Monday, October 15, 2012

Bike Helmets Save Lives (A New Study Says...)

An interesting new study came out today.

As reported in the Toronto Star:

"In a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, University of Toronto family doctor lecturer and St Michael’s Hospital associate scientist Navindra Persaud concludes that helmets help prevent fatalities — something he says until now was 'controversial'."

I've followed the helmet vs. no helmet debate, and frankly, never really understood the argument against helmets.  So seeing a study that indicates "The conclusion was that bicycle helmets save lives" - well, that just fills my little heart with glee.

I hope this sways some of the non-helmet wearing out there.


Article referenced:

Friday, September 28, 2012

I finally found a bike trailer!

After months, and I mean months, of searching, I finally bought a bike trailer for the baby.

I'd been looking for a few key things:
  • A lightweight safety inspired design;
  • 20 inch wheels;
  • Ample space for one two kids; 
  • 5 point harnesses;
  • Weather shield;
  • Bug screen;
  • Fold-ability (yeah, it's a word); and
  • A good price.
The Chariots and MEC trailers were fine, but didn't offer much to justify the heavy, heavy, heavy prices.  Between $360 and $500 for a trailer and stroller kits.

Wike trailers offered a great alternative, and was made in Ontario, but didn't have a good stroller kit to go with it.

The Canadian Tire trailers were cheaper, topping out around $250, but CCM isn't exactly a brand I'd get behind (or let my baby get behind).

So, with the price a big consideration, I started looking online for used trailers.  Typically people buy them thinking they'll use them all the time, and then the trailer lives in the garage for a few years just collecting dust. 

After a number of failed attempts to buy Chariots and MEC strollers online (and I should note that online sales/sellers seem to be lacking civility and manners these days) I finally found the one.  It hit all the key points on my list of criteria.

 It's an InStep trailer.  Probably about 7 years old.  No rust, no rips, no structural issues.

And it was only $75.

It works great as a stroller, and the wee one gets a great view while in it!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Bike Licensing Debate Taking Place in Portland

More on the ever entertaining bike licensing debate!

Jim Meyer's article highlights a recent initiative aimed at licensing cyclists in Portland Oregon.  This satirical response is cleverly crafted and provides humorous fodder for the argument for, and against licensing cyclists.

For instance:
"If Huckaby’s (the gentleman proposing the new licensing law) law goes through, it will present a lot of problems. If you own several bikes — say a road bike, a mountain bike, a fancy two-wheeled-unicycle, and one for your pet chimp — that’s a lot of licenses and a lot of cash. And what about kids? Can your 9-year-old pass the rider’s test? If not, should he be tazed by the authorities? And tourists? Lots of people head to Oregon on vacation (mostly Germans) to bicycle (because Germans don’t know what fun is). What about them? What about the Germans?"

"In 2011, the city of Long Beach, Calif., ended its short-lived bicycle licensing program because, despite hefty fines of up to $400 for riding an unregistered bike, the city was hemorrhaging money on law enforcement and prosecution. With Oregon’s projected fines in the neighborhood of $25, it is unlikely to do any better. A Medford, Ore., bicycle registration law was repealed in 2010. “We just think this is an unnecessary ordinance and is really unenforceable. It really doesn’t work in the best interest of our community,” said the city’s then-Chief of Police Randy Schoen."

"In the meantime, if we’re going to throw out impractical, divisive, and infuriating solutions, I suggest we get a bit more creative. We could require a bicyclists-only chunnel below every street in America. Or how about we alternate days? Mondays and Wednesdays for cars, Tuesdays and Thursdays for bicycles, Fridays for rollerbladers, pogo-sticks, and silly-walkers, and the weekends belong to racing toilets (it seems like that’s the way it’s going in my neighborhood anyway)."

A great article and a very funny man.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bike Licensing Debate Pops Up Again ...

An interesting article on the bike licensing phoenix that rises every so often in Toronto.

Well, despite years of debate, and many reports recommending against it, the bike licensing phoenix has arisen in Toronto again.

Here’s the link if you are so inclined:

And a snippet from the article:

“A poll of 834 Toronto residents by Forum Research also shows that more than half of respondents believe that licensing bikes would be a fair trade-off for Toronto investing in European-style bike infrastructure.
Overall, 65 per cent of respondents approved of licensing bikes to improve traffic law enforcement. The broadest support — 71 per cent — came from Scarborough residents. But even among poll respondents in downtown and East York, 67 per cent agreed with licensing cyclists.”

This time the argument has been slightly nuanced to focus on licensing’s ability to help enforce traffic laws (given that bicycles are already covered under the Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act and city by-laws, I am not sure how this argument really fosters greater adherence to traffic law, but hey, I’m only an armchair lawyer.)  Check out my post on Ottawa's foray into velo-licensing here:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Be Prepared for your Commute

That's right. 

Preparedness is one habit that we should all have.  Be prepared.  For anything out there. 

Some great things to have in your bike kit are:
- A small tool kit with allen keys, a wrench, pliers, and a tire lever;
- Some money for the bus, or a cab, etc.;
- A tie down strap (for those unanticipated finds - like wooden waterskis);

Things you should not leave on the ping pong table in the basement:
- Tube patch kit.

And here's why this was a hard lesson for me to remember:
A nice sharp finishing nail will help me remember.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I'm Kind of a Bad Mechanic

The proof is in the picture.

I lost a crank arm, but found a suitable replacement from the co-op.  A session involving a hammer and the obvious absence of a torque wrench resulted in this:

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Hubway Experience

Back in October of 2011, yes I know it was a long time ago, I went on a trip to Boston for a weekend of foodie exploration. Much to my delight, I found that Boston has a Bixi-type bike sharing service called the ‘Hubway’. And even more delightful, I found a Bixi type bike stand just feet from our hotel!

Now, Ottawa’s had a Bixi pilot for about a year and I have never had the chance, or desire, to try it. I have revolving quiver of bikes in the garage, and under ass, and no inclination to pay to rent another one. That said, I am very supportive of bike sharing initiatives and really hope the Ottawa Bixi takes off. I’ve also always been a little curious about how these Bixi-type bikes ride.

This trip to Boston afforded me a great opportunity to experience the Bixi-type bike sharing system as an actual tourist. Here’s what I found:

  • Renting bikes was extremely easy, and relatively cheap at 5 dollars for 24 hours.
  • These bikes are tanks. All the components and mechanics are integrated into the frame, making stealing parts almost impossible.
  • The lighting system is fantastic. Dynamo driven, and very, very cool.
  • They have reflective tires.
  • Seats are adjustable, but theft proof.
  • Fenders give good coverage.  And a covered chain housing keeps the grime of life off your pantleg.
  • The handy-dandy basket up front is easy to use.
  • Boston is not a great city to bike in (my route had few bike lanes and required some good old fashioned aggressive riding.).
  • There is no cupholder for coffee.
So, to sum up. Good designs, good pricing, good rides, and good luck Hubway (and Ottawa’s Bixi).

- Here's a picture of my trusty Hubway whip -