- May 8, 2013
An estimated 150,000 people came out the first CicLAvia of the year, on April 21, to enjoy the extended route, which spanned 15 miles from..
- May 6, 2013
The Swobo Novak is a no-nonsense commuter bike. Swobo set out to create a high-quality bike with virtually everything you need and hardly..
- April 16, 2013
There was a time when Timbuk2 was the only brand of messenger bags you would see on a daily basis. But times have changed and there are..
- April 9, 2013
Turns out every lane really is a bike lane. Some of us knew this already, but now L.A. Metro is spreading the word, with a new bold..
- April 1, 2013
Contents Include: I Love Riding in the City, Product Spotlight Abus, Track of Ages, Roland Burns, NAHBS 2013 Gallery, Alexander Montsenigos..
An estimated 150,000 people came out the first CicLAvia of the year, on April 21, to enjoy the extended route, which spanned 15 miles from downtown L.A. to Venice. Advisory notices across town helped to build up anticipation in the days preceding the event, promising the increasingly coveted street closures. With a 150 percent increase in attendance, many people were there to experience the open streets event for the first time. While many chose to enjoy to route by foot, skateboard and on rollerskates, bicycles were still the preferred mode of exploring the route; bike shops throughout the city saw a rush of people who wanted to fix up the rusty, dusty bikes they hadn’t touched in years in preparation for the weekend.
“It was a very ambitious route, fifty percent larger than any route we’ve ever done” said Chris Barnes, who is part of the CicLAvia’s team of organizers. “We had a lot more people than we’d anticipated. It seemed like there were a lot more families, a lot more kids.”
On hand to kick off the fun was outgoing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was greeted at Olvera Street—the eastern edge of the route—by hundreds of eager Angelenos, anxious to play in the streets, without the traffic. Citing an accelerated pace of bicycle and public transportation infrastructure development in Los Angeles, Villaraigosa expressed his vision to create a new civic identity.
“Let’s make sure L.A.’s as famous for it’s bikes as it is for its addiction to the single-passenger automobile,” he said. “Because the bike network is growing so fast and Ciclavia is becoming so popular, we’re also making it safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Our public transit system is finally beginning to connect the dots.
“L.A. is quite literally becoming a car-free destination,” he declared before announcing the launch of a car-free initiative from the board of tourism. The initiative entails more than a dozen car-free itineraries for exploring the city, with a broad range of themes from film landmarks, sites with presidential connections, architecture, beaches, LGBT landmarks, and even a “Geek’s Guide to LA,” all available at discoverlosangeles.com/carfreela.
Villaraigosa said that he hopes CicLAvia grows to happen 12 times a year, with varying routes that explore different parts of the city each month.
“I’m really excited that he wants to make it a more permanent change,” said Barnes.
Since beginning in 2010, CicLAvia has drawn not only L.A. residents, but visitors from neighboring counties and states as well. Shattering the myth that a car is needed to get around L.A. has inspired city officials and community organizers throughout the southwest to establish their own open streets events.
“More than a dozen cities have contacted us,” Villaraigosa said. One of the cities modelling their own events after CicLAvia is San Diego, which will host its first CicloSDias on August 11.
The day brought out a diverse mix of people and organizations to the 15-mile block party, including Daniel Busby’s 8-person banquet table, “A Moveable Feast,” and dozens of freakbikes, including Richie Trimble on his 14.5-foot “StoopidTall,” which turned out to the be the star of the day’s event. Dubbed the “King of CicLAvia” by local media, Trimble and his (stoopid) tall bike had onlookers along the route gasping and smiling as he rode by, flanked by a protective circle of Angelopes helping him navigate his way through the crowded streets.
Because the event requires no registration or admission fee, it is difficult to gauge exactly how many people participated; perhaps the best evidence of growth was that parts of the route were still heavily congested, despite the five added miles. With 30 crossing points to allow for intersecting car traffic, parts of the route came to a standstill at times.
“One thing that I’ve been trying to ask for is modifying the signals so that the cyclists get two cycles,” said Barnes. “It seems like it would be a lot more effective in keeping everyone together.”
Despite the congestion, there was plenty to do and friends to be found the whole way across town–reminding us all to just take the day to enjoy the sun and good company. Two more CicLAvia events are planned for 2013. The next will take a historic route down “Iconic Wilshire Boulevard” on June 23 and highlight the cities varied architecture as part of the Pacific Standard Time Los Angeles art initiative.
See more excellent images of Richie’s Stoopidtall bike at Hal Bergman’s photo site.
Bike theft is a problem more or less anywhere there are bicycles, and the UK is no exception. Bikes are everywhere in the UK, and on my couple of trips to London it was clear that theft was a problem given the quality of locks being used to secure beater bikes around town. In 2010 alone 115,000 bikes were reported stolen to the police, and bike theft is a terribly underreported crime. The site stolen-bikes.co.uk is a forum for wronged owners to post their stolen bike and an optional reward in the hopes of a potential buyer finding it and facilitating the return. Sister sites RegisterThatBike.co.uk and RecoveredThatBike.co.uk help owners document the bikes they do own, and link up police recovered bikes to their rightful owner.
Cycling Legalese is our online cycling law column from everyday cyclist and Chicago based injury lawyer, Brendan Kevenides.
We all ride bikes, but is there a community of cyclists? How can we help to look out for each other while out on the road?
Q: So many people I know have either been hit by cars or harassed by drivers while out riding. What can I do to help my fellow bikers?
Brendan Kevenides, P.C.: Many of us who are deeply involved in cycling and cycling advocacy find ourselves referring to a bicycling “community.” But is there really such a community of cyclists, and, if so, what does that even mean?
People who ride bikes are not really part of a discreet group. I would venture to guess that most people who ride do not define themselves by the fact that on occasion they hop onto a two wheeled contraption and go for a spin. Even among those that consider themselves “cyclists,” there are tribes that have little to do with one another. A spandex clad roadie in his 50s may run (and ride) with a very different crowd than a 20 something year old polo player. In my experience, however, despite the purported existence of such tribes, there most certainly is a “bicycle community.” It is made up of people that, while often very different, are bound together by their love of self-propulsion on two wheels. Not everyone that rides a bike could fairly be referred to as a member of this community. But for those that love it, that bond exists, creating an important oneness, a community.
This community is important in a couple of ways. First, it provides a means of meeting people having a common interest and with whom the love of biking can be shared. It can even help expand one’s enjoyment of cycling by promoting introduction to different forms of it. Maybe the middle aged roadie would love playing polo and vice versa. Secondly, the bicycling community provides a support network, and an important one at that. Time and again in my law practice I have seen bicyclists rally to help other cyclists in need. This sometimes happens in the most literal sense. For example, last summer I represented a cyclist who was doored while riding home from work along a busy cycling corridor in Chicago. The bottom edge of the door that was flung open into him caught his shin, slicing it open. He was bleeding profusely and the driver that injured him was freaking out, offering no help. Thankfully, however, a cyclist who happened to be riding right behind my client with her teenage daughter saw what happened, stayed calm and came to the rescue. She tightly wrapped the wound to quell the bleeding while her daughter called for help. The cyclist’s leg was saved and he ended up with little more than an ugly scar. On several other occasions, bicyclists have acted as witnesses for clients involved in crashes with motorists. Several months ago a woman who I ended up representing was riding her old mountain bike home from work. She did not commute by bike everyday, but since the weather was pleasant she decided to ride to the office. On her ride home a motorist doored her and she was injured. When I brought a claim against the driver he alleged that his door had been open for some time and that the bicyclist inexplicably ran into it. Unfortunately, the bicyclist could not remember accurately what had happened. However, a bike messenger was riding behind her at the time of the crash and saw it unfold. He explained that the door was thrown open suddenly just as she rode by and that there was nothing she could have done to avoid it. Thanks to his statement we successfully resolved the case. Though the messenger and my client were arguably of two different cycling tribes, the messenger stayed at the scene and provided his contact information to the police, an act of decency that helped us tremendously.
Sometimes the help that cyclists provide to others is less direct, but no less important. Online forums do more than just offer bicycle maintenance tips. Great examples of this appear regularly on websites like The Chainlink, an online forum based here in Chicago. Daily, cyclists take to The Chainlink to update each other on upcoming cycling events, and on what is happening, often in near real time, on the mean streets. Cyclists post photos of existing street hazards and even put out APB’s on drivers that fled the scene of a collision with a bicyclist.
What can you do to help your follow cyclists? Watch their backs. Be a witness. Offer aid to those in need. If you see a cyclist stopped on the side of the road ask if they are okay. Offer them use of your tools, or pump. Join an online forum and participate constructively in discussion and debate. Bicycling is not inherently dangerous, but in the city streets a network of aid can be tremendously helpful. Be a part of that network. Join the community, and lend your voice to other bicyclists in proclaiming the popular rallying cry of today, We Are Legion!
Nothing contained in this column should be construed as legal advice. The information contained herein may or may not match your individual situation. Also, laws differ from place to place and tend to change over time. No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information presented herein without seeking the advice of an attorney in the relevant jurisdiction. This column is meant to promote awareness of a general legal issue. As such, it is meant as entertainment. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader.
Cycling Legalese Question Submission Form:
Packable windbreakers are one of those clothing items I am rarely without, and that have bailed me out of more than a few freak storms and cold fronts over the years. Chrome has introduced the $95 De Haro windbreaker to their ever expanding clothing lineup, featuring water resistant and windproof ripstop fabric, front utility pockets and a rear pocket that pulls double duty as a stuff sack for the jacket. Longer sleeves and an extended tail keep you covered in the drops, full length side vents allow you air out, and reflective cuffs add some visibility at night for signalling turns. Available in black or oxblood red at www.chromeindustries.com
This tragic story recently came out of Oakland, CA after a cyclist and community activist, Eli Reyes, was pulled off her bike by an aggressive driver, drug through an intersection and then dropped beneath the vehicles moving wheels, causing a full break to her femur and extensive cuts and bruises to her legs. Word on the street is this specific driver has a “thing” for cyclists and has attacked them in the past, as well as harboring other unpleasant accusations.
Reyes and her partner are well-known community activists who run the MOCO non-profit gallery that hosts art shows, presentations and performances of all sorts. This vicious attack has left Reyes unable to generate income and has jeopardized the future of the MOCO gallery.
A fund has been set up to care for Reyes while she recovers and keep the gallery afloat. Supporters have set a fundraising goal of $15,000, which can be contributed to through Paypal, GoFundMe or at the personal address listed on their site. Please consider donating.
From the Surly Blog:
Over the weekend I saw a posting from an online bike dealer that caused some chamois to bunch up. They posted the image below with a tag line You don’t get legs like this pushing a gas pedal!
The third annual Garage Race happened recently in Prague, with this video documenting the party and racing of the evening. Nice shooting and riding, looks like some classic sketchball fun.
National Bike Month is here yet again and the good advocates at People for Bikes have released this PSA with a twist. Instead of taking the usual bike vs. car approach, they’ve decided to appeal to the better sides of both of us, asking to “roll together”. After all, neither of us are leaving the roads, so we should probably find common ground as soon as possible. Sign their Roll Together promise here that asks us all to:
- Look out for my fellow travelers — on bikes, in cars, and on foot.
- Keep my cool with other riders and drivers.
- Recognize that there are real people behind the steering wheel and the handlebars.
Follow along with their #Rolltogether hashtag as well.
The Swobo Novak is a no-nonsense commuter bike. Swobo set out to create a high-quality bike with virtually everything you need and hardly anything you don’t, all at a reasonable price.
At the heart of the bike is a chromoly steel frame and fork. The downtube and top tube feature a teardrop profile which increases the frame stiffness—a nice bit of technology that’s trickled down from higher end bikes. The TIG welds are clean and the paint job is quite nice for a bike at this price point. The frame has rear rack and fender mounts, as well as bosses for two bottle cages.
The Novak’s most distinguishing feature is the Shimano 3-speed Nexus drivetrain. For quite a few urban cyclists, one speed is plenty. For others, myself included, gears are nice but simplicity is certainly appreciated.
The Nexus hub offers a 186% gear range. Second gear is one to one, so the 38 tooth chainring and 19 tooth cog result in 54 gear inches. In first gear you’ve got the equivalent of a 38 x 25 drivetrain (40 gear inches), and in third gear you have approximately 38 x 14 (73 gear inches).
In practice, the gearing has been awesome at times, somewhat disappointing at others. By that I mean when the gearing was appropriate, I was in seventh heaven. But while the low gear did allow me to stand and climb some mighty big hills, it’s not a true granny gear. Similarly, the high gear was great on long flats and for getting up to speed downhill, but you will spin out fairly quickly. Still, three speeds offer more options than just one. And I’ll say this much, after the initial setup was complete I never had to make a single adjustment.
Another nit to pick with the Nexus system is that I’m not a huge fan of the twist shift mechanism. I accidentally shifted gears a few times while climbing, and that’s no fun. Mechanically the system worked flawlessly throughout the test, though, which is admirable.
Many companies like to outfit their city bikes with disc brakes, and I’m not one to complain, but they come at a cost. The Novak’s Tektro caliper brakes do the job admirably, even in wet weather.
At first glance I thought that Swobo had taken the low road and set up the Novak with some imitation metal fenders, but no, they’re bona-fide aluminum.
Ordinarily, I don’t go in for chainguards, but the polished chainguard just seems right for the Novak. I kind of kept thinking, since I’ve got fenders and a chainguard, can I have a kickstand, too? Seriously, what would it hurt?
As you can imagine, the Novak is set up for an upright riding position—not great for racing, but perfect for spotting jaywalking pedestrians and other road hazards. And to be honest, riding a bike with fenders and a chainguard kind of put me in a different mindset… Dare I say, I felt a little more grown up. Or at least smart. I got passed by quite a few whippersnappers on my commute, but I passed a few fellow commuters as well. In general, though, I felt like taking my time on the Novak, even though it felt great on long descents.
The Novak weighs in at roughly 25 pounds, which is neither especially light nor heavy. It seems that when faced with a choice between light weight and durability, however, Swobo took the high road and accepted the weight penalty. Such is the case with the 36 spoke wheels. Even though I’m a relatively light rider who does a decent job of avoiding potholes, I can appreciate a durable wheelset. Remember, the more spokes that share the load, the less punishment each individual spoke endures. This means less wheel truing in your future.
Elsewhere on the bike you’ll find Swobo branded components of appropriate quality—bar, stem, grips, post and saddle. I do like the bolt-on bar end caps. The puncture resistant 700 x 28 Kenda Kwest tires did exactly what they’re supposed to. I didn’t get a single flat during the test period.
Aesthetically, I think the Novak is a pretty sharp looking bike. In my personal opinion, though, the Nexus crankset is a bit of an eyesore. Sure, the satin finish is complimented by the fenders, but for a second imagine how cool this bike would look with polished aluminum crankarms. Now swap those fenders for some shiny hammered ones and you’re almost at show bike status. But I digress.
The Novak retails for $789 and comes in sizes 48 (tested) through 60. Check out www.swobo.com
The future of bike sharing is now, with cities across the country and around the world embracing bike share programs as part of a healthy, multi-modal transport system. The Earth Policy Institute recently published a report on the worldwide uptake in bike share programs, worth a look for anyone still skeptical of bike share being a successful model.
Today more than 500 cities in 49 countries host advanced bike-sharing programs, with a combined fleet of over 500,000 bicycles. Urban transport advisor Peter Midgley notes that “bike sharing has experienced the fastest growth of any mode of transport in the history of the planet.”
In the Americas, where the car has long been king, the first big third-generation bike-sharing program opened in Montreal in 2009. It now has 5,120 bicycles and over 400 stations, facilitating use of the city’s robust network of bike lanes and paths. Toronto plans to expand its 1,000-bike scheme, and Vancouver and Calgary, along with several other Canadian cities, are expecting to start programs in the next couple of years.
When Mexico City launched its Ecobici program with some 1,000 bikes in 2010, it quickly reached its limit of 30,000 annual members and started a waiting list of eager would-be cyclists. The program has since quadrupled in size and remains the largest of Latin America’s dozen or so programs.
In early 2013, China was home to 79 bike-sharing programs, with a whopping combined fleet of some 358,000 bicycles. According to a paper prepared in late 2012 for the Transportation Research Board’s 92nd Annual Meeting by Yang Tang and colleagues at Tongji University, expansions and new projects could soon balloon China’s public bike fleet to just under 1 million cycles.
The world’s largest bike-sharing program is in Wuhan, China’s sixth largest city, with 9 million people and 90,000 shared bikes.
Read the entire report at www.earth-policy.org
According to Fiona Ryan, designer at Fifo Cycle, “We wanted to stay true to the impact the Cinelli branding has had on cycling graphics and to harken back to their vintage design legacy. It has been an extremely exciting project for Fifo Cycle—just the kind of design challenge that gets us spinning in the studio! We used transparent water based inks on natural fabrics to give the hat a vintage feel and an Oxford stripe on the reverse side to keep it dapper and fresh!”
Check out www.fifocycle.com
May 18th bring about the 3rd annual FestiBal con b de Bici in Madrid, a one-day, family-friendly festival, which celebrates the use of bicycles in the urban context, with special emphasis on urban sustainability. Activities include workshops, music, talks, art, fashion, competitions, food and a market area. See more at the Matadero Madrid host website.
The 7th annual Eau Claire Valleycat is scheduled for May 11th in Eau Claire WI. Classic scavenger hunt format, with a pizza and beer fueled DJ-spun afterparty to refuel post-ride. See more and RSVP at the Valleycat Facebook event page.
Sometimes you don’t need a fancy messenger bag or backpack for a grocery run, a simple reusable tote bag will do the trick. ADK Packworks has introduced the $25 Grocer Bag as an upgrade to the low-tech tote bags out there, featuring an internal wire frame to prevent crushing your food cargo and reconfigurable straps so you can carry it by your side, over your shoulder or on your back for the ride home. Approximately the same size as a traditional paper bag, unlike paper the Grocer can hold as much weight as you can stuff inside. An optional insulated liner will run you another $6. Available in green, red or grey from www.adkpackworks.com
Used bicycle chains have limited utility, with most shops throwing away boxes full of them every year. Resource Revival has been repurposing used bike parts for years now, and recently put together this video showing some of the process in saving a used bike chain from the landfill. While they don’t accept individual chain donations, you can get your shop onboard and maybe your old chain will become a bottle opener or picture frame.
Lunis is a cycling clothing start-up, with their first product being the minimalist, made in the USA, Cresent Windshell jacket. It packs down into it’s own stowable pocket that is roughly palm-sized and weighs but a few ounces, making it a perfect thing to have stashed in your bag for cutting the late night chill. It features a slim cyclist fit and articulated sleeves for on the bike comfort, with the real selling point being the reflective highlights visible from a full 360º around. A cinch cord at the bottom and lycra sleeve ends keep the cool air out, while the material claims to be wicking and breatheable while still water and wind resistant. Read more at the Lunis Kickstarter page.
Urban Velo #36 has been out in print and as a digital download for a month now, and without much fanfare we added pages to our iPad version in the form of an extended 20 page NAHBS gallery section. Urban Velo has always been designed with a page size roughly the same as the iPad screen, and we are now able to take advantage of the iPad’s display and magazine browsing capabilities to deliver a high resolution digital version of the magazine This is as close to print as it gets, with a few added links and navigation and in the case of #36 over a dozen added pages of content exclusive to the iPad format.
iPad issues are available for $1.99 each through the free Urban Velo iPad App.
The annual Brooklyn Bike Jumble is coming up on May 11, marking the fifth year in a row for this flea market. Form used bikes to discounted new models, NOS parts to basement finds sounds like a bit of everything. See more at www.nybikejumble.com
Bikes that feature coupler systems for breakdown and easy air or bus travel are continuing to gain in popularity, with a number of different ways to make the actual coupling happen. I’ve been riding one for years, and have travelled all over the country with it using a variety of methods — a cardboard box, a hard shell case from S and S Machine, and finally a custom made bike bag that I commissioned from Blaq Design. I’ve never been that fond of most commercially available cases as they tend to be overly expensive and lacking in the features I’d like to see, hence the custom bag I’ve been using. Given the price of bags on the market or a custom one, it’s no surprise people have been searching for alternatives such as hockey bags, or this NRS bag, meant for stowing an inflatable boat. Pictured is the smallest size, available for a mere $70 that fits a roughly 56 cm bike with 26″ wheels just fine, though it may not fit 700c wheels. An airline legal size, the bag is lightweight allowing you to stuff the empty spaces with vital travelling needs like shoes and a megaphone without going over the weight limit, and rather than opening in half has a shallow top shell to allow for TSA agents to inspect the contents without having to know how to repack your bicycle. Shown here reinforced with cardboard for added rigidity, the bag may not survive dozens of trips like much more expensive bags can, but by the same token is easily replaced if the airline gorillas decide to punch or tear a giant hole in it. The mesh sides are meant for preventing a boat from mildewing and are perhaps the biggest downfall, requiring small parts and bolts to be secured against falling out. Worth a look if you’re looking for an alternative to $250+ travel bags, see more at www.nrsweb.com
The FBM Sword is back for another run, with a pre-sale running until the end of the week at $700 for the frameset shipped to your door. The 4130 steel track frameset is made in New York state, and features extra long track ends and an integrated BMX style headset. Three sizes and five colors are available for this run. See more at www.fmbbike.co