Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Bicycles as Landscape Art

Check out these custom-built gates, that incorporate vintage bicycles as decorative features.

They are at the home of my friends Abe and Laina and their family.  And, they were custom-built by their neighbor and my friend Joe.  Awesome!  I want some!

(The twisted-around handlebars are hard to look at... but they're for lookin' at, not for ridin'!)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

5K miles for 2018

Today my bicycle odometer clicked over 5000 miles for the year.  (Or more accurately, the mileage accumulated on three different bicycles totals 5000+ for calendar 2018.)

Are there people who ride more miles per year?  Oh yes!!

Are there people who have been accumulating bike miles for more years?  No doubt!

(I started accumulating bike miles in 1959 or so; but I never kept accurate track until 1986, when I invested in my first electronic bike computer.  Back in the '70s, I had a Schwinn mechanical odometer - each time the front wheel did a revolution, it clicked a little cog-wheel.  But it was never consistent; the mechanical nature resulted in much fiddling and frustration.  And, for 10 years or so, I pretty much turned my back on bicycle transportation.  "I once was lost, but now I'm found!")

Many cyclists ride farther and faster.  But - I would assert that my consistency over 33 years puts me in a fairly rarefied group.

Since 1987, I've ridden 4000+ miles every year.  Of those (32) years, I've ridden 5000+ miles in 14, and 6000+ miles in another 11 years.

I have not yet ridden 7000 miles in a year.  But next year... ?  (I'll be retiring from my 8-5 job next year, which will afford more discretionary time.  But on the other hand, that discretionary time may result in other pursuits which have so far been elusive... travel and such.  Time will tell.  I expect my bicycle to be a significant part of my life until my kids pry the handlebars out of my bent and bitter fingers!)

In the meantime, thanks for indulging me, while I contort myself and pat myself on the back!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Invasion of the Scooter Zombies!!

Halloween's a-comin'!!

If you like BIKES ON THE SIDEWALK, "E-bikes" on the Greenbelt, etc., then you're probably ecstatic about the recently-released news from our City Fathers:

Stationless devices - bicycles, E-bikes and E-scooters - will soon make their way to Boise. Two companies - Lime and Bird - will be the first to bring stationless E-scooters to our city in mid-October.
To plan for the devices hitting the streets this month, the City of Boise updated our bicycle code to allow for the arrival of this new model of transportation ... The updated city code allows for:
    Stationless bicycles
    E-bikes with a motor that has a power output of no more than 750 watts and a top speed of 20 miles per hour
    E-scooters with a motor that has a power output of no more than 300 watts and a top speed of 15 miles per hour …
They can be used within City of Boise limits:
    On streets
    On sidewalks and crosswalks
    In bike lanes
    On the 25 miles of Greenbelt paths managed by City of Boise

The timing of the trial period is interesting... October 15th to January 15th.

If there is any time of year when potential problems will be minimal, they picked it.  But if they're all toasting the incredible success of the program in mid-January and give it the full go-ahead... how will it work between June 15th and September 15th, when the facilities are crammed with other disparate users?  On a lovely summer evening or Saturday afternoon, the "no motor vehicles" Greenbelt is already challenging to navigate!

Another looming question... exactly who is the "target demographic" of the E-bike and E-scooter rollout?  And what is the envisioned benefit of having this futuristic mode of transportation?

Based on my first week of observation, the scooters are being ridden almost exclusively by hipster millennial-types.  And it would seem that most of the trips are replacing WALKING trips.  I certainly can't imagine anybody depending on an E-scooters as his/her commute vehicle, because it might be there one day, but not the next.  (They are "dockless" - apparently you get on one and punch in your account on your "smart phone," and ride it to your random destination and walk away.)

Also - do they have a holder for your Starbucks cup?  Because a lot of the riders will be holding their "smart phone" in one hand and their vape device in the other hand.

Just in case I'm being too subtle... I'm quite concerned about the direction we're going with our bike/pedestrian paths.  The Greenbelt (and traditional bike lanes and sidewalks) were conceived and constructed to carry non-motorized users.  The Greenbelt had NO MOTOR VEHICLES signs posted for 40+ years.  MUCH easier to understand and enforce compliance, than the "no more than 750 watts for bikes and 300 watts for scooters" mumbo-jumbo.  When it was clearly posted NO MOTOR VEHICLES, I routinely observed people on various powered devices, including those awful bicycles with the noisy, stinky bolt-on gas motor!  Assuming there were law enforcement people around - which is rare - will they be carrying ammeters to measure the wattage?  I'm skeptical, and I'm very disappointed that the cow has been let out of the barn.  (The City Council claims to be impartial, but these ordinance changes have been enacted with breathtaking efficiency and precious little, if any, citizen input.)

In another generation or two, the young kids' jaws will drop, when you tell them about the dark days of yore, when you walked or rode a PEDAL bicycle to get from place to place!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Electric-powered bikes - are they really bikes?

I continue to have reservations about the gradual but steady increase in the number of people coasting around on electric-powered bikes.  Particularly, based on observation, I'm not convinced that they will ever mesh nicely with human-powered transportation.

It's always dangerous to stereotype, but (here goes...) riders of electric bikes seem to be generally inexperienced - it may be the first "bike" they've ridden in 20 or 30 or 40 years!  Their bicycling skills are rusty... they have grown unfamiliar with the bicycle rules of the road and common courtesy.  They tend to move at a considerably faster pace than their counterparts who are supplying their own forward propulsion.  (That's understandable, since e-bikes seem to zoom right along with the slightest rotation of the pedals or push of a handlebar-mounted lever.  And - I've never ridden one and don't intend to - but that's how it seems.)  Fast speeds and rusty skills tend to be a dangerous combination.

Many - perhaps most - seem uncomfortable riding anywhere but on corridors that have traditionally been reserved for "no motor vehicles" - and many are still posted as such.

Earlier this week, I was riding on the Greenbelt.  Traveling at what I consider to be a fairly brisk pace for the Greenbelt - 13 to 15mph.  Traffic was almost non-existent.  (Most people put away their white pants and bicycles after Labor Day - haha!)  A seasoned couple came crusing up behind me on their e-bikes.  I observed in my rearview helmet mirror that they were barely pedaling, but overtook me with ease.  A lady followed by a man.  They didn't try passing, but were riding close enough behind me to catch a little slipstream - ha!  We reached a point where the pathway was closed, and a sign directed traffic across the (Veterans Parkway) bridge, to the other side of the river.  A block up the pathway on that side - it was closed (!!) and a sign directed traffic onto city streets (which were covered with gravel for a chip-seal - is there ANY road or path that's not being repaired right now??).  I was somewhat amused when I left the path for the streets... and left the e-bike couple in the distance.  They were obviously unwilling to venture out on city streets.

At least they had the common sense to not attempt a pass, unlike some e-bicyclists who keep the pedal to the metal regardless of limited sight distance, heavy multi-mode traffic, etc.  (They are the pickup truck drivers of the bike path!  haha)

Finally... I can't imagine there would be much emotional reward to riding an e-bike.  A large part of my incentive in bicycling comes from ability to do so, and the sense of independence.  It's very satisfying to arrive at destinations powered completely by myself; it's something that most people are not able or willing to do, and frankly I feel like I rise above the masses, at least in my transportation choice.  Would you feel any such satisfaction if it's just a different form of motorized transportation?  (As a regular motorcyclist, I speak from experience.  I don't derive that same emotional reward from going someplace on the motorcycle.)

HOWEVER... for those few e-bike riders who would otherwise be driving someplace in a single-occupant motor coach, I s'pose I can get behind that.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Hamburger on the Highway!

This blog isn't intended to be "all about ME," but...

This morning I navigated myself into a crash. (D'oh!! I'm too old for such nonsense!)

At 6:45 or so I was headed for work, along a totally familiar route. Visibility was good. Traffic was super-light (a benefit of traveling at 6:45am). I was riding along, in total control, when I happened upon a lady walking a big ol' Rottweiler, maybe a half-block up the street. She used her other hand to wave at me... so I was trying to figure out who it was, and if I knew her. And - I spent too long figuring. (Distracted driving! I victimized myself!)

When I looked up-front again, I was headed directly toward a car on the side of the road... and WAY too close.

Two thoughts raced through my mind...

"Don't break off that side mirror!" followed immediately by, "Oh, &@#* - this is going to hurt!"

I redirected enough to miss the side mirror. It happened fast, but I think my front wheel went into the front wheel well of the car. And, I flew through the air with the greatest of ease and body-slammed the pavement on my left side.

Yeah - it hurt! But, after laying there for maybe 15 seconds, groaning about my pitiful plight, I was able to get up. (VICTORY!)

The nice lady who waved at me - who I don't think I've ever seen in my life - ran over. "Are you okay?" I told her I'm way too old, but I thought I'd probably be okay someday.

She said, "I live nearby - could I get my pickup and give you a ride someplace?" I took her up on the offer. (The front rim has rolled its last, and my fancy saddle is bent. I can replace a rim, and hopefully I can bend the saddle back into place.)

She took me and the bike home. I thanked her sincerely. Then got on the Long Haul Trucker and rode, somewhat gingerly, into work.

I've got a bit of road rash - treated with soap, water, and antiseptic. I 'spect my sore hip and sore shoulder will be reminding me of my mishap for a few weeks. (That hip has taken a beating over the years. I'm surprised it works at all.) I'm fortunate, only in that it could've been WAY worse. No visible damage to the victimized car on the side of the road. Nothing broken, or so it seems. And... I've already gotten about 4 miles of bicycling in, since the crash. (Gotta get back on that pony and ride... right?)

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

High schoolers pull a bike-share prank

Over in Rockford, IL, some high school seniors pulled an epic prank.  They collected a bunch of LimeBikes - it's a bike-share where bikes don't have to be locked into a station - and parked them in the high school parking lot - one bike to each parking space.

Not only is it a quality harmless prank... it also does a good job of illustrating how much space is required for automobile parking.  According to the story (HERE), "Everybody had a good laugh, and the students moved the bikes to a single spot on the lot later in the day."

(I've heard of these "LimeBikes" before.  Evidently it's a relatively new venture - and they have lots of startup capital.  Based on the way it operates, with bikes NOT being secured, I can't imagine it's financially feasible - if there's not some way to secure the bikes, seems to me they will need to be replaced too regularly.)

Friday, May 4, 2018

Boise Bike Week - May 13-19

I hope my fellow Boise-area riders will be able to participate in some of the events of Boise Bike Week, which begins on Sunday, May 13.  List of events can be seen HERE.  (I'm not a big fan of gatherings, group events, festivals, etc. ... but I'm supportive of "the cause," in this particular case.)

(Also, local riders / party fans should be aware... apparently the plug has been pulled on the traditional August Tour de Fat.  You may recall that there was considerable heartburn last year, when it was relocated from Ann Morrison Park to the old State Penitentiary grounds, and admission charged for some of the events.  It's a shame - over the years, it raised a lot of money for local bicycle-related nonprofits as well as being a gathering for THOUSANDS of local bike riders of every stripe.)

No overt mention of a Pedal Power Parade (traditionally a favorite event for myself and grandkids), but the "Finale Party" appears to include a scenic-route to the party.

Bonnie went with me last year... maybe this year I can take little brother Clyde.