast and advocate (an understatement). Tell me something about how you came to this commitment? How have you been able to maintain this dedication to a bicycling-centered lifestyle while raising a family.

Winston: Originally, I came to every day cycling for transportation because of politics. Back in 1990, I found myself driving home from a Gulf War demonstration after having spent the last few hour shouting "No blood for oil!" That's what it took for me to see the one big contradiction in my life.

After a few weeks of riding, I became addicted to the unexpected freedom from parking, gas bills and learned to love the adventure of getting to work each day.

Nowadays cycling is never really a difficult to keep commitment for me. I like to say I do it for health or for the environment, but really it's because I find it easier than driving. Living in the city, I am never very far from my destination and I'm spared the hassles of loading kids into car seats, looking for parking, all of the problems that led me to bike in the first place. We've always kept open the possibility of buying or sharing a car but as our lives became more complicated, we found that we could still keep our transportation simple.

Of course, we also make good use of transit.

Bike Commute Tips: What are some of the challenges that you've had? How have you dealt with some of these challenges? Has anything surprised you, perhaps something you thought would be difficult that turned out to be easier than you anticipated?

Winston: The first year of cycling was similar to my first year of driving. It took about that long to be at ease in traffic. The late 1980s and early 1990s were not an easy time for cyclists. There were no bike lanes and the ugly surprise was the way I was treated in those days by drivers. "Get off the road!" was commonly yelled from speeding cars as they brushed within inches. It wasn't until I learned to take my place on the roadway as part of traffic that things began to become easy.

The biggest surprise was the day I volunteered for one of the early Bike to Work Days. It was then, and a bit later at one of the first Critical Mass rides that I discovered there is a bicycle community and I wasn't really the estranged radical I thought I was.

Bike Commute Tips: I've heard you say on your Bikescape podcast that you don't like training wheels, but prefer to use an Alley Cat to train children to bicycle. Tell me more about your experience teaching your kids how to bicycle.

Winston: (See above.) Training wheels are only good for teaching kids how to pedal and brake. Unfortunately they also teach them the wrong way to turn and they delay kids from really learning how to be on two wheels. Kids become dependent on them and fear having them removed. The real trick is to make cycling a part of your kids lives from an early age, and introduce them to bike culture the same way our parents eased us into the world of automobiles.

Bike Commute Tips: How has your bicycling-centered lifestyle affected your kids? (More independence, better fitness, better problem-solving skills, better balance/coordination, better understanding of community and neighborhood, etc.) How are they viewed by their peers? Does bicycling contribute to social and education success? Has your example inspired other parents?

Winston: Of course biking has helped my kids in all of the ways you enumerate. They love to show off to their friends when they get picked up by bike at school. They surprisingly have no urge to be like the other kids. In fact, since they have grown up unaccustomed to driving they have a real problem with car sickness!

Has our experience inspired other parents? Yes and no. Our cyclist friends and acquaintances, when they have kids follow our lead. Sadly, all of the obstacles that get in the way of converting our non-riding friends are compounded when it concerns their kids. The perceived danger and the fear of physical activity are the two biggest obstacles. They don't want to hear that we are not athletes and that cycling is statistically safer than driving. I'm really not sure how to deal with this issue although I think the answer might lie in the schools.

Bike Commute Tips: Have San Francisco's bicycling improvements made it easier to be a non-driving parent? How? What further improvements would you suggest? For parents outside SF, what do you think are the priorities? What's your best advice for a parent considering bike commuting?

Winston: Certainly, the infrastructure improvements of the last decade have helped a lot. Bike lanes and traffic calming are indispensable, if only because they make cycling seem safer. When there is a perception of safety, more people take to the wheel and it's our numbers more than anything else that makes for real safety. I would like to see urban car traffic slowed to bicycle speeds and more car-free space in parks where families can learn to ride together.

Of course we have a long way to go before we get to the level of some Northern European cities where moms ride helmet-less with two kids on board. But as we continue to add to our numbers, that day is on the horizon. I look forward to the day we can send our ten-year-olds off to school by bike as I once did when I was young.

Image: Jon Winston, host of Bikescape. Photo by San Francisco Bike Coalition.
Visit: Bikescape - great podcast hosted by Jon Winston.
Visit:Twelve tips for bicycling with kids, Marion Star
Visit: Auto traders: Families who give up their cars like the savings--and their life in the slow lane, Boston Globe
Visit: Bicycle travel, with children too!, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Another way to commute

From the Pasadena Star-News (California), 04.18.07:

Another way to work
Employees use alternative means of commuting


Geltz Communications specializes in developing and promoting energy and water efficiency programs. And each employee literally walks the walk. And rides the bike.

The Pasadena-based marketing and communications firm's three staff members all use alternative means of commuting. Principal Christine Geltz bikes to work three times a week, traveling about 10 miles from her home.

The bicycle commute takes 40 to 50 minutes, but driving through traffic isn't much faster, she said. "We're in the business of providing energy efficiency programs," Geltz said. "We've had an interest in energy efficiency for a long time. It just makes sense to do it."

Biking provides great cardiovascular exercise, reduces emissions and cuts fuel costs, she said. "When you're commuting by bike there's no congestion," Geltz said. "I'm sailing along while everyone on the freeway is inching along." (Read more.)
As the price of gas seems only to rise, bike commuting becomes a more attractive option. And rising energy costs mean promising growth potential for eco-friendly companies like the one in this article.

Image: Web capture. Bicyclists on Old Pasadena Bridge during Midnight Ridazz event.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Get out and bike it

From the Daily Record (Ellensburg, WA), 04.19.07:

Get out and bike it

A coalition of groups and businesses promoting bicycling in May are too late in selling Joe Seemiller, Steve Wenger and Ethan Bergman on the benefits of cycling to work and back: the three already make it part of their regular work day.

Seemiller...bikes the nearly 25-mile roundtrip from his home on Manastash Road to his Ellensburg office year-round. He has studded bike tires to deal with snow and ice.

Twenty-five miles daily may be too daunting for many, so how about Wenger, manager of Central Washington University’s Wildcat Shop/Bookstore? He bicycles an 18-mile round trip to his work and home.

"It's a great wind down after a hard day of work," said Wenger who has been biking to work for about 20 years. "You get your mind off work and on God's great creation all around you in the Kittitas Valley. It clears your mind."

"At first I did it to reduce the burden on the environment," Bergman said. "That's a continued incentive but I also enjoy it. You use your own muscles as opposed to a machine and gasoline. You end up refreshed.

"It's a good way to start the day, and a good way to end the day. It's very doable when biking becomes the normal pattern of your life." (Read more.)
Most bike commuters travel shorter distances than the inspiring riders featured in this article. And some bicyclists go out of their way to add miles, expanding the enjoyment of their favored commute mode. Especially in spring.

Image: Mike Johnston/Daily Record. Bike commuter Steve Wenger.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Spring arrives for Canadian bicyclists

Image of a bicycle parked near an Edmonton transit stop
From the Edmonton Journal, 04.17.07:

Getting on my bicycle always confirms spring is here

Robins and crocusses are all well and good. But I know spring has arrived the first time I ride my bike to work.

I could tell you I ride my bike because I'm concerned about greenhouse gas emissions. Or about my health.

Those would be the fashionable, politically correct responses.

But in fact, I ride for the most selfish and sybaritic of reasons.

It makes me happy.

I come into work, flushed with enthusiasm and righteousness...I arrive home both refreshed and relaxed, the stresses of the offices, the disturbing news tragedies of the day, shed somewhere along 103rd Avenue.

There's a connection to the city that you just don't get when you drive. You see things and people, quite literally, from a different angle. I don't bike because it's good for me. I bike because it makes me feel good.
(Read more.)
This is an interesting first-person account from a Canadian journalist. This column provides a helpful reminder of why we choose to bicycle for transportation. We may bike commute for lots of reasons--to save money, to get fit, to save the environment. But for many of us, it's about the fun.

Image: Web capture. Bike parked near transit stop in Edmonton.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Pedal pushers making headway

Image of Bikes Belong billboard
From the Seattle Times, 04.16.07:

Are we ready to go bicycling? Could these times of climate change, gas-price inflation and bulging waistlines be prepping us for new waves of weekend biking adventures? Maybe even to leave cars parked and cycle to work daily?

Revived bicycling is easier to proclaim than achieve in an America that has experienced a half century-plus of freeway construction and the multibillions in advertising dollars the auto industry continuously pours into auto glorification.

But the new bike campaign isn't against cars per se. It just asks autos and trucks to yield a share of the road to a transportation means that occupies a fraction as much pavement, doesn't pollute, combats obesity, builds overall physical fitness, and can help congestion by taking a share of autos off the highways. (Read more.)
This is an optimistic commentary by syndicated columnist Neal Peirce, prompted by the 2007 National Bike Summit organized by the League of American Bicyclists.

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Monday, April 16, 2007

Alaska bike commuter survey shows surprises

Image of snow-covered bikes in Alaska
From the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (Alaska), 04.15.07:

Bike commuters’ stereotype as useful as a flat tire

A stereotypical view of a bike commuter might be a twenty-something, idealistic, bearded college student riding from his Goldstream log cabin to the UAF campus, shunning lights or reflectors on his bike. Well, like all other stereotypes, this one is about as useful as a flat tire. Nobody really fits the image.

For starters, bike commuting isn’t just for college students who can’t afford a car or the gas to go in it. Less than 15 percent of respondents listed being a student as their occupation. The rest were cycling to work. Those jobs were normal jobs — laborers, healthcare workers, teachers, professional, and so on. (Read more.)
This survey was conducted by the Fairbanks Cycle Club, and had a small sample size. Not representative, but revealing. Bike commuters, even in chilly Alaska, are pretty mainstream folks.

Image: Web capture. Bikes in Alaska
Visit: Bicycles and Icicles, Alaska bike blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Oakland strives for greater bike friendliness

Image of bike shop sign in Oakland
From the Contra Costa Times (California), 04.13.07:

New plan aims to make city bike-friendly
Report calls for a safe network of 200 miles of pedal-friendly paths


The city has released an updated plan that promises to make Oakland a bicycle-friendly community in the mold of Davis, Palo Alto and Chicago by 2012.

"Bicycling would become part of daily life, providing transportation and recreation that is both safe and convenient," said Jason Patton of the transportation services division of the city's Public Works Agency.

Rockridge (neighborhhood of Oakland) resident and bike commuter Jerome Candelaria was encouraged to see enforcement of bicycling laws as part of the plan, but wanted it also applied to vehicle drivers.

"It's great to sensitize the police to go after bicycle offenders," he said, "but the corollary of that is not to allow drivers to disregard the rights of bicyclists." (Read more.)
Hats off to the great folks at the East Bay Bicycle Coalition for their relentless efforts. And a nod of strong agreement to Mr. Candelaria.

Image: Web capture. Bike shop sign in Oakland
Visit: East Bay Bicycle Coalition
Visit: Oakland Yellowjackets Bike Club
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Saturday, April 14, 2007

San Francisco crackdown on sidewalk bicyclists


The San Francisco Police Department must--must!--have a great handle on serious crime. Having ended the plague of red-light running by motorists--not!--apparently the SFPD now intend to go after the last great remaining threat to public safety: bicyclists on sidewalks.

Combined with other recent developments in San Francisco--the "furor" over Critical Mass, the lawsuit against the city's bike plan--you have to think this "crackdown" on sidewalk bicycling is part of an orchestrated backlash against bicyclists, who have enjoyed great success in recent years. There are many people with grievances in San Francisco; not all of them get extensive media coverage. It wouldn't be surprising that a mayor facing re-election and challenged for his lack of environmental leadership might suggest his media backers wage a campaign to put the most effective advocates (SFBC) on the defensive.

What's interesting to note in this video clip is who the bicyclists pictured actually are. They're not bike commuters during peak rush hour. They're nearly all messengers, transients, or people on vacation. Who else would you expect to see on a bike during a work day? What might have helped this story would have been some context. It was merely suggested by the messenger, who cited the danger of cars as a cause of hopping on the sidewalk. Another factor forcing sidewalk riding is one-way streets.

As always, I strongly discourage sidewalk bicycling. However, sometimes circumstances (or poor street design) force a short traverse of pedestrian space. Cars, for instance, routinely cross sidewalks to access driveways, and too often they park and block walkers. Pedestrians always have the right of way, and bicyclists should absolutely respect that.

However, do I want public safety agencies to shift their focus from the greater and more lethal threat of vehicular crime to deal with minimally threatening sidewalk cycling? Let's get real. I expect this "crackdown" to last until the cameras move on to the next "crisis."

Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Friday, April 13, 2007

"Bike mecca" needs bike mechanics

Image of Bike Barn at UC Davis
From the California Aggie (UC Davis), 04.13.07:

Bike Barn a UC Davis landmark
Shop has been serving campus for over 30 years


Serving a community as dependent on biking as any in the nation, the ASUCD Bike Barn has long been a part of student life at UC Davis.

Established in 1971, the Bike Barn is located next to the Silo Union and across the street from the Chemistry Building. Once envisioned as an area where students could repair their own bikes, the Bike Barn's mission quickly evolved and expanded as students began requesting more services be provided.

Bike Barn general manager Robert St. Cyr said his shop offers many more services than when initially created, including part and accessory sale, bike rental, used bike sale and bike repair.

"Annually we do about 10,000 repairs," St. Cyr said. "It makes us, if not the busiest bike-repair shop in the country, right up there at the top."(Read more.)
Bike commuting is certainly easier when there is an abundance of supportive services. Davis, California, is hailed as the only platinum level community in the League of American Bicyclist's Bicycle Friendly Community program. In addition to the Bike Barn, bicyclists in Davis have several great private bike shops available for support. My favorite bike shops in Davis include Ken's Bike n' Ski and B&L Bike Shop.

Image: Web capture. Bike Barn at UC Davis.
Visit: UC Davis Bike Barn, YouTube.com
Visit: Davis commemorates 50 years of bicycling
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut will be missed

"Here's what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we're hooked on." (Kurt Vonnegut, 2004)

As the recipient of a BA in English (summa cum laude, University of Massachusetts, Boston), my humble opinion is that Vonnegut was the greatest writer to not receive the Nobel Prize in literature.

Visit: "Cold Turkey," Kurt Vonnegut, In These Times, 2004
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips
Thanks to Jason Henderson of San Francisco, who posted this to the SFBike listserve.

Newbie bike commuting journalist

Image of dog with bicycle
From The Kansan (University of Kansas), 04.12.07:

Baby Steps
How five days without a car helped Jayplay writer Courtney Hagen realize we can all make small changes in our day-to-day lives to help the environment.

For five days, I walked or rode a bike everywhere I needed to go, from class to the gym to the store, to discover the impact that a few days without cars would have on myself and my environment. It wasn’t easy, but in the end I learned how to leave a better imprint on my world.

I discover that walking is incredibly time consuming. If I wanted to go to Massachusetts Street, it would probably take me the whole day to get there and back on foot. I start to feel like I'll be trapped at home for the next four days because everything is too far away by bike or on foot. I feel like giving up, but I've barely started. I call Paul Dorn, former executive director of the California Bicycle Coalition and an advocate of bicycle commuting, for inspiration on alternative modes of transportation. Dorn operates a Web site (www.runmuki.com/commute) with tips for bicycle commuters. He hasn't owned a car in over a decade and has been commuting by bicycle to work and elsewhere in San Francisco for about 12 years.

"You get sort of an enthusiasm for life when you're in more of a connection with it, when you hear the birds sing and feel the sun shining, as opposed to when you're in your car driving," Dorn says. "You're more connected to your community than someone that's simply driving through it." (Read more.)
This is an interesting, candid, and frequently self-deprecatingly humorous article by Kansan writer Hagen, inspired by the approach of Earth Day. She faces many of the challenges any habitual driver confronts when shifting modes, and discovers a few of the joys of petroleum-free travel.

The article also contains links to lots of helpful energy-saving resources. And yes, this blog post might be perceived as self-promoting. I'm glad to be able to help any newbie discover the joys of bike commuting. Life is simply better without the windshield.

Image: Web capture. Found using search terms Lawrence, Kansas, and bicycling.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The benefits of bicycling

From the Burlington Free Press (Vermont), 04.11.07:

The benefits of bicycling are many: improved physical fitness, zero carbon emissions and reduction in road congestion. Now, thanks to a new initiative called Bicycle Benefits, discounts on coffee, clothing, shoes and food can be added to the list.

Bicycle Benefits began in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and is the brainchild of brothers Ian, 29, and Dillon Klepetar, 21. The program is simple. Local businesses reward cyclists in the form of discounts for riding bicycles instead of driving cars. Discounts are no less than 10 percent and can go up to 25 percent.

As long as cyclists have a Bicycle Benefits sticker on their helmets, they are entitled to the discounts at participating businesses. Having to show the helmet with the sticker is a way of promoting bicycle safety, Dillon Klepetar said.

"I think we need to re-evaluate the convenience and impact of driving a car. Biking is healthy on many different levels," he said. (Read more.)
I'm always happy to help spread the word about young bicycling activists. This sounds like a very appealing initiative.

Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

More media on Critical Mass incident

Image of Critical Mass cyclists in San Francisco
The modern phenomenon of "road rage" is pervasive. Motorists in the U.S. routinely heap abuse on each other, as well as innocents on bike and foot and even dogs. Road rage (or "aggressive driving" or "intermittent explosive disorder") gets some media attention, but rarely becomes a cause celebre.

But when the routinely abused strike back or respond in kind, expect a backlash of "man bites dog" media coverage. Such is clearly the case with the recent fallout from the March Critical Mass ride in San Francisco. One troubled cyclist, burdened by unknown traffic-related angst, fueled by the perceived provocation of an impatient driver, and empowered by the anonymity of a group, smashes a vehicle window and provokes a media storm over bikes.

As the San Francisco bicycling community learned from a similar experience with Critical Mass in 1997, heightened media attention on bicycling presents a crisis, but also an opportunity. It creates a space for discourse on the place of bicycling in our transportation system. Any publicity is good publicity, as the cliche goes, and bicyclists in San Francisco are organized, vocal, and generally media savvy. We push back. We make the case for bicycling.

Fortunately, our efforts over the years have built a reservoir of public support, and have won more than a few friends in the local media. One such supportive publication is the San Francisco Bay Guardian, which published this op-ed:

Tempest in an urban teapot
Critical Mass and the press

Our local road-culture war has erupted again, this time thanks to some unsavory gossip columnists at the monopoly paper in town. Wildly distorted accounts of two confrontations at Critical Mass in March have been presented as evidence that bicyclists are antisocial, out of control, and generally immature scofflaws. Such accounts serve to frame a narrative that is in sharp contrast with the actual experience of tens of thousands of bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists on the last Friday of every month, not just in San Francisco but in hundreds of cities worldwide where Critical Mass rides take place regularly. (Read more.)
The March incident in San Francisco has also attracted national media attention. National Public Radio's "Day to Day" program had this feature, interviewing the motorist and several bicyclists. Interbike had a thoughtful piece. The Fredcast interviewed by friend Jon Winston, host of the inimitable Bikescape podcast. Reactionary dimwit Michelle Malkin offered typical stupidity. And, of course, considerable comment by bloggers.

Critical Mass has enthusiasts and detractors among bicyclists. Everyday urban bike commuters tend to support it as an empowering event. Infrequent recreational cyclists tend to cringe in fear of provoking motorist rage. I'm an enthusiast.

Whatever else it may have accomplished, Critical Mass creates conversation. And talking about bikes is always a good thing.

Image: Web capture
Resources: SFBC "Give, Get Respect" Flyer
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Bicycling's the epitome of non-motorized transportation

From the Sheboygan Press (Wisconsin) 04.10.07:

Community Conversations: Bicycling a great way to promote non-motorized transportation

We all know the benefits of bike riding. Cycling is good, healthy, low impact exercise, and it's practical and cost-effective transportation. Cycling is also good for the environment, a short four-mile trip keeps roughly a pound of pollutants out of the air we breathe. And, if you have not ridden in a while, you will quickly remember, it is a lot of fun. (Read more.)
This is a very basic introductory article by Aaron Brault, the program specialist for the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program of the Sheboygan County Planning and Resources Department.

Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Get comfortable on a new bike

Image of Breezer bicycleFrom the Daily Pilot(Newport Beach/Costa Mesa, Orange County), 04.05.07:

Gas costs a fortune, summer's almost here and it's time to slip into a bathing suit again. So now's a good opportunity to get that bike out of the garage to save money on gas and get ready for the beach at the same time.

But keep in mind that if it has been awhile since you rode your bike, then it's a good idea to have it checked out at your local bike shop. So what else do you need to know about biking?

The most important aspect of bicycling is comfort, Newport Beach's Chicago Bike shop owner Tony Parry said. "The first thing is to get comfortable." he said. (Read more.)
This is a helpful article for prospective bike shoppers. One of the most frequent inquiries I receive from visitors to my bike commuting tips pages is "What bike should I get." This question was so frequent that I created a new page with bike shopping advice, where I say: "The most important factor to consider when buying a bike isn't price, but comfort."

Bicycles come in a great range of sizes, features, functions, colors, and price-ranges. Nearly any bike will work for commuting, depending on the rider's skills, conditions, distance traveled, and needs. But comfort is always the most critical factor. Bike commuting should be fun, right?

I also advise people to visit a quality local bike retailer, consult with the shop staff, and take several bikes for test rides. Bike functionality is essentially along a scale between comfort and efficiency. Fat tired cruisers are very comfortable, but less efficient. Track bikes are highly efficient, but less comfortable.

Many people have been inspired to take up bicycling by the exploits of famed cyclists such as Lance Armstrong. They go to bike shops requesting a bike just like Lance's. The seven-time Tour de France champion's bikes were truly superb machines. However, remember Lance received daily massage, didn't carry a briefcase while riding, and had his supplies delivered to him from the team car.

To enjoy bike commuting, you don't need a fancy bicycle, just a comfortable one.

Image: Breezer Uptown commuting bike, made by Breezer Bikes
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Friday, April 06, 2007

Was that howl from a bicycle wheel?

Image of bicyclist in front of coyote sign in San FranciscoMany cyclists in San Francisco--such as my wife pictured above--are excited by the return of the coyote to the city. Yes, coyotes have been spotted in the Presidio, an event one local naturalist compared to the second coming of Jesus.

I know this may not excite bike commuters in wildlife-dense rural areas. But for city dwellers, it's big news. Many people are motivated to commute by bicycle from a love for nature and a desire to preserve natural areas from asphaltization.

Image: Paul Dorn
Visit: Defenders of Wildlife
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Where's the bike route?

Bike route signage on Market Street in San FranciscoFinding the most appropriate route for bicycle travel can be challenging in many communities. When I began bike commuting in San Francisco nearly 15 years ago, it took me a while to find the quiet, flat, and pleasant bike routes.

As I describe on my bike commuting tips page:

When I began bike commuting I would travel for part of my trip on Lombard Street. Thousands of speeding cars pour onto Lombard off the Golden Gate Bridge, each vehicle filled with an impatient commuter from Marin County. Just past the intersection with Van Ness Avenue, Lombard climbs about a 15 percent grade to the top of Russian Hill. Idiot that I was, I'd dismount and push my bike all the way up, arriving at the top as a soggy mass of perspiration, only to "enjoy" a terrifying descent down the other side to my workplace.

Eventually I learned that if I went one block north I could bicycle comfortably on Chestnut Street, which is a slower neighborhood street running parallel to Lombard. Instead of climbing the hill, I learned that I could easily ride around it on Bay Street and avoid the sweaty ascent and white-knuckle descent.
Today, commuting by bicycle in the city is easier, thanks to the efforts of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. There is now a network of signed bike routes--with a few remaining gaps, to be sure--and a great, detailed bike map available online or at local bike shops.

There is also an encouraging growth of online bike route mapping services, such as Bikely. Many local transportation agencies provide online bike route mapping, such as the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in the Bay Area. Google Earth also helps identify trouble spots and bothersome grades.

An enjoyable route makes bike commuting fun. As I said on my commuting tips: "When considering your route, don't think like a motorist. Think like a cyclist. Pick the most pleasant route. Look for streets with attractive scenery. Find the friendliest espresso stop. Part of the charm of bike commuting is that the pace and ease of parking allows you an opportunity to stop and smell the roses."

Image: Paul Dorn. Signs on Market Street in San Francisco.
Visit: Fitness 101: Where can I find detailed bike maps for NYC?, Examiner.com
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Cycling rising in Seattle

Image of bicyclists boarding ferry in Seattle
Bicycling in Seattle appears to be on the ascendent, judging by a pair of recent articles in the local media. From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 04.05.07:

Seattle: Real smart lanes

Seattle's bicyclists could multiply, to the benefit of the environment, the city, drivers and the cyclists themselves. Smarter and safer riding is the clear promise of the city's new master plan for bicycling.

Mayor Greg Nickels' plan calls for more than 130 miles of new bike lanes and signed bus routes, as part of an effort to triple cycling in a city where roughly 2 percent of commuting is by bike. That is hardly overambitious. Advocates say some Portland neighborhoods already have one-fifth of trips made by bike, largely because of recent investments in new bike lanes and signs.

More cycling is the path we hope the city is truly moving along, quickly. (Read more.)
From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 04.04.07:
Mayor wants to develop citywide bicycle network
More bike lanes and street enhancements


Seattle would more than double the number of its bicycle lanes and add other bike-friendly street enhancements to nearly 400 miles of roadways under a plan released Wednesday by Mayor Greg Nickels.

"It sets a new benchmark in the country," said David Hiller, advocacy director for the Cascade Bicycle Club, which helped develop the project. "We took every plan that was done (in other cities) and we said, 'We want to do better,' and I think we have."

The goal is to develop a 452-mile citywide network of bike lanes and routes over 10 years. Seattle currently has about 67 miles of bike routes and lanes. "The goal of this effort is simple: We want to make Seattle the best and the safest city in the nation for bicycling," Nickels said in a statement. (Read more.)
I've commented before that a supportive posture by a city's political leadership can greatly assist advocacy efforts for bicycling improvements. In San Francisco, we've generally made progress in spite of, not because of, our political leaders.

Image: Web capture. Bicyclists boarding ferry in Seattle.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips