Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bike Lock : 50 lb. theorem

A couple weeks back, I was set to bicycle out to the airport to greet an arriving passenger. Knowing that my bike and I would be apart for at least a few minutes, I elected to take my lock. Normally it keeps the old beater-bike locked up outside; the regular bike lives inside. I unlocked it from the beater, and noticed something odd... lo and behold, somebody had cut one of the links - the chain was in 2 pieces! (The chain is inside a sleeve to prevent scratches, so it appeared intact on casual inspection.) All I can figure is, somebody cut it intending to swipe the bike, and the must've gotten spooked. It could've happened a day, or two weeks, earlier.

Getting something stolen - or even seeing an attempt - is always somewhat disheartening. What kind of human beings think it's morally okay to steal somebody else's hard-earned property? I regret living among such people.

(I have a friend who does expert welding - he repaired the broken link and the chain is back to its previous strength. Which is probably enough to dissuade a casual lowlife, but not a determined lowlife.)

I recently saw an interesting "rule" about bike locks - "The Fifty Pound Theorem."
- If you have a 50-pound bike, you don't need a lock because nobody will steal such a beast.
- If you have a 35-pound bike, a 15-pound lock is needed to keep it secure.
- If you have a 20-pound bike, you need a 30-pound lock.
(Bike and adequate lock will always equal 50 pounds.)

Not particularly scientific, but humorous.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

New Greenbelt map

The Boise City Parks and Recreation Department has published a new map of the Boise Greenbelt, our "Ribbon of Jewels" trail system. It includes a map, a section with a little bit of historical information, safety rules, etiquette recommendations, etc.

The web version (PDF file) can be seen HERE.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bike Share arrives in... Moscow! (Russia)

Bike sharing seems to be trending upwards, as more and more cities adopt programs. You can now rent a bikeshare bike in Red Square. Story HERE.

Color of the bikes? RED, of course! (And they look like they have a rack of some sort on the front, probably so you can carry your AK-47 and some turnips.) As in pretty much every other place, bikes can be rented by the hour, day, week, etc., with fees encouraging shorter "trip" rentals.

Are shared bikes in Boise's future? Clancy recently stated - and who would disagree? - that a bike share would be a much better use of taxpayer dollars than a track-mounted trolley that circles downtown. Just the same, I can't support it if it's funded by the taxpayers. CitiBank sponsors the startup NYC effort (CitiBike). We have banks, grocery store corporate HQ, etc., in these parts... how about a WincoBike? (I'm not confident you could recover the startup cost via user fees... but I bet if those fees were set reasonably, the user fees could pay for the ongoing operational costs.)

Interestingly, Portland which is famous for bike-friendliness, and which also is home to Alta, the company that engineers many of the shared programs, doesn't yet have a bikeshare. (Is my understanding.)  But I believe talks are underway.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Cycling and politics

As much as I detest partisan politics, it's almost impossible to ignore the polarization that seems to have saturated our society. A couple years ago, I commented that "some folks see everything through their political glasses. They see the people who lean the other way, politically, as the source of all the world's ills."

The recent introduction of CitiBike, the bike sharing program in New York City, has got the political talking heads all riled up. In particular, some of the conservative-leaning political minds (who have little knowledge of, or interest in, transportation cycling) have attacked the program.

An obviously-clever fella named Dan Amira has prepared a diagram that can be seen HERE, and explains "why conservatives hate CitiBike so much." I believe it's intended to be humorous - at least I found it so.

It boils down to this:
- CitiBike is embraced by Mayor Bloomberg, a well-known billionaire nanny.
- It's healthy, and while conservatives don't resent health, they hate being told to be healthy.
- It's sharing, and conservatives hate sharing.
- It's good for the environment ... if Algore is for it, conservatives are against it!
- And finally, it seems vaguely French. Hahaha!

My conservative response? (Personally, I lean pretty conservative on political matters, and view bike transportation as embracing self-reliance, which is definitely a conservative virtue.)
- Yeah, Bloomberg is a meddling nanny. But everybody has a good idea from time to time... even a broken clock is right twice a day!
- A healthy population will be less in need of Obamacare.
- Yeah, it's "sharing." But - it's not directly supported with taxpayer dollars, but rather by corporations and the people who actually use it. And that's a good, conservative thing!
- Environment? Yeah, a bike-share might have a very minor positive impact on the environment. (Rental bikes pollute less than rental cars or taxis, no?) But I'm scornful of any conservative who doesn't do his best to minimize his impact on the environment. I learned as a young Boy Scout that it's always best to "leave no trace."
- French? Sure, conservatives hate the French! But don't liberals hate the French, too? The French hate us, regardless of our political leanings! Ha!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Helmets don't make bicycling safer??

For years, the CDC (Disease Control) and NHTSA (Traffic Safety) government agencies have declared that bike helmets reduce the chance of a head injury by 85%. But that is changing.

Apparently that 85% number was the result of some casual statistical analysis, based on emergency room visits by cyclists who were or weren't wearing helmets when involved in an accident.

The Washington (DC) Area Bicyclists Association (WABA) petitioned the government to quit using that number as it is likely inaccurate even though it is often presented as "fact."

You might ask, "Why would a bicycle advocacy organization discourage helmet use?" And that's a good question. And they have two good answers:
1) If people think helmets stop all head injuries, they won't demand better helmets, and
2) Legislators may feel it makes sense to require everybody to wear one.

(The WABA was instrumental in getting a state helmet law passed for riders 16 and under, but they feel a law requiring all riders to wear a helmet on all rides would discourage bicycling. I can agree with that.)

Read more HERE.

Personally... I always wear a helmet. I'm not too concerned whether it makes me 85% safer, or "only" 50% safer. Even when I'm working on my bike and take it for a test ride in front of the house, I feel weirdly vulnerable if the bucket isn't attached. And it has paid off - my adult son always wears a helmet when he bicycles (or motorcycles), and granddaughter Mackie gives me a scoldin' if she sees me riding without one. In my 27+ years of transportation cycling, I've only been really, really, REALLY glad I had that helmet on two times! In either of those cases, I'm pretty confident my bike-riding would've been cut suddenly short, if not for the helmet. And when your head is flying toward that hard pavement, it's too late - there's no "do-over."