November 30, 2011

Thinking about Winter

I have no powerful insights about the winter. Primarily, it's cold and sometimes there is snow or ice on the ground. So my main concerns won't cause you to lose your breath:

  1. Hands get really cold.
  2. Face gets pretty cold.
  3. Feet can get pretty cold.
  4. Everything else will start to sweat
With point #4 in mind, you have to dress based on distance. If you are going a couple of blocks, put on your arctic gear. But if you're going 3+ miles, you'll have to decided between being cold early or overheated later. I prefer keeping sweat to a minimum, but to each his/her own.

If you're really interested in biking in the extreme cold, I suggest Icebike because they have very in-depth strategies with dealing with a variety of weather types. If you're curious about how I roll:

  1. Wear awesome gloves. Because you use your hands to operate the brakes and gears, a warm pair of gloves are necessary.
  2. Wear a hat or possibly a balaclava (face mask). A balaclava makes you look like a ninja but also allows flexibility in uncovering your face if you need to cool down.
  3. Wear winter boots. One trick to try is to put on your shoes as soon as you get up to warm them up before riding. If your toes are cold when you start riding, they probably won't warm up.
  4. Be prepared to unzip your outerlayer to cool down. It's cool.
  5. If you decide to bike in snow, make sure you have proper equipment such as studded tires and possibly disc brakes. If you're unprepared to have the proper equipment, you may want to choose the bus or a car for the days which ice could be a problem.
I salute those of you who will continue biking throughout the winter. It takes a certain je ne sais quoi which I do not have.

Next up: Just how cold is Columbus

Public Service Announcement: Bicycle Subcomittee Meeting tonight at 5:00

Cool photo of the day (hat tip my girlfriend):


November 29, 2011

Do what you can

Before I get to deep into proper biking attire for miserable weather, I need to make a public service announcement.

Biking can be fun but it is not glamorous. During the summer you will arrive at your destination and people will ask, "Why are you all sweaty?" During rain events you will arrive at your destination and people will say," You look like a drowned rat and I should know a thing or two about drowned rats." During blustery days you may be passed by pedestrians even as you are pedaling with all of your might. 

All this is to say that if something doesn't work for you, try something else. Maybe bring a change of clothes if you are sweaty or wet. Maybe use the bus if the weather is bad. Maybe use a car during parts of the year *gasp*. For me, I am going to use the bus during winter. Life is just too short to be miserable and everyone has the power to chose something different.

I believe that this is true in aspects outside of biking. I could eat healthy and cut out sugar to be more healthy but I like sugar and I am content with my health. I could stop playing video games but then I wouldn't know how Zelda ended.There are many more similar examples of where I could do more but I am content with where I am.

This is all to say that I highly recommend biking but if someone tries it and doesn't like it, I won't nag them to continue biking. I have a friend who I continually suggested biking to work because it would have been a relatively safe and easy commute. One day he biked to work but it didn't work for him. The only time I brought up biking since was when he told me that he was walking 3 miles from work because he was without a car for one evening and had no viable bus option.

Just do what you can and occasionally try new things. The good thing about all that sweat during biking is that you're burning more calories and that means you can eat more Chipotle guilt-free.

Next up: Winter commuting

Cool link of the day:

November 28, 2011

The Winter Cometh

Due to my somewhat unkempt beard, many people mistake me for a hipster or, less occasionally, the uni-bomber. Therefore it surprises people when I tell them that will not bike for the winter. In fact, I have COTA bus passes ordered for December, January, and February.

Much to my chagrin, the weather has taken a turn for the worse. The 5-day forecast has rain and snow in it and that means that I am officially done with biking for 2011. While this would mean nothing to me when I had a 2 miles commute, the 6 mile commute makes me too pissy to deal with rain and gloom everyday.

Weather hates bikers. Sometimes.
But have no fear, my fiercely loyal readers. I am a firm believer in different modes of transportation and I will primarily be discussing COTA along with inclement weather biking during my bike hibernation. I will also spend time learning what a bike consists of besides metal.

So in the near future, look for me in the gym to replace my hour bicycle commute.

Next up: What winter gear I've worn/wanted

Cool link of the day:

Money
You've all seen it by now but this is awesome.

November 25, 2011

COTA Crosstown Routes

Because I am in the middle of a turkey coma, today's post is going to be pretty short. On Monday I discussed local bus routes Columbus and provided a map. I've also prepared a crosstown map of COTA routes and that's below. If you click on the link and then click on any stops on a route, you'll be able to see how many buses stop there per weekday:

Click here to play with map
The crosstown routes serve the purpose of connecting Local routes outside of going downtown and also to partially serve OSU. Since I live on the Hilltop, I see room for improvement. We specifically need a north-south route which would connect the 15, 3, 6, 10, 5, and other crosstowns. In essence, it would be a Hilltop-OSU crosstown.

Again, I am unaffiliated with COTA and this map is not endorsed by COTA in any way. All opinions in this post are mine and are not shared by COTA. The map was made using data from data for Google Transit available here.


Next up: It's cold!


Cool link of the day:


November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

On Wednesday, the Dispatch had an article about how terrible it is to travel and how you'll never get to your destination.

"You’re ready to hit the road for the holiday.
...
Heading toward Cleveland? Construction of a new Innerbelt Bridge has closed several downtown ramps along I-90, and there’s also construction on the same interstate in Lake County to the east.
Toledo? They’re working on I-475, which means lane restrictions and closed ramps in both directions.
Dayton? You’ll hit construction coming and going on I-70 through Clark County, and there are two work areas along I-75 in Montgomery County.
Cincinnati? Crews will get the holiday off, but restrictions remain in place along I-74 in Hamilton County."
Everyone, just calm down. You'll get to your destination eventually. Ride the posted speed limits or go at speeds of the traffic around you. Weaving in and out of traffic helps no one and this study has shown that speeding increases the risk of a crash. If you're running late, just call and tell people you're going to be late. Everyone would prefer you to get there safe and late rather than crashing because of speeding.

I've prepared two charts just to show how little you gain based on different speed. The first chart is minutes taken to drive distances at different speeds.


Miles per Hour
50
55
60
65
70
75
Miles
30
36.00
32.73
30.00
27.69
25.71
24.00
60
72.00
65.45
60.00
55.38
51.43
48.00
90
108.00
98.18
90.00
83.08
77.14
72.00
120
144.00
130.91
120.00
110.77
102.86
96.00


The second chart is slightly convoluted. It shows the relative amount of time required to go at varying times. For example, going 50 MPH would take 1.5 times longer than going 75 MPH.


Miles per Hour
50
55
60
65
70
75
MPH
50
1.00
0.91
0.83
0.77
0.71
0.67
55
1.10
1.00
0.92
0.85
0.79
0.73
60
1.20
1.09
1.00
0.92
0.86
0.80
65
1.30
1.18
1.08
1.00
0.93
0.87
70
1.40
1.27
1.17
1.08
1.00
0.93
75
1.50
1.36
1.25
1.15
1.07
1.0


Obviously, you will get at your destination quicker if you can maintain higher average speeds. The point I want to make is driving 75 MPH versus driving 65 MPH saves you only 7 minutes per 60 miles of commute. Speeding isn't worth it.

Just be careful folks and I hope you have a great Thanksgiving.

Next up: More maps fo' sho'

Cool link of the day:

November 23, 2011

Transit Fees Across the Region

Today is a table day. When I first heard that COTA was increasing their fares, I was shell-shocked. COTA’s presentation also left a little bit to be desired for me.

According to the presentation, transit agencies funding sources vary between tax revenues, state funding, and fares from riders. COTA has targeted 20% compared to the current 17.1% paid for by riders. Additionally, COTA fares haven’t increased with inflation. Xing Columbus has another good post about the situation and he is more receptive to the idea, but he also has a radical idea to change COTA's funding model where property taxes are increased in exchange for no fares. I would definitely prefer to ride without paying for a fare or having a COTA pass on me.

I’ve compiled some information from various transit authorities and I don’t think it’s a terrible idea to raise the rates, but I’ll still complain.


Current
Proposed
% Increase
COTA Local
$1.75
$2.00
14.3%
COTA Local Monthly
$55.00
$62.00
12.7%
COTA Express
$2.50
$2.75
10.0%
COTA Express Monthly
$76.00
$85.00
11.8%


Local
Local Monthly
Express
Express Monthly
Multi-Pass System
$2.25
$90.00
$3.25
$130.00
10 for $22.50
66.1
$2.25
$85.00
$2.50
$95.00
5 for $11.25
44.7
$1.75
$70.00
$2.65
$106.00
No
19
$2.00
$62.00
$2.75
$85.00
No
17.2
$1.75
$60.00
n/a
n/a
10 for $17.50
8.8
$1.75
$55.00
n/a
n/a
10 for $15.00
8.8
$1.25
$50.00
n/a
n/a
No
5
$1.00
$40.00
n/a
n/a
25 for $22.50
3.5
                         *Light rail has a surcharge of $0.75 but the inner downtown is free.


Finally, today a bicyclist was killed after being hit by a motorist on I-270 at approximately 5:00 AM. It is unfortunate that it happened as it seems preventable. If you thought that I was going to do an impassioned plea for bicyclist to have the right to be on freeways, that’s not my bag.

Next up: More maps

Somber link of the day:

November 22, 2011

Falling Down

While crashes happen every day for a small percentage of commuters, close calls in traffic are an everyday occurrence for most commuters. As previously stated, it’s understandable that people are in a hurry to get to a destination. It’s also unfortunate that people are in such a hurry that safety isn’t a larger concern.

Fortunately for me, I have not been in a crash involving multiple vehicles as a bicyclist or motorist (knock on wood), but I have fallen down on my bike about 4 times. Here’s my hall of shame:
  1.  Summer 2009 – After having ridden once since I was 10, I decided to buy a bike. While test driving, I was unfamiliar with using handlebar brakes and instead of braking to avoid a car, I ran over a curb and wiped out. No injuries.

  2. Summer 2009 – Rarely riding the bike during the summer, I went across a bike bridge over the Olentangy River. According to physics, handlebars are unable to pass through chain linked fences un-hindered. I immediately was stopped by the fence and my handlebars were no longer in line with the front wheel. Luckily I was able to pry it correctly. Minor wrist injury.

  3. Winter 2010/2011 – Being unafraid of the slight amount of snow on the road, I successfully biked to and back from work. My problem was that I did not give the ice on the driveway enough deference and I tipped over. Minor wrist injury.

  4. Summer 2011 – After using my bike with straight handlebars for the winter, I decided to go on a ride on a newer bike with drop bars. I saw friends on the sidewalk and I decided to stop and talk to them. Little did I know that the bike had awesome braking ability and I went flying over the top of my handlebars. Little to no damage done to the bike. Minor wrist injury and I lost a lot of self-confidence after everyone saw my fall.
Overall I’m still going strong even if my ego is deteriorating.

Next up: The COTA Crossroutes

Cool link of the day:
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