Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Friday, October 27, 2006

Urban Sprawl and Critical Mass

Odo 2610.8

Recently I've come to learn some interesting facts.  The way I understand it, from what I have read, paved roads were actually first created in and around cities for bicycles. This is when the automobile was not invented or very few were around. There was not really a need for paved roads as people traveled by foot, rail, horse or horse drawn cart, except for the bicycle which is hard to ride on cobbles, mud, and rutted dirt roads. Sometime after this the automobile became more popular and started to use these same paved roads. Some large industry, namely, automobile makers and oil got together and somehow started buying up rail and trolly and putting them out of business. This put the demand on their products, auto, bus, truck, and oil. People, with their new found freedom of movement (the auto) moved farther and farther out of the city. Urban sprawl. Suburbia. People get more dependant on the auto. Traffic gets worse. Here goes all our public space. Think about it. A highway with 6 lanes travelling in each direction takes up a huge amount of space. Then you need space to park all these cars. More space taken up equals greater distance to travel equals greater traffic. Meanwhile the single car driver, travelling all this way to work and back, angry, supporting the oil and auto companies, and throwing out a ton of money for his/her car on payments, fuel, insurance, and maintence, has a mind set that the whole road belongs to him/her. They are unwilling to share the road with the bicycle. The road which was created with the bicycle in mind in the first place. Our society needs a little shift in direction.  We need a more efficient mass transit system. We need to create and redo neighborhoods to support themselves so people can live close to the work and the goods they need.

Most of this I've read to some extent on various sources on the web. Much of it I learned from reading The Immortal Class by Travis Hugh Culley. In this book Travis writes his story as a bike messenger in the city of Chicago. It's a great read. In the last chapter he describes a neighborhood in Chicago that is changing for the better. One of the last paragraphs in the book goes like this-
Uninterrupted by the light surrounding conversation, I have shut my eyes and begun to listen. I am trying to imagine what it could be like, to live both dense and peaceful. I am trying to see it as I scroll through her tired streets in my mind, a sustainable Chicago covered with bike-only streets, quiet trains, a patient, car-free, delivery-based roadway. I envision inner-city schools that thrive and parks that are in use. I see rich, diverse, and colorful city, where the blackness that we now fear can just be sprayed off our buildings with a high-pressure water gun.

Among my internet surfing I have also come across Critical Mass. (Check out this Video.) They are a group that celebrates bicycle advocacy by show. Once a month, in over 200 cities around the world people from all walks of life meet and ride. In MASS. They take back the street. Stoplights mean nothing. We had about 300 riders tonight. A few of the riders would ride ahead and block traffic while the rest of the group rode through. It's actually quite safe. Our "mass" took up about 4 city blocks. It was a great atmosphere. We had all kinds of people riding. Bike messengers, commuters, recreational cyclists. People riding mountain bikes, road bikes, commuter hybrids, fixed gear, BMX and one slick, low recumbent. There were a few bikes that had 2 frames welded together, one on top of the other, so the rider sat about 6 feet off the ground. It's close to halloween and many people were in costume. One man wore nothing at all. One was towing a sterio on a trailer so we always had music. Some people hid beer, some were right open about it. We traveled from West Lake Square past the market, through Pioneer Square, up and across the Aurora Bridge, into the U-district and to Green Lake. The pace was easy, about 8 miles per hour. I rode about 34 miles including my trip to and from the ride. It was a great experience and one I will definitely do again.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tail Wind

It was a great ride to work this morning. The weather was perfect. Cold at the start but good. I was dressed perfect. Not dressed to warm as I have been lately. And I had a beautiful tail wind pushing me all the way. Of course this really shouldn't count, with the help of the wind, but I got a new record time to work.

Distance - 7.21 miles
Maximum speed - 34 mph (Which 4 months ago used to scare me but now is nothing.)
Time - 23:40
Average Speed - 18.2 mph
Odometer - 2576.9 miles (On this Bicycle)

Tomorrow . . . Critical Mass!

Sunday, October 15, 2006


A friend of mine, David, is a beer brewer. The All Grain Evangelist. I must say the beer he produces is of a most excellent quality. Well a few weeks ago he mentioned that someone was inspired by his blog to do their first all grain brew (http://hunahpu.blogspot.com/2006/10/welcome-to-fold.html). Well the inspiration must be contagious because he called me yesterday to say how he and his wife decided to go out and buy some bikes after reading this blog.

Today they told me how they went on their first ride and how they loved it. They rode for about 2 - 1/2 miles, had coffee and a smoke, felt guilty for the smoke, and returned back the 2 - 1/2 miles. Well I think this is just fantastic! They've got their bikes, they're loving it, they're getting outside of the house, and it might possibly be because of my stupid little bicycle blog.

They chose Trek Bikes 7100 and the 7100WSD. Hybrids.  Some of the features of those bikes are front fork and seat post shocks, 21 speeds, a more upright, comfortable riding position, and 700 by 35c tires.

Dave strapped his GPS on to the bike. He told me about this and I found one. Yes, a GPS/bike computer. Check out the Garmin, Edge 205 and 305. About 270 to 500 bucks. Yeah! Some day I got to get me one of those. Map where you've been, how far you went, chart the hills you conquered! Welcome back to cycling Dave and Julie. Maybe well be doing the Tour de Tucson someday.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Panniers and Handle Bar Tape

I kind of went hog wild at the bike store. I got a second light that attaches to my seat pack for added visibility to motorists, some nylon strap and clips that I sewed across the top of my pannier bags to compress them when they are not fully loaded, a new water bottle, some 'urban camo' colored handle bar tape, and some White Lightning bicycle lube for my chain.

Nothing much else on the bicycle front. No real training yet except for the regular commute to and from work. The autumn leaves are beautiful. It's getting colder and keeps threatening to rain. I have to wear more clothing and the panniers are really coming in handy.