Bike-Sharing: Yea or Nay?

Photo: Rcsmit

I have to say, I was somewhat surprised to see the negative comments under our post about the new B-Cycle bike-sharing system that debuted today in Denver. I was also surprised to see the negative comments regarding bike-sharing in general. I’d like to know if our readers view bike-sharing as a waste of money, or whether they think it can be a viable addition to public transportation systems.

Do you view bike-sharing as a viable addition to our public transportation systems?

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Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day from the crew at EcoVelo!

Tour of the Fireflies

8,000 strong in Manila.

Via Reuters
Firefly Brigade

REI Beginner’s How-To Videos

I ran across a nice set of beginner’s how-to videos on the REI “Bike Your Drive” website. They’re worth a look of you’re just getting started using your bike for transportation, and they’re worth passing along if you have a friend who is considering taking up bike commuting as part of the fast approaching May is Bike Month festivities.

Bike Your Drive

B-Cycle Set to Launch on Earth Day

The first citywide bike-sharing system to come to the U.S. is due to launch this Thursday in Denver, Colorado. From the press release:

DENVER, April 19 /PRNewswire/ — B-cycle is helping Denver residents increase daily activity and reduce carbon emissions with the country’s first citywide bike-sharing system, Denver B-cycle. On April 22, the program will launch with 500 B-cycles at 50 B-stations around the city, offering a green alternative to cars for short commutes and errands.

“Denver residents embrace healthy and sustainable living, so it’s natural that Denver is now home to the first large-scale bike-sharing system in the U.S.,” said Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. “We’re confident that Denver can set an example for the whole country and show that bike-sharing is a viable transportation option to help improve the overall health of Americans and reduce our carbon footprint.”

B-cycle was formed by a partnership between Humana, Trek Bicycle and Crispin Porter + Bogusky based on a shared belief that bicycles should be a vehicle for positive health and environmental change as well as an important part of a community’s transportation ecosystem. Together, the founding partners developed a bike-sharing system designed specifically for U.S. cities, universities and corporate campuses. Denver is B-cycle’s first installation.

I’m jealous. Congats, Denver! We’re rooting for you!

Read the full press release
More about B-Cycle at their website

London Cyclist’s Top 50 Cycling Blogs 2010

London Cyclist has published their Top 50 Cycling Blogs list for 2010. Topping the list is Richard Masoner’s always excellent Cyclelicious, followed by Bike Portland and BikeSnob NYC. No surprises there. What is surprising was seeing EcoVelo at 14th position. Thanks Andreas; we’re honored and pleased. Here’s a bit about the criteria used to rank the sites:

I visit every single cycling blog I’ve ever heard of and I note down certain things such as the number of comments in the last 5 posts (excluding most recent post), Alexa rank and Google inlinks.

Then each of the attributes gets a score, it is normalised and an average is calculated. It basically involves a lot of Excel formulas and plenty of data checking!

I also have a few criteria’s such as: the blogs have to be active and not aimed solely at selling stuff.

View the list at London Cyclist

Taking a Look at Crank Length

Crank length is an often overlooked aspect of bike fit. A majority of production road-oriented bikes come outfitted with either 170mm or 175mm cranks. You do occasionally see 165mm cranks spec’d on the very smallest frame sizes, and some manufacturers offer 172.5mm cranks on their mid-sized frames, but it’s a rare occasion to encounter a crank under 165mm or over 175mm on a bike primarily intended for road riding.

There are a number of methods for determining proper crank length. Peter White recommends 18.5% of the distance from the top of the femur to the floor in bare feet. Leonard Zinn recommends 21% of inseam measured in bare feet. Bill Boston recommends measuring femur length from the center of the hip joint to the end of the bone in inches, then using this measurement as crank length in centimeters (for example, if your femur measures 17 inches, you would use a 17cm [170mm] crank).

If you accept that muscles and joints work most effectively when operating in a certain range of motion, then it only makes sense that muscles, bones and tendons work that way for everyone.
-Lennard Zinn

Let’s use Peter White’s method as an example. For simplicity, let’s assume a rider with a top of the femur to the floor measurement of 919mm (36 1/16″). Multiply by Peter’s 18.5% (919mm x .185 = 170mm) and you end up with a recommendation for 170mm cranks. That’s convenient for someone with a 36″ floor to femur measurement, but it gets more complicated for individuals outside the “normal” range. Shorten the floor to femur measurement by three inches (33″) and the recommendation quickly drops down to 155mm (838.2mm x .185 = 155mm). Lengthen the floor to femur measurement by three inches (39″) and the recommendation jumps up to 183mm (990.6mm x .185 = 183.25mm). Both fall outside the normal range of sizes typically offered in road cranks.

I believe there’s quite a bit of room for personal preference in these formulas. I also think the human body is amazingly adaptable and we can probably get used to just about any crank length currently being manufactured, regardless of our leg length. That said, it’s only reasonable to assume that crank length should vary based upon an individual’s physiology. As Lennard Zinn said, “If you accept that muscles and joints work most effectively when operating in a certain range of motion, then it only makes sense that muscles, bones and tendons work that way for everyone. Short riders should not be required to force their muscles through a greater range of motion than the person with an 80cm inseam riding a 172.5mm crank. And on the other end, 7-foot basketball players do not bend their legs any less when they jump than shorter players. So why should they use minimal knee bend and operate their muscles only through a tiny part of their range when they ride a bike?”

Assuming Mr. Zinn is correct, taking a closer look at crank length should be particularly advantageous for those who are significantly taller or shorter than average. On the outer edges of the bell curve, it’s very unlikely people are riding cranks that are close to their ideal length.

While it’s not easy to find unusually short or long cranks, they’re out there. The Specialites TA Carmina is a beautiful, if expensive, production crank that has interchangeable arms available from 155mm up to 185mm. Lennard Zinn offers oversized cranks, and da Vinci Designs offers custom cranks in almost any size within reason.

Those who aren’t involved in the recumbent community probably don’t realize that recumbent riders have been experimenting with ultra-short cranks for some time now (see the links below). Some of their findings are quite interesting and may possibly be applicable to upright bikes. Short crank advocates claim reduced knee strain and higher crank RPMs among their advantages.

Ultra-long cranks may introduce more knee strain, and they will definitely reduce cornering clearance, so both of these facts should be taken into account if you’re considering retrofitting a longer crank on your existing bike.

And finally, whether you’re going up or down in length, keep in mind that a major change in crank length will very likely require a change in saddle height, which, of course, will affect overall bike fit.

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