TGIF Commute

Another beautiful sunrise this morning. Fall is coming…

Trek Belleville

Trek is moving more seriously into the utility/transportation market with a new three-speed they’re calling the Belleville. The look is decidedly retro but with an aesthetic nod toward high-end utility builders such as A.N.T., Kogswell, and Vanilla. Specs include a CroMo frame, steel racks front and rear, dyno lights, chainguard, and 3-speed Nexus IGH (what, no kickstand?). There’s a diamond frame and a mixte version available, both retailing at $659.99.


A Portrait of Efficiency

The bicycle requires the equivalent energy of approximately 0.4 liters of gasoline to travel 100 kilometers, and the freight train requires the equivalent energy of approximately 0.6 liters of gasoline to travel 100 kilometers (per ton). That’s darned good gas mileage. As a comparison, a modern hybrid automobile requires approximately 5.0-5.5 liters of gasoline to travel 100 kilometers.

Gallery: Harm’s Jeffson Commuter

This Jeffson was built by a local bike builder Jeff Anderson, the owner of Kiwibikes. I commute to my teaching job four days a week at around 25km round trip a day. At an elevation of around 400 meters it’s quite a climb to get in and out of town. The 29″ wheels make the climb nice and easy and she is a smooth and comfortable trip. 

This year I converted my old Ortlieb motorcycle panniers to fit on my rear carrier to enable a reasonable hauling capacity. The lights I’ve fitted are Nite Flux 6V/ 15amp halogen which throw out a nice splash of lux to enable me to ride home at night. I’m planning to fit an electric assist hub to the front to enable a quicker ride up the hills and reduce my commuting time. Thanks to the reasonable rake angle of the front fork she is a smooth and comfortable ride. —Harm, Rotorua, NZ

Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping on bicycles can be a simple and enjoyable process with just a little planning and a properly set-up bike. It doesn’t necessarily take a specialized cargo bike; simply keeping your carrying capacity in mind while creating your shopping list makes the process go smoothly (less capacity = more trips). We manage to keep it down to a couple of trips per week, with the occasional fill-in trip here and there. In our case, it helps that we sometimes shop as a pair, doubling our carrying capacity while reducing our trips by one half. If you have a partner who has been reluctant to ride, here’s the perfect excuse to get them on a bike and give that “practical biking thing” a try.

Combining a bike ride with a shopping trip makes it more of a fun event and less of an unpleasant chore.

Certainly a dedicated cargo bike is ideal for grocery shopping, particularly if only one person is shopping for a large family. On the other hand, a single person shopping for one or two, or a pair of bicyclists shopping for four or more, can make due perfectly well on standard bikes with a rear rack and a pair of grocery panniers. Front racks and baskets add even more capacity and we’ve found them good for bulky, but lightweight items such as paper towels, toilet paper, bread and so forth.

We keep toying with the idea of building up a Big Dummy for grocery hauling, but so far we’ve done so well with our standard bikes that we haven’t been able to justify the expense. We mix it up a bit, but recently we’ve been using a Breezer Uptown 8 and a Surly LHT for our shopping trips. The Breezer is outfitted with a rear rack and a pair of grocery panniers, while the LHT is set-up with a grocery pannier, an Arkel Bug pannier, and a Pass & Stow front cargo rack. The front rack is used for things like bulk TP or our CSA veggie share (see photo above), while the rear panniers are used for all the usual heavier staple items. The Breezer came stock from the factory fully-equipped and ready to go as a grocery getter. The Surly required a number of additions including racks, fenders, lights, and a chain guard.

One added benefit to shopping by bike is that it will likely encourage you to purchase less packaged food. Anything that comes in a box increases its footprint by at least 25-30%. Individually wrapped items can be even worse, sometimes increasing the space required to haul them by over 100%. The plus side to purchasing less packaged food is that whole foods tend to be less expensive and healthier, and there’s less garbage to go to the landfill. The only downside is that they may require a little more care when packing into your panniers.

If you haven’t done so already, I’d highly recommend giving grocery shopping by bike a try. Besides the obvious benefits of saving gas, providing a little exercise, and reducing pollution in your own neighborhood, combining a bike ride with a shopping trip makes it more of a fun event and less of an unpleasant chore.

Within Reach

Ryan Mlynarczyk and Mandy Creighton are bicycling around the U.S., spreading a message of sustainability and connecting with others involved in the sustainability movement. From their press release:

In celebration and exploration of all things green, two bicyclists on a year-long journey around the United States share their message about sustainable communities. They’ve travelling 12,000 miles to visit sustainable communities such as ecovillages, cohousing, coops, spiritual communities and more, to learn what sustainability efforts are underway in the United States. Mandy and Ryan also want to help you get a better feel for where you might fit on the spectrum of all that is involved with living more sustainably in your existing community. Is it through your style of educating children? Greening your home? Food production (or consumption!)? Getting involved with the Transition Town movement in your area? Where does it feel right for you to contribute in your own communities? In order to explore this, they’ve developed a dynamic group exercise that they’re calling “Mind Map Mandala” workshop, which they share in town hall style meetings in cities and towns along the way. This presentation includes video clips from some of the many communities they have visited thus far.

Within Reach

Goin’ to California

“Goin’ to California with an achin’ in my heart…”

Goodnight, PA; I hope we meet again sometime. Starting tomorrow, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled program from NorCal.

© 2011 EcoVelo™