Bicycle Love Story: Rediscovering the Joy of a Two-Wheeled Life

Bicycle Love Story: Rediscovering the Joy of a Two-Wheeled Life

This is another popular post from last year submitted by a reader. I heard from a lot of people who really loved the story of Matt riding with his kids. Do you have a similar story? Send it to moregardenslesscars@gmail.com. More details here.

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My wife and I have two-year-old twins. We refer to the first 14 months of their lives as “The Time.”

I loved biking around Erie when I was in high school. As soon as the weather turned each spring, I’d be out riding and exploring, doing 20, 30, 40 miles each trip. I loved it; hopping on my bicycle and just riding until the sun went down was the best way to spend those long summer days.

I went away to college in ’96 and promptly forgot about bicycling. My old bike was stolen from my mother’s garage sometime during my sophomore year and I didn’t really care.

A few years later, after I’d moved to Pittsburgh, a good friend bought a shiny new mountain bike. I asked him what he planned to do with his old one and got a blank stare, so I offered a new wireless keyboard/mouse combo as a trade. The bike was immediately relegated to the basement where it sat completely unused, but never forgotten, for years.

I needed to replace the brakes and rotors on our car last June (right during the hardest part of “The Time”). It’s an easy, simple job, and one I’ve done many times. I planned it to coincide with naptime to minimize the time my wife was on her own with the little people.

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Bicycle Love Story Redux

Bicycle Love Story Redux

I got this idea in a cafe in Pittsburgh last year and received several great submissions of Bicycle Love Stories. Read on for more information and send me your story and a photo if you’d like yours to be featured. I’ll repost a few of the stories from last year this week because they were so lovely.

If you can’t wait, here’s the way to find them: Bicycle Love Stories.

Tell Your Bicycle Love Story

I am looking for your stories.

And your friend’s stories, too. Please tell your friends who like words and like bikes.

I am looking to bring a personal perspective to people who ride bikes for transportation, exercise, or health, as a way to people watch.  Maybe you’re motivated by environmental, economical, ethical reasons. Maybe not.

I love bikes, I love being able to get where I want, when I want, and as fast or slow as I want. I relish the independence my bicycle affords me, and the ability to get in shape while getting around almost for free. I love that I never worry about gas prices, that I don’t have car or insurance payments, and that it’s always easy to meet new people while riding bikes.

I like making friends at stop lights.

I want to know what motivates and excites other people because I want to see more people on bikes in all of our cities. Because it is contagious and makes riding safer and more fun for everyone of all ages and abilities to ride when the numbers of bike riders increase.

Because bike traffic jams are fun.

For Even More Details…

Submission Details:

I want to hear how biking has changed your life.

I’m looking for joyful, swoony, excited non-fiction (now) stories celebrating bicycles and their impact on your life, family, or community.

If you can tell your story in  300-600 words, that’s best, but shorter or longer pieces are possible too. Please include at least one relevant photograph, a short bio (about two sentences, maybe longer), and a link to your website if you have one. I will include at least one new story/article/post weekly, and but I would love to include more if I receive a number of quality stories.

If you are interested in contributing something longer, or something else entirely, please let me know and we can discuss it.

Email submissions to: moregardenslesscars@gmail.com

Future topics will vary. Suggestions are welcome.

New Year, New Plans, New Un-inventions, New Everything

New Year, New Plans, New Un-inventions, New Everything

Part I: The Greeting and Re-introduction!

Hi!

It’s me, Lolly, your friendly neighborhood bicycle advocate!

 

Photo taken by the lovely Elly Blue

 

I’ve been away for quite a long time. I hope you’re well. I am doing quite well myself. Something about November and December makes it absolutely impossible for me to interest myself in writing on my blog. I avoided it in 2009 and mostly in 2010 as well.

I’m back now and there are a number of wonderful things I would like to share with you in the coming weeks and months.

Part II: Direction and Plans: Un-invent and Write Away!

Photo of wasted human effort and mind-wrecking sounds by Flickr user hectorir

There are also some things that are less wonderful I might touch on as well.

Such as the electric leaf-blower.

I hate hate hate these abominations (too strong? NO!) and if I could, I would un-invent the leaf-blower. There are some other things I would like to un-invent in order to enhance the human experience and I will occasionally focus with much vigor (and maybe even some vim) on these topics as they occur to me, when I am by a computer.

What else?

Tiny picture of the issue in which I wrote about Washington, DC back in my youth

This year, I’ll be starting a short column in the spectacular magazine Momentum which is a magazine by and for people who use bikes for almost anything but sport! If you haven’t seen it, you should check it out. It’s one of only two magazines that I wait by the mailbox to receive and then read cover to cover.

I’ll be writing with very very active and eloquent Elly Blue, photographer of above photo, author of the popular “How We Roll” column on Grist, general bicycle activist and entrepreneur, and my “advocacy pen pal.” I’m excited to see what comes of it!

Part III: Questions and Resolutions

How are you doing? Did you have a good new year? Any exciting plans or projects coming up?

I’ve made some rather strange and grueling resolutions which I’ve already told about 1.3 million people about but I’m loathe to say on the internet… lest it make it too hard to give up! But I’m considering it for the social pressure possible in the internet tubes and because I feel so great that I think I can’t keep it a secret.

Stay tuned, next week for the potential resolution-reveal, or at the very least, my review of Capital Bikeshare from Washington, DC. Here’s a sneak peak of me getting ready to ride from Chinatown to Adams Morgan.

Photo taken by Kurt Steiner, an outstanding transportation planner in Boston

 

 

 

 

The Case for Separated Bike Lanes: Streetfilms is Coming to Pittsburgh

The Case for Separated Bike Lanes: Streetfilms is Coming to Pittsburgh

I want to share a couple of their videos with you so you can see how quickly positive changes can be made when there is political will.

Streetfilms made a video three years ago called the “Case for Separated Bike Lanes” which depicts the dangerous and chaotic nature of New York’s city streets and showcasing the successful implementation of beautiful, safe, green, and accessible bike infrastructure. Sounds boring, right?

Take a look at this video, compare the view of New York streets to that of other cities seen in the video: Paris, Boulder, CO, Copenhagen, and others. These cities have made creating safe space for bicycles a priority just as we are accustomed to having safe places to walk: sidewalks.

No one would imagine motor vehicles and walkers sharing the same space and similarly it makes no sense for bicyclists to share the same space with either walkers or motorized vehicles.

Notice how cars and trucks were constantly taking over the space allotted for bicycles? How a little paint on the road made no difference and provided no safe space to travel by bicycle — but how a curb, a concrete barrier, a buffered zone, a row of trees made a world of difference!

NOW, look at the amazing change just three short years later. New York is a biking mecca. Kids can ride safely, parents can ride with their kids, people can commute to work without risking their lives.

Pedestrians, then bikes, then parked vehicles, then motorized vehicles motorizing.

Photo by Neal Patel of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition

All we need is a little determination to make bicycling, the incredibly cheap and healthy mode of transportation accessible to all.

We can do it here in Pittsburgh and we can do it everywhere.

We should do it here in Pittsburgh, and we should do it everywhere.

Because we need safe and accessible transportation choices for all.


Go to Philly: Go Directly to Philly

Go to Philly: Go Directly to Philly

Yes! Go to this if you’re anywhere near Philly on Halloween weekend! The Philly Bike Expo Fashion Show is going to make your fall exquisite!

I’m sharing this by way of my dashing and talented roommate, the proprietress of the cycling fashion line Spokepunchers.

This is where you’ll want to be if you suddenly come into some surprise money and want to step up your bicycle ride and gear with some handmade and hand-crafted goods.

I Really Hope We Get New Bike Lanes in Pittsburgh This Week

I Really Hope We Get New Bike Lanes in Pittsburgh This Week

How about it, Mayor Ravenstahl?

Wouldn’t it be lovely to provide safe transportation options for all road users?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have safer bicycle facilities as we rapidly lose public transportation?

Please, sir, could we have some bike lanes?

 

This is a good time to emulate Washington, DC's innovations. Photo by James D. Schwartz

According to officials in the city government, Pittsburghers are set to have TWELVE new miles of bike lanes laid on city streets by the end of painting season which is rapidly approaching!

“There are about five miles that are ready to go, with another seven miles that are in design and are expected to be installed by the end of the painting season, according to Stephen Patchan, the City’s Bike/Ped Coordinator.”

“In the current recession, money is tight for both people and cities.  Making it easy and safe for people to transport themselves using the least amount of taxpayer support should be prioritized.  The amount of money it takes to provide infrastructure for bicycles is dirt-cheap compared to providing infrastructure for cars.”

For more information on “How a Bike Lane is Born” in Pittsburgh, check out this excellent post from Bike Pittsburgh.

Hey, Get Off My Road, Free-loader!

If you think bicyclists using the roads are coasting along using the roads that drivers single-handedly pay for … you’re wrong. Check out this through breakdown on the cost comparison between those who only drive, those who drive and bike, and those who only bike.

And next time, thank a bike rider for subsidizing car parking, for paying for the roads, for being “one less car” contributing to the morning or evening rush, for not ruining the air quality we all share, and for reducing their own demands on our fragile health care system.

According to the recently published article by Elly Blue: The average driver travels 10,000 miles in town each year and contributes $324 in taxes and direct fees. The cost to the public, including direct costs and externalities, is a whopping $3,360.

On the opposite pole, someone who exclusively bikes may go 3,000 miles in a year, contribute $300 annually in taxes, and costs the public only $36, making for a profit of $264. To balance the road budget, we need 12 people commuting by bicycle for each person who commutes by car.

Fri: Oct 15: Introducing the Bridesmaid Dress Ride- A Leisurely Stroll, on Bicycles, in Dresses

Fri: Oct 15: Introducing the Bridesmaid Dress Ride- A Leisurely Stroll, on Bicycles, in Dresses

This post originally appeared on the Bike Pittsburgh blog. You should come to this ride if you are anywhere near Pittsburgh. Even if you’re not, there is plenty of time to get here. It’s not until October 15. Invite a friend and join us for bicycle fun! Shameless plug: If you like bicycles, cities, fun, and safe transportation choices for all, you should become a member of Bike Pittsburgh.

Closets, basements, storage facilities and thrift stores are filled with unwanted and unloved single-use bridesmaid dresses (and sometimes bicycles), too.

Credit for the photo in the flier goes to the ladies of the excellent blog Let’s Go Ride a Bike. Check it out when you’re done here.

On October 15, well dressed ladies and gentleman of Pittsburgh are going to change that for the Bridesmaid Dress Ride

Join us on the street!

This ride is all about fun and creativity. It will not be any faster than the newest / slowest rider is able to maintain at an enjoyable and un-intimidating pace. If you’re used to going fast all the time, this will be a nice time to ride your bike in a different manner (and in a bridesmaid dress!)

Meet at 6pm at the Bike Pittsburgh office (3410 Penn Ave. Pittsburgh, PA) for dress preparation, camaraderie, laughter, and a brief demonstration on the various techniques for riding a bicycle in a dress.

This bicycle ride is part of the Car Free Fridays celebration of Lawrenceville so stick around after the ride to explore the arty happenings with your new friends.

The Seven Lofty Goals of the Bridesmaid Dress Ride

  1. Have fun
  2. Meet new people
  3. Wear that dress one more time
  4. Reduce the financial waste of the dress. (If you spent $200 on a dress to wear it only once than it cost $200 per use and that is just too much for one day. If you wear it to the Bridesmaid Dress Ride then it’s just $100 per use!)
  5. Demonstrate that it is possible to ride fancy clothes on a bike
  6. Look fabulous / ridiculous
  7. Encourage people to become more comfortable riding in the city

New or new-ish to riding in the city? New or new-ish to group rides? Just follow the following handy tips and we’ll have a great time together!

Seven Recommended Rules of the Ride

  1. Stay in the right lane
  2. Leave nothing and no one behind
  3. Stop at red lights
  4. Ride straight and predictably
  5. Roll past conflict
  6. Communicate with other riders
  7. Have fun

This is not a ladies-exclusive ride. Gentleman will be warmly welcomed, particularly those that embrace the spirit of the ride and wear a dress (other formal wear is acceptable)! Bring a friend or two.

Facts to Remember:

When: October 15, 6-8pm

Where: Meet at the Bike Pittsburgh office, 3410 Penn Ave (corner of Butler and Penn)

What: Wear a bridesmaid dress on your bicycle

Rain: The Bridesmaid Dress Ride is Mist or Shine. Who wants to get fancy and ride in the rain?

Rain date: October 22, 6pm; Rain date’s rain date: October 23, 2pm