Friday, January 14, 2011

Anyone Care To Do This in Camp Hill?

These Guadalajara residents are making democracy its most efficient ever as they bypass local government and get those bike lanes done! Very inspiring and positive!

Cold and Cold

Well, snow and cold.  That is, there are two things keeping me off the wheels: icy, mushy snow in the road, and a cold. The latter being the kind that makes your nose miserable, etc.. If I didn't have a cold, I might start exploring how I could more safely navigate snow and slush. Alaskan cyclists seem to have this down. Studs on bike tires. Fat tires. 100mm rims and Surly Endomorph tires. Um, also maybe no traffic? Or at least LESS traffic that might smash your bones if you fall while pedaling over snow and ice on a narrow road. Perhaps the absence of traffic is the true requirement of cycling in snow and ice...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bikes for the North Koreans?

My friend at Literature R Us blogs almost daily and when he's not writing about Elvis or aliens he's making surgical quips about politics. Yesterday he flailed Secretary Gates for his exaggerated comments about North Korean war-tech. I may or may not agree with Alan but it wouldn't surprise me that the North Koreans' tech might be no more complex than a bicycle, given that they can't deliver a nuke farther than 800 miles WEST of Hawaii. Well, that's me blogging about bikes with the slightest provocation and with great stretches of logic, but what do you care? You want to read about bikes!  Anyway, this led me to wonder about other maladjusted, Stalinist or otherwise evil uses of bicycles. It turns out that unfortunately, our wonderful bicycles have in the past been put to diabolical purposes. 

In fact, NYC police were well concerned about bike bombs last spring as they cleared any potentially threatening object from a parade route, including bikes. And bikes, which in my view are the solution to all things fueled, were nefariously used by the IRA in attacks in Coventry decades ago, and more recently in Afghanistan. Alas, must we say that bikes don't kill people, people kill people?!?!?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Twenty-one Point Five

Today marked my lowest morning temperature departure, at 21.5F. Pretty chilly, but this temp has more an effect on my mind before I get on my bike than while I am pedaling. I made a brief stop at the coffee shop and met another fellow cyclist there. He introduced me to several of his acquaintances. Nothing like expanding social connections as a result of riding around. Anyway, after a brief conversation I soon had to get going to the office and within 10 minutes I was off again in the deep chill. 

Despite these very frosty temps I saw three other cyclists outside today, including this one (who I think I've seen before) who didn't seem to benefit from decent cold weather gear:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Final Views of UK Bikes

There is, at the risk of being so banal, a great number of bikes of many types in UK cities. Is it social psychology, policy, geography or the design of Britain's cities that makes this the case? And how do bikes affect the aforementioned factors? Will bikes lead to H.G. Wells's dream of utopia? Perhaps for riders only. 

Among all those I saw, bikes offer much more efficacy to their users because they are low tech machines that maximize the potential of human locomotion. And because they are easy to repair, manage and operate, the do not leave their users dependent on something out of their control. No additional infrastructure is needed for bicyclists, save for a relatively hard surface. And when paired with trailers and dynamos, bikes are all the more effective, whether to carry something or move along at night.

Edinburgh Bike with Trailer

Glasgow Parking Lot
Argyle Street Bridge

Wee Bike in Windermere

Liverpool Train Station

Monday, January 3, 2011

Biking by Bars in York

York is one of few cities in England with its medieval walls still well intact -- more than any other city in England. While I had hoped to bike round London, the mass of traffic (both propelled and ambulating) combined with different traffic patterns made me a bit wary of pedaling there. York turned out to be a perfect combination of city biking and tolerable traffic for someone who was still having troubling looking left (or should be it right?) when crossing so many intersections on foot.

Anyway, while wife and kids went the National Railway Museum, I started to hunt for a local bike shop. I asked several Yorkians (I'm sure they love this moniker) for the nearest  one and got myself to Bob Trotter Cycles, adjacent to Monk Bar, toward the end of the day. Time was getting short as the sun sets at about 4pm (ah, the northern latitudes!) and I wanted to be visible. Thankfully Trotter had rentals and they were soon making adjustments to my seat post before I headed out...

A Giant Commuter-style Cycle Awaits...
Just outside Trotter Cycles is a rush of traffic spinning through a roundabout, although it was fairly easy to roll into the flow of cars and begin to follow the stone walls that circumnavigate the old town center. I followed another cyclist who served as a good leader through intersections and winding streets. When he turned outward from the wall I had to make my own decisions and consequently soon lost course as I ended up on a road heading into the center and away from my planned course.  
Staying in the Bike Lane in York
All of this wasn't taking too much time, nor was it very long before my bare hands were chilling down quickly in the low 30 temps. Anyway, my goal was not have a day out cycling, but only a brief experience of biking in another city (as I last did in San Antonio). So with the sun dipping below the horizon and my hands freezing to near immobility, I ended my trip, and actually got all the way round York. When reporting my ride to wife and kids, the former provided some applause while the latter made their typical comments that I am such a nerd for biking!