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Friday, November 24, 2006

Folding Bike Videos

The other day, I was asked if there were videos online demonstrating how to fold or unfold a Montague folding bike. Since I wasn't aware of one, I created a video to show the folding method for all Montague's full size folding mountain bikes. While I was at it, I decided to do the same for the Giatex series of bikes and the new, ultralite magnesium bike I'm offering for $169 (I ran out of decent light before I could demo Mobiky's folding method).

In the event that my readers would find this info useful, I decided to post the videos here first. Let me know what you think or if you'd like to see more videos.

More about the 23 lb Magnesium folding bike...

More about full size folding mountain bikes like Montague's MX or Paratrooper

More about the uni-size folding bikes from Giatex that fit the needs of almost any bicycle rider...

Larry Lagarde
Urging bicycling for recreation, commuting, health and a better future.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

17 Environmental Ambassadors Bicycle California Coastline

To draw attention to sustainable transportation and safeguarding the environment, 17 naturalists from Jean-Michel Cousteau's "Ambassadors of the Environment" (AOTE) Environmental Education program are biking from San Fransisco to San Diego along the California coast. During the journey, the bicyclists are visiting 30 schools, holding workshops and presenting photos shot during the tour.

More info...

Larry Lagarde
Urging bicycling for recreation, commuting, health and a better future.

1st Portion Of Virginia Capital Trail Opens

This July, the State of Virginia broke ground on the of the Virginia Capital Trail, a new long distance bike trail that will run 54 miles from Williamsburg and Richmond. Earlier this week, the 2.9 mile Greensprings Trail (the 1st segment of the Virginia Capital Trail) opened near Jamestown in advance of the 2007 celebration that will commerate the 400th anniversary of the settlement.

Construction of this first trail segment cost $3.2 million due to right of way acquisitions and construction of 2 wooden bridges crossing wetlands (one bridge alone was 1200' in length). When complete the paved, 10' wide trail will follow the James River and Virginia's Route 5 corridor.

Larry Lagarde
Urging bicycling for recreation, commuting, health and a better future.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Seeing L.A.'s Christmas Lights By Bike

If you've ever wanted to bicycle through the Christmas lights display in L.A.'s Griffith Park with your kids, you'll have to wait another year. The one mile long display is only open to cyclists for one night and last night was it. For Bike Night, no cars were allowed on the route. There was a family lane so parents could ride slowly with their children; another lane was reserved for "avid" cyclists.

If you are in L.A. and have a car (hmmm), you can ride through the display without fear of hitting any cyclists from today through Saturday, Dec. 30, 2006. The display is open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.


Larry Lagarde
Urging bicycling for recreation, commuting, health and a better future.

The Trails of Ventura County

Did you know that L.A.'s Ventura County has 3 connected bike trails that run from the coast East to Ojai? The Omer Rans trail runs along the coastline, the Ventura River Trail runs through the heart of Ventura, connecting with the Ojai Valley Trail and running to the center of Ojai. Portions of the trail wind along the Ventura riverbed and through woods dotted with oak trees. Here's more.

Omer Rains Trail
8 mile level, paved trail urban trail along a wide promenade on the Pacific Coastline. The trail connects the San Buenaventura State Peach with the Emma Wood State Beach, winding past sand dunes, the Ventura County Fairgrounds, Surfer's Point, shops and even under the famous Ventura Pier.

Ventura River Trail
This 6.3 mile asphalt bike & pedestrian trail follows the Southern Pacific right of way through the City of Ventura from Main Street to Foster Park.

Ojai Valley Trail
Multi-use 9.5 mile Ventura County, CA rail trail along a former Southern Pacific Railway that paralleled Highway 33 from Foster Park, on the outskirts of Ventura, to Fox Street, Ojai. A post-and-rail wood fence separates the wood-chip bridle path for horseback riders from the paved bike & pedestrian portion of the trail. Dogs are allowed on the trail only when leashed.

If you're thinking about bicycling to Ojai, the best seasons to make the ride are Fall or Spring. Bicycling to the Ojai Music Festival in early June is fine too.

Larry Lagarde
Urging bicycling for recreation, commuting, health and a better future.

2 Buffalo, NY Bike Trail Crimes Make America's Most Wanted

America's Most WantedAmerica's Most Wanted will be airing a story on Saturday, December 2nd about the unknown assailant that raped a women several years ago and murdered another several months ago on a Buffalo, NY area bike trail. Although crimes like these are rare on bike trails, the national media attention is bound to fuel debates over creating new bike trails in communities like Houston where proposed trails are already drawing fire.

By the way, if you happen to know the rapist, you can do like hundreds of others have done this week and call the hotline police have established to field tips. The number is 1-877-277-1990.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Court Order Stops San Francisco Bike Projects

Last week, for the second time in 5 months, a San Francisco Superior Court judge froze plans that would have enriched San Francisco with more bicycle lanes and bike parking as well as opened San Francisco's Municipal Railroad transit system to bicyclists.

Ruling that San Francisco's Bicycle Plan cannot be implemented without first completing a state mandated environmental impact review, Superior Court Judge Peter Busch's injunction means that bike facility improvements will not occur for at least 4 months (the minimal time to complete a study); however, environmental reviews have been known to take several years to complete.

The legal suit was filed by local groups that believed the city was falling sway to bike fanatics. Using 2000 Census figures showing that only 1% of commuters bicycle to work, the anti bike coalition argued that a small number of citizens were making the city spend millions on improvements that few people would use. Unfortunately, the anti bike group conveniently neglected other governmental studies proving the value of bicycle improvements.

While it's true that 1.1% of commuters in the San Francisco MSA over 16 years of age used bicycles as their primary means of transportation, that figure did not include kids under 16 that rode their bikes to school or anyone that used a bike to commute to a lesser degree than some other form of transportation (they only commute by bike sometimes). If these other users are taken into account, the true percentage of people that used bicycles for utilitarian purposes (like getting to work, school or for running errands) could exceed 10%. In fact, according to a study* sponsored by the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics, over 27% of the US population over the age of 16 rode a bicycle at least once during the summer of 2002. Since bicycle usage in San Francisco is higher than in most places around the country, it's reasonable to assume the actual figure for bicycle users is in excess of 30% or 1.2 million people in the San Francisco MSA.

* 2002 National Survey of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Attitudes and Behaviors

Larry Lagarde
Urging bicycling for recreation, commuting, health and a better future.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Balancing Mind & Body Requires Working Both

A lot has been written of late about the obesity epidemic gripping America due to all the time our bodies spend at rest while we stare at television, browse online, email, video game, instant messaging, etc. Frankly, I'm not immune either. All too often, I find myself seduced by the siren song of the Internet and end up putting my bicycling off for another day. I'd like to think that I'm managing a rather shaky balance between my indoor and outdoor pursuits; however, my muscle tone tells me otherwise.

My addiction to the Internet is nothing new. In fact, although I just registered today as a member of the Technorati profile, I've been online since 1993, building & maintaining websites since 1996 and blogging since Pyra launched Blogger.com pre Y2K (which is why each of my blog postings end with "posted by Web"). I suppose that means I qualify as a geezer to some but, like Dennis Hopper, this Baby Boomer isn't ready for the rocker anytime soon.

When I'm out riding bike trails and only encounter another cyclist or two, I sometimes wonder if I'm beating a dead horse. Is Humanity destined to become a feeble bodied species that relies on technologies understood only by a small few? Surely, the Internet will continue to develop, becoming even more engrossing in our lives. It's even likely that the day will come when virtual bicycling will rival being out in the open. Certainly, there are advantages to not having to worry about flat tires or getting squashed like a bug by some reckless motorist...

For the record, I for one hope that a virtual cycling experience is NEVER as good as the real thing. Spending life glued to a screen is not a life in balance. As much as we must feed our minds, so must the body be fed.

I'm going to end this post with a challenge: shut down the computer and go take a spin - even if it's around the block. A bike ride might be a calm adventure but adventure it is. Relish it.

Larry Lagarde
Urging bicycling for recreation, commuting, health and a better future.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Why Folding Bikes Are Now Becoming Popular In America

Although purchases of folding bikes have been growing rapidly in the USA over the last several years, most Americans have never seen a bike that folds. In fact, even though Californian David Hon was among the first to bring folding bikes to mass production in the late 1970's, folding bicycles are more likely to be seen on the streets of Hong Kong or London than in the USA. Surprised? Don't be.

While the oil crisis of the 1970's (click graph to enlarge) led consumers worldwide to cut their fuel consumption, in the USA, long commutes and strong oil reserves made it politically impossible to impose massive, new taxes on oil at the pump. Meanwhile, other industrialized nations with little domestic oil production (like France, Japan & Germany) were doubling the cost of gasoline and directing the taxes to enhance their mass transit and high speed rail systems, creating a demand for ways to get to train stations, subways and bus stops more quickly. Enter the folding bike.

With Americans (on the other hand) feeling less pressure to embrace mass transit, minimal public funding for mass transit systems in the USA and the long commutes due to American suburban sprawl, most Americans have continued to use their personal motor vehicles for transportation. As a result, only 5-7% of Americans use mass transit and less than 1% bicycle to work to this day. The 40% of Americans that do own bicycles use them primarily for recreation and fitness.

In the last few years, spikes in the cost of gasoline (click graph to enlarge) have led more Americans to look into commuting by bicycle; however, design improvements, falling production costs and the Internet are the real factors fueling interest in folding bikes in the USA. Through online bicycle forums and reviews, cyclists are learning about new folders that take only 3 seconds to fold and roll when folded (Mobiky Genius), folding bikes that "stretch" so one bike will suit a cyclist from childhood to adult (Giatex BICI & CHIBA) and even full size mountain bikes that fold so they can be transported inside a car trunk (Montague MX & Paratrooper). Even those that bicycle only for recreation can appreciate features like these.

If you have comments on this topic, let's hear them.

- Fuel/Diesel/Petrol prices across Europe
- USA Today: US Gas Costs Aren't Really High
- World Oil Price Chronology: 1970-2000
- Crude Oil and Gasoline Prices Timeline: 2001-2006
- Why gasoline prices go up and down

Larry Lagarde
Urging bicycling for recreation, commuting, health and a better future.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Using Common Sense On Remote Bike Trails

Let's face it: the news media feeds on fear.

Bike trails are safe; however, we're bound to see more stories of trail incidents pop up in the future. Why? More bike trails and trail users makes any criminal activity on a bike trail more news worthy, particularly if the activity is rare.

Naturally, some of the stories will be true but others will be false (like the Modesto, CA woman that cried rape).

Unfortunately, people often dwell on the negative, causing media feeding frenzies on unusual stories like violence on a bike trail. Ultimately, such media coverage triggers irrational, knee jerk reactions (such as Clarence, NY's purchase of 12 security cameras as a result of a jogger's murder or parents objecting to a bike trail near their school).

My Bike Trail Safety Tips
Given the low incidence of crime on bike trails, perhaps a safety discussion should dwell more on the appropriate gear and attitude for bicycling on remote trails. For example...

In 3 decades of riding bike trails, the only negative incident I ever had was when a guy in a group of cyclists rode into me on a trail. Rather than looking ahead, he was talking to his friends and plowed into me head on. I went over the handlebars and landed on my head. Gladly, I had a helmet on. Other than neck strain, I was okay. Without the helmet, I could have died. (BTW, I would have rode off the trail if the trail was not bordered by large boulders.)

- Wear Gloves
If you fall, gloves will decrease the potential of cutting your hands. They also cushion road shock from riding, decreasing incidence of carpal tunnel.

- Wear Sunglasses or Safety Glasses
Naturally, when riding in bright sunlight, sunglasses protect the eyes from harmful UV rays; however, glasses also lessen the chance of a bug or road debris getting in your eyes (I know people that crashed while riding because of this). When riding in low light conditions, amber safety glasses sharpen vision too.

- Use a Bike Bell or Horn
Ride a bike trail and you will encounter joggers, walkers, rollerbladders, etc. Most of these folks get startled when bicyclists approach from behind some can even turn into your path without warning - because they don't know you're coming. Don't rely on saying "On your right"; get a bell or horn & USE IT.

- Carry a First Aid Kit
I ride with a first aid kit - for myself & my bike. The kit includes a few bandaids, antiseptic cream, a bike pump, spare tire tube, wrench kit, tire irons, patch kit and my cell phone.

- Pack Water, Snacks & Windbreaker
A cyclist is far more likely to suffer injury from heat stroke, dehydration, or hypothermia than from a criminal act. Take snacks & the jacket in the event you become injured in a remote area.

While the weather may be gorgeous and there may be beautiful scenery all around, a cyclist must stay alert even on a bike trail. Watch out for potholes, debris, animals and other trail users because any of them can cause an accident or injury. And if you see someone ahead that makes the hair go up on the back of your scalp, guess what? Follow your gut & avoid them. Better safe than sorry.

I'd love to hear other tips from readers like you so feel free to comment.

Larry Lagarde
Urging bicycling for recreation, commuting, health and a better future.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Taking Folding Bike On Cruise Ships

Cruises can be a great way to visit a variety of destinations that are otherwise hard to reach. Since cruise ships are again calling here in New Orleans, I thought I'd look into taking a folding bike aboard. Happily, I learned that 3 out of 4 cruise lines calling on New Orleans allow passengers to bring aboard their folding bikes. Here's more information:
Cruise LineTelephoneFolding Bikes OK?Tips/Suggestions
Carnival888-CARNIVALYesMust be in checked luggage.
Norwegian866-234-0292MaybeMay require signed waiver. Ask the ship coordinator first.
Royal Caribbean866-562-7625NoPassengers are not allowed to bring bikes of any kind aboard.
Princess800-PRINCESSYesPrincess suggests that passengers bring their folding bikes aboard as a carry on.

Larry Lagarde
Urging bicycling for recreation, commuting, health and a better future.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Stop Me - The Smith's Bicycle Video

A Bicycle Video By The Smiths (circa 1987)

Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before

Stop me, oh, stop me
Stop me if you think that youve
Heard this one before
Stop me, oh, stop me
Stop me if you think that youve heard this one before

Nothings changed
I still love you, oh, I still love you
...only slightly, only slightly less than I used to, my love

I was delayed, I was way-laid
An emergency stop
I smelt the last ten seconds of life
I crashed down on the crossbar
And the pain was enough to make
A shy, bald, Buddhist reflect
And plan a mass murder
Who said lied I'd to her?

Oh, who said I'd lied because I never? I never!
Who said I'd lied because I never?
I was detained, I was restrained
And broke my spleen
And broke my knee
(and then he really laced into me)
Friday night in out-patients
Who said I'd lied to her?

Oh, who said I'd lied ? - because I never, I never
Who said I'd lied ? - because I never

Oh, so I drank one
It became four
And when I fell on the floor ...
...I drank more

Stop me, oh, stop me
Stop me if you think that you've
Heard this one before
Stop me, oh, stop me
Stop me if you think that youve heard this one before

Nothings changed
I still love you, oh, I still love you
...only slightly, only slightly less than I used to, my love

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Doodle 'n Daddy Doin' Da Do

The weather could not be more beautiful today in New Orleans and I'd love nothing better than to take a bike ride in the 67 degree, bright, blue sky weather. Alas, I have a house to paint and a private concert to attend tonight so I'll have to postpone that ride.

For your viewing pleasure, I'm embedding this video that my wife shot this morning of Doodle & I. I know; it's silly but that's part of being a daddy.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Friday Bicycle Bits

Here are some interesting bicycle related stories from this week:

Chicago Suburb Funds Bike Route Plan
Elgin is spending close to $100,000 for a master plan for bike routes. The city hopes to have trails resulting from the plan in 5 years.
Elgin, IL pays for bike route plan

New LA Trail Opens
One day, LA will have connected bike trails leading around the city. Another short trail is now in the network.
LA gets another bike trail

Bridge Trails To Nowhere
An overly wide & very expensive bridge with a bike path happens to be on the route of a planned but unfunded freeway to nowhere. Coincidence?
$59 million bike trail bridge a freeway in disguise

New Rail Trail Includes Tweed Trestle
The rail trail conversion of an old railway bridge over Scotland's River Tweed will soon provide a more scenic pathway for locals and visitors bicycling from Walkerburn to Innerleithen.
Bridge is not too far for Borders cyclists

How Walkable/Bikeable is your neighborhood?
According to this USA Today story, kids may have discovered something else trick or treating this year - their neighborhoods.
We're raising kids who can't get around on foot!

Larry Lagarde
Urging bicycling for recreation, commuting, health and a better future.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

UK Mayor Says "Start Bicycling!"

The British government is supporting the creation of bicycle and hiking paths throughout the UK. Recently the Mayor Jeff Dutton of Oxmoor, Huntingdon urged locals to step out of the car and get on their bike when traveling into the town centre.

Said Mayor Dutton: "I would urge all residents to use the new cycle path (next to Conygear Park; see drawing of park, right). It is a quick and safe route to the town. I think when people see it there they will use it. At the moment the streets are very congested and very busy near the park... The cycle route will take away the risk of accidents for cyclists and will protect young lives especially."

Huntingdonshire is located North of London, England near Cambridge. The region was home to Olivier Cromwell and Queen Katherine of Aragon.

CYCLING: Get on your bikes, urges mayor

Larry Lagarde
Urging bicycling for recreation, commuting, health and a better future.

Iron Curtain Bike Path

Although it's been in the making since the early 1990's, I just learned of the Iron Curtain Bike Trail, a trail that will soon stretch 4,250+ miles through 20 countries in Europe along the former path of the Iron Curtain. The first portion of the trail opened in August; here are more details.

After World War II, Stalin was concerned about masses of Eastern Europeans fleeing from the puppet "satellite" states he had carved out of Europe for the Soviet Union. To stem the human tide, he had troops erect a fence stretching from the Artic Circle to the Black Sea. Winston Churchill nicknamed this fence the Iron Curtain and the name stuck.

The Fall of the Wall: Sopronpuszta
By the end of the 80's, bankrupt by disastrous economic policies and military spending, the Soviet Union could no longer control Eastern Europe as it once did. On rumors that it was easier to cross into Western Europe via Hungary, 60,000+ East Germans had massed in Hungary on vacation visas with no intentions of returning.

By August of 1989, the visas of more East Germans were expiring and many began to face mass deportations. Meanwhile, opposition parties advocating democratic reforms, freedom to travel and a unified Europe had scheduled the Pan-European Picnic, a rally that would be held in a field near the Hungarian-Austrian border. The picnic drew 15,000-20,000 people. East Germans at the rally began massing at Sopronpuszta, an old border crossing. As the desperate crowd grew, the few border guards on hand could not contain them and the gates flew open.

Although only 600 East Germans escaped West at Sopronpuszta, it inspired several hundred small groups of East Germans to make their own freedom crossings over the following weeks. Within months, this led to Hungary opening its borders to the West. In turn, Hungary's actions sparked mass demonstrations in East Germany which led to the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 10, 1989.

With the demise of the Soviet's Eastern Bloc, the Iron Curtain became a painful reminder that many people wanted to bury; however, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev recognized the historic and economic value of memorializing the Wall. Early in the 1990's, Mr. Gorbachev proposed that a trail for walkers and cyclists be created along the path of the former Iron Curtain.

In 2001, a German Green Party activist and bicyclist named Michael Cramer organized several group bike rides along the former path of the Berlin Wall to commemorate the 40th anniversary of its construction. Berliners quickly realized that what remained of the wall should be preserved as a memorial against violence, tyranny and the abuse of power. The wall corridor was placed under historic preservation status and a series of 20 bike routes along the wall greenway were mapped out as the Mauerweg or Wall Trail.

Michael Cramer was elected to serve as a member of the European Parliament. In 2003, he proposed that the EU create a bicycling and hiking trail along the length of the former Iron Curtain to commemorate Europe's division and peaceful reunification. The idea was approved and the EU began funding trail construction in 2005.

15 km Now Open
On August 28th at Sopronpuszta, the first segment of the trail opened on the spot where the old Iron Curtain fell. Signs along the bicycle and foot path provide historical information. The 15 km stretch between Felsõszolnok and Fertõtó will soon be joined by other trail segments along the Curtain.

Iron Curtain Trail Route
When complete, the Iron Curtain Trail will stretch from the coast of the Arctic Ocean, where Norway touches Russia, slip through the Arctic tundra of the Russian border with Finland, skip through the former tsarist capital of St Petersburg, skirt around the Baltic coast of the former Soviet republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, follow the Polish coast, plunge down the old border between eastern and western Germany, circle around the Austrian border with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, follow the border between the former Yugoslavia and Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, along the banks of the Danube, continue along the border between Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey and end at the Black Sea. Cycling the entire route is expected to take most bicyclists over two months.

A brochure with maps in German and English covering the entire route is expected to be ready by 2009, the 20th anniversary of the eastern European revolution and the 5th anniversary of the EU enlargement by the central and eastern European countries.

More Information:

Larry Lagarde
Urging bicycling for recreation, commuting, health and a better future.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bicycle Facts & Figures: Stolen Bikes

This morning, I was browsing the facts & figures page of the League of American Bicyclists website (a great organization, I might add) and I saw a disturbing statistic. According to the National Bike Registry, about 870,000 bikes were stolen in the USA in 2001 (the latest figure available). The number is an estimate because no one really knows the total but educated guesses are based on tripling the number of stolen bikes reported by the FBI.

Whether thieves are stealing bikes, cars or anything else, theft is a crime of opportunity. The easier the opportunity, the greater the likelihood of theft. Remove the opportunity and the the number of thefts will fall.

Folding bikes are more secure because they do not have to left in harm's way. Rather than locking your bike up outside to a streetpost, fence, railing, etc., simply fold the bike and store it in a secure place out of sight (like beneath the desk in your office or in a closet).

If you live in a high crime area, why worry unnecessarily whether your bike will still be outside when you go to use it again? Get yourself a bike that folds and leave the worries behind!

Larry Lagarde
Urging bicycling for recreation, commuting, health and a better future.

Cycling for fun, fitness & practicality.

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