Bike Commuting on MSNBC

Here’s a good report on bike commuting from MSNBC.

The Brompton World Championship

The 3rd Annual Brompton World Championship (BWC) will be held on Sunday, September 28th at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, as part of the Bike Blenheim Palace event. The BWC is a tongue-in-cheek event open to all Brompton owners. The competition can be fierce, but just as important is dressing in the proper attire:

Rules for the event are not overly onerous, but poor dress sense will not be tolerated: a suit jacket, collared shirt and tie are de rigueur for participants; sports attire is not permitted, and Lycra shorts/leggings are specifically named, shamed and excluded. Competitors will be expected to demonstrate their folding skills in a Le Mans style start.

Something about ladies and gents in tweed suits racing a criterium on their folding bikes just makes me smile. It looks like a fun event.

How to Be Happier

Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman‘s research into the emotional quality of people’s everyday experiences found that commuting by car ranks dead last. My own experience bears this out; I would hate to go back to commuting by car. Bike commuting has made me a calmer, happier, more relaxed person. How has bike commuting affected you?

Flickr Group Pools

A Panda Portrait

I get a kick out of looking through Flickr group pools. For the uninitiated, Flickr is a free photo-sharing site owned by Yahoo! A Flickr group pool is a collection of photos on a particular subject (or in a particular photographic style) submitted by members of the group. A few of my current favorites include the Panda Portraits group pool, the I Carried This On My Bicycle group pool, the Dutch Bikes group pool, the Bicycle Commuter group pool, and the Ladies & Gents Roadsters group pool. If you hadn’t noticed, down toward the bottom of my blogroll in the right-hand column there’s a “Photostreams” section with links to a number of bike-related group pools. Check it out!

Arkel Bug

If Marshall Flinkman, Q, and MacGyver got together to design a pannier, it would probably resemble the Arkel Bug – this thing has more bells-and-whistles than any other pannier on the market. Its many features include an integrated helmet holder, integrated U-Lock holder, rain cover pocket, quick access top pocket, “air-dry” mesh pockets front and rear, “stealth” pocket for stashing valuables, “mushroom” opening for easy access to the main compartment, multiple hi-vis reflective strips, and an internal slip pocket for carrying papers. If that wasn’t enough, it quickly converts into a backpack for carrying off the bike and, of course, it uses the excellent Arkel “Cam-Lock” hook system for attaching to a rack.

I recently picked up a Bug to use in conjunction with a Metro Basket grocery pannier (see my Metro Basket review here). I’ll use the Bug for carrying all of my work related stuff: change of clothes, lunch, transit pass, papers, glasses, keys, wallet, meds, DVDs, memory sticks, etc. Because it will function as a briefcase/daypack and house my valuables, the Bug will stay with me at all times when I’m off the bike. The Metro Basket, on the other hand, will stay on the bike as a catch-all for picking up mail, groceries, etc., on the way to-and-from work. Between these two very different bags, I should have all the bases covered for my weekday commutes and errand runs.

The Bug’s large number of pockets are probably overkill for touring, where it’s often better to organize items into smaller waterproof bags to be stored inside large pannier pockets. But the Bug is not designed for touring. Instead, it’s intended to serve as an all-purpose bag for the multi-modal commuter or student who rides to a destination, then carries the bag with them. The Bug’s large number of pockets make it easy to organize everything that’s needed for a day at the office, effectively replacing a briefcase, courier bag, or daypack.

It’s the Bug’s quick-change backpack functionality that really makes it unique. By simply pulling open a pair of panels that are held in place by Velcro strips, the backpack straps are exposed for use. On your back, the Bug is as comfortable as any high-quality daypack and functions in much the same manner. And when you arrive back at your bike it takes just a few seconds to stow the straps and turn the Bug back into a pannier. Pretty cool.

Arkel’s “Cam-Lock” attachment system is clever and easy to use (and arguably the best on the market). The spring loaded attachment hooks are on cams (hence the name); pulling up on the carrying handle opens the hooks, releasing the handle closes the hooks. It couldn’t be simpler. Because they’re cam actuated, the hooks will fit any rack with tubing from 8mm – 15mm in diameter without adjustment.

The quality of materials and workmanship that goes into all Arkel products is superb. The Bug is no exception. Arkel uses heavy-duty Cordura nylon, alloy hardware, and heavy-duty YYK zippers throughout. You won’t find a more well-made bag. The only downside is that you pay a premium for such quality – at $165 the Bug is quite expensive (that’s for one pannier). But if you do make the investment, you can rest easy because all Arkel bags are covered under a fully transferrable lifetime warranty on materials and workmanship (including seams).

Only time will tell how well the Bug holds up under daily use, but if it’s anything at all like the other Arkel bags I’ve owned, it should perform exceptionally well. I’ll write a follow-up report later in the year once it’s seen some wear-and-tear.

Capacity: 1500 cu. in.
Dimensions: 17″ x 12.5″ x 7.5″
Weight: 2.6 lbs.
Price: $165 (USD)

Car-Free Photographer

Russ Roca is a professional photographer living and working car-free in the Los Angeles area.

I like to take pictures and I like to ride my bike, so I decided a few years ago to combine the two and try to make something of it. It’s as simple as that. I’m not anti-car, but I do believe that we need real transportation options. We don’t live on a planet with infinite resources, so I feel that we should reduce and reuse when we can.

For me, I’m taking a road less traveled by being carfree in Los Angeles. And my hope with all this, is that when people see me spinning up a hill with my loaded bike that they are filled with the joy of seeing someone doing good and perhaps be inspired to do good themselves.

Visit his website

Car Wars

From the Oregonian:

Portland police arrested a 21-year-old man suspected of chasing down a cyclist Sunday and driving off at a high rate of speed — with the cyclist hanging onto the hood.

In the video above, taken by a witness with a cell phone camera, the cyclist can be seen clinging to the hood of the car after the incident. The cyclist, Jason Rehberg, later managed to get off the car without serious injuries.

James F. Millican was arrested on attempted second-degree assault, driving under the influence of intoxicants, third-degree criminal mischief and reckless driving.

Read the complete story at

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