Social aspects of bikes (P.2)

Around the turn of the 20th century, bicycles reduced crowding in inner-city tenements by allowing workers to commute from more spacious dwellings in the suburbs. They also reduced dependence on horses. Bicycles allowed people to travel for leisure into the country, since bicycles were three times as energy efficient as walking and three to four times as fast. A number of cities around the world have implemented schemes known as bicycle sharing systems or community bicycle programs.The first of these was the White Bicycle plan in Amsterdam in 1965. It was followed by yellow bicycles in La Rochelle and green bicycles in Cambridge. These initiatives complement public transport systems and offer an alternative to motorized traffic to help reduce congestion and pollution. In Europe, especially in the Netherlands and parts of Germany and Denmark, bicycle commuting is common. In Copenhagen, a cyclists’ organization runs a Cycling Embassy that promotes biking for commuting and sightseeing. The United Kingdom has a tax break scheme (IR 176) that allows employees to buy a new bicycle tax free to use for commuting. In the Netherlands all train stations offer free bicycle parking, or a more secure parking place for a small fee, with the larger stations also offering bicycle repair shops. Cycling is so popular that the parking capacity may be exceeded, while in some places such as Delft the capacity is usually exceeded. In Trondheim in Norway, the Trampe bicycle lift has been developed to encourage cyclists by giving assistance on a steep hill. Buses in many cities have bicycle carriers mounted on the front. There are towns in some countries where bicycle culture has been an integral part of the landscape for generations, even without much official support. That is the case of Ílhavo, in Portugal. In cities where bicycles are not integrated into the public transportation system, commuters often use bicycles as elements of a mixed-mode commute, where the bike is used to travel to and from train stations or other forms of rapid transit. Some students who commute several miles drive a car from home to a campus parking lot, then ride a bicycle to class. Folding bicycles are useful in these scenarios, as they are less cumbersome when carried aboard. Los Angeles removed a small amount of seating on some trains to make more room for bicycles and wheelchairs. Some US companies, notably in the tech sector, are developing both innovative cycle designs and cycle-friendliness in the workplace. Foursquare, whose CEO Dennis Crowley “pedaled to pitch meetings … [when he] was raising money from venture capitalists” on a two-wheeler, chose a new location for its New York headquarters “based on where biking would be easy”. Parking in the office was also integral to HQ planning. Mitchell Moss, who runs the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management at New York University, said in 2012: “Biking has become the mode of choice for the educated high tech worker.” Bicycles offer an important mode of transport in many developing countries. Until recently, bicycles have been a staple of everyday life throughout Asian countries. They are the most frequently used method of transport for commuting to work, school, shopping, and life in general. In Europe, bicycles are commonly used. They also offer a degree of exercise to keep individuals healthy. Bicycles are also celebrated in the visual arts. An example of this is the Bicycle Film Festival, a film festival hosted all around the world. Bicycles also contributes to poverty alleviation. Experiments done in Uganda, Tanzania, and Sri Lanka on hundreds of households have shown that a bicycle can increase a poor family’s income as much as 35%. Transport, if analyzed for the cost-benefit analysis for rural poverty alleviation, has given one of the best returns in this regard. For example, road investments in India were a staggering 3-10 times more effective than almost all other investments and subsidies in rural economy in the decade of the 1990s. What a road does at a macro level to increase transport, the bicycle supports at the micro level. The bicycle, in that sense, can be an important poverty-eradication tool in poor nations.

5 reasons to cycle to work

Making New Year’s resolutions to save money, get healthy, or cut your carbon footprint in 2015? You could hit all three by simply riding your bike to work. Here are 5 reasons you should consider making it a new habit this year:   Not only does biking have the potential to improve individuals’ health, wealth, and standard of living, but the combination of more cyclists and fewer cars on the road could give the entire country a much-needed boost.

It would make cycling safer for everyone.

Research shows that unlike cars, the more bicycles on the road, the safer it becomes for cyclists. “It’s a virtuous cycle,” Dr. Julie Hatfield, an injury expert from the University of New South Wales, says. “The likelihood that an individual cyclist will be struck by a motorist falls with increasing rate of bicycling in a community. And the safer cycling is perceived to be, the more people are prepared to cycle.”

It is vastly cheaper than driving.

Due to rising fuel costs and tire upkeep, the cost of owning a car increased nearly 2% in 2012 to $US8,946, according to AAA. It costs just $US308 per year to keep bikes in shape — nearly 30 times less than cars, according to the Sierra Club. It says: “If American drivers were to make just one four-mile round trip each week with a bicycle instead of a car, they would save nearly 2 billion gallons of gas. At $US4 per gallon, total savings would be $US7.3 billion a year.”

It’s a free gym on wheels.

On average, bicycle commuters lose 13 pounds in their first year of cycling alone. “[Bike commuting] can be a very effective cardiovascular benefit,” says Lisa Callahan, MD, of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. “If you’re overweight and start an exercise program, sometimes it’s harder on your joints because you are overweight, so something like swimming or biking that’s not pounding on the joints can be a good thing.”

You won’t miss morning traffic jams.

Americans spend upwards of 25 minutes per day commuting to work and more than $700 per year simply burning fumes in traffic Cycling could help you get there faster for a lot less. “Half of the working population in the U.S. commutes five miles or less to work, with bike trips of three to five miles taking less time or the same amount of time as commuting by car,” writes Kiplinger editor Amanda Lilly.

You don’t even have to own a bike.

There’s been a wave of new bike share programs in major cities like Washington, D.C., Boston, Chicago, and Miami, which typically allow riders 30 to 45 minutes of transportation for a small annual fee. When New York City’s bike share launched in May, annual memberships cost $US95 — about $US10 less than subway commuters spend per month.

How to babysit the bike

After the article “Take care of your bikes. They need love too!”, we received a lot of positive feedback from you, our beloved readers and requests for more. Therefore, without further ado, this is how you can thoroughly maintain your bikes.

Store It

I tell everyone to store bike(s) inside. It’s the best way to keep them running and looking like new. And it doesn’t take much in the way of space or supplies. The only item needed is a bike hook. These are shaped like question marks and coated with vinyl so as not to scratch the wheel when you hang the bike on the hook. Install the hook in a stud in a wall or a rafter or beam; anywhere where the bike can hang vertically is fine. I’ve seen bikes stored in stairwells, bathrooms, bedrooms—anyplace you can find dead space is fine. It’s also possible to use two hooks and hang the bike horizontally, one wheel on either hook. It’s not the hanging that saves the bike. It’s keeping the bike out of the environment. You might think it’s okay to leave it on a porch or deck as long as there’s a roof covering it. Don’t make that mistake. Moisture in the air will attack the metal parts on the bike. Especially caustic are areas close to the ocean where the salt in the air will quickly corrode components. You can avoid these hazards by simply storing the bike indoors. If you don’t like the idea of bike hooks in your walls or rafters, consider a bike storage display stand, which your local bicycle shop might stock or can order for you. These provide convenient storage while displaying the bike like a work of art.

Baby It

Bikes are tough but you greatly increase the chance of problems and rapid wear if you beat them. It’s much better and you’ll enjoy the riding more, if you learn how to ride smart to protect the bike. The key skill is to learn to constantly scan the road or trail ahead and try to avoid the things that ruin a bike such as potholes, ruts, roots, rocks, glass, oil spots, etc. Some of these things can’t be avoided. And riding off road, you have to ride over obstacles all the time. But there are ways to do it, and still save the bike. Learn to get up off the seat and bend your arms and legs the same way a jockey sits on a racehorse. If you do this every time you spot objects you can’t ride around, you’ll protect the frame, fork, wheels and components. If you enjoy jumping a mountain bike, learn to do so professionally. Good jumpers rarely land hard. They work on their technique so they land softly; you barely hear the impact. Ditto for riding wheelies or hopping over logs and things. The lighter your technique the better chance your bike won’t take a beating. It’ll save you money in replacement parts, greatly reduce the chance of injury, and ensure that your bike keeps running trouble free.

Inspect It

All machines wear, and a bike is no different. Expect changes in your equipment if you ride a lot and prevent failures by staying on top of things with weekly or monthly inspections (depending on how much you ride). Scrutinize the brake pads to see if they’ve worn out (most have grooves in them; when the grooves disappear, replace the pads). When the pads shrink from use, you not only lose braking power, the chances of the pad diving into the spokes or striking the tire and popping it increase. Operate the brake and shift lever and look closely at all four cables both at the levers and at the derailleurs and brakes. Also inspect along the frame. If you spot any signs of fraying or rusting or even if you see cracking in the cable housing sections, have the cable and housing replaced by a shop. That’s much better than getting stranded miles from home with no brakes or a bike stuck in a super-hard-to-pedal gear. Check the tightness of key component by putting a wrench on every important bolt and snuggling slightly to see if it has loosened. Check the seat and seatpost bolts; the wheel quick releases; the stem and handlebar bolts; the brake and shift lever bolts; wiggle the spokes to feel for loose ones; tighten clipless pedal screws; and don’t forget bolts holding on accessories, which can loosen too.

Basic riding techniques (part 1)

Whether you are racing in competitions or just riding around with friends, this can be an extremely fulfilling hobby which is easy to get started in. Cycling offers entertainment, exercise, and an excellent way to just get around town.

Perfect Your Pedaling

It’s normal to hop on a bike and push down on the pedals. But, if that’s all you do, you’ll never develop a smooth, efficient pedal stroke. Practice this instead: When the pedals reach 3 o’clock on the pedal stroke, pull back with a swiping motion as if you are wiping mud off the bottom of your shoes. You’ll notice an immediate boost in power, especially on hills. And, if you focus on this technique for only a few rides, your pedal stroke will smooth out and become far more efficient. In time, you’ll do it automatically.

Palm Protection

Two nerves run through your palms and they can become painfully numb from cycling. In fact, my high-school chum Bruce Holden once lost the feeling in both hands for six weeks after a ride we took into the White Mountain of New Hampshire. What’d he do wrong? He made three serious mistakes: 1 He rode without gloves (always ride with comfortable, nicely padded cycling gloves because they save your hands and also provide palm protection if you crash); 2 He gripped the bars too tightly (relax your grip); and 3 He didn’t move his hands around to different parts of the handlebars (every 10 minutes move your hands and grip in a different place). Avoid these mistakes and you should avoid palm problems.

Relax!

One of the most common mistakes is riding while you’re too tight in the upper body. If you see someone riding and you see locked shoulders and straight, stiff arms, you’re looking at someone who’s probably going to have a sore neck and arms at the end of the ride and someone who’s tiring out muscles for no good reason. Relax when you’re riding. Keep nice, loose, bent arms. Drop your shoulders and get comfortable. Train yourself to relax by, every 15 minutes or so, shrugging your shoulders to get them to drop and relax. Bring your elbows down and closer together and shake your arms to relax them. Bend your elbows. Exhale. Think about letting all that tension leave your neck, shoulders and arms. You’ll feel a whole lot better and have a lot more control of your bike if you can learn to ride comfortably like this.

Hook Your Thumbs

An important safety measure is always keeping at least one of your thumbs beneath the handlebars. If you can do this, you’ll avoid crashing due to your hands slipping off the bars. This can happen if you hold onto the tops with all your fingers over the handlebars. In this position, if you hit a bump and aren’t prepared, your hands can slip off causing a crash. This common accident can be prevented by simply keeping your thumbs in the right place.

Push-up Power!

If you suffer from a sore neck on rides and you’re satisfied with the fit of your bike, you should try adding sets of push-ups to your workout routine. Even if you only do them a few days a week, I think you’ll find that they make your neck pain go away. This happens because the push-ups strengthen the muscles that support the neck, which means they won’t tire on rides and get sore.

Groningen: The world’s cycling city

It’s no secret that just about anywhere you go in the Netherlands is an incredible place to bicycle. And in Groningen, a northern city with a population of 190,000 and a bike mode share of 50 percent, the cycling is as comfortable as in any city on Earth. The sheer number of people riding at any one time will astound you, as will the absence of automobiles in the city center, where cars seem extinct. It is remarkable just how quiet the city is. People go about their business running errands by bike, going to work by bike, and even holding hands by bike. The story of how they got there is a mix of great transportation policy, location and chance. You’ll learn quite a bit of history in the film, but essentially Groningen decided in the 1970s to enact policies to make it easier to walk and bike, and discourage the use of cars in the city center. By pedestrianizing some streets, building cycle tracks everywhere, and creating a unique transportation circulation pattern that prohibits vehicles from cutting through the city, Groningen actually made the bicycle — in most cases — the fastest and most preferred choice of transportation. It does feel like bicycle nirvana. When I first got off the train in Groningen, I couldn’t stop smiling at what I saw around me. In an email exchange with my friend Jonathan Maus from Bike Portland, he described it as being “like a fairy tale.” This jibed with my first thought to him — that I had “entered the game Candyland, but for bikes!” In fact, for our teaser I originally titled this Streetfilm “Groningen: The Bicycle World of Your Dreams,” before I talked myself out of it. Although there is a magical quality about being there, in reality there is nothing dreamy or childlike about it. With political will and planning, what they have done should and can be done everywhere. In our Streetfilm you’ll see the 10,000 (!) bicycle parking spaces at the train station, some of the incredible infrastructure that enables cyclists to make their journeys safer and quicker, and you’ll hear from many residents we encountered who go by bike just about everywhere they travel. But as one of my interview subjects, Professor Ashworth, wanted me to point out: the three days I was there were bright and sunny, and the hardy people keep up the bicycling through the cold winters. As with many bicycling cities, there area also big problems with cycle theft, and residents are always yearning for more bicycle parking.

Social aspects of bikes (P.2)

Around the turn of the 20th century, bicycles reduced crowding in inner-city tenements by allowing workers to commute from more spacious dwellings in the suburbs. They also reduced dependence on horses. Bicycles allowed people to travel for leisure into the country, since bicycles were three times as energy efficient as walking and three to four times as fast. A number of cities around the world have implemented schemes known as bicycle sharing systems or community bicycle programs.The first of these was the White Bicycle plan in Amsterdam in 1965. It was followed by yellow bicycles in La Rochelle and green bicycles in Cambridge. These initiatives complement public transport systems and offer an alternative to motorized traffic to help reduce congestion and pollution. In Europe, especially in the Netherlands and parts of Germany and Denmark, bicycle commuting is common. In Copenhagen, a cyclists’ organization runs a Cycling Embassy that promotes biking for commuting and sightseeing. The United Kingdom has a tax break scheme (IR 176) that allows employees to buy a new bicycle tax free to use for commuting. In the Netherlands all train stations offer free bicycle parking, or a more secure parking place for a small fee, with the larger stations also offering bicycle repair shops. Cycling is so popular that the parking capacity may be exceeded, while in some places such as Delft the capacity is usually exceeded. In Trondheim in Norway, the Trampe bicycle lift has been developed to encourage cyclists by giving assistance on a steep hill. Buses in many cities have bicycle carriers mounted on the front. There are towns in some countries where bicycle culture has been an integral part of the landscape for generations, even without much official support. That is the case of Ílhavo, in Portugal. In cities where bicycles are not integrated into the public transportation system, commuters often use bicycles as elements of a mixed-mode commute, where the bike is used to travel to and from train stations or other forms of rapid transit. Some students who commute several miles drive a car from home to a campus parking lot, then ride a bicycle to class. Folding bicycles are useful in these scenarios, as they are less cumbersome when carried aboard. Los Angeles removed a small amount of seating on some trains to make more room for bicycles and wheelchairs. Some US companies, notably in the tech sector, are developing both innovative cycle designs and cycle-friendliness in the workplace. Foursquare, whose CEO Dennis Crowley “pedaled to pitch meetings … [when he] was raising money from venture capitalists” on a two-wheeler, chose a new location for its New York headquarters “based on where biking would be easy”. Parking in the office was also integral to HQ planning. Mitchell Moss, who runs the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management at New York University, said in 2012: “Biking has become the mode of choice for the educated high tech worker.” Bicycles offer an important mode of transport in many developing countries. Until recently, bicycles have been a staple of everyday life throughout Asian countries. They are the most frequently used method of transport for commuting to work, school, shopping, and life in general. In Europe, bicycles are commonly used. They also offer a degree of exercise to keep individuals healthy. Bicycles are also celebrated in the visual arts. An example of this is the Bicycle Film Festival, a film festival hosted all around the world. Bicycles also contributes to poverty alleviation. Experiments done in Uganda, Tanzania, and Sri Lanka on hundreds of households have shown that a bicycle can increase a poor family’s income as much as 35%. Transport, if analyzed for the cost-benefit analysis for rural poverty alleviation, has given one of the best returns in this regard. For example, road investments in India were a staggering 3-10 times more effective than almost all other investments and subsidies in rural economy in the decade of the 1990s. What a road does at a macro level to increase transport, the bicycle supports at the micro level. The bicycle, in that sense, can be an important poverty-eradication tool in poor nations.

Social aspects of bikes (P.1)

Bicycle manufacturing proved to be a training ground for other industries and led to the development of advanced metalworking techniques, both for the frames themselves and for special components such as ball bearings, washers, and sprockets. These techniques later enabled skilled metalworkers and mechanics to develop the components used in early automobiles and aircraft. It was a pair of bicycle mechanics in Dayton, Ohio, Wilbur and Orville Wright, who achieved the first powered flight in an aircraft. Their design owed much to knowledge gained from bicycles. They also served to teach the industrial models later adopted, including mechanization and mass production (later copied and adopted by Ford and General Motors), vertical integration (also later copied and adopted by Ford), aggressive advertising (as much as 10% of all advertising in U.S. periodicals in 1898 was by bicycle makers), lobbying for better roads (which had the side benefit of acting as advertising, and of improving sales by providing more places to ride), all first practiced by Pope. In addition, bicycle makers adopted the annual model change (later derided as planned obsolescence, and usually credited to General Motors), which proved very successful. Early bicycles were an example of conspicuous consumption, being adopted by the fashionable elites. In addition, by serving as a platform for accessories, which could ultimately cost more than the bicycle itself, it paved the way for the likes of the Barbie doll. Bicycles helped create, or enhance, new kinds of businesses, such as bicycle messengers, traveling seamstresses, riding academies, and racing rinks. Their board tracks were later adapted to early motorcycle and automobile racing. There were a variety of new inventions, such as spoke tighteners, and specialized lights, socks and shoes, and even cameras, such as the Eastman Company’s Poco. Probably the best known and most widely used of these inventions, adopted well beyond cycling, is Charles Bennett’s Bike Web, which came to be called the jock strap. They also presaged a move away from public transit that would explode with the introduction of the automobile. J. K. Starley’s company became the Rover Cycle Company Ltd. in the late 1890s, and then simply the Rover Company when it started making cars. Morris Motors Limited (in Oxford) and Škoda also began in the bicycle business, as did the Wright brothers. Alistair Craig, whose company eventually emerged to become the engine manufacturers Ailsa Craig, also started from manufacturing bicycles, in Glasgow in March 1885. In general, U.S. and European cycle manufacturers used to assemble cycles from their own frames and components made by other companies, although very large companies (such as Raleigh) used to make almost every part of a bicycle (including bottom brackets, axles, etc.) In recent years, those bicycle makers have greatly changed their methods of production. Now, almost none of them produce their own frames. Many newer or smaller companies only design and market their products; the actual production is done by Asian companies. For example, some 60% of the world’s bicycles are now being made in China. Despite this shift in production, as nations such as China and India become more wealthy, their own use of bicycles has declined due to the increasing affordability of cars and motorcycles. One of the major reasons for the proliferation of Chinese-made bicycles in foreign markets is the lower cost of labor in China. In line with the European financial crisis, in Italy in 2011 the number of bicycle sales (1.75 million) just passed the number of new car sales.

5 reasons to cycle to work

Making New Year’s resolutions to save money, get healthy, or cut your carbon footprint in 2015? You could hit all three by simply riding your bike to work. Here are 5 reasons you should consider making it a new habit this year:   Not only does biking have the potential to improve individuals’ health, wealth, and standard of living, but the combination of more cyclists and fewer cars on the road could give the entire country a much-needed boost.

It would make cycling safer for everyone.

Research shows that unlike cars, the more bicycles on the road, the safer it becomes for cyclists. “It’s a virtuous cycle,” Dr. Julie Hatfield, an injury expert from the University of New South Wales, says. “The likelihood that an individual cyclist will be struck by a motorist falls with increasing rate of bicycling in a community. And the safer cycling is perceived to be, the more people are prepared to cycle.”

It is vastly cheaper than driving.

Due to rising fuel costs and tire upkeep, the cost of owning a car increased nearly 2% in 2012 to $US8,946, according to AAA. It costs just $US308 per year to keep bikes in shape — nearly 30 times less than cars, according to the Sierra Club. It says: “If American drivers were to make just one four-mile round trip each week with a bicycle instead of a car, they would save nearly 2 billion gallons of gas. At $US4 per gallon, total savings would be $US7.3 billion a year.”

It’s a free gym on wheels.

On average, bicycle commuters lose 13 pounds in their first year of cycling alone. “[Bike commuting] can be a very effective cardiovascular benefit,” says Lisa Callahan, MD, of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. “If you’re overweight and start an exercise program, sometimes it’s harder on your joints because you are overweight, so something like swimming or biking that’s not pounding on the joints can be a good thing.”

You won’t miss morning traffic jams.

Americans spend upwards of 25 minutes per day commuting to work and more than $700 per year simply burning fumes in traffic Cycling could help you get there faster for a lot less. “Half of the working population in the U.S. commutes five miles or less to work, with bike trips of three to five miles taking less time or the same amount of time as commuting by car,” writes Kiplinger editor Amanda Lilly.

You don’t even have to own a bike.

There’s been a wave of new bike share programs in major cities like Washington, D.C., Boston, Chicago, and Miami, which typically allow riders 30 to 45 minutes of transportation for a small annual fee. When New York City’s bike share launched in May, annual memberships cost $US95 — about $US10 less than subway commuters spend per month.