Tag Archives: bike commuter journal

Bike Commuter Journal – Where Did 2015 Go?

1 Apr

Bike Commuting RainSomehow it’s been since May of 2015 since my last Bike Commuter Journal entry – I’d say it’s become a ho-hum dull routine, but I’d be lying – just got really busy! So here’s the catch-up in brief.

Commuter Bike Mar 31 2016

Regarding the bike itself, only 3 minor changes – an extender for the handlebar bag attachment so the cables aren’t so crunched, a fixed mirror off the left end of the handlebar and a more solid video camera mounting near the left hand grip. The bike also sports a backup (to the always-on dyno-generated light not visible under the trunk box) rear blinky light on the back rack support strut, but that’s removable. The mirror replaces the old glasses-mounted mirror, which I kept losing.

Reflective Shirt Pics TogetherI’ve been experimenting with bike commuter fashion this year, though calling it fashion seems strange, as the goal is to blend unseen into the Dilbertian officescape, only to be revealed under the glare of headlights (or the paparazzi’s flash).

Anyway, gearing up for this year’s Bike To Work month in May, hope everyone will consider sending in your bike commuter blog post! (jfoster@gmtma.org)

 

 

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GMTMA’s Bike to Work Week and Photo Contest Winners

19 Jun

A big thank you to everyone who rode their bike to work during GMTMA’s Bike to Work Week challenge this year! In just one week you eliminated 300 car trips and rode over 1800 miles!

While many people that registered for bike to work week do regularly or occasionally ride their bike to work, 15% of our bike to work registrants were first-time bike to work riders. Sixty percent of these new riders were women.  Some could not bike to work but chose to swap an errand typically done by car with a bike ride. Cargo bikes proved to be great for running errands and grocery shopping.

33% of the participants that reported their rides for the week, rode to work five times, 23% rode three times, and 8% ride their bike seven days.

The longest commute by bike was 32 miles/day which adds up to 160 miles per week and five people reported more than 100 miles rode in a week.

This year’s participation by gender:

gender

The incentive to ride was great this year, besides the great weather, we had 25 prizes to give out thanks to our generous sponsors:

Hart’s CycleryMcCaffrey’s SupermarketWhole Earth CenterKopp’s CycleSt. Lawrence RehabREISourland CyclesHalter’s Cyclery,Knapps CycleryWhole Foods Market (Princeton) and NJ Bike Tours.

The prizes ranged from Trenton Thunder tickets, $25, $50 and $100 dollars gift cards to helmets and bike tune-ups.

The winners are: Jenny M., Deniz D., Robert W., Sharon H., Sena V., Jim S., Christian J., Marc B., Sam B., David B., Vanshaj B., Daniel W., Chris S., Elizabeth M., Joseph K., Charles K., Michael L., Philip C., Ellen F., Ken M., Jenny G., Ted B., and Edwin S.

The Bike to Work Week Team Challenge prize goes to a group of four riders from Maser Consulting.

Maser Consulting Team

Maser Consulting Team

The Visions of Bicycling photo contest winner is Deniz D.

Who needs a car on a beautiful spring day? We are a car-free family. You ask if that is even possible in New Jersey? It sure is and we love it! Here’s a classic example of a resourceful bicycle moment: my wife managed to get an entire piece of plywood home (cut to fit in our daughter’s chariot, yet just the right length for our project). But if that wasn’t enough, she stopped to pick up a watermelon along the way. The best part was the proud smile on her face when she got back home!

-Deniz D.

Kudos to Deniz and his family and thank you for the great picture!

GMTMA Visions of Bicycling photo contest winner

GMTMA Visions of Bicycling photo contest winner

And as one of the riders said: “It’s not over yet!!   The more I ride the more I enjoy my bike! Thanks for the extra push on my spring and summer riding. “

We hope this was an incentive to get you started and you will keep biking every chance you get.

Don’t forget to join us for the next Bike to Work Week Challenge!

Until then send us your stories or join us as a guest blogger.

We will follow up with a post about all the suggestions we received to make our communities more bike friendly.

Bike Commuter Journal – Bright Bike Lights

15 May

Bike commuters can rejoice in the vast number of new choices to improve your visibility and to light up the road at night like never before. We’ll look at 5 options, including the lights that GMTMA uses as part of our Highway Traffic Safety grant. The Lights that we have at GMTMA are Planet Bike Blinky Safety, they are very lightweight, 2 LEDs, easily removable and run on nickel-sized CR2032 batteries.

Bike lights are useful in the day as well as required by law at night – for example, a rider close to the edge of the road on a tree-lined street is very difficult to see, so lights provide a big safety improvement.

Lights are of course white in front and red in back, and vary by strength, quality and source of power. Overall, there are lights to be seen by drivers and lights to see the road – we’ll concentrate on LED lights that are currently dominating the industry.

Pt Pleasant Boro Surf Taco 2 Yrs LaterThe free lights we give to bike commuters are Planet Bike Blinky Safety, they are very light, 2 LEDs, easily removable and run on nickel-sized CR2032 batteries that are claimed to give up to 100 hrs of runtime on the blinking setting. Click here to see a very useful visualization comparison tool. The lights pictured were still working 2 years after we gave them to the restaurant workers as part of our HTS program.

Another very lightweight offering uses 16 LEDs producing 80 lumens (much brighter than the lights using only 2 LEDs), are easily removable via a rubber strap, has multiple blinking modes, and are claimed to run up to 6 hours on pulse mode via USB-rechargeable lithium ion batteries (I get about 3.5 hrs).

At the upper end of the battery lights are those developed for mountain bike racing, where 24 hour events demand being able to see as if in daytime – this offering uses 6 LEDs that can produce an astounding 3600 lumens, but only for 1.5 hrs – lower settings allow for up to 16.5 hrs runtime, and software is provided so you can program your own settings.

The US doesn’t regulate bicycle lights, so if you’re a motorist approaching a cyclist sporting 3600 lumens in the opposite lane, be ready to be blinded. German regulations provide for not blinding oncoming traffic, so let’s look at 2 offerings that conform to German street regulations, both with power provided from a front hub dynamo.

Supernova E3 Pro 2 at walking speed

Supernova E3 Pro 2 at walking speed

This offering (beam pictured above in hall) provides 205 lumens, and can be paired with a 3-LED rear light – a capacitor stores enough energy for keeping lit while waiting for lights. The weight of the hub dynamo plus headlight is lighter than the high-powered mountain bike light, which has a lot of battery weight.

Busch Muller Luxos headlight and tail lightThis last offering (pictured above, see the beam pattern on the hedge) provides 70 or 90 lux (lux = lumens / square meter, this discussion compares 80 lux to a hallway, i.e. indoor lighting), and senses outside lighting conditions and adjusts the light level accordingly, plus offers the ability to charge your phone via USB. It uses an internal battery to mediate the charging capability, provide power while waiting for traffic lights and provide the 90 lux floodlight. It also senses your speed, and broadens the light beam at low speed, so you can make safer turns, for example, see the pics below to contrast the standing light, when the bike is not moving(top), with the low speed wide beam, when the bike is moving slowly (bottom).

Busch Muller Luxos U standing light in hall

Busch Muller Luxos U standing light in hall

Busch Muller Luxos U headlight beam slow moving in hall

Busch Muller Luxos U headlight beam slow moving in hall

Here’s a good illustration and discussion of different light patterns of various headlights – it’s not just brightness that matters.

And as always, contact us if you would like to be a guest blogger on the GMTMA blog.

Bike Commuter Journal: The Cargo Bike

24 Apr

Want to participate in Bike to Work Week, but work from home, or live too far away to bike? You can still sign up (and get a free tshirt!) by swapping out car trips done on your bike. For example, let’s say you need to mail a few letters at the post office – just tuck the letters into your pocket or backpack, hop on the bike and ride over – you’ll find that many errands don’t require a lot of carrying capacity.

Even minor grocery shopping can be done on bike with just a backpack, handlebar bag or trunk box. For a bit more capacity, a rack and panniers enable you to fit all but the most bulky groceries, see below.

Bikes waiting ventura vonsFor the bulky stuff or a longer term grocery run, a bike trailer works well, the pic above shows a DIY bike trailer using a plastic storage box. Or you could go all out and buy a cargo bike, which can fit an entire grocery cart’s worth.

Shopping Cart Full Cargo Bike Empty 2 Cargo Bike Loaded Shopping Cart Empty

Bike Commuter Journal: It’s About the Experience

10 Apr

Ted Borer Pic 1 Please welcome this year’s first guest Bike Commuter Journalist, Ted Borer, who’s been bike commuting for over three decades!

I have the nicest commute! My ride to and from work is something I look forward to and is often the most pleasant part of the day. About 35 minutes of uninterrupted fresh air and fitness twice a day.

Years ago I was living in West Philly and would ride a trolley to my office in Center City. But, one day SEPTA went on strike. I hopped on my bike and pedaled across the U. Penn campus and the Drexel campus and down Market Street to my office building.

Ted Borer SEPTA TrolleyIt ended up being faster than the trolley. And cheaper. And less hassle. And more fun. And I suddenly found myself experiencing the city, not just being transported through it. I would say hello to street vendors just setting up shop. I got to park right outside my office instead of blocks away.

Four offices, three house moves, and thirty years later, I’m still pedaling to work. I’ve got about 85,000 miles on the road and expect to break the 100,000 mile mark before retirement.

I’ve learned to avoid days when ice or snow are covering the white line on the road. There are times when family needs require that I drive. But over time I’ve sorted out all the issues about how to transport stuff, where to keep my bike securely, and where to take a shower and change, and how to deal with heat and cold and rainy weather, and how to fix what breaks. I own a car. But mostly it sits in the driveway. My bicycle offers much more joy.

Thanks Ted! You can find more of Ted’s commuting and other biking adventures at: http://c-note-book.blogspot.com/  If you have a story you’d like to share with Bike Commuter Journal, please contact Jerry Foster at jfoster@gmtma.org.

 

 

Gear Up for Bike to Work Week

3 Apr

 Picture1

May is National Bike Month, and Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association (GMTMA) is celebrating again this year with Bike to Work Week events to encourage people to get on their bikes and discover the benefits and joy of cycling. The motto this year is “Biking: Happy You, Healthy Earth!”

Registration for Bike to Work Week and Bike Month events is available on www.gmtma.org.  Registrants that log in their miles at the end of the week are entered to win great prizes offered by the following sponsors:  Kopp’s Cycle, Whole Earth Center, Whole Foods Princeton, St. Lawrence Rehab Center, Hart’s Cyclery, McCaffrey’s Supermarket, Knapps Cyclery, Sourland Cycles, and REI.

First 150 registrants get a free t-shirt! REGISTER NOW! 

GMTMA is also sponsoring the following Bike Month events:

Swap A Ride: Don’t bike to work? No problem. Replace as many car trips as possible with bike trips and enter to win prizes!

Employer Bike Challenge: Form a group of fellow employees to participate in Bike to Work Week. Enjoy the camaraderie and the great outdoors with co-workers by commuting to and from work together. AND, get a chance to win our EMPLOYER WHEELS award.

Visions of Bicycling: To celebrate Bike Month and the beauty that is bicycling, GMTMA is hosting a photo contest. Bike to Work Week participants are welcome to submit their photographs. Check out last year’s winning photograph, “Lunchtime Errands”, in the photo above!

 And of course, GMTMA offers information and safety tips for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and can provide onsite bike safety and pedestrian education programs for schools and camp programs, businesses, as well as seniors. GMTMA can also help your community do a walkability audit and identify concerns for pedestrians related to the safety, access, comfort and convenience of the walking environment. An audit can also help identify potential solutions such as engineering treatments, policy changes or education and enforcement.

Many thanks to our sponsors!

Horiz

Bike Commuter Journal – the Commuter Bike a Year Later

6 Feb

Commuter Bike After 1 Year Made a few changes to the commuter bike in the year it’s been flogged every day 2 miles to the office and back – for reference, see last year’s post Accessorizing the Commuter Bike

There were two main issues – pain in the shoulder, caused by the straight handlebar, and pain in the neck, caused by dealing with the hydraulic disc brakes (mental pain, not physical).

Swapping the straight handlebar for a mustache bar provided the hand position that prevented shoulder pain (yep, even on a ten minute ride). Tried new grips, which didn’t help, then swapped the grips from my mountain bike to this bike – when that didn’t help it had to be the bar, because those grips are very comfortable on the mountain bike’s straight handlebar.

The next, more obviously self-inflicted issue, was that some idiot overloaded the light duty rack on grocery runs. The rack uses the fender as support, and the rivet-nut holding it to the frame pulled out (not just once, either), so the guys at the shop drilled and through bolted it to the frame – problem solved. (Also, bought a cargo bike so don’t need to overload the commuter bike anymore – an expensive fix, you might say, and my spouse would certainly agree – more in another post.)

The less obviously self-inflicted issue was dealing with the hydraulic disc brakes. One time, some idiot took off the wheel to put on the winter tires and closed the brake lever. You probably know that if you don’t have something for the brake to grab (disc, credit card, cardboard, etc.) it will not open back up, and the wheel will not go back on. Anyway, back to the shop to have the brake lines bled, and not for the 1st time.

The first time back to the shop was after a few months of winter riding and the lever went all the way to the handle without stopping much. Another time was to get the brakes to stop screeching, and to put some silicone around the fender rivets so they stopped rattling. The last straw was when some road gook got into the front brake on a ride to Hopewell, and I fought and listened to the tick from the brake all the way back to West Windsor, because there’s no way to loosen the calipers on hydraulic brakes in the field. I’d had enough – they were simply not idiot-proof enough for this idiot. The new mechanical disc brakes not only have ways to loosen them, they have dials for making adjustments and a fancy way to automatically align the calipers.  It sure sounds good.

On the sound advice from the good folks at the shop, let’s talk about bike maintenance and keeping your bike clean. If (like a certain someone) you just ride it and occasionally lube the chain (sometimes after wiping the main gook off), you will have a much harder time pedaling by the end of the year – maybe because the derailleur pulleys rust into place. Really, it’s a wonder I could pedal at all.  You might think this would encourage better bike cleaning, but instead it has me thinking about belt drives – anyone have experience to share?