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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Strida 5 News - Accessories Coming

by Larry Lagarde

I've been having great fun riding the new Strida 5 but I just learned that the experience will soon be even better. Areaware, Strida's US distributor, notified me today that they will be offering a variety of improvements and add-ons very soon for the Strida 5.

Strida 5 Aluminum Carry Rack
The biggest news is that the Strida folding bike will soon come with an aluminum carry rack. Currently, the Strida is outfitted with a plastic rear rack with a measly carry capacity of just 11 lbs. The aluminum rack will be double that so it will be right in line with other racks; it's supposed to fold down just like the current plastic rack so you'll still be able to fold the rack and lay the bike down on it when needed. The new rack should be available in June.

Strida 5 Seat Post & Carry Rack Bags
Also available in June will be bags that attach to either the seat post frame or carry rack. The bags will be branded with the Strida logo.

18" Wheels For More Speed
Strida is almost finished testing 18" wheels for use on the Strida 5. These will provide about 3 mph more speed and will be sold separately as optional equipment. Areaware hopes to have the 18" wheels in June but they are still in final testing so these may come later this summer.

Strida Bantum
This summer, Strida will also be launching the Bantum, a slightly smaller version of the Strida 5; the Bantum is designed to better fit kids and adults under 5'4".

On The Horizon: 2 Speed Internal Hub & Adjustable Seat
Strida continues to test a 2 speed internal hub version of the Strida 5; plans are now for a launch of the 2 speed sometime next year. Strida is also designing an adjustable seat; no launch date has been announced however.

As soon as I have photos of any of the above items, I'll post them.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Congressional Resolution on Bicycling

Walter Finch, Advocacy Director for the League of American Bicyclists, just contacted me asking cyclists to support HCONRES305. This is a resolution that would set the stage for Congress to fund more cycling projects. Currently, the resolution is before the US House of Representatives; here's more info from Walter.
The House Congressional Resolution on Bicycling (H.Con.Res. 305), introduced in February, calls on the United States Congress to adopt a national bicycling strategy to fully realize the incredible benefits of getting more people bicycling, more safely, more often. There is a "sense of Congress" that complete streets policies are essential to ensure wise use of considerable Federal investment in transportation infrastructure, and that expanded funding for bicycling and walking programs is desirable and appropriate.

As we celebrate National Bike Month in May, cities and organizations throughout the country will be hosting events promoting bicycling as a healthy, fun, and viable form of transportation. This is also a perfect opportunity to contact your Congressional Representatives to thank those that have signed onto the Resolution and urge those that have not to so.

A good showing for the Resolution is essential as this would serve as the first ever comprehensive bicycling policy statement and would serve as an important policy statement guide for the next transportation reauthorization which begins next year (2009).

As part of National Bike Month please take a moment to Contact your Congressional Member to urge them to support HCONRES305.
Thank you.
If you're unsure how to contact your federal representatives, click on the following form and enter your zip code.

Lookup Your Congressional Representative

Montague SwissBike Price Increase Update

Increase Effective May 1st; Prices Up As Much As $250
by Larry Lagarde

SwissBike XO 27 Speed - Mountain BikeIf you've been dreaming about purchasing the gorgeous, new SwissBike XO, placing your order between now and 3pm tomorrow will save you $250. Why? Because that's how much the cost is going up on the XO (from $1995 to $2250).

Last week, Montague Corporation (maker of the definitive mountain bikes that fold) notified me that all their bikes were going up in price. The price increase was supposed to take effect last Friday but I didn't receive the new prices until today. Montague offered to delay the increase for me but only until tomorrow at 3pm.

XO Special - $1895 until 3pm CDT WednesdayIf you're sitting on the fence regarding the XO, here's what I'll do. Order your SwissBike XO between now and 3pm CDT tomorrow and it's yours for $1895.

Although prices are going up across the board for Montague folding bikes, the difference is far less noticeable on their least costly models (Montague DX cost is only increasing @ $25 over the prices that were introduced in February). Montague attributes the higher prices to sharp increases in production and distribution costs.

Orders for a SwissBike XO must be placed using the phone or email contact info listed at the bottom of this page.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Folding Bikes On Commercial Airlines

by Larry Lagarde

One of the great uses for folding bikes is taking them along when traveling. I have flown a variety of times with folding bikes socked away in suitcases that met the checked bag guidelines, allowing me to avoid the extra fee airlines charge for carrying full size bikes. But the rules are getting trickier as airlines struggle with sky high fuel costs.

airport baggage carouselRecently, the New York Times reported that Delta, United and US Airways will begin charging $50 round trip next month for a second piece of checked luggage. Since that story was published, Airtran, Continental & Northwest jumped on this bandwagon too (Airtran's fee will just be $20 RT though).

While charging for a 2nd carry on may be viewed as un-American (technically, that's true as American Airlines isn't charging the fee yet), Spirit Airlines has been charging $10/checked bag for some time now. Also, European budget airlines such as Ryanair have been charging for checked bags for years.

Ultimately, it's still more convenient to take your own folding bike when you fly but you'll need to research the airlines you're flying and pack more carefully to avoid paying additional fees.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

RideTHISbike.com 10% Economic Stimulus Match Offer

Starting tomorrow, US taxpayers will begin receiving their Economic Stimulus tax rebate payments from the federal government. For many, the temptation will be to waste that money tanking up on gas but here's a better suggestion: buy a vehicle that saves you money and doesn't pollute - a folding bike.

Why A Folding Bike
Strida 5 folding bikeWhether your commute is long or short, commuting by folding bike is practical. Substitute a folding bike for driving and the cost to purchase some folders can be recouped in as little as 2 weeks. A variety of folding bikes are small enough to fit under a desk or be taken on the train, bus or subway. Some bikes that fold (E-Z Pack, Strida 5, Superlite 1 & Superlite 3) weigh under 25 lbs, making them light enough to be carried up a flight of stairs (the Strida rolls effortlessly when folded too).

To help stimulate the US economy, here's an unprecedented offer from RideTHISbike.com:

Between now and 15 July 2008, buy a folding bike from RideTHISbike.com with your tax rebate stimulus check and RideTHISbike.com will match the amount of your tax rebate used on the bike purchase by 10%. I challenge other businesses to stimulate the economy by doing the same.

So there it is: either hand over your rebate to the likes of Exxon, Shell or Texaco and get butkus or get 10% off on a practical bike. It's your choice.

Given the very small margins on folding bikes, RideTHISbike.com can only make the 10% match offer under the following circumstances. The 10% match applies only when the full amount of your economic stimulus payment goes to purchase one or more bicycles from RideTHISbike.com. RideTHISbike.com will not refund any portion of the check that is not used for purchasing a bike. If the bike(s) you purchase cost more than the rebate check and the 10% match, you must pay that difference in cost. To receive the 10% match, you must prove the amount of your economic stimulus payment. RideTHISbike.com reserves the right to end the 10% match offer without notice.


Doom & Gloom - What to do

by Larry Lagarde

News stories this week have been painting an increasingly more scary view of the world. Sharply higher costs for fuel and food as well as the current financial crisis have just about everyone worried. More of the world's impoverished are starving, leading to riots and greater political instability. Yet, pundits are claiming that there is little that America can do. I disagree.

America: Forget The Pundits.
The days of burning oil, coal or food for fuel are numbered. While some aspects of the world food crisis (for example) boil down to factors beyond our short term control (such as Australian wheat production being quashed by a drought), there are a variety of steps we can take to improve the situation, as a country and as individuals.

Press The Politicians
We, the citizens of the USA, must advance the pace of developing cheap energy production from non polluting sources (like solar, wind and geothermal). Contact your political representatives at the state and federal levels and demand a Manhattan Project or Moon Project type program that will provide cheap, renewable energy within 10 years. Demand recycling projects. Demand funding for alternative transportation like mass transit and bikeways. Demand that corn, rice and wheat be relegated to food consumption and that an adequate supply be set aside for emergencies.

2007 world population map - wikipediaConserve
Although less than 5% of the world's population live in the USA, we consume more of the world's resources than ANY other country. Not only does consuming at this rate send the wrong message to the world; it's not helping us individually. Truly, are we any happier because we have more stuff in mini storage units than anyone else? (Image right: Wikipedia 2007 world population map - click to enlarge)

2008 world poverty mapVolunteer
When individuals step up to help one another everyone wins. Look at Katrina. Volunteers from across the USA came to New Orleans on their own dime to help people they didn't even know. In the process, they helped themselves because reaching out satisfies the soul. We need to stop focusing so much on ourselves and reach out more. (Image right: 2006 earthtrends.wri.org world poverty map - click to enlarge)

History is riddled with mistakes that were repeated. By improving education, we can learn from the past and better prepare for the future.

Lead By Example
If we, the people of the United States, embrace the above suggestions, the world will notice and the planet will be better for everyone.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

MRT in LA. Getting Extended

Paved New Orleans To Baton Rouge Trail Gets Closer
Mississippi River Trail extension near LSU in Baton Rougeby Larry Lagarde

In my recent Earth Day Musings post, one important Louisiana trail extension I failed to mention is is on the Mississippi River Levee Trail near the LSU campus in Baton Rouge. Senator Mary Landrieu secured a $1 million earmark to build out another 1.5 miles of this trail.

Eventually, there will be a paved bike trail running from Baton Rouge all the way to New Orleans; the completion of this segment will bring that reality just a bit closer.

By the way, I asked Bruce Wickert (a cyclist that has long worked to improve cycling in Baton Rouge) for his take on the $1 million price tag for the segment. Here's his response:
The design basis is not as extravagant as the first 2 miles, but not plain either. Design will be to a maximum width without excavation, (ASSHTO green book 10 or 12 ft). It may include a trailhead with bathrooms and parking at Farr park (if not included in previous enhancement funding held by BREC) , and a connector trail to Brightside. It includes the features needed by more heavily used trail populated by joggers, rollerbladers, and walkers in addition to bikers that frequent the trails near urban areas.

This is more than 8 ft of asphalt on the levee of the Audubon Park to Ormond (Destrehan) trail.

Hopefully the features included in the expansive miles to be included in the USACE (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) feasibility study can be scaled down closer to the 8 ft design for cost, and build up only near the cities (Gramercy, Reserve, LaPlace, Norco). Alternately, if we can find earmarks and or community support, I see no problem with the enhancements to incorporate build the high $/mile.
Frankly, I'd be overjoyed with a paved trail from NOLA to BR on the Mississippi River levee crown regardless of width. In all likelihood, this would be the ONLY non-motorized, long distance trail coming into or out of New Orleans. It would link Louisiana's 2 most important metro areas (sorry Lake Charles, Lafayette, Alexandria & Shreveport) and would even tie into Adventure Cycling's Southern Tier route (via the Baton Rouge spur).

For more about this trail extension, read the Advocate story "Landrieu gets BR bike path $1 million."


Ohio Bikeway Improvements Inspiring

by Larry Lagarde

Ohio Bikeways MapEarlier this week, I wrote about a proposed extension to the Little Miami Scenic Trail. The day after I posted the story, I came across the Ohio Dept of Transportation's bike page and was amazed at the number of trails that ODOT has been working on. As the adjacent map shows, the outlook is even more exciting for long distance cyclists because many of these bikeways are connected, allowing a cyclist to ride cross country (and to adjacent states) mostly on paved routes where cars are forbidden.

Take a look at this list of Ohio bikeways that are under construction or have recently opened. Forgive me (not) but it's really long...


CLARK Co., Springfield - Work is underway on the replacement of the Sherman Ave. Bridge over Buck Creek. Those following the Buck Creek Trail shared the old bridge with other traffic: the new bridge includes a bikepath.

FRANKLIN Co. - Construction of a new bridge across the Olentangy River, south of Antrim Park (Worthington), will connect the Scioto-Olentangy Bikeway to residential areas east of the river. A gravel path allows trail users to pass the construction site.

LICKING Co., Heath - a path is under construction east of SR 79, along Irving-Wick Drive. Its completion will connect Hoback Park to the City Pool and points west of the state highway.

SUMMIT Co., Akron - Work is underway on Cascade Locks, part of the Towpath Trail. Work includes a tunnel under Rand Rd. and a bridge over SR 59. The project ends at the Quaker/Ash intersection in Akron.

SUMMIT Co., Akron - Construction of a towpath underpass at Waterloo Road, near the south edge of Akron, has begun.

SUMMIT Co., Barberton - Work has begun on the Towpath Trail between Vanderhoof and Snyder Road, including work on a bridge over the Tuscarawas River. This connector will likely be a two-year construction phase.


Northwest Ohio
ALLEN Co., Lima - A tunnel opened in August, 2007 and takes the Ottawa Creek Bikeway under the intersection of Pine and Elm Streets in downtown, Lima.

LUCAS Co., Oregon - Construction of the 1.9 mile connecting path between Pearson Park and the City’s Municipal Complex is complete, as is the 1 mile long path from the Municipal Complex to Corduroy Road.

LUCAS Co., Engineer - Two projects were completed in August, 2008, adding 3.6 miles of paved trail to the system. Now all paving on the South Fork of the Wabash Cannonball is complete within the county.

Northeast Ohio
CUYAHOGA Co., Cleveland Metroparks - The Mill Creek Trail, a 2.5 mile connector between the Towpath Trail at Bacci Park and Mill Creek Falls Overlook, near Garfield Blvd. and Bancroft Ave., was completed at the end of October, 2007.

CUYAHOGA Co., Seven Hills - West Creek Trail is a path built along-side the creek between Broadview Rd. and Crickett Lane. Work finished the end of November, 2007.

GEAUGA Co., Chardon - The southern portion of the Maple Highlands Trail opened in September, 2007. The path runs 8.2 miles from SR 44 just outside the Chardon city limits to East Branch Reservoir, on SR 44 near Middlefield.

HOLMES Co., Killbuck - The section of trail from Killbuck to Millersburg opened in early December, 2007. It is a combined buggy/bike path, and the trail is now 15 miles long, from Killbuck to Fredericksburg.

MEDINA Co. - The Chippewa Rail Trail was extended from Chippewa to Wycliff Road in 2007 and is 2.4 miles in length.

PORTAGE Co. - A 1.1 mile extension to the Portage Bike-Hike Trail was completed between Horning Road and Loop Road, in the vicinity of Dix Stadium.

SUMMIT Co., Akron - Work on Cascade Locks, part of the Towpath Trail, was completed south of the intersection of Quaker and Ash, to Bowery/Water and State Streets in downtown Akron.

SUMMIT Co. - The Towpath Trail was extended 3.5 miles north of Clinton, and now ends at the Vanderhoof Road trailhead.

TUSCARAWAS Co. - A bike/ped bridge was built to carry the Towpath Trail over I-77 between Bolivar and Zoar. It was completed in September, 2007.

Central Ohio
FAIRFIELD Co., Lancaster - A 5 mile extension allows riders to travel 8 miles from O.U. Lancaster to Cenci Park on the Fairfield Heritage Trail.

FRANKLIN Co., Columbus - The Livingston Ave. to I-70 to Three Creeks Park section of the Alum Creek Bikeway has opened, allowing uninterrupted travel from Three Creeks Park to Airport Drive (near Ohio Dominican College).

MADISON Co., London - The Roberts Pass segment of the Ohio to Erie Trail, open but unpaved for awhile, was paved and opened in early December, 2007. Roberts Pass’s east end is at Wilson Rd., near Lilly Chapel.

UNION Co. - the Metropolitan Park District of Columbus and Franklin Co. now has an 11 mile path inside the Glacier Ridge Metropark, on Hyland Croy Road.

UNION Co. - The 3-mile-long North Lewisburg Trail opened in June, 2007 between East Street in North Lewisburg and Inskeep Cratty Road. Project includes a small-scale covered bridge.

Southwest Ohio
CLARK Co. - A spur between the Simon Kenton Trail (at Villa Road) to a new county park.

GREENE Co. - The Huffman Prairie Bikepath, stretching from WPAFB gate 16B to Marl Road is under construction until Oct. 2007.

HAMILTON Co., Anderson Twp. - The Five Mile Road shared-use path, which stretches from State Road to Clough Pike, then continues on to Newtown Road following an undeveloped right-of-way, was completed in September 2007.

MIAMI Co., Troy - Completion of the Island Trail Bikeway in September, 2007 extends Troy’s path system to 10.5 miles.

MONTGOMERY Co. - A segment of the Great Miami River Trail is being built on the west shore between Triangle Park and Rip Rap Road.

WARREN Co., Mason - The Muddy Creek Bikeway is being constructed between Mason-Montgomery Road and Pine Hills Lake Park. Work includes a bridge. Work should finish around 11/1/07.

Not to be outdone, even cities like Columbus are getting into the act. Look at all the facilities that they're working on right now...

Columbus Ohio Bikeway Improvements Underway:

Olentangy Trail
*Repair a flood prone section @ mile 9, just south of Bethel/Antrim area.
*Re-stripe the centerline of the path, along faded sections, from Antrim to downtown.
*Continue adding new directional/regulatory signage along the path. Add new COG trail head map kiosks.
Re-do the Northmoor path entry. Remove bollards and hazards, etc.
*Repair a serious riverbank erosion slip just south of Antrim, threatening to take out the trail
*Henderson Road bridge: This is a big project, involving the entire season. The path will remain open, through an orange barrel work-around on the south side. This improvement will construct a new 10' wide path on the bridge deck, completely replacing the dangerous narrow walk there now.

Scioto Trail
*Clear brush and debris back from the path from the Confluence to the Utilities Complex @ 910 Dublin Road

Alum Creek Trail
*Repair the Broad St. underpass railing
*Re-do the path entry steps @ Watt Rd., Strawberry Farms Park
*Finish trail signage project, including directional/regulatory and trail head maps.

670 Path
*Fix the Leonard Ave./670 bridge situation--install new ramps, fix the hazardous bridge joint gaps, remove obstacles and fix hazards near the Nelson Rd. overpass. (This will at least address the hazardous conditions. We will have to phase in improvements, this path will be a section of the Ohio-to-Erie, and a major east/west route, and we need to put it into good shape. Please bear with us.)

Given all the revenue produced for the federal government by the oil fields off the coastline of my home state (Louisiana), I wish just a small fraction of those funds could be directed to La's DOT for such a bikeways push. Louisiana is an excellent place to ride year round but long distance cycling here is a dicey prospect. Funds for roadway repairs are inadequate so many highways are either in disrepair or have inadequate shoulders.

Thanks go to fellow cyclist Jamie Fellrath for the head's up on improvements in Columbus and for his inspirational blog (Bike Commuting In Columbus).


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day Update - Canada Bike Train

Canadian Bike Train Executive Director Justin LaFontaine sent me this update today regarding The Greenbelt Express (the Toronto-Niagara Bike Train):

Go green this summer, reduce your carbon footprint and protect the environment by choosing a more sustainable mode of travel - and have fun too! The Bike Train will operate on select VIA Rail departures between Toronto and Niagara Falls from June to September 2008.

Explore the agricultural bounty and biodiversity of the Greenbelt, plan a multi-day bike tour along the Greater Niagara Circle Route or the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail, and experience local culture, history and cuisine along the way. The Bike Train schedule allows for short day trips to Niagara. Enjoy even more cycling time by staying overnight. There are a variety of accommodation and getaway package options available.
I look forward to joining Justin for a ride on the Bike Train. Hope to see ya' there.


New York City Earth Day Bike Ride

When: Tuesday, April 22, 6 PM
Where: 5th Ave. entrance to Central Park.
What: Bring flowers, your bike and signs of life.

Here's what Transportation Alternatives' Executive Director John Kaehny writes about the event:
Around the world the bicycle is the symbol of environmental friendliness. Even car companies put bicycles in advertising to greenwash their gas guzzlers. All this belies the everyday reality of NYC riding, where most of us ride alone in a sea of careening cars and trucks. The Earth Day Bike Action is a symbol of our solidarity as bicyclists - a chance to spend some time together, enjoying our strength of numbers. It is also a chance to clearly link bicycling and the environment in the public eye. To T.A. and other urban environmentalists, the fight starts with saving our cities.

Can you imagine the destruction of scarce open space and wetlands and the sheer amount of pavement 7.5 million New Yorkers scattered suburban-style would consume? The fact is, city dwellers are already doing their part by consuming less of everything, including energy and oil. The problem is that our city and many others are being destroyed in significant part by the automobile and the social dynamic it helps create. Even here, by far the least auto-dependent part of the country, motorized traffic is choking our economy, polluting our air, and crushing our neighborhoods.

Bicycling can help change that. Bicycles offer a flexible and quick form of travel that, combined with good public transit, offer a clean and economical alternative to a keeping a car. In modern cities like Copenhagen, bikes comprise about a third of trips, up from only a tenth two decades ago. This didn’t happen by accident. The Danes adopted policies that made cycling easier and got people out of their cars. Here, reams of plans and lots of lip service have been dedicated to bicycling (and an occasional random venture like the Koch 6th Ave. lane). The reality on the street is that cyclists are often beleaguered by reckless motorists and find it hard to find a safe place to park. In general, cycling is treated with contempt by the powers that be. Last fall’s confiscation of the Queensboro Bridge bike lane is the latest example of cars accommodated at the expense of cyclists.

Not all is gloom and doom. Cycling continues to grow in popularity, and a giant building boom of new greenways will open upóm miles of car-free routes as NYC enters the next Millennium. T.A. is here to make sure that this progress doesn’t falter. Join us April 22 for some fun and camaraderie, and to give the City a push in the right direction.


Earth Day Musings From New Orleans

President Bush Plants A Tree But Misses An Opportunity
by Larry Lagarde

President Bush Meets with Prime Minister Harper of CanadaToday, President Bush was here in New Orleans meeting in private with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon to discuss NAFTA. In between discussions regarding how to defend the North American Free Trade Agreement from attack by protectionists, immigrant phobes, the Clinton & Obama campaigns and others, Mr. Bush found time for some Earth Day related sound bites and even a photo op.

Mr. Bush joined New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (introduced by Bush as El Alcade) to plant an oak tree in front of Gallier Hall (New Orleans old city hall). This was Mr. Bush's contribution to replacing the 50,000 trees in New Orleans' public spaces that were lost to Katrina. In several sound bites, Mr. Bush also claimed that his approach to climate change will decrease the rate of US carbon emission GROWTH by the year 2020 or something like that. How he plans to keep that promise once he's out of office in 9 months was not discussed.

Mr. Bush also boasted that New Orleans has recovered from Katrina. While the city's ability to host major events has recovered (over 100K attendees are expected to go to Jazz Fest this weekend and next), he obviously forgot about the huge homeless enclave living half a mile from the Summit's digs at the Windsor Court Hotel or the thousands of empty, destroyed homes standing today in Central City, Gentilly, the 9th Ward, New Orleans East, etc.

Too bad that Mr. Bush didn't take the opportunity of today's record gasoline prices to promote transportation alternatives like cycling. Despite being seriously strapped for cash and with few funds to rebuild New Orleans' Katrina decimated transit infrastructure, the city is making every effort to make cycling safer and easier by adding bike lanes, paths and routes. Just look at this list of improvements:

New Orleans Bike Facility Improvements:
Robert E. Lee Blvd. Bike Path & Lane
Where: West End Blvd. to Wisner
Status: Complete.
Description: Shared lane and off-road (0.8 miles) facilities that allow users to enter City Park. This path will connect to the Wisner Bike and Ped Path.

St. Claude Ave. Bike Lane
Where: St. Claude Ave. from Elysian Fields Ave to the Orleans/St. Bernard Parish line
Status: Complete.
Description: Shared lane facility for commuting into/out of downtown New Orleans.

Magazine/Camp St. Bike Lane
Where: Magazine St. from Calliope and Canal St.
Status: Complete.
Description: Shared lane facility for commuting into/out of downtown New Orleans.

Wisner Bicycle and Pedestrian Path
Where: Wisner Blvd from Robert E. Lee Blvd to Esplanade Ave.
Status: Under construction
Description: A combination facility which includes an off-street path and on-street shared lanes. This route will allow users to connect from the N. Jefferson Davis Path to the Lakefront (a great way to get to Jazz Fest next year).

Wisner Blvd. Asphalt Overlay
Where: Wisner Blvd from Robert E. Lee Blvd to I-610
Status: In design phase
Description: The City will be funding the inclusion of bike lanes and minor intersection modifications between I-610 and Robert E. Lee Blvd.

Harrison Ave. Asphalt Overlay
Where: Harrison Ave. between West End Blvd. and Orleans Ave Canal
Status: In design phase
Description: The City will be funding the inclusion of bike lanes.

Press Street Asphalt Overlay
Where: Press St.
Status: In design phase
Description: The City will be funding the inclusion of bike-and-chevron pavement markings and route signage (shared lane facility).

Additionally, the city is chasing the federal Katrina repair projects with bike money. According to urban planning specialist Jennifer Ruley with the Louisiana Public Health Institute, "(i)n some cases we are adding facilities on top of the federal repair segment. In other cases we are filling gaps between bike routes. There are more bike routes in the planning stages in these areas."

New Orleans is no Portland but we're doing what we can to provide realistic transportation options for the future.

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No Relief For Climbing Gas Prices

$3.50 Today; $4/gal This Summer? Ugh.

The New York Times noted today that gas prices across the USA are now averaging a record $3.50/gallon. With several months to go before US demand for gas typically peaks, experts are now predicting gasoline to average $4/gal this summer.

As much as I'd prefer to burn calories not carbon and get everywhere by bike, that's just not feasible given the distances I must cover for work and to run errands. Looks like I'll just have to grit my teeth, condense my travel and keep cycling whenever circumstances allow.

By the way, if you ride a bicycle, a fun way to protest high gas prices is the "Zero Per Gallon" sticker.

New York Times: "Gas Reaches $3.50, With Little Hope for Relief"
Gas Buddy: Average Gas Prices In Cities Across N. America



Cincinnati Bike News

Little Miami Trail Extension; Bike Month Events
by Larry Lagarde

Extension of Little Miami Trail

Proposed Extension: Little Miami Scenic TrailLocal officials in the Cincinnati region recently applied for federal funding to extend the Little Miami Scenic Trail a bit closer to Lunken Airport (a historic public airport just 3 miles from Cincinnati's central business district).

The plan is to eventually connect the Little Miami to Lunken's existing 2.5 mile cycling/walking loop trail and to connect Lunken with the coming Ohio River Trail (a 16 mile trail that will run east to New Richmond) and downtown Cincinnati.

The Little Miami Scenic Trail is a 70+ mile long paved rail trail that runs from the outskirts of Cincinnati to the outskirts of Dayton, OH. The trail is part of a 200+ mile paved bike trail network that centers on the rail town of Xenia, Ohio.

Reference: Cincinnati Enquirer; "Grant would improve trail, Clough Pike"

Upcoming National Bike Month Events
Courtesy of Queen City Bike
Cincinnati Bike/PAC, Bike Newport, Park+Vine, Reser Bicycle Outfitters, OKI, The Cincinnati Cycle Club and Mobo Bicycle Co-op have partnered to bring Bike Month to the Queen City.

Everyone is invited to come and join in the fun! Classes on bicycle safety, bicycle commuting, and bike maintenance will be available all month long. You can compete in the Tour De Work Commuter Challenge! And be sure to come out to Lunken Airport on May 31st for Queen City Bike Cyclebration. Several area businesses will be on hand to show their support for cycling by helping to raise funds for the Ohio River Way for the completion of the Little Miami Bike Trail. There will be exciting events for the whole family including a kids bicycle rodeo, helmet painting, slowest bike race, raffle, tire change race, new bike showcase, food and live music. Check out our calendar for dates and times. A complete list of events and descriptions is soon to come.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

More Bike Factory Price Increases

If you're looking for a full size bicycle or mountain bike that folds, Montague Corporation (makers of the Montague CX, DX, MX, Paratrooper and SwissBike folding bikes) announced today that prices are going up again. As I reported in a recent post (Folding Bike Supply Tightening), a variety of factors are conspiring to raise manufacturing costs of bikes in general and folding bike makers are not immune.

Chances are that the price increase will be in the $50 range but there's good news: if you buy from RideTHISbike.com before the end of the week, the new pricing will not apply to your order.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Green Transportation Key To Economic Vitality

In an address last week to a business forum in Portland, Oregon Govenor Ted Kulongoski declared the current transportation system as unsustainable. "The fact is, addressing ... transportation and climate change are critical to our success in the global marketplace and maintaining our quality of life," he said.

Gov. Kulongoski supports the use of tax credits that encourage telecommuting, bike commuting and use of public transportation; he plans to pursue this issue with the Oregon legislature in 2009.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "Green transportation is key in Oregon"



Monday, April 14, 2008

Silicon Valley Bike Trail Additions

by Larry Lagarde

Silicon Valley Bike Trail Map courtesy of the Mercury NewsYesterday, the Mercury News reported that several new segments of bike trails in Silicon Valley have recently been opened. Last week, it was a short section of the Stevens Creek Trail that straddles Mountain View and Sunnyvale. The week before that it was sections of the Guadalupe River Park Trail in San Jose. On top of that, add segments of the Los Gatos Creek Trail that opened in San Jose last year as well as a new segment of the Los Gatos opening this summer and it's easy to see that Silicon Valley cyclists have good reasons to be excited. (Map right: bike trails in Silicon Valley - Mercury News)

Although all of the above new segments only amount to a few miles of paved trail, the fact that the construction occured at all says quite a lot. Real estate is very expensive in Silicon Valley and paved trails can easily cost $500K per mile in areas where land is much cheaper.

Mercury News: "Valley's bike-trail network grows with new tunnel in Mountain View"

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Rowed Trip Week 4 - England

Winter Follows Expedition Into England
by Larry Lagarde

The crazy winter weather that's been blasting the UK continues to make travel difficult for Colin and Julie Angus of the Rowed Trip expedition. Here are snippets of Julie's comments concerning travel last week as well as a slide show with some related photos.

The morning we left Largs ... we watched the BBC weather forecast with unease - wind gusts up to 100 km/hr and rain all day. The Firth of Clyde ... was turbulent with white caps while nearby trees swayed wildly from the onshore winds. There was no way we could row in these waters and it was a relief to have the option of cycling.

We cycled through horizontal rain and wind gusts so strong that they pushed me off my bike twice ...

(Solway) Firth is renowned for dangerous shifting sands that act like quicksand but crossing it would save more than a day of cycling. While we waited for the high tide to avoid getting stuck in the mud flats or worse, we donned our dry suits. The waters were choppy but the crossing went smoothly and within the hour we pulled our boats onto grassy marshlands.

Mountains, or perhaps more accurately large hills, soon surrounded us ... After another April snowstorm ... the worst in 20 years ... blanketed the hilltops.
Read Julie's complete Rowed Trip blog entry for the week
View all the Rowed Trip photos


Friday, April 11, 2008

Expensive Gasoline's Bright Side: Fewer Fatalities

by Larry Lagarde

As long as transportation in the USA relies on burning fossil fuels, gas prices will continue to squeeze consumer pocketbooks; however, there is a bright side: fewer traffic fatalities.

Although increases in vehicle safety have been incrementally decreasing the rate of deaths/miles traveled, traffic fatalities in the USA have hovered around 41,500 deaths/year for over a decade. Look into why this is happening and you'll see that people drive more in the USA than ever before (3.014 trillion miles in 2006 - the last year that stats were available). But that's changing.

According to a story last month in the Wall Street Journal, gas consumption dropped 1.1% earlier this year because high gas prices are causing motorists to drive less. Given that surging world demand for gasoline is expected to keep pushing gas prices higher ($3.60/gal by this summer and $5/gal within 3 years), expectations are that these changes in driving behavior are permanent.

Decreased Driving = Fewer Traffic Fatalities
Based on the latest statistics available, if motorists drive 1% less/year and vehicle safety remains the same, traffic fatalities should fall by 500/year (10,000 fewer injuries too). According to figures from the National Safety Council, such a drop in fatalities alone would save over $550 million in medical expenses, wage and productivity losses, motor vehicle damage, administrative costs, and employers’ uninsured costs.

As high gas prices force more motorists to replace their heavy, gas guzzling SUV's & pickup's with lighter, more efficient models, chances are that vehicle safety will continue to improve, causing fatalities to fall even faster.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: US National Fatality Statistics

National Safety Council. "Estimating the Costs of Unintentional Injuries, 2004."

Wall Street Journal: Americans Start to Curb Their Thirst for Gasoline

USA Today: "Gas prices slip, but could hit $4"

New York Times: "The True Costs of S.U.V.'s"

Accident Costs and Benefit Cost Analysis

CIBC's Jeff Rubin: Crude to hit $150/barrel in 4 years


Thursday, April 10, 2008

New E-Z Pack Folding Bike

Low Price, Light Weight, Folds Compactly, Includes Carrybag
by Larry Lagarde

Here's a small wheeled folding bike that will likely be even more popular than the infamous Gekko folding bike - the $179 E-Z Pack folding bike.

What Makes The E-Z Pack So Exciting
1. Less Weight
At just 22.5 lbs, the welded aluminum E-Z Pack folder is light - very light. There are only a couple of folding bikes that weigh less than this; yet, they all cost more.

2. Pedals Like A Full Size Bike
Due to the E-Z Pack's dual chain drive, pedaling the E-Z Pack at a normal rate will deliver speeds similar to riding a full size single speed beach bike. Similar dual chain, small wheel folding bikes (such as the Mobiky Genius) cost almost $500 more.

3. Useful Accessories Come Standard
The E-Z Pack sports a folding handlebar stem, seat post accommodating riders from 4'-5'10", alloy rear carry rack, kickstand, alloy rain fenders, custom folding bike carry bag, bike bell, and bungee strap (for holding items on the carry rack or keeping the bike folded in a tight bundle when not in use). Even shipping across the USA (lower 48 states) is included.

If you've been looking for a budget folding bike that's easy to bag up and carry onto the bus or train, definitely meets airline standards for checked baggage, stows folded just about anywhere and is ideal for running errands or riding short distances, the E-Z Pack is definitely the folder to consider.

Weather permitting, expect to see more photos, videos and details about this bike soon here at RideTHISbike.com. Order one today.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Video - Scooter Assisted Adult Tricycle

In China, bicycles are a primary means of transportation. Throughout the country, it's not uncommon to see bikes and adult tricycles hauling ridiculously large cargo loads too. But what happens when your legs are too pooped to pedal all that cargo?

Hmmm. How about scooter assist.

That's exactly what happens in this 30 second video from Shanghai... A guy on a scooter comes up from behind, extends his leg straight out and pushes the cargo bike with scooter power. That puts a whole new twist on the concept of roadside assistance.

Thanks go to BikeHugger for posting this video.

Larry Lagarde


Monday, April 07, 2008

SoCal Charity Folding Bike Ride

A Fun, Multi-Modal Folding Bike Ride Benefiting Charity
by Larry Lagarde

Attention folding bike fans: if you're going to be in L.A. on Saturday, April 19th, here's an event that will interest you - the SoCal Charity Folding Bike Ride.

Jolleen Filio's Kent Ultralite Folding BikeThe ride will showcase the uniqueness and mobility of folding bikes while raising money for a good cause. Proceeds will benefit World Bicycle Relief, an organization that donates bicycles to less fortunate countries.

I asked ride organizer Jolleen Filio what motivated her to put this event together. Her response is shown below. (Photo right: Jolleen's Kent Utralite folding bike)
I'm an undergraduate student at UCLA and I commute around 40 miles everyday by bike and public transportation. I got a folding bike because the regulations of LA Metro state that folding bikes are allowed at all times on all buses and trains. If you have a full-sized bike, there are time and space restrictions on carrying your bike on public transport, and that wouldn't work with my commuting times.

I found that folding bikes are a great way to supplement my commute--taking buses all the way takes almost an hour longer than when I ride my bike part of the way because of the horrible LA traffic! With the folding bikes though, I can just unfold and zip right through traffic jams.

I decided to organize this ride because I wanted to promote commuting by bike + public transportation. I found that folding bikes attract a lot of attention from non-cyclists because of their cool looks and oddness (I get at least one question a day about my bike), and maybe the "coolness" factor can draw more people into a cycling or semi-cycling commute. I also organized it so that folder owners in SoCal could show off their bikes and test out other bikes.

Since folding bikes are a niche product, not many bike shops carry a lot of models, and this ride is a way to test out the many different brands and models we have here.

I got the idea of making it a charity ride because of a successful charity ride another bikeforum member from SoCal put together, and decided on World Bicycle Relief because their goals of increasing mobility to people in poor communities through bike donations resonates with my ride's goals of increasing mobility by incorporating folding bikes in commuting.
SoCal Charity Folding Bike Ride - At A Glance
Date: 04/19/2008
Time: 9:00am
Place: Union Station Courtyard (Alameda side), Los Angeles, CA.
Ride Description: A multi-modal journey including public transportation via the Los Angeles Metro system.
Roll-off time: 9:30am
More Info: http://socalfolderride.freehostia.com/index.htm

By the way, Jolleen credits the info on RideTHISbike.com as the reason for purchasing her Kent Ultralite 6 speed. Thanks Jolleen :-)


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Rowed Trip Week 3 - Near Glasgow

Rowing & Biking from Scotland to England
by Larry Lagarde

When you're rowing in the open sea or bicycling down remote tracks, internet access can be difficult to obtain. Nevertheless, Rowed Trip Expedition adventurers Colin & Julie Angus have managed to communicate at least once a week regarding their progress. This week, I heard from Colin several times. Following are some of his comments regarding the week and a slide show containing photo highlights.

Hello Larry,

I hope all is well. We've just reached Largs, Scotland a few hours ago. The full size folding mountain bicycles have been holding out great, along with the rest of the equipment. We're pleased with progress so far.

Spring has sprung (at least on the calendar), but Scotland still thinks its winter. As Julie and I row and pedal through lashing wind, hail, snow and rain brave daffodils offer the only hint that winter may eventually come to an end...

Our past week journeying down the west coast of Scotland has made us appreciate the versatility of our amphibious setup. When storms threaten while we are on the sea, we scrutinize our maps to find a quiet back road to liberate us from Poseidon's fury. Alternatively, when the road comes to an end at a remote fishing village, we pack our bicycles and trailers into the rowboats and continue by water...

We have travelled about 500 km - about half on water and half on land... We still have over 6,000 km to reach Syria, but are now confident our equipment will endure...

We're off in two hours, and will have quite sporadic communciation over the next week. We expect our update next week will be from England.
To read more Rowed Trip news, visit Colin & Julie's trip blog. A full index of their expedition photos is also available.


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Congestion Tolls Coming To NYC

by Mark Plotz

Lately, the question of where to get funding for our public roads has (again) been in the news. Since CenterLines last landed in my In Box, there have been rumblings at the federal and regional level in Washington DC about how tolls, user fees, and privatization might become part of the solution to our worsening traffic. Then, Monday night, New York City's City Council upstaged all the transportation policy pundits by voting 30-20 to approve a plan for congestion pricing in Manhattan. Under the proposal that was approved, drivers entering Manhattan would be charged a toll of $8 to use the streets between 6am and 6pm on weekdays.

Wow. That could pull in $500 million per year which could - theoretically - do a lot for transit users and their two wheeled and two footed friends.

The plan has a long way to go before being implemented. It must first survive the trip to Albany and then be signed by the latest governor. But should this happen - and most experts agree that, eventually, it will happen in NYC - Gotham would join London, Stockholm, and Sri Lanka which have all implemented congestion pricing schemes.

Since its implementation 5 years ago, London's toll zone has experienced a 21 percent reduction in traffic, improved bus service, and... bicycle ridership increased by 45 percent!!! This October, the City will take the next step as it begins charging higher fees for vehicles with larger engines (and greater fuel consumption). I applaud the move because it brings me one step closer to my ultimate goal: the authorities paying me to bicycle to work.

City Council Approves Fee to Drive Below 60th
New York Times, April 1, 2008

Faster, Maybe. Cheaper, No. But Driving Has Its Fans
New York Times, March 31, 2008

Importing a Decongestant for Midtown Streets
New York Times, March 16, 2008

Additional reading on HOT lanes and congestion pricing:

Letting the Market Drive Transportation
Washington Post, March 17, 2008
Meet Tyler Duvall, top policy maker at the DOT and free market enthusiast: he wants to put E-ZPass on your bike lane. (I'm just kinda, sorta, kidding about that.)

Report Suggests New Tolls for Region
Washington Post, March 17, 2008
The Washington DC area is now home to the second worst traffic congestion in the nation. A federally funded 18 month study explored the possibilities and implications of adding tolls to the region's highways and parkways. An estimated $2.75 billion would be reaped every year for improvements to roads and transit.

Mark Plotz is the program director for the National Center for Bicycling and Walking.


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