There’s been a lot of buzz here (and elsewhere) about Stone Way. So, why should you care? Perhaps you’re not a hard-core cyclist and simply enjoy a stroll with the family along the Burke-Gilman. Or maybe you’re a roadie who can’t stand to ride in-city. Maybe you don’t even own a bike. Here’s why you should care.
blockquote>Most people don’t normally spend a lot of time thinking about the configuration of the roads on which they drive or walk. But the factors that you nevertheless register subconsciously “ the width of the lanes, the layout of the sidewalk, the presence or absence of bicycle lanes “ influence the way we live. For example, wide roads tend to induce speeding and more severe crashes. The presence of bicycle lanes has been linked to increased bicycle use and its attendant benefits. The length of crosswalks is positively correlated with your likelihood of being struck in one. These behaviors and factors take on a particular relevance when we consider their impact on issues like global warming, public health, the obesity epidemic, and personal safety. Roads literally shape our lives.
Seattle traffic engineers know this, and some are trying to act accordingly. We know from internal memos that the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has considered converting Stone Way in Fremont to a safer bicycle and pedestrian-friendly configuration since the 1980s. This plan was on course until the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, worried about changes, mounted a campaign to halt the improvement between 40th and 34th Streets. SDOT says that their decision to eliminate bicycle lanes from this section of the project and retain the old 4-lane configuration was an engineering decision, but we have information that contradicts that claim. As a result of SDOT’s apparently political decision, the bike lanes that would have linked the Burke-Gilman Trail with the growing communities to the North have been stripped from the project, leaving a six-block gap.
The fears of the Fremont Chamber are misplaced. The 4 to 3 lane rechannelization, also known as a road diet, has an established track record of success, numerous operational benefits, and little to no effect on roadway capacity. You can find more information about road diets here.
Furthermore, this action runs counter to a number of initiatives underway at the City. First is the Mayor’s well-publicized fight against climate change. Transportation is our number one source of climate change gases in the State of Washington, and to reduce its contribution we must support alternatives like biking, walking and transit. We know from studies that when we build for those transportation modes, people tend to use them and drive less. The City’s politically-motivated decision moves us in the wrong direction.
The City of Seattle previously announced an effort to improve safety on Seattle’s roads. Three lane roads are proven to be safer than four lane roads for all roadway users see road diet data. The resulting configuration would also give trucks and buses a wider 11-foot lane to operate in. It would increase their effective turning radius (room to maneuver) while reducing their exposure to “pocket” accidents.
Finally, SDOT’s reversal casts a pall over the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan, which has been in the works for two years and is scheduled to be approved by the City Council later this summer. The Bicycle Master Plan originally called for bike lanes along the length of the Stone Way redevelopment project. If the City backs off from bicycle improvement plans like these at the first hint of contention, the message to the public is clear: any bicycle project is up for elimination, regardless of its benefit to the community or traffic engineering facts. The future of the Bicycle Master Plan is thrown into question before it has been approved.
SDOT justifies its capitulation by claiming that converting the street from four automotive lanes to three and adding bicycle lanes would lead to unacceptable automobile congestion. In an unbiased, independent analysis, nationally-recognized traffic planning firm Sprinkle Consulting has concluded that this is unlikely. According to their state-of-the-art traffic modeling software, congestion at the key intersection of 35th St and Stone Way would remain within acceptable parameters. Moreover, SDOT predicts, on the whole, significant increases in auto traffic between 2001 and 2010 at Stone Way intersections. Six years into this time frame, a hand-count of traffic movements by Cascade Bicycle Club has shown that automobile trips are well below the predicted levels and have actually decreased in many cases.
Cascade Bicycle Club and our friends in the community want the City to Seattle to uphold its commitment to build sustainable, safe, livable communities while enhancing mobility. Its plan to add bicycle lanes to Stone Way would have moved us toward those goals. Instead, by all appearances they have chosen to sacrifice those goals in an effort to soothe the unfounded fears of a minority of Fremont businesses.
Cascade Bicycle Club will continue to fight for a complete Stone Way. On the last Thursday of every month from 4:30 to 6:30 we will be conducting traffic counts at35th St and Stone Way to show decisively that Stone Way can operate satisfactorily in a road-dieted configuration. We are mounting a campaign to give businesses that support their customers’ safety a voice in this matter. And we are working with grassroots groups to show the City that the people of Seattle care about safety and the sustainable movement of people and goods.
WHAT: A ride of enough cyclists in a loop thru lower Fremont at rush hour . This will be a legal ride, which means we ride two by two and obey all traffic laws.
WHY: The city has caved to pressure from businesses and developers and decided to go against the recommendations of the Bicycle Master Plan and leave a six-block gap in bike lanes between 34th & 40th on Stone Way N, leaving this vital corridor unsafe for cyclists.
If the city feels they can eliminate bicycle lanes as desired for commercial interests, no part of our bicycle network is safe! Read the Cascade Bicycle Club’s excellent description of the situation here.
WHO: All cyclists who are concerned about responsible community-planning and preventing private interests from trumping public safety.
WHEN: Wednesday, August 1st, 2007. We’ll meet up briefly at Gasworks Park at 4:30 (like now…oops, long day). Then we’ll start riding around the following loop, counter-clockwise, following all traffic laws. If you can’t make it until later just join in on the loop!
My neighbor Billy got me into cycling some 20-odd years ago. He had a fancy 1987 Trek 400 Elance (still does) that he upgraded with cool black and yellow Mavic components. He helped me through my first Chili-Hilly and STP. The year I graduated college I rode from Seattle to San Francisco, with Billy helping me plan the route.
A couple weeks ago was Billy’s 40th College Reunion at St. Mary’s College in the bay area. How did he get there? He rode his bike. I don’t know exactly how old Billy is, but he’s had his share of bumps and bruises keeping him from riding as much as he’d like of late. I spent a couple nights at his place upgrading his Trek with some gearing to get him over the hills by the redwoods and making sure that everything was ready for the trip. He ended up splitting the trip into two week-long legs, but he made it. The ride of his life is Paul Sherwin’s over-used quip that you hear on any tour stage. For Billy, this 800mile trip was truly the ride of his life. He lost 30 pounds, feels years younger, and has a whole new collection of biking memories to keep him pounding out the miles. Congrats on a great ride Bill!
“Have you ever put your foot down at a light on a bike trail right into a pile of dog shit? It happened to me this morning and pretty much put a damper on the morning commute. “
Well no, but that does suck. I have ran over a seagull (and felt horrible about it), seen a crow fly into another cyclists wheel, and then saw a squirrel jump up onto a fender rack, the person’s butt, back, shoulder, and off into a tree. That was a total trip.
This Mondo Nuvinci review was written by Val Kleitz, originally posted to phred.org, and is blogged here with permission. Below are related links and videos.
Since before the turn of the twentieth century, the development of gearing systems for bicycles has inspired a vast amount of technical invention and innovation. The overwhelming variety of drive train styles has been the subject of many articles and several books, and new developments continue to appear. One goal that has obsessed inventors almost from the beginning has been the creation of a continuously variable drive system. There have been many attempts to build such a system, which would allow the rider to change the gear ratio throughout the range without being limited to specific gear increments. Until now, all the imaginative approaches to this mechanical conundrum have been either completely unworkable, or inappropriate for use on bicycles.
The NuVinci Continuously Variable Transmission hub has finally achieved this goal: a bicycle drive train of moderate weight, good efficiency and durability under torque, with an infinitely adjustable gear ratio and a range of 350%. As one of the first US distributors of this revolutionary hub, Seattle Bike Supply recently received a sample, which we promptly built into a wheel, installed on a bike, and began testing under the toughest conditions we could impose. I had the privilege of riding it for the first week, and these are my impressions.
The hub itself is larger and heavier than any other internally geared hub, but not unreasonably so. The 150mm flange means that wheels must built in a two cross pattern, and the resulting wheel will shift the center of gravity rearward on the bike. Initial installation requires careful attention to the instructions, as the shifting mechanism must be properly installed on the axle, but once the set up process is complete, removing and reinstalling the wheel is only slightly more complex than it would be for a standard bolt on wheel, and easier than a coaster brake wheel (our wheel was set up for disc brake use — there is also the option of using the Shimano roller brake, which would make removal and reinstallation more difficult). The shifter uses a double cable system, and is easy to install when assembled with cables and axle mounted shift box. Setting up the cables and shift box is a somewhat complex process, but not too technically sophisticated. The twist grip style shifter makes one full revolution going from the low end of the range to the high end, and has an unusual display which indicates the ratio without numbers. In the lowest ratio, a red line forms an inchworm-like hump, indicating the sort of hill you can climb in that ratio, and as you shift up, the line flattens out, until it is perfectly straight for the highest ratio.
Once we had a working bike, I began using it as my primary commuting bike. My daily commute is 8 miles one way, and the return trip involves 1 ¼ miles of 9.6% uphill grade. To make things more fun, it is winter in the Pacific Northwest, and rain, grit, mud and freezing temperatures add to the conditions that any bicycle must endure. I am also the sort of person who always needs to have a certain amount of paraphernalia (tool kit, thermos, lunch, rain gear, first aid kit, etc.) and cargo space for running errands. I never travel light, so I was towing a two wheel cargo trailer at all times during this week of testing, with a minimum of 20 lbs. on the trailer.
During the first day of riding, I did have some minor problems with the axle slipping in the dropouts, but this was easily rectified with more torque on the axle nuts. Once the wheel was properly secured, I was unable to cause any sort of malfunction whatsoever, and I did try.
The function of this hub is different than anything you have ever ridden. There are no “gears” as we know them. The range built into the hub is the equivalent of having an 11-38 tooth cassette, but the rider does not select a gear within this range. Instead, you simply adjust the ratio to match your riding preference and the terrain. It feels like turning a dimmer switch or the volume dial on your stereo. The hub is always “in gear” because the mechanism is always engaged, and always capable of transmitting the pedaling torque to the rim. Because of this, there is no way to miss a shift, and no need to worry about when you should shift. You can always shift, whether pedaling, coasting or stopped.
One of the best aspects of this is that it makes shifting simple. It is no longer something you need to think about at all; if you want to shift, you shift, any time, even when stopped. Even so, using the hub to its best advantage does involve learning some different habits. During the first day of riding, I found myself waiting until my cadence was high enough to get into the next gear, a good habit with any other gearing system, but totally unnecessary with the NuVinci. When accelerating, it is possible to shift continuously, keeping your cadence constant as you go from a stop up to cruising speed. If you shift a little too far, and find yourself in a ratio that is a bit too high, adjust back down a little — there is no trauma, no hesitation, no chain slipping.
Once I got used to shifting whenever I felt like it, I found that the hub gave me some very useful feedback about my pedaling stroke. The manufacturer states that you can shift the hub under load, and while this is true, it is also true that any system under load will resist shifting. The more force you are putting on the chain, the more force it will require to move the shifter. If you have consciously developed the habit of relieving the pressure on the pedals when your hand shifts, this will be no problem, but if you do shift this hub under pressure, you will find that it tells you exactly where the “dead spot” is in your pedaling stroke. Under rapid acceleration, with moderate pressure on the shifter, the hub shifts in small increments every time your foot hits that spot. I found that in some circumstances, I actually had almost no dead spots in my stroke, and at other cadences, on different terrain, I seemed to have three. Very educational; after a while the feedback between feet and shifting hand becomes totally instinctive, with no intervention from the brain at all.
The ease of adjusting the ratio also led me to discover an interesting riding strategy — I found that when my legs were laboring on long upgrades, I was able to shift down just slightly and spin a bit faster, sometimes just for two or three pedal strokes, and then shift back up into the original ratio without any trouble. With a conventional gearing system, the need must be dire before this sort of multiple shift is worth the trouble.
I did try to put as much torque on the hub as I could, to see if I could break anything, with no success. After one grocery run, I chose the steeper of two possible routes home to haul the 60 lbs of trailer and supplies home, but even muscling over speed bumps on an extreme slope from a dead stop using 180mm cranks seemed to have no effect on the hub. I never felt any slippage in the hub, though by the end of the week the chainring I had used was showing signs of extreme stress.
The factory specs on torque state that the chainring should be at least twice as large as the cog on the hub, and this is how it was set up for this test, with a 19t freewheel and a 38t chainring. With this combination, the lowest ratio available gives the equivalent of a 1:1 gear, in which the rear wheel rotates once for each crank revolution. On this bike, a Redline Monocog Flight with Rhyno Lite rims, this translates to a 26” low gear. With the 350% range of the hub, this means that the highest ratio is a 91” gear — all in all, high enough and low enough to be useful in almost all situations. I did find myself using the full range, and I never felt that I really needed more, though I occasionally thought I might want it.
One of the main advantages of any internally geared system is resistance to extreme weather and dirty conditions, and the NuVinci is no exception to this. At the end of my week, I took the time to clean around a half a pound of road grit off the bike, and had to open the Euro style BMX bottom bracket to let the water out. Through all the slop that winter dumped on it, the hub remained impervious, and chain maintenance was the main concern, though there was never any question of derailing, as the chain line was essentially the same as any BMX drive train.
Overall, I would say that the hub performed excellently, and definitely lives up to its promise as a unique and revolutionary technology. The one feature that is lacking is some sort of protection for the shift box, which is mounted on the right side of the axle, and could be vulnerable in a crash, or when parking in a bike rack. It should be possible to modify a derailleur guard to prevent such damage, but it would be best if the manufacturer were to provide a guard. It is possible that future versions of the hub will be lighter, as well, but the current weight is not inappropriate for the comfort, city, commuting and cruiser style bikes that it is likely to be installed on. The great news is that we have continuous shifting at long last, and it is not only reliable, it’s fun!
Interestingly, the team was for once a generation behind what you’ll be able to buy this fall: Trek’s new OCLV Red/’08 Madone 6.9 frames won’t be available to the team before the end of the racing season, so the team mostly raced on rebadged Madone 5.2 frames.
Quick Step’s Tom Boonen finally won his 1st green jersey (and two stages), and he did it on a carbon Tarmac SL2.
One of the most liberating things about Bettie is the big tires; Big Apples from Schwalbe to be exact. They’re like that cruiser bike you had as a kid, where you just roll over everything: through a field, over a curb, on gravel, potholes … whatever. They also have a magic carpet ride about them and Schwalbe calls big-apple equipped bikes, Balloon Bikes. Not sure how that marketing program is working, but we’re seeing bikes with big tires on The Ride, Batavus Diva, and even Dahons.
Big tires are cool, bigger is better, but what I’m don’t know about is the 650B wheels (which measure 27.5” in diameter, half-way between 26” and 29” wheels) discussed this week in Bicycle Newswire.
Question is whether or not the world needs another wheel size?