Monday, October 24, 2011

Honk, Honk




In Honk I made an attempt to educate the Honker, in this post I'll address what options you the cyclist have as the Honkee. First of keep in mind the state you are in, your riding along try to pay attention to the traffic around you because the slightest accident can hospitalize and all of sudden some moron behind you blares their horn for no apparent reason. Scaring the daylights out of you, as you desperately look around for the signs of the impending accident. When in reality it's some impatient idiot driving an SUV. Who thinks they are going to get to the next traffic light that much faster if you get out of their way.

So with your adrenaline on overtime there are options you can take, unfortunately some of them just generate more anger on the part of the automobile driver who is under the impression they are not at fault.

1.     Yell at them – This never works because you come off as an angry jerk that is causing the problem.
2.     Give then the finger – Not a good option, keep all of your fingers firmly on the handlebars unless you are going to wave back at them with all five fingers on the same hand. An extremely aggressive gesture that never works

So what are your options? 
1.     An air horn – I’ve considered myself but have yet to follow though on it. One way to go is the Airzound based on the reviews on Amazon and the video below it seems to be very effective. Personally I though it had to many parts where something could be stolen or break and I would consider using a refillable air horn with a handlebar bottle cage mount so for city riding I just have to remove one item when I lock my bike.


           2. An electronic horn – I’ve tried these and they sound like a really loud cricket.

           3. A whistle – Whistles have become the most effective and low-tech solution I have found, my personal preference are the Fox 40 whistles. These whistles are ear piercingly loud and the harder you blow the louder it gets, sometimes they even get mistaken for a policeman’s whistle. They also come with a bite guard so you can hold the whistle in your mouth for long periods of times with out drooling. Where it around your neck on a lanyard and you’ll always be able to find it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

South Philly Costume Crit 2.0




Looking for something to do this Saturday, October 29? Check out the Philadelphia Costume Crit 2.0. A costumed bicycle race at FDR Park at the tennis courts and recycling center. Hopefully the race organizers will require anyone not in a costume or someone who is wearing regular clothing over the Lycra to start at the back of the pack.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Philadelphia Stolen Bikes and a Facebook Solution

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In 2010 as a response to the on going problems with bike theft in Philadelphia a Facebook page was created where people could post stolen bikes in the hopes of recovering them, Philadelphia Stolen Bikes. Reading through many of the posts it seems that they have had success in recovering stolen bicycles, where the thefts have been happening, stolen bicycles that have been sighted, and the possible neighborhoods bicycle thieves live in.

With populations that change apartments, many of Philadelphia's neighborhoods intimidated by criminals, and the “no snitching” culture; quality of life crimes have become an acceptable part of a neighborhood. In the past this would have been a community effort as neighbors who knew neighbors and talked amongst themselves to prevent these crimes or identify the people who commit them. An interesting phenomena that has occurred with the Internet and the development of social websites. The creation of new communities within Philadelphia based on a common interest, in this case stolen bicycles. This a growing trend as documented by the Wall Street Journal and I am glad to see that it has reached Philadelphia.

There are some steps that you can take to make recovery of your bicycle goes smoothly in the vent it is found.
1.     Take a picture of your bicycle and a picture of you with the bicycle. You'll need to do this to document ownership.
2.     Write down the serial number of your bicycle and take a picture of it. The serial number can usually be found on the bottom bracket. If you can't find have your local bike shop show you where it is. This will also help you document ownership
3.     File a police report. Yes I know the police are not going to be terribly sympathetic, by having the theft on record makes it harder for a thief to claim they own or found the bike.
4.     Alert friends and coworkers who live in the city, regularly search E-Bay and Craigslist, talk to local bike shops, and post to the Philadelphia Stolen Bikes Facebook page.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Philadelphia Bicycling Tales of the Absurd – I




In Philadelphia its tough enough with periodic attempts by various Philadelphia City Council and those trying to get elected to Philadelphia City Council to make bicycling and bicycling infrastructure as difficult as possible. But when President of the Traffic Court Thomasine Tynes states:

“Make city bicyclists register their bikes, cite them for moving violations such as riding on the sidewalk or blowing through stop signs, and then have those tickets dealt with by Traffic Court, Judge Thomasine Tynes suggests. "I am not against the cyclists," Tynes said. "But the problem is there is no punishment for not abiding by the law."

I find it astounding that any traffic court judge, let alone the President of the Philadelphia Traffic Court could make such egregious statements. A simple Google search under “Pennsylvania Bicycle Laws led me to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation website regarding bicycles and traffic law. Section 3508 A&B, clearly explains that riding on the sidewalk is against the law and Section 3501-B states that: “Bicycles are considered vehicles under Pennsylvania Laws and must obey all the rules of the road which apply to vehicles. These are the "responsibilities" mentioned above. The "rights" refer to the roadway space required to operate the bicycle in a safe, lawful manner.”  In other words, bicycles are subject to the same laws as cars and the same fines.

You don't need to have a bicycle license or a bicycle license plate for a police officer to write you a ticket. Valid ID is all the police need and if you don't have one they can hold you at the station until they can verify your address.

So what would I do?
I would send President of the Traffic Court Judge Thomasine Tynes to a remedial course in traffic law. Clearly Judge Tynes needs this based on the statements she has made. What this really boils down to is enforcement of the existing laws by the Philadelphia Police Department, if Judge Tynes truly feels that this is an important issue than she should pressure the police to step up enforcement of the current laws instead of trying to create ineffective new laws. Otherwise this is just another attempt by an elected official to make name for themselves without actually doing anything.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Lock your bicycle




With the return of all of the college students to Philadelphia a rise in theft of bicycle parts and bicycles, all you have to do is read Craigslist or hangout at any number of local bike shops. The worst part is that many of these thefts could have been avoided. Below are list of some of the most common statement you will read or hear when someone has his or her bike stolen.

I locked it outside overnight and now its gone.
I locked it to a fence and now its gone.
I locked it to the railing outside my home and now its gone.
I locked in my backyard and now its gone.
My front/rear wheel was stolen.
My saddle (seat) was stolen.
My cable lock was cut.

Meet the bicycle thief’s favorite tool, bolt cutters, capable of cutting any lock and chain you can buy in your local hardware store, cable locks, and chain link fence in less than 10 seconds. And can easily be concealed in a backpack or under a jacket. And leaving your bike in a public place with an inferior lock won’t help as demonstrated in this video.


So how can you reduce your risk of having your bicycle or parts of it getting stolen?

Step 1. Make the investment in a high quality lock, my preference has always been Kryptonite locks, because of the way they rate their locks and the effort they make to create locks for any situation. Get the five foot long Kryptonite chain and wear it like a belt. Yes I know the lock may cost almost as much as your bike, but it’s cheaper than having to buy a new bicycle.

Step 2. Think about what you are locking your bike to solid objects are best, lampposts, parking meters, signs, and bike racks. Remember chain link fences and railings can be easily cut. Please avoid the trees, its bad for the trees and trees can be easily cut.

Steps 3. Never leave your bicycle outside overnight. No matter how securely you've locked it, even if you think locking it a backyard  is out sight. All you have done is give a bicycle thief plenty of time when everyone is asleep. For all the years I have had bikes I always made room where I lived to store it indoors, even if it meant having one less piece of furniture or some highly creative storage techniques. Like bike lifts or wall mounts.

Step 4. Be careful what you own. Bicycle thieves are not stupid and they recognize high-end bikes like Trek, Jamis, Cannondale, and Specialized. There are plenty of older bicycles available through Craigslist and Via Bicycles, who specialize in restoring older bicycles. You can still ride a quality bicycle that is not a target.

Step 5. Lock your bicycle thoroughly, especially if you have quick release. It only takes a bicycle thief seconds to remove any part off your bicycle. Get a cheap cable lock to lock down your saddle
Seat and seat post - $50.00
Rear rim - $125.00
Front rim - $75
These are just costs for basic replacements.

In the end this is all up to you and how important a primary source of transportation is to you.