30 January 2009

A bit of this and that

champagne univega mixte bike bicycle

First, a cute bike. She's for sale at Bikes Not Bombs, and definitely needs some chrome fenders and a shopping basket. Still, she has good "bones" and a lovely champagne color which caught my eye. But maybe champagne-colored bikes should have cork grips, on principle???

On to other things: Last night was the Boston Bikes Update. I'm happy to report that Nicole did an excellent job and a great deal of progress has been, and will continue to be, made. In discussions after the event, it was suggested that organize our own Tweed Run, so watch this space as details unfold!

Finally, don't forget to snap a photo on your way to your SuperBowl party, or your non-American-football-based Sunday afternoon activity. We're starting to get some entries for the winter photo contest, and they're looking very cute. Just like you!

29 January 2009

First Ever Chic Cyclist Photo Contest

Winter has me down.
Let's try to celebrate the cold, take some cute photos, and have a bicycle photo contest to cheer ourselves up!

The Contest:
I'm looking for fun, fashionable photos that evidence the intrepid spirit needed to take winter on with style. There need not be snow in the image, but I think we all need cold-weather inspiration, so bundle up. Photos must include at least one human and at least one bicycle. Ages and genders unimportant.

All submissions will be shared on this blog for everyone to enjoy.

Please send your photos to my email address: chiccyclist@yahoo.com. We're looking to warm our hearts, so let's set a submission deadline of Saturday, February 14th.

reusable shopping bags ChicoThe Prize:
First off, you'll be an award-winning photographer, with the Chic Cyclist stamp of approval!

But beyond that magnificent distinction, we have a prize graciously offered by Two Knobby Tires. They will send the winning entry a four-pack set of Chico Shopping Bags, which come in five lovely colors, including the cheerful mango shown, as well as purple, blue, black, and green. In addition to being reusable and thus ecological, ChicoBags fit easily into your purse or pocket and weigh only 1.5 ounces, so you can always carry them with you.

I'm feeling happier already!

28 January 2009

Winter Storm In Effect

winter storm bicyclist
There is a winter storm warning in effect. The streets are nearly empty. My boss told me I could work from home today. I would have still ridden my bicycle in to work, as this man is, but I am concerned about the trip home. In the daylight I can see the ice, at night I need more light.

Good thing I have a plan for that!

Here's the plan: I have a dynamo front wheel being built. I have a front rack coming in the mail. Now all I need are headlights to run off the dynamo. My colleague showed me a copy of Bicycle Quarterly, which happened to have an article about modifying LEDs for use with a dynamo. Does anyone else have suggestions for me? I'd really like to have two round headlights, if that's even possible with a Sturmey-Archer dynohub. What shall I do?

1947 Alex Singer city bike

bicycle quarterly bike

Oh, this one, from Bicycle Quarterly is a beauty!

27 January 2009

Winter City Cyclist

parking a bike in winter Boston

warmth with style on a bikeI was taken with how she held her own against our frigid temperatures as she went marketing. I will say that it's the wind that makes it cold and her long coat would do a lot to protect against that wind. Clearly this was a woman who thought about her outfit before leaving the house on her lovely old bike. I LOVE the aubergine tights, though I'm too much of a wuss to wear tights these days. Wool mittened applause for you, fellow winter cyclist!

rolling on a bike in winter

26 January 2009

Designated Bike Lanes are not enough

snow dumped in Cambridge bike lanes
You also have to be able to actually use them!

24 January 2009

The one that got away

Boston bicycle
It's hard to photograph cyclists when it gets dark so soon! She had a great hat, stylish coat, a beautiful bike, and pretty boutique shopping bags hanging from her handlebars as she headed home with her purchases. I think she's riding on the sidewalk because the road was particularly icy there, she later entered the street.

I wish I could have shown you.

22 January 2009

Bike Makeover #6: Practical is chic?

Sorry to be away so long, it's been one hell of a month. After my father had his crash, a month later he had himself a heart attack. They performed open-heart surgery last week, and I've been out in California since my last post, to give him a hug - gently.

Naturally, after all that he's got a new lease on life, a new mission, and a plan to ride his bike!

I tried to talk him into a new-old bike, but he loves his vintage Hard Rock, all 4,000 pounds of it. Here's the "before" photo, the bike in all its cracked-oxidized-plastic pie plate, biopace chainring, funny stem-routed brake cable glory:

before photo vintage Specialized Hard Rock bike
Here's the "after", looking much more like a commuter bike with new grips, a bell, a basket, fenders, lock, rack, grocery pannier, and a tail light. I also lubricated the parts that needed it:

Here's the bike on my test ride across the airfield that is his commute. You can see that the mountain bike isn't a bad choice on this terrain.

test ride Specialized Hard Rock commuter bike loaded basket panniers
Dad's briefcase is in the basket. This was essential as he wasn't going to court with a bike bag, and I knew that changing briefcases back and forth would keep him from using his bike. The bike is so large the 18" basket doesn't look as large as it really is. I tested the grocery rack on the dirt trails with a carton of OJ and a bottle of wine. That's going to work just fine.

Dad promises to update us when his sternum is healed and he starts riding. I can't wait!

14 January 2009

Bike Parking

Boston bike covered in showThere is no doubt but that parking your bike outside in a Boston winter means that your bike will be ruined. If the snow doesn't get it the snow plows will. It is sad to go about town right now. I see so many bikes I want to rescue like little lost puppies.

bicycle parking Boston winter snow
I don't think even covering the entire bike in shopping bags will protect it enough. I can't imagine dashing to the store on this bike, you'd spend more time removing plastic bags! Though I suppose then you'd then have them to carry your shopping...

Boston bike covered in shopping bags to protect it for winter
I was surprised to see that Back Bay Station is filled to overflowing with bikes taking shelter from the elements. I photographed the orderly section, there are sections that look like tent cities, it's a real refuge camp for bikes.

bikes sheltered in Back Bay Station Boston

Cambridge winter bike storageI got to thinking (entrepreneurs, listen up!) that there must be a market for paid bike parking in Boston. And indeed there is, sort of. This fellow on Craigslist will store your bike for $25/month. That's better than letting it decay, but leaves your bike in someone's basement in Cambridge all winter. Not much use beyond preservation.

OK, it seems to me that parking garages and train stations can make some good money, and get some seriously good "green" PR by offering bike parking in their space. Most garages have dead space available along a wall or behind the pay station, but even if they had to dedicate a single parking space to the endeavor it would pay for itself and more. The bike shed provided by my employer hangs the bikes to a locking hook (pictured below) and by staggering the heights we get one bike per linear foot and a half, or something like that. If anyone is interested I can talk to Facilities and get details.

I imagine that a garage could charge something like $30+/month and easily fit more than 10 bicycles into a space currently renting for $300/month, making the garage money relative to a single car. In addition the garages could then hype their green credibility and the people of Boston could arrange to have useful, dry, accessible, safe bicycles to ride. Seems like a win for everyone.

bicycle parking

13 January 2009

Bicycle Benefits Calculator

Found a nifty gadget on the web: 1 World 2 Wheels

I entered my most basic cycling profile and they tell me that my minimum cycling is:
  • 199 miles a month
  • 9,353 calories burned
  • $43.78 gas money saved

Try it, it's a fun widget:

12 January 2009

Good things will happen in 2009

For many reasons I'm glad that 2008 has ended. 2009 is looking to be a much better year.

On the bike front, Nicole Freedman is going to get things off to a good start in Boston with a "Boston Bikes Update Report" Jan 29:

LivableStreets To Host First Annual "Boston Bikes Update Report"
On Thursday, January 29th, LivableStreets Alliance will host the first "Boston Bikes Update Report" by the city's Director of Bicycle Programs, Nicole Freedman. The public meeting will be held starting at 7 PM in the mezzanine conference room of the main branch of the Boston Public Library. The focus will be on future steps needed to create the "world class bicycling city" that Mayor Menino has promised. There will be additional discussion about what could be done to significantly expand the cycling population -- and its political influence -- by attracting "traffic intolerant" bicyclists, by installing low-cost bike-friendly infrastructure in all parts of the city, and by setting up programs to assure that low-income and non-white communities feel included, among other strategies.

See you there!