Drive My Bike


Wow… Bicycles Outsold Cars For 1st Quarter of 2009!
May 28, 2009, 11:02 pm
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More people bought bicycles than cars? Yes they did.

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According to The Huffington Post, in the first quarter of 2009, bicycle sales in the US were higher than automobile sales. There were 2.6 million bicycle purchases made, compared to less than 2.5 million automobile purchases.

One thing I found interesting in this article was that both industries suffered a decrease in sales compared to the same time last year. Bicycle sales are down more than 30%, but auto sales are down more than 35%.

Interesting statistics. The times… are they a changin’?



Another Poll: Do You Use A Bicycle Mirror?

One of the first accessories I bought when I started bike commuting was a mirror, and I immediately became dependent on it…

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When I bought my first bike, a simple Schwinn Midtown comfort bike from Costco, it was not setup for commuting, and I went to a local bike shop for some advice. One of the first things he recommended was a Blackburn Handlebar Mirror. I bought it, and within a couple of rides I was immediately used to it being there. If you drive a car, and regularly check your side mirrors, then using a handlebar mounted bike mirror is very natural.

When I finished rebuilding my latest bike, it dawned on me that I didn’t have a mirror. The Trek came with end bars on the handlebars, and metal plugs on the ends of the handlebar tubes, so it would take some work to install the same Blackburn mirror I have on my Midtown. I was at the store looking at options, and I decided to try an inexpensive helmet mounted mirror. Installation was a snap, as it just fastens to your helmet with some double stick tape. I had heard that helmet mirrors are nice because you can get a wide field of view by turning your head to aim the mirror at what you need to see, so I was anxious to try this new mirror out. My first ride with the helmet mirror was on my Midtown, and I really had to fight the urge to just look at the handlebar mirror. It was kind of tricky to get the helmet mirror adjusted and aimed right, and it felt really strange to look up and to the left to see what was behind me. I’m happy to say that as I’ve ridden the Trek more I have gotten used to the helmet mirror, and it works reasonably well. I wouldn’t say I have a favorite at this point, because the experience with the two kinds of mirrors is very different, and I think they both have their positives and negatives.

So, that brings me to another opportunity to ask you what your preferences are when it comes to bicycle mirrors. As before, I’d love your comments as well as your votes.

Thanks for your feedback!



A Bike Transit Center With Showers, Parking, Repairs, Food

Our local mass transit agency, the Utah Transit Authority, made a bold proposal last night in favor of Bicycle Commuters. They held an open house to get public opinion about building a “Bike Transit Center” with indoor parking and all kinds of amenities for use by bike commuters.

 

According to their website:

A bicycle transit center is more than a few bike racks. It’s a resource that reinvents the park-and-ride lot for bicycle transportation. Bicycle transit centers could feature secure indoor bike parking, bicycle repairs, bike rentals, showers, a shop for bike accessories and refreshments, and cycling information including maps, classes, registration and more. A bicycle transit center has the ability to add more cyclists to streets and to transit like no other public amenity can.

The UTA recently opened a light rail system here called FrontRunner, and they have had so many bike commuters riding light rail that they have had to remove some seats to make room for the bicycles. Ever since gas prices have gone up there has been a large increase in those commuting by bike in Salt Lake City and surrounding areas. According to a local newspaper:

The number of Utahns who use their bikes as commuting vehicles has increased. "Gas prices probably have something to do with it, but there has been a skyrocketing number of bicyclists out there," said Carrie Bohnsack-Ware, UTA spokeswoman.

"At one point, somebody in the office counted 23 bikes in one door of FrontRunner," Bohnsack-Ware said. "They were piling them on. And you know it’s not fair to riders without bicycles because they are having a hard time getting on and off. But then, we don’t want to say ‘no bicycles."’

UTA will study surveys it distributed Tuesday to determine how many people ride and what inconveniences block bicycling.

The bike transit center is "really preliminary," Bohnsack-Ware said. "There’s no money. We have no money yet to do anything."

The local Fox News affiliate did a story with some video here.

I’m encouraged that our local agencies are taking Bike Commuting so seriously. There are obviously some people there who have a vision for what kind of difference bicycles could make for public transportation. Unfortunately it looks like the budgeting and proposed timeline mean we won’t be seeing this facility anytime soon.



Local College Promotes Bike Commuting With Free Bike Rentals

I just found out that Westminster College, a local college here in Salt Lake City, offers students and faculty free bike rentals. How cool is that?

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From their website:

Westminster Wheels is designed to provide alternative transportation and encourage Westminster students, faculty and staff to bike to their destinations on and around campus. Members of the Westminster community can check out a bicycle, helmet, light and lock from the campus concierge desk at no cost.  The potential uses for this program are as diverse as the Westminster student body.  People can bike to the grocery store, post office, the coffee shop or the bakery….

Last year, a group of students noticed the increased number of cars on campus, lack of carpooling, parking lot congestion, and winter smog. These students wanted to improve the city’s air quality, minimize campus traffic and maximize campus efficiency, so they designed a free bike program, modeled on similar campus and community programs around the country.

I think it is great to see organizations like this encouraging Bicycle Commuting, and then going the extra mile by helping people get past barriers that would keep them from getting started. If more programs like this were available it could change the face of transportation in this country.



Make Your Bike Commuting 800% Faster!

Sam Whittingham recently set a new world speed record for a bicycle at the World Human Powered Speed Challenge, with a speed of 82.3 miles per hour!. If you haven’t seen this video, it is only 8 seconds long, so take 8 seconds and watch as Sam goes by doing 82mph on the custom built Varna Diablo III bicycle!

Wow, that is fast! You can read more about this record setting project on Wired.com.

So, I was thinking that if I could do that I could cut my commute time from 18 minutes down to less than 4 minutes. Shazam!

But I see a few problems with that:

  • I didn’t see a rack anywhere on that bike, so I’m not sure where I would put my panniers
  • It would be a bit difficult to obey posted speed limits, and would probably lead to some speeding tickets.
  • It would be hard not to fall over while stopping for red lights, and motorists would probably be so offended at my passing them that none of them would be willing to help right me.
  • Where do you park a bike like that? How do you lock it up?

Bummer, because it sure would be fun!

Thanks to my friend Matthias for sharing this story with me.



When Good Cars Go Bad (Another Reason For Bike Commuting)
September 18, 2008, 2:50 pm
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Today I was making my lunch and I heard a strange noise outside. It wasn’t a noise that I recognized… in fact it was one of those noises where you don’t know what it is but it makes you think that something isn’t quite right. So, I looked in front of my house and this is what I saw…

Car In Fence

It seems that my neighbor had forgotten to set the parking brake on her car, so when she went inside the car decided to take matters into its own hands, and with the help of gravity, it rolled across the street, jumped the curb, and stopped at my fence!

Well, vinyl fencing is flexible, and as you can see in the picture, it was flexing. At the end of it all no harm was done, and we had a good laugh out of it.

Now… if she did her commuting by bike, instead of by car… none of this would have ever happened. Yet another reason that bike commuting makes the world a better, safer place.

Have a good day, and watch out for those evil cars! 🙂



Top 10 Reasons to Be A Bike Commuter
September 11, 2008, 7:52 am
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  1. You feel pretty green, and green is good.
  2. Passing cars that are stuck in rush hour traffic is awesome.
  3. It’s fun watching the people around you come up with excuses why they can’t bike commute.
  4. Getting back at all of those people that said you were crazy when you told them you were going to start riding your bike to work.
  5. Riding around on a bike makes you remember how fun it was when you did that as a kid, only now you look a lot cooler.
  6. Seeing the look of amazement on the grocery store clerk’s face when you ask her to put your groceries in your panniers, and she says "You rode your bike here?"
  7. Realizing that you can ride a lot farther than you think you can.
  8. Spandex is optional.
  9. Doing something fun and getting exercise at the same time – "Accidental Fitness".
  10. Getting to your destination with less stress than you started with.

I’ve had this list brewing for a while. It’s not perfect, but I finally tweaked it enough that I figured I’d go ahead and post it.

What do you think? What would you put on your top 10 list of reasons for bike commuting?