Friday, July 26, 2013

A Giant walks amongst us

You don't see to many advertisements on American television these days and while there are plenty in magazines its always the standard bike porn. Road racers in full kit glistening with sweat and mountain bikers bikers with a light layer of dirt on their faces, arms, and legs. Or pictures of the riders that are sponsored by various cycling manufacturers. You never see anyone normal, like the people you see when you are out riding your bike. Giant Bicycles has created two advertising campaigns that reaches to the general public and makes them ambassadors for their brand

In 2011 the Australian campaign reached out to the average cyclists who ride for fun, exercise, commuting, or race for the thrill of it. A unique commercial attracted 11,000 Australians to register for the opportunity to be one of 30 sponsored riders who would receive new bikes, accessories, and full year of tune ups and repairs.

The winners were truly a unique mix of cyclist and they can be found here.

The current Canadian campaign, “Random Acts of Bikeness” kicked off this summer. “If you see some ‘70s-looking detectives cruising around on Giant bikes, don’t run away. In fact, run toward them.
All summer, all across Canada, Giant’s super stealth, polyester-clad team will be hitting trails and festivals, bike parks and suburban sidewalks looking for totally random people to give new Giant bikes to. The campaign is called Random Acts of Bikeness, and it’s Giant’s way of taking bad, jiggly, rusty, beaten down bikes off the street and replacing them with much cooler rides. Watch this video to see how it’s all going down (and to see how good we look in mustaches.)”

Perhaps someday we may see an equally unique advertising campaign here in America has more cities improve their infrastructure and create more opportunities for cyclists..

Friday, July 19, 2013

Philadelphia Kidical Mass

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has been making much ado about their upcoming seminar about Family Biking on Saturday, July 20th. The idea of going taking your children for safe and exciting bicycle rides. At this seminar they are going to discuss picking the right bikes, gear, and routes for riding with young ones. They plan to have on hand plenty of bicycles from various shops and the “best answers come from fellow parents who are already doing it.”

What the BCGP has not to mentioned is why family biking is now part of the Philadelphia bicycling scene. Thanks to the efforts Dena Driscoll and Marni Duffy who created the Philadelphia Kidical Mass. Using a combination of side streets and bike lanes the ride wends its way through Philadelphia with a local playground as its final destination. The participants ride a wide range of bicycles with children on their own bikes, trail-a-bikes, trailers, child seats, long tail cargo bikes and Bakfiets. What makes this safe is when you ride in a group is that other traffic views you more like a car because of the amount of space that the group takes up and gives you a wide berth.

This is a great way to introduce your children to cycling. Rides like this incorporate a fun destination, children that your kids can play with, and adults to you to socialize with.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Covered Bicycle Parking in Philadelphia

With the last few weeks of daily rain storms one of the challenges that many bicycle commuters faced was where to park their bicycle in the hopes that it would be dry. Fortunately Philadelphia Magazine reporter Emily Lehman found a solution, by crowd sourcing the search for covered/sheltered bicycle parking available to the public. In her article, “Where is Covered Bike Parking in Philadelphia”. A simple appeal to the public and a Google map located all of the current bicycle racks with covered parking. If you know of any others please add your comments to the the article link above.

There are many reasons why cyclists like to keep their bicycles dry, rust being a key factor and that can be addressed with some basic maintenance. But the most annoying is water logged saddles. Bicycles seats (saddles) are made up of open celled foam, similar to a household sponge. When a saddle gets caught in a rainstorm it soaks up that water like a sponge and it takes forever to dry out. One of the most common solutions is to place a plastic bag over the saddle, but that is never any real guarantee that the saddle will remain dry or that someone won't remove it. 
There is another solution:

There are a number of plastic saddles on the market that will stil provide the level of ergonomic support you need. Some examples can be found here; scroll down to see the reasonably priced models and here.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Philly Full Moon Bike Ride

One of the things I have found frustrating about the Philadelphia cycling scene is the lack of a monthly social rides when compared to other cities. A ride that is free of any political or social statement. Just a ride for the sake of riding.

There is a new kid on the block, the Philly Full Moon Bike Ride. They hold a ride once a month on the night of the full moon. Departing from the Art Museum around 10pm they ride through the streets of Philadelphia ending at a local drinking establishment. With their first ride in May the organizers are building a following on Facebook with 41 members, the May Ride had 10 riders and their June ride had 25 participants.

With the ride happening on a different day of the week every month I hope the organizers will consider moving the start time to an early hour. So people who are in 9 to 5 jobs can join in and still get some sleep.

They are planning for their next ride on Monday, July 22. I look forward to seeing this ride grow and evolve. To become a new Philadelphia tradition.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

You Haul

Over the weekend there was a video posted on how people transport things on their bicycles. From kids and Corgis to crock pots and concrete. First up is this video talking to a variety of people on how they transport things on their bicycles.

As a child my first bike was fitted with a large Wald basket. It allowed me to carry books from the library, the Sunday paper for my father, and a book bag for school with great ease. Over the years I found that back packs while they were useful had there limits. They left a big wet spot on my back and hard objects like books and groceries often poked me in places I didn't like. As an adult I have gone back to baskets, they can hold anything within reason, never affected by weather, and make for more spontaneous purchases because a basket is always ready for anything.

Also this weekend the Wall Street Journal published an interesting article on the growing use of cargo bikes and how the developer of the long tail cargo went onto to found Xtracycle. The article explored how cargo bikes are being used by a commercial fisherman in Washington State, a family of four in Manhattan, and to a man in Oregon who is preparing for the local Disaster Relief Trials. During which bicycles and cyclists will be tested on their ability to go where other vehicles can't due to debris or lack of gasoline, while carrying 100 pounds of supplies.

There were the ever present naysayers and my personal favorite was; “It isn't going to haul the 4 2x6, 16 foot boards I need to repair my deck.” Neither will most cars and minivans, you're really going to need a full size pick up truck. Fortunately Home Depot has trucks for rent in their parking lots and many other retail companies are embracing this concept as well. On the other hand one cargo cyclist in the Wall Street Journal article moved 150 pounds of cement over a very hilly area, so anything is possible.

The growth of cargo bikes will be interesting to watch as people who live in cities, ride bicycles, get married, have children, and remain where they are. While they may own cars they will still want the speed and convenience cycling allows when running errands or taking children to school. Purchasing a cargo bike will help them retain their mobility.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Leave the Driving to Us

Recently there has been discussion on various blogs and news services about Amtrak and the expanding its capabilities to allow people to roll bicycles on board. There are 8 trains throughout the United States that allow bikes to roll on board. Otherwise there are only two options for cyclists, the first is a folding bike and bring it on as carry on luggage. This of course assumes you own one or are able to invest in one. There is another option, you can box your bicycle and bring it on board as checked baggage. It turns out that boxing you bicycle is easier than it sounds.

Finding a train that has checked baggage service is not as easy as it sounds. So I asked myself where would I go if I could or can take my bicycle on board Amtrak?

Places I would like to go.
Pittsburgh, PA – Pittsburgh is the jumping off point for the Greater Allegheny Trail, GAP Trail, which runs from from Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland MD and connects to the C&O Trail that takes you to Washington, DC. 335 miles of car free trail with access to Inn's, B&B's, and campgrounds along the way. There is way to do this ride with the use of one way car rentals for $150 to $200 if you avoid picking up the car at the airport.

Washington, DC – In addition to seeing all of the sites, there are a number of trails that will lead you to a wide range of trips in the states surrounding Washington. Along with the the similar policy that SEPTA has with bicycles on board public transit. To get a general sense follow this link to more detailed information. Check out the WashCycle Bike Trail Map which is beautifully layered in Google maps.

Boston, MA – Like Washington, Boston has a wide array of historical sites and extensive system of trails and bike lanes that allow access to a wide range of the state. As well as a similar policy that SEPTA has towards bicycles.

Places I can go
Atlanta, GA – Atlanta is home to the Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga Trail. With a combined distance of 100 miles on a continual paved, flat trail that ends in Anniston, AL. You can take an overnight train from Philadelphia, arrive in Atlanta in the morning, walk out of the station to the Silver Comet Connector Trail (Use Google Maps for info) and ride your bicycle to the trail head.

I hope that Amtrak makes plans for improved options for cyclists along the Northeast corridor for most of the year with seasonal expansion from the spring to the fall for places like Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and upstate New York. I have no doubt that there are commuter rail and railroads that use simple and easily installed equipment to transport bikes on board. I would be more than willing to make advance reservations and pay a baggage handling fee. Lets hope that Amtrak views this as an opportunity not to be missed, instead of a missed opportunity.