By the Numbers

Did you know it costs approximately $6000-$7000 per year to own and maintain a car? And did you know it costs approximately $200-300 per year to own and maintain a bike? Just think how much money you could save by riding your bike more, or even better yet, getting rid of one of your cars.

Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S.? And did you know that by riding your bike 30 miles per week you reduce your risk of heart disease by 50%? Just think how much better you’ll feel if you get out there and ride your bike and leave your car at home in the garage.

Did you know that in the U.S. 75% of all car trips are under 10 miles, 60% are under 5 miles, and 40% are under 2 miles? Just think what you could do for yourself and the planet by committing to make all trips under 5 miles by bike, and all trips under 2 miles by either bike or foot.

How Tomorrow Moves

Via the Cyclelicious YouTube Channel

How You Got Here

If you clicked on a link pointing to and ended up here, welcome to EcoVelo. The Recumbent Blog is a site I maintained for a few years before starting this site. I left it online in a dormant state for approximately a year before shutting it down yesterday and setting up a redirect that points to this site.

You can read our mission statement here. Thanks for visiting and we hope you stick around! —Alan

A Sure Sign of Spring

Nothing represents spring in California like Eschscholzia californica, the California poppy. Growing up in California I was naturally in awe of this striking flower. From the time we were toddlers, our parents sternly warned us against picking the “state flower” for fear of arrest, imprisonment, or worse. :-) Even today they hold a special place in my imagination.

If you’re a bike commuter in the West, keep an eye out for these bright spots of color and take a few minutes to stop and enjoy their beauty before they’re gone again for another year.

From Wikipedia:

The California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is native to grassy and open areas from sea level to 2,000m (6,500 feet) altitude in the western United States throughout California, extending to Oregon, southern Washington, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and in Mexico in Sonora and northwest Baja California.

It can grow 5—60 cm tall, with alternately branching glaucous blue-green foliage. The leaves are ternately divided into round, lobed segments. The flowers are solitary on long stems, silky-textured, with four petals, each petal 2-6 cm long and broad; their color ranges from yellow to orange, and flowering is from February to September. The petals close at night or in cold, windy weather and open again the following morning, although they may remain closed in cloudy weather.[1] The fruit is a slender dehiscent capsule 3-9 cm long, which splits in two to release the numerous small black or dark brown seeds. It is perennial in mild parts of its native range, and annual in colder climates; growth is best in full sun and sandy, well-drained, poor soil.

It grows well in disturbed areas and often recolonizes after fires. In addition to being planted for horticulture, revegetation, and highway beautification, it often colonizes along roadsides and other disturbed areas. It is drought-tolerant, self-seeding, and easy to grow in gardens. It is also pictured in welcome signs while entering California.

It is the official flower of California. April 6 is designated California Poppy Day.


I don’t mind hills so much. I lived in West Seattle for a decade, and I learned to live with—if not actually love—the hilly terrain there.

Now I live in the flatlands of the Sacramento Valley in Northern California. I think I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to climb… I mean really climb. Perhaps that explains our penchant for heavy steel bikes like our Pashleys. When you’re on level ground, the playing field gets…ahem…leveled, and weight becomes less of a factor. But I digress.

What we have plenty of around here is wind. It’s not a perpetual wind like on the coast, and it’s not usually a howling wind either, but in the spring and summer we often get what we locals call a “Delta Breeze” that comes up in the evenings. I’m no meteorologist, but it has something to do with cooling temperatures in the evening that causes the wind to blow up from the Sac River Delta.

I’m not a big fan of wind. At least with hills you can see what you’re up against, you know when you’ve won the battle, and there’s almost always a reward on the other side. Wind, on the other hand, can be an unpredictable and cruel opponent, never showing its face and never relenting. There’s a tendency with wind to hunker down and just push and push to exhaustion.

Of course, there’s another side to wind — that being the downwind side. There’s nothing quite like riding along at 20-25 mph with a 20 mph wind at your back; it’s the closest many of us will ever come to knowing what it feels like to be a professional bike racer.

There’s an old bike rider’s saying, something to the effect of, “There’s no such thing as a tailwind, only good days and windy days.” Perhaps the wind will be at my back on this evening’s commute and I’ll have one of those “good days” on the bike.

Russ Roca’s Dream Assignment

Our pal Russ Roca, aka the Eco-Friendly Bicycling Photographer, dropped us a note about his bid to win an all-expenses-paid photo assignment that would take him across North and South America on his bicycle. Here’s a portion of his application text:

I would like to ride a bicycle through North and South America on an ambitious portrait project, photographing the work of community leaders and activists who are striving for a more sustainable planet.

I am a freelance photojournalist in Long Beach, CA and I travel to all my assignments and shoots with a specially made cargo bicycle, able to carry up to 400lbs of equipment.

I have done this day in and day out for the last three years. In this time, I’ve come to realize that the environment will be the crises of our times. We’ve become trapped in a circle of consumption that fills our air with smoke and our lands with trash.

There is hope however. There are people around us that are working for a more sustainable way of life in large and small ways.

In the spirit of the work, I want to ride my bicycle across the country and document the work of these people in multi-media portraits combining stills and recorded audio.

Russ is a fine, fine photographer as well as being a knowledgeable and committed transportational bicyclist. He needs your vote to win the assignment. If you have a minute, drop on over to the Dream Assignment website and place a vote for Russ.

Place your vote for Russ at the Dream Assignment website
Visit Russ’ website
Visit Russ’ other website

Ding, Ding

I’m surprised by the number of bicyclists I see who don’t have bells on their bikes. I suppose some might view them as childish and uncool, but I find them to be an important safety item and I think of them as the goodwill ambassadors of the bike trail.

Horns are for cars
I tried one of those super-loud air horns made for bicycles. I found it largely ineffective for getting the attention of motorists, but far too loud for use on multi-use paths and bike lanes. Every time I used the horn on a path to get someone’s attention, they practically leapt off the trail they were startled so badly. Needless to say, this is not an effective way to develop good relations between bicyclists and other trail users.

Approaching others carefully and politely builds goodwill and presents a positive image of bicyclists and bicycling, something we should all be trying to do.

Yelling is…well…yelling
The old “on your left” method for announcing your approach is OK among seasoned bicyclists because they’re accustomed to hearing it, but casual bicyclists and pedestrians have no idea what it means, particularly when it’s yelled at them from behind. Like the horn, more often than not it startles other trail users and reinforces the stereotype that bicyclists are rude and unsafe.

The friendly bell
Bells, if used properly, signal your presence to other non-motorized road and trail users in a gentle, polite manner. I think this is very important.

I usually ring my bell a couple of times from a fair distance to give others an opportunity to figure out where the sound is coming from, then, if they don’t respond, I slow and give a couple of more rings as I get closer. This works nearly 100% of the time and I rarely startle anyone.

Consider the friendly bell if you don’t already use one. Approaching others carefully and politely builds goodwill and presents a positive image of bicyclists and bicycling, something we should all be trying to do.

© 2011 EcoVelo™