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.