Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cover Models

Bicycles seem to pop up everywhere these days in all types of media. Copenhagenize is doing a great job keeping us updated on all of the international TV commercials featuring bikes. I was quite happy to see these three catalogs drop through our mail slot over the past few months. What caught my eye was that the bike props weren't being used to sell sports clothing or gear, just normal fashions and even handbags (Vera Bradley). Looks like even the catalog industry has been Copenhagenized!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Progress (UPDATED)

Early this summer, I wrote to my local town officials asking if they would consider installing bike racks in three of our public parking lots which serve small clusters of shops. One parking lot becomes the site of a farmers market on Wednesdays from spring through fall, which limits parking nearby, so some people (like me) arrive by bike instead. I was surprised to receive an immediate, positive reply, and the bike racks were installed about a month later.

My daughter took the top photo when we parked our bikes in one new rack before picking up our takeout order from the Chinese restaurant across the street. I was disappointed in their choice of location for the bike rack – the furthermost, unlit corner of the large parking lot, as opposed to the central, well-lit walkway leading to the paystation – but it’s progress in this town, and I’m grateful for it.

The bottom photo was taken this past Wednesday by me, with my camera still on my new handlebar mount (hence the slight tilt). This rack has an ideal placement at the entrance to the lot, and is easily visible to inspire visitors to ride their bike next time. I used the trip to the market to test out my new handlebar camera mount for the first time. Here is the video I made:

To market, to market, to find a bike rack from BIKE Lite on Vimeo.

I haven’t visited the third bike rack yet, because that parking lot is currently in use as a temporary firehouse while the old one is rebuilt across the street. On second thought, maybe I should go there to take some photos documenting even bigger progress in this town. Okay, coming soon…

UPDATE – Finally visited the third municipal parking lot to see if the new bike rack has been installed yet. As you can see, there are more important vehicles parked there (temporarily), most likely on the ideal location for the bike rack. Across the street lies the foundation of the new firehouse, with a banner giving us a sneak peek into the future. Progress is looking good. The bike rack can wait.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cycle Chick

My daughter is my BBB (that’s Best Biking Buddy, in case you didn’t know [because I just made it up {I think}]). She’s the reason I got back on a bike (see my very first post), and the one person I ride with most often. My husband, on the other hand, is the reason I got a new bike, but that (more interesting) story will be told another time.

When we first started to ride our bikes to school, I felt a little like a mother duck navigating carefully with her little duckling following behind. I constantly turned my head to check on her, asking, “Are you okay?” and “Ya with me?” Naturally, this annoyed and insulted her, so I learned to keep my mouth closed and use stealth-swivel-head-action when I felt the need. Gradually, we both became more confident riders, and these days we ride as near equals. The one instance where our inequality always becomes obvious is on the long downhill stretch on our morning ride into school. Gravity never fails to move the heavier object (me) to the bottom of the hill faster than the lighter object (daughter). Age before beauty!

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Latest addition to our bikes: dynamo bike lights. It’s rare that we ride after dark, but I thought we should be prepared since the daylight hours are growing shorter, and my daughter’s after-school activities are growing more numerous. It’s not inconceivable that we would be riding home in the gray light of dusk, without the help of the “lollipop lady” to hold up traffic while we cross that tricky intersection at rush hour. However, there’s also the likelihood that it will sit unused for weeks or months at a time, so the windup dynamo bike light is the ideal choice. And hey, it’s also one less device for my husband to raid for batteries to power his beloved TV remote. Now, there’s an idea – a dynamo TV remote…

Thursday, September 18, 2008


In our hometown just outside of Philadelphia, bike thefts have been on the rise all summer. We are blessed with very little crime, which is one reason so many of us who grew up here choose to stay here. Residents feel so safe they often leave their houses, garages and cars unlocked, and bicycles are left lying in the yard or parked in the driveway or in the unlocked garage. Lately, however, bike thieves seem to have discovered this little oasis, and bicycles are disappearing at all hours of the day and night, even from our elementary schools. Perhaps this summer is no worse than any previous summer (I can only access records from the last 12 months), or maybe "it's the economy, stupid!", but I'm taking no chances. We lock our bikes everywhere we go and keep our garage locked at all times.
This evening I rode my bike to my daughter's school for a parent-teacher event. I locked my bike at the bike rack, and as I walked to the front of the school, I came across the beautiful bike shown above, "locked" to a bollard. I simply could not believe what I was seeing, so I took a picture of it. Did this parent (or teacher) really believe their bike was secure?? My lock is no better than this lock (I really must upgrade), but this bike could be stolen by literally lifting one finger! When the event ended an hour and a half later, it was completely dark. Unfortunately, I returned to my bike from the other side of the school and forgot to check on this bike. My bike was safe and sound, but I guess I'll just have to wait for the next police report to find out if this one was another statistic in the summer of 2008.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Another First

I've been reading many bike-related blogs from around the world during the past few months, but I'd have to say my favorite is Amsterdamize. I'm not a fan of "reality TV", but the Bicycle TV section got me hooked. The author, Marc, uploads short videos taken while riding his bike through Amsterdam for his daily trips to work, errands, play, etc. He encourages his readers to give it a try, as all it takes is a mobile phone or digital camera in one hand. I decided to attempt it as we rode on the Schuylkill River Trail through the Manayunk section of Philadelphia. Here's the result:

Thanks for the inspiration, Marc! (Click here to see the videos I've made since then.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Firsts and Seconds

Welcome to my first attempt at blogging about my second love affair with the bicycle.

Blogging is a completely new sport for me, so please forgive the "training wheels" feel for a little while. Hopefully, a smoother ride (read) will come when I figure out how to work all these gears and get my rusty brain lubed.

If anything can get an adult back onto a bike, it's a child (or a DUI charge). Once your child masters two wheels and takes off down the street to see the world, you'd better grab a bike and be their guide. I hadn't owned a bike since I got my driver's license, so a few years ago I headed to one of the big sporting goods chain stores and picked out a cheap, one-size-fits-all bike. I chose a mountain bike style for its fat, knobby tires. Surely I couldn't wipeout on those tires! I also bought a helmet since I didn't trust myself on a bike without coaster brakes. It took me quite a while to get used to riding a bike again. No, you never do forget how to ride a bike, but you sure can feel nervous. It didn't help my confidence that I could never get the seat height adjusted to a comfortable level or stop the brakes from screaming at the slightest squeeze. But I was able to ride alongside my daughter instead of running behind, and after a few months I began to relax and enjoy our short trips around the neighborhood.

Last summer my daughter discovered the joy of coasting downhill, overcoming her fear of losing control. However, she did not welcome the uphill struggle on her "single-speed" little girl bike. This really limited our route options and made the trip home from school a chore. So at the end of the winter, we decided it was time to move her onto a bigger bike with gears. We came home from the bike shop with not one, but three new bikes, and oh, what a difference it has made! Our daughter now adjusts her pedaling comfort level with the twist of a wrist. My husband and I have solid bikes that fit us perfectly, with tires that roll so smoothly we never want to stop. The joy of riding a bicycle has returned to each of us.