Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Liquid Is the AirBNB of Bike Share

Want to rent a glow-in-the-dark fixie? Just $15 a day in Portland.
I've loved every chance I've gotten to ride a bike in a foreign city - though it isn't always easy. In Amsterdam, where bikes abound, there is a bike sharing program, as there is in Barcelona, Stockholm, Paris, and Berlin - more than 100 European cities. These bike sharing services are geared more toward city residents than tourists, and they can be easy to sign up for, moderately difficult, or downright impossible. Bike sharing is superior to regular bike rental for a couple of reasons - usually the first half-hour of the service is free (once you've purchased some type of nominal membership), and there are more locations for dropping off the bike and then, later on, picking up another one.
Bike sharing has definitely arrived on US shores - Denver has a great service, Washington DC's bike share has become extremely popular, and new programs are planned for cities across the nation, from New York to Portland and points in between.
If for any reason you are away from your hometown, however, and want to find a bike wherever you find yourself, there's a new service that's trying to be the AirBNB of the biking world. First formed in 2011 as Spinlister, the San Francisco-based bike "sharing" service now called Liquid aims to make renting out your bike as easy as renting out your extra room.
As Liquid puts it:
Bike owners still can earn incremental income while meeting people who share an interest (and often a passion) for bikes. Renters still get to rent a great bike at a reasonable price from a friendly local. We’re deeply committed to making this interaction as safe, easy, and downright fun as possible.
Of course, Liquid can't provide the multiple locations that a bike share can, nor does this service offer free short trips. In fact, the prices that people charge for lending you their precious bicycles vary pretty wildly, and aren't significantly cheaper than renting a bike from a storefront bike store.
On the other hand, let's say you are a small family and find yourself at the mercy of distant relatives in the Portland suburb of Hillsboro, and then find yourself further stranded without a car. If you know about Liquid, you can rent a beautiful bakfiets (one child an easy haul) for just 10 bucks a day, or a Surly longtail bike (two kids or a kid and a light adult, no problem) for $20 dollars a day, and easily, two-wheeled freedom is yours.

Aside from providing a great service, Liquid can be a good way to meet people in an unfamiliar city, or, even experience a number of different biking styles in your own backyard. Professional road bikes to fixies to folders are available at Liquid, and the service exists in many, though not all, major U.S. cities. In some places, you can even rent a unicycle.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bikescore Now Available From Walkscore

There are many great organization working on promoting alternatives to car-centric transportation in the U.S., and Walkscore is one of them. If knowledge is power, that's exactly what they provide: Knowledge about how walkable and bikeable various cities and neighborhoods are, empowering people make informed choices about where they want to live and, hopefully, helping policymakers improve infrastructure.

The great thing is, they keep improving their service! Last Spring they started ranking cities by how bike-friendly they are, and now they've already made that data more granular. You can now see bikeability info on an address-by-address basis for 25 cities in the U.S. and 11 in Canada.

So you can now type an address and get the bike score for that particular location, but you can also look at those cities' maps (full list here) and see overlaid 'heat maps' that show which areas are better than others, either for overall bike score or for things like bike lanes or topography. It's very cool!
They've also incorporated bike-sharing data:
Bonus: Walk Score Now Has Bike Shares
We have also mapped nearly 1,600 locations of bike shares across North America. Search for any address in these cities and find bike share locations listed as one of the main categories: Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, Houston, Washington, D.C., Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Broward, Charlotte, Des Moines, Kailua, Kansas City, Madison, Nashville, Omaha, San Antonio and Spartanburg.
Keep up the good work, Walkscore!

Via Walkscore

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Open Streets Continue to Grow and be Successful!

H.G. Wells was quoted as saying that the sight of an adult on a bicycle gave him hope for the future of the human race. I feel the same about ciclovías, those wonderful big-city events in which streets usually packed with cars get cordoned off for all types of wheeling and walking citizens. Cyclovías originated in Bogotá, Columbia 35 years ago, part of an effort to make that city friendlier for pedestrians and cyclists and reduce the dominance of automobiles.

Bogotá’s sustainably-minded former mayor Enrique Peñalosa made ciclovías popular starting in the 1990s, and helped to stimulate the spread of ciclovías worldwide (though they are sometimes named something different, such as Portland's Sunday Parkways or LA's CicLAvia. One of the beautiful thing about the ciclovías in Bogotá and Lima, for example, is that they happen each week, and draw thousands upon thousands. In the U.S. the events are usually just a couple of times, during the summer.

In the video, the streets of Guadalajara, which has 64 kilometers of closed streets each Sunday, are featured. Filmed by Sheila of Sheila and Kai, a couple biking the world to live their dream, this nearly five minute video is a sweet treat because of the way Sheila captures the streets with people on bikes, skates, skateboards and on foot, occupying them. They form a contrast to the noisy, chaotic, and stress-filled streets that are generally filled with cars day and night in most big cities.
Luckily, the ciclovía movement is still expanding. Take a look at all the cities (and this list is by no means definitive).

2 cycle 2gether Around the World :: Guadalajara Via RecreActiva from 2cycle 2gether on Vimeo.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Biking Across NYC to Make a GPS Holiday Card

Erik Trinidad decided to do something different for his holiday card this year, so he strapped on his iPhone (which contains a GPS) with the Cyclemeter app and pedaled across Manhattan, back and forth, East and West, North and South... Until he had completed his merry task and spelled his wishes across the city! Above was his plan, and in the video below you can see the actual process and end result. It's a bit more curvy, but sometimes you can't ride in a straight line, and GPS reception can be spotty in a city with so many tall buildings, so it couldn't be avoided (in fact, I think the squiggly version looks cooler -- you see the effort that went into it).

Enjoy, and happy holidays!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Forget the Bike Bell, Blow Your Horn!

BEEEEEEEEP! This Bike Sounds Like a Car Horn 
I can think of few things that would make a hothead driver go from zero to pissed, than a cyclist blowing a loud horn at him for 30 seconds straight, the maximum duration of the "Loud Bicycle" prototype. But if used sparingly, this strident horn could help prevent a few unnecessary injuries and deaths. That the angle that the device's inventors, Jonathan and Andrew Lansey, are playing up in their Kickstarter campaign to get "Loud Bicycle" off the ground.

Jonathan, a research engineer who commutes to Boston, was inspired to build "Loud Bicycle" after a friend got drilled by a car. She made it out of the hospital in one piece, but Jonathan began to think the crash wouldn't have happened if she just could've announced her presence in a trumpeting way. He couldn't find the equivalent of a car horn for a bicycle on the market, so he went to the worktable and banged out this acoustic assault weapon – unofficial motto, "I let cars share the road."

Bicycling in traffic "can be frightening, and sometimes dangerous," Jonathan explains on his website. "Drivers often feel like bikes come flying out of nowhere.... The fear of cars, a helpless feeling, it actually stops a lot of people from biking in their cities." The "Loud Bicycle" is meant to give cyclists an edge in hazardous streets by both stopping drivers on a dime and teaching them (as per the device's website) that "their driving habits can be dangerous for cyclists."

What's this hulked-up horn sound like? Much like the beeeep! of a compact car, with both high and low notes at a decibel level equivalent to a loud rock concert. Bikers can activate the 1.4-pound device by pressing a button on the handlebars, which is connected with a wire to "Loud Bicycle" mounted on the lower frame.

The Lanseys are hoping to raise $43,000 to fund their project by January. While it in fact is not the only car-sounding bike horn out there – one U.K. company sells an even-louder "Hornet," and another vends a honker that a satisfied customer says works "marvelously on stationary groups of chatting ladies with leashed dogs blocking the entire path" – it could possibly find a place in America, where bicycling fatalities are on the rise.