Monday, February 16, 2009


I was reminded today one of the big reasons why I commute by bike: parking. Today I am picking up my wife from the airport and had to drive to school so I can leave straight from here. I thought that I would just suck it up and pay a few bucks for parking in the garage so that I wouldn't have to hunt for a spot. The sign at the garage stated that times greater than 2-1/2 hours cost $10, so being the cheap grad student that I am, I pulled out and went hunting. After some extended searching, I found a spot about 6 blocks away from my building and squeezed my minivan into a tight parallel parking spot.
Some of you who do this every day may be rolling your eyes at my complaining, but how can you get used to this? Call me spoiled rotten, but I love passing long lines at red lights and stop signs, and I love even more rolling right up to my building without having to hunt for a spot.
And on that note, have you ever stopped to notice how much urban space is devoted to parking? Take a few minutes and imagine yourself as an alien visiting earth for the first time and trying understand why our cities are the way they are. You might be tempted to think that growing cars is a major agricultural activity by the devoted to the Mighty Automobile.

Monday, February 9, 2009

6000 km

Today the odometer on my Crosstown 7 flipped 6000 km. My average speed over the life of the bike (342 hrs) is 17.5 km/hr, or 11 mi/hr. I'm the first to admit that I'm not the next Lance Armstrong, but remember that number includes all the time I walk the bike or go slowly accompanying a daughter on a ride up the street and back. I started riding it in August of 2007, so that's an average of 315 km/month over 19 months. Since my commute is about 20 km/day, that means I've been able to ride almost 4/5 days. (Some days are partial commutes when I pick up Ian at Tae Kwon Do and ride the bus home with him.)
Now that I'm back on the bike after the recent repairs, it's nice to be riding consistently every day. This morning was rainy and wet, but I was still able to pull my daughters to school in their bike trailer without rooster tails or chain cleanup. Fenders are a must on a commuter, and have I mentioned before that the drive shaft is nice for not requiring a lot of messy maintenance? This was the first rain in a long time, so the water on the road was really dirty and oily. Yuck! There's more on tap over the next few days, but I don't really mind. It's nice to be out in the weather, whatever it is.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Back in the Saddle

I promised to upload some photos of my restored Dynamic Crosstown 7. (Shhh, I'm using a lab camera to take and post these while our own camera goes in for warranty repair.) So here they are. Note: I saw a little video blurb called BrightBike about putting reflective tape on your bike and decided to get visible. In addition to adding to the cheese factor and increasing visibility, the white tape on the top tube covers up and inappropriate "Tempo" logo. This bike is not the Tempo model but uses the Tempo frame, apparently.

When I went to go buy the reflective tape, I brought Caroline with me, and she got into her head that she needed a new bike helmet and that I was going to get her one at the hardware store. I did some fast thinking and convinced her to accept her own $2.50 package of reflective tape instead. Of course she chose the read and white candy stripe pattern, some of which ended up as decoration on her helmet and some of which ended up adorning the drive shaft cover on my bike. (And yes, that's a spare pair of socks I keep at my desk that you see. I didn't notice it in the photo before.)

Eliza came out with me while I was working on the bike. She, my Little Helper, wanted to participate, so I set her to cleaning the spokes and hub. Everything's nice and shiny now and it looks more or less brand new.

I had mentioned previously that I was having trouble with the shifting. A new cable and sheath and a good clean-out of the rear hub fixed that problem. I had a little bit of worry when I noticed that the gears were grinding during my first commute on the new frame. That turned out to be a simple error on my part of not sufficiently tightening the right-side axle nut on the rear hub. It was allowing the bevel gears to get out of alignment and grind. It was very easily fixed.
I'm happy to be back in the saddle again.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Write your senators!

A quick call to action regarding the upcoming stimulus bill. Apparently, there is all kinds of finagling for new road building projects at the expense of mass transit and rail projects. I read a recent article in Time that pointed out that our investments should be in repairs and maintenance rather than new roads and highways. You can see the reasoning below.
May I suggest a letter something like this:

Dear Senator,
I am writing to urge you please to make sensible decisions regarding transportation in the upcoming stimulus package. Mass transit and high-speed rail project fund must not be raided for further road building. In addition, highway dollars should be channeled toward repair and maintenance. This will increase safety, provide jobs, reduce the growth of sprwal, and reduce future expenses in maintenance and repair. By contrast, new road project, while they do allow for ribbon-cutting and pork boasting, only increase future maintenance burden and encourage sprawl and therefore petroleum dependence. Please resist the political expedience of new highway projects and emphasize our existing infrastructure.

You can find your representative here and your senators here.