Blumenauer in Parade Mag

In Parade Magazine today:

A Greener Commute
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D., Ore.) leads the Congressional Bicycle Caucus, a bipartisan group that helped secure $4.5 billion in funding for bike and pedestrian initiatives.

Why care about cycling now?
Right now, the U.S. consumes about 10% of the world’s oil supply just to get back and forth to work. If we are able to reintroduce the bicycle into our communities, we are going to make it easier for people to break our addiction to oil. I have cycled to work in Washington, D.C., for 12 years. I’ve burned over 300,000 calories and saved $94,000 in car costs, 206 gallons of fuel, and 4800 pounds of carbon dioxide.

Read the full story

All Mixed Up

My daily commute involves four modes: walking, cycling, rail, and bus. The total round trip is approximately 60 miles, with 12 miles on the bike, and 2.5 miles on foot. The rest of the trip is equally divided between the train and bus. In the morning, I ride my bike to the train station, store it in a bike locker, ride the train into the city, and walk to work from the train station. In the afternoon, I walk from work to the bus station, take a bus back to the train station near my home, and ride my bike home from the train station. Mixing modes everyday has given me an opportunity to compare and contrast these different ways of moving around.

Obviously, I find cycling the most enjoyable way to travel. I like the independence and freedom it provides, as well as the efficiency when compared to other modes of transport. There’s also the fact that I love bicycles in-and-of-themselves as objets d’art. They’re the “shiny things” that get me on the road at 5 am when it’s freezing cold and I haven’t had my coffee yet.

I find the train a perfectly civilized way to travel. The seats are roomy and comfortable, the conductors are polite and professional, dedicated bike storage is provided, and there’s even a snack bar.

The rail portion of my commute is on the Amtrak Capitol Corridor, a commuter line that runs from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada all the way to Silicon Valley and back. My short portion takes only 25 minutes to traverse. I find the train a perfectly civilized way to travel. The seats are roomy and comfortable, the conductors are polite and professional, dedicated bike storage is provided, and there’s even a snack bar.

My arrival downtown places me in the heaviest portion of the morning rush. I don’t mind walking downtown; in fact, I enjoy the feeling of cruising along anonymously in a large group of people all scurrying along to their destinations. The down side is that it takes me nearly as long to walk the 1.25 miles from the train station to work as it does to cycle the 6 miles from the train station to home. I guess it goes without saying, but cycling is far more efficient than walking.

The bus portion of my commute is always interesting. I ride a dedicated commuter line, with most of the passengers being state and federal employees. The excitement lies in the fact that the buses are terribly overcrowded and on any particular day there may end up being as many as 15 people standing in the aisle. Etiquette and common decency dictates that a healthy person like myself offers his seat to anyone that may be in need of it, something that happens frequently enough. The bus ride is my least favorite leg of my commute.

In a perfect world, I’d have a nice, medium length, point-to-point bike commute on quiet, traffic-free country roads, but short of that, I really can’t complain about my multi-modal commute. I’m just thankful that the resources are available to piece together a 60-mile car-free commute everyday.

Parked in Front of the Library

An endless supply of books and movies for “free” — what a great gift. We love the library.

We Have a House Guest

Bionx LHT

In response to my Zoom Zoom Zoom post on the Bionx-equipped Ohm from earlier today, a friend sent these photos of a Bionx-equipped Long Haul Trucker. Pretty cool. (Photos © Quality Bicycle Parts)

RANS Fusion ST

RANS is introducing a step-through version of their popular Fusion crank forward bike. The new Fusion ST will appeal to those who ride in street clothes, or anyone who has difficulty stepping over a high top tube, while still providing all the benefits of a crank forward bike. With the addition of the RANS Ride and Carry (RAC) cargo system, the Fusion ST becomes a comfortable and user-friendly urban/suburban cargo hauler.

Details at RANS

Zoom Zoom Zoom

We dropped by Gold Country Cyclery yesterday to play around with an Ohm “power on demand” bicycle (also known as electric-assist or e-assist). We rode the top-of-the-line, $4000+ Sport XS750 outfitted with a BionX 350W/700 peak motor with re-gen and a Li-ion 38V 12AH battery.

If you like the feeling of pedaling a big gear uphill very fast, but your name is not Contador, Sastre, or Schleck, you’ll get a major kick out of a powerful e-bike like the Ohm. Riding it is like riding any other bike, except the motor kicks in and shoves you along like a sudden, but perfectly timed tailwind, anytime the bike senses an increase in pedal pressure. The assist is surprisingly intuitive and natural, and after a few minutes you completely forget the nearly silent motor is helping you along.

I like E-bikes. They fill a need for those who want to ride a bike but require assistance to compensate for a physical limitation, overcome long distances and difficult terrain, or arrive at work in dry clothes. And to top it off, as I found out yesterday, they’re a ton o’ fun.


© 2011 EcoVelo™