Sunday, November 28, 2010

Esquire Magazine Highlights Janette Sadik-Khan

Came across this link from one of the blogs I frequently read on Google Reader. I warn you right off though; it’s a long article. (Update: yep it was from the Planetizen network, their link is Here)

Many in the New Urbanism movement know of JSK, many in the cycling and walking communities know of her, and certainly in NYC, they know of her work. She is an international superstar, and is very popular with livable streets and transportation equity folks (along with Mr. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood)

So who is Janette Sadik-Khan, Esquire magazine (yes That Esquire) has a very good article looking at her in relation to another giant of NYC; Robert Moses.

The way she works to get around red tape and bring people on board, even if they were originally against her, can be a model for cities and DOT's nations wide. She has the facts to back up her claims, and to show naysayers that they really don't know what they are talking about, but without bluntly telling them off (as was Moses's style).

Her work is transforming NYC back to a future where people are king, not the car. She is the anti-Robert Moses and her timing couldn't have been better.

Take a read:
Janette Sadik-Khan - New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Profile

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Montreal prologue

Habitat from Expo 67, Montreal.

This post is just the prologue to a 4 part series on cycling in Montréal. I visit the city usually 2 to 3 times a year and have been doing so for the past 17+ years, and as such have sometimes taken the push for cycling, and separated infrastructure, for granted.

On the other hand, I simply may have not appreciated it, noticed it, or been unable to take pictures. Now with the opportunities that Bixi opens up, I am able to get a first hand picture of the bike share program, as well as the routes that make it safe for a less experienced cyclist, to get to many destinations in the city using a Bixi.
  • Part one will be some pictures and thoughts on a commuter cycling highway along the famous Habitat 67.
  • Part two will be some of the separated infrastructure of the city, from the eye of a Bixi.
  • Part three will be just on Bixi, from Fall 2009 and Fall 2010, what they seemed to have learned, and what improvements are perhaps needed, as well as impressions on use.
  • Finally part 4 will deal with bicycle parking in the city, and the variations of parking stalls that are used.

I will attempt to spread them out, and by breaking them up I hope to be able to post a little bit shorter posts on each one, and be able to go a bit more in-depth. I will plan to start posting part one later next week, and attempt to post one every week or so. However, finals are coming up, as well as my graduation, so there will most likely be a delay in part three and four at least.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Uptown Infinity

I linked to the ecovelo teaser of this new bicycle from Breezer a bit ago, it was shown off at Interbike earlier this year. I always bring my Breezer into the newest bike shop in Plattsburgh, and the only dedicated shop, Mountain Riders. Talking with the owner and head grease monkey or the past months, and seeing my Breezer, talking with him about my (few) upgrades, talking quality of parts and such, he has decided to become a Breezer dealer. This will be a great fit, he was a dealer before out in Colorado, has owned a Breezer mountain bike for many years, and strongly believes in the company and quality of work.

That being said, in the next 1-2 weeks, the Infinities'(?) will be shipping out to first orders (from what I know), he has ordered one for the shop and I will be able to test ride it for him once it comes in.

Needless to say I am quite excited!!!
I will post a review and thoughts when it comes in.

specs are now online at the Breezer site, Click Here for more information.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Moving Forward

Rest assured I am still here and still working on the various projects I am pushing. My time is limited, and what I am not using in class or to push projects, is being used to keep up to date on the latest happenings in the transportation community, and looking for internships for early next year. I simply do not have the energy to keep up here while doing everything else, even if I actually do have the time.

I will post here every once in a bit, and I appreciate folks checking back in every once in awhile. If you do not yet follow me on some type of reader, Google or otherwise, I highly recommend that you do, that way you will know when I start posting again.

  • Bicycle racks have been ordered and shipped, Phase one is moving forward quickly. Meeting with facilities to determine final location prep next week, a couple sites have already been picked out for a ceremonial install, the next step is planning for that event and making it big.

  • On the death that happened the other week, prosecution seems limited, even though it was a hit and run and the driver ran a red light, he apparently did not see the cyclist. The cyclist was on the sidewalk through this intersection, no it is not illegal to be on the sidewalk in the town of Plattsburgh (that I know of). However, sidewalk riding is incredibly dangerous for all road users, and until we have proper bicycle roads along auto roads, it is still best to be in a lane. He was new here and did not know the area well, and it is hard to take a lane when you are surrounded by 6 lanes of traffic moving at high speed.

  • The bike group on campus is working to advocate for a bike lane for the road, I am working to have them change the goal to be increased bicycle safety on the road, not advocating for a specific infrastructure fix. There really is no easy fix for this road, a bike lane or a separate bike road(cycletrack, bike path etc) will make it worse, there are simply too many driveway cuts.

  • The Campus Facilities Master Plan comes out in November, and is in final stages now. I am involved with asking questions regarding bike and ped improvements for a couple of the planned streets through campus, they have not answered many questions, and there are potential problems with what they are advocating we create, especially if they are leaving it up to the planners here to figure out the specifics.

  • Finally on to the posted image, it is a map I created that marks all the designated public park space in the city of Plattsburgh, combined with a two different distance buffers showing accessibility and distribution of parks. Overall Plattsburgh is doing pretty darn well, with full accessibility for the entire city within about 1/2mile of a park. It is not a perfect map, there is no scale and while North is "up" it is not designated as such, anyway.

For now that is all, stay tuned, I will update when I can, Jim is busy as well but might try to get some posts in, he has some topics in the wings.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Death Today

I just learned late yesterday of a death a bit west of campus due to a student riding a bicycle. I know little more than that right now, but with little to no infrastructure, and no respect from cars, it was inevitable somebody would die in this city, and it had happened before. Maybe some things will change now, to preserve his memory.

However I highly doubt it.

We can do better, we must do better, this is what fuels me to keep pushing against the odds.

Somebody dieing through no real fault of his own, other than choosing (or being forced) to use a bicycle to provide mobility.

Maybe he was riding along the sidewalk at night with no lights on going the wrong way on a one way street wearing black.

However there is a fix for that, we can make it safe for the cyclist that needs to go the opposite direction along a one way street, we can fix the lack of lights (by requiring hub lights on all non racing or bmx bikes sold) we can make sure street lighting is adequate enough so that even on the darkest nights, a cyclist wearing black can be seen.

I can not blame the cyclist for not using a poorly designed facility or infrastructure, I really can't.

We can prevent many of these deaths, it is just sad when it most likely could have been prevented with some forethought from planners and designers, just sad.

I will update more once I know more, including my thoughts on any fixes that might have been able to lessen the likelihood of this death.

all my regards to the family.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

From EcoVelo: A Video, and a discussion from me

This was posted up on Ecovelo today, and I thought it worth a mention:

Once you have watched it, and/or taken a look at the comments on the Ecovelo post on this video come on back, I do want to think some more on what this brings up, in terms of design.

Now I am a huge proponent of separated infrastructure when speeds are higher than 15/20mph. For the Dutch, this typically means no separation in residential areas, and perhaps in city centers as well (although these are typically ped/bike only with deliveries at odd hours). This has provided for a huge cycling rate, the highest(overall) rate in the world(something over 30% I think now, some cities top out over 50 if there is a college). They are the only ones that have achieved this rate through effort(China/India have high rates through poverty and need, typically) and thus they are a good model to use if we wish to see cycling as a significant transportation mode-share.

This poses interesting challenges in terms of our cities here in the US. The population of the entire Dutch country (~16 million) is less than that of New York City(~19 million) for example. It is hard to find space to allocate to the majority of road users in NYC(ped/bicycle) without stepping on somebody's toes, and the car/taxi lobby is quite loud when it comes to stepping on toes.

So what can we do?

In many cases the ability to have a good separated lane is critical, we need it, to encourage new bicycle users to come to the street, and to narrow the space for cars (thus reducing traffic and through speeds) this is good, and for the most part we can do that in blocks, yes there are pedestrians and yes there are loading issues, still a problem, but I feel that that kind of problem can be solved by working with delivery times and positions, and making sure pedestrians know that there is a bicycle route next to the sidewalk, and it is not for them to go into(that should become apparent as more cyclists use it every day, people wouldn't have a chance to step in it for fear of being run over every 5 seconds).

Providing ample space to pedestrians so they do not use the bicycle lane as extra sidewalk is also critical to this design. Yes this means less road space, but often lanes can be re-stripped down to the minimum MUTCD standards and a couple feet for either side can be added to the curb(or get rid of parking along one side, or remove a travel lane, or make it one way...). The main point being, the designers we have now can figure out how to squeeze an ok separate lane into the built environment, its not perfect, but it can be done and it can be done safely in many places.

The big deal is at intersections(and noted in the video). For the Dutch, many intersections are round-a-bouts with wide spaces around them to provide for proper building of separated facilities.(example ped/bike/car, example bike/car, example bike bypass Either that or they are very small and it is in a shared use space, thus no need for separation in the first place. (example)

The crossings are not right at the entrance/exit to the roundabout, but typically at least 1 car length back from where one would enter the actual round-a-bout (typically 2 car lengths with newer designs). This means you interact with ped/cyclists at the start or at the end, not at the same time as other cars, as you travel through the round-a-bout, you as a user of the space can focus on one element at a time, not everything at once (as in a typical urban intersection).

Intersections are a different story. If you have spent times zooming around the Netherlands via the wonders of Google, you will notice that no intersection is exactly the same as the other, each is fit into the specific environment of that situation, or designed to meet the perceived development opportunities for each site (in fact you don't typically find many major road intersections). This is a note for any type of interaction between multiple transportation options (ped, bike, bus, car, tram etc)

For a typical 4 way intersection there are a couple options, depending on traffic and size of road/speed. Really we are just interested in city/urban intersections. In Assen, these are actually few and far between, other than the low speed shared road intersections. Here is one Example though. Pedestrians are combined with cyclists, but have their own area crossing the intersection and have their own lights. Any disable persons can use the bicycle crossing, or the ped crossing, as curb cuts are provided. Walk buttons are provided on all 4 signals to cross this one part of the intersection, there is a resting area in the middle, in case you move slower than the full crossing lights(as a ped). Typically ped and bicycle lights for the whole intersection would go at once, and no turns would be allowed onto this road while bicycles and peds are moving. Either lights are timed at different speeds, a ped pressing the bicycle light will find they might be stuck halfway across.

This intersection appears to not have a loop detector for bicycles, but does have a button, and these do respond to cyclists and often one push will shortly stop all other traffic and allow the cyclist to cross. In many cases intersections have both(loop and button).

In some cases a loop detector is placed further back from the intersection so that a cyclist, moving at typical 10mph will reach the intersection as their bicycle light turns green. Other places it is always green for bicycles unless a car comes and triggers the car detector loop, in which case the bicycle light will turn back to green shortly. Yet other places the bicycle lights are triggered to give cyclists a "green wave" to allow for ease of movement and convenience at 10mph(or designated speed). Left or right turns on red are only allowed in special circumstances, and sometimes these turning options have their own separate interaction with cyclists(even at a round-a-bout)

If the road has many driveways or entrances or has deliveries, and there is no room for a separate infrastructure, what the Dutch have done is lower the speed, or remove through traffic alltogether. (Example area)

Here there is a road on the left that has parking and a "door zone" cycle lane with two traffic lanes (what we typically see here in the US). This is a lower speed road, maybe 25/30kph max, and the bicycle lane is dashed to allow for cyclists to move as safety dictates.

The road to the right (which google has gone down, but technically really should not have unless it was during delivery times...) is a bicycles only in the center, and pedestrians to the side (although at low speeds for bicycles it is not critical to separate (example) (again this must have been done on a Saturday/Sunday morning, due to lack of ped/bike traffic and amount of truck/delivery traffic when viewed at streetview)

Even when looking at more of a grid pattern, such as in Groningen to the North, many streets are ped/bike only and limited car traffic, very low speed shared space, or even along a main higher car traffic/bus route road, the intersecting roads are one of the above types, with "give way" markings along the road as designation. (Example)

Yes grids are wonderful, but we need to do more than just build a European style cycle track along the uninterrupted roads, or build it and do nothing about side streets. The Dutch have shown that intersections are terribly important, and the most important to get right. Many deaths/injuries in NYC are at intersections, such that it is safer to jaywalk mid-block than cross at the intersection (in terms of likelihood of injury) to make a point.

What we need to do is start making side streets bike/ped only, or limit car/truck access to only deliveries, or certain hours, or make one way(with bi-directional cycle paths). We need to close off streets and narrow others. By moving the traffic from these side streets to designated larger arterial roads, we have more options in terms of planning and redesigning the intersection, there is simply more room to do it right. Space is always a problem, and will be when retrofitting a city, but it is true, if there is a will, there is a way. Yes the US is uniquely different from Europe, but many things they have done can be adapted here and made to work just as well. All it takes is knowledge/understanding of the issues, creative thought, and a will.

Much of the Netherlands was as we are today in the late 60's, it took concentrated and sustained effort to be where they are now, many lessons were learnt and designs improved. We have the chance to use some of the best and well tested designs out there, if we simply open our eyes.

We can make American more bicycle friendly, even a city the size of NYC, or car choked as LA.

Yes there will be issues with urban hipsters speeding along on fixed gears, grandmas on old cruisers, business men in Lycra commuting to the office, small children or families going to the park etc.

The more types of people we have using a bicycle, the more everybody starts to play along. Yes there are bad apples, they are part of our society, but if the majority is going at 12mph, and a few want to go at 25, and simply cant because there are too many bicycles on the road, well then maybe that is a sacrifice we have to make to allow for more people to choose bicycling as a transportation option

For further study on the Dutch system, please see the wonderful posts by David Hembrow at his blog,

for critique. comments, or thoughts please feel free to let me know :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bicycle Lift in Trondheim, Norway

I had heard about this lift quite awhile ago, but through a random jaunt around the internets finally find the link for it. I thought at one point there was a similar type system using a rope that moved and you held onto it, this is a bit awkward, but it works!

I know of a couple hills that I could use this system on...


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

From EcoVelo: Sneak Peek: 2011 Breezer Uptown Infinity

I got quite excited when I saw the teaser of the new Breezer bike for the 2011 season. This bike is beautiful! I love the color scheme, the continuously variable gears are very very interesting, and it does have the same form factor as my Uptown 8. It is a bit more expensive, but with that new hub, it is very much a well designed bicycle.
So here it is from Ecovelo, the Breezer Uptown Infinity:

Monday, September 13, 2010

High Line NYC update

I don't think I mentioned this when it happened, so I will now. back in the late summer of 2009 I was in NYC and took the time to take pictures of the recently opened HighLine Park. You can read my review and see many more pictures of that visit Here.

In the meantime around December of last year I was contacted by a magazine editor for an Italian magazine that covers various topics. They wanted to use my photo in the print version of their magazine as a highlight for some notes on urban renewal. They found it via Flickr, where I typically upload all my photo's for the blog.

After some edits later, it was published, I have the hard copies in Italian. I was able to find the article on their website, but the picture was different for the online version, so I can't show you until I get a chance to scan it.

It is nice to have something published though, for sure!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

An Update

I am sorry I have not been keeping up with this blog for the past couple of months. As I mentioned before I had two computer intensive jobs, which meant that I had enough of the computer, when I was home and didn't have the energy to update, as I should have. Nonetheless, I will continue to work to keep things up to date as best I can. I still have a backlog of some draft posts, and have been taking many new photos’ of infrastructure to add and discuss.

I have a number of classes this fall, including a new class in Urban Geography and Planning with a teacher who did most of her work in LA and is an active bicycle commuter. I also have the campus racks installation, for which I received money last year, and there is a semi-senior project involving designing a safe routes to school route for the city school district. It is enough to keep my busy for sure.

Oh, did I mention I graduate in December?

In the meantime, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy my posts and the work I try to put into them. If you are new, take a look back into the archives, lots of fun things there!


Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Feed Update

To folks out there who follow my feed or would like to, I just started using google reader and realized on accident that only a partial feed was being shown. As far as I am concerned pictures are very important and if folks don't want them using the "list" option to collapse is just as useful. So I changed to a full feed, mostly because I think it is much more useful when I am reading other sites.

If you have thoughts please let me know

also I am unable to get a share this or "like" option on each post, I am not sure why, I will keep working to try and figure it out, sorry about that.

Plattsburgh City Parks update

I had not looked at my Google Parks file I had created for Google Maps in awhile. If you remember, back earlier in the year, I had a post on the parks that I had digitized from the city parks website. Looking back a couple days ago I noted over 1200 views in that time, with little to no public mention of the parks. So with this new evidence, I took the time to update the file and re-edit the actual park locations, as well as clean it up a bit.

I then decided to contact the City Parks and Rec Department to see if they might be interested in putting a link to this file on the website.

Long story short, I now have my map linked from the main page of the parks section of the cities parks and rec website!

check out the map link Here
the Parks and Rec website Here
the previous post on the map Here

Friday, August 6, 2010

Update on Share The Road Survey

We (being Rockingham Planning Commission) just announced our public meeting dates where cyclists and drivers in the Seacoast and Rockingham county can come and work with RPC staff (and me) to provide mapped and detailed problem spots for potential Share the Road signs. These meetings are happening in Exeter, Portsmouth, and Windham. Please see the flyer for more details

Also we have a flyer(as mentioned) that we put together which gives information on accessing the survey as well as a brief overview and information on meeting times and places.

If you know any cyclists in Southern NH or have visited here to bicycle in the past or drive through this area and have come across cyclists where the road is very dangerous.
Please let them know about our survey or send them to the RPC home page, Here.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

RPC Survey Launch

On Thursday we launched the survey I had been working on that is looking to identify problem spots on the seacoast NH road network. If there is a narrow shoulder that is following the road up a hill and into a turn that is a problem spot as sight lines are very limited and in this case would be a prime example for a "Share the Road" sign.

Now I am a partial subscriber to the dutch idea (and many others) that believe signs are not really needed and that if you take away all signs drivers will be much more cautious and thus safer. That is hard in the US due to many reasons but none the less I do feel that way. In particular "Share the Road" signs in many areas are not effective to raise awareness, and I agree with that, but in this case we are using them in a limited fashion to mark extreme hazard points so hopefully all users will act a bit more cautiously in these areas.

If you live in the Seacoast, or cycle through here and know of problem spots or areas that a "Share the Road" sign might be useful please go ahead and fill out the survey and input your information. It is greatly appreciated.

Hello Southeast NH Cyclists,

With a growing number of people riding bicycles for commuting, exercise, or just for fun and fresh air, the need for safe, respectful sharing of the road by cyclists, pedestrians and motorists is greater than ever.

Share the Road signs are one tool for promoting this message. They are used to mark particular hazard areas on our road networks: places where the shoulder narrows abruptly, blind corners, or narrow bridges. Places where cyclists and motorists both need to use extra caution.

The Rockingham Planning Commission is working to identify significant hazard spots on the region’s roadways, and particularly on designated State Bicycle Routes, where Share the Road signs could be installed to improve safety for cyclists and other road users. The RPC region includes 27 towns in southeastern New Hampshire, extending from the Seacoast westward to Salem and Windham in the I-93 corridor.

We're asking for your help to identify hazard spots that you've encountered while riding or driving. You can provide input in either of two ways:

1) On-line Survey - Fill out the Survey linked below, where you can describe hazard areas as well as pinpoint them on an online map
Please respond by August 20th

2) Public Meetings - Come to one of three Public Meetings we'll be holding around the region in August. The dates and locations for these are listed below.

· Thursday, August 12th, 7:00-8:30pm at the Rockingham Planning Commission Offices, 156 Water Street, Exeter

· Monday, August 16th, 7:00-8:30pm at Portsmouth Public Library, 175 Parrott Avenue, Portsmouth (Directions)

· Tuesday, August 17th, 7:00-8:30pm, Nesmith Library, 8 Fellows Road in Windham (Directions)

If you have questions on the project, please feel free to contact the RPC at 778-0885 or

Thanks for your help!

John Pelletier, RPC Transportation Planning Intern

Scott Bogle, RPC Senior Transportation Planner


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

From, The Urbanophile on outsiders in a community

I was going through my draft posts the other day and came upon this article from April from The Urbanophile. The premise of the article is that outsiders, e.g. non-natives to a region or city, are key to that city surviving economic problems or other calamities. They help in driving the city toward positive change and make it better for everybody to live in. The conclusion was based on data from corporate problem solving studies that show that a group working independently on a problem will solve the problem slower, or not at all than a group where outside individuals are brought in part way through the process.

So extrapolated out, migration is key to societies survival as a whole and specifically in cities where outsiders can bring a new prospective to what is valuable in a community, what needs to be encouraged, and what needs to change.

It can be hard to understand where these "outsiders" are coming from but if we learn to embrace other migrants to our communities, we might just be able to overcome the looming problems over the next 100 years.

Check out the article at, The Urbanophile.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A review of the Yuba Mundo V3 cargo bike by EcoVelo

EcoVelo has a review of the new Yuba Mundo extended frame cargo bike. This is a beast of a bike, able to carry 440+ pounds plus rider in a highly configurable state. I recommend you check out the review and the gorgeous pictures over at EcoVelo. If you need a cargo bike I am pretty sure this is the best you are going to get factory built.

check it out here, EcoVelo

Canada on high-speed rail from NYC to Montreal

This is an article from the National Post on the Canadian take on high-speed rail from New York City up to Montreal. Plattsburgh features in it as one of the largest communities north of the capital district that would be on a direct line north, and there may be local support for such a project. It would still be problematic; the ADK Park would pose so many problems that it might be easier to divert the line through Burlington and up the Vermont coast. But getting high speed from Plattsburgh North and from Saratoga South as well as improving rail and signaling in the park could still make it viable and at least on par with a car trip if not preferable to flying.

Take a read over at the National Post

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Streetfilms comes to Boston!

Streetfilms | NACTO’s “Cities for Cycling”

Streetfilms visits Boston for the Cities for Cycling event. I did know about it through my work for MassBike but I was unable to attend due to some reason or another. I was really glad that they came though and that Boston is part of the network of cities across the country. Too often Portland and NYC get the lime light in regards to cycling, but Boston has made drastic improvements over the past few years, the work MassBike has done alone is huge, from encouraging commuter rail trails, to working to get bikes on the T and commuter rails, to working on bus policy to state urban speed limits, to road widths. It is not glamorous all the time but we are doing the work and things are changing.

Please click through to the "Cities for Cycling" website to read more about who they are, which cities have joined, and what they are doing to improve cycling in the US

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New work and ongoing thoughts

Thanks to Tom Cochrane via Flickr

I am starting on my second working internship this summer with the Rockingham Planning Commission in Exeter, NH. This I am actually paid to do which is very very nice. My main project is working on designing implementing, logging and then fieldwork verifying locations for strategic share the road signs at problem spots around southern NH.

We will be implementing an online question survey for people to put in locations and problems as well as an option to plot the points live on a Google maps page. The goal is to give people as many options as possible to report problem areas. In August, we will also be doing a series of three live workshops where people can come and update problem spots live.

Once we start having some data filled out we are going to merge the maps into one layer file which will overlap the problem spots and create areas which (in theory) have a greater risk to more cyclists.

Once areas have been located I will be going out into the field with data sheets and a camera and take note of these locations for a final report to give to the state DOT for best areas for share the road signs.

Now true this is not an ideal option, share the road signs are very very limited and data about their effectiveness seems be inconclusive as far as I know.
But in this instance where there are only a handful of signs in the region and only 2 that I know about, perhaps some benefit can come of this, if only to let cyclists know about areas that are potential problem points.

I do hope this can help the current situation in some way. The roads are narrow, corners are tight, as well as speed being relatively high on many seacoast roads, it is dangerous for all but the most experienced riders.

We must never loose sight that these are only interim measures, share the road signs, sharrows, and bike lanes as means to provide safety, education, and connectivity about and for cyclists are very limited if successful at all. To provide for all cyclists and if we wish to encourage cycling as a true form of transportation and not just recreation, we must have separated infrastructure.

Now we do not need it everywhere, neighborhoods of 20mph can be safely shared spaces but when applied correctly and in their right context separated is the only proven way to get people to choose the bicycle for a majority of their trips.

The Netherlands (and Denmark) are really the only places that have a sustained level of cyclist mode share. We can do it too, but it starts by making everybody more aware of cyclists every day, and that I hope can start with increased pinpointed signage, at least the theory of it can.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Separated Facilities from EcoVelo and Slate

Tom Vanderbilt on Separated Facilities

From the folks over at EcoVelo and then onto the article from Slate. A simple concise pointer on why we need separated infrastructure if we truly want to see cycling as transportation in the US.

Also check out Tom's blog, How We Drive for more on this an other topics. Also check out his great book called "Traffic" most book stores should have it and your library might too!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

New lanes in DC, now if only we had some better representation...

Thanks to for the picture
These lanes have caused a bit of controversy, check out WashCycle for more info on the process, maybe they are worse than the version 1.0 but they are there none the less and should significantly help. There may be an issue with pedestrians at crossing, especially at night, hopefully the problem will be solved before any major harm is done.

These buffered bike lanes are right down Pennsylvania Ave. in DC, hopefully if the bike share is up and running by the time I get to go back down, I can start doing some trips using the infrastructure, and taking pictures. (not deleting my memory card this time!!!)

Ray LaHood was there as part of the ribbon cutting and to show his support for these projects, which is always great!

check out his blog on the installation here and the WashCycle coverage here. There is a video on both posts as well

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

To Nantucket I go

Yep, I will be on an island for the next 3 ish days. I have a bunch of posts that are backing up here, seriously, you should see the draft page. I will be putting them in order shortly and getting them out, sorry for slacking so much, but my laptop is not on as much, and I am busy a lot with either garden work or MassBike work.

anyway I shall try not to neglect for too much more :)

have a good day and look for some infrastructure posts from the island very soon!

Monday, June 7, 2010

One Pot Pledge

Thanks to USDAgov photostream on flickr.

This is something I found a little while back and thought intriguing, its the One Pot Pledge. Its from the UK (if pot didn't give it away) with the goal of encouraging people to grow their own food who have never grown food before. It is also a way for experienced gardeners to help as well as generally interested people to show support for the campaign.

The campaign is run by Garden Organic, a UK charity.

This is specifically for the UK folks who read, however the idea is something that we can take over here and make work, although more likely on a local or regional scale. Whether it is is a vegetable pot on the windowsill, flowers outside your front door, or a full garden in the backyard, we can all do our part.

I felt the need to share!


People for Bikes

Image from MorBCN via flickr

If you have not signed up for the People for Bikes campaign I highly recommend that you do, they just held a give-away last month of 3 new bikes for anybody who has signed up or signed up during the month of May.

I signed up a couple months back, and this blog is part of the network.

From the website: is dedicated to channeling that passion to improve the future of bicycling. Our goal is to gather a million names of support, to speak with one, powerful voice—to make bicycling safer, more convenient and appealing for everyone.

Simply put, we believe that life is far more enjoyable when it’s experienced on two wheels. We believe that by coming together, we can make our world a better place to ride

We are all people for bikes, will you join me?

This is an initiative from Bikes Belong

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The joys of a new kickstand

A picture of it on the bike will be forthcoming.

Well I had my bike in the shop the other day, mainly to make sure the squeek coming from my bottom bracket was not a problem, they tightened it and looked over and found no problems, which was good. I also had them instal a nice new kickstand because I was tired of the bike falling over the moment I put any weight in it really.

The Breezer uptown 8 is a wonderful bike and I have no faults with it except for the kickstand. For a bike like this it really should have come with something better than a one sided small stand, which held the bike fine but the moment I start loading the back down, would fall over.

It is with great relef that I welcome the Pletscher Double Kickstand into the family. This is a nifty kickstand in that it has two legs but folds up to one side out of the way.

In its current form I need to saw a couple inches off of it because it is lifting my front tire about a food in the air when deployed. However, even with that, it is stable like no other.

This is a stand built for people doing heavy loads and awkward weights. The Breezer has a wonderful kickstand plate so mounting was super easy for the guys at the shop. The only qualm is the price on it, running $58 from my bike shop, the link for the online shop recommended by EcoVelo would run 55$ with shipping so not to much in savings from buying online.

I don't mind keeping the money local.

It is swiss built though and the quality is top notch. After I cut a bit off and lower it to a more reasonable level it will be absolutely perfect!

Here is the link to the EcoVelo mention of the kickstand, EcoVelo: Kickstand Love

Monday, May 31, 2010

The New Face Of BP. From

This is from the great folks of and I loved it, figured I would share.

so true...
the original post can be found Here

Sunday, May 30, 2010

From Streetsblog: The Persistence of Bike Salmon

image from streetsblog via Salim Virji from flickr. The Persistence of Bike Salmon

This is a old post from about a month and a half ago, but got me started on my sidewalk cyclist post, as well as mention the sidewalk salmon in a "bikes seen today" post.

It is something that I have thought and read a great deal on, why do we have "wrong way" cyclists.

I have read in a couple places some thoughts that make sense, many are from David Hembrow, many are from Streetsblog and many others are from the depths of cyber space.

In this country the age when you ride your bike dictates the rules you must follow. It starts out with the training wheels on the sidewalk, and then it progresses to regular low speed (although some kids go pretty fast!) cycling on the sidewalk. At a certain age it moves to cycling against traffic, especially in neighborhoods that have no sidewalks. The example is they are acting like pedestrians and feel that this is the safer method, so the cyclist can make sure the car has seen them. I understand why this is encouraged, especially with kids; bikes in the US do not have mirrors included with them. And many are bought at big box stores that do not sell these accessories, and parents who are not clear on the rules themselves, feel that this is safe (or safest) for their child. Finally you must ride in the same direction as cars once an adult, and must act like a car in all you do.

For many people that are starting to enjoy riding again, they last rode a bike when they were a kid, they might be from a generation where 16 meant a car and freedom; the bike was quickly forgotten. When somebody who has not ridden a bike in many years, picks one up today, they revert back (typically) to the last time the rode and the rules that were in effect then, as well as how safe they felt riding a certain way. This typically means riding either on the sidewalk or against traffic, or both.

This is the problem.

In the Netherlands, children do not have training wheels, they learn to balance on scooter type things with two wheels a seat and no pedals, once they learn how to balance which can be achieved in one day with enough dedication, they graduate to regular bikes, sized for them.

As David Hembrow has shown, children's bikes have racks, fenders, lights and breaks just like their parent's bikes. They also have the safe separated infrastructure to ride on and are taught in school to ride like a cyclist. They are not told how to ride like a car or ride like a pedestrian, they are a bicyclist and are neither of the above. So even if they turn 16 and forget the bike for a while with a new car, when they choose to go back, they ride the exact same way they learned as a child, which is safe, efficient, and easy.

It is because of the infrastructure though; we have either sidewalks or roadways here in the US. Cyclists get nothing (really in the vast majority of communities). We have to choose to ride like a car, or like a pedestrian. It feels safer to be a pedestrian on the sidewalk and so many people ride there. David has talked in depth about the ideas of subjective safety; his posts on the topic are worth a read.

However some studies have shown that even with limited on road bike lanes and what would be considered the least effective (and sometimes dangerous) cycling infrastructure in The Netherlands, that rates of wrong way cycling as well as sidewalk cycling are reduced by over 50%.

Bike salmon are a consequence of infrastructure that does not serve a cyclist and only serves pedestrians (not always bad thing) or cars. This is the case with sidewalk riding as well.

I am a firm believer that if you provide true separated infrastructure, away from fast moving traffic on roads over 25mph, roads faster than 40mph create more of a separation and provide under or overpasses at busy junctions, make zones that are 20mph or less have bicycle priority, provide for safe interactions at intersections via roundabouts or bike only lights, and make safe secure staple racks available at any destination and place of business, that the US can achieve the 30%+ bicycle mode share that many cities in Europe, and especially Denmark and The Netherlands have achieved by providing for their cyclists.

Bike salmon will be an endangered or extinct species, if we manage to achieve the goal of true equality on our streets.

We know what needs to happen; doing anything less is tantamount to lip service, and pandering, and in many cases can be more dangerous than nothing at all. It is never too late to start doing it right.

For further reading I encourage a look back through the wayback machine over at David's blog, its a treasure trove for anybody that wants to see how it could be done right.

Squeeky Clean

Friday was a good day outside, it was about 70 or so and a light breeze. After working in the backyard with my dad to pull up some older high bush cranberry bushes that had outlived their welcome, I decided it was a good time to break out the car-wash equipment and wash and scrub the bike. It had not had a good wash since I started riding it back in early March due to the lack of supplies I had with me in Plattsburgh. I also did not want to buy new supplies to wash it, nor hassle with figuring out how to hook up the hose to the house.

Anyway, it went very well! I was able to scrub it all down and especially the tires and rims, which had built up brake-dust on them. I guess that’s one of the many benefits of disk brakes, no break dust...

It took a couple scrubbing passes and light rinsing with the hose to get everything but unlike most bikes, I didn't have to grease anything, because everything is enclosed and resistant to the elements (or my washing) so little to no grease was lost which meant it was pretty much dirt and brake dust running down the driveway.

One of the myriad of benefits to a traditional European style bike, the fact that everything is enclosed from rain and dirt, not only prolongs the life of gears, chains and cables, it minimizes the need for repairs, prevents grease from getting on pants or shoes, allows riding all year long, and finally allows the bike to be cleaned and scrubbed down without dumping grease into the drain, worrying about getting water in places that might cause harm, or destroying any cloth that is being used to clean the bike.

Some people I feel may think it silly to carefully clean a bicycle, its suppose to be dirty anyway right? But I feel that if you have a good bike, something that does a wonderful job getting you around and carrying everything you need, that that bike should be taken care of and that includes regular washing and inspections to make sure everything is working properly.

I took some pictures and they will be up as soon as I dump them from my camera.

Enjoy the weekend everybody and try to get out on a bike! Its loads of fun!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Welcome to MassBike

Today I started my first internship with MassBike right in downtown Boston. I will post links and other useful information as they come up. I will also talk about, where able, the various projects I am working on.

I will also be doing blog and press updates for the MassBike website.

for now, I hope you have had a great bike to work week, and enjoy the rest of bike month!.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The end of Bike to Work Week.

Well it has been another bike to work week, today is bike to work day. It’s hard to tell if there was much of a change here in Plattsburgh. I am rarely on the roads when commuters would be going or coming home from work, so I can’t tell too much.

However in the short time I was on the roads yesterday, I saw maybe 12 cyclists out, and only 3 of which were on the sidewalk when observed, but only 2 were in normal clothes and not suited up.

Saw one gentleman riding north on 9, he must have been very tall, he had very long legs and the frame of his bike was huge! I seriously thought it might have been a double frame bike from a distance, but nope, it was just a really really big frame, he fit it though so more power to him!

Was at the Co-Op on Wednesday meeting a good friend named Jon to make some butter (Jon bakes bread). I arrive in my usual way, but I do have quite a bit of baggage, and I have loads of bells and whistles (well really only one bell) so I guess I can look kinda impressive...

Anyway a nice older woman outside on her classic 3 speed Raleigh, mistook me for an officer in training... I must say I take that as a compliment. While I have no intention to go into law enforcement at that level, if there are some out there that see me as possibly and officer in training, then good, maybe they will give me a bit more room on the road...

She was having a problem with her bike though, the breaks were not working well on the back and she had already gone over the front trying to stop a day or so earlier. It turns out she was riding it and trying to get it ready for her granddaughter to use at the university in the fall. I commented on how wonderful of a bike it was and that with a bit of love it could be made into an object of desire, and to be sure to get a good lock for it.

I opened up the handy tool case (e.g. the mess of tools in my bike bag) and gave a whirl at tightening the break pads. I quickly came to the understanding that the pads were very hardened and would not be useful in stopping in any form. They seemed like they original and probably should be replaced. I recommended that she head over to Mountain Riders and have then take a look at it, She did not know where they were so I pointed her around the corner, after all they are really close to the Co-Op.

I saw her again a little later, she was so very happy, they had filed down the breaks she had to get to non cracked rubber, and oiled up her shifters.

This is the third person I have directly helped in terms of breaks, gears, or seat fitting. I helped the bicycle of a forth, unknown person earlier in the semester. The chain was un-oiled and was rusting away, I had a few minutes so took the opportunity and oiled it right up.

Never underestimate what a bit of oil, or grease, can do for your bike. I use a corn based biodegradable oil, which works very nicely :)

For god's sake though, don’t oil your bike with WD-40!! It wont work and might make it worse!

Happy bike to work day, enjoy your commute :)

I will be back and active on here in short order, I might also be talking up my own on going projects through the internships I have, providing they agree to that.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cyclists seen today, including the elusive sidewalk salmon!

Thanks to we4farm14 via flickr for these Salmon!

Its exam week, give me a break!

cyclists seen today (not on university property)
All cyclists observed today were in the afternoon while I was on the road from 1:40 to 1:50 pm and from 6:20 to 7:00 pm.

total 16 (not including me)
6 road cyclists (only 2 were practicing vehicular ways when observed)
1 was a salmon cyclist(maybe even a salmon sidewalk cyclist!) shortly before becoming a road cyclist
1 couple on bikes, not being gutter bunnies at point of observation
2 different cyclists who were riding as gutter bunnies when observed
1 cyclist who was a gutter bunny as I talked/passed him, he then became a separated trail cyclist when reaching the city beach area.

5 sidewalk cyclists
4 salmon sidewalk cyclist. they are defined as sidewalk riding on the side of the road where the closest traffic is moving opposite to them.
1 normal sidewalk cyclist

5 bmx bikers
all 5 were at the local bmx/skate board park at one of the elementary schools.

of note only 2 cyclists were female, one in the mentioned couple, and one sidewalk salmon cyclist. There are maybe a handful of female cyclists in the Plattsburgh area, and even fewer that actually ride on the road properly. This of course does not include university or school students.

There was a west wind today, that was a bit southish coming in and then kind of northish going home. still made good time, I was just blown about quite a bit.

I Received one internship so far. I will be working as an unpaid(yeah yeah) intern with the non profit advocacy group, MassBike out of Boston, Massachusetts. There will be a combination of commuting via Amtrak's Downeaster, possibly staying with friends in Somerville (their intern position was full until September, booo) , or staying with my wonderful girlfriend just outside of Worcester.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Plattsburgh Parks

I have taken the data from the Parks and Recreation website on the city parks as well as the facilities at each park and put them together in a basic google map showing location and amenities. I am in the process of adding non official parks and relaxation areas that are not included. If you are from Plattsburgh and are reading this and would like to be involved in the editing process or in adding to the map please let me know so I can add you as a collaborator. The map is not public yet, but I plan for it to be soon.

To take a look at ""'s map of public spaces please click Here. There are a few parks, but this map includes other public places in the North Country and not just in the city.

See if your city has done this already, or if it just has an address listing on some hidden corner of the city website. Larger cities can have so many parks that many people do not know about them.

Anybody can create a basic public spaces map and Google makes it real easy. Do you know where your public spaces are?

Hey, its National Bike Month!

Imagine that!

Well I do it every day, in a community pretty hostile to bikes in its current form, but it can be done safety and without harm with a little dedication and some common sense anywhere in America....

Anyway, I will be back and posting soon, its nearing finals and trying to finish everything up and get things in is killing my energy to write or post. I have a bunch of posts built up so hopefully I can start working them out...

In the mean time I give you this.

Does your place of work currently offer the 20$/month subsidy for commuting primarily by bike? If not it should!

It costs your company or organization nothing and in fact can reduce health costs as the workforce is happier, healthier, and more productive, after cycling to and from work than otherwise.

So for Bike-To-Work month, how about approaching your organization and asking about getting involved with the federal stipend!

hey 20$ is 20$!

please see this website for more info and and steps to facilitate the program.
League of American Bicyclists

Thursday, April 29, 2010

This is a website and petition to ask Obama to support solar power on the White House. A solar company, Sungevity has actually offered an almost 18kw system for the White House, free of charge!

This is a win win for sure.
Only this time, make sure to weld them on so a future president cant take them off as easily...

Head on over to the site and sign the petition!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Streetfilms | Tom Vanderbilt Talks “Traffic”

Streetfilms | Tom Vanderbilt Talks “Traffic”

I am currently reading "Traffic" and enjoying it quite a bit, although unfortunately I seem to have left it about a month ago on a 7hr Greyhound bus ride from NYC after visiting my wonderful girlfriend in Spain.. BAH!! I need to buy another copy when at home I guess :P siiighhh

It is a wonderful read and I highly recommend it to anybody even remotely interested in traffic or human societies. Just head on down to your local book store and ask if they can get "Traffic", I bet you they might even have it in stock, its been very popular.

enjoy the film!!

Snow... seriously???

Right, the pictures are yesterday morning before riding in and then last evening when I got home.

It snowed all day, about half an inch on the grass. Yes it is April, I had to check to make sure...

As the temperature was around 40 it was very very wet snow, which meant that unlike the typical dry snow we get, I was soaked by the time I got in this morning, and really soaked coming home.

Did I mention the wind was from the North West at a sustained ~10 mph? Oh and also that it was gusting to near 20mph? yeaahhh good times. Hence why I was royally soaked coming home.

I am ready for spring, Plattsburgh. Annyyyy time now...

should be 75 by the weekend...


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hey you, get off of that sidewalk!

Image thanks to OberWiki, from Oberlin, Ohio.

I was riding home yesterday, after about 40 minutes of excellent conversation with a cyclist member of the board of my local Co-Op. I was showing him my new bike and the features and we were discussing riding habits, how and where a lane could and should be taken, safety and so forth. We parted ways and as it was dusk, I had my full complement of lights flashing away, making me quite similar to a bloody Christmas tree!

I round the corner by the new bike shop and what is technically State Route 9. There is a man, maybe later 20's, I don't think a college student, and anyway he is riding along quite quickly on the sidewalk. Now I hate sidewalk riders and I do try to comment every time I come across one, if it’s logical for me to do so. He also had no lights...

I said, Dude, you shouldn't ride on the sidewalk. Simple too the point, however I could have said something like, dude its safer for you to ride in the road. I thought about this later due to the response.

Oh yeah he was wearing headphones, but heard me...

"Shut the fu*k up, as*hole"
I of course was in no mood to explain the subtleties of subjective vs. actual safety of riding on a sidewalk as opposed to the road. Especially in the situation where he had no lights or other reflective equipment, was wearing dark clothing after sunset, was clearly in a foul mood, and seemingly not interested in talking points.

I kept riding along, thinking that most likely this guy was the type to own a large truck and would normally be passing me within inches going 40 and screaming to get the fu*k off the road. I bet he got a DWI in that truck of his....

Nonetheless, I am out on the 4 laned 35mph (ha, more like 45) section of 9 past the Georgia Pacific plant heading toward Cumberland Head, when I see two more cyclists on the sidewalk.

(note I estimate 1/2 to 2/3rds of cyclists in Plattsburgh are on the sidewalk, for a majority of their ride)

I decided a slightly different tact was needed in this case, they were two young women, maybe freshman in college age or seniors in high school. What made them stand out was the one at the back had a freaking bright light (I saw later that the one in the front had a very strong headlight... I hope they planed that...)

My comment was, "thanks for having nice lights!" and gave a thumbs up :)

My response was, "hey thanks man, sure" with a smile.

I continued on, smiling :)

Now I understand subtleties, and do use them, but is it this simple?
I know in many cases using encouragement or complements can get you further than criticism, but I actually do best with criticism, knowing what I am doing right is great, but knowing what I am doing wrong is so much better, and much more useful to me. Was it the age and social difference between the high school girls, and a late 20's man, that caused the responses? Or was it my tone of voice and positive vs. critical reinforcement...

I have a feeling if I said "dude its safer in the road with me" to the guy I still would have been sworn at, he was not a happy cyclist, hence my thinking he got a DWI and license suspension.

I try to be a showcase for proper cyclist behavior, for motorists, and cyclists alike, but I do understand riding with cars going 45+ past you is not comfortable for many. Nor is taking the lane on this stretch to increase safety on a personal level, comfortable either.

In a way, it does feel safer on the sidewalk. There is the tendency to think of yourself as a pedestrian with wheels, after all that is how we are taught to think at an early age. The true risks of this behavior are not apparent to many motorists or cyclists. I understand why they are riding on the sidewalk, I do, but I also know that they are not dealing with complete information and I feel a duty almost to give them a different way of doing things, and better information.

The ~50% of the population that would ride if they felt safer needs separated infrastructure. 10% will feel safer with bike lanes and 1% like me will ride no matter what is provided. (Data from Albany bike master plan (yep its a pdf), mentioned in previous post)

I know I can’t stop cyclists from riding on the sidewalk through the city and out in the rural routs, but perhaps if I focus on positive reinforcement of proper actions. "Dude its safer in the road with me" "hey, I almost didn't see you because I think you have a light out" I will be able to make some small change in the perception of cycling...

Making fully separated infrastructure, using bike sharrows, blocking off streets for motorists and making counter flow bike lanes is what will really bring cyclists to the roads though, only by doing that will you start to get the cyclists off the sidewalks of America.

Thanks to Olivia for mentioning the sidewalk riding in her comment from a couple posts back. I will talk about the theft rates that she seems to be seeing in a city with lots of bicycles, later too

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Capital Coexist

Thanks to for the image

I came across this from a map link on People For Bikes, and initiative from Bikes Belong advocacy group. As a side note, please sign the petition on their website, if you believe, as I do, that bikes belong here in the US and deserve to be treated with respect in all decisions.

This new advocacy group went live on April 1st and is based in the Albany-Schenectady capital district of New York State, it is called Capital Coexist. It has developed out of the Albany bike master plan (caution large pdf!) and is designed to be a resource for best practices, education of cyclists and motorists, safety, advocacy, events coordination, and project links and connections across the state.

I did a brief read through of some of their safety bits, and I have to say, I am impressed. There is only one mention of helmets, and it is the NHTSA fitting guidelines. There is nothing about you must wear a helmet or anything, and its quite refreshing. For reference I always wear a helmet on roadways and when going at speeds of 13mph+. For off road paths I do not wear a helmet and feel no need to as I am perfectly safe, I do always wear riding gloves though, on or off road, I am more likely to break a fall with my hands if I have them on and know my hands will not get all bloody.

Let me quote some of the specifics on safety that the website advocates, both for motorists and cyclists:

For motorists,
  • Always expect to encounter bicyclists on the road, on all types of roads and in all types of weather.
  • Expect bicyclists to be riding out in the travel lane for their own safety due to narrow roads, obstacles or broken pavement.
  • When passing, allow 3 feet of clearance between your car and the bicyclist.
  • Look for cyclists when changing lanes, turning, opening car doors, and pulling out of parking spaces.
For cyclists,
  • Ride predictably, without weaving
  • Avoid provoking motorists regardless of who is at fault; antagonizing motorists can result in dangerous and aggressive driving.
  • Give adequate distance between you and parked cars to avoid doors that may open unexpectedly.
  • When the road is too narrow for a car to pass safely in your lane, take the lane to avoid being hit by a motorist.

While it is not perfect in some of what it says, its not the fault of this group, its the fault of the laws, preventing riding in more than single file, better turning options etc, treating cyclists as vehicles, instead of their own form of transportation (which should include roller-blades, skateboards, etc.)

I was just surprised and very impressed with what they did talk about on here so far. The website is still being designed and is not complete yet, but this should prove to be a valuable resource for many communities across NYS as well as the country.

check it out at

Saturday, April 24, 2010

75 miles, end of the week

Well I logged 75 miles this week, which, for me, is not all that unusual really. Counting the days I missed for weather, my miles this semester are about 940, with 3 weeks to go yet! Five weeks or about 400 of those miles have been on the new bike, and the remainder of the semester will have miles put on the Breezer as well.

I went in today to the Co-Op for a cookie, tea, poetry, musing time and it was nice! I got the mirror for the bike as well. It finally came into the new bike shop in town, a bit pricier and a bit different that what I typically have, but its well built and not made in china (Taiwan) at least. It’s a narrow mirror, rather than the full round one I am use to, but I like it and I think it will work wonderfully for me!

Packing about 35$ worth of food into the bike and headed home. Decided to stop into Elfs Cider mill (makes wonderful apple cider in the fall), as he had just opened back up with gifts, jelly and his wines. The guys had just finished putting a permanent outside portion to the farmhouse, for tasting and eating. Using many reclaimed products from RE-Source, Burlington as well as from auctions in the Plattsburgh area. He is also putting in a poly high tunnel for early grapes as well as making a natural pond with eating area and gazebo, and planting fruit trees, peach and cherry, mainly. He is also interested in getting a northern variety of Goji berry, but maybe not for this season.

It is really good to see local farms reinvesting and trying new things, and it certainly makes the 3acre farm look a whole lot better!

Stay tuned for some pictures of Cranberry Double Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies; I feel the baking urge tonight!

Elf’s mill from the Google street view (yes the picture quality is poor, its like that all over the North Country, there was something wrong with the camera when they took the pictures...)

View Larger Map

The Sounds of Silence

No, this is not flashback time at the blog (at least not for me). However it is a bit of a departure from my usual topics...

I was talking with my tech boss earlier today, and he mentioned a show he heard on North Country Public Radio on Thursday that was about recording silence in the US. After a little searching and figuring out he heard it just before lunch, we would the show from WBUR's OnPoint.

Gordon Hempton was being featured, and his work with recording silence where he could find it across the US. He has a book as well, which documents his Washington-to-Washington trip, called "One Square Inch of Silence". Linked to, you can find both his book and CD's there, but please buy locally if you can.

He is what is know as an Audio Ecologist and specializes not in pure silence per say, but natural silence. Now there is no such thing as true natural silence, but in his definition, it means at least 15 minutes of time spent without hearing a human made sound. It is becoming harder and harder to find these places now, as we develop, and communicate, sound is everywhere, many of us can not experience what true quiet is any more.

I remember my time spent in Vermont last summer, we were out camping in the acres owned by the Putney School, 250+ of them. This is in southern Vermont, so it’s not like the great north woods or anything, but the nights were so wonderful. Especially as we were out camping in them for three nights. The peace that was there, even in this environment where if you tried hard, you could hear the highway, or the motorcycle, or dogs barking in response to the howling coyotes. It was relaxing and almost instantly calming for me. It is very similar to my ride home at night from school; the rural 2 miles of my ride are pretty quiet compared to when I am usually coming in, for my morning class. I maybe have 1 to 3 cars pass me in this time, and the only sounds are the peepers, a rustling of the deer about to bound across the road and the dull rumble of trucks on the Northway, which is less than a mile from my route home.

Silence creates a memory for me, just as sounds of certain things do. Hearing loons, I instantly return to my time at Methodist summer camp in northern NH, sitting on the lake at night, listening to the call, enjoying the peace. When I hear small planes flying overhead I think of home, and of summer, days spent picking blueberries in the backyard, or working the garden. When I hear peepers it brings back memories of springtime, when I hear birds calling at night, I remember my time in the UK and birds chirping away at four in the morning.

Sounds are like smells, and natural silence is that smell that makes you smile, sigh, laugh, and lifts your spirits.

We all need more silence in our lives, and if we are not careful, we will loose what little silence there is left in this country.

I do enjoy urban noises just as much sometimes though, what really makes me happy is cyclists riding along, talking, the ringing of bike bells, the squeak of breaks, the clack of chains on guards, the peace that many in Europe cycle with, yet I think take for granted.

Listen to the world around you that is my thought for earth week, stop, listen, enjoy, and protect.

Natural Silence - OnPoint
NPR Media Player: OnPoint 4/22/10 (caution, may open a new window, audio will start right away)

This is a Video of Mr. Hempton, is his natural environment, enjoy

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New bags (well new use for old bags)

Jim sent me some new bike bags the other day. Well new for me, very used for him. He got a new pair so had these sitting around. My Breezer does not have the Topeak track rack system so I was stuck with the improvised tied inner tubes holding the bag on. Now though I can put my backpack (and 15lb computer) in one side pouch, any books or stuff in the other and still have the ability to carry my Topeak bag on top locked in with 2 half's of a inner-tube. Its quite the setup for sure and makes me look like I am a long distance traveler I think, but none the less. It gets weight off my back, which makes things even nicer for the ride in and home. It allows my construction chic vest to be more visible at night and really anchors that rear wheel on the bike.

Overall, very much a win, and I get to reuse a product, and put it to good use.

There will be pictures of my new bike in the wild soon, and also with the current bag configuration.

Hit 31mph on a bit of downhill stretch with a nice tailwind coming in this morning.

I have about nine posts in draft mode that are waiting to be finished and posted. They will happen soon, but this week is a bit crazy, as it’s nearing the end of the term.

If you need a distraction, check out Ecovelo. He put up an article on crank lengths, which truth be told, I had not even thought about. Even provides a nifty little calculator to determine what your ideal crank length should be.

Denver also launched their bike share scheme thorough B-Cycle today, with 500 bikes.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

An older video from CommuteOrlando.

This is from April of this year, and I marked it because it is something quite basic that I deal with every day in Plattsburgh, and in many communities it is the norm for many cyclists. Even in NYC it is a significant problem. Riding the wrong way down a two way street, and exiting from an intersection in a unpredictable way. What makes it worse is doing it at night with no lights or badly positioned reflectors...(which thankfully did not happen here)


We change it by giving cyclists a known environment, where they are safe by design. Yes it can be changed maybe with education, but many that do this type of riding are poorer and disfranchised, and much harder to reach with "classes" or education (short of ticketing the hell out of them). Will infrastructure solve it overnight, nope, but it will get more people on bikes, and thus the percent of cyclists that ride the wrong way, or erratically, will go down such that it is an oddity, and not the norm. Then when new and inexperienced people new to using a bicycle, start to use one, they can see where the majority ride, and follow that. We need longer term solutions to these problems, it won't be solved overnight, and sometimes it won't be solved at all.

Take a quick watch of the video on CommuteOrlando, Here

(disclaimer: normally I am not much of a fan of the solutions and ideas posted on this blog, I feel it focuses too much on vehicular cycling, and less on what is needed to bring more people onto a bicycle, however they do have some good posts and things to think on.)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Change Your Life. Ride A Bike!: thursday thoughts: de colores...

Thanks to calitexican from Flickr for the image

Change Your Life. Ride A Bike!: thursday thoughts: de colores...

I came across this example of a U-lock cozie and though it so very wonderful. As I am still quite a novice at knitting and need my wonderful girlfriend to teach me something more advanced than knitting in a single line, I dont know if I can attempt this yet (I know I need new needles too).

That being said though, I really want to do this, and what would be more exciting would be to make some type of knit covering for other parts of the bike too, button or Velcro them on...

getting ahead of my self again though ;)