I say, it has been a rather long time since I’ve written. Truly the winter gave me little to work with, and once settled into the habit of laziness it is difficult to find one’s way back into the spirit of writing about things. But, often as this goes, with a little bit of encouragement (100psi) combined at a time with an event worth relating to others: a recipe for a blog post is formed. All that needs to be done now is for the writing to happen.
Today, ladies and gents, was a Tweed Ride. Dapper lads and lasses dressed up in wools and linens, dropped to a low-speed crawl of a pace, and set about to smile and wave at all manner of folk still here in Cambridge and Boston for Memorial Day. The weather was warm and pleasant, and except for a smoky odor which permeated the area (apparently caused in part by forest fires in Quebec) it was a perfect day for a ride.
Color-coded differentiation between dedicated bike paths, easy-biking streets, and user-submitted preferred streets. Getting directions will plot a route that may avoid hills, and can offer alternative routes or click-drag modifications to the route. Minty!
Of course, I’m also proud that Boston took some initiative in the last two years to publish their own map, but c’mon this is Google Maps!
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!
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:
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?
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.
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.
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
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.