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Getting Started:

  • Start with a manageable distance. An errand, a friend’s home, or short trip.
  • Any gear is the right gear.  IF clothing or equipment becomes an issue, realize that at some point in the future, you can afford that extra item- pannier, basket, or clothing item. 
  • Be visible- wear visible clothing, use bright tail lights, and use bright colors.
  • Put some extra clothes, shoes, or other items in a spot at work to help you stay clean, odor free, and if you forget something, you have a back up.

Hauling“stuff”:

  • Backpacks can work. Ideally, add a basket or panniers. A “rack” is needed to carry panniers (Saddle type bags) or baskets. Racks can be attached to just about any bike. The weight you plan to carry will determine the kind of rack to buy.
  • Cargo bikes may be the ticket if you plan to carry kids and goods at the same time. 
  • Baskets designed for grocery bags work well for a variety of items. Some will fold up when not in use.
  • Front baskets come in a variety of styles. Check with a local bike store for options. Lift-off style make the basket useful to go shopping and then easily hook back on to the bike.

Gear Options:

  • Rain pants increases your options for when you can ride. Look for WATERPROOF clothing rather than water resistant.
  • Rain jackets help also. Ponchos work well if you use a backpack. A good bicycle rain jacket has a longer tail on the back for when you bend while pedaling.  
  • Footwear – good leather boots work well. Insulated boots can be used. Insulated bike boots cover over bike shoes, usually mt. bike shoes leaving the clip or cleat exposed. Waterproof booties can be used for warmer weather travel. 
  • Helmet covers work for both rain and wind. You can wear a helmet cover in cooler weather to cut down on the wind drafting through the helmet vents.
  • Gloves- full fingered waterproof gloves can be used at both warmer and cold temperatures. Look for Gore-tex for breathable materials. Lobster gloves, a type of hybrid with two fingers and a thumb, will be the warmest win the winter. 
  • 100 Polartec makes for a great second layer between coat and shirt. Wear a bike jersey underneath to your destination if you need to be less casual. Add a thermal layer under the bike shirt to keep breathable material next to your skin. Add a rain jacket or thicker out shell for more extreme cold.
  • Lights – Plenty available. A front light is a must to be legal and safe, even during the daylight rides. Brightness comes in levels of LUMENS. Power sources include USB or batteries. Batteries are not as long term sustainable, but can easily be changed if your light runs out.
  • Fenders –  Most people consider fenders only necessary for rain. They also keep road debris, dirt, stones, and particles form kicking up onto the rider. Fenders can be purchased in high quality plastic, aluminum, and steel. You can put fenders on any bike that the frame allows room. Check with your local bike shop to be sure of size and application.
  • Fat bike- Fat bikes allow for more options to ride especially in snow and rain. Fat bikes ride well, can lower tire pressure to 5 lbs. for snow and ice conditions. Fun option!
  • Locking your bike – the current standard for lockup includes both cable and U-Lock. The other option form a U-Lock that is not as cumbersome, tough, and secure is a Duty Link Plate Lock. The cable locks up the front wheel to the U-Lock which is locked to the frame and parking rack. Just as important as the lock is licensing your bike. Does not usually cost much at a local bike shop or police station.
  • Noise makers – bells, horns, and bluetooth audio speakers do the job of alerting others you come across. In some cities, bells legally must be on a bike. Some people respond better to a horn or bell rather than “Bike back!”
  • Baby wipes – for the chain problem, tire issue, or just to clean up a little when you arrive at your destination, keep a small pack of wipes in your bike pack.
  • Pump- keeping a small amount of tools helps for emergencies. A pump or CO2 cartridge applicator is necessary for airing up a new tube replacing a flat tube. You need two tire levers to take off the tire. Small hand held pumps work. A dual pump and CO2 can be the best way to go but are a bit more pricier.
  • Your best tool to have is a multi tool- a triple allen wrench and socket tool will pretty much do any job you need on the fly. If you  have bolt on wheels, keep a small crescent wrench in the kit.
  • Many commuters keep a trunk pack on the top of the rear rack for the tools, extra tube, and accessories such as a cable lock, gloves, wipes, etc.  Ortlieb makes a great lockable trunk pack that is also waterproof.

RIDING Tips:

  • Consider the route for low traffic volume, parallel roads to arterial routes.
  • Cyclists stop at stop signs about as bad as car drivers. Consider doing an Idaho stop. Treat Stop lights as stop signs and stop signs as yield.Learn to scan and signal properly.
  • Look for the eyes of a driver that might be turning in your path.
  • The more you act like you are driving a car, the more safer you will be.

“Considering the constant fatalities, rampant pollution, and exorbitant costs of ownership, there is no better word to characterize the car’s dominance than insane.” Edward Humes

America’s infatuation with driving may be a lust for speed, or we just developed and continue to maintain a dependency born out of convenience!  Europe and the US differ greatly in their approach to transportation. For awhile, from the 20’s to the 50’s, Europe tried out some of the infrastructure changes the US invested widely. That changed in the 60’s. Europe went a different direction and now we are seeking to emulate the European models.

Americans drive over 1.2 TRILLION trips per year. Over 690 BILLION of those trips are two miles or less. 28% of those are one mile or less. Americans drive over 85% of their trips by car (versus transit , walking, or bicycling). Europeans do about 50-65%.

America’s infatuation with the car started with both the desire for speed and the mechanization of the assembly line. In the late 1800’s the League of American Wheelmen lobbied for the first roads. Cyclists were at odds with horses, wagons, and pedestrians as roads were mud baths, and out in the country they often encountered farm vehicles. As the assembly pumped out cars, America started building roads. Our current transportation principals primarily still follow many tenets that were developed as the need for roads increased after WWII. The VA provided loans for vets to build, but the caveat was they had to be outside of city limits.

Transit, with streetcars and trolleys helped provide much of the transportation in early 20th century America. That fell away by the 1950s. Then came government subsidies for both transit and roads. Taxes on autos for both licensing and road use is much higher in Europe. The price of gas has curbed the European diet for driving. While in America we rely on much lower vehicle use requirements when it comes to taxes. Gas taxes are half of what they might be in places in Europe.  Transportation funds get almost no competition from other government entities. In other words, the budget has been separated from the general fund. These dollars should compete with general fund budgets. We would see a different tune to road construction. According to an article by Ralph Bueler,  “Over the last 40 years, gas taxes, tolls, and registration fees have covered only about 60 or 70 percent of roadway expenditures across all levels of U.S. government. The remainder has been paid using property, income, and other taxes not related to transportation. These subsidies for driving reduce its cost and increase driving demand in the United States. In European countries, meanwhile, drivers typically pay more in taxes and fees than governments spend on roadways.

Convenience provides people with the reason to love their cars. The car gives immediate gratification for wants. With a bus, train, or even a taxi, the delay is real.

Another reason for car-centricity stems from unbridled resources available. The USA maintains a wealth of resources, some of which are finite. If our resource base differed we might be riding transit more such as Europeans do. Layton Hill made this statement- “…..some blame individual metropolis’ large size for auto-orientation. This is also wrong because it gets the initial causal chain backward. Cities are able to be larger, land-wise, in the US precisely because of the automobile. The other answers summed up by, “I live 6 miles from the nearest grocery store” would simply not be the case if cars were less convenient or affordable- grocery stores would be smaller and closer to people.” Three out of four jobs are located more than three miles from downtown. One in four homes are in an urban setting.

While the results of our car centric society keep mounting, telling us its killing us in so many ways, we still put huge investments into sedentary practices that keep us sitting and inactive.  The real story will be how we get on a car-diet! If you’d like to learn more about ditching the car for more economical travel, read https://www.cheatsheet.com/money-career/5-ways-to-ditch-your-car-and-save-money.html/?a=viewall

 

 

 

 

 

 


Buying a bike can be as big a deal as a new car, or TV, or a new cell phone. Lots to consider! Doing some homework will pay off when buying a bike. The benefit will be  a bike that fits properly and comfortably, whether the purpose is to learn to ride, mountain biking, commuting,  or just purchasing a new adult bike for health and recreation. Here are some tips that can ensure you have chosen the right bike.

First, to get the right bike, consider what type of riding you plan to do, not just for today, but what about next year or the year after? Have plans to do a bit more at some point? Hybrids will probably be the most common type of purchase for many. Commuter, hybrid, road, gravel, mountain, recumbent, cruiser, or fat bike are some of the types of bike to consider. What fits you the best is key. The optimum experience that will pay off is to go to a bike store and try out a few machines once you have an idea of what TYPE of bike would fit your aspirations.

Here are a few other tips for size. The rule of thumb is age determines wheel size.

-A three to four year old, with an inseam about 15 inches, needs a 10-inch-12-inch wheel size. The child should be able to put their feet flat on the ground while seated, and can reach the handlebars without bending forward very far, if at all.

-A four to seven year old, with an inseam around 20 inches needs a 16-inch wheel size. The child should be able to put her feet on the ground while straddling the top tube, with a few inches of clearance and turn the bike easily without stretching out uncomfortably.

-The six to nine year old is up to a 20-inch wheel size. A child shouldn’t look too cramped or stretched out, can turn the bike easily at slow speeds, and can stop and put her feet on the ground without toppling.

-The nine to thirteen years old, with an inseam around 26 inches or more, is ready for a 24-inch wheel size.

-Thirteen and above are ready for an adult bike, wheel size is 26-inch or 700 c. Adult sized bikes still need the same approach. BE SURE THE RIDER CAN STRADDLE THE BIKE WITH BOTH FEET ON THE GROUND AT ANY POINT ON THE TOP CROSS BAR! This general guide can be of help:

Your height / Bike SizeHybrid Bike Size Chart

  • 4’11” – 5’3″ = 13 – 15 inches
  • 5’3″ – 5’7″  = 15 – 17 inches
  • 5’7″ – 5’11” = 17 – 19 inches
  • 6’0″ – 6’2″ = 19 – 21 inches
  • 6’2″ – 6’4″  = 21 – 23 inches
  • 6’4″ and taller  = 23+ inches

Find a reputable bike shop. You might feel you saved a boatload of money buying at a rummage sale or discount store, but you walk away with no guarantees, unsure of a fit, and perhaps a bill for maintenance on an unsafe or poorly built bike. Bike shops offer trained sales people who back up bike reliability, help adjust your bike properly, help you purchase the best bike for your loved one or yourself, and support it by offering expert mechanics for maintenance. The biggest option bike shops offer is peace of mind. Keeping mind that spending a bit more for a quality bike, especially for youth, keeps the bike a sellable item when they grow out of the size. There are plenty of families looking for quality used options for their youthful riders.

While a guide was offered an the aforementioned paragraph, you or your child are unique. Consider your personality or that of the person you are purchasing a bicycle for in terms of coordination, size, timidness, and aggressiveness. These all change the make up/type of the bike you buy. Your bike shop expert can help you make the right adjustments.

Next, for youth, avoid the notion that your child will grow into their bike. While adjustable handlebars and seats can work within reason, there are problems. Too-big bikes are hard to control, making it more likely the rider will crash. Always remember the keys to a small child fit: being able to safely put both feet on the ground as they stand over the top bar, and being able to turn without reaching uncomfortably far. Youth bikes should be as low weight as possible so that developing skills comes more readily.

For older youth and adults, consider wheel size and width. Tire size does not make a bicycle more stable. That is the riders job. A tire size can help with comfort and roll. The wider the tire the more vibration it absorbs. The smoother and narrower the tire, the more ROLL you get with each pedal stroke. Find the balance that works for you.

Last, while Internet purchases may seem enticing, you will find that when all is said and done, buying locally has lots of benefits. Make sure you add in the cost of building the bike out of the box. NO BICYCLE comes ready to ride in the mail. The average cost to build a bike out of the box is $75-90.00. Be sure to add this to the cost. Keep in mind that everybody’s body composition is different.  You may end up with a bicycle that has fit issues. The relationship you develop with a local bike dealer/shop goes along way to helping you with many questions, maintenance, and improvements over time. You often receive discounts on ancillary equipment- lights, fenders, racks, water bottles/cages, and helmets. Having a GREAT riding experience can be best developed from working with a local bike shop.

Keep in mind that the real money savings or cost avoidance comes when you actually get out and ride. Take for instance the fact that a person saves $1.00-$3.00 for every mile they ride their bike for transportation. That means that for every 100 miles, you can avoid spending $100-300 dollars. How long would it take  you to ride 100 miles? An average, decent hybrid bike costs about $399-449.00. A person can recoup that price in the first year with a reasonable effort. How many years would you have a bike like that? The savings will just add up. So, it is not just the initial cost to think about. Think about the cost avoidance and the benefits in health, outlook, and weight control that you can enjoy! Purchase a better bike, just beyond your first inclination in price. You won’t regret it.

 


With Spring just around the corner, lots of Americans will be pulling a bicycle out of the garage and climbing on for a ride. Estimates say that 100 million people might do just that, at least once.

 There are five layers to safe cycling:  Handling skills, rules of the road, and lane positioning make up the first three and can curb 90% of all crashes.  The fourth is avoidance skills, and the last is helmet use. Keep this in mind when stirring up a conversation. As the season progresses, many conversations will be had about aspects of cycling that bend people’s interest in riding.  Perhaps we can keep the conversations reasonable, making progress for everyone to get more active!  Since we spend billions and billions on chronic diseases due to sedentary lifestyles, let’s encourage movement!

  1. Bicyclists break more traffic laws than do motorists.  In a 2013 AAA survey, respondents answering the questions: In the past two weeks have you rolled through a stop sign? Two-thirds responded that they had. When asked if they traveled over the speed limit in the past two weeks, again two-thirds said yes. While the sample group was about 1700 people, it certainly is indicative of motor vehicle behaviors. According to Wesley Marshall, a University of Colorado engineering professor who surveyed more than 17,000 cyclists and drivers, drivers copped to breaking the rules at a slightly higher rate than bikers. It’s the rare driver who never speeds, after all. And sometimes, drivers think cyclists are breaking the law when they’re really not — it’s usually legal to take up a whole lane, for example, rather than staying on the right side of the road. (Lane positioning)
  2. More bike riders would curb traffic and pollution.  While it is true that 1 mile by human power saves 1 pound of CO2, our country still only has less than 1% of its population that commutes by bicycle. The country as a whole takes 1.3 trillion trips by car each year. Over 690 billion of those are two miles or less. We COULD make a dent if we really tackled those two mile trips, but we are not. The other problem is that we do not have the infrastructure to have the significant numbers of bike commuters to make a big enough impact. “As city planners have long realized, the only thing powerful enough to lure drivers out of their cars is a combination of robust bike infrastructure and a comprehensive transit system. Just look at the cities where the most people get to work using biking and transit: High shares of one mode tend to correspond with high shares of the other.” The Washington Post
  3. Helmet laws make bicycling safer.  Most European cities don’t require riders to wear helmets. Yet in those cities, there are fewer cyclist deaths and injuries per capita than in the United States. Experts say that’s because of their infrastructure. And studies show that when drivers see cyclists in helmets, they behave more recklessly, driving closer to pedalers and increasing the possibility of accidents.(Washington Post) Helmet use is the fifth level of safety. Another words, when all else fails! We need to encourage more education and training in the first of the three levels of safety.  Besides, demanding helmet use only decreases ridership!
  4. Bicycle riding is only for the well resourced! Well, People for Bikes has some information to dispute this. “… 40 percent of American adults who ride have incomes of less than $20,000.”  The problem lies in the lagging behind of decent infrastructure to help ALL riders out. Quite often the under-resourced tend to be the less vocal or heard group of society. People who make less than $20,000 a year say they’re less satisfied than others with the bike paths, lanes and trails in their neighborhoods.  A family of four, earning at or below the poverty level will spend 40% of their household budget on transportation. That can be offset quite well if the combination of transit and bicycle can be used for transportation instead of driving. This number is quite significant in most cities, as this is a growing segment of our population.

 


Bicycle theft has grown over the recent years, even with a decline in many other types of theft. (FBI statistics) There are over 1.5 million bicycles stolen each year in the United States. While every town and city varies in its theft density, you can bet you know someone who has had to deal with the loss of a stolen bicycle at some point.

What to do? Practice the 3 R’s!

 

Record:

Take a digital photo of your bicycle. You may want to add some minuscule alterations to the bike that would make it easier to identify. Use a white out pen and mark the height of your seat p[ost just under the seat tube top.  Store this photo in a safe place.  Make sure it is one where you will remember it.

Register:

Register your bicycle with your local jurisdiction-police department or two or village. You might also decide to register it on a national registry such as https://www.nationalbikeregistry.com/. They make it relatively simple. The website can store your photo and bicycle data. The main action to take will be to find the serial number on your bicycle. The majority of serial numbers are located under the bottom bracket where the two pedal cranks meet. Turn your bike upside down and record the number. If there is no serial number near the cranks, you should check other common places including the front headset or rear stays.

Image result for finding your bicycle serial numberBottom line: Record the serial number and identifying characteristics with someone that can help you find your bicycle again!

 

 

Report:

Report the stolen bicycle right away. Bikes have been recovered as quick as 60 minutes after the theft.  As soon as something happens to your bicycle the digital photo you took photo should go out on social media.  If your opinion might be that the police department might not do anything, or that they won’t recover it so why bother, you are wrong in making this assumption. Police will do whatever they can to recover your bike. IF the bicycle is not reported then they surely can not do anything for you. Other businesses rely on the police department to find out if a bicycle that they are contemplating purchasing might be stolen or not. Pawn shops, used sports equipment stores, and other used bicycle outlets can only rely on police to know if a bicycle might be stolen property. Last, the statistics are necessary to convince community leaders that of the level of theft in the community.