Monday, December 16, 2013

What if cars were like bikes

The general American view of cycling is rather limited today as evidenced by the polite but blank stares I receive went talking about cargo biking and questions like "Are you a cyclist?". From a layman's point of view (I'm talking about me) there are only three types of bicycles. I got to thinking about how limited our choices would be if car selection was so narrow.

Road bike: These are the sports cars of the biking world. Yes, geometry among the sub-categories vary along with materials and components. However, when all is said and done we are still talking about racing for speed. 

Mountain bike: Whether no suspension, hard tail, or fully suspended it's still a mountain bike. If you take the beefier frame and add skinny road tires you have a commuter bike. Similarly, if you add stronger wider wheels on a road bike you end up with a cross bike. 

BMX: Think X and gravity games. Dirt track racers or half pipe riding freestylers all ride that same basic frame and components with event specific variations. 

Now consider how ludicrous city auto travel would be if the choices were similarly limited.

"My sports car is for weekend racing but I'll put a trailer on it for the annual camping trip."

Look what the guys at found. Crazy Right?

How about, "Honey did you charge up the Hummer last night? I need to pick up groceries and drop of my dry cleaning."

There had to be a better use of brain power back in '09

The car market has sedans, wagons, SUVs, sports cars and so on. Make room for purpose built cargo bikes in the FMZ (five mile zone around your home). Leave your road bike for the century ride. With a cargo bike you simply get on, go, and get as much stuff as you need depending on the model. I still haven't purchased enough groceries to overload a cargo bike. 

CetmaCargo Largo
                          Xtracycle Radish                       Rex Hazard

Stephen Mosca of Go-one LLC said it best in this video on velomobiles. "Think of your garage as a transportation tool box." Use the right tool for the job. Enjoy your city at a pace you can actually taking your surroundings and get as much or as little of a workout in as you like. Electric assist is an option if necessary. 

Would you prefer a  function specific bike or general use with cargo accessories?

Friday, December 13, 2013

The U.S. is waking up to cargo bikes

This has been a good year for cargo bike coverage in the U.S. I've seen models featured in Outside magazine, Men's Journal, The Wall St. Journal, and most recently a widely circulated piece from the AP.

The concept of bicycles as real transportation vehicles is gaining momentum. More and more models are becoming available in the States as well. All this bodes well for the betterment of urban travel and the health of cities. Check out the latest by writer Phuong Le:
Cargo Bikes the new minivan for cycling families

Could you trade your car for a bicycle around town?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Turn your bike into Santa's sleigh

Living in a tourist destination can be a wonderful experience despite coping with the congestion during peek season. This can be exponentially more frustrating when your tourist town is also a holiday shopping attraction. With some basic planning and proper care you can avoid some aspects of the holiday shopping blues by shopping by bike.

Why shopping by bike makes good sense this holiday season:

Parking! Here is what it looks like trying to find parking in one of Santa Monica's parking structures just off the popular 3rd Street Promenade. This was on our way to the beach on Memorial Day. The garages can look like this for weeks leading up to Christmas. 

Parking garage 3rd St. Promenade Santa Monica

Alternatively, you can take your bike, attach a Burly Travoy and lock up in front of the store of your choosing. Bike parking abounds on the West Side. This trailer turns into a shopping cart you take in with you. Add the accessory bags so you can skip store bags and the associated city bag tax.

Burley Travoy at www,

Before parking your car and heading into the store you have to deal with traffic. Enjoy the glorious feeling of using the bike lane to glide past the gridlocked cars waiting to get into the lots or for people to fill their trunks and vacate street paces. A word of caution, holidays cause emotions to run high and people to be distracted. Be extra careful when surrounded by car wielding frenzied shoppers, you want to keep your word when you said "I'll be home for Christmas". Use bike lanes wherever possible. Check Google Maps for bike routes to your shopping destination. On the last few block leading to your shopping Mecca of choice consider walking your bike as the traffic gets thicker. 

Holiday traffic 3rd St Promenade Santa Monica

Forget a New Years resolution, reap the benefits of exercise now. We all indulge to some extent during the holiday season. Biking burns calories. You'll burn even more if you are hauling the gifts from the store with pedal power. Making cycling a practical part of your shopping routine this season will allow for guiltless feasting.

How would you best navigate your city to get holiday shopping done by bike?