Bicycle Commuter Profile: Dan Dodds

Bicycle Commuter Profile

Name: Dan Dodds
Location: Helena, Montana
Started bike commuting: Since 1971 with some breaks. Continuously since 2000.
Commute distance (one way): 12 miles

Describe your commute: Mostly rural highway shoulder with a couple of miles on back streets in town. Mostly flat, but with a big hill at each end (600 ft elevation gain at one end, 400 at the other).

Describe your bike and accessories: My main bike is a 2008 Rans Rocket. Homemade rack and seat-back bag and a pair of blinkies front and back. My backup bike, which was my only bike for 35 years, is a 1973 Peugeot PX-10, with everything but the brakes and seatpost worn out and replaced at least once.

What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: There is a lot of good advice here and elsewhere, but most of it should be prefaced with “Here is what works for me. It may or may not work for you.” Experiment, think, and figure out what works for you. What works for me is that the more I ride, the more I want to ride.

Be nice to the poor people in cars. Most of them are spending eight to ten hours at a job they don’t like without the benefit of a bike ride before and after.

[Visit our Bicycle Commuter Profiles page to add your profile to the collection. —ed.]

Bicycle Commuter Profile: Tucker Burroughs

Bicycle Commuter Profile

Name: Tucker Burroughs
Location: Elk Grove, California
Started bike commuting: Spring 2010
Commute distance (one way): 10 miles

Describe your commute: Mostly arterial surface streets with bike lanes. Elk Grove has several MUP’s, but they are geared more toward recreational use and don’t help commuters much.

Describe your bike and accessories: Jamis Allegro 1.0 with a Topeak Explorer rear rack and a Pletcsher rack on the front; Eargon grips with short bar ends, a Cygolite Expillion headlight and a Planet Bike Superflash Turbo on the back. I use a Topeak commuter trunk bag with deployable mini-panniers. I also carry a small can of pepper spray on the bike for loose dogs and zombies.

What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: Choose your route carefully. I commute mostly on major arterial streets with bike lanes, but I chose the ones with the best bike lanes and the calmest traffic. The time of day also has a lot to do with the traffic. At 5:30 am, traffic is calm and everyone can see my lights. Fortunately, I’m able to make it home before the afternoon rush hour so I don’t have to deal with all the drivers distracted by what’s for dinner or how to get the kids to soccer practice.

Most importantly, be visible and ride like you’re driving a car. Nobody wants to hit you, so if drivers know where you are and can predict your actions they will generally treat you courteously. Nothing aggravates drivers more than a cyclist flagrantly ignoring the traffic laws.

[Visit our Bicycle Commuter Profiles page to add your profile to the collection. —ed.]

Another Last Mile Problem Solved

Transportation planners talk about something they call “the last mile problem”; the challenge of bridging the gap between a public transit stop and a person’s final destination. Typical solutions include walking, bicycling, and so-called Park-n-Ride lots. Walking is an option for able-bodied individuals, though time and distance can be major drawbacks. For obvious reasons, the Park-n-Ride solution is popular, though it presents a number of issues including neighborhood traffic congestion and limited flexibility. Bicycling combines efficiency with flexibility while solving the congestion problem; arguably, this makes it the best “last mile” solution.

Folding bikes are the perfect solution for a different, less-common type of last mile problem.

Folding bikes are the perfect solution for a different, less-common type of last mile problem. Let’s say a car-lite or car-free person needs to travel to an area that’s not served by transit and is left to drive there. And let’s imagine they have to stay in that location for a few days but they were unable to bring a full-sized bike due to storage issues or lack of a bike rack on a rental car. Typically, a person would have no choice but to use the car more than they’d like. But, with the addition of a tiny folding bike, they can park the car once they’ve made their long trip, and then use the folding bike for getting around the area during their stay. This often overlooked use for a folding bike saves gas, cuts down on emissions, and provides some exercise while on a motorized road trip.

2012 Soma Cargo Bikes

Soma Tradesman

Soma has a pair of cargo bikes in the works. The “Tradesman” is their modern take on the traditional English baker bike. It takes a 26” wheel in back and a 20” up front. Maximum capacity on the platform is around 50 lbs. It’ll be available as a frameset in mid-November for $600 retail.

Soma Pick Up Artist

The “Pick Up Artist” is a longer, front loader with linkage steering. It has a much higher carrying capacity of up to 150-200 lbs. Like the Tradesman, it takes 26”/20” wheels. Soma has not yet committed to manufacturing this one, but I’d love to see it come to market. If you like the looks of this bike, consider dropping them a note to encourage them to make it available.

Soma Tradesman
Soma Pick Up Artist

Stuff We Like: Velocity Dyad Halo Rims

Dyad Halo

The Velocity Dyad is a tough, no frills, 700c commuting/touring/tandem rim available in 32, 36, 40, and 48 spokes, with or without machined sidewalls. At 24mm, it’s slightly wider than your typical touring rim. The Velocity Synergy looks more traditional with its boxy cross-section, but the Dyad’s V-shaped cross-section makes the rim stronger and eliminates the need for eyelets. The 36-hole version properly laced to any decent hub makes a bomb-proof commuting wheel.

Besides being available in the usual silver and black, the 32H and 36H Dyad is available in what is called a “Halo” reflective finish. Here’s a description from Halo Coatings:

Halo is leading the retro-reflective industry with their patented, innovative powder coating that is unmatched in its luminosity and brightness. Halo has developed and commercialized the world’s first and only retro-reflective powder coating. It is extremely durable, cost effective and looks great by day. At night, the coating protects people and objects with over 1,000 feet of bright, incandescent, and life-saving visibility.

Dyad Halo

Microscopic glass particles that reflect light are embedded in the powder coat. During the day the rim looks gun metal gray, but at night it lights up when struck by a headlight beam. The nighttime benefits on a non-machined disc rim are obvious, but even on a Dyad with machined sidewalls, a fair amount of reflective material remains visible due to the rim’s V-shaped profile. It’s a cool technology.

Bead seat diameter: 622
Weight: 480g
ERD = 596

Velocity USA

Trigger Happy

Lined up on the wire

[I’m always surprised by how many bicyclists aren’t aware that it’s possible to trigger a traffic signal with their bike, so I thought I’d re-post this article from the archives. —ed.]

There’s nothing more frustrating than getting stuck at an on-demand signal and having to wait for a car to come up from behind to trigger the light. In some jurisdictions, if you’re unable to trigger the light, it’s legal to proceed after stopping, but that doesn’t help when you’re at a cross street with heavy traffic moving in both directions. The good news is that in many cases it’s possible to trigger a light with your bicycle.

On-demand signals use what they call “induction loop vehicle detectors” to sense when a vehicle is waiting at a light. These detectors are essentially metal detectors embedded into the pavement. They work by sensing changes in an electromagnetic field and have nothing to do with the weight of the vehicle. You can often see evidence of loop detectors as lines cut into the road surface just behind the crosswalk. Wire sensors are embedded in these cut lines, and it’s possible to trigger a light by placing your bicycle wheels directly on top of one of the wires to disrupt the magnetic field. Some sensors seem to be more sensitive than others; in those cases where the light isn’t initially triggered, I’ve had some success by leaning my bike over toward the inside of the detector loop. In cases where there are two side-by-side loops, lining up over the center where the two loops meet doubles your chances of triggering the light.

Once I understood exactly how loop detectors work, my rate of success at triggering lights considerably improved; I’m currently getting somewhere approaching a 90% success rate at the lights in my area.

Monday Morning Commute

Monday Morning Commute

Have a nice week!

© 2011 EcoVelo™