Category Archives: news

We’re back!

OK, it has been WAY too long since we’ve been able to blog. We’ve missed you! Won’t bore you with too many tech details, but we have a new hosting company and a brand-spanking fresh installation of WordPress, so here’s hoping that we’ll be good to go without any major outages for another five years. And yes, I said five: Our first real posts at LGRAB were in January 2009.

Since we were gone for so long, I feel it is only right to give  you a little sneak peek at what will be appearing on LGRAB soon!

  • Review of Bookman bike lights
  • Our story of biking the Lustica Peninsula with Feel Montenegro
  • A Trisha & Dottie Midwest adventure, coming in March
  • Coverage of the Tennessee Bike Summit in May

And if you’re in Nashville, join us this Sunday for a bike brunch!

Guess that’s all for now! It feels good to be blogging again.

 

 

Bye bye, Google Reader

As hardcore Google Reader aficionados, Dottie and I have been mourning their pending loss since it was announced. And it’s almost here: As of tomorrow, GR will be no more. But! You can still follow LGRAB by RSS. I’ve already switched over to Feedly and am pretty happy with it—cloud-based, with IFTTT integration. I just wish they made it easier to email posts. Anyway. If you’ve switched to another reader and weren’t able to import our RSS feed, here they are:

Follow LGRAB on Bloglovin’

Follow LGRAB on Feedly

Our Feedburner feed, which leads to subscription options in other readers—at least, until Google decides to retire that, too.

And hey, if you want to subscribe to our posts by email, click here. It goes without saying, but your address will NEVER be sold or otherwise shared with third parties.

WorkCycles Have Returned to Chicago!

To the untrained eye, this bicycle may look like my Oma, but it’s actually a stealthy WorkCycles Secret Service.  She’s a loaner from J.C. Lind Bikes for a few days while Betty Foy gets her (much needed!) spring overhaul.

When Dutch Bike Chicago closed a year and a half ago (their Seattle shop is still in business), I was disappointed that WorkCycles were no longer sold in Chicago.  People often ask me about my Oma, and after DBC closed I had no place to direct them other than the internet.

Happily, this is no longer a problem.  WorkCycles have returned to Chicago!  Jon of J.C. Lind Bikes (at 1300 N. Wells for locals) worked out an arrangement with Henry of WorkCycles, and now the shop carries a variety of WorkCycles city bikes.

I have a review of the Secret Service coming soon, and I’ll try to test others like the Fr8 and Gr8 at some point, since I know many people are unable to test ride them in real life before purchasing and must rely heavily on online information.

Stay tuned!

{J.C. Lind is an LGRAB sponsor and friend. Henry of WorkCycles is an LGRAB friend now, too!   But all of my reviews are absolutely independent.}

 

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Inside Shinola—Detroit’s newest old name brand

Few things make me happier than the increase in the rise of affordable city bikes available in North America. When I bought my Batavus in 2009, I went all the way to England to get it, because Batavus bikes were only sold by a few North American dealers. Now Public and Brooklyn Cruiser and even mainstream manufacturers like Trek have added city bikes to their lineups for well under $1000.

Of course, selling bikes at that price point means having the frameset built overseas. If you want a city bike built in the US, your choices are myriad, but your price options are not: Most run upwards of $2000 for the frame alone. Which is not a criticism—if you’re getting a handbuilt frame from Ant, for example, it is cheap at the price. But what if you want similar quality on a smaller budget? That’s the gap that Shinola is trying to fill with their line of city bicycles.

shinolawelcome

When I was in Detroit last week, I was able to visit Shinola and learn a little more about the brand—and the bikes. The brand Shinola has been around for quite some time—and yes, it’s the same one that inspired the famous catchphrase.

Headquartered in the famous Argonaut Building, GM’s former design headquarters, the entry to the offices is a nod to the brand’s history of shoe polish production. Now, however, the company focuses on bicycles, watches and leather goods.

shinolaheritage

Original Shinola products

The first thing everyone asks me when I tell them what Shinola makes is why those three products—so of course it was the first question I asked Alex Stchekine, Shinola’s bike assembly specialist, when I arrived. The answer? People who geek out over watches and people who geek out over bikes have a lot of overlap—and of course, bikes and watches are both efficient, useful technologies, and can be investment pieces that are built to last. As for the leather goods, well, if you’re going to make watchbands, bike saddles and grips, you might as well make bags, wallets and journals. (Plans are in the works to make leather bike bags to match the bicycles.)

alexandme

 

As an aside, apparently people are *really* eager to see Shinola watches—even more than the bikes! They’ll be available for men and women soon, and feature quartz movements and leather bands made in Missouri.

women's watch/men's watch

women’s watch/men’s watch

 

This is where the watches are assembled.

This is where the watches are assembled.

But I know our readers are here for the bikes, so let’s move on! Shinola is starting out with two models: The Runwell and the Bixby, which are sold as complete bikes. The Runwell has 11 speeds and retails at $2950. The Bixby, a three-speed with a distinctive decal and geometry, retails at $1950. Both come in three frame sizes and three colors, and the Bixby comes in a relaxed diamond or a step-through frame. The diamond Bixby is sold in black or the emerald shown below; the stepthrough Bixby is sold in black, cream or mauve.

runwellheadbadge greenbixby

Made in the same Waterford, Wisconsin, factory that formerly built Schwinns and now produces its own line of bicycles and those of some other small manufacturers—including a few of the higher-end Rivendell models—the bikes are then assembled in Detroit. They can be shipped fully or partially assembled.

allofthebikes

runwellframes

Runwell frames

Whether they’re building bikes, watches or leather journals or bags, attention to detail is important at Shinola. Most of this post will focus on the Bixby, since that’s the bike I test rode, but let’s take a minute to admire the lugs, custom dropouts and reinforced front fork on the Runwell. Can you see how the cables are routed through the frame?

doublefrontfork

shinoladrivetrain

shinoladropouts

Both bike models feature internal Shimano hubs, Shimano disc brakes, Velo Orange fenders and stems. The saddles and grips are custom Shinola-branded leather. Somehow, I cut the nose off this one when taking the photo! But the feel was similar to a new Brooks B17, although I think the nose is slightly longer.

Shinola saddle

Shinola saddle

These are pictures of a Bixby, which is accented with warm copper rivets, pedals and grip borders. The Runwell accents are silver.

shinolagrips

pedalsblog

The tires are Schwalbe, of course.

waitingwheels

And the bell is a Crane.

bixbybell

Each bike also has a serial number.

shinolabadgeserial

The Argonaut Building is also home to the College for Creative Studies, and several students have worked on projects with Shinola dealing with bike design. The walls are decorated with student prototype ideas—elements of some of them have made it into the final Shinola designs, including the elegant cream decal on the Bixby. You can also see here, again, how the cables are routed through the frame.

bixbyblog

Here’s one example of a student project. We at LGRAB support the creation of a bicycle meant to haul wine!

studentprojectbike

I only got to ride the Bixby around the offices, but here are my impressions of it.

meandbixby

FIrst, the posture was more agressive than any of my other bikes, with the saddle positioned slightly above the handlebars. I felt perched on the bike, although still fairly upright. Obviously this is something that could be adjusted by raising the handlebars, but it also felt like something I could get used to easily and seemed to be a good position for this bike’s geometry.

ridingbixby3

ridingbixby2

The 47cm Bixby fit me almost perfectly, something that, as a short-torsoed 5-feet-and-change girl, I find to be pretty rare. The only other bike that I’ve ridden that fits me as well is Kermit Allegra. This is the only size ladies’ Bixby listed on Shinola’s site, which says it should fit riders up to 5’8″. I’m not sure that would be true if the 5’8″ person in question has long legs. The inseam measurements say that the 47cm Bixby fits those with inseams between 25-32, and as usual that seems like a better way to judge whether the bike will fit you (my inseam is 28 inches).

ridingbixby

Stopping power felt good, and pedaling was a breeze, though obviously there was no real challenge on terrain like this!

inspectingbixby

inspectingbixby2

That said, this bike is light! Hard to say without a comparison around, but for a bike with fenders and a steel frame, I was surprised to find it so easy to lift. They don’t list weights on their site, but I’d say that it is under 30 pounds—at least as light as my Abici, if not lighter. Of course, it doesn’t have lights or a rack on it yet.

pickingupbixby

Alex told me that response to the bikes has been better than expected so far. They’re currently building about 50 a month at Waterford, and they expect to build around 500 this year.

Obviously it’s impossible to compare the Bixby to the competition in any meaningful way after a short indoor test ride, but I was impressed with the attention to detail and the quality feel of the bicycle. Luckily, those of you in the market for a bike at this price range can check the Bixby or Runwell out for yourself. Currently they are available at Copenhagen Cyclery in Chicago, and in a few other shops across the country, but Shinola will be opening two storefronts in the near future: One on West Canfield street in Detroit, and the other in Tribeca in New York City. I really enjoyed my test ride of the Shinola Bixby and might have to take another spin when I’m in NYC this spring.

{Thanks to Bridget and Alex at Shinola for setting up the visit and being so generous with their time, and to my brother Charlie for taking most of these photos!}

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News from Nashville

It’s not even spring yet, but there’s a lot of bike and transport news items happening in Nashville!

Last week, I attended a “visioning session” at Oasis Bike Workshop about the Tennessee portion of the United States Bicycle Route System.  The route system, which was started in the early 1980s, has ramped up again in the last 10 years—six new routes were added in 2011, and two in Minnesota and Michigan last year.

bicyclingroute

Now, they want to plan a route to bring USBR 25 through Tennessee, connecting Franklin, Kentucky, with Ardmore, Alabama, and passing through Nashville. David Shumaker and Bruce Day from Bike/Walk Tennessee came to explain the concept of the Bicycle Route System.

corridorplan

After their talk, we divided into two groups and marked a map of the greater Nashville area with stickers, highlighting places of interest (yellow), bike-friendly routes (green) and places to avoid (pink).

map

Once a route is pulled together, it will have to be submitted to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials at their spring or fall meeting for approval. Looking at the map made me realize that I need to expand my biking horizons a little—there wasn’t much that I could add outside the urban center and the greenways! Maybe it’s time for a more ambitious ride…

You can follow the USBRS on Facebook or Twitter (@usbicycleroutes)—and of course I’ll be posting anything I hear here.  If you have a brilliant idea for a route through Nashville (or between Nashville and Franklin—we were slightly stumped!), email me and I’ll pass it along. If you’re curious about what might be going on with the USBRS in your state, this PDF gives a brief update, state-by-state.

The other Tennessee project I got a glimpse of this month was the Nashville Bus Rapid Transfer project, which is going full steam on the East-West Connector. They wanted input from cyclists about how we might use the BRT, and where they should put bike racks (answer: all of the stops!). It was encouraging to see that the people involved really cared about getting this right, for the city and for the citizens—including cyclists.

a mock-up of the BRT, at the intersection of Broadway and 21st Ave. S.

Concept mock-up of the BRT, at the intersection of West End and 21st Ave. S.

The buses, which will be double length and hold around 80 people, will have designated lanes for most of the route, which goes down West End from St. Thomas, merges onto Broadway, then takes a left on 5th to Church and then across the Woodland Street bridge to Five Points in East Nashville.

I won’t lie, I’m kind of bummed we aren’t getting light rail—but BRT is about a million times cheaper (why yes, that is an exact figure!) and quicker to build. There will be kiosks at each stop, where you can buy tickets, as well as sheltered waiting areas and the aforementioned bike racks. There will be park-and-ride locations and extra bike racks at both termini. And the buses are going to act like light rail, which is the important thing. You don’t have to consult a schedule, because they’ll be coming by every 10 minutes.

We were told that it currently takes 16 minutes to get to downtown from St. Thomas. If traffic continues to grow at the pace it has been over the past few years, and no major transportation changes are implemented, by 2018 the same 5-mile trip will take more than 30 minutes, so this project is definitely needed. Construction could start as early as this fall, although it probably won’t be completed until 2015. For more on the BRT plans, this video is a good summary.

What’s going on in your city’s transportation world?

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Nashville’s New Bike Share: Coming this fall

Today during my lunch break I went to get a little preview of Nashville’s long-awaited bike share system at one of the kiosks they’re setting up around town this week. There seemed to be a good bit of interest, with people popping in and out the whole time I was there. Bcycle, which runs bike shares in several other cities across North America, including Chicago, Houston, Denver and Madison, will be in charge of the program, and a representative told me they will be rolling out with 200 bikes in 20 locations, centered on the downtown core, “sometime this fall.” I took one of the bikes out for a little spin.

Nashville's bcycle bike share bikes

 

They’re Trek bikes. All the testers (which were from various city bikeshare programs—mine was from Omaha!) had 3 speed Nexus hubs, skirt guards, chain cases, lights and fenders. Some had baskets and racks, some just baskets. Mine had a front and side basket, as well as a rear rack.

Shimano Nexus 3-speed shifter

The Bcycle people said that bringing some of the 7-speed Treks in to Nashville, once the share is launched, is a possibility.

Fits my PoCampo! Apologies for the finger.

It was hotter than hell, high noon, and the station was in a somewhat awkward area (a parking lot hemmed in by one-way streets and streets that are not bike friendly, aka Broadway and West End) so I only went around the block a couple of times. But the bike had a nice, relaxed seating position, almost like a beach cruiser, and was easy to ride in my dress and heels.

Me and the bike share

They’re still finalizing the pricing structure for Bcycle in Nashville, but as with other bike shares, the first 30 minutes of use will be free, and you can purchase daily or annual memberships.

Nashville's bcycle bike share bike, rear wheel

Rear wheel with skirt guard, chain case and fender

Locations are still TBD as well. Jonathan, the representative I spoke with, mentioned they were hoping to get one at the foot of the Capitol building (great visibility for the program), and that there’d be at least two on the Vanderbilt campus, and probably some in East Nashville.

That spread of locations doesn’t sound like it would make for density to me: Vandy to East Nashville would mean a five-mile radius at least, which is a pretty big area for just 20 stations and 200 bikes. This Tennessean article says there will be kiosks every 1.5 miles, which is not close enough. To be fair, while that 1.5-mile figure seems in line with the distances they are talking about covering and the number of stations they’ll have to start, it does not line up with what the Jonathan from Bcycle told me, which was that he thinks you should be able to practically see one station from the previous one. So who knows what we’ll end up with?

Although I would love to have this service in East Nashville, in my opinion it would be a better idea to put more stations on this side of the river and make it useful for people and save that side for stage 2. Bike share programs suffer from the same problems as other forms of public transportation—initial rollout is limited, which limits the usefulness, which limits usage, which causes people to say that the system has failed. Here’s hoping that the Nashville bike share will be able to gain traction.

If you are in Nashville, there are two more demos (tomorrow in East Nashville, and Friday at the Farmer’s Market), so check them out if you have a chance.

{ For more on bike sharing, Dottie posted about her experience with Bcycle in Denver, and I wrote about our time with Vélib‘. }

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Pedaling in a new direction

We are excited to announce an evolution of Let’s Go Ride a Bike! Since December 2008, we have been bringing you personal stories of our growth as transportation cyclists. This will not change—we will continue to share our everyday adventures with you. But now in addition to our traditional blog stories, we will increase our rate of posting and expand the range of our editorial content to present a broader view of the cycling world.

Why? 

After 3.5 years of sharing our personal stories, the time has come to expand beyond the traditional blog format. As the rate of transportation cycling continues to rise, we hope to be a resource and support system for bicyclists, new and experienced alike, with a focus on women (although men are definitely welcome and included!). We remain committed to demonstrating how life on two wheels can be simple, stylish, and fun. This new direction has energized us, and we hope it will energize you, too!

What?

  • Daily updates, sometimes two or more per day
  • Varied content
  • Regular series
  • How-to’s and practical information
  • Longer articles focusing on advocacy issues
  • Fun fashion and vintage inspiration
  • Interviews with movers and shakers in the bike world
  • Profiles of everyday cyclists and “Roll Models”
  • Videos and podcasts
  • Links to other interesting articles in the blog world
  • Dynamic magazine-style layout allows us to present more content in a compact space—while keeping individual posts and RSS feeds the same
  • Monthly newsletter (sign up here) featuring a sure-to-be-stunning monthly desktop calendar designed by Dottie

When? 

The new direction starts . . . now! If you are reading this through our RSS feed, we encourage you to click through to our actual site to see the redesign.

Your turn.

We’d love to know what you would to see more on LGRAB. Take our three-second survey.

Thank you for your continued interest in and support of Let’s Go Ride a Bike—and your patience during this transition. (We’re hoping you won’t need too much of it!) We remain dedicated to creating a community where all those who ride bikes for transportation will feel welcome, no matter the format. Your thoughts and comments are always appreciated.

New addition to the Nashville bike scene: The Hub

Last Friday, I went to the jam-packed “pre-opening” party of Nashville’s newest biking establishment: The Hub.  It’s a truly unique entry to the Nashville biking scene: in addition to being the home of the Green Fleet Messenger service, The Hub will sell bike accessories and provide bike rentals. Starting this spring they’ll also offer bike tours around Nashville.

Your friendly Hub owners and operators Thomas Solinsky and Austin Bauman

The shop feels warm and  welcoming, with its old brick walls partly whitewashed and partly left original—and completely decked out with bikes, baskets, bells, jerseys and T-shirts.

I’m pretty psyched that visiting friends and family will no longer have an excuse not to participate in my bike obsession. Judging from the bikes in the shop during the party, there’ll be a wide range of models available (alas, I didn’t photograph them all).

The Hub is located in Edgehill Village and open for business. Find them on Facebook for info on special holiday deals.

Green Fleet Hub
1579 Edgehill Ave., Nashville, TN
M-F 11-6; Sat. 10-2
p.s. speaking of riding in Nashville, our next bike brunch is TOMORROW at 11 am at Tavern in Midtown. Email me if you can make it.

 

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Bike Lane Love in the New York Times

It’s too bad that so many New Yorkers still complain about the bike lanes’ contribution to the inconvenience of urban driving instead of promoting them for their obvious role in helping solve the city’s transportation miseries, and for their aesthetic possibilities. I don’t mean they’re great to look at. I mean that for users they offer a different way of taking in the city, its streets and architecture, the fine-grained fabric of its neighborhoods…On a bike time bends. Space expands and contracts.

Check out this beautiful article about New York’s bike lanes, Pleasures of Life in the Slow Lane, by Michael Kimmelman in the New York Times. (Hat tip to reader David B. for forwarding it to us!) As Chicargobike said in her post about the article, the prose will make you swoon.

Reading a glowingly positive article about bike infrastructure in the mainstream media was refreshing and a lot of the author’s optimism can be applied to Chicago or any other city that’s beginning to take bikes seriously. I was especially interested to read that “London has lately turned into a bike capital too.” I’d love to hear what any Londoners out there think about that statement.

Speaking of New York, I found a little bit of NYC in downtown Chicago yesterday.  There is a new Magnolia Bakery on State Street.

I have mixed feelings about this.  On one hand, Chicago already has lots of delicious cupcake bakeries and doesn’t need New York’s second-hand ideas.  On the other hand, CUPCAKES!  :)

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Critical Mass in the News

Does Critical Mass help or hurt the cause of bicyclists?  This question is as rife with tension as the big helmet question.  Neither is a debate I’m interested in dredging up here.  Personally, I think Critical Mass in Chicago is great, but I can understand and respect arguments to the contrary, subject to the same caveat I have for any argument: that it be thoughtful and intelligent.

This week, some guy who wants to sell his book on “urban cycling” wrote a highly inflammatory post against Critical Mass, using the horrifying photo of a car driver crashing into (and killing members of) a group of cyclists in Mexico with the caption, “When is something like this going to happen in Chicago thanks to Critical Mass?”  The text of his post is as bad, with gems like this: “Critical Massholes are to fundamentalist terrorists what Islam is to cycling.”  That does not even make sense, but you get the idea.  His book cover is equally awful, a yellow and black graphic of a bicyclist plunging over a car.

I am very tuned in to Chicago’s bicycling scene, but I had never heard of this guy or his blog until today.  I’m not buying what he’s selling and I won’t link to his site from here, but apparently his distasteful publicity stunt is working, because he also got the attention of the press.

Earlier today, Chicago Tonight, a local PBS/WTTW news show that I watch nightly, had a discussion about Critical Mass, featuring this guy, along with Gin Kilgore, a Mass participant and creator of Bike Winter and all-around awesome woman, and Ethan Spotts of Active Trans.  Host Phil Ponce did a great job moderating.  Overall, I thought the segment was a positive piece for Critical Mass.  You can check it out for yourself below.  After the intro, jump ahead to 3:25 for the discussion.

I am not interested in starting a Critical Mass debate, but I do want to share this video and point out that there are ways to argue against the Mass with dignity and respect. It’s a shame for both sides when those who fail to do so get the attention.

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More Chicago News

Mayor Emanuel and I have something in common: we both took the Brown Line to work yesterday. I took it because threatening thunderstorms kept me off my bike and the Mayor took it to demonstrate how great Chicago’s public transportation system is.

“Got on the train and got to work in 30 minutes, short order. That is a competitive advantage for the city,” he said.

Next he should ride his bike to work. Would that be something? I think so! His people should call my people and we can work it out. (News story here)

Unfortunately, there was also tragic news yesterday.

A 30-year-old man, Fredrick Kobrick, was killed in a hit-and-run crash while riding his bike in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood Sunday night. Based on a photo of the scene, it appears he was riding in a bike lane. The man driving the car was apprehended and has been charged with reckless homicide, aggravated DUI, and leaving the scene of a fatal accident. (News story here)

Yesterday, an 86-year-old woman, Coral Kier, was killed in my neighborhood while crossing the street in a crosswalk by a left-turning cab driver. No word yet on charges against the driver. (News story here)

My thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims.

I chose to highlight these stories because I believe it’s important to recognize the good and the bad relevant news, and to recognize the victims, not to make bicycling or walking in the city seem especially dangerous. (Nearly every day, it seems, there are news stories about car drivers and passengers being killed in crashes.) I hope there will be justice for these senseless deaths, what little justice there can be, and further examination by the City of how it can make its residents safer.

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Chicago’s “Crackdown” on Bicyclists

Last week, I logged onto the Chicago Tribune website and the headline proclaimed: Police Crackdown on Bicyclists: 240 Warnings, 1 Ticket.

That got the public’s attention. Readers left 340 comments on the article and recommended it on Facebook 1,000 times. The majority of the comments were ridiculously anti-bicyclist and rejoiced at the comeuppance.

And all of that is good. I’m totally cool with it.

Because the crackdown took place at the very intersection where the city is quickly constructing its first protected bike lane and bike box. NYC is experiencing an absurd “backlash” for its installation of protected bike lanes. Chicago is smartly working from the get-go to prevent that.

By conducting this crackdown, the city effectively countered the #1 instantaneous complaint drivers have about providing a safe place for people to cycle: that people on bikes don’t deserve anything because they do not follow traffic laws.

So maybe 1,000 people are cackling about cyclists on Facebook (probably from their iPhones while driving, but I digress). Awesome. I hope they spread the word far and wide that the police are enforcing traffic laws for bicyclists.

And really the “crackdown” consisted of bike cops and CDOT bike ambassadors thanking cyclists who stopped at the red light and educating cyclists who ran the red light. Another difference between NYC and Chicago is that Chicago’s crackdown may actually succeed in improving bicyclist, pedestrian, and driver safety, a difference that Bike Snob NYC noted. Bicyclists should stop at red lights and I wish more of them would.

I highly recommend watching this 1 minute news clip about the enforcement. Then tell me: crackdown? Not really, but please continue using that word with the masses, news media. Your hyperbolic headlines could only help.

What are your thoughts about bicycle “crackdowns” – are they ever a good thing? Where would you draw the line between educating cyclists and unfairly singling them out? Do you think “crackdowns” help with public opinion in support of safe cycling infrastructure?

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Valentine contest alert!

In case you haven’t seen it, Chrome is running a contest this week in celebration of Valentine’s Day. They’re giving away a Schwinn Tango tandem.

Needless to say, we’d love for one of our readers to win this one. Head on over to their site to enter! The contest closes on Friday.

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…and then news stories like this happen.

File this under “schlocky local news strikes again.”

I could not watch the entire video because I was shaking in rage from the opening line: “Bicyclists on the streets of Chicago face many dangers, but they may put themselves in that position and frequently frustrate others on the road.” (Next up on Channel 7 news – Domestic violence victims: why don’t they just leave the guy??)

This is how the mainstream media uses a few examples to twist reality and perpetuate false truths about bicyclists. I ride through Chicago every day and I see hundreds of bicyclists riding lawfully and courteously. Anyone could stand on the corner of downtown Chicago during rush hour and record footage of drivers and pedestrians breaking traffic laws, but no one’s broadcasting a story about how those who die in car crashes everyday are asking for it. This story is bullshit, total car-head on display.

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Russ & Laura in print

Over the summer I had the pleasure of meeting Russ and Laura of The Path Less Pedaled during their three-week stay in Nashville. These two have a gift for getting to the heart of what makes a city tick—especially when it comes to bike-related matters—and seeing Nashville through their eyes was a real treat. (Especially since they turned out to be big fans of my adopted hometown!)

Russ & Laura with the Bat outside Fido

Somehow, between touring across the country, metalsmithing (Laura) and taking stunning photographs (Russ), they’ve managed to pull together an e-book full of advice for touring, Panniers & Peanut Butter, that’s available for download for  just $20.

Anyone thinking of setting out on a bicycle tour can benefit from the experience of these two pros, who are currently in the home stretch of their cross-country tour. After the jump, read the intro (click on the image to make it larger).

Continue reading

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LGRAB in Yes! Magazine

Let’s Go Ride a Bike is featured in the upcoming issue of Yes! Magazine, an award-winning, ad-free, non-profit publication that supports people’s active engagement in building a just and sustainable world.  The issue is on building community resilience and one of the features is 8 Crash-Proof Ideas, highlighting people and places building skills now that will come in handy in a future without oil.  We (meaning us and all of you out there) are Resillent Idea 3: Bike Anytime, Anywhere, As You Are.

You can read this part of the article by clicking on the image above.  The issue comes out sometime in the next week or two.  You can purchase it at Borders, Barnes & Noble, Whole Foods, other book/magazine sellers or subscribe here. I highly recommend supporting this intelligent, interesting and unique publication.

Viva le revolution!

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Bike Cycle: Doomed to Repeat History?

Is the current bicycle boom simply part of a never-ending bike cycle, wherein the press rattles on and Americans ride a little more, but real progress is never made?

I’m contemplating this question after reading an article from 1941 in Click Magazine that I found at a book fair, entitled: “Bike Cycle?  How to Go Places Without Gasoline.”  At first glance, the article seemed to be a bit of vintage fun, like the preceding article, “Your hat in 1941 will show how you feel about the war.”  Step-through frames with baskets!  Women on bikes in skirts!  Men in suits riding to the train station!

However, as I read the article, I realized it was eerily similar to the issues presented today.  Take out the retrograde parts about “men” going to the office and “housewives,” and the piece could have been in the latest issue of Time. The writer seemed very excited about the future of transportation cycling in America, yet 70 years later there’s been no progress.  To me this is horrific in a Twilight Zone kind of way.

Below I present the article in its entirety (apologies to the original copyright holders).  I bolded and italicized the parts that struck me the most and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Bike Cycle? how to go places without gasoline

BIKE CYCLE?  HOW TO GO PLACES WITHOUT GASOLINE

Town and country have both witnessed the return of the bicycle as a pleasure vehicle.  During the Gay Nineties, heyday of cycling, only 10% of the bicycles sold were made for women.  Today women buy over 30% of the bicycles made.  College girls like those on the right helped bring back the bicycle’s popularity. In cities, bicycles must obey all traffic laws.  Bicycle fans want state registration and license tags just like automobiles.

When the phrase “they never come back” was muttered about the American bicycle, the mutterers were muttering too soon. True enough, bicycle sales in America dropped from a high of 1,089,000 in 1899 to 180,000 in 1932. But then the great comeback started. Last year, bicycle sales reached an all time American high – more than 1,300,000 were sold. Cycle paths were built in city parks, and women took the wheel in amazing numbers. As a fun vehicle, the bicycle’s comeback was complete.

"Today, women buy over 30% of the bicycles made."

Now, with gasoline shortages looming importantly on our horizon, the bicycle is making a serious bid for at least some of the jobs being performed by automobiles. It is no longer necessary to release pictures like the one above to make people bicycle-concious. Bike lovers see their two-wheelers usurping most of the duties of the family car – and they might be right.

Men who now use automobiles to drive to the railroad station while they commute from suburb to city daily may follow the lead of commuters like Norman Hill, who pedals two miles from his home to the Maplewood, N.J. station in ten minutes every morning. He parks his bike there all day.

The huge quantities of gasoline now being burned by the cheap second-hand cars many families maintain for children who go to rural and suburban schools can well be saved by sending them to school on bicycles. Bikes are healthier, often less dangerous than cars.

"Suburbanites find they can make two wheels do the work of four."

Housewives who now drive a mile or less to do their shopping may soon find themselves faced with the alternative of cycling or walking to the store. But many American women, like this suburban Pennsylvania matron, find that cycle shopping can be completely practical.

The pleasures of parking and touring the countryside are enjoyed by any bicycle owner who desires them. A pair of shorts are all this girl needs in the way of special cycling clothes. The growth of roadside youth hostels has paved the way for bicycle tours covering hundreds of enjoyable miles.

"...and get an amusing exercise program out of legwork that replaces gasoline."

With the private family car completely eliminated by the fortunes of World War II all over Europe, most people are finding bicycles to be their only form of private transportation.  Gadgets like this side car for Parisian youngsters are becoming more and more common in European city streets.

American schools and factories may soon have to erect bicycle garages like this one in Paris if gasoline shortages on this side of the Atlantic become even remotely as acute as they are in contemporary Europe.  Cycling enthusiasts say this will make for healthier Americans.

"Bicycles have already replaced automobiles in Europe"

Prominent Americans love bikes.  Bicycle enthusiasts take great pride in the prominent Americans who ride bikes.  Civilian Defense Director La Guardia must have seen this picture of Grover Whalen before he appointed him director of the gas-saver drive.

L to R: Lana Turner, Wendell Willkie, Ann Rutherford, Grover Whalen

Click Magazine, 1941

What do you think – Fun piece of vintage bike history or terrible sign of the status quo?  I’m afraid that in another 70 years another article like this will be written and nothing will have changed.

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Bikes + Women = Film

Over the weekend, Jezebel posted about Women of Dirt, a new documentary about women who participate in the sport of Gravity Mountain Biking. In a word, it looks amazing. Though this is miles away from the type of riding we usually feature here, I think we can all agree with the statement at the end of the trailer: “Nothing will ever replace my bike.”

Seriously, watch the trailer and tell me you aren’t a little tempted to give off-road biking a try. I dare you.

According to the site, the film will be shown a few times in Seattle — it’s also available on DVD. Anyone seen it? Is there another film or documentary about cycling that you’d recommend (and yes, I’ve heard of Breaking Away)?

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What’s in the Box?

I suppose it’s past time I revealed what the two-wheeled object in the box I was tracking last Tuesday is.

Meet the Jango Flik.

me and the Flik

The Flik and me

Continue reading

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Something Wicked this Way Comes

I couldn’t resist using one of my favorite titles ever, even though what’s coming to Nashville today is not a freaky carnival headed by a mysterious man who might be the incarnation of evil. (If it were, I don’t think I’d be tracking it nearly this avidly.) No, what’s coming today is wicked only in the awesome sense. Can’t wait to show you!

Picture 2

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