Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fog, moisture, humidity

I guess the annual hot & humid season is opened now. This morning everything was coated with a thin blanket of fog. A little more of it and I would need some fog lamps on my bike.
On days like this, there is one big advantage of cars over bikes - A/C. The only A/C I can have while riding my bike is a gentle breeze I feel on my face, but let's be honest - while it may cool me down just a little bit, it is far from the efficiency of a real A/C.

Moisture, moisture everywhere. Gotta remember to lube my chain!

Monday, May 21, 2012

One less roadkill

One less car - this is what cyclists like to say when they talk about transportation cycling. One more person on a bike in the city equals one less car on congested streets.

This morning on my way to work, I realized that one more bicycle on the road equals one less roadkill as well. First I passed something that resembled a cat. I can't tell for sure because its head was crushed. Then was a turtle with a flattened shell. I had my camera with me but I decided that taking such pictures to illustrate this post would not be welcomed.

By the time I got to my office I started thinking: have you ever killed an animal riding your bike? It just doesn't happen. There is no physical way of decapitating a cat with your bicycle. Those poor creatures would have more chances of survival if more people ride their bikes. I never thought about it before but riding a bike changes my perspective as I am more observant of things lying on the road. When you drive a car you just speed by and don't even think twice if that bump on the road was a rock of that poor cat's head.
Squirrel in the fork. Is it real or fake? (Source: BikeSnobNYC)

Monday, May 14, 2012

And the winner is...

Remember my post from Tuesday, a week ago? I was writing about yet another commuter race to be held in Boston's urban area. This time a bicyclist, a T-rider and a driver were racing from Davis Square in Somerville to Kendall Square in Cambridge. The race is over now. Guess who won and why was it a cyclist (again)?

Boston.com wrote about this event:
It’s official: Riding a bicycle is the fastest way to travel from Davis to Kendall squares during rush hour.
Duh! (Newsflash: our planet is round!)

The cyclist completed the race in 20 min., the T-rider finished second in 29 min., followed by a driver who managed to reach the finish line in 32 min. I am happy to see this result but I don't think it's exciting anymore.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lower Vine Brook Bikeway

We seem to have a pretty rainy May, which makes me enjoy days like yesterday even more. 

I usually take the shortest route on my way to work, which involves riding with/between cars on Rt 2A (Fortunately, this road has a nice shoulder I can use as a bike lane substitute). I am not in a mad rush in the morning, but I am focused on getting to work relatively quickly and my mind is occupied with different tasks I am supposed to have done on a given day. 

The situation is quite different on my way home. On warm days, like yesterday, I really enjoy riding back home at a leisurely speed and I take a longer route avoiding most of the road traffic. The path takes me through the Lower Vine Brook forest in Lexington. It is a truly peaceful place where bike path crosses multiple small bridges on the Vine Brook . I really enjoy going back home this way on warm, sunny days. Especially after sitting at the desk at work for the most of my day. I can slow down here, calm down, and just ride my bike. 
The best thing is that this bike path is somehow a bit forgotten. I hardly ever see another cyclist there, usually just very few people walking their dogs. It seems strange as the Lower Vine Brook path is much nicer than the Minuteman Trail that it eventually connects to. It could be because it's located a bit off the beaten path, while the Minuteman is a major biking "highway" here. Also, you will not find lycra-clad road bikers going 30mph there as, unlike the Minuteman Bikeway, it's too bumpy to ride at this speed. 

If you happen to be in Lexington some day and find the Minuteman too busy to ride, try the Vine Brook path. It is worth it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

How a bicycle used to be made

You may have seen this already. It is a very interesting video from... 1945, showing how Raleigh bicycles used to be made in Britain. Quite entertaining!

Friday, May 4, 2012

The image of being green

They are about to open a new bank in my neighborhood. What I noticed on my way to work is the new bicycle rack at the main entrance. 
As you can tell, the bank with a green logo likely wants to be seen as "green". Not only they installed this bicycle rack for the most environmentally-friendly vehicles, but also they chose racks that resemble leaves. I guess they are triple-green this way (1. the logo, 2. the bike parking, 3. rack shape). 

It is very nice of them to think about us, bikers. I just wonder how much of this is a real care of cyclists and a true will of providing them basic facilities, and how much is only a creation of the image of being green.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Yet another commuter race

It looks like another commuter race is coming up on May 14th. This time a driver, a cyclist and a T-rider will compete during the morning rush on the fastest way to get from the Davis Square in Somerville to Kendall Square in Cambridge. The route is about 5.5km long (3.5mi) and looks like this:
Google Maps claims that driving it should take 14 minutes and you will need 21 minutes if you plan on using public transportation or your bicycle. We will see who is going to win and why it is going to be the cyclist again.
I wrote about such commuter races before. Since the distance is so short and the race will happen during the morning rush traffic the result is very predictable. It is likely that the car (potentially the fastest) will get stuck in traffic and get there second or last, after the cyclists and maybe even the T (Boston's subway system). I hope that I am wrong and test results will not be that obvious. It would be interesting to see a different outcome for a change.

What is such race supposed to prove? That it is faster and easier to bike than drive in the city? I don't think that we have to preach to the converted. Most sane people realize that driving in the very downtown is mostly a nightmare, not pleasure. What I really would like to see is a race somewhere in more suburban environment where T trains are nonexistent and there are only 3 choices left: a car, a bike and a bus. The result would apply much more to everyday situation of most of Americans. It could show that public transportation network is inadequate and if you don't have your own car you are pretty much stuck.