Wednesday, December 29, 2010

London Bikes

Medieval street planning makes for interesting pathways among modern bikers in London. Certainly Romans did not consider the potential for collisions with cars when they laid down their streets. Those 14th century twists and turns also left me rather leery of renting a bike here, although I didn't have the time to do so in any case. But as I walked and bussed around town with my family I had many opportunities to see dozens and dozens of cyclists and just as many bikes chained and locked everywhere. This is no surprise of course given that I not in car-centric America, and Britain had been pushing bike commuting already as a further traffic solution to its jam-packed island.


And the city center was packed, especially at train stations. The busy rush of thousands of commuters and travelers herding themselves to different platforms, shoulder to shoulder, pulsed with noisy energy. Amid them one bicyclist stood out, his bike's wheels breaking the geometry of the crowd at King's Cross. This biker was having a heck of time with his bag, soft drink, pack and bicycle! 
Throughout our walks I saw many styles of bikes, including this whitewashed classic with matching seat and dynamo. Will it's contrast with London grays make it more likely to get ripped off? Or, is it too unique to permit an easy getaway?
Topping off all the cycling lanes and related sign-age in London is its bike sharing program, undoubtedly sponsored by a bank. Methinks the cycling culture and bankers are an unlikely pairing but these bike stands are omnipresent. I needed an account to rent one of these, which I saw many times over the four days we spent in town. Most of the time the bikes, like leaves missing from a winter limb, were being used (hopefully rented and not stolen). The rental program is complemented by steep fees to drive cars in the city during business hours.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

England Bound

In the future I will have a brief stay in England, and of course I'm hoping to borrow or rent a bike a couple times. Hopefully I won't kill myself riding on the opposite side of the road, especially if I have the nerve and impulse to take a photo while riding. I've prepared for this contingency by bending an L-bracket into a U-shape, which in turn is easily secured to handlebars with a pipe clamp.  Once affixed to a handlebar or wheel fork, a quarter-inch screw then fits through the bracket (along with a few washers to take up the space), making it a mini-camera mount that fits just about anywhere.  My Sony digital camera will capture any rides I manage to get in, which I then hope to post here! The downside to this low-tech approach is lots of vibration and wind in the microphone. While we have recently upgraded to a Canon FS31 camcorder, I don't think I'll be strapping that one to my bike anytime soon. Another approach I could take would be to purchase an FPV camera (a mere 30 bucks) that could conceivably be attached to the wheel bolt for a low to the ground view. Stay tuned my avid readers for more video!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Re-purposing on Wheels

This video, which I first viewed on www.bikehacks.com, represents the wonderful culmination of creativity, production and fun, which in said combination is all too lacking in contemporary society if you asked me. The welding, bolting and wheel-truing here are the antidote to thumbing one's PDA so constantly...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dandy Horses and Such


Google Books is a treasure trove and there is no shortage of titles on bicycles within its vast dBase confines. One tome by Velox (a pseudonym) is worth quoting for its anachronistic formality, because it's, well, sort of funny:

Whether velocipedes are only the ‘toy of the hour’ or are destined to become a permanent adjunct to our civilization and everyday life or not, no one can doubt their extending popularity, or that there exists a widespread desire to know  how to use, and the best for construction for, the new wheel-horse of the period.

Well said, Velox!  I thought of riding my own “wheel horse” today but I’m not sure if I was doubting whether my "bike" (as we tend to call them today) was the “toy of the hour” or simply was put off by snow on the ground! HA! More on this 19th century book later...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Courageous Amid Clouds and Snow

As I drove my daughter to her friend's home we passed this determined pedaler headed east....will he slip? Will he be overlooked as yet another grey element in the dreary Pennsylvania landscape?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sneh Ĩoskoro ...

With some trepidation of the 22F temperature I decided to ride into the office this morning. I remain surprised at how effective my new Brooks shell is in keeping out the wind and cold. Tee shirt, turtle neck, fleece and shell kept me entirely warm, and the shell’s diaphanous hood under my helmet kept my head perfectly comfortable as well.  High tech effects! My heavy leather mittens and neoprene face mask also shielded me well, so save for my brow I was quite warm on the 4.5 mile ride…which according to my new wireless bike computer took 21’24” averaging 12.5 mph in light wind.

My return trip was a bit faster (but .4 miles shorter as well), and even as I stared down a million snowflakes as they pushed into my face. The snow was unanticipated.  Fortunately I took a break from my various analytic tasks at the ‘ole desk and looked out the window…and it was really coming down. So, I quickly changed and hopped on the Trek. No slippy spots at all, but I felt a touch jittery in the arms as I imagined spinning out in spots.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More Cold

My riding is disabled by lousy weather combined with my recuperation from a cold. I leave my esteemed readers with a watercolor of my shadow last month...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Some Good Signs in Gray

It's getting drearier, at least on some days, in Central PA.  Dreary grayness can be reflected rather somberly in old train trestles. But old trestles can also hold a good sign, as this one does in Lemoyne, PA:


I'm not sure this was an official act of signage, or a rogue one. If you're a long time reader of this blog, you'd know that even official signage can be of low quality (see my post this past  summer). As for this sign, it's well placed, as this curve in Lemoyne toward the Market Street Bridge and river is a treacherous one for pedestrians and bicyclists alike.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Saved Cars from Winded Garbage Bin

Perhaps I should have left it there, rolling to and fro, blocking traffic. But my first reaction was to remove the garbage bin from the middle of Market Street. Heavy wind over the past 36 hours pushed it there after being emptied by dutiful municipal workers. Riding to the middle of the road, and taking faith in my rear blinky, I waved my hand to the large truck behind me and then stopped in the middle of the street to lift the bin and move it to the nearest house likely to be its owner. My civic duty complete, I wondered later in the day whether your typical driver would reciprocate with a bike lane. Ha!

Monday, November 8, 2010

San Antonio Cycling

A conference presentation took me to San Antonio, but my bike ride in these southern reaches of Texas is probably going to snare my readers more than stories about academics. I left mighty Harrisburg on Tuesday morning this week, and after connecting through Detroit got to San Antonio a day prior to the conference. I soon sought information from a tourism office about bike rentals. After about a mile of walking past old theater fronts and over the Riverwalk, I found the Charles A James cycle shop, and it turned out to be a deal (ten bucks!). This old corner shop was in pleasant disarray and crowded with bicycles as well as a wall of old drawers from a pre-war pharmacy. They rented me an older Schwinn 21 speed and bright yellow helmet from among the narrow spaces that were left uncluttered by frames and wheels that were otherwise hanging from the ceiling or stuck into every other available nook. The staff handed me a bike map (San Antonio has published one) and pointed me in the direction of a decent route to follow. So off I went...

Bike Rental Deal!
I had no idea where I was going, as I didn't bother to read the map that clearly pointed to avenues with wider shoulders and bike lanes. Meandering on wheels I headed south and then west and then within 45 minutes really lost my sense of direction, not to mention getting myself stuck at a seemingly high number of red lights. 



video


Eventually, a highway onramp, blocking me with its insulting & dingy mass of concrete and unfriendly traffic, forced me to pull out the bike map. After some reorientation I was on my way again. On all these travels and turns and stops it was clear that the weather and city size must add to the cycling life here, because I saw several other cyclists on the streets of San Anton in only a short time. These biking denizens are aided by so many bike lanes and bike signs reminding riders and drivers about bicyclists' rights! Peace and bicyclist rights! Those rights are well posted not just for typical riders, but also for the San Antonio  police, who seem to be pedaling quite a bit given the contents of this pickup truck:


Cops' Bikes!
Good night biker...
Bicycle at Rest

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cold Ride to Polls

Cold weather (maybe 35 F this morning) has returned but didn't stop me from biking to the polls this morning. I was queried by a tall man in a formal hat and coat, holding a stack of Toomey leaflets (unfortunately), as I unlocked my bike.  He asked about the number of gears I have and how fast I can go, responding with a slowly spoken, "I see what you mean..."  What was to understand?  Perhaps the Sestak button on my panniers?

Usually Not As Fun as Tokyo Cycling

Some fun loving Tokyo folk have made this video of their cruise through their city. Not quite like my solo rides through the Harrisburg area, but I'll definitely have to look into better lights for my Trek to make up some of the difference!
Tokyo Night Pedal Cruising Video

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

After the Exhibit - Philadelphia

I was in Philadelphia last Friday night and as I drove from one place to the other I kept exclaiming about so many bicyclists darting in front of our car (often helmetless), using and not using bike lanes, standing in contrast as human elements against a  steel and concrete backdrop.   It's as if I had to MAKE WAY for bicyclists, if only a touch. Wonderfully novel to a suburbanite! When in college I was among these urban types, too often darting through traffic with the false sense that the whistle in my mouth was a sufficient means to save my adolescent self from the chaos of metal laden traffic. Or is so much pedaling through traffic an experience to behold regardless of age? Is it vital? Spirited?  The bicyclists were weaving and wizzing and vital, there were no concerns among them.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cycling in View

Sometimes I simply draw cycling landscapes...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Excuse me, madam, but you are delusional.

Perhaps it was the child in the backseat of her mini-SUV that distracted her from the fact that she was in a right turn lane. And that if you’re in the right turn lane, you can’t go straight. 
I’ve been riding through the intersection of 21st Street and the Camp Hill Bypass for a couple years at this point, and knew I had the right of way: I take the center lane across the intersection and then begin to merge rightward so I’m in the right lane when I’m across this quagmire of traffic and merges.  But today I could hear car wheels right on my tail, and then I heard her incessant blaring horn, because she must have thought that I was in HER lane.  Those bicyclists, always in the way! Not that she went straight in a right-turn lane, no sir. Not that bicyclists in Pennsylvania are legally permitted to ride in car lanes.  No no….
Not.
Madam, you are simply delusional. And impulsive and angry.
As she passed me I bellowed, adrenaline pulsing through me, at the top of my lungs, “You’re in the wrong lane!” Unfortunately I can't say this will advance or improve things for me or the deluded one, but at least I released some bad karma.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Greyness Visited

Fall is settling in dear readers, and it can get grey.  Here's how grey it can be, as captured on my bike cam two years ago, on a rather grey day. Otherwise, my ride back and forth today was uneventful, with not even an American bicyclist in the mix.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Local and a Frenchman

By now my wide readership is probably well aware of the paltry state of bicycling in Central Pennsylvania. That is, the near-absence of bicyclists in general, not to mention bike lanes and the occasional peloton. No exception to the national average, PA commuters use bicycles on only 0.5% of their commutes (women only 0.2%!). Despite the small likelihood of meeting one of PA’s 29,316  cyclists (Census Bureau) in a given day, today I met TWO.  Is the bicycling utopia percolating?

My first encounter was only a ½ mile from the incorporated farmland that is my office. I caught up with him atop 21st Street, waiting for the traffic light below to turn green.  While we conserved our momentum I offered a hello, and we ended up riding together, talking all the while, for about a mile.  A Frenchman (a type who doesn’t end up in our population surveys), he quickly compared Central PA biking to the Parisian variety. No surprise he quickly remarked on the aggressive stance many drivers have about bicyclists. Ah Europe, with your many bicycles I've photographed!
Bicycles in Amsterdam
Dog and This Bicyclist in Arhnem


Bicycle in Copenhagen

A couple more miles into my ride and I exchanged a few words with a roady at a stop light.  We had only a couple minutes to exchange vitals: commuting distance, start and end points, how to deal with traffic. A brief but meaningful exchange.

Enjoyable as these rare encounters are, they’d be so much more common if denizens were roused from their combustion oriented life by clearly marked bike lanes, and signage that sanctions bicyclists!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Nod of the Head, Move of the Pole!

Today marks yet another civic courtesy among Central PA's utility corps! The Camp Hill borough is sometimes a squeeze on the morning commute, given its steady flow of east-west traffic and old narrow streets. Add some utility work to the overhead wires, with all the trucks and related accouterments, and it's a tight squeeze for me on my Trek 800. But lest my readers doubt the growing number of bicyclists and their importance in the interdependent commuting chain, know that another utility worker acknowledged me with a nod of his head as I rode toward him, followed by his lifting his "Slow" sign pole and stepping back a foot to permit me easier passage!  Surely the cynics in my wide readership scoff at the meaning of such a small gesture, but I know for certain that even one act of deference to a cyclist trickles down exponentially as a sign of great things to come!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

First Stab at Improved Pedestrian Areas in Hampden Township


When was the last time someone proposed a beautified Carlisle Pike, at least for some small stretch of it? At present, it's nasty for bicyclists and pedestrians to travel on. Plain awful. Furthermore it is ugly, with dozens of powerlines and utility poles suggesting that the earth's horizon was erased by a utility contractor and that the sky and sunsets were subjugated to the whims of hack developers.

The "pike" is designed for cars and only cars. I would love for this change.  My vision is for a boulevard lined by trees that shelter sidewalks, marked bikelanes for cyclists, attractive WI-FI bus stops. Why stop there? Public sculture? Community gardens and playgrounds placed in central places for all neighboring denizens.


I don't know how to embark on the years long public action nightmare that is obviously necessary to kick-start  such a big endeavor, so I'll begin with related resources, research and rhetoric I've found initially on the web. Let's start with this piece about why pedestrian space makes life better:


"After 20 Years of experimentation around the world, pedestrianization has emerged as an effective tool in the management and control of urban traffic, the economic revitalization of downtown areas, the conservation of historic districts, the enhancement of local environmental quality, and the creation of a social setting capable of responding to various needs." National Academies, 1982


Lest some locals think that there is too much congestion on the Pike already to permit my civic fantasy, let it be known that some of the most busy roads have been converted to pedestrian space, such as in Times Square. So despite the amount of commercialization on the Pike, there are ways to fit improvements.

Why invest in such a change? Consider these benefits:


  1. Positive health impact. A study for Spokane, WA, finds several benefits of developing pedestrian areas.
  2. Increase in retail space value. Studies in Boston found greater retail traffic when a street was closed. 
  3. Improved transportation options. An improved design permits bikes and bus stops, both of which may lull mass transit types from their default torture as they're milled around in cars for so many years!
  4. Greater socialization among residents. Syracuse University surveyed city residents and learned the bus provides them with greater relaxation but also a place to socialize. Not to mention that I'd be happy catching up with neighbors in an interesting green roofed bus stop like the one shown here
  5. Development of a community asset. Studies in California provide several cases of higher property values resulting, especially among higher-end properties, when improved pedestrian and transportation systems are developed nearby.






.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Biking for Even More Vegetables!

More vegetables from the weekly CSA delivery arrive each Thursday, and as I often do, I ride across the Conodoguinet to fetch them. I paused to photograph my shadow in the shallow water...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Plein Air Types

How many painters did you stop to chat with on the way to work this morning? For me: one.  This painter in particular was setting up his easel outside the Cornerstone Coffeeshop and waiting for his fellows. Would have been much harder to stop a car and pull into a space, but for me it was simply a gliding arc on the bike as I spun around to say hello. Would have loved to stay but the commute was calling.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tools Sought!

Well, by some stroke of luck, or as the consequence of a two day span of diurnal biking, not only did I see several bicyclists today but one of them needed my help and asked for it! If yesterday I was feeling so much a unitary peddler, today I was, in a very small way, among the nascent hive of central PA bicyclists! All of this transpired at the local library, where I renewed a copy of Restaurant at the End of the Universe for my son. On my way in another biker called my attention asking for tools, as his seat was very loose and needed a 5mm hex wrench. I rifled through my tool pouch and, well, unfortunately I didn’t have what he needed. It was a pleasure to try to help!

Friday, September 10, 2010

non-Celebratory?

My morning into the office ride was made almost celebratory because I saw two bicyclists on the road, one of whom I passed and another who headed in the direction opposite mine. The former biker didn’t hear my greeting because he was dangerously plugged into his ear buds, and the latter likely saw me but didn’t seem to care to acknowledge me (we’re so rare here shouldn’t he?). Perhaps it’s sad to say celebration is in order when you get to pass another cyclist, but that is the reality here and I suppose in most places. Might some display of solidarity, like annoying whistles attached to bike frames, be in order? The “Few Bicyclists League”? or “Almost Missed Me Corps”?

Monday, August 30, 2010

No Impact Biking?



I’ve got thirty minutes before my daughter’s bus arrives, and I need to have all my belongings consolidated into the panniers before heading out. This is often a nutty task because my intermodal life spreads my possessions between two cars and the panniers, not to mention various backpacks and bags, and the kitchen countertop. Alas the travails of lost keys, the pocket tool and what have you. But this is really a consequence of the material life. Yet, in contrast to the material nature of a minivan, which I've left at home this morning, I suppose a few small items are no matter.

I took note of other material happenings (or lack thereof) when I watched “No Impact Man," a documentary following an idealist New Yorker who strives to leave no impact on the environment. While he gives up toilet paper and refrigeration, he and his wife are chaotic neutral bicyclists to boot, yelling at vehicles in the bike lane. 

Yelling bicyclists in the suburbs of Harrisburg, however, would certainly gain the attention of police who have relatively few crimes to deal with, thus enabling them to direct their attention said bicyclists, who really needn't concern the police, but given the political culture here would be held as...hmm...socialists?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

New Panniers!

Hooray!  A much better way to move stuff around.  My daughter has a rather silly name for these handy bags, which I will not repeat here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reflection

I caught this neat view of my shadow heading east at 8:30am this morning. Based on the focal length of my cell phone camera’s lens, and my shoe size, I deduced (as I pedaled) my arrival time at the office to be 8:47am.  I was absolutely correct!



Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Riding Again...

A gray veil of clouds protected me this morning as I rode from the Y (where the kids are now dropped)(important note: my son provided excellent advice on leaving car at Y and biking from its parking lot!) to the incorporated farmland where my office sits and promotes runoff. Having been spared by cumulous cover, I had a relatively cool ride, including through a construction site where I was duly recognized by the "Slow" "Stop" sign people (who knows when they'll miss a bike???). A new donut shop is also en route to the office, enabling purchase of a bagel. But why does that matter? What matters is the bagel shop itself, which is designed for cars only. There is no seating inside or outside -- green space is miniminzed, macadam maximized. Sad. Uninspired. Inhuman. Perhaps a bagel place for bikes and pedestrians only? 

Friday, July 2, 2010

Biking for Vegetables

What to do when your locally grown, organic veggie order is sitting in a garage, separated from you by thick PM rush traffic? Drive? No. Bike to vegetables!  Out the garage, down the hill in the back yard, along the river, over the bridge, along the lane. Left. Right. Veggies poured into backpack. Return home. Like-minded folk? Certainly!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bicyclist Hit!!!



At first, I thought this fire hydrant would be the highlight of my morning commute:

But only 100 yards beyond this intersection, things got much more interesting. It wasn’t the three bicyclists I had seen (a promising signal of the coming revolution). It was the sad inevitability of wayward motorists smashing into right-minded bicyclists.

I was headed east at the moment, coming to a stop at a traffic light because I am neutral-good. Mr. G. appeared to head south at the intersection when he got the green. An aging pickup truck also moved northward, turning left and then smacking Mr. G. as he headed into the intersection (having the right of way). The truck's driver had his eye on me, he alleged, leaving Mr. G. out of the driver’s sight as the rear of the truck swung its fateful turn! Fortunately, Mr. G was up and walking right away. Fortunatley, his shiny Trek roadbike was seemingly unscathed. Fortunately, the driver and the bicyclists were sane people and didn’t start screaming at one another. Fortunately, I and another spiffily dressed cyclist (whose bike had shiny fenders) offered assistance. It seemed to all end well…

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Boiling to the Springs

Most family and friends shared their doubts about my riding this morning, with the temps and humidity being offensive by 9am. I was a bit reluctant to hit the road myself, and by the time I rode 4 of 12 miles I was feeling pretty tired.

Nonetheless, most of the ride to Boiling Springs is devoid of cars on weekend mornings. However, signaling the coming exurbanite hordes and their sprawling homes is a razed wooden fruit stand (right side of photo below), cleared away for a gasoline station and convenience store. Alas, the quaint response to the intersection of two state road is to be overrun by incorporated concrete and cash registers...and the pathway for my bicycle is to be made more dangerous by cars entering and exiting a gas station.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Summer Irony

Being a (very proud) father of two I am tasked with driving them to day camp throughout the summer. That is, the school bus does not pick them up at the front of our home, and placing me at the wheel of an automobile instead of a bicycle for most of the summer. What irony -- some of the best months of biking forgone to a hulking minivan!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dead Head?

I rarely ride with headphones, but it's tempting to have one's favorite tunes going while pedaling. But I can see the wisdom in recent legislation that fines headphone use among riders. Also referred to as a "squid" thing to do among Portlanders. Canadians feel similarly. I suppose I have no other choice than to abandon the tunes, thereby making today my last ride con musica.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Old Helmet

For the first time in at least a year I dealt with a flat tire. My broken pump provided just enough pressure to hobble from the office to a gas station, where I paid a full dollar to start the compressor! Given the leak's slow pace, I was able to make it home before losing all pressure.

Stopped at the bike shop on my return trip seeking a new seat. Aside from realizing I can find much better prices on Amazon, the shop owner quipped that I need a new helmet because so much of the plastic shell is disentegrated. UV light, he claimed, will weaken the integrity of the foam. Really? Not so says the Bike Helmet Safety Institute!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Knowing More Terrain

Yesterday I rode a faster clip toward the office as I had left home later than expected, but I felt well prepared to do so having biked twelve miles Sunday to Boiling Springs. On the afternoon return trip I met another bicyclist behind the hospital (a short cut sans traffic) and she and I rode together for a minute, and waited at a traffic light for another. From our conversation it was apparent that bicyclists have a knowledge of terrain so much more intimate than motorists. She reflected this knowledge, describing a pedestrian tunnel near a park that she uses to avoid heavy traffic on a state route. I hadn't made the connection before. We parted ways at that light and I felt that I had not only built a better mental map of bike commuting, but developed another link in the human web that is so more accessible outside of cars.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

First Longer Trip

Around 8:45am I set out to Boiling Springs on the trusty Trek 800. This was a 12 mile trip, passing through Mechanicsburg borough and many farmettes (many of which are being converted to sprawl). Traffic was surprisingly light -- almost nonexistent -- especially when I reached country roads (e.g. Rt. 174). My bike seat was a painful pressure and I now know that for longer rides something more comfy is in order!

One bicyclist passed me with nary a greeting! Alas he must be so serious?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bicyclists' Friends: Utility Workers

Lest I grow too jaded about the state of bicycle-friendly commuting here in central PA, I was happy to have a utility construction crew stop traffic for me as I rode up a hill where they were digging. Two "stop" sign holders blocked traffic at both ends of their dig site and waved me through, making my inclined passage in the narrowed road a bit easier.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Derailer Tweak & Sore Wrists


Finally I rode again today. Enough of the massive snow dump -- about 30 inches in the past 10 days -- had melted away from the berms of our narrow roads to permit my bike to pass safely between parked cars and those the passed me by.  The morning air was perhaps 30 degrees, making it quite tolerable with my balaclava.  The ride was even more enjoyable given a small tweak to my derailer adjustment so that my chain stopped popping so much off the high gears.The down side these days is that my wrists are sore from the low handle bar configuration on my Trek 800. Might need to spring for the upright handle bars (sigh) in the Spring. No other bicyclists seen.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Schoolbus and Hiker

I had the pleasure of meeting up along the road with my kids' schoolbus. My daughter was on the passenger side and I could get her attention as I pulled up alongside the bus at one of its stops. We smiled and waved at one another, and then she did her silly Nixon-like finger-peace-sign thing, and then the motor roared them to the next stop. Glad she saw a bike commuter in action! What are the chances?



Very low, actually...I saw no other bicyclists today. Instead, a hiker walked eastward inside the berm, in contrast to all the traffic, with a nice lookin' backpack strapped to his torso. He seemed rather displaced, though; perhaps lost from the Appalachian trail? Who knows...regardless, a good ride.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Two Cold Commutes

January 19
I rode off in 35 degrees this morning, pushing up the steep winding road from my driveway before merging into the main thoroughfare that sends me east.


At the intersection of 15/11 and Market Street (and certainly everywhere else) I often catch sight of the dirty, ugly pile of cigarette butts pushed into heaps along with ruster bolts, gravel, and other trash.

Bicyclists seen: a student bicyclist headed to school; on my last stretch home saw two more bicyclists: one a competitive type, the other a heavy-duty commuter with paniers.

January 21
My second ride this week in morning weather that didn't get out of the mid-twenties. A decent ride nonetheless, but no other bicyclists seen, at least in the morning.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

26F....tie-down freebie!

Yesterday's prediction was that today's temperature would hit 40 degrees, thus I eagerly pedaled away from home to work this morning. While it wasn't 40 degrees when I left our house (instead it was around 26F), the bonus was a found tie-down in the berm of Market Street, in excellent condition, and even made in Indonesia!  Of course I can't say who placed the metal S-hooks into it, but surely he or she did not anticipate a bicyclist to pick it up. It's now fastened to my bike frame, far away from the tropical island it came from!

The only trouble with this morning's cold was my right sock, which is getting old, and so the failing elastic left my lower leg exposed to the cold, and made the prospect of stopping for a quick decaf and warm-up all the more attractive.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

39F, gravel, balaclava found...

Wishing I had biked to work, I cycled later in the afternoon to the local autoparts store to return some parts falsely destined for an old tiller engine. The ride was through post-snow road conditions, which can be treacherous with so many piles and archipelagos of salt and gravel. The ride out of my neighborhood is uphill; the first quarter-mile being a rise of maybe 75 feet. It's a stretch I like to ride at least weekly to let my legs remember what's entailed. When I returned home I rummaged through the attic and found an old red balaclava (LL BEAN) made of materials thin enough to fit under my bike helmet.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Bike Rack Found

Not sure if this rather economical bike rack existed prior to my missive to the mall people, but let's assume it's the result of community minded corporate types responding to denizens with transportation issues, at least for the purpose of instilling false hope among area bicyclists. This rack is quite wimpy though, with intermediate vertical bars looking like they could be wrenched back and forth with some good elbow grease and ultimately fractured. Is it bolted to the ground or wall? I didn't get a chance to check -- but I'm whining. 

In these parts, this minimal nod to bicyclists is cause for celebration! Yes, that's right, because I'm not sure how much more infrastructure we'll see for bikes until gas hits four bucks again. 

Are there are mathematical functions related to increased numbers of bike racks and bikers? Surely! Do they entail the number of younger people in a city? The presence of absence of pro-bike policy? How about the number of religious die-hards? More postulating and ranting on this later.

What might a health impact assessment (HIA) make of the presence or absence of more or less biking? For example, Spokane's recent HIA associated reduced pollution,  greater pedestrian safety, reduced noise, reduced expenditures on fuel and maintenance and increased mental health with policies that incorporate bicycling in pedestrian plans.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Corporate Bike Racks?

At the beginning of this week I began what might be a fruitless pursuit -- trying to reason with the mall people. Following my suggestion to the book selling people, I continued my quest for a bike rack in a friendly email to the property management company -- the mall people. In addition to describing the problem, I offered a few web links to bike rack manufacturers.

As readers of earlier posts might know, I'm contending with paltry locking options. Today I rode my trusty Trek on another errand and had a chance to photograph the stand pipe lock-option:
These pipes are the only bike locking options at the local mall, save for a flimsy fence at the grocery store and weakly rooted directional signs among so many cars in an adjacent parking lot. While I am entirely aware of the broader range of problems in the world, the absence of bike racks among so many stores and shoppers reflects the implicit deal between mall people and car people!  Surely the mall people would be interested in supplying a $1,000 investment to their customers, many of whom are in very close proximity to the mall and could easily bike there if they weren't in bed with the car people. Surely hundreds would arrive on bikes if only the suggestion were made!

It does seem that here in central PA a bike rack is a far more feasible goal than a bike lane, the latter (to your typical voter in these parts) a veritable Communist plot to hinder efficient consumption!