According to the Gothamist, the NYPD has issued over 1,000 tickets to bicyclists in the first two weeks of January as part of the so-called “crackdown” on scofflaw riders. In all, 979 tickets were issued in Manhattan, 315 in Brooklyn, and 167 in Queens. One NYPD source said, “It’s an all-time high.” Is it me, or does this seem like a publicity stunt? I can’t imagine that it’s actually going to make the roads safer for anyone.
I like dirt trails. I don’t often have an opportunity to ride on them, but when I do, I always enjoy the experience. There are a couple of dirt detours on my commute that I take during the dry season when I’m in the mood to mix things up and get away from cars, dog walkers, and roller bladers (no offense). Most any commuter bike can be ridden on dirt paths, though if the terrain gets steep or rooted and potholed, fat tires with a good amount of flotation make the experience more enjoyable. Following are a few of the things I like to see on a bike that will be ridden off road:
- Relatively large cross-section tires that can be ridden at reduced pressures. My favorite cross-over tire for commuting mostly on pavement with a little bit of gravel and dirt thrown in is the Schwalbe Marathon Supreme in 37-622 and 42-622. I run these at around 60psi on my everyday commuter.
- Stiff racks. Stiff racks are absolutely essential for carrying loads on bumpy terrain. I use a Tubus Cargo in back, and a Pass & Stow porteur up front. Both are made from tubular steel.
- Well-designed bags. There’s nothing worse than bags that swing and sway when riding on rough terrain. Well-designed bags that securely attach to racks are essential for off road riding.
- Fenders. Because my trail rides are almost always incorporated into a commute, and I usually ride in my work clothes, full coverage fenders are a must.
- Durable lights with strong mounts. I’ve had more than one light fall off of the bike when riding on dirt. Lights that are designed for riding in rough terrain are best if you plan to ride off road on a regular basis.
Taking a dirt trail now and again is a nice way to add some spice to a daily commute. Often times I’m on a schedule and mostly concerned about getting to where I need to go, but when I have some extra time to kill, I always enjoy the peace and solitude that comes with going off road.
We have a handful of road tests lined up for early this spring:
- We currently have a Raleigh Detour Deluxe in-house. The review is in the works and scheduled for publication in February.
- As we speak, Norco is sending us a Ceres to try out. I’m very curious about this well-appointed, belt-drive Canadian commuter.
- Breezer is working on getting us a NuVinci-equipped Uptown Infinity which we should have in-house within the next few weeks.
- We’re taking possession of a Bike Friday Tikit this week. I’m looking forward to comparing and contrasting this bike with our Bromptons.
- And finally, we’ll have a Public roadster for review a little later this spring. I’m not 100% sure which model, but it will probably be a D3.
We’re going to have a busy spring riding and writing! While you’re waiting for the articles, you might want to check out our road test archives.
Texas A&M’s 2010 Urban Mobility Report paints a grim picture of snarled traffic and wasted fuel in 439 urban centers in the U.S. Consider the following from the report:
In 2009, congestion (based on wasted time and fuel) cost about $115 billion in the 439 urban areas.
3.9 billion gallons of fuel were wasted in the 439 urban areas due to congestion. This amount of fuel would fill 78 super-tankers or 520,000 gasoline tank trucks. The average cost of congestion per auto commuter ranged from $1,166 in the Very Large population group to $436 in the Small population group.
The amount of wasted fuel per auto commuter ranges from 39 gallons per year in the Very Large urban areas to 16 gallons per year in the Small areas. Commuters of 97 areas are “paying” more than $1 per workday in congestion costs; 63 areas have a congestion value exceeding $2 per workday.
The average delay per auto commuter due to congestion in the 439 urban areas is 34 hours. There are 5 urban areas with delay per auto commuter values in excess of 50 hours, showing
the effect of the very large delays in the areas with populations larger than 1 million.
This data speaks for itself and makes a strong case for the increased use of public and active transportation (buses, trains, walking, and biking).
[Darrell sent us these photos of his 1971 Raleigh Sprite. —Alan]
Cyril started life as a five speed bike. He was a humble Craigslist find that I intended to just ‘spiff up’ a bit, but it wasn’t long until I disassembled the bike down to the frame and sent it off to the sandblaster. The bike has two of my first homebuilt wheels. The original Huret Allvit derailleurs are decent for the kind of riding I do on this deluxe townie. This is a great riding bike and one of my favorites. The 27 inch derailleur Raleighs are sadly overlooked gems from the seventies. I’d love to see more of these show up at Tweed Rides across the country.
Arlington Heights, Illinois
- Frame — 1971 Raleigh Sprite — 21 Ã‚Â½ inch (55cm)
- Fenders – Honjo 43mm Smooth Fluted
- Wheels — Homebuilt (Stock Sturmey Archer Rear Hub, Shimano Dyno Front Hub, Sun CR-18 Rims)
- Tires — Panaracer Pasela Tourguards 27 x 1 Ã‚Â¼
- Handlebars — Stock Raleigh Northroad
- Brake Handles — Stock Raleigh Self Adjusting
- Brakes — Tektro 800A Side Pull
- Grips — Tan Hunt Wilde
- Stem — Stock Raleigh
- Crank — Stock Raleigh-Cottered
- Bottom Bracket — Stock Raleigh
- Pedals — Stock Raleigh
- Derailleurs — Huret Allvit – Stock
- Chain — Stock
- Saddle — Brooks Honey Brown B66
- Saddle Bag — Acorn Medium Large Saddle Bag
- Seatpost — Stock
- Rear Bags – Gilles Berthoud Special Small Panniers
- Rack — Velo-Orange Constructeur
- Rear Light — Busch & Muller
- Headlamp — Vintage Union
- Reproduction Decals — Cyclomondo & H. Lloyd
Oregon House Bill 2228 would make it illegal to carry children under 6-years of age on a bicycle or in a bike trailer. The bill was introduced by Rep. Mitch Greenlick earlier this month. Greenlick introduced the bill because he is “not convinced that we are doing all we can to protect the health and safety of young children who join their parents bicycling on the streets and roads of Oregon.”
As you’d expect, the bill has created quite an uproar in the cycling community, with numerous advocates and bloggers strongly vocalizing their opposition to it. The main problem with this bill is that it’s a solution to a problem that doesn’t appear to exist. At this time, there is no clear evidence that children under 6-years of age are at any greater risk on a bicycle than children riding in automobiles or even backpacks, for that matter.
Fortunately, Rep. Jules Bailey has been in contact with Rep. Greenlick and has convinced him that the bill should be amended to remove the violation portion and instead ask for a study on child safety on bicycles and how to best improve that safety. That sounds much more reasonable and productive than issuing citations with absolutely zero data to back up the law.
Mixtes were traditionally known as “women’s” or “girls” bikes, the concept being a low top tube is more well-suited to riding and mounting/dismounting in a skirt. As that stereotype has begun to fade in recent years, more gender-neutral frame designs with low-slung top tubes are showing up. Two examples that come to mind are the Rivendell Yves Gomez and the Civia Loring. When I was a kid, a boy wouldn’t be caught dead on a “girls” frame, but these days, more people of both genders are appreciating the ease of use step-through frames provide.
Ironically, some of the most “macho” frames out there have steeply sloping top tubes and nearly qualify as “step-through”. I’m thinking of modern mountain bike frames and some compact road frames. These frames differ from traditional step-throughs in that they don’t have the seat tube that extends vertically above the sloping top tube (thus requiring extremely long seat posts), but otherwise the top tubes can be nearly as low as on some mixtes.
Take a look at the photo above. I think it’s interesting that these designs are fairly similar, yet because they come from different lineages our perceptions of them are so different. The Raleigh on the right is clearly gender neutral, yet the mixte is clearly a “woman’s” bike. Of course, the way they’re outfitted plays a big part in this case; the pale blue paint and wicker basket exude a definite feminine vibe, whereas the silver and black motif of the Raleigh is more “manly”.
Rivendell came up against this self-image issue frequently enough that they took their Betty Foy mixte, painted it black, and renamed it the “Yves Gomez” for those men who wanted a step-through but didn’t feel comfortable riding what they perceived to be a woman’s bike. I have to admit, if I was going to buy a Betty for myself, I’d probably go with the Yves version instead. That’s probably a reflection of my own insecurities more than anything… LOL.
The bike that probably does the best job of blurring the line between what is traditionally thought of as a woman’s bike and a man’s bike is the Civia Loring (above). The top tube just slightly swoops, and it’s just barely low enough to step over, yet the bike doesn’t clearly say “girl’s bike” or “boy’s bike”. I think the design is subtle and genius, and I really appreciate the fact that it so successfully mixes up and messes with the old streotypes.