Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tom Vanderbilt Parks It On Slate

Build it and they will come. That's what Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic, says about bike parking, in today's Slate.com. He does have a point. A car driver pretty much assumes that wherever they go, parking will exist. Is it happenstance, American optimism, divine intervention, or just dum luck, that pretty much anywhere you go in America, there will be parking? Well, the answer is just a little below devine. It is government policy. Build anything in America and you have provide parking space for cars. A lot of it, too. So much so, that if you put all that parking in one place, Connecticut would be one big parking lot. No wonder people drive. Cars are pretty much guaranteed free parking, wherever they want to go.

It's not really free, though. It's land that could have other uses, such as trees or grass. Or somebody's house, which would be closer to your's if there wasn't all this free parking in between. Heck people have to drive farther, because of all the space taken up by these parking spaces. Take a look around. Subtract the parking, and there's a whole lot of free space. And we are not even talking about roads. Lot's of costs.
How about some government intervention into a mode of transportation that is actually good for society? It is beginning to happen. Cities are beginning to require commerical builders to include bike parking in their projects. Indoor parking is also becoming available. I'm lucky, that I can bring my bike inside at work, but most cyclists, don't have that option. Give people decent options and they are more likely to ride. As this bike wave rises, better parking will allow it room to grow.
If you haven't read Tom's book, Traffic, check out his blog, How We Drive, to see what you're missing.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Birds of a Feather

Now that I have my Dutch style bike, I'm starting to see similar bikes everywhere. Well, not everywhere. They're aren't that many of the around, yet. But when I rode up to my favorite cafe, I immediately noticed the now familiar enclosed chain case on this bike. It was a Pashley Princess. Hmmm? Who did I know, that owned a Pashley. The owner was no where to be seen, so I grabbed a table within eye shot of this Princess.

As it turned out, the owner wasn't another local blogger, but this lovely lady, instead. She has only been riding it for a few months. A friend gave it to her, when her bike was stolen. That's a very nice friend! She really loves riding it, and puts her pooch in the basket. I really liked the milk crate, even before I saw her matching blouse. I didn't get the chance to tell how Chic she looked on her Pashley, but she did.

Driver is Accused of Threatening Cyclist with Ax

This is one of those scary things that can happen, if you dare comment on the driving of people, operating motor vehicles. I'm glad the cyclist is safe and the driver may be headed to jail. I wonder if all the other pickup driving peoples image will be tarnished as much as the cycling community would be, if the it was the other way around(if the ax was in the other hand)? Where would I put an ax on my bike, anyways? If it was a cyclist, there would be TV expose's on how these crazy cyclist are endangering us all. Cyclists would asked for an explanation. "why all this cycle-hooliganism?".

It's not really surprising and a good reminder to be cautious with around the driving public.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hot Spot

Canal between Lake of the Isles and Lake Calhoun.

Summer weather finally came back, and I don't think my body was not ready for it. We've had a cool, sometimes cold summer. A good summer for me, is where I don't hardly ever consider wearing long pants, during the daytime(work not included of course). Or shoes. I like it to get hot and stay hot. I got rid of my air conditioner a few years ago, because it made it less pleasant, when I was outside. I want my body to adapt to the heat and that cold air doesn't help. It usually takes about 3 days for my body to become comfortable, when the temp shoots up. Once I'm used to it, I just have to keep hydrated and savor the warmth.

Sure, it involves a lot of sweat, and sometimes it feels like you're going to explode. But for me, I see it is necessary to survive the famously harsh Minnesota winters. I need to get the summer out of my system. Then doing iciclebicycle doesn't seem so bad. One thing I like about the heat, is it makes you a little less ambitious. Why do you think people used to sit on the porches, all day in the south? It's kind of Buddhist. Once you've stopped striving and struggling, you just give up and sit back to enjoy the day.

So, finally a nice hot spell came to town this weekend. Good, I can put the jeans away, again. It was tough for a few days, but now I'm soaking it up. I hope it lasts for awhile.

My favorite! Lake Calhoun.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Rain Day

Friday was the first rainy day that we've had in awhile, and it's seems all the bike commuters decided to take it off, because I didn't see more than a bike or two on the ride in to work. It felt like my winter rides with the trail all to myself. That's okay, it allowed me to take these shots without worrying about getting in someone's way. I guess if you're going to take a day off on bike commute, it might as well do it on the wet day. But I hope they come back. It's good to have company.

But for me, with my new all weather, all terrain vehicle, a rainy day is no excuse to miss a chance to enjoy summer. It really doesn't last long, here.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My Bike Overbuilt??? Naw, Just Room to Grow

Since buying my Dutch Azor Transport bike, last weekend, down in Chicago, I haven't had much time to get in blog about it's performance. Looking back on my week, my lack of time might be related to the amount of time I spent answering questions about my new bike. It seems that every time I park it somewhere, somebody's going to comment or ask a question about it. Add all that time up and I could have done a few blogs. Not that I'm complaining. It is fun to have a bike that stands out.

One questioner was waiting next to my bike, when I left the grocery store. He said that it was an interesting bike. I gave him the spiel. Dutch, lights, internal hub, internal chain, built in lock, motorcycle kickstand, it is heavy. He looks at the double top bar and says it looks overbuilt. I said it depends on what you want to do with your bike. But it did get me thinking. After riding it 30 miles a day for a week, it doesn't feel overbuilt to me. The hills are a challenge, but they aren't impossible. I'm learning how to do them. This bike also handles some of the worst potholes on my commute with ease.

What this bike is doing, is forcing me to change how I ride. You just can't be in as much of a rush on this type of bike. First, it's to heavy to sprint and second, the upright position doesn't allow me to get in the speed demon mindframe. Dirty Harry said "A man has got to know his limitations" and his bikes, too! I think that's just what I needed. A bike that slows me down, allowing me to enjoy the ride.

Headed home

Monday, August 3, 2009

Going Dutch in Chicago

Having made the decision to buy a Dutch bike, a few weeks ago, I was now heading down to Chicago to see if I could find the right bike for me. After a long 7 hour drive, my cousin Pat and I, spent Friday night at the Arlington House International Hostel, in Lincoln Park. Being only a few blocks away from the Dutch Bike Co. was a happy accident. It was a decent hostel in a very cool neighborhood. Fortunately for Pat, they had bikes to rent, because the plan was to meet Dottie, of Let's Go Ride a Bike Blog, buy a bike and go for a ride along lake Michigan, on sunny Saturday afternoon.

Dutch Bike Co.

When I arrived at the shop an emisary from the Dutch Consulate of Chicago was there to greet me. Well, I suppose his main purpose was to get his wife's bike fitted with a basket, but it did lend some dignity to the procedings. Long story short. After trying various bikes, having Dottie arrive, and some other delay's, I bought an Azor Transport bike(Impressions in a future blog) from the owner Stephen. And then the fun part. A bike ride!

Dottie and me

From the shop we headed over to Lake Michigan and hopped on the bike trail along the shore. It's a gorgeous place for a bike ride. Big water on one side. Tall architecture on the other. Dottie is very lucky to have this for her commute. What made the ride even sweeter was being on my ultra smooth, new ride. The nice thing about heavy bikes is you can cruise at very low speeds, taking in the scenery, without being tippy.

One thing that always happens to me is, I like to make comparisions. How is Chicago the same or different from my hometown of Minneapolis as far as bikes go? While it's hardly scientific, because I was only in a certain part of town on the weekend, my guess is there are more bikes on the streets of Chicago. Bikes were everywhere. And they seemed to be a little more practical. Less drop downs and more racks.

While there may be more bikes. There are certainly more cars. On the main streets, cars are everywhere, all the time. Sometimes I thought that was a good thing for bikes, because with so much traffic, the cars are moving at a slower speed. But crowded cars can lead to some high risk maneuvers, which is not good for bikes. In the end, I kept wishing that more people would get out of their cars and hop on bikes. What a beautiful and quiet city it would be. So many more souls to save!