Thursday, August 15, 2013

School's (Almost) Open; Drive Safely! @APSVirginia @ArlingtonDES

Dont illegally park in bike lanes!

Wilson Blvd, Clarendon
There were two buses parked here in the bike lane.  Both buses were parked, with no flashing lights, with their doors open to let in the air while they sat there.  While taking this picture, two cyclists got stuck behind the pictured bus, unable to safely maneuver around until the traffic cleared. APS has lots of empty parking lots right now where buses can sit; Wilson Blvd in bike lanes is not a good choice.

Spoke'n Word :: BMW Scofflaws :: MVT Closures Upcoming :: Stop at Signs :: ALEXBPAC Meets Monday :: Lombard Street East ::

My Own Walden
from Jeremy Cannon on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Problem of @WMATA Elevators - @arlingtonva @wabadc #bikedc

Rosslyn's new elevators open in two months. Is this good news or bad news for cyclists?

Photo by BOSSI (cc)
Unfortunately, based on experiences at other metro stations - its probably bad news.  When elevators are more convenient than escalators, able-bodied pedestrians choose to take the elevator, choking out the room and leaving cyclists with no ability to actually exit the station (cyclists are not allowed to use the escallators).  This is a huge problem in stations like Ballston, where pedestrians regularly use the elevators because they are a little bit more convenient (and the pedestrians are lazy).  Its not uncommon at Ballston to stand at train level, the elevator will come down from the main platform and will filled with pedestrians who got on early so they could go to street level.  Fun times.

Under current rules, subway riders should
Give senior citizens and riders with disabilities priority when using the elevators.
 Great.  Those people should have priority.  The problem is the next rule
Cyclists are required to use elevators to access mezzanines and platforms. Escalators and stairs may not be used except when special requests (for emergency reasons) have been granted by Metro Station Managers, Metro Transit Police or city/county police or fire officials. Cyclists must allow other passengers to exit before placing bicycles in or taking bicycles out of the elevators. When it appears that a bicycle will cause an inconvenience or possible injury to other passengers, cyclists must wait for the next elevator. At all times in the Metrorail system, both wheels of any bicycle must be placed on the ground/floor and cyclists must not use Metro property such as, but not limited, to poles, seats, and doors to support their bicycles.
Okay, great.  That basically means cyclists are THIRD priority when it comes to elevators, and we have no other legal way out of the system.   This is a huge problem, especially when elevators are more convenient than escalators - the elevators will always have other passengers on them and we are blocked out.

The solution is simple.  Make cyclists second priority on the elevators.  Tell other passengers that they must yield to cyclists, allowing cyclists to use the elevators as cyclists have no other legal way to exit and enter the system.  Otherwise stations like Rosslyn will become unusable to cyclists (much like Ballston has become a difficult station).

Spoke'n Word :: Thank You @NPSGWMP :: This is the Internet, Right? :: New S-Turn of Doom on FMR ::

  • Anthony Weiner, doing everything he can to not get elected, was quoted as saying: "What about those bike lanes? "I once made a joke, I said to Mike Bloomberg—and this was in the height of a lot of the controversy about the bike lanes. I said the first thing I was going to do as mayor is hold a press conference tearing out your—this is the Internet, right?—tearing out your f***ing bike lanes. And it was a joke, it was a joke. There are good bike lanes and bad bike lanes ... I like bikes as much as the next guy. You know what I don't like, though, is policy jihadists who are incapable of the idea ... that there are going to be stupid bike lanes, and so you're going to replace them." Slate
  • ArlCo is busy building a new S-Turn of Doom along the 4MR in Crystal City 
  • Stop-Sign-to-Nothing removed from the south end of National Airport, MVTrail.  Thank you NPS, Arlington BAC, Alexandria BAC, and many other voices who chimed in on this.  Seriously, a major way to improve compliance with traffic signs is to remove the stupid ones!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How to Buy a Bicycle

Buying a bicycle can seem complicated.  But it really comes down to a simple consideration:  what would you like to do with the bicycle?  After you can answer that, then "buy the bicycle that you love."

Bicycles come in many flavors, but I will limit today's selection to three general commuter groups (other good bikes include recumbents, folders, and ebikes).  Road bikes are nimble, light bikes designed for speed.  These can be the bicycles that cyclist race or tour on, designed to be light and quick with minimal drag.  They are not the best for carrying racks or taking abuse.  The rider sits in an aggressive position tucked down aerodynamically.

Hybrids, cycle crosses, and urban bikes are popular choices for surviving the slings and arrows of outrageous urban commuting.  These are more robust than road bikes, can take more of a beating, have somewhat bigger tires, and can carry racks.  They are bigger than road bikes, but not as big as mountain bikes. The rider sits more upright, causing more aerodynamic drag.  Brakes and shifters tend to be very accessible so that the cyclist can make quick moves.

Mountain bikes are the monsters of bikes, with big frames, big tires, and shock absorbers.  Designed for off road adventures, many people like them for commuting.  The bicycles come with bigger tires, making for a more comfortable ride, and the cyclist sits in an upright position.  Mountain bikes feature lower gears that can help pedal up big hills.

Bicycles are made out of various materials.  My original bicycle was steel.  It was tough, heavy, and absorbed vibrations from the road.  My current bicycle is aluminum; it is lighter and wonderfully designed, but the aluminum is stiff and transmits road vibrations into my body. Unlike steel, aluminum does not corrode. Carbon frames are big for high-end road bicycles.  They are light and tough, but uncommon among commuters.  While aluminum is popular, there is a big movement back to steel due to both its strength as well as the smoothness of the ride.

Generally there are two types of handlebars: drops and flats.  Drops are your classic ten-speed bicycle handlebar with the curled down bars, allowing the cyclist to drop down and become more aerodynamic.  Flats lend to a more upright position, with brakes and shifters up on the flats near one's hands, allowing the cyclist to be in an alert position to watch traffic.

Racks:  Good road bikes are designed for speed and will not necessarily have eyelets in order to attach racks.  If you don't have a rack for bags, then all your stuff goes in a backpack on your back.  Urban bikes and hybrids will support racks, so that weight can go on your bike frame, not you.

Tires: The bigger the tires, the smoother your ride will be and the tougher the tire itself.  Small road bike tires like narrow tires are faster but not good for off-road or potholes.  Smaller tires are more likely to get flats. Medium tires are tougher and can take a beating, while not slowing down the bike too much.  Larger tires are mountain bike tires, which can take a beating and might help out in bad weather conditions like snow or rain.

Another consideration is how good is your parking.  At my office, we have great parking in a secure garage.  That permits cyclists to ride some nice bicycles.  If however you have to park you bicycle where there is a risk of theft, think about getting a less attractive used bike.  There are many shops such as Phoenix Bikes that sell quality vintage bikes that will give you a great ride but wont scream "steal me."   Buying used can also mean buying a quality bicycle with good components for less. 

Getting the correct bicycle size can be a challenge.  Ebicycles has an excellent bicycle frame size chart to help you use your inseam and your height to get a good estimate of frame size (it is only an estimate). Some bike shops will give you a professional fitting, starting with frame size and making adjustments for seat height, stem length, and crank size.  Some sales people are wonderfully helpful and will help you get the right size (others are just saying what the marketing has told them). Check reviews of bike shops and be careful.  A poorly fitting bicycle can lead to back and knee pain.  Get advice and take the bicycle for as long a test ride as possible.

Bicycle stores like car stores are married to brands.  One store will sell one brand; another store will sell another.  Visit lots of stores and try out lots of brands.  Each bicycle is a little different and will fit you a little different.  This is called geometry.  In includes seat post angle, head post angle, the height of the bicycle, the length of the cranks, and the length of the top tube (how far the reach is to the handlebars).  Two road bikes made by different companies are going to feel different to you. They may be the exact same size, and one fits you like a glove and the other makes you uncomfortable.  Try out lots of bikes, taking them for good long test rides.

Do your own research.  Read material online.  Find some cyclists friends and ask lots of questions.  Read reviews.

Accessorize:  Additions that you will want to think about: helmets, lights, lock, reflectors, gloves, and bags.

What does all this add up to?  Buy the bike you love.  When I bought my bike, I wanted a tough urban bike, that could take abuse, fit me (I am tall), kept me in an upright urban position where I could watch traffic, and could carry my gear.  All of this led me to a Cannondale Bad Boy (a similar bike is currently the Specialized TriCross).  My friend, working through the same thought process, ended up with an All-City Space Horse.  It is a steel road bike, giving her strength, speed, a smoother ride, fenders for bad weather, and racks for her gear.  Another younger friend who has a need-for-speed went for a light, nimble Specialized Allez road bike.

People have love affairs with their bicycles; go out and find the bike you love.

Spoke'n Word :: How to Print a Bicycle :: U *need* a Bell :: Arlco Fair :: Toga Toga Toga :: #bikedc

Bike Arlington at the Arlington County Fair

Monday, August 12, 2013

When Orange Pylon's Surround your "Bike Friendly Community" sign for weeks, that's a problem @arlingtondes @arlparksrec #bikedc

What's wrong with this picture?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?  

Columbia Pike and W&OD
That's right!  The Bike Friendly Friendly Community sign there in the middle is surrounded by orange pylons.  Has been for weeks.  

Unlike everywhere else in Arlington where Arlco is placing roads on "road diets," here Arlco is expanding the width of Columbia Pike, my guess is to make way for the streetcar.  To do so, Arlco made a precarious single lane detour for the WOD - you know, that transportation artery for cyclists.  While I suppose one can concede the point that construction needs to be done, once again Arlco seems to be failing to treat cyclist trails as critical transportation infrastructure.  The detour was poorly designed.  The work has proceeded at a snails pace.  The cement on the new sidewalk appears to be dry and done, but still cyclists are forced into a bad detour.

Arlington:  treat cyclist core transportation infrastructure as critical.  If you have to block, provide a real detour.  Minimize the impact.  This project should have been done by now and the detour removed.  Indeed it looks like its all but done.  

Please remove the obstructions, remove the detour, and keep core cycling trails as a transportation priority.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Spoke'n Word :: Paper Helmets :: POTUS Rides a TREK :: Arl Fun Ride Oct. 4 :: Bike Arlington Documentary Oct. 10 :: More Two Wheel Tuesdays :: Bicycle Safety Vid from the 1960s

  • Paper Helmets - solution for bikeshare programs?
  • The President rides a TREK
  • The Arlington County Fair is taking place right now!  Have you stopped by the Bike Arlington booth?  You need another water bottle.
  • Arlington Fun Ride (Oct. 4) registration is now open  
  • A Documentary on BikeArlington will premier Oct. 10 at Arlington Cinema and Draft House
  • More Two-Wheel Tuesday events have been announced:  Open to everyone, but the focus for outreach for these 2 months will be employees of Rosslyn and Courthouse areas. Time of each event is 5pm to 6:30pm.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

For your own protection, you will soon be ticketed at stop signs on the WOD in Falls Church #bikedc

And just as a reminder, according to our non-cyclist friends in Falls Church, for a bicycle, a stop means unclipping, losing balance, putting your foot down, and a few moments of precariousness as you try to reclip when you get going again.  Nevermind that the cyclist can stop forward momentum without putting its foot down.  Nevermind that we dont require pedestrians to, oh, I dont know, sit down on the ground or take their shoes off.  Nevermind that the majority of cars never stop for as long as the police are requiring cyclists to stop.

We are from the government and we are here to help.
NEWS RELEASE Police to Enforce Driver, Cyclist, and Pedestrian Safety in Shared Use Areas
Wednesday, August 7, 2013 -- The City of Falls Church Police Department reminds drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians to follow state and City laws in shared use and heavily traveled areas like intersections along the Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail. Officers are monitoring for stop sign violations, failure to yield to pedestrians, and jaywalking. Each offense could carry a fine or an assessment of driving record points. 
Per state law, drivers must yield to pedestrians and cyclists who are in or at the crosswalk. Pedestrians, cyclists, and any other users of the W&OD Trail are required to come to a complete stop prior to entering crosswalks. Drivers and cyclists must stop at all stop signs and red traffic lights. Drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists must travel safely and cautiously when passing through shared areas such as where the W&OD Trail meets streets. 
For more information on state laws, visit the Virginia Department of Transportation's website. For more information on City code, visit the City's online code portal.
Do you think the police will ticket joggers who dont stop jogging-in-place at these intersections?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Spoke'n Word - Aug. 2

Thursday, August 1, 2013

CABI Continues to Grow in Arlington

Each month our friends at Bike Arlington have been publishing their accomplishments.  Thumbing through the July edition, you are immediately hit with the following graph:

So I have the following thoughts:
  1. WOW!  That's just fantastic!
  2. The more cyclists on the road, the safer the roads are for everyone.
  3. This Arlington video celebrates the installation of the 200th station
  4. I see CABI bikes all the time, all over Arlington.... far far away from stations (none of this CABIs dont go further than 1/2 mile from stations nonesense, they are everywhere)
  5. What can I do to get a station at Lee Hwy and Glebe Rd - particularly with that big new apartment complex about to complete construction!