Thursday, August 30, 2012

Raptor Bike Anyone?!

A coworker and i laughed at this guy for a few minutes and tried to imagine how this would feel to ride and practicality of it. While it's not the most practical bike-variation I've seen, it has the benefit of actually working, unlike some other prototypes. I doubt it'll catch on because, unlike on a bike, you have no gearing, but it's still an interesting idea.

Google Maps Gets Voice Guided Cycling Navigation

For the last few years, the digital wisdom and guidance of Google Maps has helped cyclists throughout the U.S. and Canada arrive to their destinations safely and efficiently. But now that remarkable tool has hit a major milestone, and is getting a major upgrade.

According to Google, not only are such handy bike-route maps available for desktop and mobile users, cyclists using Google Maps Navigation (beta) can now mount their Android phones to their handlebars to receive turn-by-turn directions and navigation, as well as voice-guided directions.
This comes on the heels of Google Map's recent expansion of its cycling route maps to an additional 10 countries -- Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

"We know there are lots of ways to get from here to there, which is why in 2010, we added biking directions to Google Maps in the U.S. and Canada, and continue to work to bring more biking features to more places," writes Google's Larry Powelson, in a blog post. "Today, there are more than 330,000 miles (equal to more than 530,000 kilometers, or half a gigameter) of green biking lines in Google Maps."

Monday, August 27, 2012

Abandoned Bike Project in NYC

Transportation Nation, a public radio reporting project out of WNYC, asked its listeners and readers to send in photos of orphaned bicycles around the city. More than 500 people responded with their shots of lost souls. Originally, Transportation Nation mapped their locations in an attempt to get the wrecks removed by the city. There were too many for that to ever happen, but the resulting exhibition, Abandoned Bike Project, is a fascinating display.

Noted in cool hunting, the orphaned frames have a hypnotic beauty that rises to the level of art.

As they explain:
These castoff cycles from around the city — each left to rot, chained to public property — become a captivating catalog of civic nuisance, a collection of the detritus of urban mobility in a busy city.

This one rests amongst the gathering autumn leaves.

Kissing cousins, left by the roadside.

You can only imagine why or how they got left where they are.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Long Beach Getting Bike Share

A couple years ago, Street Films posted a video about how Long Beach (California) wanted to become the #1 Bike-Friendly City in the US. It's always good to aim high, but actions must follow words, and in this case, it looks like Long Beach is walking the talk. They've just announced that the privately-funded program was unanimously approved by the city council yesterday. It will include up to 250 kiosks and 2,500 bikes, with initial installations expected to begin in February of 2013 in downtown.

This will be done in partnership with Bike Nation:
Bike Nation announced earlier this year separate agreements with the cities of Los Angeles and Anaheim. Bike Nation customers can utilize any of the systems within the other Bike Nation communities at no additional charge. Last month, the Orange County-based company unveiled the first of 10 kiosks and 100 specially constructed bikes at a community event in Anaheim, with plans to install up to 40 kiosks and 400 bikes as demand warrants. The company also plans to begin rolling out the first of its 400 kiosks and 4,000 bikes in Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, Westwood and Venice Beach early next year.

The bikes will be chainless and feature active GPS technology and airless tires, reducing the need for on-road service. The kiosks are modular, portable, wirelessly connected and solar powered so that monitoring and load balancing is easily managed. Bike Nation’s kiosks, docks, station platforms and bikes are all manufactured in the United States.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Time for Bikestorming

The United Nations-sponsored Rio+20 meetings were reportedly a pretty big letdown. In spite of the huge problems our planet and its inhabitants face, we humans seem unable to move together collectively to implement world-changing goals. Yet if there ever was an ambition that had the power to make all nations' people happier, healthier, and by extension, more prosperous, it is biking. Besides cutting carbon dioxide and air pollutants, biking is just fun.

That's why Mati Kalwell decided to try to proselytize biking to the whole, wide world. The creator of the Buenos Aires culture and activism group La Vida en Bici (Life on a Bike), Kalwell decided a big dream - bicycles for everyone - required a big goal. He christened his new group Bikestorming, and it's modus operandi is: "a collaboration platform to make bicycles the most popular form of urban transportation on the planet."

Kalwell considers that "most popular" just means that people ride bikes more (51% of the time) than the use other forms of transport. The idea, launched at Rio+20, isn't easy to implement. Kalwell's main tools are art and culture. In Buenos Aires, a city without any real bike culture historically, La Vida en Bici works on making it cool to cycle. And it seems to be working.

As Kalwell told Caitlin Donohue in an interview:
"[Bikes] are on every politician’s radar now. In the last year we’ve seen bicycle policy and infrastructure initiatives emerge in very diverse cities such as Mendoza, Rosario, Posadas, and C√≥rdoba –- as well as growing attention paid to bicycles in Buenos Aires’ transportation policy and infrastructure."
Bike activism, Kalwell says, must be as much about aesthetic as it is about actual infrastructure.
I read a tweet recently from a TED conference saying that “in order to be a successful advocate you need to act as an entertainer.” I think that totally applies to our work. In order to get your message across, today you are competing for people’s attention on an (almost) level playground with huge brands that hire a lot of talent. TV is not the main form of media anymore -- it’s social networks. For the first time in history, our generation has the same chance to connect with people emotionally, with catchy phrases and attractive visuals, as any major brand. This is huge. And we need to make the best of it. So if we are ever going to succeed in changing the game, whether it’s in transportation, climate change, or intergenerational justice, we need to make change irresistible.
Of course, Kalwell must know his goal won't be easy, but his idea that culture is the key to making biking cool (in additional to practical, and fun, which it already is) seems smart.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

NYC Bike Share Delayed Until Next Spring

Unfortunately, it looks like New York's Citi Bike won't launch this month after all... Mayor Bloomberg and the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) have announced today that "the Citi Bike system will launch in March 2013 with an initial phase of 7,000 bikes implemented at 420 stations." The delay seems to be caused by a software problem:
NYCBS continues work to conclude manufacture and testing of the high-performance software necessary to operate the new system, which is being tailored for New York City. The system uses new solar power arrays and circuit boards, and engineers will continue to thoroughly test data communications, power management and payment systems to ensure overall system performance. Following the March launch, work will continue to expand the system to 10,000 bikes, covering parts of Manhattan and from Long Island City to parts of Brooklyn.

In Other Bike-Sharing News...
In other news, Streetsblog report on a public survey that shows support for "a network of public bicycles at 74 percent citywide, the highest positives yet for an idea that has consistently scored very well in public opinion." Even the the least supportive borough, Staten Island, shows support of 66% among those polled. "In Manhattan, which will contain most of the initial service area, support is at 81 percent."Just too bad about that delay...
Via NYC DOT, Streetsblog

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Vogue Magazine Embraces Bikes to Compliment their Fashion

I saw this on a link and thought it made an interesting statement on how bikes are becoming very mainstream. Vogue embraces bikes as part of their trends for 'pre-fall' style. And, yes, the premier fashion magazine is bound to push things a little to the extreme - that's a high-fashion hallmark.

I have to give Vogue kudos for featuring affordable bikes along with the predictable over-the-top Chanel bike. Hopefully the takeaway message is this: absolutely take a look at how the arbiters of American style matched up pretty bikes with far-out new fashion. Then do your own thing. Biking is clean, green fun, and it doesn't require fancy or pricy outfits to make it a great method of mobility. In fact, lots of the Vogue choices look easily found at local thrift shops.

'Style over speed' is a fine cycling philosophy. Just so you don't think 'primping your ride' means you have to get expensive duds to look good.

See Vogue's bike+fashion combos online.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Portland Gets US's First Bike Counter

Thanks to a generous donated from Cycle Oregon, Portland has now become the first city in the nation to sport a european-style bike counter. It's on the Hawthorne Bridge and should help the city get better data on how many cyclists cross and how various conditions affect that number, and it'll also provide some extra civic pride to Portland cyclists. It might seem like a small thing, but it does put a smile on people's faces, and that matters!

Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland has more details.

Video via Streetfilms.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cool Website-Why Do You Ride?

Just a quick note to point out this cool website that a friend sent me. Why Do You Ride? focuses on profiling cyclists, showing that all kinds of people ride and that you don't have to be a stereotypical bike courier to ride, but that it's a way to get around that is accessible to almost everybody.
From the about page of Why Do You Ride?:
My name is Carrie and I’d love to find out Why Do You Ride?
I’m just a girl who’s simply trying to re-awaken the compassion in people whilst mitigating the destructive and competitive behavior brought on by social structures rather than human nature.
Inspired by Copenhagen Cycle Chic founder and Urban mobility expert Mikael Colville-Andersen, Project: Why Do You Ride? extends the concept of Copenhagen Cycle Chic by uncovering the person behind the bicycle. After all, cyclists are people too.
If you’d like to participate or be part of the discussion or show your support for the project please use the hashtag #whyiride in your tweets.

Check it out: Why Do You Ride?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

After Olympic Park Bike Crash, Are Helmets the Problem?

There is some solid evidence that mandatory helmet laws can save lives, don't impact the number of cyclists on the roads, and that many of the other arguments against helmet laws are not true.

Still, bicycle activists like Ashok Sinha have been angered by Olympic cyclist Bradley Wiggins' call for helmets following a tragic accident outside Olympic Park.

In this instance, I have to agree with them.

Sinha writes over at The Guardian that Wiggins' suggestion that cyclists should always wear helmets, not wear iPods, and that a mandatory helmet law should be considered, are distractions from the real issues around bike safety:
It's deeply unpleasant to have to report the details of an accident where a young person has died, but it's extremely relevant to this collision that (as yet unverified) eyewitness reports suggest the bus actually drove over the cyclist. The suggestion that helmet compulsion could prevent this type of fatality is clearly wrong. Around half the cyclist fatalities in the capital involve large vehicles (lorries and coaches), so this type of crash is by no means unusual.
Of course, all things being equal, we'd be better off if cyclists wore helmets AND if infrastructure was designed with cyclists' safety in mind. But to focus on helmets and iPods suggests bike safety is all about personal responsibility, not collective planning and an inclusive approach to road safety. By all means, let's consider mandatory helmet laws. But when a cyclist is killed by a gigantic bus, we might first consider how we can avoid that happening in the future.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

$9 Bike Made from Cardboard writes: "Kariv got inspired by the man who made a canoe out of cardboard, and combined his own passion for bicycles and recycling to create a functioning cardboard bicycle. It can withstand water, humidity, and is surprisingly strong. As the video above shows, it took quite a while to develop with Kariv working through several generations of the design. The bicycle needed to be strong enough to seat a person of up to 140 kilograms, which at first led to prototypes that were bulky and uncomfortable. But as with most things, the more you work on an idea, the better you become at using the materials to see it to fruition."