Tuesday, September 27, 2011

scenes from the bikey lane: bike with history edition

i recently went over to that awesomeness that is spur (sf planning and urban research associations), to look at their exhibit on reclaiming market street, where they featured one of our friends as one "project [that highlights] the many ways in which cities, nationally and internationally, are engaged in reimagining their public spaces through experimental urban planning." ooh, que fancy speak. and here i just thought it was people using the physical urban space they have to work with to make it fun and livable for them. oh wait, that's the same thing ;)

anyway, outside there was this awesome bike. not even parked to anything. after looking at the chain, seems to me only one person could ride it.

makes me wonder about the history of that bike. who the person is, where the bike and the person met, etc.





do you also feel that way when you see a bike that has an obviously fascinating past?

Monday, September 26, 2011

reader submission: sacramento bike racks

we love submissions from our readers! here's butter bill in sacramento, looking rather excited to see these bike racks!

i'm not sure how practical they are, but hey, i'm willing to try them out! i do like how unusual they are and how much attention they command.

Downtown Sacramento bike racks

Downtown Sacramento bike racks

anyone in sacramento have experience with these racks? please share your stories in the comments!

Friday, September 23, 2011

more fun with bikes in austin!

we were able to acquire bikes while we were in austin for a few days last week. we got a hook.up! on a rental bike for me. i'm short, so finding a bike that fits me is really difficult. there was one road bike at the rental place that fit me pretty well. i was happy to go with the normal hybrid variety, but the temptation of an extended test ride with a road bike that is nicer than my road bike was too much. sure enough, i'm now in crush with that bike...

acl: before (close up)

as you can see, the other one was the practical bike, much like my joanie baby. that bike hauled stuff around in its very handy basket. i LOVE baskets.

we didn't really go for too long a ride, and austin is pretty flat compared to SF (at least the areas we rode around in). thus, i didn't get a chance to completely test out that climbing gear, but whoa, i do know enough of riding around on that bike to know i want to try it out some more. my birthday is coming up sometime in the next 364 days, so if anyone wants to get me a present, i'll take the lexa slx in size 47cm please. kthx.

in other news, i was impressed with the volume of bikes that were being parked at acl, and here's a tiny taste of it...

bike parking before:
acl: before

bike parking after:
acl: after

it was fun navigating around austin on bikes and figuring out bikey ways around the city thanks to the trusty austin bikey map. i can't wait to go back and do it again!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

some fun with bikes in austin

so last week i was fortunate enough to be able to go home to the motherland for a couple of days. here are some of the bikes i saw when i was down there y'all!
tandem cruiser

tandem cruiser?! i can safely say i've never seen a tandem cruiser before. each set of handlebars had its own bell too. just in case, ya know? i've seen a tandem cargo bike, but not a tandem cruiser. radness. and on a SUV. well, that part isn't so rad, but what can you do?

free bike!

free gary fisher anyone? sigh. the myriad of ways people lock up bikes for the taking really astounds me.

tomorrow will have another scene from austin, but this time involving the bikes we actually rode around on.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


The march of time rides a bike around here.


Celebrate by getting on your bike!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bay Area readers: Give BART's bike survey a piece of your mind!

I got an email from the sf bike coalition that BART is taking a bike survey. I also happen to agree with their recommendations, so here's what their email said:

"A new opportunity has come up to help improve BART's bicycle service. Please take BART's bike survey within the next couple days, before they close the survey. It takes about 5 minutes.

Please tell BART:
1. No black out periods for bikes on BART.
2. Bikes allowed on escalators at all times.

Both these proposals were floated by a BART director, but BART staff shot him down. Let's raise our voices in support of no black out periods and bikes allowed on escalators!

Here's the survey link: http://www.research.bart.gov/se.ashx?s=6011868E259E952C

To help even more, send your comments to BART's board of directors at BoardofDirectors@bart.gov and copy us at bikesonboard@sfbike.org."

so if you want to BE THE CHANGE in you want to see in your infrastructure, please fill out the survey.

anecdote: as i have a new basket on my bike (pics to come!), i really wanted to use the escalators on friday night on my way to east bay bike party. with two u-locks (yes, TWO), and that new basket, it adds probably a good 5-10 pounds on an already heavy bike. i'm able bodied, but those who may have less upper body strength might also see the bikes on escalators as a nice and viable option to maneuver around the bart station. using the escalator with a bike is, and should go without saying IMO, after most of the riders have already used the escalators to prevent animosity and to avoid people bumping into your bike if they are in a rush and walk up on the narrow escalator on your left.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

We Will Fix It With Glue, Glue, Glue

About 5 days after I got The Bat, it was knocked down by a drunk woman in the Mission. The fall managed to crack one of the hand grips, and over the next few weeks, it completely fell apart. After looking around at options for replacement (I hated the "ergo" grips it came with ) I decided upon the cork grips they sell at Rivendell. I really liked them because they were not the composite cork grips you find in most places. Rivendell cork grips are made in rounds and glued together to form the grip.

Why don't I want composite cork grips? Because, when they get smashed they turn to little bits of fly away powder. There is nothing to do but replace them. In my case, that would mean replacing them fairly often as the Bat gets blown down in the wind all the time. I would have to order them by the case. This seems silly to me. With the Riv grips the only part that gets broken is the ring that gets hit, and if it gets hit right you can fix it!

Complicated Processes 1

So, as you can see here above, the end of my grip was completely knocked off when it smashed into the ground (my front rack was bent, too). The end piece came off cleanly so all I had to do was glue it back on.

Complicated Processes 2

All I had to do was glue the ends that would make contact with one another. I use Super Glue. Never use Gorilla Glue. It expands as it dries and makes things all wonky.

Complicated Processes 3

All you need to do after that is press the two pieces together for a few minutes and then let it dry.

Complicated Processes 4

Now my grips are pretty disreputable right now. They get smashed and scraped all the time. Sometime soon I will sand them down a bit and re-shellac them. They will look completely new with about 15 minutes worth of "effort".

Complicated Processes 5

This is the third time I have repaired this grip. The other side has been put back together many times, too. I have only had to replace one of them once but that was after a bicycle that was hanging from the garage ceiling fell and crushed it.

You don't always have to buy something when a part breaks. If you chose the right things you can make them last a good long time, usually with a little bit of glue.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Going Somewhere

Where Do They All Come From?

From the corner of my eye
you flash by
before I can tell you
I love you.
So I whisper it
to the ghost wind
you leave behind.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ring It, Baby!

The best thing on any bicycle for helping to keep you safe, other than common sense, is you bicycle bell.

Paper Marigolds

Some of them can ring and show the way. This particular one was a bit like Captain Jack Sparrow's compass and was more interested in pointing me to where I wanted to go than it was in pointing North. Probably better that way.

T'was Sunny The Day I Fell In Love

I have been known to choose a bell to brighten up the day while it also tells others "Hey! I'm coming through!". Not only is it a polite way of announcing my approach, it is sunny and cute.

Baby's Bike Bell

As I have shared previously, Meli, the vegetarian, has a strange fondness for cheeseburger bicycle bells. This one looks a bit like the beet burgers she is especially fond of. Ask not for whom the burger tolls. It is telling you I am coming up the left!

Perhaps food themed bells are better at letting others know we are passing? Maybe because they remind us we are hungry and need to get home?

Mango Bell
image by Gerogie_grrl

Bell peppers work, too.

611 of 365
photo by the Goat Whisperer

For more bells than you thought possible, check out Flickr contributor Georgie_Grrrl's mild obsession with said object.

All of this pictorial splendor is brought to you in the name of our last post. Use those bells! If you don't have one, go get one (along with some bicycle lights, gosh darn it!).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Words To Ride By

Good afternoon, Students! Welcome to the first in a series of articles on some of the basics of courteous, and safe, urban bicycle riding. I should probably mention that this is a set of guidelines that KT of Vélo Vogue and I are hashing together and that they are 100% biased and based in our desire to no longer be more frustrated with our fellow riders than we are with the silly drivers who insist on getting behind the wheel with a latté and an Iphone and a lap dog after getting 2 hours of sleep each night for a week. When we realized we were complaining more about bicycle on bicycle interactions lately than we were about vehicular traffic we decided it was time to write something about it.

Today's lesson is about my biggest frustration with other riders on the road; passing on the inside. One of the things that those of us who took Driver's Education learned early on, before we were allowed behind the wheel of a car, is that it is illegal and dangerous to pass another vehicle on the right. This applies especially to bicycles in the bike lane. 

The usual configuration of a bicycle lane in the United States is to the right of the car lane and to the left of the parking lane.  In San Francisco, where there are many one way streets with the bike lane on the left side of the road, this could also mean passing on the left so I will just call it passing on the inside.  Most bicycle lanes are not wide enough to ride two abreast. To pass a rider who is ahead of you, you should make sure it is safe to leave the lane and enter the car lane to the left. From there you can accelerate to pass the forward rider and then re-enter the lane ahead.


The rider with the green backpack is doing the right thing.  He exited the lane, entered traffic when safe and accelerated around the riders in front of him before reentering the lane. 

It is NEVER acceptable to force your way forward by squeezing between the forward rider and the parked cars! This is a guaranteed way to push someone into traffic.  The female rider with the polka dot helmet would be in the wrong if she tried to pass the rider with the black backpack on his right.

In this bicycle lane above, just don't pass.  Unless you can safely get into the traffic lane yourself, trying to squeeze through in the bicycle lane will push the forward rider into traffic.  This is not OK.

In the above picture, you see something really common, and really awful, that happens all the time in San Francisco.  The guy in the white shirt is riding on the inside of the lane.  If he decides to overtake the woman in the brown jacket she will be forced to move to the left into traffic.  Especially if she does not know he is there.  If she is  an inexperienced rider she will most likely overcompensate and swerve quite far into the car lane without looking.  Many times I have found myself actually being touched by the shoulder of someone suddenly passing me on the inside!

Enough for today.  I think you get the picture. 

cross posted at Vélo Vogue.

it's time to get back and bike to work!

it's time to get back and bike to work!

small passenger

seen on the morning commute. s/he's got a lot of places to go, and things to do! being chauffeured by bike looks like its preferred mode of transportation.

happy day after (usa) labor day everyone!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Change Lots Of Lives. Build A Bike!

One of the most interesting things about blogging, to me at least, is getting the chance to see where our readers come from.  I use a stats program that can give me a world map of readership over a specified period of time.  When the world map comes up, there are little dots for where each visitor's general area is.

Today, when I looked there were dots in Finland, New Zealand, Rio de Janeiro, Ghana and Turkey all within the same time period.  What a global spread!!  It got me to wondering what kind of information I could easily find about bicycling in some of these places, starting with Turkey.

There isn't a lot of easily findable material from a first person perspective about bicycling in Turkey.  There are a few stories about people having a bicycle vacation in Turkey, but I didn't find (with a very limited search) anything written by a Turk about riding in Turkey.  I have to admit, I was a little disappointed.  Lucky for me, I wasn't disappointed for long!

In my search I found this story about De Fietsfabriek, The Bicycle Factory, in the Hurriyet Daily News.  It turns out that De Fietsfabriek was started by a Turkish immigrant to the Netherlands, Yalcin Cihangir.

"Cihangir discovered that he liked fixing bicycles and wanted to make his own bikes; after six months, he started his own business in Amsterdam. Teaming up with a local colleague in 2004, he started the Bicycle Factory (www.defietsfabriek.nl)."*

The best part of this story is that Cihangir has his parts manufactured in his small hometown in Turkey.

"Bike parts are produced in Büyükcamili, creating jobs for almost 30 men in a small place in danger of being abandoned. Cihangir opened the factory in his home village in order to give something back. People working at the factory have reasonable working hours and get a decent salary, between 1,300 and 1,700 Turkish Liras. Next to the bicycle factory, an atelier has been created where women make special clothing that is sold in the Netherlands and returns the revenues to Anatolia.
Cihangir is also financing a local agricultural project to grow products in an environmentally friendly way. His final goal is to make his home village an attractive place for young people to stay and make a living."*

Here are some of the people who make his bicycles in Turkey

and here is a wonderful little documentary of the opening of his factory. It is in Dutch and Turkish but you will get a very good idea of how big a deal this factory is and just how much good it is doing.

I have never met Yalcin Cihangir and I probably never will, but I would be very proud to own one of his bicycles.  He proves through his actions that there is so much more to bicycles than any of us think of when we jump on them to go to work or play.  Bicycles can save your home town!  Maybe Flint and Detroit, Michigan should get on the bandwagon, too.  After all, Henry Ford built and sold bicycles before cars and now Michigan is suffering the after effects.  Maybe those same bicycles could help repair some of that damage.  I know I would buy an American made bicycle like we used to be able to.  

I would certainly buy a De Fietsfabriek bicycle.  I may not be from a tiny village in Turkey, but it doesn't mean I can't help one out!

*excerpt from "The Turkish Bicycle Factory" by JOOST LAGENDİJK and linked to above.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

figuring it out together. biking in LA with babies.

guess who has a new haircut? and a big smile. why is that smile so big?

mateo trailer bici

cause someone is now on the back of the bike.

mateo bici 2

this story is as much mateo's as it is his mom's. she's been trying to figure out how to ride a bike in LA, with not as many friends that are as into bikes like some of her friends back in SF, her hometown.

mateo bici 4

so, being the smart and tough cookie that she is, she just dived into it headfirst and now has the bike and the trailer that works for her to go with it.

mateo bici 3

look at that smile. i asked his mom how he liked it. these are her words: he liked it, and was laughing! he was also a little confused, like WTF is this contraption?

heh. indeed. looks like there's room in there for two. bike party time! EL LAY kiddo style. yah, he might have a sticker. or three. time to add music to that bike. elmo sound system anyone?