Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cardboard Helmet - safer than EPS

Would you trust your head with protection from cardboard? Well most of us are trusting polystyrene, the same stuff that we trust to keep beer cool. Anyway, Anirudha Surabhi has designed a cardboard helmet, thats not only cheap, but works, and claims its safer than the common EPS helmets we all use.

Its great application of alternate materials, and I look forward to seeing one for real.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Trotify is a device that you add to a bike to make it sound like a horse, of course you are thinking - "I need one of those". Anyway I saw this at grist, they did a pretty good write up, not more I can say really. But checking out the trotify website I was surprised to see 7400 facebook "likes". That's pretty impressive. I'm not surprised really given the high quality of the video they produces.

Sadly though they will only go into production when they get 1000 pre-purchases, they have 180 currently, so i guess "likes" are cheap.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bicycle Right

This video was brought to my attention last weekend.  Not sure what to say, I do love it when he's on the train though.

This pic was also floating around on my desktop, not sure where it came from, but it did remind me of the Portlandia dude.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Flying Cyclist

 This is a very cool project, a human powered helicopter. I'd like to see what Wiggins or Contadore could do with this.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

C'mon Kids - back on ya bike

I have been looking at some figures on Australian Cycling posted by Leon Arundell, I'll assume he's an expert, and a good statistician. The figures show, not surprisingly that cycling has grown over the years in overall numbers, from approximately 2.8 million to 3.1 million people from 2001 to 2009. (please note someone is considered a cyclist if they ride 13 times a year)

Of course its pleasing to hear numbers like this, sadly though over those years cyclists under the age of 15 have dropped from  1.69 million to 1.64 million. That's quite a concern, more so when looked at as a percentage of total cyclists it's decrease from 8.7% to 7.5%. It is noted that whilst cycling participation generally declines with age, teenagers are bucking that trend with unusually low participation.

I guess during the teenage years its not cool to be on a bike, or parents are giving priority to studies. Its sad really, this is an age when one can really take advantage of cycling. You are old enough to ride responsibly, and can take advantage of a bicycle as transport. Actually we should really be promoting teenagers to ride in a hope that this will lead to less dependance on cars. Maybe our beloved Elle could do some campaigning.

PS - I love how Elle has different bikes depending on which outfit she's wearing. 

Why You Might Need More Than One

I  saw this cartoon at Strangely I know a lot of people who have garages like this, myself included. Thank God owning a dirrerent car for every situation is even more impractical. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bicycle Firendly Business District

As a cyclist you move at a speed that enables you to interact with the environment. If you see something in a shop window, you can stop and check it out. If you see a friend, you can stop and have a chat. If you go past a street you haven't been down for a while, you can easily make a detour. All these things are very difficult to do, if not impossible, when driving a car.

A bicycle friendly district, that incorporates, bike lanes, streets closed to cars, ample bike parking, and bicycle friendly businesses, creates an environment where small local businesses can thrive, people can be happier, and people can connect. In an article article on bicycle friendly districts at Transport Issues Daily,  April Economides of Green Octopus Consulting puts forward her case for bicycle friendly districts.

I guess we hear a lot about councils or governments implementing bike lanes, but creating totally bicycle friendly districts is another story. This following video on the creation of a bicycle friendly district in Long Beach sheds some lights on the benefits.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

More American Riding to Work, but not enough Women

Over at Grist I found an article referencing the Census Bureau 2011 American Community Survey showing more more than 777000 people used bicycles as their main medium of transport to work in 2011. At there is an interactive map, showing the census data, specifically indicating  where cyclists make up a greater share of those commuting to work, the bigger the circle the greater the percentage. (there is a link if you click on the map below)

Another map shows which cities have increased or decreased the number of cycling commuters. Its a bit of a shame seeing so many red dots.

According to the cities which have invested in cycling have seen the most growth. I guess this is not surprising, but bodes well for those cities who are actively investing in cycling, and for those who prescribe to the "build it and they shall come" approach to increasing cycling numbers; i.e building bike lanes.

It seems that men outnumber women, 2:1 when it comes to commuting to work by bike. I don't really find this surprising. But obviously it shows that cycling advocates need to focus more on getting women onto bikes.

Lastly and most importantly, cyclists accounted for only a small share of total commuters. In 2011, they made up an estimated 0.56 percent of U.S. working adults. In 2010 it was 0.53 percent, and in 2009, 0.55percent. Whether this is growth or not is subjective.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

To Encourage Biking, Cities Lose the Helmets

Here is an article on helmets by Elisabeth Rosenthal , Sept 29, New York Times, ts worth a read.

ONE spectacular Sunday in Paris last month, I decided to skip museums and shopping to partake of something even more captivating for an environment reporter: Velib, arguably the most successful bike-sharing program in the world. In their short lives, Europe’s bike-sharing systems have delivered myriad benefits, notably reducing traffic and its carbon emissions. A number of American cities — including New York, where a bike-sharing program is to open next year — want to replicate that success.

So I bought a day pass online for about $2, entered my login information at one of the hundreds of docking stations that are scattered every few blocks around the city and selected one of Vélib’s nearly 20,000 stodgy gray bikes, with their basic gears, upright handlebars and practical baskets.

Then I did something extraordinary, something I’ve not done in a quarter-century of regular bike riding in the United States: I rode off without a helmet.

I rode all day at a modest clip, on both sides of the Seine, in the Latin Quarter, past the Louvre and along the Champs-Élysées, feeling exhilarated, not fearful. And I had tons of bareheaded bicycling company amid the Parisian traffic. One common denominator of successful bike programs around the world — from Paris to Barcelona to Guangzhou — is that almost no one wears a helmet, and there is no pressure to do so.

In the United States the notion that bike helmets promote health and safety by preventing head injuries is taken as pretty near God’s truth. Un-helmeted cyclists are regarded as irresponsible, like people who smoke. Cities are aggressive in helmet promotion.

But many European health experts have taken a very different view: Yes, there are studies that show that if you fall off a bicycle at a certain speed and hit your head, a helmet can reduce your risk of serious head injury. But such falls off bikes are rare — exceedingly so in mature urban cycling systems.

On the other hand, many researchers say, if you force or pressure people to wear helmets, you discourage them from riding bicycles. That means more obesity, heart disease and diabetes. And — Catch-22 — a result is fewer ordinary cyclists on the road, which makes it harder to develop a safe bicycling network. The safest biking cities are places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, where middle-aged commuters are mainstay riders and the fraction of adults in helmets is minuscule.

“Pushing helmets really kills cycling and bike-sharing in particular because it promotes a sense of danger that just isn’t justified — in fact, cycling has many health benefits,” says Piet de Jong, a professor in the department of applied finance and actuarial studies at Macquarie University in Sydney. He studied the issue with mathematical modeling, and concludes that the benefits may outweigh the risks by 20 to 1.

He adds: “Statistically, if we wear helmets for cycling, maybe we should wear helmets when we climb ladders or get into a bath, because there are lots more injuries during those activities.” The European Cyclists’ Federation says that bicyclists in its domain have the same risk of serious injury as pedestrians per mile traveled.

Yet the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that “all cyclists wear helmets, no matter where they ride,” said Dr. Jeffrey Michael, an agency official.

Recent experience suggests that if a city wants bike-sharing to really take off, it may have to allow and accept helmet-free riding. A two-year-old bike-sharing program in Melbourne, Australia — where helmet use in mandatory — has only about 150 rides a day, despite the fact that Melbourne is flat, with broad roads and a temperate climate. On the other hand, helmet-lax Dublin — cold, cobbled and hilly — has more than 5,000 daily rides in its young bike-sharing scheme. Mexico City recently repealed a mandatory helmet law to get a bike-sharing scheme off the ground. But here in the United States, the politics are tricky.

Shaun Murphy, the bicycling coordinator of Minneapolis — which inaugurated the “Nice Ride” bike-sharing program in 2010 and expanded to St. Paul last year — has been pilloried for riding about without a helmet. “I just want it to be seen as something that a normal person can do,” Mr. Murphy explained to the local press this past summer. “You don’t need special gear. You just get on a bike and you just go.”

In New York, where there were 21 cyclist fatalities last year, the transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, is always photographed on a bike and wearing a helmet. The administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has nonetheless rejected calls by Comptroller John C. Liu for a mandatory helmet law when New York's 10,000 cycle bike share program rolls out next year, for fear it would keep people from riding. Still, the mayor says helmets are a “good idea,” and the city promotes helmet use through education and with giveaway programs.

In the United States, cities are struggling to overcome the significant practical problems of melding helmet use with bike-sharing programs — such as providing sanitized helmet dispensers at bike docking stations, says Susan Shaheen, director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

But bicycling advocates say that the problem with pushing helmets isn’t practicality but that helmets make a basically safe activity seem really dangerous.

“The real benefits of bike-sharing in terms of health, transport and emissions derive from getting ordinary people to use it,” said Ceri Woolsgrove, safety officer at the European Cyclists’ Federation. “And if you say this is wonderful, but you have to wear armor, they won’t. These are normal human beings, not urban warriors.”

In fact, many European researchers say the test of a mature bike-sharing program is when women outnumber men. In the Netherlands, 52 percent of riders are women. Instead of promoting helmet use, European cycling advocates say, cities should be setting up safer bike lanes to slow traffic or divert it entirely from downtown areas. “Riding in New York or Australia is like running with the bulls — it’s all young males,” says Julian Ferguson, a spokesman for the European Cyclists’ Federation. And that’s in part what makes it dangerous. (Many European countries do require helmet use for children.)

In London, where use of a new bike-share program is exceeding all expectations, the number of riders in suits and dresses is growing, Mr. Woolsgrove says. And more Londoners seem to be leaving helmets at home.

We may follow a similar pattern. In her study of nascent bike-sharing programs in North America — including Montreal, Washington and Minneapolis — Dr. Shaheen found that the accident rate was “really low.” A large majority of participants strongly agreed that they got more exercise since the program started. And helmet use in bike programs tended to be far lower than among the general public.

Another study this summer found that only 30 percent of local riders using Washington’s Capital Bikeshare program wore helmets, compared with 70 percent of people on their own bikes, said John Kraemer of Georgetown University, the study’s author, who supports helmet use.

Before you hit the comment button and tell me that you know someone whose life was probably saved by a bike helmet, I know someone, too. I also know someone who believes his life was saved by getting a blood test for prostate specific antigen, detecting prostate cancer. But is that sense of salvation actually justified, for the individual or society? Back in New York I strapped on my helmet for a weekend bike ride in Central Park. But I’m not sure I’ll do the same two years from now if I’m commuting to work on a mature Citi Bike system.

Mr. De Jong, who grew up in the Netherlands, observes of Amsterdam: “Nobody wears helmets, and bicycling is regarded as a completely normal, safe activity. You never hear that ‘helmet saved my life’ thing.”

Source The New York Times

Read all comments posted at the New York Times here.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Yasijuro Speed Bike

At Ortre we love all types of bikes, especially unusual ones, and this one fits the bill, its the Yasijuro Speed Bike. Check it out at asphaltgravity, and also over at Pinkbike where there are some great images of the bike.

I love the idea of speeding down mountains in the alps, but doing it on such a fine looking bike is even nicer. I don't expect to see too many of these around, but I definitely see the birth of a new gravity sport.The Yasijuro was launched at Eurobike, so I guess that means they will be for sale at some stage. I'd definitely like to give it a go

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

bikekitchen, bikerowave, bikeoven

This video by Streetfilms is a couple of years old now, but its worth watching. Simple idea, a bike coop, where people can go and learn to fix their bikes for free. Its great because knowledge of how to maintain a bike is a limiting factor for many people when considering cycling on a regular basis.

Cooking Up Bike Co-Ops in Los Angeles from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

Apart from being a learning experience for people, it's also great because people can save money. Paying for a bike service can be pretty expensive now days.

Looking at this, makes me feel like all my tools are going to waste, they mainly repair my bikes, they could be repairing lots of peoples bikes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

London Drive to work day

Here's a novel idea, instead of bike to work day, Drive to work day.  David Dansky, I assume a Londoner, and cycling advocate has taken upon himself to creed the 11th Of December as "Drive to work day". Whilst cycle to work days are organised to highlight the benefits of cycling to work. Drive to work day aims to highlight cycling detracts from the motoring experience.

From his facebook page, I grabbed the official poster.

I love it, and can only hope that everyone who cycles, and takes public transport decides to drive, and the streets are in chaos, as if the Daleks have landed. As of my writing, 136 people have indicated they will drive. Well, I hope more people take it up.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

For The Love Of Cycling - SubCultures

I like this short film/documentory, "For The Love Of Cycling - SubCultures". Simply several cyclists sharing their love of cycling, and their specific genre of cycling. I love the fact that cycling can exist in so many forms, and the fact that cycling can be anything from sport and transport, to art and expression.

The film is from SoulPancake, a youtube channel by Rainn Wilson, where he invites you to open your heart without feeling like an idiot.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Infinite Fuel by Italiux

Over at redbubble I saw this graphic, very cool.

Its by Italiux, a Peruvian graphic designer. Seems to be their first cycling related work.

By the way there are lots of cool cycling T's to be found at redbubble.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Two locks and stolen - update

Last week I wrote about two wheels I saw, of which I assumed that there was a bike stolen from between them.

 Today I saw the two wheels again, but they had been locked up again, but arranged in a different fashion.

I was quite happy to see the wheels there, rearranged, as it assured me the owner probably still wanted them. What was more reassuring is that he or she obviously feels that they are safe. Two locks have still been utilised, but it would have been better to pass the U-Lock through the rim.

I do like that one of the wheels was put on the roadside of the fence, I am sure this was a courtesy to pedestrians.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bike Doctor App

I came across this app today, Bike Doctor. Its a neat idea, lots of people have no idea where to start if there is a mechanical issue with their bike. Bike Doctor App was built with the bare hands of Andreas Kambanis of London Cyclist Blog, Ron Forrester of Cychosis App and Ian Fuller of Cycle Hire App. They have the aim of crushing "the fear of bike maintenance and make it something anybody can do."

Its great because a lot of common problems are easy to fix, and this app could save one an expensive stop at a bike shop.  And there is nothing like being independent on the road.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bond - Famboyant Bicyle Advertising

Here is an add, or short movie, about a new road bike from Cipollini.

I really love this, its cheesy, very cheesy, but its great to see a cycling product being advertised on a more mainstream level. This sort of advertising can only elevate the status of cycling in the eyes of the masses. The film puts a bicycle alongside performance cars, motorboats, and sexy people.  I'm really all for it, cycling is sexy, and the more people who perceive it that way, the more people will be on bikes.

Cipollini is only a small brand, it would be great to see some of the "giant" bike brands take up this style of advertising. It could really help the momentum of cycling advocacy, and further enhance cycling's image.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Two locks and stolen

Saw these two lonely wheels locked up today. I'm assuming they used to be part of a complete bike. The owner of the bike was doing the right thing by using two locks, and two different types of locks. But sadly they forgot to lock the frame as well. I'm sure they will know better next time.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Survey - Why Americans Ride Bikes

I'm just posting an email I got from People For Bikes, this is applicable to US citizens,

Every year, surveys our supporters to understand how bicycling fits into their lives. We have found that some of you are crazy about bikes and ride every day, while others ride occasionally or even not at all. That's what we think is cool about our movement - we represent everyone who is for bicycling, no matter how many bikes they own or what type of riding they do.

We know you are busy, so we shortened our survey from last year's edition. Please consider taking a few moments to fill it out. The information you submit helps us make the case for bicycling and understand how and why Americans ride bikes.
Completing the survey makes you eligible to win one of two $250 gift cards redeemable at a local bike shop or one of five prize packages.

Click here to take survey:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

You don't want to mess around with traffic.

You can never be reminded enough that the roads are dangerous for cyclists. This video from "people for bikes" showcasing real life experiences from five US pro cyclists is another great reminder.

One of the cyclists state that we should "be predictable", I highly agree with this. Its pretty easy to change your mind when on a bike and suddenly change direction, suddenly hit the brakes, or suddenly accelerate. If drivers have a sense of what you are likely to do its going to be much safer. This is the sort of practice that is imperative for a group cyclists road racing in a bunch. And so too, is it essential for safe riding in traffic.

I like the comment too "I own a car and I drive it a lot".  That 1 percent of drivers who seem to hate cyclists should be aware, most cyclists are also drivers too. We understand the needs of drivers, and we aren't out there to make life hard for drivers.

Also - I love the frame pump on the time trial bike @4:27.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Urban Planning

I came across a blog named Bikeyface, created by Bekka Wright, an ordinary bike commuter, artist, writer, entrepreneur and Bostonian. Bekka is much handier with a marker pen than me, and creates some pretty cool cartoons for her blog. This recent one, named "URBAN PLANNING" caught my eye. 

I must admit, in some situations I have no idea what to do, especially with two lane cycle ways. It does seem that authorities want to place more and more road markings and street furniture, supposedly making things easier, but perhaps making things more confusing. Wouldn't it be great if we could all just share the roads and footpaths?

Its funny how the more developed a country is the more rules and controls are implemented to govern how people use roads. I don't know if this is a good thing, people have to think less, make less decisions, and loose a certain level of interaction with the environment. We now have to spend more time figuring out how to navigate the infrastructure, perhaps we could just spend our energy navigating the cars, bikes and people on the roads.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Palm Tree Climbing Race

On August 17 Indonesia celebrated the 67th anniversary of its independance from Dutch colonial rule. As part of the festivities me climbed tall poles topped with bicycles and other objects, which from the photo below look to be, tools of basic life. I could not really find out the significance of the whole practice, maybe someone can fill me in.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

New York news, cycling best practice.

According to a new poll by The New York Times, and the related article, when asked simply whether bike lanes were a good idea or a bad idea, 66 percent of New Yorkers said they were a good idea.

Its pretty encouraging to see these results though, but also despite "enthusiasm for the lanes, most New Yorkers are not riding regularly. A third of adults in the city said they owned a bicycle, and nearly half said nobody in their household had one. Of those who do own a bike, about half said they rode once a week or more."

As mentioned before in my blogging, I think the "build it and they will come" approach to increasing cycling is not necessarily the best approach. 

A poll at SMH online asking: Do you think Sydney needs to invest more on cycle lanes? Resulted in a positive 71% yes, but I'm not sure how well that reflects the full demographics of Sydney. But it is a similar result to the NYT survey. So I guess people agree with bikes lanes.

On a sadder note, as reported at, "A teenage cyclist hospitalised with serious injuries when she was hit by a car while riding through an intersection in a town in New York state on Monday evening will be charged with running a red light prior to the incident". It was also reported that the cyclist may have been using headphones at the time of the incident. Anyway - be careful out there on the roads. Another article at caught my attention, firstly for this nice info graphic from Share the Road UK..

Seeing the headphones graphic and the red light sign next to each other reminded me of the cyclist in New York. The accident also occurred at night, so perhaps lack of lights and bright clothing may also have been an issue. Anyway it is a reminder to all of us, and indeed, cycle lanes or not, one should make sure to undertake best practices in all cycling situations. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Creating Bike Cities

Over at Grist I came across this article "Here comes everybody: Number of bicycle-friendly cities soars".  The article highlights an announcement by the League of American Cyclists that the number of Bicycle Friendly Communities in the United States has grown. Good to hear.

The league hands down its Bicycle Friendly Certification, according to assessment of 5 elements Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation & Planning. You can read more about these elements here. In many ways it is an assessment of how pro-active communities are in encouraging cycling, rather than a reflection of how many people are actually cycling in those communities.

According to American Bicyclists President Andy Clark "the best cities, have action plans in place to ensure that residents have opportunities to ride".

I totally agree with this. Events are a great catalyst for kickstarting regular cycling activity. In Sydney I think the "Sydney to Gong" ride has got many people onto bikes, Just like the "City to Surf" gets people running. Many people I know have decided to do the Sydney to Gong, and have used commuting as a means of training for the event, or after the event have decided that it would be good to ride to work.

Having all the infrastructure for cycling is excellent, but getting "bums on bikes" is perhaps more important. I don't think many people get on a bike for a short ride, and hate it. Most people think will think they should do it more often.

For all cities hoping to increase cycling, I'd encourage you to implement more cycling events such as  Ciclavia, where streets are closed to cars, and people can enjoy riding, without the hassle of cars, or Ride2Work Day, which has the objective of giving people the "perfect opportunity for you to have a go at riding to work".

Monday, August 20, 2012

Hovding - airbag for cyclists

A while ago I posted about a airbag helmet design,, called the Hovding. I guess I thought that this would pretty much be a concept that would never see the light of day. I am surprised though that the designers / inventors have capitalized the project, and got it to market. Looking at their website, hovding, one can purchase the airbag helmet for 600 US dollars. 

 I love the concept, but I wonder about the practicality. People who are adverse to wearing helmets will probably be adverse to wearing a big collar around their neck. I also think that most people who don't currently wear helmets would not be drawn to this product, as they probably think the roads are safe enough. Some people who wear helmets will be drawn to the product, but 600 Dollars is a big ask. In a country like Australia, you probably still wouldn't be able to use the Hovding, because of the mandatory helmet laws.

From a safety point of view. I like the way the helmet does protect a larger proportion of the head than than a traditional cycling helmet. I am not sure how the airbag helmet would deal with a secondary impact, for example, say you fall of your bike and your head hits the ground, then a cyclist from behind crashes into you and their bike impacts your head.

Anyway , its great seeing this product for sale, and I am sure there are a lot of applications for this technology. I can see a version being created to be used in conjunction with a normal style of helmet to act as a neck brace.

I don't want anyone to have an accident, but I cant wait to hear reports of how well the Hovding performs in some real word accidents.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Manila - cargo bike city

Another post here after my experience over in Manila. I've been thinking about it, and its really quite an amazing cycling city because of the many different forms cycling that take place there. Bikes are used for exercise, personal transport, but also as public transport, transport of goods, and even as ret, with many people using pedi-cabs for travelling short distances. Bikes are also used widely for transportation of goods, and as a platform for business.

BMX style bikes, and mountain bikes seem to be the most common style of bike, and they have been modified for specific needs. The pedi-cabs below have a side-car that can accommodate a whole family, and luggage. They are used for short trips, often as a connecting service to buses or trains.

Another similar form of the sidecar is used to create a cargo bike, this style seemed to be really popular for businesses selling bottled water.

Bike are also used as a basis for businesses, like this shop selling green mango below. The mango was fine, but the locals mix it with shrimp paste. Definitely not to my liking.

 The more I think about how widely used bicycles in utilitarian ways, it may be that Manilla is the cargo bike capital of the world. If it was not for the huge volume of cars and jeepnies on the road, perhaps Manilla could rival Copenhagen. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Manila Street Art

I have posted a bit about street art lately, and was pleased to see some in Manila. I came across some paintings market - MMDA art, and luckily I was able to find some information on it. At Wikipedia  it says MMDA Art is official artwork commissioned by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority  and it is painted over graffiti on the perimeter or building walls that are readily visible along the streets of Metro Manila. Mostly the works are composed of combinations of squares and circles in different colours, as were the works I saw. Below is a compilation of some of the work I saw.

Whilst taking photo's some kids came up to observe me, and then they started to pose for the camera. They were pretty cool, but off course they wanted payment for their efforts. I figured 50 pesos was sufficient, they were happy.

It seems that the MMDA Art had become more than just a means of covering up graffiti, and is now a general beautification program for metropolitan Manila.

Cycling Manila

I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Manila, so decided to take a bike (Cinco5) and explore the city a bit. To be honest I was a bit hesitant to ride in Manila, due to the amount of traffic, but perhaps more by the fact that I could not see many cyclists on the roads. Anyway I headed out, with a rough plan to ride out to Manila Bay from the hotel, and back, and just see what I would find upon the way.

I knew from previous trips to the Philippines that I would have to be pretty flexible with my street selection, and just focus on roughly heading in the right direction. The first thing I noticed upon hitting the road was that the cars, and jeepnies don't move very fast. Making it sort of cyclist friendly. But the large number of vehicles on the road mean you can't really travel very fast by bike.

After a while on the roads I realised that I had been wrong. I felt quite safe on the roads, perhaps because of the fact, like most Asian cities, the drivers are used to all sorts of vehicles being on the roads. Cycling is also very common on the streets, there are lots of people getting around their suburb by bike, but also many pedi-cabs, and bicycles fit with a side cart for cargo, so many in fact that Manila could be the cargo bike capital of the world. Over the next few days I'll write more about my Manila cycling experience, and share some more photos.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Reduce traffic in Los Angeles.

Video infographic from "" about how we can reduce traffic in Los Angeles  makes a pretty simple claim, "if just 3% of drivers switched to using public transport or cycling to work then traffic could move up to 15% faster." I am sure that's pretty true. The statistic that is worrying though is 87% of Angeleno's drive to work, meaning there not only a need for a lot of road, but a lot of car parks too.

Thinking about car parks its pretty scary, some people think there are maybe 8 car parks for every single car in The United States, much more conservative estimates say about 500 million, and I assume that does not include the garage at home. Given there are 136 million cars, 110 million trucks, about 1 million buses for a total of 247 million vehicles, its no wonder that there is a fair bit of traffic on the roads.

I cant find any good statistics on the number of bicycles in the US, one wiki source suggests only 70 million. If I assumed that there was 1 bike for every person, approximately 300 million bikes, there would still be more car parks in America than bicycles. It juts goes to show, that not only are cars a burden on the environment with regards to pollution, but their demands on our land for parking space must be having a bad impact too.

Saigon Cycling

This morning I went for a short ride in Saigon, on the Cinco5. I left at about 6am, plan was to do a bit of exploring, get some fruit, and soak up the local atmosphere. Early morning is a great time of day to see people out and about in Vietnam. The people here are definitely not sleepy heads (well at least not till mid-day), everyone seems to be up in the morning, exercising, having the first of many coffee's for the day, or just going somewhere (people always seem to be on the move here).

I put together the image above, its a bit of a compilation of people I saw riding their bikes over a bridge. Whilst the motorbike is definitely the king of transport in Vietnam, cycling is still a pretty major form of transport, and definitely less noisy. Lots of people also seem to use bikes early morning for exercise. I love the girl wearing a "hoodie", most people from the western world would have thought its weather for a singlet, but not here.

Above are some photos of other people I saw riding. Its great that people still use bikes as their work vehicle. If you look in the pictures, there is one woman who has a set of scales mounted on her bike, on a false wooden top tube, for weighing the vegetables she has for sale. The woman on the bottom right had so many plastic bags of "stuff" tied her bike it was amazing. I took inspiration from this, when I grabbed some fruit, I tied the bags to the cargo basket on my bike (bottom left).

If you are ever in Ho Chi Minh City, the road running next to the river, Tran Xuan Soan, is a good one to wonder down to see some real local activity. Many boats turn up here from the Mekong with fresh produce. Its also a great place to see old world Saigon mixing with the new world Ho Chi Minh City.

Monday, July 16, 2012

ORTRE Bamboo Bike Project

Bamboo is a pretty amazing material, it's actually a grass, and one of the fastest growing plants on the planet. Some varieties can grow one metre in 24 hours. There is not much that cant be done with bamboo, build a house,  boat, make cloth, paper, even eat it. And of course, you can make bikes with it,  and there are quite a few high end bicycle manufactures doing so.

Almost by chance I found a group of people in Vietnam with the skills to create bikes out of bamboo. So I decided to try and make a version of the Cinco5, using the material. Additionally I wanted to see if I could make a bike that was reproducible, low cost, and at the same time provide valuable work for those who may not otherwise have work.

I must say, I was pretty excited to see the first bike, and have a ride.  Expecting a stiff feeling frame, I was not disappointed. And not only is it stiff, it has excellent shock absorbing qualities. In my mind it does sort of feel like a natural "carbon fibre" bike.  Interestingly it takes about 18 times the energy to produce carbon fibre than it does to grow bamboo.

Weight wise the frame is about 1.5 kilograms heavier than the Cinco5 aluminium frame, which is pretty surprising. I expected it to be much heavier. The overall weight of the bike is 14.5kg.

Many manufacturers join bamboo using fibreglass or carbon fibre, or even lugs made of steel or aluminium. I wanted to keep it natural, so the joints were wrapped with flax. The downside of this though is the use of epoxy resin, which is not the most environmentally friendly material, and most likely was a major contributor to the weight of the finished frame.

The first prototype, had 1 major flaw, the chain stays were made 10cm longer than the normal specified on the Cinco5. This makes turning at high speeds a bit difficult but at low speeds the stability of the bike is great. It was good to try a 20" wheeled frame with such a long chain stay, and I would say its not a bad combination, especially for a utilitarian bike,

Anyway, we're going to keep pushing on with this project, so we'll keep you up to date with it. And we'd love to hear from you what you'd like to see from a bamboo bike.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Work Cycle

Today I want to showcase a website both beautiful in design, and in motivation. The Work Cycle  in their pown words is: 

"A celebration of the Cycle to Work culture. There’s a different kind of relationship developing at work with people falling in love with riding their bikes all over again. We explore how the bicycle is beginning to shape the work spaces we journey to."

Simply this is a location where people can showcase  how their bikes become an element of their workspace. Anyone can be a part of this, just take some snaps of bikes in your workplace and send them in. I must say though, that the quality of the photos on the site are very high, I guess stemming from the creative nature of most of the companies who are all ready showcased. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bicycle Lanes

I've just had the please of visiting Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane. And I did a bit of riding in each city, utilizing the many bike lanes that have sprung up over the last few years. It is great to see Australia's cities putting in an effort to become more bike friendly. Between the cities I did noticed different types, or styles of cycle lane being implemented.

Firstly in Adelaide, nearly all the lanes seemed to be marked by white lines only. This is great, I guess, because its pretty easy to implement. Just paint the line. But I found it had a big draw back, after a while it didn't seem to be obvious enough which white lines indicated a cycling lane. The white lines for the bicycle lanes just seemed to become incoherent amongst all the other white lines on the road. Especially when a row of parked cars obscure one of the lane markings, making one think the other line is just indicating the parking zone.

I don't have a good picture of this, but just imagine if all the cars are parked similarly to the first 2 cars, in the picture on the right, obscuring the dashed parking line. Then you really cannot tell if there is a cycle way. This happened to me a few times, especially at night time, and in the wet.

The solution for this problem is pretty simple, and has been adopted in many areas. Paint the whole cycle lane a different colour. This works great, and at least by my limited survey seemed to be a more popular method of road marking in Sydney and Brisbane.

I'm sure this costs more, but it does make it plainly clear, in more situations where the cycle way is.

Sydney seems to be in favor of trying to create fully segregated cycleways, often called a Copenhagen Style Lane. This is where median strips, parked cars, or other sorts of barriers, to completely remove bicycles from the roadway. This is most probably the safest type of cycleway, but of course it is the most expensive to implement and requires a lot of space.

This sort of cycleway is great, but I also think it detracts from some of the freedom you can experience when riding. When you are on a segregated cycleway you cant zipp over to the other side of the road, or U-turn quickly. If you ride past something interesting and want to stop, its just not as easy, you have to look for an exit from the cycleway.

As a long term solution to increasing the number of people using bikes for transport, I don't think segregation of bikes and the best idea. I think cars and bikes can share a common roadway with a combination of adequate road markings and sensible speed limits.

At the moment, I am undecided about cycleways as shown below, where a single cycleway is divided into two lanes, rather than having a cycleway on each side of the road. To me this type of cycleway creates problems when you come to intersections, and want to turn, but your on the wrong side of the road to make a normal turn. 

I guess in the end its good to be aware of the different type of cycleways, and road authorities should use the best type of cycleway for the given situation.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Building a Better Bike

In the New York Times, there was an article in the Global edition Magazine named "32 Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow." Three of the innovations related to bicycle design.

Anti Theft Handlebars, bars that have some sort of locking mechanism that don't allow one to steer the bike all ready exist,  like ones from Speedlifter. And so do options for a less greasy chain, like the belt drives from Gates.

There are lots of carbon fiber frames, but as far as I know it there are not any plastic bicycle frames on the market. And its definitely something we may see in two to five years. There are kids bikes like the ones from Firstbike, and I think the same technology could be used for adult bikes.

But importantly I think whilst the bike will evolve, to be sure the bicycle has a huge to play in our lives in the future no matter what form it is in.

Street Art

Over at Street Art Utopia I found some images of pedestrian crossings and other road markings that had been cleverly modified into works of art. It would be great if such artwork and design could be applied to road markings in general, there is no reason why this element of out life cannot be a bit more fun.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fantastic Images from Lifecycle

My last post was about some fabulous art, and so is this.  Lifecycle in Singapore commissioned some great artwork/advertising for an outdoor print campaign, fulfilled by DDB Singapore. Its amazing to see a small shop have this quality of advertising, normally something I would expect to see from one of the big industry players.

The three images are so simple, and beautifully executed, and perfectly depict, "Cityscape, Roadmap, and Terrain." Below the images I have included the text that accompanies the images.

You live in a little box.
You get into a little box that drives you to another little box.
And you spend your day thinking little boxed thoughts in your little box.
Till it’s time to leave for the other little box.
Unbox yourself. Get a life. Get a cycle.

Look out the window. What do you see?
Wait, there’s no window.
Only a wall. And fake plastic flowers.
And a fake parquet floor.
A plastic coffee cup on a formica table.
Artificial lighting, on all day.
Get out. Get a life. Get a cycle. 

Intrepid explorer
journeying to the Elevator,
bravely navigating past Office Politics,
catching your breath at Cape Watercooler before
you venture to the unknown land they call the Pantry.
Step out. Get a life. Get a cycle.