Archive for the Bikes Category

Why have bikes stopped progressing?

12/23/2013 9:50

This is charming but the last bike in the animation is from 1900, or so. Why are so many of us still riding a shape that was settled-on that early in the progression of bicycle design?

Bike rides in France!

08/5/2012 12:56

I finally rode a bike in France. Two bikes, actually. On two different rides during the same day.

Beater Mountain bike with a great name.

First was a delightful early morning ride to the hilltop medieval town called Domme overlooking the Dordogne river. I found a handful of beater bikes in the tool shed behind the garage of our holiday house in Grolejac. All of the bikes were dubious but this one was the best. Note the name on the top tube. Yup. That’s what gave me wings to climb the hill 😉 As I got to the top, the left crank arm started to make an awful sound. By half-way back, it was threatening to come off. Good thing I had the leatherman!

Leatherman to the rescue.


I don’t know if the track on Google maps shows the hillclimbing but it was a good pull up to the first ridge.

A second ride was a delightful tour out to a picture ground riding the paved railtrails that are all around this area. Even though I had to trade Jacques Anquetil for an old upright Peugeot with a slipping shifter, it was a fun ride to a riverside picnic ground.



Two bike rides in one day. Not a bad way to spend a holiday.

New Cap

07/21/2011 20:47

I guess I’m going through a phase for cycling caps (aka Biretta). Last Christmas there was my favourite winter cap made by a guy in Vancouver . I wrote about it here. Then I got one in Copenhagen from Cykler Schroeder that I wore during Cycling for Libraries (when it wasn’t raining & cold). Then last week I got another one from the Giro di Burnaby.

Then last weekend at the Vancouver Folk Fest I came upon a booth run by these guys who had a couple dozen charming, nifty, made in Vancouver cycling caps. I bought a nice houndstooth linen one with a racing stripe. Note that these are a completely separate group of cottage-industry cycling-gear makers than the guy who made my winter cap (see above).

And then, just today, Youtube offered to show me, apropos of nothing, this video. It must be fate.

It’s definitely going mainstream

07/18/2011 6:15

I guess, if there was still any lingering doubt, this is enough to convince me that regular urban cycling is going full-on mainstream in this part of the world. Nothing new here in this article, by the way, the interesting to see it in the Globe, nonetheless.

Riding in Berlin

06/28/2011 16:27
Cycle Chic Berlin Alte Schonhauser Allee
Photo by Anne Katrine Harders

I’m going to have trouble properly describing riding in Berlin. Berlin is extremely cool and Berlin bike riders are numerous and of every description. I rode from my hotel on the edge of Kreutzbeg as far south as Freie Universitie Berlin in Dahlem in the southwest and up to Prenzlauer Berg in the northeast: a big chunk of this territory I rode with Hal Loewen. We went fast and tried to learn from the locals. We also learned that motor traffic, while it’s heavy and runs at close quarters, is not threatening. Motorists seem accustomed to operating with bicycles among them and they always leave enough room and yield to bikes when crossing bike lanes.

They have lots of separated bikelanes here but it’s a bit of a trick. Berlin was built with many boulevards with wide sidewalks. To a great extent the bikelanes are simply a 1 metre portion of this sidewalk. This puts bikes into a conflict with pedestrians while leaving cars unimpeded. Well, sometimes it does. Where there are no wide sidewalks available they will certainly paint bike lanes on roads and re-stripe the traffic lanes to accomodate them. In many places, the painted bike lanes turn into separated bikelanes at intersections and there are many cyclist-specific traffic lights. At any rate, it all works to some degree or other. It’s nowhere near as completely thought-out as Copenhagen and our friend Rasmus reminded us regularly that Berlin hadn’t really figured it out yet.

They do, however, have a nifty bike-route finder.

What can we learn from this in Vancouver? I’m not sure I know enough history about the development of riding in Berlin. I don’t know if they, essentially started from a clean slate after the wall came down, for example. However, a dense route network is certainly part of the solution. Berlin, while being extensively built up, is not a compact city and not necessarily a dense city but their cycle route network is quite densely laid out, which means that you don’t usually have to go far from any given location to get onto a route. This is a lesson to offer Vancouver. Another lesson might be that we also have a few grand bouevards. Why, for example, is there no separate bike lane on Pacific Blvd? That street ROW must be 100 ft. wide.

We have a lot of work to do but it’s good to see a large city like Berlin with cycling development and features that we can work towards. One of the problems of constantly using Copenhagen as the ideal cycling city is that it’s development is so far ahead of ours, it’s not easy to always see what steps we should take next. With Berlin, the differences are easier to bridge: with more cycling routes to densify the network and with more separated bikelanes wherever we have right-of-way width, we can start to close the gap.

Cycling in Copenhagen

06/14/2011 13:37

Copenhagen Signals

Photo by Mikael Colville-Andersen

I’ve been on an amazing  adventure over the past couple weeks. During that time I went CYCLING in COPENHAGEN!! It was outrageously cool. I blogged about it over at but now it’s time to bring the cycling posts back here. More to come about cycling in Berlin. Yes, BERLIN TOO!!

Wet Rims Take Longer

10/18/2010 19:50
Wet rims take longer to stop

Wet rims take longer to stop

For some reason, my old mountain bike had this terribly quaint warning sticker on the down-tube where you can’t see it while you’re riding. I’ve always wondered two things about that:

1. Of all the things that can cause trouble while you’re riding a bike, how did their committee of lawyers choose that, and only that, hazard?

2. Why did they warn me with a sticker I can’t see when I’m riding?

One step in a long journey

07/1/2010 15:50

We opened a new separated bike lane on a downtown street. It’s a start.

Cars and Pedestrians, but no bikes.

Cars and Pedestrians, but no bikes.

I realize it looks totally unused to motorists but it’s a necessary first step: we won’t attract cyclists until we have infrastructure because of safety perception.

I suspect this is not how car usage grew. Motorists don’t feel unsafe around other road users so they will try using a route as soon as they see it’s avaailabe and then they’ll complain because  it’s slow and congested.

The difference is that potential cyclists *won’t* try a route if they think it’s the slightest bit unsafe but instead complain that it’s not safe.

We have to be willing to build (some) infrastructure and then exhort/market to citizenry to use this capacity.

Of course, this leaves us open to criticism from right-wing car addicts/lobby that we’re spending money on infrastructure for nobody (or for latte-sipping urban lefties, or whomever). I’m optimistic this time that our civic politicians have the ability to withstand this criticism.

Finally, we’re making progress in this town.

05/1/2010 11:32

We’re finally making some progress and getting better at defining and maintaining bicycle infrastructure. Our bike routes, especially  in the central areas of the city, are highly problematic because of short-cut SOV traffic. I complained about this before. Now something’s going to be done to fix Ontario St. Maybe I can start riding it again without getting bummed-out.

Amazing richmond

01/4/2010 14:05

It’s amazing but little old “ditchmond” actually has real bike lanes with a little curb between the cars and the bikes and a smooth transition from roadway to bike lane and back. this all on their prime street: No. 3 Road. Why couldn’t Vancouver do this on Cambie instead of the minimal painted lanes they just put in?