Back by popular demand for 2012.
Starting today, we’re taking a week off from the blog. This will be the first significant break we’ve taken since starting EcoVelo 3.5 years ago (the longest break prior to this was 3 days). It’s been a busy, busy year and we’re looking forward to some quality time away from the computer to re-charge our batteries. If you haven’t done so before, now would be a great time to dig through the archives to catch up on some of the nearly 3,300 articles we’ve posted since May of 2008.
We hope you have a wonderful holiday and we’ll see you back here next Friday.
—Alan & Michael
On any given evening commute, I might encounter 5-10 bicyclists without lights or reflective gear of any kind on their bike or person. It’s plainly obvious how easily motorists might lose sight of these non-lighted bicyclists among the chaos of automobile lights, traffic signals, and signs that assault their visual field.
Studies have shown that a majority of fatal collisions involving bicyclists occur between the hours of 6pm-9pm. I’m not surprised. Unfortunately, most of these bicyclists without lights appear to be “non-enthusiast” (for lack of a better term), so it’s unlikely they have access to the information or resources necessary to ride safely.
Over the past few years, a number of bicycle advocacy groups and city governments have initiated free bike light programs; examples include Portland’s Shift and Police Bureau programs, New York DOT’s bike light giveaway, the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates’ “Light On” program, and Chicago’s “Share the Road” giveaway.
I believe this is an important issue that warrants the attention of any organization interested in promoting bicycle safety.
Name: The DeBlass Family (Matt and Isabella)
Location: South Bound Brook, NJ, USA
Started bike commuting: Matt (aka “Dad”) has been part time commuting by bike for over a decade, but we went fully car-free in early 2011
Commute distance (one way): Isabella: 1 mile, Matt: 5-30 miles
Describe your commute: Isabella rides to and from her elementary school on suburban back roads. We plan her route to take advantage of crossing guards and lower-traffic streets as much as we can. I work a few jobs, including as a freelance reporter, so my trips vary quite a bit, and cross everything from gravel trails to state highways. I sometimes get to take the train for part of my travels, but with limited routes and schedules I usually just bike. My longest regular ride is my Saturday commute to the bicycle shop where I work as a mechanic, which is 20 miles of rolling hills.
Describe your bike and accessories: Isabella has a mid-70s Schwinn Varisty repainted in the custom “Blue Zebra” colorway. We added a Wald basket, SKS fenders and some aluminum rims for better braking power. I have a 2009 Jamis Commuter with Soma Moustache II handlebars, front and rear racks and a Carradice “College” saddlebag mounted on a homemade bracket (a Brooks saddle wasn’t in the budget this year). We also use a flatbed trailer made from a stripped-down child carrier for heavy hauling.
What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: Be MacGuyver. If you need your bike, your clothing or your accessories to do something that they don’t, see if there’s a way to hack them so they do (within reasonable safety parameters of course). And don’t think homemade modifications have to be ugly, some of them are pretty elegant, but if you need to kludge together something with PVC pipe and zip ties to get the job done, so be it, especially if it’s a roadside fix. Even if you’re not that confident with your technical skills, at least learn to fix a flat and carry what you need to do so.
Rivendell’s serial number database is now up-and-running. If you’re a Riv owner, you can now register your frame using the form linked below. Your serial number is stamped on the underside of your bottom bracket shell.
Name: Glenn Murray
Location: Cleveland, Ohio USA
Started bike commuting: About 5 years ago
Commute distance (one way): 3.2 miles
Describe your commute: I ride on surface streets from Cleveland’s trendy Tremont neighborhood, across the Cuyahoga River on a dedicated bicycle lane of the art deco Lorain Carnegie Bridge and then through downtown past The ballpark, Public Square and Tower City.
Describe your bike and accessories: I began commuting on a mountain bike, but soon discovered the knobby tires really didn’t coast very well, all but low and high gears went unused, and the hunched riding position was very uncomfortable. I have been commuting on a 1983 vintage Raleigh 3-speed for two years and have been much more comfortable. I have added cream Schwable Delta Cruiser Tires and a Brooks B-66 Leather saddle.
What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: Get a bell and always ring “HI” to fellow bicyclists. Take your time, It’s supposed to be fun. Say “GOOD MORNING” to joggers and pedstrians you meet on the way. Enjoy the sunrise. We get some stunning sunrises here in Cleveland. Bring doughnuts to the OCCUPY WALL STREET people every once in a while, they really appreciate them.