Wednesday, August 31, 2011


There are so many objects that catch my eye as I pedal on the morning commute.  A shiny washer, a weighty rusty bolt, a blue plastic spool, a tattered tie-down, a cracked cell phone. They are a curious gallery of our material culture’s detritus.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Swiss Alps on an Electric Bicycle

The New York Times, while it already had my frequent attention, is all the more attractive in its frequent coverage of bicycling topics. This Sunday it told another tale of electric bikes, which I've presented on this blog a couple times earlier. This time, it's electric bikes in Switzerland that are gaining a 2-page spread. The Swiss Alps on an Electric Bicycle made the idea of taking a 60 pound electric-assist bike through mountain passes quite attractive. 

Will battery tech continue to cost less, and weigh less, to the extent that we will soon see many more folks on bikes? Folks who typically wouldn't give biking a try? Will my neighbors, who typically go from insulated garage to car to insulated retail establishment, grow a bit more intrepid and hop in the saddle?

Let's add to this picture. Bike lanes.  Believe it or not my local township has included bike lanes in their visioning and architectural sketches. Their engineering and architectural consultants have explained how bike lanes are part of a solution to reduce traffic and increase interest in the township as a destination. Behold, progressive thought! Standing in contrast to these ideas are conservative fiscal approaches, which rely on private investment exclusively  (and greater tax revenue from their increased investments)  to build said bike lanes. 

Anyway, is there a future that includes larger numbers of semi-bicyclists (those using power assist) using more bike lanes to make short jaunts to the shopping center? What would cycling be like if pedal bikes (no electric assist) became the minority in bike lanes, while electric assist bikes dominated them?

Downed Power

This downed pole and insulator array are likely the reason behind our continued power outage. Viewed via bike, of course.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

My bike has enabled a tour of the extensive storm damage in my neighborhood. This tree remains as a blockade 12 hours after Irene felled it. Thankfully via bike I can navigate around it!

Saturday, August 27, 2011


The rain has not hit Central PA too hard as of yet, but for anyone east of here, your cycling might be more like this:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bikes (and tapas) in Frederick

It was a mass transit moment. My son and I drove to Frederick to rendezvous with his friend, who was using regional rail from Washington DC to reach us. Frederick is a midpoint between Washington and Harrisburg, so this kept said friend's mom off the crazy highways. Anyway, I had never been to old downtown Frederick before, but it was worth a couple hours of our time. Not only do I love pedestrian areas, but among the many restaurants was a fine tapas joint, albeit a pricey one, that was my son's first foray into Spanish food.

Needless to say, as we walked and dined, I snapped a few bike related photos.

Not sure if this pedal-cab would take you anywhere, but it did get you a  free ride to beer.

Not my style, but the color and flair are appreciated!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Zenith of Agency

I've started following NYT writer/cyclist Bruce Weber in print and online. The story is nicely documented with photos, the author's words and responses of so many readers, as he rides across our huge swath of a country. In his recent post, "The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Rideryou learn that after only 500 miles he's feeling pretty spent. 

The idea of riding across the country is very intriguing to me, and perhaps one day I will get the chance to do this. But what's it really like?  The Urban Adventure League seems to be making a good time of it as they move through Saskatchewan this week. What a huge territory to traverse! I've never even done a century, let alone 3-4 thousand miles. Day after day on the saddle could get quite lonely, painful and exhausting. But there's also visiting towns and meeting people along the way and seeing amazing things. And at the end of it all, you approach the ocean (the Pacific, from my perspective): first smelling it, then hearing and seeing it, and then riding your bike right up to it, realizing you did an incredible thing. The effort and result would represent the zenith of the agency that bikes give their riders.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Your Bike Stinks

As I headed home yesterday, up the longest hill in my commute, I heard a whining buzz stinging me (audibly) from behind in my head. I assumed it was a motorcycle. To my surprise it was a bicycle with supplemental gas engine attached.  I kept myself steady as the racket neared in its Dopler way.  Then I looked over my right shoulder and saw something like this:

This type of bike -- mangled with a gasoline engine -- really defeats at least one key purpose of biking, which is to be earth-friendly.  I'm all for the electric hybrid bicycles but gasoline powered types are noisy and stinky and just seem to rub against the je ne sais quoi of bicycles. Thus, this particular cyclist -- if we can call him that; the stinky cyclist -- is missing the point.  The point of not polluting and the point of exercise. Perhaps also an aesthetic point. I understand some folks can't handle big hills. Just fine. In this case the electric models are a fine choice. Of course, latter are quite pricey, but not so much more than what's shown above. In this gentlemen's case, he looked fit enough to climb this 3/4 mile stretch of the Camp Hill bypass. Perhaps I'll have an opportunity to discuss the matter with him, if he's willing to stop pedaling (er, turn off his engine) and chat.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

London Data

My day job as an analyst, combined with my appreciation for things visual and things velocipedic, make this website a wonderful synthesis of said interests. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Are We Nutty?

It was one of those rare days last Thursday, when I had some positive interaction with another cyclist. It was the Frenchman again, headed home on his blue Huffy frame. I was peadling south and he north and we stopped to chat, having recognized each other from our first meeting in October last year. Unfortunately I learned this Parisian is not always having positive experiences here, having been heckled frequently on Erford Road by a pickup-driving hooligan. 

Perhaps to cagers we cyclists seem nutty. Riding through heat and the unpredictable swerves of deadly autos. We cyclists are hardly conventional in car country, and that's an easy target for reactionaries. Prior to the advent of cars, however, bicycles must have been much more special (although I'm not sure more acceptable amid animal transport). This advertisement reflects a certain grandeur for anyone owning this rather complicated English tandem bicycle of the 19th century:

Alas, if I was seen pedaling this beauty down Erford Road I might find myself the target of jeers and shouts myself!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

No Bike Share for Me

I've been in Washington D.C. the past couple of days and was very jazzed to see so many red rental bikes traversing so much of the downtown area. All of these bikes, outfitted with a chain guard, dynamo for multiple blinky lights, front storage rack and heavy duty rubber handle grips, are provided by Capital Ride Share. I stood in front of one station yesterday and watched the activity -- within 5-10 minutes there were at least 5 drop-offs or pick-ups. But not for me.  You can see my ticket and code for a one-day rental, easily obtained with a dip of my credit card.  But the code failed to work, and even after calling the customer service line I was rejected by the bike system. Quite a downer.  I blog about biking, ride bikes frequently, advocate for bike lanes, etc. etc., and the bike borg computer refuses me. What gives? Has Tron run amok inside the network? Oh no!