Right on, ride on

Ceci n'est pas une vélo

Bike Lane Removal in NYC – huh?!

Posted by @teeheehee on December 9th, 2009

As an act of civil disobedience, some cyclists in NYC have remarked a bike lane on Bedford Ave that was recently sandblasted away.

One of the controversies about this is that the lanes were possibly removed at the request of the Hasidic community living in the area and who may have taken issue with the (type or lack of) garments being worn by (female) cyclists. It doesn’t help that the same NYPost article says “[a] source close to Mayor Bloomberg said removing the lanes was an effort to appease the Hasidic community just before last month’s election.”

Really? This is what our safety is weighed against?

Show ’em how it’s done, people:

Posted in news media, safety, wtf | No Comments »

Prepare for Winter While it’s Still Warm

Posted by @teeheehee on November 17th, 2009

Hey all, go check out this Let’s Go Ride a Bike post for some tips and a video on dressing for the winter. Normally it would already be late in the season to begin thinking of these things but we’ve got a bit of a reprieve with the unseasonable warmth.

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Cyclehoop: Parking Meters to Bike Racks

Posted by @teeheehee on November 10th, 2009

It’s been a long while since I’ve done any weekend roundups where I post random things I find on the Internet, but this item is so cool it can’t wait for a weekend. The Cyclehoop is a device that converts a parking meter into a bike rack similar to those now popping up everywhere in Boston lately. It is currently being trialled in London. Via: Wired



Plenty often people lock up to a parking meter pole without something nifty like this, but not everyone sports a larger U-Lock or the extra break cabling which helps to truly secure one’s most prized possession to the fatter meter poles. The extended, thinner arms of the hoop offer a wider range of lock-up options and provides space enough that a second bike can share the spot. Have a look at Cyclehoop’s gallery.

Plus, they come in a range of delicious-looking colors. Boston, you could use a little color!

cyclehoop colors

cyclehoop colors

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Tour de Grave 2009

Posted by @teeheehee on November 1st, 2009

Yesterday was Halloween, so I donned my pirate socks and joined in the annual Tour de Grave (sponsored by MassBike.)

It was a pretty long ride, hitting ten destinations around the Boston and Cambridge areas in total. There were over 30 riders of varying skill levels, and the going was paced to be able to keep everyone more or less grouped together. There were some challenging hills in Brookline which caused a little trouble for some, but for the most part the ride was interesting and educational. Somewhere between 20 and 30 miles was covered over the course of about five hours (!!!) with a good deal of that time spent actually in burying ground perimeters learning about each of the sites.

The places we hit were (in order) the Old Burying Ground (Cambridge,) King’s Chapel Burying Ground (Boston,) Granary Burying Ground (Boston,) Central Burying Ground (Boston,) South End Burying Ground (South End,) Eliot Burying Ground (Roxbury,) Evergreen Cemetery (Brighton,) Market Street Burying Ground (Brighton,) Cambridge Cemetery (Cambridge,) and finally the Mt. Auburn Cemetery (Cambridge.) The tour guide took a little time at each stop to explain some details about famous people buried in each place, what the practices for burial and treatment of the dead were at the time, some religious and political history to tie things together, and as we continued from one location to the next he presented a progression of the changes in the treatment of the deceased changed the entire style of human burials.

The tour was quite informative and was too much to keep all in my head, so fortunately a handout was available which provides the “readers digest” version of everything.

I experimented with using my phone to take pictures this ride, in part because it looks decent enough (as long as the lens is clean and I hold steady when I take a shot) and also because the pictures are automatically tagged with the location (which I had to fix in a few cases.) Without further ado, here are my (not so very spooky) pictures of the Tour de Grave:

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Thumbs Up

Posted by @teeheehee on October 24th, 2009

Honestly today’s blog post is more to get me to write something because I know I have been lazy. Nothing particularly new happened, this is one of those oft-told stories of harrowing experience, conversation with a motorist, and acclaim from a nearby witness.

For starters, it was a rainy morning. Often this means I wear extra-vibrant clothes to make myself more easily visible to the armored ones I share the road with, but today I sufficed with a light-reflective courier bag and one reflective ankle-cuff. These, combined with my lights, make me relatively conspicuous.

Except if you drive a blue Honda minivan. But, we’ll get back to that after some more build-up….

This morning I went on an errand to the local RCN building (in Arlington) to drop off a couple of cable converters. It was a light rain, and the temperature wasn’t horrible, so I was mostly enjoying the ride except for the occasional red light when I would stop and my glasses would fog up. Note to self: start wearing contact lenses again until the warmer months return.

I was all done with this chore and beginning to switch to the next one (gathering my costume apparel) when I headed back towards Cambridge and Boston via Mass. Ave. For those not familiar with the area of Mass. Ave. in Arlington and Medford: it’s quite wide, but typically problematic with cracks and wrinkles all over. No problems here, though, vehicles were quite respectful this morning.

After I passed the turn towards Alewife the road feature I call the bike share “line” appeared. Cambridge has done some funky things with Mass. Ave., it seems they couldn’t quite figure out what to do to help cyclists – there’s sections with bike lanes, sharrows, and a line with intermittent bike stencils, depending on what area you’re in. The line is my least favorite, even though the area with the sharrows is practically impossible to ride within as it has quite poor road conditions.

Bike lane

Bike lane



Bike stencil

Bike stencil

So, it was a short time after passing the turn-off towards Alewife that I was buzzed by her. Blue Honda minivan. One occupant: driver. I quickly read the license plate and committed it to short-term memory, but before long I had quite forgotten it. (Well, it was short term memory. *shrug*)

Then the usual Mass. Ave. thing happened: I caught up within the next light or two, and passed her. This is not unusual, I stop at all the red lights but being a bike with some marked space on the road I stop right up at the light. Other areas where it’s too sketchy to do this safely I’ll hang back behind the last car in line I come up to and take the lane until the light goes “green”. But, good ol’ Mass. Ave. lets me creep up to the front almost every time.

When I caught up to her I leered over and kind of gave her “the look” as I passed her, then proceeded to wait dutifully at the light. Light went green, traffic went into motion, all the vehicles passed me with at least two feet distance (not the legal amount, but whatever,) until blue minivan comes zooming past within a few inches. Again.

Well, it was still Mass. Ave. and there were plenty of lights ahead. I caught up to her just before Harvard Square at the bus stop. I stopped, waved, and she rolled down her automatic window.

“Hi,” I said. “I just wanted to let you know that you passed me, twice, with very little space between us. Just inches.”

Now, most conversations I’ve had with drivers in similar circumstances would usually cause me to prepare for the usual response in the next moment: my life being threatened. But, it was not so! I may have found one of the nicest, albeit somewhat daft, motorist of the day! “I’d really appreciate if you’d give a little more room.” She nodded and her eyes told a whole story of unexpected shock. She said not a word.

Maybe she didn’t know that what she was doing was endangering me. She had had a couple of feet of space between her left side and the normal lane lines, but hugged the right anyways despite my presence there.

At that moment the light we were at turned green and I cut the one-sided conversation short. I said my piece, she seemed to take it in. I looked to the right at the bus stop and see a dude in bright yellow, bike balanced in one hand, giving the thumbs-up with the other, and he gave a smiling nod which I gladly returned.

Thumbs up

Thumbs up

Posted in bike friendly, rant, safety, traffic, wrong | No Comments »

Green, Yellow, Red

Posted by @teeheehee on September 25th, 2009

ZAPHOD BEEBLEBROX: Er, man, like what’s your name?
MAN: I don’t know. Why, do you think I ought to have one? It seems odd to give a bundle of vague sensory perceptions a name.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Well, this particular bundle of sensory perceptions made some observations this morning:

  1. There are now wind turbines on top of a building on Western Ave next to Soldiers Field Road (parking garage, hotel?) – here. Anyone know more about these?
  2. There is a section of path along Soldiers Field Road that I call the “canopy of trees.” This stretch of the path is my favorite and it’s starting to display autumnal colors. I am preparing myself for a beautiful couple of weeks of crisper morning rides.

Half green and red apple.

Half green and red apple.

As the cold sets in the months-long progression of deciduous life transforms from the green to yellow to red, culminating into the particularly pretty “fall foliage” that is a New England spectacle. I find it amusing that the cycle is repeated in urban transportation: the green to yellow to red of traffic lights, reduced from the months required in nature to the seconds or minutes that our high-speed lifestyles demand. When Autumn hits and the foliage turns red it is as if they implore observers to halt and admire the scenery, and why should it be any different on the streets at a red light? Especially on a bicycle.

This particular bundle of sensory perceptions would like to make some other observations today.
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Fatal Hit and Run in Amherst Over the Weekend

Posted by @teeheehee on September 14th, 2009

Little information is available at this time. My condolences to the victims. Hopefully the driver turns themself in. Some comments from the news threads:

I was talking to a friend of mine on Wednesday afternoon about the lack of space for bikers. This is the third death that I know of on that stretch of Montague Road since 1988.

[…] 15 years ago I felt safe, but now that every one is going 50 in 35 while texting and sipping their coffee, its no longer a good place for bikes, no matter how much the laws say bike have just as much right to be on the roads along side of cars and trucks. […]

Posted in news media, sad, wtf | No Comments »

Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Ride

Posted by @teeheehee on September 13th, 2009

Earlier this week I found out that the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail phase one, from Chelmsford to Westford, was opened to the public.

Even earlier on in the week I was in planning with one of my coworkers to get him out more on his bike. Our initial plan included another person, a former coworker of ours, who unfortunately had to back out due to issues with her ankle. Plans shifted from riding out to Concord, to starting a ride from Concord that might include Walden or the Sculpture Park, or even the Nagog Pond Loop (as I’ve been meaning to revisit it all summer.) But, when word of the rail trail opening came in we thought it was be good fun to go and check it out. So today we did just that.
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Cape Ann

Posted by @teeheehee on September 6th, 2009

Yesterday I deviated from my usual solo rides to join a small group for a tour around Cape Ann.

Plans were drawn up by the fiancée of a friend who I met on a hike last year, and when the idea was broadcast on a group for hiking and biking trips I was compelled. When I first joined the group distribution list I did not think I would be participating in so few activities, but, as things go this became my first time joining one of these group events. The route took us alongside the shore nearly the entire trip, making for a scenic ride on an already gorgeous day.
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Transportation Energy Intensity

Posted by @teeheehee on September 3rd, 2009

For those who are interested in “green” ideas I encourage you to check out this write-up by Alex Wilson (Green Building Advisor) entitled “Transportation Energy Intensity” of Buildings. Via: TreeHugger

I wanted to come up with a metric for the transportation energy use associated with buildings that was parallel to the metric used to measure the energy intensity of a building–for heating, cooling, lighting, computers and other uses. This is commonly reported in thousands of British Thermal Units, or Btus, of energy per square foot per year (kBtu/sf-yr). The U.S. Department of Energy reports that the average energy intensity of office buildings in the U.S. is 93 kBtu/sf-yr. If I could calculate the average energy consumption for commuting using this same metric, I’d be able to show how the commuting energy use compared with the direct building energy use. I called this value “transportation energy intensity.”

How Americans Get to Work

How Americans Get to Work

The results were really interesting. Using these admittedly crude assumptions, I found that office building energy use for commuting averages 121 kBtu/sf-yr. That’s 30% more energy than an average office building uses itself. So it takes more energy to get to and from our office buildings than those buildings use directly!

So, buildings are supposed to be more efficient, but we spend off so much energy getting to these buildings that even the most noble attempt to “green” a living or office space may be countermanded by our transportation expenditures. This is definitely something to consider for improved sustainability.

Alex concluded brilliantly:

For me, even though I live in a rural area, seven miles from my office, this understanding of transportation energy intensity inspires me to get on my bike and enjoy that invigorating (and sometimes mentally productive) ride to work.

Here, here! Riding a bike to/from home/work is an excellent move towards improving one’s own energy intensity – and you’ll develop some fantastic leg muscles in the process.

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