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.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Quick Fix from National Park Service

Mount Vernon Trail at rail bridge, near 14th St Bridge

Mount Vernon Trail at rail bridge, near 14th St Bridge -- large tree fell some time after my passing through early in morning rush hour, someone tweeted it was down and NPS must have sent crew to fix it before evening cycling "rush hour" - rush hour in quotes, because the weather was not conducive to much bicycle traffic today. Nice they made the effort to get this taken care of quickly!

Mount Vernon Trail under rail bridge, near 14th St Bridge

Saturday, January 21, 2017

To the Women's March on Washington by Bike

Bike Valet at Women's March on Washington
Bike valet parking at L'Enfant Plaza SW & Independence Avenue

It is about nine miles from my house to where the bike valet parking was set up for the Women's March on Washington - I decided to take my ancient 1973 three-speed Raleigh Sports bike that is indestructible and also not a bike that would be a loss if something bad did happen to it (like it disappeared).

According to the Women's March on Washington web site, there were 1,500 parking spots at this bike valet service for bicycles, which they seemed to suggest would not be enough, but alas the bike valet service was not much used. The above photo was taken at around 9:30, about 30 minutes before the rally started, and there were maybe a few dozen bikes parked total. Hmm. When I left the area around 2:15, heavy crowds extended down Independence Avenue further than this - far too crowded to try to walk a bicycle in that direction - I was able to leave the area by going south, away from Independence, crossing over the railroad tracks and SW freeway on L'Enfant Plaza, then down to Maine Ave and the usual bike route from the Jefferson Memorial area onward across the 14th St Bridge and into Arlington. So for me at least the bike valet parking was well situated.

Given the huge number of people who attended and the stories of how Metro was overwhelmed, it appears bicycle was a good solution, but apparently not an obvious one, although I understand many people came in groups and a group bike ride to something like this probably isn't the first idea one has. Still, the bike valet must have been one of the more over-provided (or under-utilized) resources connected with this event.

Both on the way to the March and on the ride home, I saw more attendees riding Capital Bikeshare bikes than their own bikes.

Women's March on Washington
Listening to speakers at the March

It was an uplifting experience in many ways, even if the historical fact that drove the organizers to create it isn't a positive one in my view. I was glad to be there. Who knows how many people were really there, but Lord that was a lot of people.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Bikeways : State of the Art, 1974 (Government Report)

Bikeways : state of the art, 1974 / Dan Smith, Jr., author ; prepared for Federal Highway Administration.
Main Author: Smith, Dan.
Language(s): English
Published: Springfield, Va. : distributed by National Technical Information Service, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, 1974.
Subjects: Cycling.
Cycling > United States.
Bicycle trails.
Note: DeLeuw, Cather and Company, performing organization.
Physical Description: v, 97 p. : ill. ; 28 cm.

Available as a public domain government funded document from HathiTrust -

It sounds to much like today . . .
With this growth in cycling popularity and utilization have come both a demand for good recreational and utility oriented facilities on which to ride and a concern for the increase in bike involved accidents. The concern for accidents appears well founded despite the fact that only the gross numbers of accidents occurring are known with a reasonable level of accuracy. Very little is known about accident rates associated with the gross numbers. Despite this lack of accident rate information, the following national statistics are significant. In l962, some 570 cyclists were killed and 30,000 injured in bicycle - motor vehicle accidents. By l968, the corresponding figures had grown to 800 killed and 38,000 injured. The National Safety Council's statistics for l972 show l00,000 bicycle - motor vehicle accidents and l,l00 fatalities.

As a result of the growing concern on the part of both the public and public officials at all levels, the past several years have been marked by a veritable blizzard of bicycle safety studies, studies for development of bikeway design and locational criteria, cyclist safety education programs, and provision of physical facilities for bicycles. But the sudden rise in activity and the demand for programs and facilities found planners and designers unprepared and uncertain as to means of responding to these demands. As a result, programs have been planned on the basis of intuitive judgment, what knowledge could be gleaned from European literature on the subject, and trial and error. The result of the past four or five years independent activities undertaken in state jurisdictions across the country has been a broad range of studies, plans, programs, design manuals and in-use facilities with substantial variance and even conflict in recommended practices. The results of initial use and experiences in various localities are now becoming available and it appears that differences in design practices have significant implication for utility and safety.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Women's March by Bike?

The Women's March on Washington information about bicycle parking still a work in progress.
Local Transportation - By Bike

Q: Can I bike to the march?
A: You are welcome to ride your bike as transportation to the march. However, bikes are not allowed in the rally area or the march route. We are currently identifying a place for bike parking. We will update people over the next week with more details.

According to the what to bring page (which really should be titled, "please don't bring anything!") it seems you are only to have a relatively small, absolutely clear bag if you have any sort of bag at all. I guess I can put a sandwich in my pocket, and an apple. And my phone, which (thanks T-Mobile!) probably won't work but no worries, life proceeded before there were mobile phones.

While it is clear where the March starts, it isn't clear where they are planning to march to, but since it is stated it will be a March of only one and a half miles, it seems like down Independence Avenue to the Washington monument or something like that. Probably best to try to park towards the destination end and walk back to the march start.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Seattle Bike Share Failure

Seattle Bike Blog description of the closure, giving considerable detail.

Short Seattle PI online news article briefly on the closure of Seattle's bike share system, Pronto.

Around Seattle - Jan. 2015
Seattle Dept of Transportation image of a Pronto bike

I lived in Seattle for about fifteen years, but that was in the last century, before cycling was a Seattle "thing" so to speak. I have relatives in the Pac NW so I go back to visit occasionally, and have observed the generally more robust development of cycling and cycling infrastructure there over here, in the Arlington VA and DC area. One of the things that seemed amazing to me was the absence of a bike share program - then once one was introduced in the last few years, called Pronto, that it seemed so lame. (Yes, that is not a very deep analytical comment, I admit.)

Anyway, the Seattle PI item above is an amusing contrast in its brevity to the endless information in the blog post and several items it links to. It appears that just about everything that could be done wrong was. But there are apparently so many villains/possible causes that who knows if any real lessons can be learned.

Because the management of Pronto was so screwed up (according to the accounts) and it was started too small (another theory) combined with the reality of Seattle's hilly terrain combined with bike share bike weight, the issue of Seattle's helmet law is not regarded as a significant factor in the failure. Hmm.

Downtown Seattle - McGraw Square Pronto Station
Seattle Dept of Transportation

These are probably the only bike share bikes of this sort of heavy industrial step-through design that have seven speed, not three speed, gearing. Apparently they were still pretty hard to get up some of Seattle's hills.

Arlington Traffic 9
Capital Bikeshare users happy that CaBi continues to flourish, without helmets (by the way)

The Pronto bike share web site ( which doesn't mention that they are going out of business at this point, speaking admiringly or aspiration-ly about CaBi. "What other cities have bike share and how do they compare? - People are using bike share systems in over 200 cities, including New York, Boston, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago, London, Paris, and Barcelona with more programs launching each year. In New York, Citi Bike riders recorded over 10 million trips in 2015. Washington DC's 1,100 bike program was [as in, is] so successful it has already expanded to 2,500 bikes to keep up with demand." - This is a rare case where Seattlites have something nice to say about Washington DC. Oh, and as of now, it is more than 3,500 bikes for CaBi, yeah.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ultralight Bike Touring and Bikepacking (Book Review)

Ultralight Bike Touring and Bikepacking: The Ultimate Guide to Lightweight Cycling AdventuresUltralight Bike Touring and Bikepacking: The Ultimate Guide to Lightweight Cycling Adventures by Justin Lichter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was something I picked up at the public library. I suppose since this isn't the kind of guide you take with you, it is an OK book for a library to have, but I should probably buy myself a copy for reference if I am serious about some overnight rides of any sort. Not sure I am.

The concept here is that most bicycle touring is done in with a "heavy" approach, often with special racks for the front and back that have so-called pannier bags attached. The "ulralight" bikepacker instead uses a combination (usually) of handlebar bag, a slightly elongated bag that attaches behind the saddle, and a "frame bag" that fits into the triangle of space under the top bar - between the rider's legs, basically.

I am sympathetic to this approach mostly because of how my approach to commuting evolved - I used to have these ginormous pannier bags for a back rack on the bikes I used to commute. They were silly large, and from time to time I would more or less find enough crap to haul to/from work to fill them. A lot of weight, and eventually I began to feel they were ruining (or at least not helping) my enjoyment of my rides. I started using a messenger bag and found that if I forced myself to live within the smaller amount of space and made better decisions on what to take with me, it was enough.

This book is advocating much the same approach for longer bike trips of various kinds. The two co-authors (Justin Lichter and Justin Kline) have a light style and there is some amusing stuff about travels in Central Asia - well, amusing for me because I am somewhat interested in that region. Note all of their chapters are relevant for me - for example, "bikepacking for speed and endurance" - eh, not so much my interest.

Anyway, they mention somewhere that packing light and staying away from the heavy bags on the front and back on racks can mean better maneuverability, which seems attractive to me, but also that it can be a better approach for older riders. Amen!

Even though I wasn't equally interested in all parts of this book, it's only about 150 pages so I just read it from start to finish. A nice read.

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