Thursday, September 13, 2012

Utility Cycling Article Has Been Published

I want to thank everyone who participated in my Utility Cycling Survey. With your results included, I was able to develop what I thought was an entertaining --- and somewhat informative --- tongue-in-cheek article about polling.

You can find it here:
BluesCat's Totally Credible, Not-Self-Serving Bike Poll

Y'all also added little tidbits of information which have generated other ideas, so I may be contacting some of you for some info for other articles.

Thanks again!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Utility Cycling Survey

I'm contemplating writing an article profiling Utility Cyclists. So I'd like to get some input from y'all.

The first question is:
1. YES or NO - Do you use a bicycle for any type of "Utility Cycling"? (i.e. Running errands, commuting, anything OTHER than recreation or sporting.)

If you answered "YES" to Question 1, please answer all of the following questions (unless otherwise instructed, please choose only one answer for each question):

2. How many total miles a week do you typically Utility Cycle?
A. 30 miles or less
B. 31 to 100 miles
C. Over 100 miles

3. How many days a week do you typically Utility Cycle?
A. 1 day per week
B. 2 to 5 days per week
C. 6 or 7 days per week

4. Which of the following best describes the type of bicycle you use for most of your Utility Cycling?
A. Road Bike
B. Hybrid Bike
C. Mountain Bike
D. Recumbent (includes Velomobiles)
E. Other (includes Comfort bikes, BMX bikes, E-Bikes, etc.); please describe the bike.

5. What accessories do you feel are absolute necessities for Utility Cycling? (Choose as many as apply.)
A. Helmet
B. Lights
C. Cycling Computer
D. Backpack
E. Rear Rack and Panniers
F. Rack Bag (front and/or rear)
G. Handlebar Bag
H. Seat Bag
I. Fenders
J. Tool Kit
K. Spare Tube(s)
L. Pump
M. Other (please describe)

6. What is your age?
A. 20 years old or younger
B. 21 to 40 years old
C. 41 to 50 years old
D. 51 to 60 years old
E. 61 years old or older
F. That's NONE of your business, Cat!

7. How much do you weigh?
A. 160 pounds or less
B. 161 to 180 pounds
C. 181 to 200 pounds
D. 201 pounds or more
E. That TOO is NONE of your business, Cat!

Respond in a comment.



Friday, April 13, 2012

2012 National Bike Challenge

The 2012 National Bike Challenge starts May 1 and runs through August 31. The goal is to get 50,000 Americans on bikes and have them ride a total of 10 million miles. As you and I and all the rest of the participants record our progress, the Bike Challenge website will display a wealth of information about how many miles we've ridden, how many calories we've burned, how many pounds of CO2 we've kept out of the atmosphere and how many bucks we've saved!

Together, we can show everybody in Washington that bikes deserve a place in the future transportation plans for this country!

The BluesCat is already in, and hereby throws down the gauntlet! On May 1 they reset the numbers to zero and we start the challenge together!

Click on the following link to join the challenge for FREE:

Now, starting on May 1, see if you can keep up!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Black Betty

A buddy of mine and I went for a ride last Saturday and came upon a picnic. I was riding Bluetiful and Joe was riding Black Betty.

Both our bikes started gathering a crowd of onlookers.

Just goes to show you don't have to put a lot of money into an eye catching bike. I've got around $1,500 invested in Bluetiful. Joe has only about $200 in Black Betty, and that includes the decals.

You guys with fixies ain't got nuthin' on Black Betty!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bus Strike In Phoenix

Friday at midnight, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1433 in Phoenix went on strike against Veolia Transportation Services. Veolia has a contract to run about 67% of the the bus routes in Phoenix. As of Saturday, only about 21% of all the bus routes were running.

Mine is not a multi-modal commute, so a bus strike doesn't affect me directly. It does affect all of us indirectly, because a lot of employers will have difficulty maintaining their level of service if their employees can't get to work, or get to work late.

The strike is not about wages and benefits, but about a contract negotiation Veolia is working on with the City of Phoenix. My understanding is that Veolia is trying to modify their contract to limit the amount of liquidated damages they would pay as a result of not meeting certain service obligations. The people who would pay for this modification would be the bus operators, since Veolia would, essentially, be able to shift blame to the operators in order to reduce the amount of damages they pay.

If this is true, then it is a great example of how unions work to fight abuses by big corporations by giving workers a unified, powerful voice they would otherwise not have.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Surprising A2B Metro

I've had the A2B Metro electric for a little over ten weeks, and have written the final review for Commute by Bike: Ten Weeks (and Counting) with an A2B Metro Electric Bike.

The bike has been great fun, and has been a surprisingly great bicycle. Although it is pretty heavy, the 7-speed derailleur makes it an adequate commuter. Add the electric boost and I've found the average speed on my commute to be slightly faster than my recumbent.

The maneuverability seems to be about as good as my Giant mountain bike. The bike has front and rear suspension, so the low-pressure, wide tires carry you over curbs and speed bumps very comfortably.

In the review for Commute by Bike, I mentioned the two Ultra Motor bags they sent down with the Metro. They are big, roomy bags which have spoiled me with the amount of stuff I can pack in them. So much so that I have purchased a larger pannier, the Vaude Egger Commuter.

The Vaude is slightly bigger than my regular leather briefcase. It has the Vaude QMR (Quick Mount Release) system with locking clips. You drop the top clips of the QMR system onto the top rails of your rear rack, snap the locking clips closed and the bag is securely attached to your rack. A handle directly above the clips is pulled to unlock the clips and the bag pops right off the rack. You then unfold a cover which is attached on one side of the back of the bag and run a zipper around the three sides to completely cover the QMR system. The Vaude then looks like an ordinary briefcase.

As soon as I've ridden with the Vaude Egger for a while, I'll ask Commute by Bike if they would like me to review it.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Congress CAN Fund Bike Infrastructure

Over on Commute by Bike, in the comments section for an article there, I've been discussing bike funding with a fellow named Jeff Gardner. You can follow it here: 'Social Engineer' Your Kids With Chariot Child Carriers. My most recent comment didn't go through to the site, probably for some technical issues related to the renegade little Linux laptop I'm using. So here it is.

Okay, Jeff, I took a look at a random selection of your carpet-bombing collection of cases, and I have come to a conclusion ...

Dude, you have a serious, unhealthy fixation with the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution! While every case I looked at did indeed utilize the Commerce Clause as the authority in the case, and most of them were, indeed about interstate commerce, not a single one that I looked at had ANYTHING to do with Congressional authority over the wheels, or wings, or rails which move products and people around this nation.

I can see, now, that I have been much too gentle, maybe too subtle, with my attempts to help you understand how Congress has the authority to spend tax money promoting healthy, two-wheeled, human-powered transport. Time for some tough love, Bud! Time for an INTERVENTION!

Take a quick look at a document by those Nemeses of Bikes - Senators McCain and Coburn: Out of Gas. (You'll note that I consider your time and effort, and happily give you a hyperlink to the document; something which you didn't do and which is indicative of your struggles with your current mental state over the issue.) Look at the laundry list of items, which Congress has approved and spent transportation money on, that these two Senatorial Crybabies are complaining about: everything from programs to abate roadkill, to money for transportation museums, to funds for the beautification of highways, to (horrors!) actually BILLIONS in CASH for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure!

In any intervention, Jeff, the most critical moment is when the patient is forced to confront the TRUTH about their addiction ... and here we are my friend:
McCain's and Coburn's list is mere grousing and whining, there has NEVER been a successful challenge to the CONSTITUTIONALITY of ANY of the programs on that list!

I'm not even aware of any ATTEMPT to challenge those programs on ANY Constitutional grounds. And even if there were, I'm pretty sure the challengers would be about as successful as the wingnuts who challenged Social Security.

And it certainly wouldn't be healthy for YOU to participate in such activity, since I'm also fairly certain it would only serve to cause you to sink deeper into your OCD relationship with the Commerce Clause.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bike Funding Threatened

I'm only gonna say this once (today) and I WON'T say it again (today)!

Get over to the League of American Bicyclists and follow the links to tell your representative to put the funding for bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure back in the Transportation bill!


Monday, January 23, 2012

She is SO Right

If I were in charge of an awards show for the online world, the Top Female Blogger prize would go to Karen Voyer-Caravona. Anyone who thinks bicycling for women is only for the hardcore female athlete should visit Karen's blog, She Rides a Bike, to see how stylishly feminine it can be.

Karen deserves the award for much more than simply creating a well written blog which breaks a female stereotype. In my opinion, her comments and posts on other sites elevate her far above others in the world of responsible, intelligent writers. Her comment in response to a post in my blog, Bikes are NOT Red, White and Blue, is so full of smart, gut-level correctness that it could be used as model for Internet debating. It got me thinking even more about some effective tactics for bike advocacy, and any writing which promotes thinking is the best sort of writing.

My original post had been in response to Tom Bowden's article in Commute by Bike wherein he suggests we promote bicycling as a patriotic, American activity: Bike Advocacy from the NRA Playbook. I said it wouldn't work, because the automobile is "American transportation" and the bicycle is "foreign, Third World transportation." Karen added yet another dimension to that thought when she mentioned that nationalistic arguments frighten her "almost as much as religiosity."

It scares me, too! I shudder whenever I see a news article about some politician or Radical Right organization trying to say "God is on OUR side." It reminds me of the fact that during World War II some soldiers of Nazi Germany revived the GOTT MIT UNS ("God With Us") belt buckle from the previous world war. If we try to paint the bicycle as AMERICAN we may well turn off some folks who are NOT red-necked, flag waving yo-yos.

However, Karen also freely admits that "sex sells," and although my post suggests a tongue-in-cheek advertising campaign using macho movie action heroes to portray bicycling as a tough, manly activity, she says she would follow the two actors I mentioned "anywhere"! Maybe such an eroticism-based PR line isn't so far fetched after all!

Think about it: hot rod magazines sell thousands of copies loaded with pictures of string-bikini-clad girls caressing the custom flames painted on cars their grandfathers drove! Is it so farfetched to believe than having Victoria Secret-class models draped all over Electra-style cruiser bikes would sell a LOT of bikes?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bikes are NOT Red, White and Blue

Commute by Bike’s own Refugee From the Radical Right, Tom Bowden, wrote a great article about adopting a strategy of Bike Advocacy from the NRA Playbook. His thought is that we might be more successful if we paint bicycling as a normal, flag-waving, patriotic AMERICAN activity rather than dwell on the logical, intelligent and environmental reasons Americans should start riding bikes.

Like most Republicans, Tom begins by accurately describing the nature of the situation, and then flies off on a tangent with ideas for solutions which simply do not reflect what would work in the REAL world of the average American.

Tom is right that the NRA has found a very visceral way of promoting gun rights. I, too, find myself tearing up as I open that eagle-and-flag filled snail-mail spam they send whenever they figure they need more money than just my yearly dues (that’s right folks: the BluesCat is a card-carrying member of the NRA; for reasons much too complicated to go into here). The Ol’ Patriotic Cat chokes up just before he tosses the stuff into the recycle bin.

Tom is also absolutely spot-on when he explains the incredible mixed message of those promoting bicycles: "You’re going to have a lot of fun, and get really healthy, BUT YOU ALSO MAY DIE when you’re run over by that big, AMERICAN SUV!"

Trying to use the NRA’s heartstring tugging method for bicycling will not work, and the reason is really simple: Bicycles are NOT AMERICAN TRANSPORTATION. Take a look at the League of American Bicyclists Trash Talk web site. That page is full of bad-mouthing by Republicans and right-wing media about how unimportant and Third World the bicycle is. Bicycles are just not considered serious, valid transportation for America. Heck, even some bike commuters of a more liberal bent than Tom have said they do not think we should be spending federal highway transportation money on bike and pedestrian infrastructure; even your own FEET aren’t considered a "serious mode of transportation!"

The pulse quickening, swashbuckling road tool that is The Automobile is what IS American Transportation. Take a look at any television commercial that advertises a full-sized pickup truck. It is a tour de force collection of images of trucks sloughing through mud as deep as the tops of the wheel wells, of trucks climbing near vertical rocky grades, and of trucks shrugging off elephantine quantities of stuff dropped into their beds by backhoes. Even CADILLAC commercials don’t present genteel women being escorted over to the passenger side, but show a CTS shrieking around a race track ahead of a Ferrari!

So, we need to take another tack to find a consistent, heart-attack inducing, macho, gut-grabbing PR campaign for bike riding. I suggest we get one of the current movie action heroes, like Jason Statham or Daniel Craig, to ride an exotic, pure-rolling-bike-porn like the Velokraft No-Com down a long hill with about an 18% grade. As the jittering image of the bike computer shows our hero topping 70 mph, in the background you’ll hear the gravelly voice of Sam Elliott (of Dodge truck commercial fame) order you to "Get real. Get your butt on a bike."