May 31, 2012

Bike Lockers

One thing I learned at the Columbus Bicycle Subcommittee meeting last night was the fact that Columbus has Bike Lockers. What's a bike locker?

This is a bike locker!
How do they work? You mess with the lever to reveal:

Very interesting...
It's kind of an odd shape for a bike but I can tell you that a bike can fit:

It fits!
Well, it mostly fits. I still have my pannier on which prevented the bike from going any farther back. But
overall, it fits.

There are also 4 more spaces on the other side:

I don't have a picture of the locking mechanism, but I believe that you can use a standard combination/key lock around the lever area.

Overall, I think these are pretty neat. They take up only a little more room than 8 bikes parked at a U-rack and I would assume that there is slightly more security. At the very least, a potential bike thief won't know the quality of the bike within the lock. That might account for something.

One last thing, these are located at Lynn and High next to the COTA building.

Video of a bike locker:

May 30, 2012

Bonus Post: Rich Street Bridge Update

I missed a post on Monday so this serves as a catch-up post. The Rich Street Bridge looks to have it's finishing touches being put on it now.

All of the bricks are laid out on the Civic Center Drive portion.

The path to bicentennial park is one fence-takedown away from being accessible.

More proof that the brick work is done on the Civic Center Drive portion.

But since this is a bike blog, let's talk about bike infrastructure. The Scioto Trail goes along both banks downtown and they are almost done. Here's a Google Map picture:

The red lines are what needs to be completed on the trail and the black line over the river is the new Rich Street Bridge.

Click on the picture to enlarge. Where the yellow construction machine is on the left is where one portion of the path ends. There are orange construction barrels under the bridge which is where that portion of the path ends. Regardless, it's exciting to see construction of the bridge and the path nearing completion.

Bicycle Subcommittee Meeting - May 30

It's that time of the month again. There's a Columbus Bicycle Subcommittee meeting today at 5:00 PM. The meeting will be held at 109 North Front Street - Room 100.

Especially interesting is the Bike Share Briefing. I've briefly provided comment on Consider Biking's proposed bike station siting, given a 101 Bike Share post, and discussed how bike shares are often closed in the winter depending on the location.

See the agenda below:

I.              Call to Order
II.            Previous Meeting Notes
III.           New Business
1.    2012 Columbus Recreation & Parks Projects
2.    Recreation & Parks Bike Share Briefing
3.    Ohio/Champion Avenues Bike Facilities
IV.          Old Business
4.    MORPC Regional Bikeways
5.    Downtown Action Plan
6.    Bike Parking Shelter Update
V.            Parking Lot Issues
VI.          Other Business 

One more interesting bike talk is "The Next Big Thing." This is being held May 31 at 6:00 PM at Columbus State Center for Teaching and Learning Innovation - 339 Cleveland Avenue.

Next we need a slow clap for bicycle advocacy:

May 29, 2012

Bike lanes, Bikes and Buses

One concern when talking about bike infrastructure is the is the conflict with buses. I can report first hand that:

  1. It kind of sucks to be behind a bus; and
  2. Buses take up the bike lane when stopping.

In the above picture, I am travelling west on Broad Street in a bike lane. I've accented the bike lane because it is not obvious in the picture. When I see a bus pass me I pray that the bus will not stop until it's really far ahead. Otherwise, I either could leap frog where I pass the bus and then it passes me. I feel this to add unnecessary risk due to the fact that cars are also leap frogging which adds a potential conflict. Or I could just stop and feel the warm exhaust and see a black cloud of exhaust as the bus revs up its engine to start onward again.

This picture is of a school bus stopped in the same bike lane around the same spot as the first picture. I was surprised to see a school bus stopped on Broad Street instead of back in the neighborhood to the north.  I was also surprised to not see anyone get on or off of the bus. Maybe it's a school bus full of ghosts?

BTW, this post is not anti-buses. Sure, buses will stop and I'm cool with that. I'm cool with them being in the bike lane too because a passenger should be picked up from the curb. One thing that I wish buses operators would think about is that if they're going to stop at a nearby stop, would it be possible to not pass a cyclist?

Finally, a coworker and I were talking about being behind buses. He asked if I tried to hold me breath when the cloud of black smoke came out as a bus was accelerating. Of course I try to hold my breath and he does as well. Do any other cyclists do the same?

Try to hold your breath for this bus exhaust:

May 25, 2012

Truck Nuts

What is the deal with truck nuts? You know, the "nuts" that hang behind trucks/jeeps/various cars to show off... something?

These pictures were taken of a jeep. Maybe I'm getting too old, but these nuts just have a bit of nastiness to them. They flap in the wind so they're always moving about. I'd watch porn if I wanted to see that.

I guess I would understand if truckers and other motorists placed these on their vehicles in honor of naked bike ride. But as an everyday thing, what's the draw?

This cyclist doesn't understand what's up with other cyclists:

May 24, 2012

Rich Street Bridge

Rich Street Bridge is nearing the end of construction. This means that I'll be able to try another route out to cross over the Scioto River in the morning:

I'm not enamored with the route but since I'm only so so on crossing Main Street, I'm willing to try something new.

Finally, you may remember my bike ride in fog and I got a picture of the Bicentennial Park looking like this:

It's foggy!
When it's not foggy in the early afternoon, it's totally hopping:

Click to enlarge
It's a pretty cool park.

A first-person shooter I used to love done quick (Quake):

May 23, 2012

Bike to the Garden Event and Yay Bikes! news

Yay Bikes!

This past Sunday I became a board member of Yay Bikes! Everyone there is great and they really are into getting you out to ride and riding a bike is one of the easiest steps of being a bike advocate. I'll try not to plug too much for Yay Bikes!, but I do want to point out that being a member ($25) comes with some good benefits. A monthly Year of Yay! ride which starts at Goodale Park and takes you around a small part of the city. Plus you get a pin for each Year of Yay! ride you participate in! There are also other goodies such as a members appreciation which includes the showing of a movie and swag.

May 27th Food Truck and Cart Hop

One more shout out today goes to the Food Truck and Cart Hop on this Sunday at Hal & Al's on Parsons. Food trucks are good and this will be as good an event as any to test it out. Some people are inevitably going to bike so afterwards you can head north to the Columbus Commons to see Shadowbox Live: Back to the Garden Performance. It'll be a peaceful performance that's free, but that shouldn't stop you from providing donations.

Plan on spending your memorial weekend on a bike!

Cool I don't believe that this Super Mario Brothers speed run is real:

May 22, 2012

Bike Stolen - Theft Strikes Close to Home

Her bike is next to the blue bike.

Bikes are stolen at an alarming pace. And by alarming pace, I mean I hear about bikes being stolen more often than cars despite the ubiquity of cars. But since I am twenty-something and feel stronger than Superman, I never thought someone so dear to me would be affected.

On May 21, 2012, a day which live in infamy for many moons, my girlfriend's bike was stolen from the OSU campus. A lock was on her bike but it proved to be an inadequate defense for the thief. She reported the theft to the police and after politely taking her information, they told her that they were en route to another bike theft nearby.

It's disappointing, to say the least, that bicycles are stolen. I doubt much profit is made during resale and it leaves the victim without transportation. Thankfully, my girlfriend was able to bus home, but it was still a rude awakening.

In the next few weeks I plan on posting what you can do to protect yourself, but right now I'd like to remind people that multiple locks are better than one lock. And if your bike is so expensive that you are constantly afraid that it will be stolen, look into getting a beater bike so that if it gets stolen it would be a slightly lesser  blow.

And if you see a black Bianchi Verona at a pawn shop let us know.

Sometimes bike locks aren't enough:

May 21, 2012

Improvements to Maps

In two posts last week I talked about traditional bike advocacy which focuses on positive reinforcement and the complete opposite of shaming a transit agency. I don't know what this post falls under, but I do have a minor critique.

The #1 Cleveland Avenue schedule has a small typo on it. Polaris Parkway is mislabeled as I-270.

It's not that big of a deal and I contacted COTA about the minor error a couple of weeks ago. The problem is that I have never received a response when sending something through their Customer Contact Support on their website. I previously had asked about the two-trip ticket but didn't get a response. I went to a public meeting to ask in-person about it.

Maybe the system is down and COTA never receives anything from the contact page as it's not a traditional e-mail address. Or maybe they are working on changing the schedules for the next schedule change in September. Regardless, it would be nice to hear back from their submitting responses to their website. The only response I've gotten so far was via twitter.

Seeing Columbus through a batcopter link of the day:

May 18, 2012

Bikers Spotted

It's spring now and I am starting to see a lot of bikers around town now. 

This picture was taken on Wednesday May 16. I saw all of these bikers loitering near the bike path when I realized that they were going to ride in the Ride of Silence.

Zooming in you can see that the leader is riding a tandem on his own. Before I realized that it was for the Ride of Silence I was going to make a comment about biking alone on a tandem is a lonely sight. I also heard that some person riding a tandem had a cool prop in the rear seat. I'll assume that it was this guy.

This other guy was on Lane Avenue heading west. No big deal (NBD).

This is a rare shot of three single-speed bikers stopping at a light. The leader has a messenger bag on. That's how he became the leader.

Finally, and I could barely get a picture of him, here is a picture of a dude on his pedicab en route to Value City Arena:

The circus is in town, doncha know?

Cutest cat ever:

May 17, 2012

Honey or Vinegar For Bus Advocacy

In an earlier post, I discussed how positive feedback could help local transit agencies such as sending an e-mail in support of a heavily debated decision. While looking through the corresponding Human Transit post that I referenced, I noticed a very interesting blog reference within the comments. It was: Unsuck DC Metro.

As the name implies, they are the exact opposite of positive feedback. Here is a sampling of their recent blog post titles:
Obviously, most of these are negative. The only one I could tell that was not negative was about the Tat:!/tazzmaina012 (h/t Unsuck DC Metro)
Obviously, that's a pretty cool tat. For those of you unaware, this is the DC Metro map:

Source: Metro
Back to the idea of shaming a transit agency into change. I wonder how well it works. I would think that a blend of honey and vinegar would work best. Instead of focusing on the 1% to 10% of bad stuff, mix in the remaining stuff that works. Or if you're disappointed by peak service, actively support larger peak fare increases. Or actively support the development of a frequency map of the bus routes along with stop reduction, if necessary. This would make people realize that they don't have to walk an extra block to the "terrible" Metro. Instead they could take the bus.

Maybe Unsuck DC Metro does actively support other ideas. But when none of the first 10 posts I see are positive I tend to infer that the site is focused on complaining rather than improving.

Dramatic video of person pouring out cough medicine before showing how awesome honey and vinegar are (somewhat funny and the person doesn't say a word):

May 16, 2012

Biking in the Fog

Yesterday was hella foggy. It was so foggy it felt like a light mist which required me to wipe my glasses off when stopped to improve visibility. In the picture up top, you can only see the train tracks in the distance. My home in the Hilltop was completely covered.

It was more scary than I would have thought. One person gave me a good honk and I don't know if they did so because they were scared and couldn't see me very well or if they were just a grade A smelly-face. I believe it was the latter because it wasn't THAT foggy.

The second out-of-the-ordinary thing that happened is that I became so anxious thinking about turning left onto Civic Center Drive from Main Street that I took the bike path on the Main Street bridge. Not a big deal, but different. But that's how I got some of these pictures.

This is a view looking north from Bicentennial Park. What's interesting to me is that the area on the left is directly over the river which is where it is especially foggy. Also, the metal circular objects are fountains which kids totally love.

This is a little farther north. Directly in the middle is one of the new Broad Street Spires. The large building behind it is the Columbus Police Department Headquarters.

Here you have a bird messing up my picture. Other things to note is COSI is hidden by trees, the North Bank Condos hidden by fog, and the Broad Street Spire completely hidden by trees.

Cool I-loved-Salad-Fingers in college video of the day:

May 15, 2012

Recycling Columbus

Last month I talked about the new Columbus recycling program and branding. A couple of weeks ago I was cruising down Mound Street and I see this:

As far as the eye could see there was recycling bin after recycling bin. Each bin has a 64-gallon capacity! If I were a troublemaking cyclist, I would've knocked everyone of them down.

When I got home, there was a truck setting out recycling bin to all the houses on my street. Prettttty sweet.

And I even got a magnet!

For once it pays to live on the west side. Recycling pick-up starts June 4 for west-siders and it'll be great to no longer have to tote around recycling. 

Pretty pretty pretty good link of the day:

May 14, 2012

Bus Advocacy

I am a firm supporter of COTA and public transportation in general. It compliments complements biking very well for days when one isn't up for biking. I've spoken before about bike advocacy, but here are some things a person can do in support of buses and public transit.

Just like riding a bike is great for bike advocacy, riding the bus is a good start for bus advocacy. Obviously, profit is not a goal for transit but transit agencies do have ridership goals in mind. In 2011, COTA had a goal of 20.55 passengers per hour. So if you start using the bus, that means that your route(s) will begin to have a higher ridership which could lead to more frequent service. More frequent service can lead to higher ridership which can lead to... Well, you see how it can be a positive feedback loop with increased ridership.

The other thing you can do is to actively support changes or plans that COTA has in mind. For instance, I am a supporter of bus stop consolidation. Along one area of the route I use, there is a distance of 400 feet between two stops followed by 500 feet for the next stop. According to Human Transit, 1000 feet between stops is ideal. I also like the two-trip ticket even though I would much rather prefer a 10-trip ticket.

(The goal isn't to make people walk farther. The goal is to speed up the average trip because the bus would stop half as much. Acceleration/deceleration are slow and a bus can have a herky-jerky feel if it stops at every stop. A transit agency could argue that some stops are so infrequently used that there's no point in getting rid of them. The counter-argument is that you would have to build in more  recovery time in the schedule, especially during peak hours because that's when most people are using transit and people will go to their nearest stop. So the bus is more likely to stop at every stop during peak usage.)

Finally, Human Transit has a few recent posts about positive feedback. When things go smoothly, the transit agency will hear next to nothing. When things go poorly, the transit agency will receive negative feedback. If you experience something good on your transit trip, say something about it. Such as, "I'm glad we don't have to stop every 500 feet."

The Wheels on the Bus link of the day:

May 11, 2012

Broad Street Bridge Decor

Broad Street has new spiky pieces of decor along the four corners of the bridge. Dispatch had an article out last week with the details. Yesterday on my way home from work, I saw that they were out looking spiky.

It looks alright from afar. This is what it looks like behind traffic lights:

And what one looks like across the bridge:

I didn't see many gawkers looking at them, but I did notice these ducklings checking them out:

Have a good weekend everyone!

Don't drive on this bridge video of the day!

May 10, 2012

Lane Splitting and Minor Updates

My blog post on Tuesday was about the lack of parking in German Village. One of my co-workers told me that I was mistaken. I initially interpreted the signs that said "2-hour Parking Between 10 AM - 8 PM except Permit A" meant that after 8 PM a parking permit would be needed. That's probably wrong. I still believe the on-street parking on 3rd Avenue should be re-purposed to street meters so most of my original post is intact. Interestingly, had I understood the signs correctly, I would have parked at the first sign that said 10 AM - 8 PM because I was there around 7:30 PM. In that event, I would have never written the post. Oops.

And yesterday, I posted about never talking with law breaking cyclists. There were two instances later that day that I almost yelled at bikers. Both cases involved "lane splitting."

Lane splitting is when a bicyclist weasels to the right of cars/bikes when the cars/bikes are stopped at a red light. It is illegal and is surprising to anyone stopped at the light. In the morning, it was a woman in cycling attire who passed me while I was stopped at Town and Front. It happened so fast I couldn't think of the best way to approach it. Yell at her? Talk calmly? Make a weird noise? If I could do it over I would have told her, "Please don't lane split."

On my ride home, there was an older man who has clipless pedals. Clipless pedals are pedals which are specialized for shoes with matching adapters to "clip" into the pedals. This allows a cyclist to apply a more constant force on the pedals throughout the pedal revolution. Anyway, there was a line of cars stopped with maybe 1' to 1.5' of room on their right. Wouldn't you know it the guy still snaked around on the right. I turned before I could catch up with him so I was unable to tell him about his poor technique.

What I've learned is that I'm going to start talking with law-breaking cyclists. Unless I don't.

Motorcycle lane splitting link of the day:

May 9, 2012

Talking to other cyclists

If you see a cyclist riding on the sidewalk, do you talk to them? If you see a cyclist blowing through a red light, do you talk to them? Because I am against confrontation, I never talk directly to another cyclist. Instead, I passively aggressively talk about them here.

I also wonder if talking with cyclists would help. Trying to be helpful can sometimes come off as being dickish. Or maybe that's just true for me.

Anyway, have you had any luck talking with other cyclists? For that matter, have you had any luck talking with motorists? I'd be interested to here what you think.

A featurette on the Harlem Globetrotters:

May 8, 2012

Car Parking [Updated]

[5/10/12 Update: I misunderstood the parking signs so this post has been edited slightly]

It rained a lot last night. It rained so much that I didn't want to bike so if you can believe it, I drove to my destination. In this case, my destination was German Village.

As everyone knows, German Village is quaint with brick roads. As an aside, I don't like brick roads that much. They're uncomfortable in cars, they're uncomfortable on bikes. They are good, however, at slowing down traffic, if you're into that which I am.

As with all dense areas of town, parking is an issue. The issue is that it's mostly permit only throughout the area. They have no parking meters on 3rd Street, their main business strip. Nor do they have parking meters anywhere else that I could tell. The most frequent parking restriction I saw was 2-hour parking between 10AM - 8 PM except for permit. According to the German Village Society, there are also the following restrictions:
  • 2-hour parking 10AM - 4 PM except for permit
  • No Parking 4 PM - 10 AM except for permit
  • 2-hour parking 10PM - 2AM except for permit
What this means is that there is little to no parking between 8PM - 10PM. [Edit: I misunderstood the signs. I was there at 7:30 PM so I could have parked in half the areas.] It's frustrating to see sign after sign of restricted parking. I don't mind walking far or paying for parking. I just mind not knowing where an acceptable place to park is. The German Village Society writes this on their website:
"Parking is a limited and valuable resource."
I agree with that. I think that German Village would have more going for it with variable pricing on-street parking on their main drags such as 3rd Street. Variable pricing works on supply and demand; the more people parked, the higher the price of parking. This on-street parking should last between morning to 10PM. I also think it would be nice that any revenue above operating costs would go to German Village although I don't know if that's possible.

To address some supply loss due to on-street parking for non-residents,  parking permit costs should increase with each additional pass bought per address. A parking permit costs $25 per year. Overall, that's a pretty good deal and I'm glad that residents have on-street parking but anytime there's limited supply, you should try to price better to not have over parking.

Finally, I should note that a visitor's pass can be obtained from the City. The first 5 are free and after that, it is a $1.00 per temporary pass. So it's nice that there are options out there for visitors, but a $1.00 per day? Again, the price could probably be increased because on-street parking is a valuable thing.

A bunch of Dutch people cycling in the rain:

May 7, 2012

Single Speed Bikes versus Multi-Speed Bikes - Part 2

Last week I detailed the overall differences between single speed bikes versus multi-speed bikes. This week I talk about my experiences with them.

My first bike of adulthood had multiple gears (the dark one in the picture above). I bought it used and it had 3 big gears up front (3 chainrings) and 5 gears in the back (5 sprockets). Probably because of inexperience, I rarely changed gears initially. After my chain broke during a start up and later a pedal arm (crank) broke, I decided to buy a new bike. It was a single-speed bike (the sea foam green with orange rims bike) with the ability to change between fixed-gear and freewheel.

The first time I used the fixed gear side, I didn't like it. You would assume that slowing down the pedals and the bikes would be easy but it's not; there's a lot of momentum to overcome. I let my friend try it out and when we saw an old friend, I heard him yelp because the pedals almost kicked him up.

The picture above is what I looked like when I was on my single-speed bike. I had my sweet looking messenger bag on and I wielded my U-Lock in case anyone wanted to steal the bag. However, once I started to bike 6 miles one way, the amount of back sweat I endured was unsustainable so I switched to my geared bike again.

I'm really liking the gears now and I use all of the sprockets and two of the chain rings. The rear rack is great for biking errands or toting stuff to work. Single-speed bikes look cool but they don't have the flexibility of a multi-geared bike.

Weirdly geared bike video of the day:

May 5, 2012

Biking Columbus Page Stats

At the request of John, I'm prepared to share you my site stats.

The first blog post happened on October 31, 2011. I now have 138 posts including this one and have had 3,217 pageviews all time.

Here are how the months stack up:

The all-time top referral sites:
Not to scale

What people are searching for:

*Not to scale
Where people are from:

And the top posts:

Jan 26, 2012, 7 comments   83 Pageviews

Dec 9, 2011
79 Pageviews

Jan 23, 2012
53 Pageviews

Mar 22, 2012, 2 comments
41 Pageviews

Feb 21, 2012
40 Pageviews

Feb 14, 2012
30 Pageviews

Dec 23, 2011
26 Pageviews

Dec 15, 2011, 5 comments
26 Pageviews

Mar 16, 2012
24 Pageviews

Mar 19, 2012, 4 comments
21 Pageviews
Now you know my secrets. 
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