I finally decided to start a bicycle maintenance log and realized I might as well post it on the web. For a while now, I’ve been interested in how long each of the various parts last. I searched around the internet a bit to see if anyone else has done this and couldn’t find anything. Hopefully, it will be of interest to someone other than myself.
I turned passed another bicycle commuter milestone today. I've carried plenty of smaller objects and even run numerous errands for small items over the years, but today I had my first real packing challenge. I heard from someone who recently moved and weren't able to take their child's bike with them. They offered it up for free, to anyone who would be willing to go and get it from their past landlord. How can you pass up an opportunity like this? I took a walk after work yesterday and grabbed the bike. It was awkward enough walking with the bike, I spent the evening and part of today thinking about how to get it home. Over lunch, I started playing with what I had and figured out a way to attach the bike; here are some pictures of the final product.
I happened upon this video loosely documenting a house move completed with only bicycles. We've accumulated enough stuff in our house, that I can hardly imagine moving without an eighteen wheeler. I have to admit, before seeing this it never would have crossed my mind that people attempted this big a move with bikes. It still isn't something I can imagine doing, if for no other reason than I'm not sure I know enough cyclists who would be willing to come heft my stuff around town.
I've heard rumors about what a nice environment Portland, OR is for cyclists. Having never been there myself, I was intrigued to see a video entitled Portland: Celebrating America's Most Livable City posted on Streetfilms recently highlights some of the nice changes Portland has made to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians. It's a thirty minute video, so don't try and watch it unless you have some time on your hands. The video clearly shows my local cities and the state have a long way to go to catch up. Fortunately though, we can benefit from the successes in Portland and, hopefully, achieve a similar level of infrastructure in a shorter period of time.
Over the last year, Rhode Island appears to have become a hot place to make films. The most recent film shot here that you might recognize is Underdog. I passed a film crew on my way to work the other day and was amazed at the amount of energy committed to supporting this filming. They had no fewer than four state troopers, a lane blocked off, and were periodically stopping all traffic when they were actually filming.
Earlier this week I passed a car with a spoiler and a bike rack. I found this somewhat ironic, spoilers are supposed to help keep the rear end of a car on the road when driving quickly when you are carrying your bikes? Okay, so this spoiler is probably completely useless anyways, just for show.
This is just too cool to pass up posting about. The people at Calfee Design sell bikes made out of bamboo. I'm a big fan of wood things, particularly if they are finished with only an oil. These bamboo bikes remind me a lot of what a wood bike looks like, but is probably a lot lighter. I'd guess that they actually ride pretty nicely, a little bit of give to dampen vibrations, but stiff enough to transfer power? Sounds like steel, just don't look at the price list!
The Carbon Conscious Consumer (C3) climate campaign is challenging individuals during the month of August to commute by bike or otherwise avoid driving one day per week. I'd encourage anyone who currently drives to work to consider whether it would be possible to commit to this challenge. If you are interested, you can click on the banner above and make the pledge.
I've been on enough large group rides, to realize that once critical mass is achieved there is a certain pack mentality that often appears. I'm typically one of the few people who stick out like a sore thumb by actually stopping for lights rather than running them to stay with the group, stopping at stop signs, etc. Naturally, whether or not this behavior appears depends on the group of people in question. I've been in the RI area long enough now that I've been able to find a group of people who share similar cycling habits and beliefs; now I can hang out at red lights with others and we "bully" the few spirited riders, tempted to behave poorly, to wait for lights and behave like exemplary cyclists.
This past weekend, I went camping up in MA with my family and witnessed the fact that motorcyclists sometimes suffer from the same pack mentality. We were driving down a road and after a lane merger ended up stuck in the middle of a pack of motorcycles, probably on the order of 40 to 50. Things were going along fairly well, I was giving the motorcycles ahead a generous gap and while the riders behind appeared to be really close, I just reminded myself that they probably know their own vehicle and are within a safe distance. After a while, one rider behind us started revving his engine and pointing over to the side of the road. I assume he intended for me to pull over so I they could pass me, however, there was no shoulder and I wasn't interested in driving on the grass. I ignored the repeated attempts to get my attention and just kept humming along. Eventually the rider must have gotten fed up with me, passed in a no passing zone, and then put on his brakes, forcing me to slam my brakes on so I didn't run him over. He continued to block my way, while waving his buddies around, so they too could pass in a no passing zone. What an idiot. Does he know how lucky he was that I was alert and didn't just run him over? I still can't believe he did this, what an thoughtless individual. We later saw this same group of riders blocking an intersection, so the back of the pack could proceed through a red light all together. By this point, I had had enough and had Karen dial 911. We later ended up talking to one of the police officers who responded, they sent a motorcycle officer into the pack, but naturally everyone behaved well with the officer there. I truly hope I never experience this again, I can't imagine what it would have been like had I not been able to stop and ended up killing that rider.
So for all those people on bikes who break the law, trying to save insignificant time off their rides, please stop and think about what you are doing. It's not just your life you are putting on the line, it's the lives of others around you. I have to admit, I have a bad taste in my mouth towards motorcycles at this point and I suspect it will be quite a while before I trust a group of any size again. I can certainly see why cyclists have a bad rap with many drivers, we need to show respect in order to get respect.
The Bicycle Safety Institute, I'm still not sure if this is a legitimate group or some random guy, has a webpage purporting to list the bicycle related fatalities for each state. The data source is listed as NHTSA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, so I'm assuming the numbers are valid. I was pleasantly surprised to see that RI shared the top spot with WY having no bicycle related fatalities. With the way people drive and ride around here, I'm surprised by these findings. I'm am not planning to complain though!
About a month ago, DOT closed down the pedestrian pathway over a river I need to cross on the way to work. It's undergoing a major reworking and will be a really nice linear park when all is done. Assuming all goes well, it will be closed for the next 16 months. I'm not looking forward to the winter, but it's a workable hassle. There is another bridge a bit farther North, however, there are limited ways for a bike to get over to this other bridge and DOT has been making it challenging by doing work on the alternate roads I can use.
I faced my greatest challenge to date during my morning commute. As I left the bike trail, I immediately sensed trouble. There was a police officer blocking a road segment a few blocks before the point where I could choose two different routes to the alternate bridge. If I couldn't go through, I would have been force to backtrack many miles. There are alternate routes I can take to avoid this entire area, but the decision point is at about a 1/3 of the way in. By the time I ran into this mess, I was almost at work. I decided to see what my options where and approached the cruiser. The officer was reading a magazine and didn't notice me standing at his window, so I gently tapped on it and had this little discussion:
Me: What's was going on, can I really not make it through there?
Officer: The road is closed, you'll have to go that way (he points towards a road)
Me: Ahhh, doesn't that lead to an on ramp, to an expressway?
Officer: Oh yeah, that probably woudn't work for you. Well it looks pretty clear that direction, you can certainly make it to next section of the bike path.
Me: Ahhh, they knocked out the bridge under the bike path weeks ago, I think I'd rather take my chances on the expressway.
Officer: Oh go ahead through, I'm sure you will be fine.
I didn't have great faith in his recommendations by this point. I looked down the blocked road and didn't see anything really dangerous, so I decided to forge on. As I got closer to the real action, I saw a construction worker. I stop, hoping to get a more informed opinion.
Me: Can I get through? If not I need to backtrack many miles.
Worker: Sure, they are just paving the road. If anybody tries to stop you, just tell them Joe said you could go through.
Worker: Just don't get run over by the steamroller!
I continued on, avoided the steamrollers. As I passed anyone who looked mildly interested in me, I premptively said "Joe said I could go through", not actually slowing down enough for anyone to get a chance to say anything. I wonder if they will let me play the same game tomorrow or if I should just play it safe and take an alternate route early into my ride.