Urban Velo

Chrome WARM

chrome_warm-1 Chrome has gone into clothing hard over the past few years, making some really great product along the way. The latest Chrome WARM line looks like more good stuff – workwear looks with polyfill insulation, ripstop nylon construction and a reversible high visibility design for night time safety. Just in time for the changing seasons.

4 Year Bike Commuting Growth Rates

growth 2009-2013Bicycle advocacy organization, People for Bikes, just released U.S. Census findings related to bicycle commuting, showing which cities increased ridership in the past four years. On top are Washington, New York City, and Tucson, citing almost a doubling of bike commutes, attributed in part to more extensive painted lanes and protected bike lanes.

Powered by one of the country’s most successful bike sharing systems, a growing painted lane network, a handful of protected lanes and a burgeoning bicycle culture, Washington DC vaulted to 4.5 percent of commutes by bicycle in 2013, up from 2.2 percent in 2009. Among major U.S. cities, that estimate would place DC second only to Portland, Oregon as a bike commuting hub.

Showing a small decline in ridership is Minneapolis. What happened there friends…a string of tough winters we assume?

Spinning Stories

Spinning StoriesHere’s a twist on bicycle-related events. Spinning Stories is a “place-based” storytelling event taking place in Minneapolis on September 27th. The audience is moved throughout the city at what is called “Muppet pace” (whatever that is…I’m assuming not quickly) to each location, where a story is told that took place at the same spot.

The relatively new Spinning Stories series has been occurring bi-monthly since May of 2014. Rides are between 10-15 miles at a muppet-pace with full mechanical support provided by sponsors, Re-Cycle and Recovery Bike Shop.

Storytellers this time around include a comedian, slam poet, and union representative. Specifics about the event can be found on their Facebook and Event pages.

PMTNR and Sunday Slow Roll

PMTNRIn issue 43 we presented the growing trend of “Fun Rides”, where the intent of gathering cyclists together is primarily about having a good time as a rolling party more than anything that is political or confrontational. We gathered perspectives about individual rides from Slow Roll Detroit, Radder Day Rides, Midnight Ridazz, Flock of Cycles, and more. The list could go on. As evidence, we heard from Pamela Murray, who organizes Sunday Slow Roll and the Plaza Midwood Tuesday Night Ride (PMTNR) in Charlotte, NC.

Part of our editorial on Fun Rides discussed the nature of Critical Mass, which some saw as problematic and leading to it’s digression in some cities. Murray feels the leaderless dynamic of Critical Mass led to a lack of promotion, and has taken a different approach to her rides, bringing in businesses to take part and do some of the promotion themselves.

“Some things that makes our ride great is that we support local businesses through the ride. Prior to the ride, I sign them up as Bike Benefits businesses so they get to thank people for biking to their business with a special offer (like 10% off). We show riders how to get there by bike and each business gets an introduction to 100 riders each week.”

Ultimately, however rides are promoted or carried out, the intention of these new forms still remains the same, as Murray explained,

“I modeled these rides after the Bike Parties where the main goal is fun.”

Find more about the PMTNR and Sunday Slow Roll here.

Reflective Tweed by Rickshaw Bagworks


From Cordura Nylon to wool to waxed canvas, the options for bag and accessory materials continue to grow, but Rickshaw Bagworks is stepping up the game by adding not just tweed to the mix, but reflective tweed. As the Kickstarter video shows, the reflective material is woven into the tweed fabric to create reflectivity and “explosive” reflection when hit with lights straight on. Whether you want the tweed aesthetic for your bag and accessories or a little more safety than can be found from a jacket you bought at Goodwill for the next tweed ride, Rickshaw is making that happen. First come the bags and surely someone will then incorporate this technology into jackets and pants, no? The Kickstarter is already fully funded, so any further contributions are just pre-orders for bags and accessories.

Dumpster Diving Cross Country Bike Tour

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Most of us living in America are responsible for throwing out a lot of food, enough that there is a whole culture of dumpster diving out there. Rob Greenfield is riding across the country subsisting on nothing but food rescued from the dumpster to shed a small bit of light on the issue of food waste. From TakePart, To Spotlight Food Waste, This Activist Is Biking Across the U.S. and Only Eating out of Dumpsters:

Greenfield is riding his bicycle across America—which to most of us would seem adventurous enough. He started his coast-to-coast ride in San Diego on June 2 and plans to finish in New York City on Sept. 26. Halfway through his journey, Greenfield decided to see if he could eat solely out of Dumpsters located behind grocery stores and convenience stores.

This year Greenfield planned his trip route so that he could take advantage of major media markets. When he arrives in a city he holds what he calls “Food Waste Fiascoes.” He’ll grab a friend with a car, and they’ll hit up some Dumpsters.

The following day, Greenfield spreads out his finds on the grass at a local park. He uses social media to invite television stations, news outlets, and regular people to come check out his formerly trashed food and get educated about the food-waste problem.

Read the entire article at www.takepart.com

New England Builder’s Ball

buildersball_poster2014The New England Builder’s Ball is back for it’s fourth year, come this October 3rd in Providence, Rhode Island. A stated gallery opening, more than a hectic frame builder show, the Builder’s Ball will host the likes of Ant Bike Mike, Richard Sachs, and even the elusive Circle A Cycles, among others.

The New England Builder’s Ball is again a fundraiser for the East Coast Greenway Alliance. Doors are open from 7pm to 11pm, and admission is just $5. More information, including the latest exhibitor list, can be found at New England Builder’s Ball, and the NEBB Facebook page.

The Museum of Science and Industry Bicycle Photo Prints

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The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago recently added images to its online collection available for free viewing, or for purchase for display. The early bicycle and motorcycle collection is pretty amazing, with a number of high quality images of just amazing and perhaps one of a kind bicycle examples from their collection. Hobbyhorse pre-bikes, ordinaries, long forgotten early safety designs, and turn of the 20th century bikes that aren’t far off from what we ride today. Prints start at less than $20, with large canvas wraps up to about $200.

Motorcycles of Interbike (The E-Bikes Are Here)

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Bicycles equipped with motors have been a part of the landscape since shortly after bicycles themselves first appeared. It’s a natural leap for many that a bicycle, while fun and wonderful, would just be so much better if you didn’t have to pedal it uphill, or at all. Back in the 1890s we coined a term for overbuilt bicycles with motors — motorcycles. In the time since bicycles and motorcycles have gone in different directions based on the power disparity between the two, with bicycles gaining dedicated on-street lanes, off-street facilities, and rules and regulations that take into account the human powered scale of a bicycle as compared to the speed of mechanically powered vehicles.

Some would have you believe that human powered bicycles are going to be left behind by electric bikes. A significant amount of floor space is certainly devoted to e-bikes at the major bicycle tradeshows, even if the vibe surrounding them is more homeshow booth salesman as compared to the primarily enthusiast-driven bike industry. I’ve heard e-bikes heralded as the solution to the United States transportation problems, the way to get more people on bikes and out of cars, and the future of all things bicycle. Given the choice between seeing cars or e-bikes going past my front door I’ll choose two wheels over four every time, but let’s call a spade a spade and quit pretending that a bicycle with a motor is anything but a class of motorcycle.

Just as bicycles are primarily sold to the general public on weight, e-bikes are sold on power, pick-up and speed over distance they can go. Go into any shop and no matter what the official line is on things, people are picking up bikes to determine which is the lightest and the best choice. With e-bikes it seems to be a common theme that just after stating how it is really a bicycle at heart the pitch quickly gets into speed and power and how long you can ride without having to pedal. Current e-bikes look like an evolutionary link between bicycle and electric city scooter to me, much as early gas powered motorcycles appear to be bicycles with lawnmower engines bolted on. An 80 lb bicycle doesn’t sound like much fun to ride, and neither does a motorcycle with relatively flimsy bicycle components and tires. And from the looks of the above “bikes” that have a crankset as an afterthought or simply not at all, some manufacturer’s too see e-bikes as a stepping stone to fully electric, lightweight motorcycles.

Electric-assist bikes may be the way to get an aging population onto more human-scale vehicles and a way to facilitate moving cargo in urban areas with fewer cars, but I’m certainly not the only one who doesn’t want to see e-bikes in the bike lane or using dedicated off-street bike facilities. The speed disparity of an e-bike zooming silently uphill in the bike lane is simply unsafe to bicycle riders, and while most e-bikes don’t go significantly faster than a skilled and fit bicycle rider can achieve, there is a certain built-in safeguard of fitness and confidence before a bicycle rider can hit 30 mph that is not there when a motor is involved. Imagine novice riders upon e-bikes on sidewalks and rolling downtown redlights at speed and you can begin to see the user conflicts. And don’t even get me started on the craze for e-mountain bikes and the trail conflicts and public access issues that it will surely usher in the first time a politically connected equestrian notices a mountain bike with a motor passing them by.

Legislation needs to be drafted to draw the line between an electric-assist bicycle and a throttle twisting electric motorcycle before cycling access takes a step backwards. We’re on the precipice of big things in human powered transportation and no matter what role electric-assist bikes may play in the future, in my opinion it’s important to not allow electric motorcycles to jeopardize the political gains bicycles have made in the past decade.

Behold a selection of e-bikes below, some with throttles and some with electric assist speed/power regulators, some for the urban landscape and some for skirting dirt bike regulations. Have a different opinion on e-bikes? Leave it in the comments or submit a guest editorial to brad@urbanvelo.org.

Cinelli Hobo GEO – Off The Grid

The Cinelli Hobo GEO is the latest in the Hobo line of adventure bikes, taking it further offroad with mountain bike touring sensibilities. Check out the latest video from Lucas Brunelle of navigating the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia, and some images of the GEO we caught at Interbike.

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