Monday, May 1, 2017

Top-tier bicycle parking

One of the common excuses used by people who choose not to bike-commute to work is, "There's not a good place to park my bike."  That has NOT been a problem at my office, over the 22 years I've been working there.

My friend Thomas is an engineering/manufacturing genius.  His "day job" is keeping the big office building operating properly... but as a moonlighter, he's truly a Renaissance Man.  He has a passion for hot rods... his tastes lean toward American muscle cars, but I think he can make anything run.

Probably six years ago, the office was dealing with a sudden onslaught of bike riders - due to nice spring weather and expensive gas.  They did some shopping and discovered that there aren't a lot of sturdy multiple-bike racks out there.  Thomas and the management decided that manufacturing a rack would be the way to go.

I'm proud to say I was a "consultant" on the first one.  I explained to Thomas the pitfalls of commonly-occurring bike racks... we measured tire widths, etc.  He took the assembled information and built a sweet rack.

Since then, he's built three or four more.  Each one is a little more refined than the one before.

He's currently finishing one up, and he gave me a tour.  This one has one meaningful functional enhancement... he's added one slot for a "fat bike" tire.  And - this one is "personalized" for the building where it will reside.

There's no need to bolt these racks down... when they're empty, they probably weigh 500 pounds.  I told Thomas our great grandkids will still probably be using them.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Bike commuting reduces cancer and heart disease

"Want to live longer? Reduce your risk of cancer? And heart disease? Then cycle to work, say scientists."

A five-year study of 250,000 UK commuters suggests that bicycling to work can reduce your risk of death by 41%, your risk of getting cancer by 46%, and your risk of developing heart disease by 45%.  The bike commuters averaged about 30 miles per week... but the further they rode, the more they reduced their risks.

Dr. Jason Gill, of the University of Glasgow: "This is really clear evidence that people who commute in an active way, particularly by cycling, were at lower risk."  (Walking also had positive results, but primarily for people who walked at least six miles per week.)

He also points out the benefit of bike-commuting, as compared with exercising just for the sake of exercising: "You need to get to work every day so if you built cycling into the day it essentially takes willpower out of the equation."

Clare Hyde from Cancer Research UK said: "This study helps to highlight the potential benefits of building activity into your everyday life. You don't need to join a gym or run the marathon. Anything that gets you a bit hot and out of breath - whether it's cycling all or part way to work or doing some housework - can help make a difference."

Of course, the naysayers will declare that cyclists run a higher risk of being involved in a life-altering collision, than a SOV driver or a bus passenger.  However, by riding in a common-sense fashion - legally, visibly, predictably and defensively - you can mitigate most of that risk.  And I prefer to deal with the threats that I can see and maybe do something about, than those I have little control over.

The BBC story can be read HERE.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Can't keep the wheels dry!

We've had unusually abundant precipitation this winter.  The mountains have lots of snowpack, and the water managers are releasing as much as they can, to make room for the snow that's still melting.  (Anybody who's lived in these parts for any length of time realizes that this is NOT unprecedented.  Some years are below average... others are above average.  But some of the newcomers who live in fancy McMansions in the river bottoms are probably a little nervous.)

There are sections of Greenbelt that are under water.  Par for the course.

Below are a few photos I've snapped over the last month or so.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Electric bikes = bikes?

There's an interesting column at the Idaho Statesman website: "Should some electric bikes be treated as bicycles? Legislator says yes; Boise says no"

It refers to the legal sense.  Should electric-powered, or electric-assist bicycles, be treated the same in the eyes of the law as bicycles?  A legislator has introduced a proposal to do just that.  The bill is supported by electric bicycle retailers, and similar legislation is in effect in several other states.  It specifies that electric bicycles that go less than 20mph and have 750 watts or less can go wherever bicycles go.

The bill is primarily opposed by the Boise Parks and Recreation people, who don't want electric bicycles on the Greenbelt, except when in use by people with disabilities.

I posted some comments, using my real-life name (Steve Hulme).  I would not oppose a "pilot program," as has just been started in Steamboat, Colorado.  However... all parties, particularly the people who administer the Greenbelt, need to realize that laws are meaningless without enforcement of violations.  As I said in my comment, it's not too unusual to see some above-the-law yahoo riding a gas-powered bicycle from time to time!  (Also, unless I'm WAY mistaken, the City could still prohibit motorized bicycles on the Greenbelt if they choose to, just as they prohibit muscle-powered bicycles along certain portions.  So I don't see a conflict between a new state code clarification and the City's desires.)

From the article: He [Terry Sherry, who sells electric bicycles] has heard all the arguments, including the one about how riding an electric bike takes the exercise out of cycling. He points out that most kids don’t ride for exercise and even hard-core cyclists pursue the sport because it’s fun. “You’re not selling cycling as a sport,” Sherry said. “It’s recreational fun.”

True!  Most kids don't ride for exercise - they ride because it's fun!  However... a side-benefit of riding a pedaled-power bicycle for fun is, it provides some exercise!  That cannot be said of a bicycle that you hop on and push a button, and it goes by itself.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Mid-winter bicycling

It's nice to be seeing some dry pavement once again.  I heard on the news that Boise has had 45 consecutive days of snow on the ground!  Almost unheard of in these parts!  (If every winter were more like this, I'd probably have to give some serious consideration to becoming a more-than-one-car family.)

I've been celebrating the pavement, by taking longer rides... usually at the end of the day after work.  (In the morning it's still dark, and I'm usually trying to get to the office at the expected time.)

Friday, I did a loop that included the new Esther Simplot Park and Veterans' Memorial Park.  It's beautiful, in a stark winter way...

Bigger vehicle = superior rage

In almost every way, I consider my bicycle to be the superior form of local transportation, when all I need to move is myself and my sack lunch.  However, from time to time, I get to witness an area in which motor vehicles are superior.

The lingering snow and ice has resulted in my needing to "take the lane" more often than I would, in better circumstances.  I don't think it's a problem for most motorists... if there's more than one lane in the same direction, they can just cautiously move over to the next lane and go on by.  On a 2-lane, 2-way street, traffic is rarely so heavy that I delay them for longer than 5 or 10 seconds, if at all.  (I'm happy that I don't delay very many people - that would never be something I'd do intentionally or without good reason.)

I occasionally get a chuckle out of the response, every now and then, when an impatient motorist feels he's been delayed and wants me to know of the huge inconvenience I've caused.

A couple weeks ago, I was behind a couple cars at a red light... waiting for my turn to make a right turn (onto a less-crowded roadway).  A guy in a big pickup waited behind me.  The light turned green; I proceeded... never more than a car's length behind the car in front of me.  When I got to the intersection, I turned.  The pickup guy surged forward with a huge roar - I'm sure he floored it!  He probably sent an extra pint of gas into his carburetor, as he blasted forward to fill that car length that I'd been occupying.  So very impressive!  He showed me!  (And I was jealous!  On a bicycle, I have no equivalent way to express my impatience!)

A few days later, at a different intersection, I was waiting for clearance to go straight through.  Unfortunately, a guy behind me was waiting to turn.  (Just as he would've been, if I'd been in a car instead of on a bicycle.)  Finally - a break in the traffic.  I rolled on through.  The little rice-burner revved mightily, and I could hear his tires spinning, trying to grab the slippery pavement.  Fast AND furious!  But sadly, it sounded like an over-revving sewing machine or blender, compared with the brutal snarl of the earlier pickup truck!  Pitiful!  (But better than a bicycle, I guess.  haha!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Ten Year Anniversary

How time flies! I first posted here on January 18, 2007. (After much consideration.) Since then, I've deposited 1077 additional posts... some are throwaways, but I'm quite happy with many. "I stand by my words."  (An odd side-note about the timing... my first grandchild, Mackenzie, was born two weeks before my first post.  She just turned ten.)

I'll have to plow through all those posts, and pick out some favorites to re-share.

How has the world changed since January 2007?

Well... that was the same month that Steve Jobs stood on the stage in his denim britches and long-sleeve black turtleneck (just a guess on what he might've been wearing), and announced the first iPhone. (From a cyclists' viewpoint, "smart phone technology" was probably a big step backwards, at least in fostering cyclist safety.)

The basic bicycle hasn't changed nearly as much. Although there are considerably more variations - cargo bikes, electric-assist bikes, etc. - oriented toward the transportation. (The meter has probably moved somewhat in a positive direction, on the percentage of Americans using bikes for their commuting. But there's no denying that the price of gas is a major motivator, or de-motivator. When gas is $4, I see a lot more bikes on the roads than when it's $2.)

In the past 10 years, there have been considerable advances in automotive-propulsion technology. The Toyota Prius and Honda Insight were both around in '07, but the Prius (and other hybrid models) have become best-sellers. In addition, there are now "plug-in" electric cars, thanks to improved battery technology. I expect new, amazing and unexpected automotive technologies will continue to emerge. If people will buy it, they'll build it.

In my very first post, I declared that bicycles are "the most efficient form of human transportation ever devised." (And I referred to the people-powered bike. FORGET about electric assist, etc.)

Has that changed? You know - with all the new hybrid and electric cars, etc.? I emphatically declare NO! But I'd welcome any evidence that might prove me wrong!

Will this blog endure for another 10 years? Will your friendly neighborhood Bike Nazi continue to spout? Hard to say. I don't seem to spout as prolifically as I once did... much of what I had to say on the topic, has already been said. I sure hope to still be riding in 10 years! Maybe more, because I expect to have 40 more discretionary hours each week, than I've had for the past 10 years.

I'm very grateful to my ten or so readers (grin)... particularly I'm grateful for the 2200+ comments (Wow! About 2 per post!) you have posted over those ten years! I particularly appreciate MY FRIEND Clancy. I didn't even know him 10 years ago - but he first posted when I was about two weeks (!) into this project. His astute observations about cycling, and his good-natured devotion to it, have been educational and inspirational to me.