Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Chicago's Bike Share Program is Ready for Launch

Chicago Divvy bike sharing
I was in Chicago last week for work and I was in research mode to see their new bikeways, bike station, and see what is happening with their bike-share program. I was happy to see that New York City isn't the only city getting a new bike-sharing program. Chicago is also getting close to launching its Divvy bike-share, with memberships already on sale and the official public opening currently planned for mid to late June.

At first, Divvy will have about 75 stations and about 750 bikes, but it'll keep expanding until it reaches 4,000 bikes and 400 solar-powered locations by the spring of 2014. The city's department of transportation previewed the system last weekend during a Bike the Drive event along Lake Michigan.

Membership is very affordable when compared to pretty much any other way to get around except walking:
Annual memberships cost $75, and members will be issued a personal key to unlock bikes from any Divvy station, officials said. Daily passes, valid for 24-hour periods, are priced at $7. Both allow for unlimited trips up to 30 minutes each. An additional fee will be charged for using a bike for more than a half-hour.
Here's a description of the bikes:
The heavy-duty bikes feature a step-through, one-size-fits-all design; upright handlebars with the gear-changer on the grip and wide, adjustable seats for comfort; hand brakes; a chain guard to protect clothing; and a basket with an elastic cord for storing items. The bikes also will be outfitted with headlights and taillights that illuminate automatically as the bike is pedaled, officials said.
Bike sharing is one of these things that makes so much sense. Almost all cities could benefit from it, from reducing road congestions, to having better air, to healthier citizens, to all of the psychological benefits of biking.

Via Divvy Bike Sharing, Chicago Tribune

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Streetfilms Video from NYC Citi Bike

Citibike NYC Launch
Streetfilms, shot some footage at the Citibike bike-sharing debut in NYC. In their words, it was a "media frenzy", with more journalists present than at any other past bike event in the city. Mayor Bloomberg and NYC DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan gave speeches, but the real star was the bike-sharing system. New York finally joins the rank of cities like Hangzhou, Paris, Montreal, DC,  etc.

Check out this great video:

NYC Citi Bike Soft Launch

New York's bike share program
New York City's bike share service, Citi Bike, opened today to anyone signed up for the annual membership. Bikes began lining up at stations around the city on Friday night, in preparation for the launch.

Bike stations in the West Village Saturday attracted a number of curious observers.

Day and week passes will be available starting next weekend. The annual membership costs $95.00, a weekly pass will cost $25.00 and a day pass will be $9.95.

Friday, May 24, 2013

3D Printed Track Bike (Mostly)

track bike photo
Most people don't realize that before buying a bike, you should make sure it fits your body. It probably didn't matter when you were three feet tall, and just dying to get those training wheels off, but now that you're an adult, a bike that's a little too small, big, short, or long for you can cause some real issues.

Even the slightest angle change can affect the performance of professional riders, which is why designer Ralf Holleis is developing the VRZ. Using a combination of carbon fiber track bike frame, and 3D printed titanium lugs, Holleis has created a super-light, fixed-gear bike that can be customized for an individual rider in a very small period of time.

Normally obtaining a bike that's custom built for your body takes a) a lot of money or b) a lot of welding know-how. With Holleis' new hybrid method, however, the time and cost are reduced.

"You could change the geometry to what ever fits you best, then the lugs gets generated by a software," explains Holleis on his website. "The generated 3D files are produced with laser-cuseing process. Afterwards the printed parts need to be finished and bonded to the tubes."

Ok, so it still takes a fair bit of know-how. But considering how quickly 3D printing technology is disseminating through our culture, one can only expect that it will become easier and cheaper over time. And the benefits for bikers will be huge.

Not only is the VRZ safer and healthier because it's created just for a specific person's body, it's also lighter than almost every bike we've ever seen. At a trim 4.9 kg (10 pounds 11 ounces) it's the perfect vehicle for whipping around the track in style.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Bicycle Commuting Data on Bike to Work Day

Today is the National Bike to Work Day and with this holiday, the League of American Bicyclists released some great data that shows the progress of bicycle commuting in the US. The number of bicyclists is growing rapidly from coast to coast. The National Household Travel Survey showed that the number of trips made by bicycle in the U.S. more than doubled from 1.7 billion in 2001 to 4 billion in 2009. Thanks, in part, to encouragement efforts like Bike to Work Day, the number of bike commuters is on the rise, as well -- especially in Bicycle Friendly Communities.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, from 2000 to 2011, the 39 Bicycle Friendly Communities among the 70 largest U.S. cities saw a 80% increase in bicycle commuting. In contrast, the bike commuter rate in the 31 largest non-Bicycle Friendly Communities grew only 32%, while the national average grew 47%.

Click here to download the PDF of the infographic.

In some Bicycle Friendly Communities, bicycle commuting rates have skyrocketed by more than 400% since 1990, including cities as diverse as Portland, Ore., and Lexington, Ky. Meanwhile, cities like Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and Denver have more than doubled their bike commuter share since 2000.

Click here to download the PDF of the infographic.

Find Commuter Data for your Area

Click here to download 2010 bicycle commuting data for all 375 cities included in the American Community Survey

Click here to download bicycle commute data from 1990 to 2011 for the 70 largest U.S. cities, including percentage of bicycle commuters and percent change

Click here for 2011 state commute rates, including bicycle commuting by gender

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Idaho Stop Debate Rolls On

toronto stop sign
Rolling Stops for Cyclists May Be Coming to Utah  is one of my favorite posts that touched on a state law that passed in Idaho, and is brought up every year or so by others. I admittedly have rolled through empty stop signs and hate sitting at a stale red light, but try to keep safety and setting a good example in mind when riding, so that drivers and others that may see me riding will respect me. My thoughts are that stop signs exist primarily as a form of speed control for cars rather than a right-of-way system; that's why they have converted most of them to four way stops that don't actually work as well for right-of-way as the old two way stops. Idaho is still the only state to legalize this action, but others are still mulling it.

Now Ruben Anderson joins the fray with Three Cheers for the Idaho Stop!! (or, the Insanity of Over-regulating Parakeets.)

The Idaho Stop is defined by Jonathan Maus of Bike Portland:
This law would make it legal for bicyclists to treat stop signs like yield signs. A cyclist approaching an intersection controlled by a stop sign, would be permitted to roll through the stop sign after yielding the right of way if there are other vehicles at the intersection.
It makes sense; a different kind of vehicle needs a different kind of regulation and control. Ruben writes:
Road laws are solely designed to reduce the carnage caused by 2,000 lb. bullets hurtling around at high speeds. And that is all the laws should be applied to.
We have laws for pig farmers. Should tomato farmers have to build giant manure management systems?
We have laws for dog licensing. Should parakeets have to wear a little collar with a tiny tag?
We have laws for new drivers. Should experienced drivers be forbidden from carrying passengers or driving on the highway?
My favorite bit of hilarity though: Imagine if we applied road laws to everyone who was commuting. Should pedestrians walking down the sidewalk shoulder check twice, extend their arm to signal the direction they intend to walk, then sharply turn?
Ruben concludes:
So, calls for cyclists to obey car laws are as misguided as suggesting cars should obey bike laws, or that parakeets should obey dog laws.
Read it all in A small and delicious life

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Wireless Bike Brake Light


I've reviewed a lot of bike lights and this new one is a little different. Inventor and tinkerer John Craig has created an easily removable, battery-powered brake light that senses a cyclist's decelerations in order to strongly flash when a bike is coming to a stop.

Calling his new Kickstarter campaign invention the LucidBrake, Craig says the light will help save lives by preventing some of the accidents caused by drivers that say they just don't 'see' cyclists. The LucidBrake has a patent-pending algorithm that is supposed to ignore normal wheel rotations and road bumpiness, yet sense the deceleration that indicates slowing down or stopping. The brake's eight LED lights are placed in an octagon shape so that they resemble a stop sign.

For regular cruising the LED-based LucidBrake shows a weaker flashing light, then flashes intensely when the cyclist is braking or decelerating to a stop. The light stays steady for a few seconds and then returns to weaker flashing. There are no wires or installation, and no plastic parts or covers. LucidBrake weighs in at just 23 grams and the company says it is easily mounted and dismounted from a bike (though a flat surface is needed), or a helmet, or a backpack. The LucidBrake team consulted 3-M to find a 'dual-lock' fastener, a bit like sticky velcro, to make it easy to put the brake light on and off. Craig says a tough sunlight and waterproof coating means you can dunk a Lucidbrake in a lake and it keeps on flashing.

LucidBrake isn't the first wireless brake light, but with the eight LEDs it does seem one of the brightest. At the current Kickstarter, getting one of the first-production lights entails a $50.00 pledge.