Illinois Now Tracking “Dooring”

According to a press release issued by the Illinois Government News Network, Illinois is now treating “dooring” collisions as traffic crashes. Police departments across the state are now required to write up dooring collisions on Illinois traffic crash forms to better track these incidents. The data will be used to identify problem areas and help develop solutions including road improvements and public outreach/education. Prior to this change in policy, dooring collisions were not tracked because a moving motor vehicle was not involved.

View the Press Release

NYCeWheels at the Brompton U.S. Championship

Peter from NYCeWheels took second this year. Last year’s champ Aaron Ritz took top honors again and earned himself a trip to the World Championship in August.


If You’re New to Bike Commuting

Basic Bryant

It’s springtime which means more new bike commuters are getting started right now than at any other time of year. If you’re a new bike commuter and you’ve just stumbled upon our site, welcome! Probably the best place to start is with our Bike Commuting 101 series. There you’ll find tips and tricks that will (hopefully) help you get a smooth start. Be sure to read the comments under the articles for tips provided by our regular readers.

Once you’ve perused the 101 articles, the best way to initially explore the rest of the site is by using the category links in the lefthand sidebar. After you’ve had a look around, the site can be navigated reverse-chronologically by following the links at the bottom of each page, or by following the links in the lefthand sidebar organized by date, category, hot topic, or recent comment. For the brave, we also have a massive Archive Page that contains links to every post on the site (nearly 3,000). And lastly, there’s a handy search function at the top of the lefthand sidebar. If you’re looking for something specific, that’s the best way to find it quickly.

Thanks for dropping by!

Bike Commuting 101

Tuesday Morning Commute: Glow

Tuesday Morning Commute: Glow

Gallery: Brandon’s Surly Bill Trailer

Brandon's Surly Trailer
Brandon's Surly Trailer

Brandon submitted photos of his Civia Bryant for our Gallery last week. In his note, he mentioned that he sold his car and that he’d be pulling a Surly trailer behind his bike for general utility and even for transporting his mountain bike to the races. These photos are the follow-up. Very cool!

Give Yourself a Raise

Your Driving Costs

Each year, the American Automobile Association publishes the Your Driving Costs pamphlet to help members determine their automobile expenses for the year. This year, they estimated the average cost of operating and maintaining a sedan to be approximately 58.5 cents per mile. This includes fuel, maintenance, tires, insurance, license, registration, taxes, depreciation, and finance charges. Their fuel costs were based upon the price of gas at the end of last year which was $2.88 per gallon. I did some quick math and adjusting to this week’s $3.86 average raised the total costs to around 62.75 cents per mile. Based upon their estimates and adjusted for higher gas prices, at 15,000 miles per year we’re looking at around $9,412 dollars per year to operate and maintain a typical passenger sedan in the U.S. Of course, these numbers are only averages and it’s possible to spend less by purchasing a used car, maintaining it yourself, and keeping it longer, but no matter how you look at it, cars are expensive!

Let’s look at bikes for comparison. Bike consumables include tires, tubes, drivetrain parts, and cables. There are no real figures on these costs, but I can safely say I’ve never spent more than $300 per year on bike maintenance. Let’s be generous and assume a $2,000 bike, spread over 5 years (to be consistent with AAA), with a resale of $1000. Including parts, maintenance, and depreciation we have $500 per year. Let’s also assume a bike commuter may sometimes take transit due to illness, injury, or weather and factor in $50 per month, or $600 per year, for a grand total of $1,100 per year.

Here’s where it gets good. If we take the total for purchasing and operating a passenger sedan of $9,412 per year and subtract the total for purchasing and operating a bicycle of $1,100 per year, we’re left with $8,312. If we divide that amount into the typical work year of 2,080 hours, we have $4.00 per hour. That’s a significant raise people can give themselves by eliminating a car!

Of course, these numbers are only estimates and they’ll vary dramatically depending upon a person’s specific choices, but even when adjusting the automobile expenses down to the bottom of the range, the potential savings are dramatic. Also, not everyone is going to be able to eliminate a car, but even reducing the amount of miles driven per year can result in a significant reduction in expenses.

[NOTE: This post has been edited to correct the initially faulty math. Many thanks to those who pointed out the errors. —ed.]

AAA Exchange
Your Driving Costs 2011 [PDF] →

Why I Like Porteur Racks

Bryant with Pass & Stow

I’ve been using a porteur rack on my everyday commuter for a couple of years now. I’d become so accustomed to having one on the bike that I started wondering what it would be like to live without one. So, when I got my new bike (Civia Bryant) I rode it for a couple of weeks sans rack before moving my Pass & Stow over from my old bike. It was an interesting exercise, but I must say, I missed the rack and I’m glad to have it available again.

My Civia is not optimized for carrying a front load (neither was my last bike, a Surly LHT). Both have high trail geometry optimized for carrying weight in the rear. But, for commuting and utility riding where trips are not often more than 15-20 miles tops, front loading a high trail bike is not as much of an issue as it is for randonneuring or touring where trips can be hundreds of miles at a stretch, sometimes when the rider is tired and sleep-deprived. In other words, I’ve had no issue with a porteur rack on either of these bikes for the short hops and city riding that I do.

So, what’s so good about a porteur rack? Well, to put it simply, I find having a level, 10″-12″ square platform on a bike immensely convenient for carrying stuff. Here are just a few things porteur racks are good at hauling:

  • Bulky, lightweight items such as cases of paper towels, toilet tissue, chips, etc.
  • Items that are too large for panniers such as pumpkins/squash/watermelon, cases of water/beer, pizzas, lumber, and so on
  • Bulky clothing such as rain shells, overcoats, extra shoes, etc.
  • Wet items (to keep them separate from the dry/delicate items in your panniers)

As seen in some of the photos on the blog, I often have a Freight Baggage dry bag strapped to my porteur rack. This waterproof bag is specifically designed to fit the Pass & Stow rack (Swift Industries also makes a similar bag for this rack). I find the Freight Baggage bag quite useful for everyday commuting. It carries my lunch and any loose items, plus it’s large enough that I can use it as a stuff sack for the extra layers I peel off on the afternoon leg of my commute. I also keep a repair kit and extra tube in the front pocket.

The bag sometimes comes off on the weekend (it only takes 10 seconds) for more serious hauling. When I need to lash something larger to the rack, I either use a bungee net or a couple/few Irish straps. It’s when hauling oversized items that a porteur rack really shines and the limitations of a rear rack come more into focus.

Certainly a rear rack with a pair of large panniers will suffice for many people—I could make a basic two pannier set-up work for much of how I use a bike. But, the convenience of having a place to quickly stow loose items, as well as the flexibility and usefulness of having a stable platform for carrying oversized items, make a porteur rack an indispensable part of my commuting/utility rig.

© 2011 EcoVelo™