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Monday, October 15, 2007

Pedal power is the way to frugal fitness

Image of bicyclist with front rackFrom the The Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), 10.15.07:

Maybe it's because I can take great satisfaction from saving either my bus fare or parking charges for the car. Maybe it's because I'm an eco-warrior, out to save the world with one less car exhaust pipe contributing to climate change. Or maybe it's just because I love scooting past irate drivers when they're stuck at the latest traffic jam and I'm able to glide to the front of the queue, ready to accelerate away from them when the lights change.

Whatever the reason, I'm a born-again cycle commuter. And it's become something of an addiction--maybe it's all those endorphins pumping round my body. Unlike many cyclists, who hang up their fluorescent jackets when it gets cold, I'll be continuing this winter.

The benefits of a daily commute are unquestionable. I work up a healthy sweat twice a day going to and from work, without spending money or precious time. In fact, I get to and from the centre of Glasgow from the south-side suburbs quicker than any car, bus or train could take me--that's a fact. And when I arrive, I'm brighter and more energised than I could possibly have been if I'd been sitting on the bus - and certainly less stressed-out than if I'd been driving. (Read more.)
Inspiring first-person account from the UK, citing European research on how cycling can extend life-spans and improve health. The writer also discusses his preparations for cold, wet winter weather, optimistic that his cycling will continue.

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

Eugene: How to ride in rain

From the Eugene Register-Guard (Oregon), 10.15.07:

Riding in the rain: Good gear and preparation will help you keep cycling through winter
Those who are brave or crazy enough to continue their two-wheeled commutes as the rains begin often suffer what local diehards call "The Willamette Valley Racing Stripe"--an aptly-named strip of road sludge spattered on your front and back.

They battle slick conditions, flooded bike lanes and distracted motorists. But advocates say the benefits--saving on gas, getting exercise and going green--are worth it. "You can ride all year 'round in Eugene," says Lee Shoemaker, the city’s bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. "You just have to have the right kind of gear."

"It takes a certain amount of preparation to be ready to commute and do it efficiently in the rain," says Joe Peck, manager of Paul’s Bicycle Way of Life on Alder Street. (Read more.)
Comprehensive article about wet-weather cycling from Oregon, where they know a fair amount about such things. Among the useful advice offered in the article: breathable rain gear, fenders (!), lights, wider tires, greater caution.

It's impossible to overstate the importance of fenders. In my early days of bike commuting, I learned about the "mud stripe" up the back. As I write on my bike commute tips website, "...the worst feature of wet weather cycling isn't the precipitation that falls down; it's the muck that splashes up."

Also reported on Cyclelicious.
Video: San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
Visit: What About Weather? - Bike Commute Tips Site
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Davis retains platinum status as bike capital

StreetFilms' Clarence Eckerson visited Davis recently, and produced this great video showing the amenities enjoyed by residents of the only platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Community in the U.S. Davis' status as the bicycling capital of the country was recently renewed by the League of American Bicyclists.

Visit: Sacramento Bee, 10.09.07, Raising bar on biking: Cited for success, Davis takes on new challenges
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Retailers make room for bikes

Image of bike stuck in a tree in Hattiesburg, MississippiFrom the Hattiesburg Clarion Ledger (MS), 10.09.07:

Hattiesburg officials, store owners make room for bikes
Finding a spot to park a bicycle in downtown Hattiesburg has always been a sort of random act for University of Southern Mississippi junior Richard Easterling. "I ride on weekends to go downtown and listen to music," the student said. "That way, you don't have to drive and find a place to park your car. I usually tie mine to a tree or something."

So Easterling was excited to learn that downtown officials and business owners are installing 16 bicycle racks and making a concerted effort to increase awareness of bicycling issues.

Jonathan Cothern, chairman of the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association's design committee that came up with the idea for bicycle racks and Saturday's events, said he sees bicycling and downtown living going hand-in-hand. "One of the initiatives long-term is to promote living and working downtown," Cothern said. "Part of the fun of living in a dense urban environment is that you should be able to leave your car behind."

(Richlain) Robinson, a former resident of Los Angeles, said his love of cycling goes back about 30 years to his time in that urban environment. "We were avid bicyclists in Los Angeles," Robinson said. "I've always said, 'Bicycling: It's better for you than a week at a Beverly Hills psychologist.'" (Read more.)
I'm a few days late getting this online--my job is keeping me busy these days--but how could I not post that psychologist quote.

Image: Web capture. Tree near Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Monday, October 08, 2007

U.S. cities encourage bicycling

Bicyclists travel on New York City's West Street bike pathFrom USA Today, 10.08.07:

Big cities try to ease way for bicyclists

Cities are accelerating their efforts to encourage commuting on two wheels, putting bike racks where cars once parked, adding bike lanes and considering European-style bike-share programs to get residents out of their cars.

"There's never been so much attention from cities collectively for cycling as a mode of transportation," says Loren Mooney, executive editor of Bicycling magazine. "Cities are recognizing that it is a realistic and inexpensive solution to a lot of different problems — to the traffic issues, to pollution issues, to personal health issues because instead of sitting in cars for an hour you have people out burning calories."

"This whole movement has taken place in tandem with resurging interest in cities and developing downtowns," says Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group that promotes walking, cycling and public transit in New York City. (Read more.)
An encouraging "trend" story in the national color daily, featuring bike encouragement efforts in Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. And some obligatory skepticism from the Cato Institute. Interestingly, in this brief survey of bicycling-supportive U.S. cities, no mention is made of Portland, Oregon, doubtless the preeminent major city for bicycling in the U.S.

Image: USA Today, Bicyclists travel on New York City's West Street bike path.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Seasonal joys of bike commuting

Image of fall bicyclistFrom the Journal Gazette Times-Courier (Charleston, Illinois), 10.06.07:

Bicycling to work means 'experiencing the seasons'

(Molly) Daniel tries to ride her bicycle from her home on the northeast edge of Charleston to her job as a grant specialist at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center at least four days a week.

She said it’s a seven-mile, 35-minute trip if she takes the most direct way on the Lincoln Prairie Grass Trail bike trail, but she likes to take other routes for at least an hour-long ride. "I just connect to the outdoors a lot more," she also said. "I'm experiencing the seasons the way I did as a kid."

Bad weather doesn't necessarily stop Daniel from making her bike trek, though she said "35 degrees is my limit" as for how cold it can get before she'll travel another way. Wind can be "pretty discouraging" and rain was "a little intimidating" at first but now she enjoys riding in the rain sometime. "You're going to get cold more than you're going to get wet," she said of riding in the rain, as long as you have a rain jacket. (Read more.)
Profile of a bike commuter in Illinois, who enjoys the outdoors on a bike. (Who doesn't.) The fall is a particularly great time to be a bike commuter. So get some lights and keep riding.

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

Music star pushes cycling lifestyle

From AMNewYork, 10.08.07:

Envisioning a city where bicycle traffic gets priority over automobiles, singer David Byrne, a longtime city bike commuter, hosted a program Saturday that explored ways to make New York's streets more like those of bike-friendly Copenhagen.

About 35 percent of the workforce in the Danish capital commutes by bike, said Byrne, the "Talking Heads" star who visited the city with the folding bicycle he carries around the world with him. Less than one percent of New Yorkers commute by bike.

Josh Benson, director of the DOT's bike program, told the large New Yorker Festival audience Saturday that "it's an exciting time to be a cyclist in New York," and said bike ridership has tripled in the past seven years. He described the city's new "complete streets" philosophy, which includes equal room for cars, pedestrians and bicycles. (Read more.)
Streetsblog previously reported David Byrne's commitment to bicycling. And now Byrne is using his celebrity to galvanize support for bicycling in New York, convening this public panel on bikes for transportation. Which gives me the opportunity to feature my favorite Heads tune on this blog.

Image: Talking Heads, "Life During Wartime."
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Bike trail leads to economic boom

Image of Root River State Trail in MinnesotaFrom the Winona Daily News (Minnesota), 10.07.07:

Small-town turnaround in Lanesboro: Bike trail led to economic boom

Nestled in a southeastern Minnesota valley, Lanesboro, population 788, is much like any small town. Passersby wave and say hello. Conversations often erupt on the sidewalk. People give their phone number as four digits. Coffee shops and diners ooze gossip. Yet it is like no other.

On summer weekends, the overnight population can triple. Main street bustles as tourists jockey for parking spaces on their way to restaurants and artists’ galleries. Kayaks, canoes and inner tubes jam the Root River, while a steady parade of bicycles rolls along the adjacent trail.

In the past two decades, Lanesboro has reinvented itself as a tourist mecca and a bedroom community, avoiding the fate of many small towns...Things took a downward turn in the 1970s as farmers suffered, the trains stopped and the small downtown started to fail.

Julie Kiehne, Lanesboro Area Chamber of Commerce executive director, said before 1985, when a bike trail was built on the rail bed, the town didn’t seem to have much of a future. "The town was boarded up; much of main street had vacant store fronts," she said. "People wondered if the school would survive."

The passenger trains...stopped long ago, but the tourists still follow the same route into Lanesboro. Most residents credit the bike trail, built in 1985, with saving the town. On sunny summer evenings--even weekdays--bikers stream through the downtown, stopping for dinner at the area restaurants or heading to one of the bed and breakfasts. On summer weekends, the town easily doubles its population. During big events it can triple.

Built on the former Milwaukee Railroad bed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Root River State Trail is more than 60 miles of paved multi-use trails that follow the river through bluffs and farmland. In an average year, Fillmore County welcomes about 200,000 visitors.

The trails spawned a river-based tourism industry. Businesses started to rent canoes, kayaks, inner tubes and bikes to visitors looking to spend time outdoors.(Read more.)
This article is more recreational bicycling than commuting. But it's great evidence that bicycle facilities can have a positive economic benefit, something advocates can use to persuade their community to embrace bicycling.

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