Monthly Archives: August 2007

Sustainable Cycling Hats

Deller 3-Panel Recycled Hat

Check out Shaun Deller, another one of those bike-nut (in a good way) PDXers. Deller makes cycling hats from recycled fabric (via Goodwill). He doesn’t own a car and does all of his hat-related business on his bike. Cool hats and a nice, sustainable (it’s not like Goodwill is going to run out of old pants) business idea. Make sure you watch the excellent video at Nau (thanks Rocky).

He’s using a bike with a huge basket and homemade trailer to carry the goods, but frankly an Xtracycle or something dutch would be cooler — maybe he should pop into the Clever Cycles (what is it with all the cool Portland cycling businesses anyway?) and work out bakfiets-for-hats trade! Oh, he’s got a blog, too with some neat, non-hat, bike-focused stuff.

That crappy King of the Mountains hat I picked up at the Tour de France last month now kind of feels dirty to me. Hmmm….I’m thinking my brother-in-law would dig one of these. I wonder if I’ll draw his name at Christmas.

(via Grist, Bike Portland, Nau Collective, and Backcountry.com: the goat.)

-Tim

Think before driving

I rode my bike to a party yesterday. It was 15 miles away and it took me an hour to get there (I’m not super fast). When I arrived, a number of people said, “You biked here?” “Are you training for something?” “How long did it take you?” It really wasn’t that big of a deal. It took an hour, which is 30 minutes longer than it would take to drive with no traffic, and I got some exercise. It was a beautiful day and I didn’t have 2 kids with me, so riding to the party was a bonus.

Recently I’ve gotten similar comments from people when I’ve ridden my bike to various events. I rode to a soccer game less than 2 miles from my house and I rode to my kids swim lessons 12 blocks away. I think people forget how close some things are and how very silly it is to drive such short distances. The comments people always make are, “what a great idea, I should do that” or “I thought about riding my bike here, but……”

Our neighbor burns up the road every day. It’s amazing how many trips she makes in her car. I’ll be in the front yard working in the garden or playing with the kids and I’ll see her get in the car and speed off. 20 minutes later she’ll be back at home. In another hour, she’ll be back in her car speeding off again. She does this most every day. (I’m not trying to be a nosy neighbor, I’m just outside a lot and I notice things) Her driving habits make me reflect before I get in the car for a quick trip. When I drive, I try to at least plan where I’m going and combine trips to the store, coffee shop, drug store etc.

I’m no saint. Sometimes I drive to get coffee, or I drive to the store when I could easily ride. It’s just a mind shift – I’m trying not to make driving automatic. For most people, driving is automatic. They wouldn’t think of doing it any other way.

-Anne

My email to Ken Schram

I probably shouldn’t have, but I emailed Mr. Schram today and tried to express a different opinion about the Lake Forest Park bike issue. For what it’s worth, here’s what went down:

Come on, Ken… what has happened to you? Back in the day — you know 20 years ago before you got totally corrupted by sound bites — I used to watch Town Meeting with my family and think you were pretty with it. Maybe John Carlson has been rubbing off on you?

I have to take serious exception with your recent commentary condemning cyclists. You made the incredibly shortsighted statement: “Now if only a few other police jurisdictions would go after spandexed scofflaws in the same way the Lake Forest Police are doing, ah, the world be a better place.” (http://www.komotv.com/news/9073241.html)

In fact, if you really want the world to be a better place you should wish for MORE cyclists instead of this artificial targeted, car-driven enforcement. One example to chew on: have you ever been to the Netherlands? Bikes everywhere. No bike/pedestrian/car conflicts. Why? Everyone gets along because everyone is familiar with all three modes of transport. Frankly, it’s the “country of the future.” (TM)

Have you ever even ridden a bike on the Burke-Gilman? It’s first and foremost a bike path — a product of the 70s bike boom. There have always been bikers: the jogging and fitness walking and dog walking trends came later. Riding from Gas Works to Bothell on a mostly smooth and well-maintained trail one is aware of stop signs and traffic enforcement, but these obstacles seem reasonable and necessary for safety — that is, until Lake Forest Park. There riders find a narrow, rutted trail surface, a random collection of speed limits (most cyclists don’t have speedometers), and stop signs for private driveways.

Angry motorists claim they want bikes to follow the same rules and conventions as cars. On roads, stop signs are used to keep the majority moving and control the few. In Lake Forest Park, a key county transportation corridor serving thousands of commuters a day, it works differently. There, stop signage (something like five in a half mile) halt that majority in favor of the few — private driveways serving a maybe a dozen car trips a day. For a view of a successful system, travel just three miles down the BG Trail toward Bothell where a similar series of crossings also enlists stop signs. The difference is that these stop the minority traffic: cars. Kudos to Bothell (or maybe it’s Kenmore?) for sensible traffic management.

You may think cyclists scofflaws but out on mean streets motorists would never stand for such unbalanced traffic controls. Mass revolt would take over roads and the media. Meanwhile in Lake Forest Park, this unfair, ticket-the-majority, revenue-generating scheme is supported by normally sane populace who, I can only surmise, either live down one of those driveways or resent that some people are not slaves to their cars.

Finally, I should note I find it a “coincidence” this stepped up enforcement comes on the heels of Lake Forest Park losing a ruling that will make the municipality improve the trail — something it has been fighting the county over for years see: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/325184_trail26.html). Could it be that these poor sports in Lake Forest Park are just retaliating?

You used to be a champion those targeted by such bullies, but apparently those days have passed. Shame on you….

-Tim

Local Has-been TV commentator wrong about bikes (again)

TV troll Ken Schram has come down on the site of opportunistic ticket-writing Lake Forest Park in the debate about whether a tiny little town with not much going for it can stand in the way of a heavily used regional transportation system (that happens to NOT rely on bikes).

In a nutshell, LFP property owners don’t like people in lycra riding by their waterfront homes. I think it makes them feel guilty about their giant SUVs and car-centric lifestyles. They’ve been fighting it for years and just lost a regional hearing that will make them allow the county to improve the trail.

Traffic on the trail is increasing and as more people get serious about global warming, high gas prices, and big butts, it’s only going to get worse (for the property owners). So, LFP politicos are fighting back the only way they know how — vindictively ticketing cyclists for speeding or running one of the many illogically placed stop signs that attempt to force thousands of trail users each day to stop for an unoccupied private driveway.)

Thanks Ken, way to take the side of the underdog!

-Tim 

Our (first) Xtracycle on the road!

family on the new xtracycle

Finished Anne’s xtracycle today (actually VERY early this morning, but who’s keeping track?). We are pretty psyched. The kids are digging it already — it’s gone to the store, Grandma’s, and swim lessons.

We still have some finishing touches:

  • rigid fork on order
  • A cushier, upright seat needed
  • Albatross bars on order
  • curvier stoker bars coming (Nitto swept-backs)
  • Some smooth fat rubber (well, I wanted 2.3 but I don’t think they’ll fit the skinny Rolf wheels)

But all in all, this thing is cool. Mine is next!

-Tim

Building the Longbike

I’m slowly putting together longbike #1. I’m going from this:

Xtracyle out of box

To hopefully something that resembles a bike.

For the most part, it has gone together well — at least considering the cobbled together source of parts (ebay, craigslist, parts bins, and even other bikes hanging in the basement). I had some issues with the derailleur hanger being mis-drilled, causing the derailleur bolt to (want to) cross-thread, but nothing a dremel tool can’t fix! I got it on track and props to the xtracycle folks for offering to replace the frame.

When I get this one done, mine is next.

More later!

PS — a photo of the derailleur issue:

xtra-de-hanger-w-notes.jpg

Why Car Free Days?

Because we American’s drive too damn much. It’s got to stop. Peak Oil, global warming, bad traffic etc.. We as a family we realize it isn’t practical for everyone to give dump their cars completely (we haven’t and I don’t imagine we will any time soon), but we can drive less.

A lot less.

Right now we drive around 8000 miles/year. That’s a family of four. But we think we can do better. One way we got to this point is to have “car free days.” We try to park the car and get around on bikes, feet, or just stay at home and work in the garden. Sorry kids, we aren’t driving today.

We recently returned from Europe (yes, I know the carbon emissions of that flight were horrible. I’ll stay home for a decade to make up for it). The bike lifestyle in the Netherlands is amazing. Cars, pedestrians, cyclists, trains, trams, and boats, all living in transportational bliss. It’s all pretty inspiring (especially when you factor in all the stylish fit, contented Dutch eyecandy).

Needless to say, the trip inspired us to get our xtracycles built (they’ve been in the box since April), start this blog (to keep us honest), and see what we can do to reduce our automotive footprint.

Stay tuned.

-Tim and Anne