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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bicycling makes communities healthier

Image of bicyclist with passenger on rear rackFrom New West (Missoula, MT) 05.31.07:

It's finally happening. Bicycling is finally catching on as a way of life in America, even in the rural New West. I see it every day, now, here...and elsewhere. Most people own a bicycle, of course, but now according to a new bicycle advocacy group, the Bikes Belong Coalition, 40 percent of us actually ride them instead of letting them collect dust in the garage.

And not a minute too soon.

Why? The current upsurge in gas prices was clearly a tipping point for some people, but participation in bicycling has been trending upward for many years, according to the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA). More people are riding bikes for a myriad of reasons, the same reasons we all know about--for fitness and health, for energy conservation and protection of wildlife habitat, for saving money, and because of the "Lance Effect" the media fanfare created on by seven-time Tour de France champion, Lance Armstrong. (Read more.)
The buried lead in this column is that children are bicycling less. "Stranger danger" is one suggested cause; lack of space to safely bicycle is clearly another. The rest of the article hails the many benefits of bicycling, of all kinds.

I do like the positioning of bicycling as a "way of life," and not simply a transportation mode. For many of us, our choice of the bicycle influences all the other choices: where we work (do we have to drive to get there?), where we live (is it bicycling-friendly?), how we maintain our health, who we make our friends, how we view the world.

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

I want to ride my bicycle

From the Hook (Charlottesville, VA), 05.31.07:

They bicycle daily for health reasons and for the love of nature.

"It's the issue of causation and correlation," says (University of Virginia biologist Robert) Kretsinger, who just started his seventh decade but looks a generation younger. "Do you bike because you're in pretty good shape, or are you in pretty good shape because you bike? I don't know, but I'm sure that biking every day doesn't hurt."

Patricia Paisley, (is) a 20-year-old waitress and student at Piedmont Community College--who each day travels on her bicycle six miles roundtrip...and 18 miles on the days she's in class. In addition to the societal benefits her bike commuting provides, she focuses on personal benefits: "As soon as I started learning anything about the effect of cars, I started doing what I could to stop making things worse," she says. "If you ride, you're getting stronger everyday. Bicycling is my tool for developing myself." (Read more.)
Outstanding. A thoughtful, substantive cover story taking abundant jabs at American oil dependency, condemning inadequate bike accommodation of most existing roads, offering many facts about the consequences of auto-dependent transportation, and making a strong call for involvement in bike advocacy: "Without, therefore, the political muscle of say, the AAA, could muscle-powered transportation be getting short shrift in the political world?"

Perhaps the best part: the cover image doesn't feature the stereotypical bike commuter--a grizzled, graying, opinionated male with a 20-year-old Bell helmet. (For the record, I resemble that profile; except I almost never wear a helmet.)

Image: The Hook
Visit: League of American Bicyclists
Visit: Charlottesville Area Bicyclists Alliance
Visit: Bike Walk Virginia
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Give riders a brake? No thanks

Image of fixed-gear bicycleFrom the Philadelphia Inquirer, 05.28.07:

New, simple bicycles are missing something
If you've walked anywhere in Center City during the last two years, you have without a doubt witnessed a phenomenon that could mark the beginning of major social change. Witnessed it, and - almost as surely - not noticed.

It is called "the fixie." Otherwise known as the fixed gear bicycle, a ride with one speed and no brakes. Mostly college students, couriers and assorted risk-takers ride these things, forsaking the increasingly complex alternatives featuring 27 gears, finely tuned derailleurs, and FAA-worthy brake systems.

(Michael) McGettigan, like other philosophical velo-philes, sees the trend as a positive sign. A kind of evolutionary backpedaling brought about by the realization that low-tech can be high-minded. Comparing the fixie to a violin, he says, "It's trimmed down to its utter essence. Can you take any piece away and still have it be a violin?"

Andy Clarke, executive director of the national League of American Bicyclists, agrees that there's reason to believe gadget fatigue is, in part, driving the bike's popularity. "People are intimidated by bikes with 27 gears," he said. "They're worried about things breaking and fixing flats. Just as most people don't know what goes on inside a car, or want to, they don't want to have to know how to fix a bike." (Read more.)
I wondered what the next "new" trend in bicycles would be after Shimano and Campagnolo introduced 10-gear cassettes a few years ago. How many more gears could they realistically squeeze into a bicycling drivetrain? How much thinner would they make a chain? How much weaker could rear wheels get?

It seems the response to increased complexity has been a return to basics. "Fixies" are hot! Simplicity rules! A single-speed (with breaks and allowing coasting) or a fixed-gear (no coasting, brakes optional) may be a perfect bike for some commuters. They are certainly easier to maintain, and lighter in weight. (I'm a former Bianchi Pista rider, now fixie-deprived.)

There also seems to be an encouraging trend toward more commuting-friendly bicycles--folding bikes, hybrids, internal hubs, fenders--perhaps inspired by the more visionary leaders in the bicycling industry.

Image: San Francisco Chronicle
Visit: Bike commuters having a two-wheeled revolution, Philadelphia Enquirer
Visit: Biking to work without any brakes
Visit: One Gear Will Travel
Visit: Sheldon Brown: "Coasting is Bad for You"
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Air Force Base Hosts Bike to Work Day

Image of bicyclists at Wright-Patterson Air Force BaseFrom the Skywriter (Wright-Patterson AFB, OH), 05.25.07:

With the price of gasoline skyrocketing to well over $3 dollars a gallon, what better way to save some money — and get a great cardiovascular workout — than riding your bike to work? Wright-Patterson will celebrate its 13th annual bring your Bike-to-Work Day June 1.

"There are multiple advantages when you bring your bike to work," said Chuck Smith of Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command. “Not only are you saving on gas, but you can get active and lose a little weight as well as helping to find time in your day for exercise." (Read more.)
For better or worse, the U.S. military is one of the largest employers in the country. (I'm no fan of the military; the money lavished on the Pentagon could better fund bike lanes, transit, complete streets, healthcare, education, among other things.) However, as long it does employ so many people, the military should be a model employer for encouraging alternative transportation and healthy living. I'd be interested to hear from any civilian or active-duty personnel who bike to base.

Image: US Air Force
Visit: National Priorities Project: Cost of War
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Bike shops peddling back-to-the-basics

Image of Trek Lime bicycleFrom the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 05.25.07:

Dr. Tom Mackenzie can wax poetic about his one-speed bicycle, a throwback to the bike he rode as a kid. He can go on at length about its sleek lines, whisper-quiet ride and easy maintenance. (When) it comes time to pedal from his home in St. Paul to the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis, it's his one-speed that comes out of the garage.

"It's my commuting bike," he said. "It's a simple machine. It's the most efficient machine man has ever created."

With gas prices at record highs and fewer parking spots, urban commuters are turning to the bicycle as their vehicle of choice. And, like Mackenzie, they want bikes that offer ease and flexibility.

Complex mountain bikes that have dominated showrooms are being pushed aside for bikes with internal-hub gears (think of your old three-speed), bikes with computer-chip-driven automatic transmissions and fold-up bikes, some of which can be collapsed into a bundle not much bigger than a briefcase. (Read more.)
This is an excellent article, featuring interviews with several Minneapolis bike shop staff on the trend toward useful, simpler bicycles for the commuter market. Perhaps the message from bike industry leaders John Burke of Trek and Joe Breeze is getting through.

Image: Joey Mcleister/Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Bikes on board Amtrak's Capitol Corridor

Image of bike on Amtrak's Capitol Corridor trainI'm a big enthusiast of Amtrak's Capitol Corridor line, which provides service between Sacramento and San Jose, with BART connections in Richmond and Oakland, and motorcoach connections to San Francisco, Reno, Chico, Napa, and other destinations. I use the Capitol Corridor daily, bicycling less than a mile to the station in Sacramento, riding 16 miles to my job in Davis, and bicycling 1.5 miles to my office. (I bicycle home most days, about 17 miles, on the bike pictured here.)

The Capitol Corridor is a great service for multimodal bike commuters. From its website: "Bicycles are welcome aboard Capitol Corridor trains. You can find bicycle racks on the lower level of most coach cars. If all racks are full, notify the conductor. The conductor will identify a place for you to safely secure your bike. Please carry a bungee cord with you, to use in securing your bike."

The Capitol Corridor now has more than 1.2 million boardings a year, and is now the third busiest passenger rail services in the U.S. As gas prices continue to rise, the train service will only attract even more riders. The biggest challenge is California's eco-fraud Governator, who continues to divert and delay much needed transit investment.

One improvement I'd like to see on the Capitol Corridor is the development of BikeStation style bike parking facilities, especially in Sacramento, San Jose, and Oakland. The line also serves the bicycling-friendly university towns of Davis and Berkeley. All have significant bicycling populations.

Image: Paul Dorn.
Visit: Amtrak Capitol Corridor
Visit: Amtrak Capitol Corridor Celebrates 15 Years
Visit: Train Rider's Association of California (TRAC)
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Bike commuting works, even in Alaska

Image of bicyclist in AlaskaFrom the Juneau Empire (Alaska), 05.27.07:

Commuting by bike means cleaner air, clearer heads
Joanna Roth does it to "blow out the cobwebs" in the morning. Tim Cater does it because he's cheap. Rick Johnson does it for the exercise. Amy Turner does it for all the above.

Granted, all four employees at Alaska Biological Research Inc. in Fairbanks avoid using petroleum products whenever they can and would be classified as bona fide greenies, or as Cater referred to it "save the world and all that stuff." But that's not necessarily the only reason they ride their bikes to work on a regular, and for some, daily, basis.

"It's a combination of things," said the 50-year-old Roth, a plant biologist who has been commuting to work on her bike year-round for almost 20 years. Mostly, it's because Roth enjoys cycling. "I just love being on a bike," she said. "Riding a bicycle is the most efficient way to get around." (Read more. Requires registration.)
One very interesting item this article is how the environmentally conscious Alaska Biological Research company reimburses employees who bike to and from work--or use other forms of alternative transportation--$3.50 a day. We need more bicycling-supportive employers like this, and government policies to reward them. The article also interviews a bike commuting employee of the Bureau of Land Management, who doesn't get a cash reward.

Year-round bike commuting in Alaska must be a challenge, but not an impossible one it seems. A cash reward of $3.50 a day would buy a hot beverage or two.

Image: Alaska Magazine: Cruising Through the Cold
Visit: Ice Bike
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Colorado Springs challenging for bicycling?

Images of locked bikes in Colorado SpringsFrom the Colorado Springs Gazette, 05.26.07:

Consider a gas-saving commute on a bike
Bike Month in Colorado Springs kicks off Friday with a variety of events and rides designed, in part, to promote commuting by bicycle.

John David Norton thinks that's great. Really. The 54-year-old father of five and grandfather of two has been riding a bicycle in Colorado Springs for 30 years. He's been commuting to his job at Atmel--nine miles one way--for the past 10.

He said commuting isn't something newcomers to the sport should take lightly, especially in this town. On July 4, 2005, Norton was hit from behind by a hit-and-run driver, an incident that left him with a concussion, deep bruising of his hip and lesions on his spinal cord.

Over the years, he's been hit by a rock, fast food and drinks. He's been flipped off and screamed at more times than he can count. He considers himself a courteous rider who doesn't blow stop signs and never takes more of his lane than he needs.

The fact is, he said, if cyclists are thinking of commuting in a town with its fair share of impatient, mean-spirited, cell-phoneyakking motorists, they’re going to need their wits about them.

"For the most part, it's been a great experience," he said of commuting by bike. "And motorists, for the most part, are very kind and courteous. But there are a certain percentage who are not, and that exaggerates the danger." (Read more.)
Motorists fear other motorists, so many opt for large vehicles such as SUVs. They persist with these gas-guzzling monsters, in spite of high costs, out of fear. This fear of motorists also prevents many Americans from bicycling, a transportation mode they perceive would increase their vulnerability.

Cars are a menace, killing more than 40,000 people each year in the U.S. and injuring another 2.7 million. Motorists pursue individual solutions to enhance personal safety, buying vehicles with abundant air bags, braking capacity, and metallic mass. However, what is needed are social solutions.

This is where Complete Streets comes in, pushing government to design roads that are safe for all users. This means, above all, reducing vehicle speeds to lower safety risks. Slowing down traffic also reduces the relative advantage of cars over other transportation modes, making bicycling, walking, and transit more attractive.

For most of the past century, government transportation agencies have prioritized vehicle mobility above all else. The result has increased both vehicle speeds and motorist sense of entitlement. And traffic danger. Turning this situation around--to prioritize safety rather than speed--requires more than courtesy and responsible behavior. (Bicyclists being "nice.") It requires advocacy.

This article suggests that Colorado Springs lacks strong bicycle advocacy, which can increase bicycling awareness and legitimacy, and reduce motorist hostility and irresponsibility. "Newcomers" to bike commuting shouldn't feel threatened; streets should welcome everyone regardless of mode.

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

Wisconsin residents start pedaling

Image of woman bicycling along Rock River near Beloit, WisconsinFrom the Beloit Daily News (Wisconsin), 05.26.07:

Pedalers finding way to pass up gas pumps
As the gas prices keep climbing, some rebels are pulling out their bicycles or mopeds in revolt. Despite the occasional bug splat, freedom from the pump has never tasted sweeter.

Tony Cerniglia, a 28-year-old paraeducator at Merrill Elementary School, had a bike sitting around, but wasn't riding it much. With prices going up towards the $4 a gallon mark, Cerniglia said it was time to get on the bike.

The first time Cerniglia boarded his bike, it took him 25 minutes to get from South Beloit to Merrill Elementary School

"It was nice hearing the sounds of the morning like the chatter of birds or cars moving around," Cerniglia said. "I took a little side route, by Beloit College--places you can't go with a car."

When he sailed in the school playground, the kids came screaming. "They all think it's so cool," Cerniglia said. (Read more.)
This article interviews a pair of local bicyclists, and also a scooter convert. Gas prices seem to be the motivation du jour, and fuel prices are very unlikely to decline over the next decade.

Image: OldOnliner. Bicyclist near Rock River in Beloit, Wisconsin.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sharrows against oil wars

Image of sharron on Market Street in San FranciscoSome enterprising San Francisco bicyclist with a stencil modified this sharrow on Market Street, reminding us that bike commuting is not only fun, healthy, and eco-friendly, but that is also a statement against war for petroleum.

Image: Paul Dorn.
Visit: Bicycling against oil war insanity
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Friday, May 25, 2007

Salt Lake: New trail to support bike commuting

Image of mountain biker on trail near Salt Lake CityFrom the Deseret News (Salt Lake City), 05.25.07:

Parleys Trail — Daily bike commute gets a lift
Dea Ann and Randy Cate couldn't be more excited to see work commencing on the Parleys Creek Corridor Trail. Randy Cate commutes to work by bike on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail nearly every day, and Dea Ann commutes during nice weather periods. In addition to safer commuting, the Cates feel the trail will connect neighborhoods.

Dan Fazzini, chair of the Salt Lake County Bicycling Advisory Committee, said the first east/west connector in the valley is good news for bikers. "It will enhance the bicycle transportation available for cyclists in the community," he said. "It can be used for commuting and recreational uses."

(Juan Arce-Larreta, PRATT Coalition co-chair, said:) "Anything we can do to encourage people to get out of their cars and use these relatively safe corridors is crucial." (Read more.)
This article illustrates a useful reality: "recreational" bike facilities always become important bike commuting corridors. One wonders how some "old paradigm" cyclists might spin this particular trail--connecting a gap created by a freeway--as a motorist conspiracy.

Image: Web capture.
Visit: SLC unfriendly to bicycling, Salt Lake Tribune
Visit: Bicycling progress in Salt Lake City
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Valet bike parking could save planet

Image of Long Beach Bike StationFrom Time, 05.25.07:

How Valet Parking Could Save the Planet
Using a bicycle to get around has always been a bittersweet proposition in Southern California. Sure, it's eco-friendly, an excellent cardio workout and a pleasant alternative to snail's-pace public transportation, gridlocked freeways and king's-ransom gas prices. The drawback is finding a convenient, theft-proof parking spot.

But that may be starting to change. Long Beach has pioneered the creation of commuter-biking hubs offering valet parking, showers and repair services, and other cities in California and elsewhere in the U.S. are beginning to take note. "The concept is growing fast and helping bike commuting move from an invisible subculture to an organized pursuit that's part of the fabric of everyday urban life," says John Case, a retired real estate financier who brought the Bikestation concept from Europe to Long Beach in 1996.

Its popularity prompted public agencies and private groups in San Francisco, Berkeley, Palo Alto and Seattle have followed suit. The city of Santa Monica provides free valet parking on Sundays outside the farmer's market. The city of Chicago and McDonald's built their own Cycle Center in Millennium Park three years ago. And earlier this month, the mayor of Santa Barbara, home to 5,000 daily bike commuters, cut the ribbon on the newest Bikestation, an $80,000 self-parking garage inside an auto parking garage, offering showers, a changing area and a bathroom for fee-paying members. Bike parking centers in Pasadena, Santa Monica and San Diego also are in the works.

And for valet attendant (Dominic) Dougherty, the facilities are harbingers of the future. "When all the gasoline runs out, the Priuses are going to be dead on the side of the road right beside the Hummers," he says. "But you'll still be able to get around on a bike." (Read more.)
Outstanding. An article in an influential national publication that treats bicycling seriously (in spite of the writer's self-concious acknowledgement that valet bike parking might be another California eccentricity.)

Secure bike parking is an essential need for bike commuters. Yet it is too often overlooked--like smooth pavement--lacking the tangible visibility of bike lanes or bike paths. The bike station concept is certainly an appealing option, though it is realistic only in urban areas with concentrated employment centers.

In addition to the Bikestation at the Embarcadero BART station, San Francisco cyclists will soon enjoy the new Warm Planet Bicycles facility (not affiliated with Bike Station) at the downtown Caltrain station, managed by the incomparable Kash (just Kash), winner of a 2007 Golden Wheel Award from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

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

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bike commuting improves health, and other things

Image of bike lanes on street in PhiladelphiaTwo articles this week deviate from the "high cost of gas" story lead, emphasizing the fitness and health benefits of bike commuting. From (Philadephia Daily News), 05.21.07:

Sneak in Some Extra Exercise and Save the Planet by Biking to Work
The physiological benefits of cycling are many. The cardiovascular exercise provided by bicycling can increase your metabolism, burn calories, strengthen your heart, reduce fat, lower your health care costs, improve your quality of life, and decrease your level of stress. (Plus, who doesn't want those sculpted leg muscles that professional cyclists have?)

"Fitness is a great reason to ride, and commuting to work is a great way to start," says Elizabeth Preston of the League of American Bicyclists. "After all, you have to get to work and get home!" (Read more.)
The article goes on to outline additional great and persuasive reasons to bike commute.

From a personal trainer writing for the Statesman Journal (Salem, OR), 05.21.07:
Cycling is fun and good for you
Question: I used to cycle outdoors for fun and recreation. Is it good exercise and what are some ways I can train for cycling?

Answer: Bicycling is one the best ways to of exercise and get around. With May being Bike Month, there is no better time to get your bike out and hit the road. In fact, last week was National Bike to Work Week. (Read more.)
The author goes on to offer advice about buying a bike, riding safe, and burning fat from thighs.

Image: Web capture. Bike lanes--and traffic-calming bulb-outs!--in Philadelphia
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Bike to Work day succeeds in D.C.

Image of bicyclists repairing a flat
From the Gazette Net (Gaithersburg, MD), 05.23.07:

Cyclists take a spin riding to work
Bike to Work Day participants cite health, environment as main reasons for effort

At least one family made Bike to Work Day a joint venture. Tara McLoughlin and James Garvin stopped at the College Park pit stop for breakfast with their 13-month-old baby, Liam Garvin, before riding to their respective jobs. "It's better for my wallet, better for the environment and better for my waistline," said McLoughlin before strapping a helmeted Liam into a special baby bike seat on her three-wheeler. "And, it's fun." (Read more .)
A few good quotes from local bike commuters, with lots of attention to flat tires.

Image: Gazette Net. Cyclists fix flat at Metro D.C. Bike to Work Day pit stop.
Visit: The biking parent: Interview with Jon Winston
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Health, fun top bike commuting poll

Image of poll results sampling bike commutersRegular readers of this blog will be relieved to know that I've terminated my first poll, from a free provider that intruded with abundant pop-up ads.

The results appear above. It's not scientific by any means, dependent as it was on self-selection. However, the results are somewhat surprising. Health is not surprising as a popular motivation. But fun is a close second. My theory is that many bike commuters may begin cycling because of cost, environmental, or convenience motivations. But they persist as bike commuters because they discover it's fun! If this poll, conducted over the first two weeks of May has any validity, then cycling advocates might want to elevate fun in their polemic arsenal.

A note on the pop-ups: I received no revenue from these annoying intrusions. Any minimal revenue generated from the Google ads and Amazon affiliate links, after covering domain registration and site hosting costs, is largely reinvested in bicycling through contributions to organizations such as the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, League of American Bicyclists, and others.

Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tallahassee journalist bikes to work, enjoys it

From the Tallahassee Democrat, 05.22.07:

Ensley biked to work - and might do it again

I love riding my bike...I don't think there's any better way to see your surroundings than at street level and bicycle speed.

But until Friday, I had never commuted to work on my bike. It just seemed too inconvenient. But probably I've got to give it a longer trial. Those who regularly commute by bike say it's a piece of cake--with lots of benefits. (Read more.)
This article also includes insights from two dedicated Tallahassee bike commuters.

Image: Web capture. Tallahassee tandem, from the city's Critical Mass.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Is the bicycle industry waking up?

Sent to me by a blog reader. From, 05.22.07:

A bicycle built for a better world

At the Taipei International Cycle Show in March 2007, John Burke, president of the Trek Bicycle Corp., gave an address arguing that if bicycle manufacturers wanted to expand sales, they would have to do more than just focus on the old standbys of marketing and new product innovation. They would have to become evangelists for "a bicycle friendly world."

Burke, the son of Trek's founder, is an optimist. Looking at a United States plagued by obesity, traffic congestion, urbanization and environmental woes, he sees "an incredible opportunity" to sell bicycles.

But it won't happen by itself, no matter how many winners of the Tour de France ride Trek bicycles or how feather-light and ramrod-strong the newest carbon-fiber frames are. Creating a bicycle-friendly world requires hard work, government action, and money. And right now, says Burke, out of every hundred dollars the bicycle industry spends, only 10 cents goes toward advocacy.

"What we really need to understand is this fact: This is the fastest way you can grow this business and the biggest way that we can have an impact on society. Creating a bicycle-friendly world is a very good thing. The bicycle is a simple solution to a complicated problem." (Read more.)
This article goes on to make the point that bicycles are a globalized commodity; most bikes sold in the U.S. are made in Asia (the continent of Burke's speech.) And the author further talks of the bicycle as a resolutely contemporary product of advanced technology. This is refreshing; I have friends who dismiss bicycles as a noxious remnant of the horse-drawn carriage era, not a valid transportation mode in modern society.

Burke's address may be evidence of some modest shift in the bicycle industry. He may be among the minority of visionaries in the business--following a track first blazed by the likes of Joe Breeze--similar to hybrid car engineers in Detroit. The bike industry as a whole, however, remains very much in the business of selling recreational equipment.

This is a shame, because the commuter market is a ripe growth opportunity. With some modest fluctuation--say, following the inspiration of an American in the Tour de France--sales of road, mountain, and kids bikes are flat. The industry has tried to stay profitable by relentless pursuit of the pricier, more profitable whiz-bang doo-dad gizmo hyped in glossy magazines. Let's hope John Burke has more visionary friends in the industry than are evident now.

Visit: 'City Bike' Hot New Category at Bicycle Industry Show,
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Monday, May 21, 2007

Question from Europe: American cycling behavior?

Image of Seattle cyclistI received the following thoughtful inquiry from a visitor to my bike commuting tips site. How would you respond?

Dear Mr. Dorn,

I am Italian from Verona, but I will soon relocate to Tucson, AZ, for four years. Just like you, I am not at all fond of driving, so I would like to avoid doing so even in the future.

First, I would like to thank you...for showing me that, despite what is stated by all my American friends and acquaintances, it is actually possible to cycle in the U.S., and that cyclists have every right to use the road in a respectful and law-abiding manner (I had previously been told that it is illegal to cycle other than on the sidewalk).

I am however left with an excruciating doubt: Why do American cyclists, even brave and dedicated bike commuters, seem to be always dressed for fitness, instead of wearing ordinary, day-to-day garments?

Here in Europe even long-distance bike commuters dress "normally", wearing a suit if necessary, a blouse or shirt, and, at times, even dressy shoes, a skirt or a dress. American bike commuters, on the other hand, seem to dress a bit like pro racers, a la Lance Armstrong, wearing sporty padded shorts, technical high-performance shirts, Kevlar-quality helmets, multiple reflective belts, knee pads, elbow pads, mirror-like wrap-around sunglasses, etc. Then they shower and change into "civilian" clothes at the office.

Is there a particular motivation behind this choice, or is it a simple matter of taste, a mere preference? If there actually is a practical reason, what is it?

Is it because, as you write, cycling is mainly perceived as a recreational, sporting or fitness activity? Or are Americans too afraid of sweat and body odor to wear the same clothes both while cycling and at work?

Is it really so dangerous to ride a bike in the States, or are most American cyclists simply more risk-averse and concerned with personal safety than Europeans?

Please, forgive my outlandish and bizarre questions, but I am very concerned and curious about these matters.


I replied as follows: "Sigh. Yes, cycling conditions are different in the U.S. However, there are a variety of bike commuting types in the U.S., depending on conditions, experience, skill level, personal taste, and motivations. Some people commute just a few miles, others commute more than 50 miles. Some are motivated by a desire for fitness, others are bike commuters for economic reasons. Some enjoy calm streets with adequate space; others encounter significant hazards. Some use bicycles only in warm months, others bike year round. Some have supportive employers, others face significant workplace challenges to commuting by bicycle."

"Compared to driving, bicycling in the U.S. is safe. Exaggerated fears about safety are often a significant obstacle to prospective bike commuters; once they begin they often find their fears diminish quickly. I'm not familiar enough with Tucson to say how bicycling-friendly it is. However, I'm certain you can make bicycling work as a commute mode in any city, with enough determination. And you seem to have that."

So, how might you respond? Please leave a comment.

Image: Harry Soltes/Seattle Times
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Sunday, May 20, 2007

NPR reporter survives (!) Bike to Work day

From National Public Radio Weekend Edition Sunday, 05.20.07:

A Four-Mile Commute on Two Wheels
Ah, the joy of a bike ride. Cool breeze, sun at your back. But also narrow streets and rude drivers. Not to mention menacing dogs and murderous buses. So why does anybody bike to work?

Friday was National Bike to Work Day, and the commuting cyclists in Washington, D.C., ranged from intimidating athletic types in the latest moisture-wicking lycra to smart-looking professionals in well-tailored suits and sensible low-heeled pumps.

The question is, what was I doing among them, biking to NPR with a microphone cleverly tethered to my helmet? Well, it was all producer Ned Wharton's idea. But he was aided and abetted by Eric Gilliland, executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclists Association. (Read more, includes audio.)
The media thrives on dramatic conflict. Reporter enjoys bicycle ride to work and nothing happens? Ain't "news." Reporter rides and nearly gets squeezed by bread truck? Now that's news! Hard to say how threatening the actual incident was, but on the whole this was a pretty positive report. Congrats to WABA for pushing this story to an important national outlet.

Image: Ned Wharton/NPR.
Visit: A Virtuous Cycle: Bicycling in DC,
Visit: Zen and the Art of Bike Commuting
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Bicycling against car culture

Image of Pontiac Solstice advertising campaign with Maxim
"In short, the American has sacrificed his life as a whole to the motorcar, like someone who, demented with passion, wrecks his home in order to lavish his income on a capricious mistress who promises delights he can only occasionally enjoy."--Ivan Illich, The Ecologist (February 1974)

It's hard enough to begin bike commuting. And it's often hard to persist with a transportation mode that isn't provided much support by government planners, and which most Americans view as eccentric or odd. I succeeded with bike commuting in part because of the supportive community of bicyclists I found in San Francisco, through activism with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and participation in Critical Mass.

But in many cities in the U.S., such support isn't always available. One of my goals for this blog is to encourage those isolated bike commuters scattered around the country in smaller communities, who may feel alone in their daily conflict with vehicle traffic. In addition to providing "how to" information, I hope this blog helps to illustrate that bicycling commuters are not alone, but are part of a healthy and growing movement.

One of the challenges is, of course, the hegemonic dominance of the automobile in American culture. The U.S. automobile industry spends $17 billion each year on advertising--by comparison, almost double what the federal government spends on transit ($9 billion)--to promote the supposed ego-satisfaction benefits of their product.

Automobile marketing, like the Pontiac campaign illustrated above, creates an image of cars as tools for sex, power, style, freedom. Movies are filled with heroes getting the "hottie" after demonstrating their superiority in a climactic car chase. Television, magazines, radio, newspapers all promote automotive empowerment. What appeal does a puny bicycle have against all that?

"The current American way of life is founded not just on motor transportation but on the religion of the motorcar, and the sacrifices that people are prepared to make for this religion stand outside the realm of rational criticism."--Lewis Mumford, 1963, The Highway and the City (1963)

The challenge for bike commuters isn't just about finding space on our streets. It's also about finding space in our culture. Why I Ride: The Art of Bicycling in New York City is a great example of bicyclists fighting back. Bike to Work week organizers succeeded in cracking through media indifference. Critical Mass has galvanized bicyclists, and where it has succeeded, has made bicycling fun, hip, and, dare I say, chic.

Thankfully, there are signs the American motoring religion may be eroding. Disatisfaction with suburban sprawl culture is fueling a renewed demand for urban living. Endless traffic jams and rising energy costs are causing many to seriously reconsider their transportation options.

We're riding two wheels on a rising tide.

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Zen and the Art of Bike Commuting
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Saturday, May 19, 2007

High gas prices yield more bicycling commuters

High gas price cartoonFrom News 14 (Raleigh, NC), 05.19.07:

"I've started riding my bike to anywhere I can, just as much as possible, instead of driving my car," said cyclist Chris Marshall.

Bicycle store owners said good weather helps generate business, but make no mistake, what is happening at the gasoline pump lately is sending more people into their stores.

"In the bicycling world, it means that people are starting to think of it more seriously, and we're getting our little bit of space on the road, maybe," said Cycles De Oro owner Dale Brown. (Read more. Includes video.)

Image: Web capture.
Visit: He bikes for exercise, economy, Raleigh News-Observer
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

"More bike lanes? No thanks"

Image of one-way street with double bike lanes in SacramentoFrom the Los Angeles Times, 05.19.07:

More bike lanes? No thanks: L.A. should treat cyclists as motorists' equals, not as pesky afterthoughts.
(Los Angeles) has an 11-year-old Bicycle Plan, and city and county officials cite the proliferation of on-street bike lanes as an example of the great strides being made. Yet the numbers leave a lot to be desired. In milk carton terms, if L.A.'s total street mileage equaled half a gallon, bike lanes would constitute a sip of about 4 ounces.

Whether one sees that glass as half full or half empty, I personally wish the city would just stop filling it. Quit while it's behind and not stripe another inch of bike lane.

L.A. Department of Transportation officials quote chapter and verse how the city's newest bike lanes safely conform to state regulations...I'm sure that's true. But it's not enough.

What will be enough? I'll never be satisfied until Silverados and Schwinns can peacefully coexist on all surface streets. But an update of the city Bicycle a good place to start. Our city and county transportation agencies should be trying out fresher bike-transit concepts, such as shared-use arrows, known as sharrows, and bicycle-priority streets, also called bike boulevards.

Already successful in San Francisco, sharrows have a bike icon topped by two chevrons painted directly on the road. Instead of creating separation, they promote awareness that the right lane is to be shared by motorists and cyclists--and they're easier and less costly to implement than bike lanes.

A citywide grid of sharrows that complement and connect bike boulevards and off-street bikeways would go a long way toward fostering a civic culture that embraces cycling rather than treating bikes as a transportation afterthought. (Read more.)
I couldn't help but groan when I first saw this headline--in the influential Los Angeles Times--assuming it would be another tired rant by some pessimistic "old paradigm" bike activist. It turns out to be a thoughtful, provocative appeal for equity for bicyclists in perhaps the most auto-centric city in the U.S.

However, I continue to strongly support bike lanes. And here's why. Sharrows are appealing to many communities, because of their low cost and easy implementation. No need to remove parking spots or narrow traffic lanes. And that's the problem. There are no ancillary benefits to sharrows: no traffic calming, improved vehicle regulation, or neighborhood enhancement.

The Sacramento one-way street above (click image to enlarge) illustrates the traffic-calming benefit of bike lanes. This street once had three narrow vehicle lanes prior to the road diet reconfiguration to create bike lanes on both sides. In addition to improving safety for cyclists, this dual-lane treatment has calmed traffic, pleasing neighborhood residents.

The only real beneficiaries of sharrows are bicyclists (though one could argue that the reduction of "wrong-way" bicyclists minimally benefits motorists.) Bicyclists become "special" interest advocates when advocating sharrows; we become broader "public" interest advocates when pushing bike lanes or other traffic calming.

To significantly enhance the streetscape, bicyclists need to build coalitions with environmentalists, pedestrians, neighborhood improvement activists, safety advocates, and others. The potential traffic-calming benefits of bike lanes provide the basis for such coalitions. We aren't demanding some "special" interest; we're demanding calmer streets to benefit all community residents.

I agree with the author of this article: the needs and safety of bicyclists should be considered equably with all road users. However, I don't think bike lanes "ghettoize" cyclists. Rather, like sharrows, they help to legitimize bicycling. Different road challenges require different bike-friendly solutions. I support a broad, complete streets approach, including consideration of off-street bike paths, sharrows, or bike lanes.

More bike lanes? Yes, please!

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

2007 Bike to Work week concludes

People stop at a booth dedicated to Bike to Work Day at Battery and Market Streets in San FranciscoBike to Work day occurred this week in many communities across the U.S. The trend identified in numerous news accounts was high participation, encouraged by higher fuel prices and growing environmental concerns.

"The sun came out Thursday and so did the bikes--in record numbers--as thousands of cyclists pumped and pedaled their way to the office for the 13th annual Bike to Work Day," reported the San Francisco Chronicle. The paper indicated: "For the first time ever, at the height of the morning rush hour there were more bicycles than cars heading downtown on Market Street in San Francisco, officials said."

High or record-setting participation was also reported across the U.S. Here's a small sampling:

- Anderson, IN: 5:46 p.m.: Cycling season arrives with Bike to Work Day, Anderson Herald Bulletin
- Atlanta: $3-Plus-Gas Gets Commuters Biking, WXIA-TV
- Bridgewater, NJ: Many miles on 2 wheels, Courier News
- Edmond, OK: Biking to work catching on, Edmond Sun
- Eureka, CA: National Bike to Work Day, Eureka Reporter
- Frederick, MD: Residents Use Pedal Power To Get To Work,
- Fredericksburg, VA: Dahlgren (Naval Facility) employees push alternative commute, The Free Lance
- Los Angeles: MTA Offers Free Rides to Bicyclists,
- Marion, IN: Participants use pedal power, Marion Chronicle-Tribune
- Muncie, IN: Bicycles put to 'work' Friday, Muncie Star Press
- Oakland: Bicycle commuters roll out in record numbers, Oakland Tribune
- Orlando: (Mayor) Dyer Leads Bike To Work Day, Central Florida News 13
- Reno: Bike-to-Work Day observed, Reno Gazette-Journal
- San Francisco: Every Day Should be Bike to Work Day,
- Seattle: Thousands of cyclists ride, Seattle Times
- Sioux Falls, SD: Bike to Work Day event takes off, Sioux Falls Argus Leader
- Tallahassee, FL: Bike-to-Work Day draws enthusiastic officials, Tallahassee Democrat
- Visalia, CA: Who needs a car? Visalians take advantage of Bike to Work Day, Visalia Times-Delta

Image: Mark Constantini/San Francisco Chronicle
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Friday, May 18, 2007

Video: Cycling Friendly Cities

A link to this video was posted on the SFBike listserve, and the writer suggested: "Very well worth watching. Should be mandatory viewing for politicians." There is much inspiration available to U.S. bike advocates from bicycling-friendly European cities. What is truly inspiring here is the absence of helmets. People feel safe on their bikes, clearly.

This video is obviously not impartial. However, what it does suggest is that political choices make the difference. American cities that have seen the most bicycling improvement are those where cyclists have organized as advocates, pushing decision makers to implement enhancements.

Visit: Wall Street Journal: Building a better bike lane
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Biking Innkeeper: Interview with Amanda Eichstaedt

Image of weather vane at Bear Valley Inn in Olema, California
The president of the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) board of directors, Amanda Eichstaedt has extensive experience with cycling advocacy, bike education, and bike planning in the Bay Area. As a transportation coordinator for the city of Palo Alto, California, Eichstaedt directed the city's Safe Routes to Schools, Transportation Demand Management (TDM), and bicycle education programs.

Prior to her work with the city, Eichstaedt worked as general manager of Palo Alto Bicycles and helped start the Palo Alto Bikestation at the city's Caltrain station. A League Cycling Instructor (LCI), Eichstaedt has also served on numerous transporation agency committees and advisory boards. These days you can find Amanda, her husband Ken, and their two dogs along with six chickens in the bucolic West Marin town of Olema, where she owns and manages the Bear Valley Inn. Bicyclists who ride to the inn receive a 15 percent discount, but cyclists arriving by cars or transit are also welcome.

In the midst of National Bike Month, Eichstaedt agreed to respond to some questions on safety, advocacy, and the League of American Bicyclists.

Bike Commute Tips: Many women are hesitant to commute by bike, due to concerns about personal safety. On my bike commuting tips site, I advise they improve their skills and confidence on a bike as the best method of addressing these concerns. Riding too timidly invites trouble, in my view. What additional suggestions would you have for prospective bike commuters who may happen to be female?

Amanda Eichstaedt: In addition to that advice, I would say to make a commitment to bicycle commute for at least a month. Get into the habit of doing it. Get your gear and clothing organized and how you will carry your essential items. Make it a habit.

Once you get the day to day stuff worked out, it becomes much easier to hop on the bike vs. taking another mode. Make sure that your bicycle fits you. Many bikes are designed by men, for men and then sold to women by men. Not that men aren't great, but they are often shaped differently with different proportions and you need to ensure that you bicycle fits you. A better fitted bike will reduce neck strain, help eliminate knee problems, and you will have much better control.

There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear. So, go shopping! Get some great shorts to wear to keep you comfy (and riding regularly will really make the sore butt thing vanish). Wear gloves, helmet and eye protection so you don't sustain injury to hands, head or eye. Get yourself educated in a Bike Ed (LAB) course. What you will learn in these courses will completely transform the way that you interact with others on the road. Some things may seem counter intuitive, but follow the advice of the LCI and you will have far fewer conflicts on the road. It is truly amazing.

Bike Commute Tips: Bike commuting is fun, healthy, and eco-friendly. It's also safe. An American is 40-times more likely to die in a car crash than while in a bike accident. And wearing a helmet, using lights, staying sober, and practicing smart street skills can further reduce the mortality risks of bicycling. Yet many people cite safety concerns as a deterrent to taking up bicycling or bike commuting. Why do you think safety concerns about bicycling loom so large? Do bike advocates contribute to this exaggerated fear by stressing the need for safety improvement? Should we be more active promoting the "fun" of bicycling?

Eichstaedt: The world is full of dangers. Some perceived, some very real. Transporting ourselves is risky. Automobile travel is very risky and doesn't really burn calories, get you fresh air or give you the sense of your community that bicycling does. And it does pollute the air.

I think that if you look at the statistics and realize that 50 percent of bicycle crashes are solo falls (the bicyclists loses control and falls over or crashes) and that you can learn better bicycle handling skills and street skills through Bike Ed that can help you minimize crashes, you are half way there. There are also many things that cyclists can do to reduce the likelihood of bike/auto or bike/pedestrian crashes. By following the laws and having your wits about you it is a lot less dangerous than one thinks.

I don't think that not talking about safety is the answer or that talking about safety issues scares people away. I think it is the message and how things are communicated. People need to understand the risks that they take all the time, every day. What they eat, how they move about, what they do for fun and then take responsibility for themselves.

Being on a road on a bicycle and being passed by large trucks revving their engines is scary, but not necessarily unsafe. If the drivers of these vehicles can see you and recognize you and you are riding in a predictable manner and the driver is not impaired they will most likely pass you by without incident. It's all how you think about it. When I feel scared and start to talk myself out of riding I think that "a tree could fall on me today" and I know that I'll feel much better about my trip if I ride my bike rather than drive.

Bike Commute Tips: You have served on the League of American Bicyclists board for four years. Are we making progress? It seems in some areas and in certain cities there are more people bicycling. Yet nationally we see fewer children bicycling, declining physical activity and growing obesity, and continued sprawl development that isn't conducive to bike commuting. What signs of hope do you see?

Eichstaedt:I got involved with the League of American Bicyclists because of the education program (Bike Ed). It is such a valuable program, but such a hard sell. Try telling a bunch of adults that they should take a class to learn how to ride their bike. Many adults learned how to "ride" their bikes when they were kids, why take a course now?

These same adults are often motorists and know how to drive motor vehicles. Once we can get folks to realize the value of Bike Ed, and I believe it is starting to happen with programs like the Bay Area Bicycle Education group and the SFBC Street Skills courses.

The League of American Bicyclists has been administering the Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) program and I think that is really starting to kick some communities into gear. Elected officials become involved and learn about the value of bicycling, because communities are either awarded the designation (bronze, silver, gold or platinum) or they are not awarded the designation. This is a great way to get things going in terms of measuring "where" a community is in terms of things that help make it a good place to bicycle. The program looks at infrastructure, education, enforcement, and encouragement, and overall programs like comprehensive plans and bike plans.

The other programs of the LAB that are valuable and tie well into the BFC program are the National Bike Summit, which is held annually in Washington, DC and where cyclists from all over the US come to lobby their elected officials and get to know one another and share ideas and best practices. The Club insurance program that allows organized groups that are members of LAB to insure their rides and events under an insurance policy is another LAB program that flies below the radar. There are also club conference calls and many resources available to these groups.

Bike Ed, the Summit, and BFC are the strongest programs of the LAB and work together well. The concept of how the bicycle fits in with the topic of global warming is "heating" up and our executive director has been giving testimony on Capitol Hill regarding the value of bicycling and the BFC program as a viable solution for helping reduce GHG emissions. The LAB has also been at the forefront in monitoring legislation in many states that either helps or hinders bicycling. Advocating for the rights of cyclists to use the roads is a major issue for LAB and for our membership and we take it very seriously.

Bike Commute Tips: On my bike commuting tips site and blog I always encourage bicyclists to get involved in advocacy to improve the cycling environment in their community. What is the case for supporting LAB? Do you see hopeful signs at the national level that transportation policy may be embracing bicycling as an energy saving, healthy, and cost-effective transportation alternative?

Eichstaedt: LAB has been around for 128 years and has seen the paving of the roads, the development of the automobile, and the decline of cycling. We are still around and cycling seems to be coming back. Representing a group of individualistic folks on the national level is no small charge. The League has fostered the development of clubs and advocacy organizations nationally and there is a strong network of coalitions all over the country that help cyclists work locally to ensure that their needs are met.

LAB is the umbrella organization that works alongside groups like the Thunderhead Alliance (the advocacy training and networking organization) and the Bikes Belong Coalition (the industry group that supports advocacy) and IMBA (the International Mountain Biking Association), and brings all these efforts together nationally once a year at the National Bike Summit and is working to provide communities with a way to measure their successes and strive to improve with the BFC program. LAB is also the only organization that trains and certifies instructors to teach bicycle education programs.

My goal as president is to work with our existing board and staff to bring the LAB back into prominence with cyclists throughout the country. We need feedback on how to do this and we need cyclists to join and to tell us what else they would like for us to do for them. I hope that people will look into what LAB is doing and if they have any questions or want to talk about it, that they will give me a call.

Image: Weather vane at the Bear Valley Inn, Olema, CA.
Visit: League of American Bicyclists
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Michigan State: Commuting wisely

From The State News (Michigan State University), 05.17.07:

H.G. Wells once said, "Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of mankind."

I find that I can relate to Wells' statement now more than ever. The United States is becoming more auto-centric every day, with cyclists and other nondrivers being pushed further and further into the fringes of society.

There are cities where using public transportation is easy, affordable and not reserved for a segment of society on the low rung of the social ladder. There are cities where riding your bike to work is a viable option for the majority of the population.

In Michigan we are especially susceptible to the tyranny of the automobile. Our state relied on the auto industry for so long economically, and it shaped the way our biggest cities are designed. (Read more.)
Great op-ed by MSU student, encouraging participation in the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council's Smart Commute event.

Image: Chico Gino. Bike near Chico, California. Not Michigan, but great pic nonetheless.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Brooklyn: Bike lanes save lives

Image of Brooklyn Bridge bike laneFrom The Brooklyn Paper, 05.19.07:

On board with bikes
The good news is that the statistics bear out the (New York City Department of Transportation's) aggressive push for more bike lanes.

In the decade from 1996 to 2005, 225 bike riders were killed in crashes on city streets--yet only one death occurred on a street with a bike lane. No wonder the agency plans to lay down 50 miles of new bike lanes every year from now until 2030.

A recent survey compiled by the Department of City Planning showed that virtually all pedal-pushers support more bike lanes — and that the majority of non-bikers would bike to work if only the roads were safer. (Read more.)
As readers of this blog know, I am an unequivocal supporter of improved cycling infrastructure, such as bike lanes, "sharrows," signage, bike paths, and secure parking. A small minority of bicyclists object to bike lanes, citing the exceedingly infrequent Dana Laird incident.

Beyond providing a measure of safety for cyclists, bike lanes serve to calm traffic, legitimize bicycling, and enhance neighborhoods. Congrats to NYC's cycling advocates for pushing their city to improve streets for bicyclists.

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Transportation Alternatives
Visit: Time's Up
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Monday, May 14, 2007

Biking to work saves dollars

ndiana bike commuter Tony SchneiderFrom the Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana), 05.14.07:

Gasoline was less than 40 cents a gallon when Tony Schneider started bicycling to his job at Mead Johnson. He was 19 then.

Thirty-six years later, with gasoline prices topping $3 per gallon in some areas, Schneider is still pedaling more than five miles to and from work most days of the week, as conditions allow.

He is among dozens of people in the area who leave the car at home and pedal to factories, offices, schools and other daily destinations during much of the year. (Read more.)
Bike Month coverage continues to proliferate across the country. This article contains overmuch emphasis on the bad encounters local bike commuters have faced. (And I don't endorse helmet positioning as illustrated here.)

Image: Evansville Courier & Press. Indiana bike commuter Tony Schneider.
Visit: Indiana Bicycle Coalition
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Bike commuters trade four wheels for two

Image of Austin bike commuter Katy KappelFrom the American Statesman (Austin), 05.14.07:

To hear the city's bicycle commuters tell it, rush hour ranks right up there with recess. They trade a tank of gas for a topped-off water bottle, stuff a change of clothes into a backpack, and launch an urban adventure whenever they head to work.

Their commutes are short or long, hilly or flat, and cover points north, south, east and west. They do it to save gas or protect the environment, to stay fit or just to have fun. Some have no other means of transportation.

Sometimes, it's inconvenient. There's that whole where-to-shower quandary and the often-confusing puzzle of what's the safestroute to take. Forgetting things isn't advised. (Read more, includes podcast.)
This an extensive and informative article, featuring interviews with several of the Austin region's bike commuters. Why do you stick with it? "I notice things: the flowers where the houses that used to be are not any more. You just see everything more when you're on a bike."

Image: Austin American Statesman. Austin bike commuter Katy Kappel.
Visit: Texas Bicycle Coalition
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Chico gears for Bike to Work week

Image of bicyclist with dog near Chico, CaliforniaFrom the Oroville Mercury Register, 05.13.07:

Never may the time be so perfect to promote commuting to work by bicycle. With local gas prices pushing $3.40 a gallon, experts are in a whir about air pollution, childhood and adulthood obesity, and global warming.

Local Chico Velo Cycling Club is doing its share to make people consider alternatives. This week is Bike to Work Week, and that's exactly what Chico Velo hopes people will do.

"I have to think that (bike commuting) by this community is increasing, especially by students. The price of gas has got to take the wind of (drivers') sails," said Ed McLaughlin, head of Chico Velo. (Read more.)
When I was executive director of the California Bicycle Coalition, I had the pleasure of presenting the city of Chico with its Bicycle Friendly Community award. It's a great bike town, with an active bicycling community enjoying riding in the scenic region.

Image: Chico Gino. Bicyclist with companion near Chico, California.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips