Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ride a Stearns

Photo courtesy of Flickr
This is one of my favorite old time bicycle posters. I can't recall how I stumbled upon it, but I have a small framed copy hanging in our bathroom. I love her flat-top hat and hide-it-all patterned skirt. I've always wondered about her foot placement... And, you may recognize part of this image - I use it in my profile.

According to Wikipedia, Edward C. Stearns started a hardware manufacturing company in Syracuse, New York, then branched into bicycle production from 1883-1889. At one time there were 10,000 bicycle riders in Syracuse alone.

During the 1880s daily production of their most popular model, the Yellow Fellow (pictured here in the poster) reached 500. With 2,000 employees in 1896,  E. C. Stearns and Company was the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world. Check out this classic Yellow Fellow. It's a real beauty. I'd like to take it out for a spin.

Slogans used by E. C. Stearns and Company:
  • "Ride a 'Stearns' and be content."
  • "Watch the sunlight glisten on those orange rims."
  • "The way to do it is to do it on a 'Stearns.'"
  • "A Stearns once tried, A Stearns you'll ride."
  • "Rough roads made smooth."

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Brief Reprieve


Ice on the lake


 Last Friday the temperature soared into the 50's. I wheeled my bike off our porch and decided to ride to the YMCA for my regular swim routine. But as I pedaled, the warm fresh air, the dry pavement, and the lure of Lake Champlain overrode any possibility of  going inside. I needed to be next to a vast space again—the lake always fills that void—even if it was still a mass of ice. Also, winter in Vermont is fickle and I know when to take advantage of a beautiful day.



Abandoned bicycles

With three colleges in our city, it's inevitable to see many abandoned bikes sprouting from the snowbanks like bones from an archaeological dig. Sadly, neglect and snow plow injuries leave these bicycles less than desirable after months in the snow.

Still testing my leg, the 4 miles seemed okay and the granny gear eased the strenuous journey from lake level back to my home. And most especially, the warmth and sunshine did wonders for my soul.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Snow and Cycling and Dreams, Oh My!

Snow banks in front of our house
Amidst our dirty snowbanks, abandoned bicycles are emerging today as a two day warm front eats away the head-high piles. Cyclists are emerging too. A cluster of go-fast riders, as my husband and I like to call them, swarmed past my car as I was drving home. Yet, ice is protruding west from the Burlington harbor for a good three miles like a protective white layer. Today's reprieve is only a glimpse of Spring. Tomorrow we'll be back in the deep freeze.

As I think about cycling, it's nice to appreciate what other communites have accomplished to accommodate the average rider and commuter. Check out this video of Utrecht, Netherlands. I love the dedicated bike lanes. I can attest to the wonderfully signed pathways and volume of riders. My husband and I were able to cycle in the dark for two hours and reach our destination, just by following the route signs.


Oh, and I have a few days off in June. I'm already thinking about where I should go. The kids will be in school and I'll have three days to myself—a perfect opportunity to escape for a short tour. It's too bad the Netherlands is so far!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Chickens on a Bike

I am currently nursing a badly pulled thigh muscle. I want to say it was because of bicycling, but alas, I slipped on snow the morning after a big storm. But, on the bright side, at least I skied my heart out the weekend before. The injury left me barely able to walk so I am trying to be a good patient and let the leg heal.

I am sharing one of my very favorite pictures from a bicycle adventure my husband and I took many years ago. We were exploring the streets of Kathmandu on foot when this bicycle with its live cargo caught our attention. With feet tied to the handlebars, the chickens squawked and bobbed their heads. Fresh Chicken Biryani anyone?

Friday, February 11, 2011

For the Love of the Path

In December, Local Motion surveyed 340 users of the Burlington Bike Path to gather information on what needs improvement. If you scroll to page 4 of the survey results there are some very passionate responses. That, in itself, is more telling than the survey...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Trading Bicycle for Skis

Norge skis

 Bikes are never far from my mind, but with the awesome winter we've been having I've traded my cycling for cross country skiing. Years ago I acquired my mother-in-law's old wooden skis. They are not just any old skis either, but beautiful, classic, waxable Norwegian skis with gold-colored three-pin bindings. They must be 40 years old. I swoosh and glide much faster than on my waxless Karhus. I am a Vermonter and skier, but I had never experienced how lightweight and fast waxable skis propel you through the snow.


Intervale's groomed trail


If I can't ride a bicycle I'll take skiing any day. I suppose I could pedal on a trainer, but I'd be bored. I'd rather be outdoors, making tracks. I never get cold and it doesn't cost any money. I can zip along on a nearby country club golf course, ski groomed tracks at the Intervale, or create loops in our neighborhood backyards. Like cycling, it gives me a tremendous feeling of accomplishment getting somewhere under my own power, a good workout and puts a big smile on my face. It's also the perfect venue for a "date" with my husband.

"date" time




Saturday, February 5, 2011

Colchester Avenue Project

photo credit: http://www.colchesteravenue.org/
It seems that every year Burlington, Vermont makes the top ten in some category; the most recent is for Best Places "foodie" list for it's ratio of local eateries to chain restaurants. It ranks up there as the healthiest city, # 1 place to raise a family, etc., but Burlington is not without it's own set of problems, especially regarding safe cycling on city streets.

Burlington was walloped on Wednesday with 14" of snow. On Thursday evening I trudged up my street amidst shoulder high piles of snow to attend a meeting on the Colchester Avenue Project. This mile long corridor has been a pilot project for Complete Streets in our city. Last October 4 lanes were re-striped into 3 lanes which included the addition of a bike lane. The corridor is a highly used gateway into Burlington affecting residents, two major institutions (hospital and university), and all the buses that these two require, city transit, pedestrians and cyclists. It will not be an easy task to satisfy all who are concerned with Colchester Avenue, but residents, representatives of the hospital, university, and the city convened for an evening of Safe Street exploration.

I learned that this corridor has 3 unsafe intersections—some of the worst in Burlington according to accident statistics. I live only a half mile from Colchester Avenue. As a cyclist I'd been avoiding these trouble spots for years so it was nice to see these presented on paper. By the end of the evening the groups applauded certain ideas:
  • Keep it 3 lanes
  • Widen existing bike lanes
  • Redo the Riverside/Colchester intersection
  • Add missing sidewalk link along the cemetery
  • Straighten the Prospect/Pearl Street intersection
  • University students would not use the additional mid-block crosswalks
  • Add another crosswalk to East Avenue intersection
  • Do not cut any further into the green space
photo credit: http://www.colchesteravenue.org/
There will be more meetings as the suggestions are implemented and further designs fleshed out. One keen resident pointed out that we haven't heard any statistics from the pilot project to base any decisions on. These are all good reasons to keep at this discussion until a solution makes it safer for everyone.