Gallery: Jeremy’s Volae Expedition

This is my recumbent. Nothing special, just a stock 2006 Volae Expedition. I bought this bike for my 26 mile one way commute. It works well for that. I can carry what I need, and after spending 3 hrs in the saddle, I am not at all sore at the end of a day.

This bike is also fast! I’ve got a set of 1” tires I run when I’m feeling sporty. I made the 26 mile trip home in 1hr 6 minutes a few months ago. That’s an average speed of over 25 miles per hour. All that while laying down on an “old guy bike”? Yeah, recumbents do certainly have  a place in the cycling world. Something you never really know until you try.

This bike doesn’t have character like some of my others, and I’m somehow not really attached to it, but when I ride it, I always have a huge grin on my face. —Jeremy

[Visit Jeremy’s blog at —ed.]

Gallery: David’s Lightning P-38

The photo shows my 2008 Lightning P-38XT with my 1984 Mercedes. The Mercedes has been converted to run on waste vegetable oil. I live 20+ miles from work so I drive the Mercedes about 8 miles in and then bike the remaining 12 to work. Coming home is the reverse but by the time I slide home I have an inexplicable craving for french fries. —David

Why Cyclists Hate Stop Signs

Cyclists are notorious for running stop signs and there’s probably nothing else we do that raises as much ire among motorists and provides as much fuel for the anti-bike contingent. It can be extremely dangerous, and it undoubtedly breeds an environment of mistrust between motorists and cyclists. Given the fact that most cyclists are law abiding citizens in every other regard, why do so many choose to roll through stop signs and red lights (myself included)?

Joel Fajans (bicycle commuter and physics professor at UC Berkeley) and Melanie Curry (bicycle commuter and managing editor of ACCESS Magazine) think they know why. In their essay Why Bicyclists Hate Stop Signs, they point to the excess energy required to make frequent stops and starts as the culprit:

With only 100 watts’ worth (compared to 100,000 watts generated by a 150-horsepower car engine), bicyclists must husband their power. Accelerating from stops is strenuous, particularly since most cyclists feel a compulsion to regain their former speed quickly. They also have to pedal hard to get the bike moving forward fast enough to avoid falling down while rapidly upshifting to get back up to speed.

For example, on a street with a stop sign every 300 feet, calculations predict that the average speed of a 150-pound rider putting out 100 watts of power will diminish by about forty percent. If the bicyclist wants to maintain her average speed of 12.5 mph while still coming to a complete stop at each sign, she has to increase her output power to almost 500 watts. This is well beyond the ability of all but the most fit cyclists.

Fajans and Curry put their theory to the test on California Street in Berkeley, one of the city’s designated “bicycle boulevards” that has 21 stop signs (!) over a 2.25 mile stretch. By comparing California Street with nearby Sacramento Street—which has few stop signs—they were able to measure a 30-39% difference in average speed due to the required frequent stopping and starting on California Street:

One of us (Joel Fajans) found that keeping exertion constant, he could ride on Sacramento at an average speed of 14.2 miles per hour without straining. At the same level of exertion, his speed fell to 10.9 mph on California if he stopped completely at every sign. Thus Sacramento was about 30 percent faster than California. By increasing his exertion to a fairly high level, his average speeds increased to 19 mph on Sacramento and 13.7 mph on California, so Sacramento was then 39 percent faster. While a drop of a few miles per hour may not seem like much to a car driver, think of it this way: the equivalent in a car would be a drop from 60 to 45 mph. Because the extra effort required on California is so frustrating, both physically and psychologically, many cyclists prefer Sacramento to California, despite safety concerns. They ride California, the official bike route, only when traffic on Sacramento gets too scary.

I observed this exact thing when I was in Berkeley last year. During the rush hour commute, I counted far more bicycles on the busier, more dangerous thoroughfares than on the designated bicycle boulevards. I can only imagine it’s because of the large number of stop signs on the quieter BBs.

Fajans and Curry suggest that the issue is mostly a result of car-centric traffic planners not truly understanding the needs of cyclists:

Car drivers say they are confused by the presence of bicycles on the road, and some wish the two-wheelers would just go away. Bicyclists know that cars cause most of their safety concerns . Traffic planners need to find ways to help bikes and cars coexist safely. A good place to begin is by taking the special concerns of bicyclists seriously, and not assuming that they will be served by a system designed for cars. Reducing the number of stop signs on designated bike routes would make bicycle commuting considerably more attractive to potential and current riders. Allowing bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs, as some states do, could solve the problems in a different way.

Perhaps cities should buy bikes for their traffic engineers and require that they ride them to work periodically. There ’s probably no better way for them to learn what it’s like to ride a bike in traffic than actually to experience its joys and hazards.

I have to agree with the authors; their call for more sophisticated traffic planning, that takes into account the true issues cyclists face on the road, is right on the money.

Read the full article (PDF) →

Gallery: Jeremy’s Raleigh Record Fixie

Here is bike #2 of my quiver.

Old Raleigh Record Frame (70’S???) that I originally bought at a church sale for 5 bucks. After it hanging in my garage for 6 months, I figured I would send it off and put it at the leave it or take it rack at the local recycling facility. The next day, the bike was gone (I can see the yard from my office window).

Fast forward 4 months and the incredible urge to build my first fixie was upon me. I headed to the recycling yard to see if I could find a frame suitable. Low and behold, that old Raleigh Record was sitting there again. Only this time, it had been tuned and had new rubber. Don’t know what happened to it while I was away, but I liked it.

I stripped everything, rattle-canned the frame and built it up with a decent set of wheels (Paul hubs, Alex rims, and DT Swiss 16ga Stainless Spokes) chopped and flopped the bars, and a cheapo 45 tooth chain ring and cranks with a Surly 17 tooth track cog on back. Added a new WTB saddle and FSA seat post to clean it up a little. Finally I had to add a Surly tug-nut so I could open my beer. Just kidding, that’s for keeping a tight chain. However it has served well for the former.

After two years of riding this bike and being forced to wear a back pack to carry anything, I decided I’d try my hand at brazing, and built the minimalist rear rack that’s on it now. The rack works great, plenty of clearance between the panniers and my big feet and is holding up just fine. I figured I could go light, being as it’s a skinny tired fixed gear with no brakes. It’s not like I’d ever really load this bike up with anything, just enough to get me clean and fed at work.

This bike is my favorite and is like an old faithful friend to me. Never let me down. Rain or Shine, Snow or Dust. —Jeremy

[Visit Jeremy’s blog at —ed.]

Bicyclog: Found, Used and Interesting

Photo © fontef

I just discovered Bicyclog: Found, Used and Interesting. The site has only been active since July of this year, but Yanek (the site owner) is already doing a good job of giving us a feel for bike culture in Tel Aviv. His “found” bikes include a Tino Sana wooden bicycle (pictured above), an old Raleigh, a Gazelle, a Mercedes bike, an Indian Rickshaw, and a number of other unusual bikes. I’m looking forward to watching the site grow.

Check it out

Gallery: Jeremy’s Specialized Sequoia

I’ve attached some photos of my recently acquired Specialized Sequoia. I believe it to be a 1996 model made with Specialized Double-butted tubing. Specs are not too spectacular, just good quality older stuff. I added the B-17 for obvious reasons as well as the Nitto Technomic quill and a set of Vintage Nitto bars I found. Literally found in a recycling yard. The 1/2 step gearing is kind of weird and something that I will definitely change. The bike is border line too small for me, but with the help of the tall Nitto, I’m making it work for now. Drive train is Shimano 600, and the brakes are Dia-comp Royal Gran Compe 500.

This bike is one in my rotation of cycles that I use to commute to work and back, which is 26 miles each way. Usually I ride there, drive home, and visa versa. This bike is most noted for its incredibly smooth ride. This is by far the smoothest riding bike I’ve ever been on. I think the next step for this bike is some nicer, classic racks and some classier panniers or a nice seat bag. —Jeremy

[Visit Jeremy’s blog at —ed.]

Gallery: Derek’s Electra Rat Rod w/Xtracycle Conversion

Our Electra Rat Rod with Xtracycle conversion. This bike was originally acquired for use as a guest bike. Whenever we had company over, people always wanted to try our cruisers and then didn’t want to get off. It was very cool to see people getting excited about riding bikes, but we wanted to ride too!

This was one of the bikes we bought so everybody could ride. It was too much fun to just sit when we didn’t have guests, so it gets pulled into regular rotations for grocery runs, hot dates and the occasional longboarder tow. —Derek

Extras (as pictured)
Neversummer Eclipse Pintail Longboard
Xtracycle trailer attachment
Serfas TL 1000 taillights(4)

[Derek is a professional photographer living and working in the Pacific Northwest. You can see his tricked-out, Xtracycled cruisers and other cool bikes at his gorgeous blog, —ed.]

© 2011 EcoVelo™