Saturday, January 21, 2017

To the Women's March on Washington by Bike

Bike Valet at Women's March on Washington
Bike valet parking at L'Enfant Plaza SW & Independence Avenue

It is about nine miles from my house to where the bike valet parking was set up for the Women's March on Washington - I decided to take my ancient 1973 three-speed Raleigh Sports bike that is indestructible and also not a bike that would be a loss if something bad did happen to it (like it disappeared).

According to the Women's March on Washington web site, there were 1,500 parking spots at this bike valet service for bicycles, which they seemed to suggest would not be enough, but alas the bike valet service was not much used. The above photo was taken at around 9:30, about 30 minutes before the rally started, and there were maybe a few dozen bikes parked total. Hmm. When I left the area around 2:15, heavy crowds extended down Independence Avenue further than this - much to heavy to try to walk a bicycle - I was able to leave the area by going south, away from Independence, crossing over the railroad tracks and SW freeway on L'Enfant Plaza, then down to Maine Ave and the usual bike route from the Jefferson Memorial area onward across the 14th St Bridge and into Arlington.

Given the huge number of people who attended and the stories of how Metro was overwhelmed, it appears bicycle was a good solution, but apparently not an obvious one, although I understand many people came in groups and a group bike ride to something like this probably isn't the first idea one has. Still, the bike valet must have been one of the more over-provided (or under-utilized) resources connected with this event.

Both on the way to the March and on the ride home, I saw more attendees riding Capital Bikeshare bikes than their own bikes.

Women's March on Washington
Listening to speakers at the March

It was an uplifting experience in many ways, even if the historical fact that drove the organizers to create it isn't a positive one in my view. I was glad to be there. Who knows how many people were really there, but Lord that was a lot of people.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Bikeways : State of the Art, 1974 (Government Report)

Bikeways : state of the art, 1974 / Dan Smith, Jr., author ; prepared for Federal Highway Administration.
Main Author: Smith, Dan.
Language(s): English
Published: Springfield, Va. : distributed by National Technical Information Service, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, 1974.
Subjects: Cycling.
Cycling > United States.
Bicycle trails.
Note: DeLeuw, Cather and Company, performing organization.
Physical Description: v, 97 p. : ill. ; 28 cm.

Available as a public domain government funded document from HathiTrust - https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/007473274

It sounds to much like today . . .
With this growth in cycling popularity and utilization have come both a demand for good recreational and utility oriented facilities on which to ride and a concern for the increase in bike involved accidents. The concern for accidents appears well founded despite the fact that only the gross numbers of accidents occurring are known with a reasonable level of accuracy. Very little is known about accident rates associated with the gross numbers. Despite this lack of accident rate information, the following national statistics are significant. In l962, some 570 cyclists were killed and 30,000 injured in bicycle - motor vehicle accidents. By l968, the corresponding figures had grown to 800 killed and 38,000 injured. The National Safety Council's statistics for l972 show l00,000 bicycle - motor vehicle accidents and l,l00 fatalities.

As a result of the growing concern on the part of both the public and public officials at all levels, the past several years have been marked by a veritable blizzard of bicycle safety studies, studies for development of bikeway design and locational criteria, cyclist safety education programs, and provision of physical facilities for bicycles. But the sudden rise in activity and the demand for programs and facilities found planners and designers unprepared and uncertain as to means of responding to these demands. As a result, programs have been planned on the basis of intuitive judgment, what knowledge could be gleaned from European literature on the subject, and trial and error. The result of the past four or five years independent activities undertaken in state jurisdictions across the country has been a broad range of studies, plans, programs, design manuals and in-use facilities with substantial variance and even conflict in recommended practices. The results of initial use and experiences in various localities are now becoming available and it appears that differences in design practices have significant implication for utility and safety.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Women's March by Bike?

The Women's March on Washington information about bicycle parking still a work in progress.
Local Transportation - By Bike

Q: Can I bike to the march?
A: You are welcome to ride your bike as transportation to the march. However, bikes are not allowed in the rally area or the march route. We are currently identifying a place for bike parking. We will update people over the next week with more details.

According to the what to bring page (which really should be titled, "please don't bring anything!") it seems you are only to have a relatively small, absolutely clear bag if you have any sort of bag at all. I guess I can put a sandwich in my pocket, and an apple. And my phone, which (thanks T-Mobile!) probably won't work but no worries, life proceeded before there were mobile phones.

While it is clear where the March starts, it isn't clear where they are planning to march to, but since it is stated it will be a March of only one and a half miles, it seems like down Independence Avenue to the Washington monument or something like that. Probably best to try to park towards the destination end and walk back to the march start.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Seattle Bike Share Failure

Seattle Bike Blog description of the closure, giving considerable detail.

Short Seattle PI online news article briefly on the closure of Seattle's bike share system, Pronto.

Around Seattle - Jan. 2015
Seattle Dept of Transportation image of a Pronto bike

I lived in Seattle for about fifteen years, but that was in the last century, before cycling was a Seattle "thing" so to speak. I have relatives in the Pac NW so I go back to visit occasionally, and have observed the generally more robust development of cycling and cycling infrastructure there over here, in the Arlington VA and DC area. One of the things that seemed amazing to me was the absence of a bike share program - then once one was introduced in the last few years, called Pronto, that it seemed so lame. (Yes, that is not a very deep analytical comment, I admit.)

Anyway, the Seattle PI item above is an amusing contrast in its brevity to the endless information in the blog post and several items it links to. It appears that just about everything that could be done wrong was. But there are apparently so many villains/possible causes that who knows if any real lessons can be learned.

Because the management of Pronto was so screwed up (according to the accounts) and it was started too small (another theory) combined with the reality of Seattle's hilly terrain combined with bike share bike weight, the issue of Seattle's helmet law is not regarded as a significant factor in the failure. Hmm.

Downtown Seattle - McGraw Square Pronto Station
Seattle Dept of Transportation

These are probably the only bike share bikes of this sort of heavy industrial step-through design that have seven speed, not three speed, gearing. Apparently they were still pretty hard to get up some of Seattle's hills.

Arlington Traffic 9
Capital Bikeshare users happy that CaBi continues to flourish, without helmets (by the way)

The Pronto bike share web site (https://www.prontocycleshare.com/faq) which doesn't mention that they are going out of business at this point, speaking admiringly or aspiration-ly about CaBi. "What other cities have bike share and how do they compare? - People are using bike share systems in over 200 cities, including New York, Boston, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago, London, Paris, and Barcelona with more programs launching each year. In New York, Citi Bike riders recorded over 10 million trips in 2015. Washington DC's 1,100 bike program was [as in, is] so successful it has already expanded to 2,500 bikes to keep up with demand." - This is a rare case where Seattlites have something nice to say about Washington DC. Oh, and as of now, it is more than 3,500 bikes for CaBi, yeah.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ultralight Bike Touring and Bikepacking (Book Review)

Ultralight Bike Touring and Bikepacking: The Ultimate Guide to Lightweight Cycling AdventuresUltralight Bike Touring and Bikepacking: The Ultimate Guide to Lightweight Cycling Adventures by Justin Lichter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was something I picked up at the public library. I suppose since this isn't the kind of guide you take with you, it is an OK book for a library to have, but I should probably buy myself a copy for reference if I am serious about some overnight rides of any sort. Not sure I am.

The concept here is that most bicycle touring is done in with a "heavy" approach, often with special racks for the front and back that have so-called pannier bags attached. The "ulralight" bikepacker instead uses a combination (usually) of handlebar bag, a slightly elongated bag that attaches behind the saddle, and a "frame bag" that fits into the triangle of space under the top bar - between the rider's legs, basically.

I am sympathetic to this approach mostly because of how my approach to commuting evolved - I used to have these ginormous pannier bags for a back rack on the bikes I used to commute. They were silly large, and from time to time I would more or less find enough crap to haul to/from work to fill them. A lot of weight, and eventually I began to feel they were ruining (or at least not helping) my enjoyment of my rides. I started using a messenger bag and found that if I forced myself to live within the smaller amount of space and made better decisions on what to take with me, it was enough.

This book is advocating much the same approach for longer bike trips of various kinds. The two co-authors (Justin Lichter and Justin Kline) have a light style and there is some amusing stuff about travels in Central Asia - well, amusing for me because I am somewhat interested in that region. Note all of their chapters are relevant for me - for example, "bikepacking for speed and endurance" - eh, not so much my interest.

Anyway, they mention somewhere that packing light and staying away from the heavy bags on the front and back on racks can mean better maneuverability, which seems attractive to me, but also that it can be a better approach for older riders. Amen!

Even though I wasn't equally interested in all parts of this book, it's only about 150 pages so I just read it from start to finish. A nice read.



View all my cycling reviews on Goodreads.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

In Connection with Nothing in Particular

Rabbit on bicycle (illustration, 1903)

From a digitized children's book

Jest-nuts by Bridgman, L. J. (Lewis Jesse), 1857-1931
Published 1903
Topics Nursery rhymes
Illustrated lining-papers
Publisher New York, Boston, H.M. Caldwell Company
archive.org/stream/jestnuts00brid#page/n48/mode/1up

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Moscow Extreme Weekend Cycling Event

It was a bit chilly for Washington today, but I wanted to test out some different cold weather gear and went for about a 7-8 mile ride in the middle of the day. It was around 18 F or about -8 C - my winter stuff worked OK to keep me warm, but riding back I was a little slowed by a steady cold wind. Ugh.

But this weekend in Moscow there was a winter "Velo-Parade" that was held despite unusually cold conditions there (even for Moscow) with a ride-time temperature of -27 C, or about -17 F. Yikes! I guess I have nothing to complain about.

SecondMoscowVeloParade
Poster available to print and post from one of the event organizers, http://i-bike-msk.ru/

There is this story in Russian, from the Russian News Agency TASS. There is a shorter version in English. It says in English, in an example of less than great translation, that the participants were "recommended to be accurate" which in Russian was really something like they were told be careful. Perhaps a machine translation. There were about 500 participants. The "Ministry of Extreme Situations" (which is a Russia national agency for emergency response; basically some EMTs) was at the start and finish, but apparently no one needed assistance. This was the second such "winter bicycle parade;" the first one in 2016 had about 3,000 riders but the weather was more seasonal (again, for Moscow) although of course still below freezing. More seasonally appropriate "bicycle parades" have been organized in May in Moscow for several years, as well as in a few other cities. These events are in support of (Russian) public awareness of cycling and advocacy for more cycling infrastructure. The events are not races but more of a fun ride, although in this case, in rather extreme (for most) conditions. This winter ride seems to have been about 6 kilometers each way, along the embankment of the Moscow river, or (coincidentally) about 7.5 miles, just about what I rode today in (by comparison) almost tropical conditions.


News video from MetroNews.ru (in Russian) of this winter event


Московский Велопарад 2016 from Let's bike it! on Vimeo.

Organizer produced video of the 2016 spring Velo-Parade in Moscow, in late May

The spring ride in 2016 claimed more than 30,000 participants.