The Great NYC Commuter Race

For the 5th year in a row, a bicyclist beat a subway rider and a cab passenger across New York in Transportation Alternatives’ annual Great NYC Commuter Race. The bicyclist, a librarian from Brooklyn, covered the 4.2 mile commute from Sunnyside, Queens to Columbus Circle in just over 20 minutes. The subway rider rolled in 15 minutes later, followed by the cab another 12 minutes after that. The race took place yesterday and started at 7:00am during rush hour. The Commuter Race once again demonstrated why the bicycle is such a great way to get around in a dense, traffic-choked, urban environment.

New Yorkers have the longest commutes in the country (averaging over 45 minutes), but bicyclists in the city fare much better with commute times hovering at around 30 minutes.

Read the full story in the Daily News
Transportation Alternatives

Capitol BikeFest

Today was Bike to Work Day in the Sacramento region. One of the big events for the day was the annual Capitol BikeFest that took place on the west steps of the Capitol.

The turnout was great with bicyclists riding in from all over the area (a number of riders came from as far as Folsom and beyond).

There were numerous local bike shops in attendance as well as representatives from a number of advocacy organizations, including SABA with their bike valet service.

The schwag was flowing freely, with the eco-totes from Whole Foods appearing to be particularly popular. One of the highlights of the event was the commuter bike raffle.

All in all it was a fun event and I’m looking forward to attending next year.

Bike Cameras Revisited

Panda Portrait with G10

Back in November of last year I asked the readers of this blog for advice on bike cameras (see here). I received a ton of input and the post ended up generating more comments than any post before or since. In the interim I’ve come to realize photographers are a helpful, if not opinionated, bunch!

After much research and hand-wringing, I ended up purchasing a Canon XSi DSLR. The XSi is a reasonably priced, relatively small/light consumer-level digital SLR with great specs and the ability to accept a wide selection of lenses from Canon and other aftermarket lens makers.

I ended up with four lenses: a Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS which is the “kit” lens that came with the camera; a Tokina AF 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX wide angle that I use mainly for capturing images of bikes/riders within larger landscapes; a Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM that is my low light “standard” lens; and a Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 USM macro that I use for all of my bike detail shots. Of these, the kit zoom sees the least amount of use. The others are all excellent lenses that serve their particular purposes quite well. Of the four, the Canon 60mm macro probably gets the most use.

After experimenting with various ways to carry the kit on my bike, I ended up with a Crumpler 7 Million Dollar Home camera bag. The 7MDH, as it’s sometimes called, is a beautifully made, messenger-style shoulder bag, perfect for carrying a small to medium sized DSLR with 2-3 extra lenses and accessories. You can read my review of the 7MDH here.

As much as I’ve been ecstatic with the image quality and overall performance of the XSi and lenses, there was a small hole in my system; the kit is plenty comfortable for carrying around town on errand runs, joyrides, etc., but it’s a little much for taking on my daily multi-modal commute along with lunch, clothes, and other items needed for a day at the office. Consequently, I found myself grabbing my old Canon S3IS for those trips when I would be carrying a load and hopping on-and-off of transit multiple times. Since my original intention was to replace the S3IS, yet I still occasionally found myself using it, I decided I needed a higher quality, compact camera to “fill the gap” so to speak. With that in mind, I started saving my pennies and set out to find my perfect sub-DSLR compact for on-bike use.

These were my base criteria:

  • Pocketable or at least “pouchable”
  • Small enough for one-handed use on the bike
  • Full manual control
  • Raw output
  • Relatively wide, fast lens
  • Reasonably high image quality

Using the above criteria I fairly quickly narrowed down my list to the Panasonic LX3 and the Canon G10. Without getting into all of the technical arguments for one camera over the other, I can say the Canon is a better fit for me and I ended up purchasing one recently. I haven’t spent much time with the G10 yet, but the initial results are promising; the image quality looks excellent (see the zoomed image at the top of this post), the size is perfect for one-handed use, and it’s quite comfortable on the shoulder in its tiny Crumpler 1 Million Dollar Home bag.

Only time will tell, but I’m hoping the G10 will meet the need for those times when it’s not practical to carry a kit bag loaded with a DSLR and extra lenses, while providing the manual control and image quality I’ve become accustomed to.

CBC Action Alert

From the California Bicycle Coalition:


Identify local bike-ped projects for stimulus funding

The federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 provides California with $77 million for transportation enhancement (TE) projects, a category of federal transportation funding that includes bicycle-pedestrian projects.

Of this amount, $48 million in funds is allocated to metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and regional transportation planning agencies (RTPAs). Click here to see the list of each MPO/RTPO and the amount of ARRA funding (far right column) it is receiving.

The balance of $29 million in ARRA funding goes to Caltrans to be spent on TE projects on the state highway system.

Earlier this year the state enacted Assembly Bill X3-20, which prioritizes the spending of TE funds provided by ARRA. The bill gives first priority for funding to TE projects that can be built by the California Conservation Corps or local equivalents, and gives second priority to bike-ped projects. These priorities apply to MPO/RTPA projects as well as Caltrans projects.

Caltrans intends to obligate as much of this funding as possible, including the portion allocated to MPO/RTPA projects, by June 30, 2009, so any local bike-ped projects must be completely ready to go out to bid. This is why we need to act now!

Read the rest of this entry »

Civia Loring Rack Details

Just because the wood is so gorgeous.
Uploaded to Flickr

Instructables LED Jacket Project

There’s an article over at Instructables that demonstrates how to create a jacket with built-in LED lights for bicycling at night. With the Arduino Lilypad prototyping board the lights can even be used as turn signals. This kind of project is way over my head, but it looks interesting nontheless.

Not everyone wants to look like an athlete while cycling to work or school. This cycling-jacket, made of hemp and wool, is equipped with lots of shining bright LEDs. It looks just as good during the day as it does during the night. Embedding the Arduino Lilypad electronics in the jacket, makes it at practical as it is nice to look at!


Chu Back in the Saddle

Steven Chu (center)

Energy Secretary Steven Chu is an avid bicyclist, bike advocate, and long time bike commuter. Unfortunately, his new job in the Obama administration has kept him off of his bike due to security concerns.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Secretary Chu went against the advice of his security detail last week and rode his bike to work on Bike-to-Work Day (on a Colnago C40, no less), stopping along the way to appear as a special guest at a Washington Area Bicyclist Association event.

The secretary rode about 10 miles to Freedom Plaza, a few blocks from the Department of Energy’s national headquarters, to attend as a special guest for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s annual Bike to Work Day.

It’s only the second work commute for the secretary since the Secret Service apparently doesn’t like him on the capital’s roads. But last weekend he clocked 47 miles on the Colnago.

You go, Secy. Chu. I’m thrilled to have a serious bicyclist (and Nobel Prize winner in physics) as our Secretary of Energy.

© 2011 EcoVelo™