Friday, June 7, 2013

They're Just F@cking Bikes Lady - Jon Stewart

THAT'S how you do a Citybike!

Proud to be a part of the all powerful bike lobby!

Hat tip to Cyclejerk

Results from Federal Bike to Work Challenge #bikedc

During Bike to Work Month, 164 federal agency teams across the United States competed in the Federal Bike to Work Challenge. Federal agencies formed teams of 4 to 10 riders, and were ranked on the number of trips they made to work, the miles they rode, and the percentage of their commutes that were by bike. 

Below is an embedded spreadsheet with unofficial results of the competition.  The cumulative rank was produced by ranking each individual criteria (trips, miles ridden, percent of commutes that were by bike).  Those three different rankings were then added with resulting in a cumulative score; agency with the lowest cumulative score was the first place agency.  I added geographic information so that agencies could compare their results with other local teams (however this was almost entirely a guess as most teams pages did not include geographic information - Washington, D.C. based teams were ranked as a group).  Amendments, comments and revisions to the information on the spreadsheet are most welcome.

Biking to work is an excellent means of transportation.  It saves you money; it makes you healthy; it helps save the environment; and it can even save you time.  More than that, people who bicycle to work say they love their commute! In addition, biking to work advances the goals of Executive Order 13514 which calls on federal agencies to set ambitious but achievable greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions targets for their operations, resulting in a government-wide goal to reduce emissions by 28 percent before 2020.  See The Inter-Agency Task Force for Bicycling and Active Transportation's report  Implementing a Successful Bicycle and Active Commuting Program in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area.

Please support @PhoenixBikes during the DoMore24 campaign (Today!) #bikedc

"The DoMore24 campaign is more than just one day of fundraising…it’s the next generation of online giving. We are creating a local movement that leverages the power of the crowd to support our region’s nonprofit organizations through focused, online giving that is directed at creating maximum impact. We have built an innovative platform to allow donors to track the progress of the campaign, see who else is participating and watch the effect of their contributions in real time. Do More 24 is funded and powered by United Way of the National Capital Area and is graciously supported by a group of committed community and corporate sponsors."   Contribute today (due to technical difficulties, the campaign was extended till today)! 

"Phoenix Bikes has two primary operations –a youth development education program and a full-service retail bike shop and. Both make up our commitment to the economic, social, and environmental health of the D.C. Metro region.

Through the use of bike repair, mechanics, and sales, we provide local youth with real-world skills and education that will better prepare them for the future.

Through our storefront, we provide the local D.C. community with affordable, refurbished bikes and repair services that help the environment, the recipient and local youth. As the largest used bike and parts shop in the D.C. Metro area, sale proceeds from our shop support the development of the organization and fund ongoing youth education programs with Phoenix Bikes.

Greatly assisted by our youth participants and volunteers, we believe that our shop provides an unparalleled learning exercise for the development of young leaders, within an immersive, real-world retail operation, providing the opportunity for:

2012-08-17 KeithInShopLearning – Youth in the shop take on new challenges, use both academic and practical skills, acquire analytical problem solving skills and engage in operations management.
Healthy Peer Interaction – Learning to work together as a team, participants gain confidence, appreciate diversity, and develop healthy, long-term friendships.

Community Service – Youth learn to plan, develop, and complete a finished product from start to finish – with its sale providing a direct impact on local neighborhoods.

Fun – Our program is meant to build friendships and promote a healthy, active lifestyle among participants.

Protect Your Coconut!

I always wear a bicycle helmet.  I proudly have a cracked helmet mounted up on my wall.  When I took a fall a few years back, my helmet broke - my head did not.

Photo by Roland Tanglao, Flickr (CC)
A helmet is essential safety equipment.  The purpose of a helmet is to protect your nut from injury. So how do you choose? Factors when considering a helmet include effectiveness, fit, ventilation, and weight. Two great sources of information on helmets are The Washington Area Bicycle Association's Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute (BHSI) and Consumer Reports. I recommend reading BHSI's A Buyer's Guide to Bicycle Helmets.

Look for a sticker inside the helmet indicating standards compliance: Consumer Product Safety Commission or ASTM's F1447.  After that, the BHSI states most standards compliant "helmets have about the same impact protection regardless of price."  Consumer Reports provides results from its impact absorption test, revealing that while vendors may play to the standards - there are better performing helmets out there. 

The helmet should be confortable.  If the helmet isn’t comfortable, you wont wear it - and that's counter productive.  And every head and every helmet is a bit different - once you decide what type or brand of helmet you would like, be prepared to go try them out like a suit, and find one that fits you well.

In the summer, it's hot and a helmet can act like a hat, trapping heat. I chose a light colored helmet with good vents to move air and cool my head.  Good ventilation will also help your head stay drier.  Light or bright colors will reflect solar heat and are more visible. During the winter I wear a cap underneath the helmet to keep me warm. 

A common mistake I see people make is buying spiffy aerodynamic helmets, the one's with the fins on the back, because somehow the fins are going to make them go faster. This is like buying a 1950s Cadillac with fins thinking that the fins are going to make that whale of a car go faster. It aint. If there comes a time when you need to use your helmet for something more than a style accessory, you do not want anything (fins, cameras, lights) sticking out from the helmet that, when you hit the ground, will cause your head to torque or rotate. The BHSI recommends smooth helmets that do not have points that snag when you crash. 

Wear the helmet correctly.  Don’t wear them backwards.  Don’t wear them on the back of your head.  Don’t wear them on your handlebars. Clip and tighten the straps so the helmet is snug on your nut. 

Finally, replace a helmet after a crash or if the helmet is damaged. But beware of stores that may attempt to convince you that your helmet is old, dried out, and needs to be replaced.  Baloney.  Your helmet is constructed out of EPS foam (like Styrofoam) - it doesn’t dry out.  According to the BHSI, "All of that is nothing but marketing hype to sell a replacement helmet before you need it."  If your helmet is damaged, replace it.  But BHSI says, "Unless you mistreat it we would not expect it to "dry out" enough to alter its performance for many years."

Epilogue:  Since I drafted this article, Bicycling Magazine came out with an excellent article on helmets.  According to the article, while most current helmet vendors meet the CPSC certifications and therefore offer approximately the same amount of protection - a new helmet design is being produced that may offer greater protection against concussions! The MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) has a rotational liner that allows the helmet, upon impact, to absorb some rotational impact and reduce the risk of concussion. Describing this as the helmet industry's "air bag moment," the Bicycling Magazine article reports that several MIPS helmets from different vendors are finding their way into the market. The sporting community is becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of concussions and the important role of helmets.  Improved helmet design is great news and I am looking forward to trying one of these out at my local bicycle shop.