Cycle Taipei

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by Byron on Oct 14, 2007 at 4:03 PM

Much like Beijing, there’s a flow in Taipei, and we just rode in it. We were surrounded nearly at all times by scooters. I’ve never seen so many scooters. The don’t have specific bike lanes, except around the business district, but relatively wide lanes, and cars give you room. There’s a roadie scene and even a Tour de Taiwan.

taipei_cycling.jpg

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Bike Hugger Betel Nut

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by Byron on Oct 14, 2007 at 8:30 AM

Most of the ride, Jason was hanging out behind us with Matt from Dahon until we had some betel nut. Then he was all sprinting from stop lights, taking pulls, dropping us, mister energized on the bike – watch the video. Then I climbed a hill like never before on a folding bike, while I heard Once in a Lifetime in my head. I expect my legs to really hurt tomorrow.

betel_nut_boy.jpg

Betel nut is a chewable stimulant sold in stands, similar to cocoa leaf, and it’s dispensed by girls in lingerie. A betel nut sports drink would make Red Bull seem like kool-aid. It also turns your mouth red, sort of like the spice in Dune, and is part of the Taipei experience.

If we get tired blogging at the IDF, I know where that stand is.

More Blogging Taipei photos in our photostream … and Matt’s photo gallery. Podcasts tomorrow.

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Dwell Report on Urban Bikes

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by Byron on Oct 11, 2007 at 7:30 AM

By now Dwell Magazine is arriving in the mail and on newsstands with an urban bike report. Bike Hugger provided the expert commentary for the report and other insights. Check the related story online and see these snapshots I took during the photoshoot. Bikes in the report include

dwell_report.jpg

There’s also a short blurb on sport-utility bikes, Bettie 2.0, and Xtracycle.

Read our urban bike tag archives for ongoing coverage and the Flickr Urban Bike group. That’s the stylish Hugga Tee I’m wearing and the photo was taken at Elliott Bay Bicycles near bike stand number 2.

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Critical Manners Seattle: Friday Oct 12, Westlake, 5:30

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by Dave R. on Oct 11, 2007 at 7:26 AM

As <http://bikehugger.com/2007/10/critical_manners.htm#comments”>promised, we’ll be gathering at Westlake, 5:30 tonight for a Critical Manners ride. Look for Matt McClung when you arrive. We’ll probably leave Westlake around 6:00, actual manners observed will be negotiated at the gathering and maybe we’ll pick a snazzier name next time around. This is a great chance to get out and have some non-confrontational interactions with traffic and pedestrians, and a great ride for anybody who’s ever been put off by traditional Critical Mass tactics. I’ll report back after the ride.

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Bicycle Hi Fi

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by Byron on Oct 11, 2007 at 6:30 AM

cy-fi.jpg A week before Interbike I’d posted about Ultra Mobile Bike Devices and connecting an iPod to a bike. Remarkably during the Hugga Hookup we met Cy-Fi, an iPod speaker and remote for your bike. Good timing!

I did test ride and video the Cy-Fi, but it was too dark and the video didn’t turn out well. The device itself was cool and the owners of the company were very proud of it. Using new technology, from Kleer, it’s an iPod remote that connects to speakers you mount to your handlebars. What’s unique is that the speaker has buttons to change the track, volume, and select playlists.

Sure, sure, a DIYer could just duct-tape some speakers to a wire and an iPod. Maybe just wear headphones, but if you’re at Critical Mass or a bike parade with the Rock the Bike crowd, you can blast your Bombay Dub Orchestra for everyone to hear.

Ride louder is Cy-Fi’s slogan and they’ll find buyers for this gadget. The tech bloggers have certainly noticed

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Critical Manners

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by Byron on Oct 10, 2007 at 6:44 AM

Seems I’m not the only one that thinks Critical Mass should have a positive effect on traffic and the community. Check this article from the SFGate.

The cyclists were polite. The motorists were respectful. The pedestrians were happy. The cops were incredulous.

Critical Manners are also reportedly happening in Portland.

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Sausages and Erectile Dysfunction

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by Byron on Oct 10, 2007 at 6:30 AM

James wrote us to say

I read bike hugger in a feed reader and I was disturbed to see a Jimmy Dean sandwich ad appear below a story on bike commuting in the rain. I went to the BH front page and there’s a big ol’ Viagra ad posted below the same story.

Besides being really tacky these ads aren’t apropos of cycling or in my opinion any healthy lifestyle.

Can you guys be more selective about who you let advertise on your site?

and I responded, “at Bike Hugger we’re friendly to all sorts of cyclists, including those that eat sausages or take erection pills.”

Joking aside, the ads are provided by our friends at FeedBurner and they use a sophisticated delivery system: if readers don’t click, the ads don’t show – if you refresh the page frequently you’ll also see that the ads only show a few times and are replaced by Google text ads. The ads are also geotargeted, so you may not see Wendy’s or Circuit City that are also running.

As we move forward with the business of Bike Hugger, described here, we’re working with advertisers on unique programs, podcasts, and more. To bring our readers more blogging, the ads pay our hosting and underwrite costs. If you’ve read us for a while, you’ll notice we’ve gone from periodic posting to daily, to multiple times a day.

Brought to you by

We also run an Amazon Store and Amazon Affiliate ads. The “Brought to you by” sidebar are the retail goods we’ve made and sold, including my book. Brought to you by includes ads for Elliott Bay, Schooner Exact, and other Seattle-area businesses.

One thing we don’t do is pop-ups or interstitial ads (click on ad before seeing content) or ones that float over the page because that totally annoys me.

If you’ve got questions/concerns about our ads let us know here in the comments or via our contact form. I’ve been doing this for a long time and been on both sides of the “web should be free” debate.

Sidenote: the lingerie line sold on Amazon with “hugger” in the product description cracks me up every-time I see it. The lingerie periodically shows up and sometimes is just a small scroll from the Viagra ad.

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Cycling fatality on Eastlake 1 Month later

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by Dave R. on Oct 09, 2007 at 10:25 PM

A month has passed since 2 cyclists and a dump truck had a fatal interaction at the intersection of Eastlake and Fuhrman here in Seattle. I went past the site on the way home tonight to see what’s changed in the last 4 weeks. What’s there is mostly paint “ painted ghostbike up on the street sign, painted signs on the sidewalk and roadway, and a touching memorial to 19 year old Bryce, the cyclist who was killed.

What is going to make this intersection safer? It only took the 10 minutes I was at the corner for me to see another close call between a car and bike. If history’s any guide, we’ll be lucky to get paint. Unfortunately I don’t think paint would have made any more difference than if the cyclists had brakes (they did), freewheels (they didn’t), or if they were wearing helmets (they weren’t, and it wouldn’t have mattered anyway).

Update: SeattleLikesBikes.org plans a memorial ride for Nov 3rd.

I’ve been a bit disappointed by the local media coverage, and the citizen response. The Stranger’s gone out of their way to point out the danger of brake-free track bikes. The Seattle PI found time to fit in a note that neither cyclist was wearing a helmet in the second paragraph. Both imply that the cyclists were doing something wrong and were thus at fault in the accident. It may very well have been the case that Bryce and Caleb were doing something wrong, but these two facts have nothing to do with the accident. If you want a real chill just read the citizen comments on the PI article (although a read today suggests that the worst ones have been deleted).

World Changing has some good suggestions, courtesy of the author of the flawed Stranger articles. Denny Trimble gets it right on though: what’s Seattle doing to make things safer for cyclists?

The scenario is one of my own personal worst cycling fears: cars turning right at an intersection. Riding a bike lane (as the cyclists were) puts you in the path of danger when an automobile makes a ˜free right turn’. A recent interesting study from London highlights the subtle dangers riding the bike lanes “ cyclists who left the intersection while the light was still red were involved in far fewer accidents than those who waited for the green and got creamed by cars turning left (the equivalent of a right hand turn here in the States).

There are 3 ‘infrastructure’ solutions floating around right now: Blue Lanes: Bike Lanes around and across intersections. I understand the safety evidence from Portland is good but I’m still not convinced these are enough. The two cyclists hit by the dump truck were in (or very near) a painted bike lane – I’m not sure how much more paint applied to the lane is going to solve the problem.

I think a more promising approach is Bike Boxes which actually put cyclists out ahead of the lane of traffic in a designated space. This has the advantage of putting the cyclist directly in the line of sight of the motorists rather than counting on them to read the street as well as the traffic lights and signs. In fact, many commuters I ride with take this approach at 34th and Stone Way, pulling our bikes into the left hand side of the right lane so we don’t get creamed as cars try to make a right.

Bike signal heads on traffic lights are another appealing option. The advantages here are again that the motorists can focus on familiar signaling, while the cyclists get a ‘head start’ from the traffic, hopefully moving them out of the intersection danger zone before many cars start to move through.

None of these are perfect, and if you read through the comments on some of the PI articles you’ll see that an option popular among motorists is to move bikes off streets. Presumably they mean on to bike paths or physically separated bike lanes. I’m still on the fence regarding bike paths. The stretch of the Burke-Gilman around the top of Lake Washington is a prime example of some of the dangers of bike paths – driveways and roads cross the path at random intervals allowing ample opportunities for automobile/bicycle interactions.

Segregated bike lanes got some press earlier this year as New York City prepared to add some. Sheldon “Ineffable” Brown has some insightful things to say about the press, and about physically separated lanes. They’re no substitute for educating all roadway users.

My unstudied opinion is that Seattle would do well to adopt Bike Boxes, and a more effective educational campaign for cyclists and motorists. “Give 3 feet” really seems a bit lame – it’s basically imploring automobiles to lend cyclists an extra bit of space, volunteer a bit of extra courtesy. I’d like to see a campaign aligned around “Give me the lane – it’s the law”. Empowering cyclists to use roads as needed to travel safely should go hand in hand with educating motorists that bicycles are actually allowed on the street.

Infrastructure may help, but I can’t think of any way more paint would have prevented the terrible events on Eastlake and Fuhrman. I’m very saddened for Bryce’s family. I sincerely hope the neighborhood council and city will sit up and take some notice of this intersection and other high-conflict areas in Seattle and take some steps to try and reduce the chances of it happening again.

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Worst Commute EVAR!!1!

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by Dave R. on Oct 09, 2007 at 12:13 PM

The torrential rains earlier this week sparked a nascent memory – my worst ever commute. I sometimes ride a short stretch along the south side of Greenlake here in Seattle. The route’s very nice, bike lanes, slow park-bound traffic, beautiful old trees, and of course the lake itself is just a few dozen feet away. This particular late fall/early winter season had seen endless rain and I was getting used to plowing through puddles rather than trying to ride around them. I even found a set of postman’s golashes to keep my feet dry. I should have recognized water freely flowing across the entire roadway as the first sign of trouble. Instead I rode bravely on, diving into larger and larger puddles, and hey, I was starting to enjoy the challenge. All that came to an abrupt halt at the last and deepest puddle. Somewhere about 1/4 way across the water got so deep it came in over the top of my rubber overbooties. My choices were limited: Keep pedaling and get your feet soaked, or get off and get your calves soaked. Needless to say I pedaled through, barely making enough speed to stay up right all the way across. The post-puddle options weren’t much better, and I wet-footed it the rest of the way home.

What’s your worst?

Runner’s up: Falling off my bike after nearly getting creamed by some lady in a white pickup 50 feet from my house. Surprised, yes, angry, yes. Worst part? My fancy cellphone screen (in my front pocket) got totally obliterated.

Doored on Greenwood: It was all over so quickly it was hard to get too mad about it. The lady was very apologetic, and my injuries were very minor (I was turning left, headed up hill). Just lucky for me there wasn’t any traffic behind me or I’d have a squashed noggin.

Something about the fact that I could avoided the puddles makes it worse than the random happanstance of injury.

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Bike scene in NYC

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by andrew_f_martin on Oct 09, 2007 at 8:55 AM

Byrne in Seattle StreetFilms.org has a cool post about the bike scene in NYC. One of my favorite artists - David Byrne is a big bike advocate in gotham.

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