Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ultimate Urban Commuting Bicycle?

The Bike Design Project. 
Five Teams. Five Cities.

The Ultimate Urban Utility Bike.

None of the entries are my ultimate commuter bike, for various reasons: only one style takes into account a low step-over height (many ladies wear skirts) and designs are usually by men, for men. because well, let's face it, males are the predominant riders, even as commuters.

A Chicago reporter who briefly rode one of the entires in the parking lot commented, "It's a pretty aggressive position, not for an aging rider". Which brings up another point: if this is someone's idea of the best commuter bike, will it attract baby boomers?

Just saying...but do check them out and vote. Contest ends August 3. The videos are cool. The style is quite sleek, using innovative design. I would've liked to give my input along with my vote. But you know, I am the minority.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bike Empowerment in Burlington

Climate Change events in July.
I returned a book to the library and was met by two posters advertising bicycle events. 

I attended The Ramble ride a few years back.

And what's this? Will wonders ever cease? It's a bicycle commuter workshop flyer pasted on the library doors!

Way to Go, Burlington!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Hopeful for Better Pedestrian/Bike Access

The busiest intersection in Vermont.
I frequently navigate, cross, or ride the sidewalk beside this four lane highway. It connects to a shopping district and is the only route over an interstate, of which there's a cloverleaf style of on/off ramps - the nemesis of bike and pedestrian access. This region has been the bane of cycling advocacy for years. Band aid "green lanes" fill a block long section, but as with the nature of cloverleaf design butted to shopping centers, cross points double, creating dangerous pedestrian/cycling transportation. Most of the time I ride cautiously on the sidewalk.

I was hopeful to find road construction in early summer on a particularly dangerous section, leading to the cloverleaf. The sidewalk was a horrifyingly narrow 3 feet, bordering heavy traffic on one side and a hip high concrete wall on the other. Needless to say, pedestrians waiting for a bus vied with bicycles for minimal space. However, I often negotiated this sidewalk in both directions, favoring the lesser of two evils: it had less entrances/exits to be wary of.

Red marks construction zone.
The concrete wall is gone and heavy equipment operators are digging deep trenches. I stopped and chatted with a lady construction worker. Unfortunately, this whole mess will extend one exit ramp to alleviate traffic congestion back up onto the interstate. In the future, I'll have to cross five lanes of traffic to get to Staples Plaza. However, the worker confirmed the sidewalk will be put back against the treeline (in first photo). Whether it has a green strip buffer, this time around, or creates safer zones for cyclists, is anyone's guess. Construction is due to finish in November.

Friday, July 25, 2014

What's Up with Black Caps on Bicycle Tubes?

For a pretty price you can order all kinds of interesting Schrader and Presta caps.
Most of these are courtesy of Amazon, in case any in this collection appeal to you.
A hula girl on your bike, perhaps?
It's inevitable that whenever I pump a tire or change a tube I misplace the black valve stem cap. The cap is camouflaged on asphalt or, in the case of on the road repair, lost among grass. I'm often in a panic, running late for an appointment so I extract the stand up pump (heaven forbid I leave without adequate air pressure!), unscrew the cap, toss it on the garage floor, and quickly inflate my tires. It's no wonder caps are lost.

I understand why tubes are black. But could suppliers provide colored caps? They wouldn't have to match between wheels, just be offered in another color, not black or grey. And, for that matter, would you pay extra—presuming colors cost more to manufacture—for this option? I'd gladly pay 50 cents more per tube to keep caps on my bicycles.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Women's Ride on the Causeway

Picnicking in  the shelter of a bridge for a brief reprieve from the wind.
I didn't know what to expect for attendance for the second event in the Women's Ride Series. It  was a gorgeous morning for the inaugural ride. However, two ladies appeared but were uncomfortable with a small group. They decided to ride by themselves - which left just the co-leader and myself. Undeterred, we picnicked, pedaled an hour together, chatted, realizing that other ladies' events may be held on the same day.

I was prepared this time around.

Each leader invited a friend, then three ladies pulled up, making a cozy group of seven. And it was a blustery day, promising to be a challenge on the nearly treeless causeway.
But oh, the conversation! We paired up. I introduced my sister-in-law to my co-leader, who lives a stones' throw from her house. Brunch was delightful with eggs, muffins, fruit cups, and coffee. Clearly, some women had already eaten.

The 20 mph gusts were too difficult for a couple ladies so they retreated back to their vehicle. However, the rest forged ahead with wind at our backs. At the turnaround, we had our first glimpse of the new ferry, capable of hauling 20 passengers and 16 bikes. Operating 7 days a week this summer, I plan to use it for an overnight in the Champlain Islands.

I'm curious: is 231 miles to Boston by major highway or back roads?
My sister-in-law talked with a  ferry volunteer; she was signed up for a shift later that week. I chatted with a new found lady friend, a bike overnighter and tourist like myself. (I can never have enough friends like that!)

A new sign greeted us when we pointed our bikes into the wind. Mileage to local points is helpful, though you may want to pack a pannier or at the very least, a credit card if you plan to cycle the distance to Boston!

Cycling on the causeway is popular.

Pedaling a raised pathway, with water on both sides, for 3 beautiful miles makes me smile. And smile. And smile. I'm sure Canadian travelers will love distances measured in kilometers, and if they need to use a restroom, well, it's all there on the sign.

The causeway regularly has windy days and knowing you just need to use easier gears one-way is part of dealing with headwinds. I said goodbye to the main group at our meet up spot then set off with my new pal, pleased as punch to have grown my network of like-minded, adventurous souls.

Next Women's Ride: Garage Sale Ride, August 24