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Resolutions Great and Small for 2011

by Ted Johnson

I sent out requests (kind of at the last minute) to the writers who make Commute by Bike a great read. I asked for their New Years Resolutions for 2011.

These are the ones that came back in time. Please add your resolutions in the comments.

Josh Lipton
Publisher

Josh LiptonLooking forward into 2011, a bike commuting project that I’m quite inspired to get rolling with is putting together a project bike that I’m currently calling the “Jump On Your Bike and GO! Bike”. Here is my initial description of the project that I wrote back in September at our shop’s blog, The BikeShopHub.com Blog.

Recently, I’ve been contemplating how to make the bike as easy as a choice for quick trips across town as a car is. Even as a lifelong cyclist, I still find myself constantly dealing with small issues with my bicycle. In the last month, several of the things that have slowed me down were a flat tire, a squeaky drive train and a bolt that fell out of my bike rack. While I’m completely capable of sorting out these issues, I’ve been thinking about how these seemingly minor issues can completely disable many from wanting to ride their bikes. On the other side of the spectrum, I’ve been thinking about how (environmental, cost and health factors aside) in general there are a wide variety of reasons that it is often much more convenient to get in the car and go as compared to heading out on by bike. Almost any car has the following: head and taillights, one-key security for the car and your stuff, the ability to keep road grime off of you and generally speaking solid road worthiness.

With all this in mind, I’ve been thinking about piecing together a bicycle that is a one-key, “Jump On Your Bike and GO! Bike”. This bike would be extremely durable, reliable and easy-to-use for standard situations. Essentially, I would like to put together the Toyota Corolla of bikes. It will probably have an internal gear hub, big heavy reliable wheels, front and rear locking trunks, built in lights and solid built in racks and fenders. And of course, the bike will have an electric system both to make it more jump-in-and-go ready and also to compensate for it’s tough, heavy-duty, heavy parts. Ideally, the same key that locked the bikes built in lock would lock the trunks.

Soooo, with this in mind, I plan on building this idea into my commuting bicycle in the year to come. To get started, I will be looking for a nice electric bike to build the concept around. I intend on testing out a variety of bicycle accessories and parts to get as close to proving the concept with available products. After going through this initial testing phase I’ll be working with our Metal Fab Expert, Stuart Henderson, piecing together some conceptual products that fill in the gaps where existing products aren’t quite right for the project.

Look for a variety of Commute By Bike posts in the year to come focusing on the specifics of the project as well as discussions about the bicycle industry and a variety of commuter bicycles viewed through the spectrum of the project. My post fully introducing the project should be out in January or February at the latest.

Melanie Meyers
Contributor

Melanie MeyersOne of my biggest challenges as a bike commuter is riding somewhere when the weather is less than “favorable.”  Now let me frame this a bit. I live in Tucson, AZ, where we have 300-some odd days of sunshine. The desert climate is quite pleasant most of the year, although it does get pretty toasty in the summer and early fall months. However, as a self-proclaimed desert rat, I find it very difficult to get on my bike when the weather turns, well… wet. Now granted, it isn’t all that often that the weather here is “wet,” and sometimes, all you have to do is wait 20 minutes for a crazy storm to blow over. Nonetheless, I find it extremely difficult to motivate myself to ride to work or school when it’s raining. So for 2011, I resolve to wear my rain pants and jacket and ride when it’s well, wet in the desert. And more often than not, every time I actually do ride in the rain, I rather enjoy myself.

Second, I resolve to always have my nice bike lights with me anytime I suspect I might be riding somewhere at night. There is nothing worse than riding home with dull, dim bike lights, but as a student who is often on campus for long hours, sometimes I find myself at school, with a four mile commute home, and no bright, flashy, attention-getting lights. And there is nothing I like less as a bike commuter than calling for a ride or feeling vulnerable with my not-so-nice bike lights all the way home. So, I resolve to make sure I always bring my nice lights with me, even if I think I’ll be home before dark, just in case campus sucks me in for some reason.

Third, I resolve to love the wind. Or at least try.

Stacey Moses
Contributor

Stacey MosesSimple: Use my bike more and encourage others to do the same.

I am surrounded by bikes, all of the time. Literally. I have four of my own at home and to get to my office, I have to walk through two showrooms stocked floor to ceiling with bikes. I read and write about bikes at work and then I read and write about bikes for CbB. I love bikes, but I could spend more time riding them. So that’s it: ride my bike more. Give in to the temptation to avoid riding because the weather is gross or because I’m feeling lazy less often. Use my bike to go grocery shopping, even when I know that I have heavy stuff to cart home. Participate in more group rides, even when my free time is limited. I’ve never regretted being on my bike once I’m out there, and I need to do a better job of reminding myself of that fact when I’m making my transportation and recreation decisions everyday.

My other goal is to continue to help more people learn about cycling and to be comfortable and excited about riding more often. I work for a very community-focused independent bicycle retailer in the DC Metro area, and one of the most fulfilling parts of my job is getting more people on bikes for events and for community activities (we actually have a bike share program at our newest location, and we use the bike fleet to put on tons of community rides). Whether it is people that I’ve never met before or friends that I’ve coerced into joining one of our rides, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing someone grinning ear to ear, realizing that cycling is fun and really not as hard to do in and around the city as he or she thought. And, of course, I’ll continue to contribute to Commute by Bike, and hopefully we’ll reach and inspire new and veteran cyclists alike in 2011.

Tom Bowden
Guest Blogger
Tom Bowden

  1. I will do everything I can think of to get a “three foot” law passed in Virginia, and/or a “vulnerable user” law that precludes drivers from using the “I didn’t see him” defense.
  2. I will prove conclusively and for all time that (wearing/not wearing) a helmet (does/does not) (increase/decrease) the risk of cycling which is an inherently (safe/dangerous) (leisure activity/viable mode of transportation) for (everyone/ex-hippy granola eating tree hugging wingnuts), provided of course that they ride (in the street as if they were cars/on sidewalks and bikepaths to nowhere).
  3. Attend the Bike Summit in DC – and get there by bike!
  4. Visualize Whirled Peas.
  5. Build a recumbent Tadpole Trike from spare bike parts and miscellaneous pieces of this and that. Contributions of bike parts graciously accepted if sent with shipping prepaid by sender.
  6. Ride my bicycle more.
  7. Promote creation of Pulitzer Prize for bike advocacy journalism.
  8. Write lots of guest columns for CbB, win Pulitzer prize for bike advocacy journalism.

Josh King
Guest Blogger

Josh KingI’m going to do 500 rides in 2011 – at least 200 round-trip commutes, plus a couple of rides every weekend. Even if it’s just to the store to get doughnuts.

Ted Johnson
Editor
Ted Johnson (not a hero) arriving at work.Groceries. That’s it.

I’m all about the bike commute, and hating on driving. But the hypocritical truth is that my wife probably spends a couple of extra hours a week in her car running around doing the stuff that I can’t yet do on my bike. Her extra driving negates all of my non-driving. I’m a parasite cyclist. That’s going to end in 2011.

I’m going to eliminate as many of the reasons as I can that require my wife to spend time in a car, beginning with the grocery shopping. I may start with some shopping panniers, but ultimately I may have to go for a long-tail bike, or a bike cargo trailer.

In addition, I intend to keep Commute by Bike both entertaining and relevant. I will build on this foundation and firmly establish this site as the definitive, authoritative, undisputed resource for bike commuters.

In 2012, we take over the world.

 
Burley nomad 229

12 Responses to “Resolutions Great and Small for 2011”

  1. Niki says:

    My big one this year is to just ride. I just started riding again after a year off. Now that my bike is fixed I want to use it more. Which comes to my next big goal… get in shape to ride the 24 miles round trip to work. I’ve let lets of things with my health slip but this year with my bike I’m hoping to get fixed back up. I also am going to get involved in the community, not just biking but all around. Riding makes me feel more connected to what is really happening out in my city and I want to do more to improve where I live.

  2. Robert says:

    My 3 month experiment of operating as a one car family has been a success (see my website). I’m going to seal this deal by selling my car that has sit idle for 3 months.

    I’m going to average riding all the way home from work at least once per week instead of taking the train most of the way.

    I strive to eliminate even more trips by car, same resolution as Ted.

  3. Dave says:

    1. To ride to school at least one day a week (60 miles round-trip!) and take the bus every other time.

    2. To build a gritty single-speed short-range commuter for getting around within a few miles from my house.

    3. To ride as often as possible.

  4. Jed says:

    Ted, I so love my Xtracycle conversion. Kids love it. I can avoid using my van for weeks. This winter I’m doing a bunch of bike picnics and unless I need to take more than two kids with all the gear, I won’t need to tow the burley bee.

    Melanie, I’d love to ride in a Tuscon rainstorm. With a camera. Monsoon season in so. AZ is beautiful.

    Josh, I tried bungee-ing four dozen donuts on my snapdeck…and I spilled them all :-) Good luck with your donuts.

    For me, 2011 should hold:
    - three large rides (tour de whatcom, seattle to portland, chuckanut century)
    - a series of winter bike picnics with my kids to as many parks in within 15 miles
    - coaching my second child from his scooter to a pedal bike

    Cheers!

  5. Kevin Love says:

    Josh wrote:

    “I’ve been thinking about piecing together a bicycle that is a one-key, “Jump On Your Bike and GO! Bike”. This bike would be extremely durable, reliable and easy-to-use for standard situations.”

    Kevin’s comment:

    No need to re-invent the wheel! Everything you want in a bicycle is in daily use by 16 million people in The Netherlands and 600 million people in China.

    Reputable manufacturers, ranging from Batavus (in The Netherlands) to Pashley (England) to Flying Pigeon (China) produce bicycles with all (and I mean all) of the following as standard, factory-installed equipment:

    *Fenders, full chaincase and coatguard to keep my clothes and the bicycle clean.

    *Internal hub gears for 100% reliability with zero user maintenance.

    *Internal hub brakes for 100% reliability with zero user maintenance.

    *Puncture resistant tires.

    *Comfortable, fully-upright position.

    *A bell

    *Built-in rear wheel lock for basic security.

    *Dynamo lights

    *Rear rack and baskets and/or panniers for cargo.

    For more details, see:

    http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2009/01/anatomy-of-reliable-everyday-bicycle.html

    If you want an electric assist, add a kit to one of these bicycles. Kits range from the expensive Bionx to the more affordable Nine Continents.

    I, myself, ride a Pashley Sovereign Roadster. It came from the factory with all the items listed above as standard, factory-installed equipment. The bike shop I bought it from, Curbside Cycle here in Toronto, added a Nine Continents electric kit.

    All I did was get on it and ride it away. Zero work. I do zero maintenance, with Curbside doing the annual maintenance on the bike. All I do is ride it to work, the grocery store, church and everywhere else I go.

  6. Josh Lipton says:

    Kevin,

    One of my goals for the project is to discuss all of the available bikes that have achieved close to what I’m after. Thanks for pointing out some of the bicycles that are already partially or fully successful in the direction of usability that I’m discussing. Writing from a US perspective, we do not yet have great accessibility to many of the fully integrated style bikes that you mentioned, so a necessary initial part of the project for me will be researching all of the fully integrated bikes that are out there “in daily use by 16 million people in The Netherlands and 600 million people in China”. The project might be quite easy with a bicycle that is already on the market.

    While most of the aspects of the bike that I’m seeking exist, one thing I have not yet seen integrated in are lockable trunks/cases. The other harder to define thing that I’m looking for is integrated electric. I’m wondering if anyone has developed an integrated electric assist with the electrical system also providing power to bicycles lights and other electrical accessories.

    The other idea that I’d like to explore is this fully-integrated bicycle designed for large-scale, economical mass-production. From what I’ve seen so far, most of these fully-integrated bikes are quite expensive. While the companies that are currently manufacturing this style bicycle are doing great work, I’m curious to investigate what potential a standardized, fully-integrated bicycle would have for being more economically produced on a large scale.

  7. matt says:

    my 2011 cycling resolutions:

    1. stop yelling “get a helmet” at those who choose not to wear one. I realize it’s not the law, but I think of it as an intelligence test. still, I need to calm down.

    2. stop spitting on cars and delivery trucks that park in the bike lane. this will be a tough one.

    3. do not always try to introduce cycling into almost every conversation.

    4. be less showoffy about my weekend distance exploits … not every long ride needs to be posted on facebook

    5. not use the AirZound gratiutously

  8. Dave says:

    True, a bike like this is really hard to find here in the US, especially if you are on a budget.

    I think your last point is the most important. It is obvious that your goal is not unrealistic – in fact, it already exists in some format, even if it is not exactly the way you envision it. But if a bike, such as the one you describe, costs more than $1200 – $1500, then I think it will be seen by many commuters as nothing more than a luxury item.

    Case in point: I recently read a review on this blog for a Civia Loring utility bike that came standard with a Brooks saddle. As noted by the review, additions such as these do little more than increase the price of the bike.

    What I want to see, and this seems to be on par with your ideas, is something that is all guts and no glory – at least not the kind of glory that screams “Look at how much money I spent on my bike so I can laugh at you people caged in your cars!” I want to see something that is tough, all-weather, cost effective, low-maintenance, and doesn’t require me to spend another $800 in accessories just to make it commute-worthy.

    I have been eyeballing Trek’s Gary Fisher Transport, which is everything I want minus the electric assist. I think it is priced just right. But an extra $1000 for the Transport+ (w/electric assist) is too much if the idea is to convince people who haven’t touched a bike since they were 14 to start using one to run all of their errands.

    I also think the key idea is awesome. What about requiring the rider to turn the key in order to operate the electric assist, sort of like an ignition? The key would remain in the socket for the duration of the ride, like a moped or a motorcycle (or a car, for that matter). The same key turn could unlock the built in locking mechanism. Not sure if this is practical, though… I’m not a mechanical or an electrical engineer! Just a lowly mathematics student…

    Just some thoughts… can’t wait to see the posts!

  9. peteathome says:

    I’m long dreamed of a bike such as you describe. But I do agree that you should design the bike you describe without the electric asssist and then use one of the add-on kits to electrify it. Although that does make one-key operation for both the assist and the lights a little harder.

    Having secure storage on the bike would be a big plus. Making sure nothing is easily removable by thieves – the lights, bells, trunks, seat, controllers, etc., would be another big plus.

    Someone said these bikes are typcial in Europe – not really true, especially the locking trunks. Also, the European bikes are very heavy. Do you think it would be possible to design a bike like you describe that would weigh only 35 lbs without the assist add-on? If so, you would really have something.

    Weight is not a big issue for a utility bike, I know. But if you have to carry the bike up steps or put it on a multi-modal bus rack, it DOES make a huge difference.

    Plus many of our cities are much hillier than the European cities, so a lighter bike is nice for that, too, so it operates well without electric assist.

    Just my 2 cents – I’m not a bike builder so what do I know …

  10. Matt says:

    The AirZound sounds awesome!

  11. Chrehn says:

    Matt, I like your fire, but, sometimes things are better left unsaid…

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