Terry’s Commute Story

Thirty years ago I lived in a bush town near Kalgoorlie in Western Australia and worked at a nickel mine some 10km from my home I had a choice of commutes; eiher via the main road or through the bush.

Once I’d bought myself one of the earliest model Mountain bikes, the bush route became easily the more popular. I could tell you a thousand stories of my daily rides to and from the mine, from low level bombing raids from the local bird population, to a face to face confrontation with a very beautiful and very deadly Dugite (Snake).

When I reached the mine, my bicycle was the only one to be seen. We had a workforce of about 150 men all of whom drove to work. I was considered to be at least slightly eccentric or, more often, raving mad.

That was thiry years ago. Last year I returned to my old haunts and visited the mine. There would have been up to 20 bikes leaning against the fence. I doubt that the miners are more inclined to exercise, rather that the increase in cycling to work has been brought about by higher petrol prices.

Now I am retired so my commute days are over, which, happily, gives me more time to ride my bikes. —Terry

Glenn’s Commute Story

I have a short commute I have been riding for a few years now. Sometimes I’ll ride my mountain bike to work and take an extended turn through a large park that runs along a local ridge in New Haven, CT. There is a lot of wildlife there, I’ll see ducks, hear frogs, see deer and wild turkeys, but the weirdest thing I saw was a deer carcass that had either rotted away over the winter or some carnivores had had at it.  It was picked pretty clean and freaked me out when I first saw it near the trail.
—Glenn, Hamden, CT, Riding a Canondale touring bike from 1985

Gallery: David’s Bernds Tandem

Photo courtesy of Velo Vision © 2008 George Ferguson

I posted you a pic of my Nazca Fuego a few months ago for the Recumebnt Blog. Now that you have started a new project I thought you may be interested in this. I use this Bernds Tandem design around Edinburgh, Scotland. Still in production with some alts. Rohloff, Schmidt, Hope components. Was featured in Velo Vision a while back. Pretty worn now but an interesting take on making a compact tandem that can carry loads. Carrying two people is only half of what it can do. Pic here shows that you can carry a large bag over frame. Course it takes panniers front and back for touring but for quick use a bag with straps is so much easier. Rear wheel folds so it can fit on a train. Looks weird but makes it same length as standard bike. We don’t have a car so it does get used and can take a wide range of riders. Regards and well done on both your sites. Very nicely photographed and presented.

Many thanks to Velo Vision (my favorite magazine) for use of the main photo and the first two smaller photos. Visit their website and consider a subscription! And many thanks to David for sharing his interesting Bernds with us – cool bike! —Alan

Gallery: Roland’s Challenge Hurricane

I’ve been reading the recumbent blog for a couple of years. I think it is an excellent idea to start the ecovelo blog to get people to see bikes as transport rather than toys. Over here in the Netherlands bicycles as transportation are so common that it’s easy to forget that the situation is very different elsewhere.

For the EcoVelo gallery, I’d like to introduce my daily transport;

A black Challenge Hurricane tour with under seat steering that I bought at the end of last year. It was specifically made as my day-to-day transport. I use it for commuting to work and for grocery runs. Essentially it’s for all regional transportation that doesn’t require a car because of weight or bulk.

It has several adaptations to make it suitable as a daily transport; Sturdy Velocity Aeroheat ETRTO 40-406 rims with Schwalbe Marathon HS-308 tires. A low rolling resistance is nice, but comfort and puncture resistance (especially when driving onto a curb) are more important. A Rohloff 14-speed hub gear is used for reduced maintenance and the ability to switch gears while standing still. The front chain ring has 62 teeth while the rear sprocket is 17 teeth. This puts the 11th gear (1:1) at a cruising speed of around 23 kph. The chain ring has covers on both sides to keep pants out of the chain. :-) A chain tensioner was built into the top idler above the front wheel by Frank ter Braak from ‘de liggende hollander’ who built me this bike. Most of the chain is enclosed to help keep it (and the bike and rider) clean. Mudgards are also essential in this aspect, since this bike is used come rain or shine. Shimano XTR hydraulic disk brakes provide plenty of stopping power independent on the state of the rims. Rear suspension is provided by a Rock Shox SID element. The seat cover has two sides, one covered in leather for when it’s cold or wet, and a ventilated mesh side for summer. A B+M Lumotec senso plus headlight is fed by a Schmidt hub generator, while the rear LED light is fed by batteries. The rear rack carries a Radical Design large Allfa bag, which gives 30 liters of luggage or groceries capacity while maintaining a reasonably aerodynamic profile. An Axa Defender ring lock with attachable chain is used to keep the bike safe when parked outside.

Keep up the good bloggin’! —Roland

Call for Commute Stories

I’ve created a “Commute Stories” category to house readers’ stories from the road. I’m a big believer in sharing knowledge and I know we have a lot to learn from one another, so if you’re willing to share your bike commuting story, I’d love to post it here on EcoVelo. Just send your write-up in the body of an e-mail to alan@barnardesign.com, and if you have an accompanying photo, please attach it to the same. Thanks!

Keen Commuter

Cycling sandals have become increasingly popular over the past few years, and for good reason; they’re comfortable, light, convenient, and walkable. I’ve been wearing Shimano sandals for the past 18 months and I find them to be far more comfortable than traditional cycling shoes, both on the bike and walking about. As Sheldon Brown put it, “These are my very favorite footwear. In the summertime I go for weeks on end without ever having anything else on my feet. Far and away the most comfortable cycling footwear ever.

I too love my Shimano sandals, but I always felt they’d be better with a closed toe box (a la Keen) to keep my toes a little warmer in the winter and provide some protection in the event of a crash. Consequently, I was excited when I caught wind that Keen was coming out with a “Shimano Killer” cycling-specific sandal.

Called the Commuter, Keen’s new bike sandal features a full length SPD compatible plate, a thermoplastic urethane cleat tap plate, and an upper that is nearly identical to Keen’s ever-popular Newport H2. (The Newport H2 is half sandal, half trail running shoe, with open straps and a treaded sole similar to traditional sandals, but with an enclosed toe box for protection.) The Commuter goes a step beyond the Newport with a stiffer sole and more compact tread pattern to narrow the overall profile, resulting in greater crank clearance and a more positive pedal/shoe interface (don’t let the narrower outsole scare you; both sandals are built on the same men’s “D” width last).

The narrower profile is key. My Brompton is outfitted with platform pedals (a necessity due to the nature of the little folding beast) and I found the Newport outsole to be far too wide, with crank interference on the inside and a feeling of tipping off the pedal to the outside. The Commuter, on the other hand, with its narrower profile and stiffer sole, perfectly mates with a standard width platform pedal. There’s also ample clearance with clipless pedals, even on low “Q” cranks like I have on my Tour Easy (this was a bit of a problem with the Shimano sandal). So, whether you’re of the clipless persuasion or, as Grant Petersen puts it, you prefer to pedal “free”, the Commuter is a good fit.

Even with an enclosed toe box, the Commuter feels more like a sandal than a shoe. It’s well ventilated and the upper is supple and easily adjustable using Keen’s unique “bungee cord” lacing system. They can literally be slipped on and off in seconds while being plenty secure for road riding. You do pay a price for the Commuter’s cycling-specific features. Even though it’s not a bad sandal for short walks and even a bit of light (very light) hiking, the wider and more supple Newport is far better for long walks and more demanding conditions. That said, the Commuter is probably the most walkable cycling-specific shoe on the market.

The Commuter successfully combines the ease of use, comfort, and walkability of a sandal with the stiffness and toe protection of a cycling shoe. Because they’re built with the same high quality and attention to detail that is typical of all Keen products, they should provide many seasons of trouble-free use. And who knows, with their enclosed toe box, you might even be able to get away with wearing them around the office!

For more information: www.keenfootwear.com

Encouraging Signs

Photo © idogu

Bicycle production has skyrocketed in recent years, with output increasing each of the last six years and nearly quadrupling since 1970. Yet, while overall bicycle usage has increased in many parts of the world, bicycle usage in the United States has decreased overall, and bicycle usage for transportation remains dismal, with just 0.4% of commute trips taken by bike. Even so, the Earth Policy Institute sees reason for optimism due to increasing advocacy and investment in cycling infrastructure nationwide.

From the Earth Policy Institute, J. Matthew Roney, 05.12.08:

Bicycles Pedaling Into the Spotlight
The world produced an estimated 130 million bicycles in 2007—more than twice the 52 million cars produced. Bicycle and car production tracked each other closely in the mid-to-late 1960s, but bike output separated sharply from that of cars in 1970, beginning its steep climb to 105 million in 1988. Following a slowdown between 1989 and 2001, bike production has regained steam, increasing in each of the last six years. Much of the recent growth has been driven by the rise in electric, or “e-bike” production, which has doubled since 2004 to 21 million units in 2007. Overall, since 1970, bicycle output has nearly quadrupled, while car production has roughly doubled.


While biking remains popular for recreation in the United States, it is woefully underused for transportation. Total cycling participation has declined nationally since 1960, dropping 32 percent since the early 1990s, and now accounts for just 0.9 percent of all trips. Cycling to work is even less frequent, at 0.4 percent of trips.

Despite these unimpressive statistics, encouraging signs can be seen for the future of cycling in the United States. Aided by $900 million a year in federal funding for promotion of biking and walking for 2005 to 2009, the installation of bicycle facilities—including parking, bike-friendly roads, and designated lanes—is proceeding at a record pace. Indeed, plans in the 50 largest U.S. cities would, on average, double their bicycle and pedestrian routes; New York City alone will quadruple its bike network to 2,900 kilometers by 2030.

Bicycle advocacy in the United States continues to grow as well. The League of American Bicyclists now honors 84 U.S. towns and cities as Bicycle Friendly Communities, compared with 52 in 2005. Cycling advocacy groups operate in 49 states and Washington, D.C. Perhaps most exciting, a Complete Streets movement has blossomed in recent years, in which a broad coalition of citizen and environmental groups is calling for safer, pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly roads designed for everyone, not just cars. Six states and more than 50 cities, counties, and metro regions have now enacted some form of Complete Streets legislation. For example, the Illinois General Assembly voted last October to require all new state transportation construction projects in and around urban areas to include bicycle and pedestrian ways.

Read the full story here.

© 2011 EcoVelo™