You might remember Blackhawk, CO as The City That Banned Bicycles. Well, in a bit of exquisite irony, Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists, reports that he recently received a solicitation from a casino in Blackhawk asking that he bring the League’s business there. Somehow, I don’t think that’s gonna’ work out… LOL.
The intersection of my two favorite modes of transport.
Bob Mionske, author of Bicycling and the Law, also runs the informative BicycleLaw.com website. He regularly publishes articles on bicyclists’ rights and responsibilities and how they relate to traffic law.
In a recent article, Mionske talks about how to handle encounters with law enforcement when the officer is unaware or plain wrong on the law, something that’s not all that unusual when it comes to bicycle traffic law.
Numerous times in the past I’ve mentioned that I prefer lugged steel bicycle frames over all others. While this still holds true, I like to acknowledge the fact that we all have differing needs and that one person’s ideal bike may not work at all for another. How a person plans on using their bike, as well as their budget, will determine their preferred frame material.
Steel is often thought of as being the ideal material for commuter and utility bikes. It’s tough, it fails slowly, and it can withstand a major amount of surface abuse. This makes it a good material for how we typically imagine a transpo bike will be used and abused.
But, there are plenty of riders who have a point-to-point commute, safe bicycle storage, and only a minimal need to carry stuff. There are also those who have very long commutes over difficult terrain. For those people, lightweight performance bikes might actually be preferred over what we traditionally think of as commuters or utility bikes. More exotic materials such as aluminum, titanium, or even carbon fiber are not necessarily out of the question for use on high performance commuters (bikes such as the Breezer Finesse and Civia Hyland immediately come to mind).
Carbon fiber frames have a reputation for being delicate and fragile (whether or not it’s deserved is a whole other discussion). Most aluminum frames are less tough than most steel frames, but they also tend to be lighter, and they seem to be inexpensive to manufacture (this probably explains the widespread use of aluminum among entry-level racing bikes and so-called hybrids). Titanium has similar toughness to steel, it doesn’t rust, and it builds into a light and lively bike. On paper it sounds like the ideal material for building bike frames; the downside is that it’s difficult to work with and the raw material is expensive, both of which make complete titanium bikes very pricey. Bamboo is the latest frame building material to come into vogue, but frankly, I haven’t gotten my head around it yet. Hopefully I’ll get my hands on a bamboo bike to try out before the year is over.
For our readers who are riding on something other than steel, it would be interesting to know the rationale behind your frame material choice.
#1 reason to commute by bike? See above. Following are a few others…
- the feeling of well-being that comes with physical activity in the out-of-doors;
- the tangible health benefits that come from daily exercise;
- the surprising amount of money that can be saved by eliminating an automobile;
- the greater connection with our community that comes from being out and exposed to our neighbors; and,
- the increased appreciation of nature that comes from daily exposure to the elements.
Feel free to add to the list!
Michael sent us this story about rural bike commuting from Glendive, Montana.
Pictured here is my recently acquired 2003 Specialized Expedition Limited, which replaces my worn 1993 Giant Iquana that was a solid commuter through all seasons in Madison, Wisconsin; Chicago, IL; Washington, DC; and Eugene, Oregon. Three months ago I purchased the Expedition in Madison on Craigslist for $100 through a friend who subsequently delivered it to me in rural Glendive, Montana, on his way to the West Coast. By contrast, the Giant cost me $425 in 1993 while earning minimum wage. This Expedition is now my commuter bicycle to work at the local courthouse, where I am a Law Clerk–and the lone bicycle commuter. Although the Expedition’s ride is not at all like the good ‘ol Giant, it fulfills its job well for a short commute of less than 1 mile one-way, the occasional dirt-road Sunday cruise or foray into local Makoshika State Park, and several trips to the two grocery stores weekly. Pictured too are my Carradice panniers designed for the Jandd front rack of my Giant, but suitable for the rear of the Expedition. The local grocery staff obviously has seen nothing like a pannier before.
Glendive is a small community of only 5,000 persons. My hope is others will see me riding and wonder if they too could ride in such a small, mostly flat town for fun, instead of driving SUVs in circles on $3/gallon gasoline. In fact, not long ago two young men on newer Schwinns from the town’s lone box store stopped me riding in the state park to ask what my panniers were, fascinated, so I explained how they could get some, even on those modern Schwinns. There is no LBS within 70 miles of me in any direction, so riding here is rewarding in that one inevitably is an ambassador of pragmatic bicycling automatically to a rural car culture that has forgotten bicycles are for adults too!
Cheers. Great website!