27 inch tires?

From BicycleRetailer.com via Andrew Leonard of How the World Works:

Bike shops have found themselves unprepared for a large amount of sales of...27" inner tubes and tires.

Nobody makes bikes with 27" tires anymore, but people seem to be pulling out their old Schwinn from the 80's and getting it set up to ride.

Just another sign that more people are biking than ever.

-Matt The Weather Man

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Santa Fe Sharrows

Been tooling around Santa Fe, New Mexico for the last day or so and at no other stop on this trip have I wished I had bicycle more than here. The city seems very bicycle friendly (and there are plenty of bikes locked up downtown to prove that point.)

When driving around the capitol building today we noticed a road marking that intrigued us:
To the best we could figure, it was a road marking meaning "Share the Road." (This was based on the fact that next to each one was a street sign stating "Share the Road")

Got back to the room and found this on the web.

Turns out that they started putting these markings down on in 2005. They are everywhere the lanes aren't wide enough to add bike lanes.

I have to admit, from a driving perspective, these marks work great. Once we realized that we were allowed to be in the lane (we weren't sure at first) they really seemed to keep the possibility of cyclists in the front of your mind. They even jump to the middle lane when the right lane becomes a turning lane so that drivers can expect cyclists to move over.

I am officially a big fan of Sharrows.


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Another Accident

Well now I've been on both sides of an accident. I can tell you that it sucks to be hit as much as it does to do the hitting.

While visiting family in Colorado, some of us decided to drive up to the small mountain town where my great-grandmother was born. So the five of us piled into my great-grandmother's car (my wife and I, my mom, my great-grandmother and my great aunt who was driving). We get about 30 minutes down the road (small back country highway) and see a kid on a bike up ahead. (a teenager on a BMX style bike). He wasn't keeping a real straight line but we gave him a bunch of room and went on to pass him. As we passed he swerved wide to the left and slammed into our front fender.

We, of course, called 911 and went to check on him and make sure that other cars didn't come by and make the situation worse. Fire and the ambulance were there awful quick and the State Patrol arrived a short bit afterwards. My aunt was very shook up. She basically broke down into tears on three different occasions. This type of thing being almost old news to me, I was able to calmly change the tire on the car and take pictures of the scene (in case it is needed for insurance purposes).

I believe the kid will be alright. His left elbow was pretty beat up. It collided with the windshield and broke it (leaving a good bit of flesh). He had some road rash up his back and a cut on the right side of his head (not from the car, probably from falling off his bike). He was not in a helmet.

(I should take a moment to point out my stance on helmets. I always wear my helmet. I do not wear my helmet to protect me from cars, but rather to protect me from my own stupidity. Sometimes I don't unclip soon enough or I'll unclip the wrong foot, or I might hit a bad bump and fall over. The helmet protects me from falls. I know that a piece of styrofoam is not going to protect me from a moving vehicle and I don't let it give me a sense of invincibility on the roads.)

The police noticed the skid marks from our braking showed that the passenger side tires were just a foot to the right of the center line at the time of the accident and decided not to cite her. The insurance company is (we believe) treating this like an accident with an uninsured motorist and is covering the cost of the body repairs to my great-grandmother's car.

I am thankful that this situation did not end worse for anyone involved. The insurance is covering the damage and my aunt was not cited. My aunt's wits were shot for the rest of the day but she will probably be fine. The kid hopefully has insurance that will at least cover most of his medical expenses (the EMTs determined that he should be transported to the hospital). His injuries looked very similar to those Emily suffered when she fell three weeks ago so I trust that somewhere between learning the joys of vicodin he will take stock of his riding and try to be a little more aware of what is going on around him. (I just hope he doesn't give up cycling.)

The lesson? I guess to be aware of vehicles on the highway when you are riding and hope that everyone else is doing the same. Otherwise, it was just an unfortunate situation for everyone involved (I got a sunburn on my head because I left my hat in the car).

Be careful out there!


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Road Trip Part 1

Okay! Finally found time to write something to let you know how I'm doing.

On the 4th we drove from Orange County, CA to St. George, Utah. We had, of course, a stop to eat in Las Vegas on the way. We got to St. George pretty exhausted and were only willing to go see fireworks from the parking lot of the hotel. Still, it was a pretty decent show.
The next day we headed out to Zion National Park. What an incredible place. These pictures do not even begin to capture the scope of the canyon walls. I will surely be making my way back here in the future.

The water seeps out of the rocks which allows plants to grow, creating natural hanging gardens.
This image appears to be too small. It is a 360-degree panorama of a spot called Big Bend. The right side of the image connects to the left side.
This is Weeping Rock. Water literally showers down from out of the rock face all the way up this cliff face (the cliff goes up probably 1-2 thousand feet from where this picture was taken. It has this neat little alcove that only kinda shelters you from the water.
Me, my wife and her parents just south of the upper Emerald Pool.
Yesterday (or today as I'm writing this) we drove through Zion, past Lake Powell through Four Corners and into Mesa Verde National Park. This time we are staying at the lodge inside the park. Below is the view from our bedroom window. Breathtaking.

That is all for now, I'll try to get some pictures up from Mesa Verde before we leave here. Then no pictures until next weekend (but if you are lucky I'll post some verbal recollections.)


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Is bicycling faster?

Over on Commute By Bike blog Tim Grahl posed a question from Rob about whether commuting by bicycle is faster than commuting by car.

The answer is probably no but possibly yes. And also, yes. And no.

What I mean is that for most people it isn't unless you count certain other things with it.

The most basic answer is that unless you live close to work in a place with either low speed limits of lots of traffic, the actual time you spend cycling will be more than driving. If you live and work on Manhattan island in NYC then odds are pretty good it is faster to cycle than to drive. Same goes for Chicago, Boston before the completion of the Big Dig (not sure of the traffic situation now), Seattle, parts of San Francisco and maybe parts of LA. Almost everywhere else is likely faster to drive. Even here in San Diego I'd be hard pressed to find a 10 mile route that is covered faster on bicycle than motor vehicle. (Except maybe on really bad traffic days.)

So...probably no, but possibly yes.

However, there are other factors that go into making commuting by bicycle take less time (rather than be faster). One such factor is the reason I started commuting by bicycle in the first place, exercise. Let's say that I drive to work everyday. It takes me about 45 minutes each way (maybe less in the mornings and more in the evenings) so that is 1.5 hours. I then go to the gym and workout for 1 hour. That one hour is the amount of time I spend on my bicycle in a regular commute. The time I spend getting ready for the gym is the same as the time I would spend getting ready to ride my bike and the same goes for cleaning up afterwards. This means I spend 2.5 hours each day commuting and exercising. My commute is currently 3.5 hours each day.

I know, I personally don't make a great example for this reasoning but you can see how this would make sense for someone who spends more time at the gym or riding their bike. (Of course, in my case, I wouldn't be going to the gym anyway, I would just be slowly expanding like the Grand Canyon.)

Or if you use public transportation as part of your commute, you can accomplish other things that you can't when you are driving. I, for one, write most of my blog posts on the train. Many people get some reading done or do other work.

Another thing that might count towards the time it takes is how long it takes you to unwind from work and your drive home. Perhaps you come home and need to spend an hour or even just 15 minutes decompressing and relaxing. Most cyclists enjoy their afternoon commute as a way to clear their minds and relax. So that makes cycling a timesaver.

Also it saves you money and helps the environment and helps forge community and blah blah all the other reasons.

Really, give it a try. Three days. (Like most things you won't be really comfortable with it until you've done it a few times.) I promise that you will find that you enjoy commuting by bicycle and all of its benefits. Even if it's just a some days thing and not an everyday thing.


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