Showing posts with label bicycle commuting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bicycle commuting. Show all posts

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Double-Decker Bike Parking for Commuters in USA

Bicycle shelter, National Cash Register [Company], Dayton, O[hio]
Employee parking in Dayton Ohio in 1902 - back to the future?

Bicycle shelter, National Cash Register [Company], Dayton, O[hio] - detail
Two parking levels of bikes visible in parking shed (or "shelter")

In the detail photograph, you can see clearly that the rider-commuter to the right has a clip (or something) to keep his trousers from getting caught in the front ring of the drive train as well as away from the chain. The fellow in the middle would occasionally work late, it seems, since his bike is outfitted with a headlight.
Bicycle shelter, National Cash Register [Company], Dayton, O[hio]
Contributor Names-Jackson, William Henry, 1843-1942, photographer
Detroit Publishing Co., Created / Published[1902?]
Source Collection-Detroit Publishing Company Photograph Collection
Repository-Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Saturday, February 11, 2017

What One Sees While Commuting

Crew training on Four Mile Run
Unusually warm February day brings crew team to Four Mile Run for training

Not much room for crew on this stream, really
I guess they came up from the Potomac

There were in fact two racing shell and a motorboat

Normally my commute is on the other side of Four Mile Run, where the Arlington water treatment plant is, but at the moment cyclists are supposed to use a detour while some work is done along the north bank.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Women as Early Bike Commuters

I copied a long first person description of the work of a NYC "bike cop" from 1896 into a blog post, Adventures of NYC "Bike Cop" of 1896.

Towards the end, there is this paragraph:

Teamsters [here meaning the drivers of horse-drawn wagons, the the-equivalent of trucks] make most of our trouble. The manner In which heavy trucks and freight wagons of all kinds swarm to the Boulevard in the morning hours, when there are thousands of cyclists, four out of five of whom are ladies, is most exasperating. On Sunday, when the asphalt is covered with wheel riders, what satisfaction can there be in driving a carriage or buggy into their midst? It looks like sheer contrariness. The hostility shown by many truck and wagon drivers against cyclists is of that mean nature that is found in envy of those who seem to be getting some pleasure out of life.

While the "four out of five" is not a scientific survey, it suggests many women in 1896 were commuting to work by bicycle, since it is doubtful they were out on weekday mornings for some other reason.

This 1899 film of employees leaving a Parke Davis factory in Detroit suggests also that women were bicycle commuters in those pre-automobile days. Presumably most of the manufacturing employees were men and the women in this video (given their attire) were the clerical staff? So their percentage of the total number of commuters is likely relative to their percentage of the number of workers there overall.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Sometimes the Bike Commuter is Lucky

Slightly threatening weather - clouds, anyway

For the past several days, the promised or likely weather was always a little bicycle commuter unfriendly. I don't let that bother me or keep me from commuting by bike. For one thing, the promise of some rain doesn't necessarily mean it will be raining during the commute!

Bridgestone Sirius with (cheap) fenders
Even if it is raining some, a bit with well-fitted fenders like this makes it not so bad

Thursday afternoon I did ride in the rain, but for about a quarter mile - the rain squall was going one way and I was going another.

Commuting every day, it may be twice a year that I find myself completely soaked in a driving rain while commuting. Part of the adventure, and I try to be prepared for it.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Thanks National Park Service! New Water Fountain on Mt Vernon Trail

New drinking fountain on Mt Vernon Trail
New water fountain along the Mount Vernon Trail near National Airport

There has been some construction work ongoing since (it seems) the end of last summer to improve small parts of the Mount Vernon Trail where it was routed down right next to the parkway (roadway). These improvements took longer than one would have imagined - part of it took longer than six months - but are good improvements.

At the same time, this new water fountain was installed. For a long time it was surrounded by yellow construction tape, but it didn't matter much since it was cooler weather. Now that hot hot weather has really arrived, it is great for this to be there.

Thursday afternoon it was up around 95 degrees (Fahrenheit, or around 35 Celcius) during ~ten mile (16 km) commute home. I have my bottle of water filled before I leave work, but getting through the DC traffic out of the city was hot work it seemed so when I got to this water fountain, I was glad to be able to stop and get a little refreshed.

The photo was taken Friday morning on the way in, around 6:30 - Fridays are a day a lot of people telework so not too much traffic, bikes or cars.

The fountain post has a metal bowl at the bottom that can be filled with water for dogs. Nice touch.

Thanks National Park Service! Happy 100th birthday!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Bike to Work Day - I Don't

1995 Trek with Michelin Run'r tires installed
Why don't I want to ride this (or some other) bike to work tomorrow?

OK, I guess I'm kind of a grouch, or something. My thought is that since I ride all the other work days, I can take this day off, not just from riding a bike to work, but take the day off from work altogether. The effort of bike advocates to identify a day when good weather can be assured seems to me to miss the point, which is that bike commuting isn't a big deal; no need to wait for perfect weather.


Bike to Work Day, 2011
Apparently this was the last time I rode to work on Bike to Work day, in 2011

If we look at the above photograph, maybe another problem I have with Bike to Work day is that it is an opportunity to encounter a bike traffic jam. Gee, uhm, yeah no.

Now don't get me wrong - I am glad to see more people cycling, and riding in a line like this that might be going more slowly than I otherwise would enjoy is fine too, but the kind of overnight increase in the number of cyclists on some of these trails demonstrates immediately that the existing cycling infrastructure is not all it should be if biking to work is supposed to be a serious alternative (and not a one day celebration). Much of the Mount Vernon trail, shown above, is not wide enough to support the kind of heavy use it gets on Bike to Work day. Where are the pedestrians supposed to go?

Bike to work day poster Moscow 2015
Even the Russians have bike2work day, as evidenced by this poster from last year - this year, same day as here in America!

Another reason why Bike to Work day annoy me is that it is an excuse for the Washington Post to publish more dumb stories about bicycling. Like this one, Biking to work is great. If you can put up with the cars. And the weather. This listicle complains about taxis and cars passing too closely, then moves on to complain that you might get wet, "Riding a bike in wet conditions can too often make people feel like they’ve been returned to a time when they tottered around in soggy diapers." Generally this is baloney - if you ride a bike with fenders, it is amazing how rarely the weather is sufficiently downpour-ish that you get wet-wet. I've been doing this for 15+ years. Really, it isn't that big a problem. "Soggy diapers" - is a reference like that what attracts clicks?

The front page of the Washington Post weekend section on Friday had an illustration showing cyclists around the Lincoln Memorial and a few pedestrians with no cars at all. A caption reads, "A capital idea: forget Metro, ditch the car and start pedaling - Washington on two wheels." Framing the discussion this way is a bit dim - for most people it is an unrealistic idea to make a complete changeover to cycling. I get that the Metro problems present what seems like an opportunity to encourage more cycling, but if we could just get people to make one in ten of their trips usually made by car using a bicycle, that would be grand.

People in cars, myself included, don't seem to need "super fun events" in order to decide to use them

Monday, March 16, 2015

Joys of Commuting - Sunrise in DC

Stopped to take this with my camera phone

Not as good in the photograph as the impression made in person (so to speak) but you get the idea - sunrise, and so on. Nice after all the nasty weather.

The Capitol dome looks a little odd because it is covered in scaffolding.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fast Commute to Work

My route from south Arlington to Capitol Hill

According to the GPS driven app on my phone, the distance from my front door to work is 9.25 miles using my usual bike route. Today, thanks to some wind from the south (which is unusual in the morning), it took only 34 minutes and 18 seconds and my average speed was 16.2 mph.

Just to be clear, I'm not someone who obsesses about the speed of my bicycle riding efforts, but someone was asking about how far my occasional lunchtime jog is and I now have a so-called smartphone and found an appropriate app, so I was curious mostly to know what it would report as the distance of my commute. Years ago I estimated using Google maps that it was around 9.6 miles, so apparently I was a little high since it is almost exactly 9 1/3 miles. Oh well. I was amused today when I used the app riding in when I realized that the wind was coming from the south and that I would be a "fast" time (fast for me) because that wind pushing me up the river makes a difference. I don't think there are too many days where my commute is under 35 minutes. (Again - not that I'm paying much attention.)

Fanciful sail-bikes from 1894

One of those ideas from the 1890s that didn't catch on.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Four Mile Run Detour Re-Opens

This past Monday the detour for the Four Mile Run trail near the south end of National Airport was removed. The section of the trail that was under the bridge that was removed (see above) was widened somewhat and is edged on the inner side with some raised concrete. Work was being completed yesterday but the fences that enforced the detour were completely removed, so I am fairly sure it is OK to say the detour is done. It was open again this morning on the way to work.

The photo above shows the trail east of where the detour started - you can see that the bushes have taken over some of the trail while the work has been going on. Presumably Alexandria (I think this part of the trail is theirs) will send someone along to trim things up.

I was stopped to take this photo and blocking about 1/3 of the trail. The fellow in the photo came upon me and said, "excuse me" in a cranky tone which I took to be his way of complaining that I was blocking his speedy transit of this area. I don't know why people don't communicate more directly. What he clearly meant was, "you are in my f---ing way." Oh well. Mostly other cyclists seemed extremely pleased that the detour was over. I agree.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Commuting - Racing or Relaxing?

From user Landahlauts via Creative Commons in Flickr

In Paris for a week, I commuted about 3-4 kilometers back and forth to the National Library every day from the hotel to attend a conference. I would wear the clothes I would be in all day and didn't take a helmet to Paris, so no helmet. I mostly rode at a much more leisurely pace than I do at home but then the bikeshare bikes don't support much in the way of speed (or braking either, so perhaps that's good).

In my Arlington-Washington commute, I spend most of the time on trails and wear bicycling garb (ie, lyrca etc.) and try to maintain a high rate of speed - I work up a sweat. I shower and change at work. But then the distance is more like 17 kilometers one way. And I wear a helmet.

Parke Davis employees of 1899 leaving work, many on bicycles

Before cars become popular and extremely inexpensive, bicycles were briefly used by some for commuting much like Parisians do now, or so evidence like this short film clip seem to suggest.

I have given some thought about the similarity and differences between the commuting I did in Paris, which is less of a production (in the sense of not wearing special clothes, helmets, etc.) and what I do at home. I have concluded that the similarities (it is still biking) are more important than the differences. I regard Capital Bikeshare riders here as fellow travelers, so to speak, in a real sense.

Something unusual - an abandoned (unlocked) Capital Bikeshare bike

One thing I really enjoy about bikeshare biking, which I have done in Paris several times and in Boston, is that I immediately lose any concern with my rate of travel - unlike when I am on a road bike and I sometimes have to fight a desire to go fast (or as fast as I can, anyway). A typical bikeshare bike immediately says to me as I sit on it something about the improbability of going fast (I guess) so I don't think of the experience in terms of speed, but simply of pleasing forward motion. Since my misguided competitive urge that appears while sitting on a road bike disappears, the experience seems better than riding a road bike! (But I may be reading too much into this since I have done most of my bikeshare biking in Paris, and being in Paris may have something to do with this.)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Arlington County (VA) and Trail Plowing

March 9 I sent the following as an email to the Arlington Bike Coordinator; later I submitted a revised version to the County Board on their website.

It appears that over the winter the County decided to switch from salting trails to plowing. (I leave near Rt 7 and Walter Reed and ride down the trail along Walter Reed, then down the trail along Four Mile Run to the Mt Vernon trail and then in to DC that way.)

I am surprised by the timeliness of some of the plowing that happened - in particular, the that runs parallel to Walter Reed between Rt 7 and Arlington Mill Drive was plowed recently very quickly after the snow - this makes a lot of sense since if you are going to plow trails (and not salt), it should happen fast before the snow turns into ice from people walking on it.

The different this past week was very noticeable between the trails I use in Arlington and the Mt Vernon Trail, which was untreated and unplowed. The main thing was that the trails that were plowed become clear and useable by a regular bike quickly and the Mt Vernon trail was only rideable until Thursday either by riding very carefully or by having a bike with studded tires (which I have).

Plowing isn't a perfect solution - Tuesday in particular some trails had been plowed before my morning ride but the result was that the asphalt (with the 15 degree weather) was coated with a thin sheet of ice instead of a thicker layer of ice and snow so that a regular bike would not have traction - it would have been impossible to ride without studded tires. But by that afternoon the situation was already better, and Wednesday morning the Arlington trails were rideable (with care) while the Mt Vernon trail was not. Still, I think plowing is better than treating with salt etc.

The plowing is good. Thank you.
Plowed trail near my house - makes a big difference!

This kind of systematic effort to clear trails used by cyclists (and others, of course) following snow storms is new this year in Arlington, and there was enough snowy weather for some experimentation. The first round was to use salt/road treatment type applications on the trails, which isn't great if you want to walk a dog using the trail and also is hard on the bicycle and the surrounding environment since the salt/chemicals aren't confined to the trail (asphalt). Plowing is a lot better, and the County shifted to that, which is great.

Better still would be to have a little less snow.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Snow & Fenders

Having arrived at work after riding mostly in about 1/2-1 inch of snow

On Tuesday it was starting to snow when I got up in the morning and starting to accumulate a little on the trails when I was ready to take off for work. Still, the promised weather for later was that the snow would stop, the sun would come out, and there would be enough warmth for all this to go away.

In previous experience, I have found that riding a road bike in fresh snow where there is no ice underneath can be easier than riding a mountain bike with big wide tires - and it seemed I wouldn't need any sort of special snow or ice compensation for the ride home. So I chose to ride my 1982 steel road bike (or whatever one calls such a thing) to work. I lower the tire pressure a bit to improve grip.

On the trails the snow was less than an inch, generally (that is, less than 2.5 centimeters). After a while I started hearing a high pitched noise from a tire in contact with something and realized that the way the rear fender is fitted, snow was building up at the back and pressing against the tire, making the noise. It didn't seem to be causing me to work noticeably harder, however.

When I crossed the 14th Street bridge into Washington, however, the snow was deeper on the bridge section set aside for pedestrians and cyclists and somehow the difference meant snow was building up under the fender enough to slow me down. The bridge is long enough that it was beginning to wear, but for whatever reason it got to a certain point and didn't get so bad that I was stopped.

Snow built up under rear fender in particular

The above photos are after I got to work (but before I entered the parking garage, which since it is heated, quickly melted all this messiness). In DC there was much less snow and almost none on the roads I was riding on, but you can still see the build up problem.

So I learned something - road bikes may be fine for certain snowy conditions, but not with fenders, or at least not with fenders fitted this closely.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Early Bike Commuters - 1899 Video

44 second video copied from American Memory

It appears that the film starts just as the rush of workers on bicycles and on foot begins at the end of the work day. Was the policeman at left there every day to maintain order? While the copyright deposit date is given as 1903 the actual date of filming is July 5 1899. They would be just back from the previous day's national holiday (one assumes). Filmed in Detroit.

Parke Davis worker 1903
Screen grab - note a fair number of the riders are women

TITLE - Parke Davis Employees

CREATED/PUBLISHED - United States : American Mutoscope & Biograph Company, 1903.
SUMMARY - Photographed from a single-camera position, this film encompasses a scene of a large number of people either walking or riding bicycles as they leave what appears to be a factory. The title indicates they are employees of a drug firm.

NOTES - Copyright: American Mutoscope & Biograph Company; 11May03; H31670.
Cameraman, F. S. Armitage.
Cameraman credit from Niver's, Early motion pictures, p. 245.
Duration: 0:44 at 20 fps.
Filmed July 5, 1899 in Detroit.
Source used: Niver, Kemp R., Early motion pictures, 1985.
Received: ca. 1991 from LC lab; ref print and dupe neg; preservation; Paper Print Collection.

Parke Davis worker 1903
Number of riders builds . . . no one wears a helmet, of course, but they all seem to wear hats

Parke Davis worker 1903
One fellow politely doffs his hat to the police officer

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Velibe in Paris at BnF
Velibe station near the National Library of France

So I am in Paris for some workshops at the National Library of France and going from the hotel to the library and back by bike.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Adding Fenders (for Winter ?)

No, I haven't been making many blog entries. Not sure how to explain that. Will see if I become more inspired . . .

I bought these fenders as a "daily special" probably two years ago from Bike Tires Direct - then let them sit in the box ever since after I realized (duh) how difficult, if not impossible, it would be to get them onto my (other) bike that has disk brakes that is nominally the "bad/rainy/wet weather bike." They were about 12 dollars so it didn't bother me that much to have bought them and not to use them . . . saving them for a rainy day. Ha ha.

Well actually not that funny since there were lots of rainy days but the fenders just stayed in the box, contributing nothing.

Bridgestone Sirius with (cheap) fenders
Cheap black fenders don't look that bad - from a distance

I decided I would see how they work in practice on this bike - it certainly was easy enough to install them. When it rains, these should keep the water from coming off the front tire in particular and bouncing off the downtube onto my shoes - also just keep the bicycle cleaner (hopefully - have to see).

Of course this means I'll ride this bike in some rain rather than the "dedicated" bad weather bike, but I am having various problems with the drive train and brakes on that bike so it can sit until (or if) I figure them out.

These are very lightweight, "polycarbonate" - that is plastic. They are adjustable in ways that mean you have to make sure the adjustment bolts are tight on a regular basis. Perhaps if I decide that I don't think fenders slow me down (which the randonneuring types would assure me they don't) I will buy some proper custom fit Velo Orange hammered fenders.

Although not prominent in this photo, another retrograde aspect of my winter rig that is shown here is my headlight - now I could buy a 200 lumen light with the battery built into the light unit for less than I paid for a 100 lumen unit with a rather large-ish battery that is separate and connects to the light with a cable. I think this unit is now three years old. Still, the battery holds a charge well, why should I replace it? Hmm.

The "incorrect" position for riding
We see from this 1892 book illustration that fenders are not an innovation

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Weather to Bike ~

Today it was 95 in the afternoon, tomorrow it is supposed to be 100 (degrees Fahrenheit). As often happens at such times, people who know I commute by bike ask, "did you ride in this weather?" (Or some variant.)

On National Mall
I find the winter extremes more challenging than the summer's

For the past seven or more years, I have found it simpler to plan on riding my bike regardless of the weather except for very rare occasions. In particular, just heat (or well heat + humidity) isn't that bad except if it the first such day following a sudden swing from cooler weather and there isn't time to acclimate. I just don't push very hard.

Of course thunderstorms can be a bit tricky and require waiting out. But lately there haven't been so many, or so it seems to me.

Wintry weather, as opposed to the rather mild weather we had this past winter, can be more of a problem. I have this old mountain bike with studded snow tires, so I can ride in pretty icy conditions, but it is a lot slower and can be tiring. Heavy slushy snow on the trail can be worse than ice to try to push through. In short, some winters I have used transit a few days.