Monday, December 9, 2013

Bike Share is Booming

Bike share boom chart
Last week, the bike share guide was released by the IDTP and lots of buzz online and in the bike world ensued. In the report, a few charts about bike sharing are shown, the first one, above, shows the tipping point that was reached a few years ago, and the massive growth since then. At a scale that shows the recent increase in number of bikes in bike shares, the previous growth basically looks like a flat line. That's how different the past few years have been!
A catalyst has been the launch of Velo'v and Vélib in France, but new bike shares have popped up all over and the number of stations and bikes has steadily climbed, which has helped increase usage, as the chart below shows.
There definitely seems to be a correlation between how many bikes are available and the number of trips, which makes sense. It's all about convenience: Can you find a bike when you need one? Can you drop it off at a station close to where you're going? Do you see many other bikes from the bike share riding around the city (creating social proof)? All these help keep the boom going (for example, bike-sharing in the U.S. expected to reach 37,000 bikes in 2014 (4x more than in 2012!)).
If your city has a bike share and you haven't yet tried it, I encourage you to do so. Bring some newbies with you (friends & family) for a casual ride. It's trying it the first time that is hardest. Once people are familiar with how it works, they're much more likely to ride again.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Backwards Downhill Ride

Norwegian cyclist backwards photo

Why would you ride backwards down a curvy mountain road!?! Sometimes words just can't describe why people do what they do, but I am sure it was invigorating. Don't try this at home, kids!

If you want to see more crazy bike rides, check these out:
Via ABG

Monday, November 18, 2013

Montreal Ranked #11 Best Bike City in the World (Top Western Hemisphere City)

The Most Bike Friendly City in North America
This year the Copenhagen Index evaluated 150 cities for qualities including bicycle advocacy, gender split, and infrastructure. Beating many other top contenders, Montreal was ranked the most bike friendly city in North America. It was also the only city in Canada and the USA that made it into the top 14, coming in at #11 internationally.
Credit_Mathieu_Lamarre
Montreal saw it’s first bike paths as early as 1980, and now boasts 589 km of paths. Cyclo-toursim plays a role in the local economy as outfits like Fitz & Follwell give tourists a chance to experience Montreal bike culture through guided biking tours.
BIXI_bike_MontrealIn 2008 Montreal pioneered a new public bike sharing system known as Bixi. The model has worked so well that it’s now being adopted by cities all over the world including Boston, Melbourne, London, Toronto, New York and Washington, D.C.. The systems are all fabricated in Montreal and then sold worldwide, making it simple for other cities to become bike friendly as well.
Additionally, city residents don’t just use their bikes to get to work and back, biking is part of a broader culture. Events like Friction Montreal showcase bike friendly artists creating instruments from bike parts, and the annual Tour de l’Île race features a 100km ride, opening many main roads to cyclists for the event. Artisans like Rose Pedals create earrings out of used bike parts, and community bicycle Co-ops throughout the city allow cyclists to share tools and resources to keep their bikes in tune. Montrealers like to have their fun as well; this year they participated in the World Naked Bike Ride for the 9th time.
Perhaps next year the city will climb even higher in the ranks. For now it’s amazing to be featured so close to the top! Here’s how the rest of the world stacked up:
press_index_graphic - Copy

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bike Share Projected to Grow Even More in 2014

New York City Citi bikes bike sharing riders photo
I have written a lot about bike-sharing, and I work at a company now that designs and studies these systems every day. I especially love when it's integrated into a larger multi-modal system (trains, buses, etc). But if you had been there when bike-sharing was born (probably in many places in parallel at different times...), you might not have believed that it would ever work, at least not at the scale that can be found in some cities (Hangzhou in China has about 65,000 bicycles, and Wuhan about 90,000!). That's because, while bikes are relatively low-tech, managing the memberships and stations without getting all your bikes stolen is a pretty high-tech endeavor, and we're still figuring out the best way to do things (no two bike-shares are exactly alike).
It took many iterations before bike-sharing became truly viable:
Bicycle-sharing has come a long way since the 1960s, when 50 white “free bikes” were scattered around Amsterdam, only to be promptly stolen. A second generation of coin-operated bicycles still got nicked. A third generation solved that problem with electronic docking stations and credit-card payments. (source)
And now a fourth-generation is emerging with technologies like mobile solar-powered docking stations, smart software handling the distribution of bikes, more mobiles apps, etc.
Growth in bike-sharing is strong, even in more difficult markets like the U.S.:
According to a study by the Earth Policy Institute (EPI) in Washington, Europe accounts for most of the programs, but Asia has the largest number of shared bicycles, with over 350,000 in China alone. Even in often bike-hostile America, which in 2012 had 21 schemes with 8,500 bicycles, the EPI expects the fleet to more than quadruple by 2014, to 37,000. In London, which has 8,000 shared bikes, another 2,000 will be added later this year. In Paris the Vélib scheme, which opened in 2007, has already racked up 173m journeys. (source)
So if there's a bike-sharing program in your city but you haven't tried it yet, I encourage you to! Go for a ride with family and friends!
If you're curious about bike-sharing around the world, there's a pretty complete list here with number of stations and bikes.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

100 BikeCorrals and Still Going

Portland bike corrals photo
The city of Portland, Oregon, has reached the impressive milestone of 100 bike corrals. That's 9 years after the first one was installed, and the city expects to reach 150 within 5 years and has 98 additional applications under review. As far as I know, that's a lot more than any other city in the US, though I hope that others will give Portland some competition.
Why are bike corrals so great? Because in a dense urban environment, the are very space-efficient; where 1 or 2 cars could park, dozens of bikes might fit. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) said that their bike corral program "has helped Portland businesses increase on-street customer parking ten-fold." That's 163 car parking spaces swapped for 1,644 bicycle parking spaces!
They also allow cyclists to park right in front of where they're going to eat or shop, making cycling more convenient. And in their own way, they're great marketing for bikes. People see these big clumps of bikes and get used to the idea that cycling is something normal.
Check out this great short-film by Streetfilms:
The full list of bike corral locations in Portland is available here, or on the interactive map below.

Friday, October 18, 2013

New Pedal-Assist E-Bike

flykly-makes-any-bike-an-e-bike
FlyKly founder Nino Klansek seems to have internalized one of the great problems of city cycling and bike commuting - sometimes you just don't want to sweat. Along with a team, Klansek worked two years to develop an e-bike concept that would solve that problem, allowing cyclists to add pedal-assist electric power to their existing bikes easily via a wheel-based e-motor.

According to the company, when installed, the FlyKly Smart Wheel will be able to zip cyclists along at up to 20 miles per hour, with users able to actually choose a riding speed via the smart phone app. Additional features with the FlyKly system include a battery that recharges from pedaling and downhill coasting, GPS, and a security system that allows riders to lock their bikes' e-wheel as well as get tamper warnings from their iPhone or Android phone.
The FlyKly Smart Wheel adds approximately nine pounds of weight to the average bike, and can fit on any bike that accommodates a 26" or 29" wheel. The e-bike's speed is controlled via pedaling effort as well as setting top speed via the application. Once the Smart Wheel is installed, the bike's existing gear system is converted to FlyKly's single-speed, fixed gear setting. The battery recharges in about three hours and is expected to be good for 1,000 charging cycles.

Via the smart phone app, FlyKly will also store and track a rider’s biking stats, to allow the rider get feedback from the system on efficient routing and also to create and share routes.
The FlyKly's range will average 30 miles, and thus far the FlyKly Kickstarter has been a resounding success. A $550 pledge gets a rider one Smart Wheel and the dynamo-driven Smart Light. The company plans to make the hub motor in eight colors.
This could be the type of easy-install e-motor that brings e-biking to masses of new city cyclists.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bike Rush Hour in NYC

Bike Rush Hour NYC
Bike rush hour in NYC is still far from what it is in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, or Groningen, where torrents of cyclists seemingly take over the whole city. But the number of bike commuters certainly has been growing nicely in recent years.
This is what commuting should look like, at least in cities (I understand it's not practical everywhere, and that around half of the world population lives outside of big cities).

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Awesome Bike Friendly City to Learn From

Groningen bikes
Every time I look at the bike culture and infrastructure in Copenhagen or Amsterdam, I feel inspired and hope that people around the world will learn from these great examples. There are many other great bike cities, but those two are generally at the top of most people's list, including mine. Well, thanks to this video (below) I've just added Groningen to the top of my list.
They do amazing things that must be seen to be believed. Sit back and enjoy a look into what most dense cities should look like:
Clarence's remark about how quiet the city is reminds us that we don't have to live with noisy cities. As long as there are lots of people, some noise is impossible to avoid, but it could all be made much more pleasant if bicycles were central to how people get around in cities.

What must be highlighted here, as with Amsterdam and Copenhagen and all other great bike cities, is that this didn't all happen by accident. There was a time when these weren't such great bike cities, and people decided to transform them. That's what we've started to see in some US cities like New York, Washington DC, and Portland which is encouraging. But we could do so much more.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

US Bike Sharing On the Rise

Capital Bikeshare
The opening of the San Francisco Bay Area bike share on August 29, 2013, brings the combined fleet of shared bikes in the United States above 18,000, more than a doubling since the start of the year. The United States is now home to 34 modern bike-sharing programs that allow riders to easily make short trips on two wheels without having to own a bicycle. With a number of new programs in the works and planned expansions of existing programs, the U.S. fleet is set to double again by the end of 2014, at which point nearly 37,000 publicly shared bicycles will roll the streets.
The largest bike share in the United States is in New York City, where some 6,000 bicycles are available at 332 stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The program opened at the end of May 2013, and in less than 3 months hit 2 million trips. On busy days, each bike gets checked out seven times or more, a remarkably high borrowing rate. The city ultimately hopes to expand the program to other boroughs and grow to 10,000 bikes.The other large bike-sharing debut in 2013 was in Chicago, where 1,500 Divvy bikes now grace the streets. The program hopes to double to 3,000 cycles by the end of the year, ultimately growing to 4,000 strong—reinforcing the city’s efforts to dramatically boost biking. In addition to making shared bikes readily accessible transit, Chicago plans to extend the path and trail network to within a half-mile of all residences.
Before New York and Chicago came on the bike-sharing scene, Washington, DC, held America’s top spot. Its program has grown to over 2,000 bikes, spreading into neighboring communities. Transport planners from cities around the country have made the pilgrimage to Washington to ride one of the cherry-red Capital Bikeshare bikes and see firsthand how the popular program works. Since 2007, biking in the nation’s capital doubled to 3.5 percent of all commuter trips, and bike sharing has made it more convenient to travel the expanding web of marked cycle lanes. Other large bike shares include Nice Ride in Minneapolis and St. Paul (1,550 bikes), Hubway in the Boston area (1,100 bikes), and DecoBike Miami Beach (1,000 bikes). Aspen, Columbus, Fort Worth, and Salt Lake City are among the more than a dozen programs that opened in 2013, joining a list of cities that have enjoyed bike sharing for longer, including Denver, San Antonio, Chattanooga, Madison, and Fort Lauderdale.
On the international scene, the United States is just catching Europe and Asia’s bike-sharing tailwind. Worldwide, more than half a million cycles can be picked up in well over 500 cities in 51 countries. Italy and Spain have the greatest number of programs, while China is home to two thirds of the global shared bike fleet.

New York is the only American city to make it onto the list of the world’s 20 largest bike-sharing programs. In fact, five cities have more shared bikes than the entire U.S. fleet. Four of them are in China, where Wuhan reportedly has some 90,000 shared bikes for its 9 million people. Hangzhou has 69,750 bikes that are well integrated with that city’s mass transit.

The world’s third largest bike share is Vélib’ in Paris, the first large-scale program to gain worldwide attention. Since its 2007 launch, riders have taken 173 million trips. According to the program, one of the nearly 24,000 Vélib’ bikes gets checked out every second of the day. Vélib’ claims to have the highest bike density among the world’s top programs, with one bike available for every 97 city residents.
Within the next year, the U.S. bike-sharing fleet will have caught up with Paris. New entries in Florida could push the country past that mark, with launches expected in Miami (500 bikes, an expansion from Miami Beach), St. Petersburg (300 bikes), and Tampa (300 bikes). Phoenix is also hoping to launch a 500-bike program that will double in size as neighboring cities join in. Rollouts hoped for in 2014 include large offerings in Los Angeles (some 4,000 bikes) and San Diego (1,800 bikes), as well as 500+ bike programs in Portland (Oregon), Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Seattle, along with a number of smaller markets.

The new San Francisco Bay Area scheme is starting out relatively diffuse, with 700 bicycles split between San Francisco and other cities along the 50-mile rail line south to San Jose. Planners note that it ultimately could grow to a network of 10,000 bikes, better allowing rail riders to travel the first and last mile or so of their commute on two wheels. As communities continue to improve their biking infrastructure and as enthusiasm for an efficient, environmentally friendly, healthy, and enjoyable form of transportation grows, bike sharing has a bright future in the United States.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

San Francisco Launching Bike Share

Bay Area Bike Share is about to launch in San Francisco, with plans for 700 bikes and 70 stations around San Francisco, Redwood City, Mountain View, Palo Alto, and San Jose. You can get your "founding" membership in advance of the launch by visiting this web page; there are two options, one at $88 for the year and one with a few more perks at $103. If you just want to try it out, you'll be able to get 24-hour or 3-day passes too once the service has launched.
More info on how things work can be found here (it's really simple).
The partnership model for Bay Area Bike Share is quite interesting:
The Bay Area Bike Share is a pilot project in a partnership among local government agencies including the Air District, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Sam-Trans, Caltrain, the County of San Mateo, the City of Redwood City and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. The initial pilot phase is estimated to cost approximately $7 million with $1.4 million in funding provided by the Air District, $1.3 million from the local agency partners and $4.29 million from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
In the Bay Area, the transportation sector accounts for more than 50 percent of air pollution overall. Significant emission reductions from the transportation sector will help the Bay Area attain and maintain state and national air quality standards and reduce greenhouse gases.
It's great to see one more bike sharing project launching. All cities of any size could benefit from bike-sharing.

Monday, July 29, 2013

First Month of Citi Bike In a Cool Interactive Map

New York City bike share mapThe New Yorker and IBM used data from New York City's new bike share, Citi Bike, to create an interactive map that shows how much use the system is getting. They can't track bikes around directly with GPS, but they know when a bike is docked at a certain station, when it's out, and where it ends up being docked again, so that gives a pretty good idea of the ebb and flow of bikes around the city.

You can see the interactive map here.

If you run the recorded timeline from beginning to end, you'll notice some pretty big changes in the usage patterns over time, which is normal for a new service; people have to sign up first and figure out how to integrate the bikes into their transportation routine. It will be interesting to revisit this map in a year to see how much it has changed.

Via New Yorker

Friday, July 26, 2013

Experiments in Speed with Bicycles

Fast bike!This video is pretty crazy. Experiments in Speed documents how a bike maker makes the fastest bike that he could. The goal is not to beat a world record, but simply to push personal limits. It's a very cool project, and I won't give spoilers on how fast he went. See for yourself:

You can see other bikes built by the same people at Donhou Bicycles.


Via Vimeo, Reddit

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Amsterdam Reacts to NY Times Article

Amsterdam bikesA few weeks ago, the New York Times published a piece about bikes in Amsterdam, basically framing things in such a way that the message was more or less "there's too many bikes in Amsterdam, let's not make the same mistake in New York". I covered it, concluding that "The real problem seems to be that infrastructure hasn't kept up with the growth in cycling. [...] The solution is now fewer bikes, but even more bike garages (build them underground if need be), bike racks, bike lanes, etc!"

But the best way to debunk the New York Times' claims is to go to Amsterdam and ask the people who live there what they think. Clarence at StreetFilms did just that for the second video in his Amsterdam series (the first can be found here: Things you might see in Amsterdam, the bike capital of the world...):

It's sad to see so much anti-bike propaganda in the media. Whatever problems there are with bikes, they are smaller than the problems we have with cars, and they are easier to fix. On the other side of the ledger, there are huge benefits (environmentally better, healthier, less expensive, etc). So why pick on bikes?

Via Streetfilms

Monday, July 22, 2013

E-Bikes Are On the Rise

Electric bike
Electric bikes are an extremely environmentally-friendly way to get around, so I'm all for more of them! Regular bikes are even cleaner, but the advantages of e-bikes shouldn't be underestimated; a lot of e-bike riders might not bike nearly as much if they didn't have an electric motor to assist them, because they have a long commute, or they live in a hilly area, or because of some medical condition, or even sheer laziness. The reasons don't matter as much as getting more people biking!
It's good to see that the electric bike industry is growing. It's not going gangbusters or anything, but it is forecast to grow from $8.4 billion in 2013 to $10.8 billion in 2020. China is the main player in that market, with 9 of every 10 e-bicycles being sold going there.
Western Europe’s market is growing increasingly crowded with competitors and now accounts for more than 20% of global e-bicycle revenue annually. Meanwhile, North American players are finding new, younger e-bicycle consumers among those who ride for transportation rather than entertainment. Even the massive 28 million unit Chinese market is in a state of change as the government considers changes to the rules governing the market and consumers begin to recognize the value of lithium ion over lead-acid batteries. Navigant Research forecasts that annual sales of e-bicycles will grow from 31 million in 2013 to nearly 38 million in 2020. (source)
Via Navigant

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Rubberized Asphalt In Bikeways

soft-sidewalks-to-reduce-bicycle-crashes
I saw this and I couldn't resist researching it a bit deeper. I also immediately wondered why no one ever thought of this before now. Leave it to the Swedes (who have taken a pledge to reduce traffic deaths to zero, and actually work toward that goal) to create a better material with which to make bike paths safer. At the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), researchers are working on a new form of asphalt that has enough friction to reduce bicyclists' slide-outs, while at the same time it cushions vibrations if a cyclist does fall.

Regular asphalt uses crushed stones and bitumen, a petroleum byproduct, as a binding agent. KTH's researchers are working to blend in just the right amount of recycled tire rubber from old car tires to soften up the mix.

The first step is lab testing, then real-world road tests on areas where there have been frequent bike accidents. The Swedish Traffic Administration is paying special attention to cyclists as one of the transport groups suffering more injuries than car, truck, or public transport riders. About 1,500 cyclists are hospitalized in Sweden with serious injuries each year - a number almost 10% higher than the number of car passengers injured. Another hope is to find a formula for asfalt that also reduces wear and tear on bicycle tires.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Too Many Bikes?!!!

Amsterdam bikes
I saw this article about the massive number of bicycles that are in Amsterdam linked on Facebook and via the New York Times, and it first made me think "Wow that is awesome!", but then after digging a little deeper, I can only imagine how inconvenient the number of bikes are for all the cyclists. Of course Amsterdam is widely considered one of the top - if not the #1 - cyclist city in the world. There are about 880,000 bicycles in a city of 800,000 people (though it's frequent for people to have more than one bike, f.ex. a cargo bike to carry heavy things and a commuting bike for everyday rides), and 32% of all trips are make on bikes while only 22% are done in cars. But now the city is running into the high quality problem of having bike traffic james and a scarcity of bike parking spots... So the question posed - Is there such a thing as too many bikes?
I don't think so. You can never have too many bikes...Right?
The real problem seems to be that infrastructure hasn't kept up with the growth in cycling. Biking wasn't always this popular in Amsterdam. Just since the early 1990s, the cycling's popularity has grown by 40%. It's no surprise that it puts a huge strain on infrastructure, even if a lot of it has been built since then. The solution is now fewer bikes, but even more bike garages (build them underground if need be), bike racks, bike lanes, etc!

The city seems to understand that quite well:
Mr. Smit’s problem is largely what keeps Thomas Koorn, of Amsterdam’s Transport and Traffic Department, awake at night. “We have a real parking issue,” he said in a conference room overlooking the IJ. Over the next two decades, Mr. Koorn said, the city will invest $135 million to improve the biking infrastructure, including the creation of 38,000 bike parking racks “in the hot spots.” (source)
Can you imagine what a proportionally scaled up investment into biking infrastructure would do to a city like New York? NYC is over 10x bigger than Amsterdam, so that would be an extra $1.35 billion invested into cycling!

Via NYT

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Citi Bike Takes the Pain In the Ass Test

turns-out-citibike-bike-sharing-may-be-the-fastest-inner-city-transport
I knew that NYC's bike share would come with people complaining and being against it just because it was new. I knew it would eventually become a normal part of NYC life since bike share, after all, is just bicycles...that people share. I consider bike sharing to be city cycling's 'gateway drug', i.e. a super effective method that eases the biking uninitiated into the pleasures and practical value of biking in cities.

Casey Neistat, a creative film maker, decided to see just how good (or bad) Citi BIke are when compared to two of his other daily transport choices - taking taxis, or riding his own bike.

In Neistat's film, taxis come out as the fastest choice (by that we mean a couple of minutes faster) but in terms of their 'pain in the ass' factor, they were the worst. At first, his own bike seemed better than a bike-share bike to Neistat because of the very high level of frustration and time-wasting he experienced going through the steps of checking out a bike at a Citi Bike kiosk.

Once Neistat realized that Citi Bike members can get a key to bypass the on-screen registration process, he pronounced bike share the least 'pain in the ass' method of transport for his own daily commute.

Of course Neistat's assessment is subjective, and his Manhattan commute is relatively short. But the video goes some way in dispelling some of the notions people might have about bike share. While there is still quite a lot of media coverage of Citi Bike's effects on the city's residents (and the inevitable report of an accident involving one of the bikes), something must be working. Look at the stats on early usage:

Average trips per day: 14,200
Total revenue thus far: $3,334,000.00
Duration of average ride: 23 minutes, 36 seconds
Most popular bike stations: Broadway and W. 57th St.; West St. and Chambers St.; 17th St. and Broadway
Citigroup’s sponsorship deal for six years, $41 million

Via: BIKECRUSH

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Indianapolis Cultural Trail Finally Getting Noticed

indianapolis Cultural Trail
I have been luck enough to know and be related to several people from Indianapolis since before 2007, when the beginning of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail was being conceptualized. The main goal was to create a vast network of beautiful protected bike/pedestrian paths around the city center to connects the city's five downtown Cultural Districts, neighborhoods and entertainment amenities, and "serves as the downtown hub for the entire central Indiana greenway system". Fast forward to today, and Indianapolis' Cultural Trail has become a reality, yet it has been flying under the radar compared to some other bike initiatives like, for example, New York's Citi Bike. That's too bad, because the Indianapolis Cultural Trail deserves the spotlight, and should serve as a model for other cities. It is the biggest bicycling infrastructure achievement in North America and yet it's still practically a secret.

See for yourself how cool it is:


Above is a map of the Cultural Trail (you can see a large version here). What's amazing about it is that it was built with philanthropic dollars. This could be a model for other cities where tax dollars are scarce.
Via Indy Cultural Trail, Streetfilms

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Riding a Bike to School Will Make You Smarter

what's-better-than-breakfast-for-students-riding-a-bike
Teen girls who walked or biked to school in a Spanish study performed better at school in verbal and math skills that their peers who rode the bus or got to school in a car, according to a 2011 research study funded by the Spanish National Research Council. More recently, the results of a large Danish study from 2012 show that driving kids to school in a car is doing them a disservice. This large study by researchers from the University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University followed 20,000 school kids aged 5-19 in some of their daily activities. The researchers were interested to see whether a good breakfast made a difference in concentration levels - an idea that is fairly well accepted in the U.S.

The group of kids walking or biking to school concentrated better than those driven to school or taking public transport, and the effect lasted throughout the morning hours. On average, active students scored 8.2 - 8.4 on a concentration test (of a possible 10) while non-active students scored an average of 7.6 - 7.8. This was more than the concentration difference shown between students who did eat breakfast (8 - 8.15) and those who didn't (8.1 - 8.25).

Unfortunately, in the Nordic nations and in the U.S., the trend for how children get to school is going in the opposite direction - more children are getting driven to school than ever before. Parents perceive walking and biking to be dangerous, while actually things have gotten safer for cyclists in many, many places, and overall fatalities are trending downward.

Of course, correlation is not causality, so it can't be said with certainty that riding a bike to school will make you smarter, anymore than it can be said that driving in cars will make you fat. With biking, there are so many other benefits, real and perceived, that it certainly seems worth a try to get parents off the driving-the-kids-to-school frenzy.

Via: Ecoprofil (Swedish)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Bike Maker

Bike Maker
The short documentary below tells the story of Harlem bike maker Ezra Caldwell of Fast Boy Cycles. It's beautifully shot and Ezra's story is quite touching (he was diagnosed with cancer in 2008). I'll let you see for yourself, but be warned that it might not be entirely safe for work because of a bit of swearing and some 'medical' nudity when he discusses his illness. But what truly matters is that like the best documentaries, it doesn't just tell us about the obvious subject matter, but also about human nature in general and the universal pursuit of happiness.

The video below gives you an idea of some of what Ezra does when he makes a custom one-of-a-kind bike:

You can find more on the Fast Boy Cycles blog. Ezra also posts a lot of bike stuff on his Flickr page.
Via Vimeo, Fast Boy Cycles

Monday, June 3, 2013

New Vending Machines for Cyclists

Express Biker bike parts vending machine
A company called Express Biker has created a self-serve vending machine that sells bike parts. The goal is to help cyclists who might be riding late at night or far from bike shops, where getting a flat tire (for example) would be very inconvenient. The vending machines will sell things like tubes, lights, co2, patch kits, various tools and parts.

There are already two machines in function in Brooklyn: One on the border of South Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant at the Emporium Gas Station on Flushing Avenue, and one at the Mobil Gas Station at 415 Empire Blvd. a few blocks away from Prospect Park. They want to partner with outdoor locations near major bike routes throughout NYC that are open for 24 hours, such as gas stations, parks, etc.

It reminds me a bit of this free-to-use bike repair station, though this one only has tools and an air pump (these should be everywhere, in my opinion):

Boston is also getting vending machines, but for bike helmets. As programs for renting bikes expand across the nation, so too do programs and infrastructure that support cyclists -- and Helmethub's aim is to keep cyclists safe, and without an excuse for riding helmet-less.

helmethub imageHelmethub is launching a solar-powered vending machine in Boston in July. The vending machines, each holding 36 helmets, will be located next to Hubway locations, the city's bike-sharing program. Cyclists will be able to rent helmets for about $2.00 at the same time they pick up their rented bike. The machines can even dispense three different sizes of helmet to make sure it fits the user correctly.

When helmets are dropped off by users after use, they're picked up by the team and sent to Helmethub headquarters to be inspected and cleaned before being placed back in the vending machines. The machines provide real-time info to the team so they know when each machine needs to be restocked, or used helmets need to be picked up.


I love seeing this initiative to keep cyclists safe, especially those who are renting bikes and so are less likely to own their own helmet. We'll see how Helmethub's new program works throughout the summer and if it is successful, perhaps other cities will adopt the system to go with their bike-share systems as well.