Copenhagen Bike Parade-2010

StreetFilms always has really informative and cool videos, and this one is no exception.

Last week, Copenhagen was the host for the Velo-City Global 2010 conference featuring over 1,000 attendees, advocates, and bike enthusiasts from all over the world. 

On the third night of the conference, Copenhagen did something it doesn't do often: holding a bike parade! This critical mass-style celebration featured the young and old on all sorts of bikes, and filled the streets with entertainment and music. Of course in Copenhagen, every day is a massive critical mass of cyclists (38% of all trips are bike) then what is the need for ever needing to declare your right to the road?

The optimistic mood of the conference and the gaining momentum for bicycling facilities worldwide was as inspiring as the people of this great, livable city.  The next one is March 2011 in  Sevilla, Spain which is seeing skyrocketing numbers taking to the velocipede!

The Rise of Walking and Biking

A friend of mine sent me this graphic from Good,and it shows how dramatically people are starting to realize that commuting, carbon emissions, and city planning are all inextricably linked. The graph suggests that a rise in biking and walking aren't spontaneous trends brought about by more thoughtful consumers (or even rising gas prices, as many have guessed). Rather, the rise of people-powered commuting has a direct correlation with the amount of money being spent by the DOT on pedestrian and bike programs.

So while you can gripe about the government's ability to spend money well, in this case it does seem to be having the intended effect--since 1995, walking trips have increased by over 100%, and bike trips have increased by 700 million a year, a rise of 20%. Ray LaHood, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, has just announced a "sea-change" in American transit planning: As he writes on his blog, "People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized."

LaHood's announcement has been bubbling for some time: The DOT is already funding bike-lane initiatives in Philadelphia and Indianapolis, and LaHood, a darling among green-minded urban planners, has a penchant for dropping by bike conferences and getting everyone all fired up. But this latest news is backed by a set of eight guidelines, which will be sent to state DOT's and communities:
  • Treat walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes.
  • Ensure convenient access for people of all ages and abilities.
  • Go beyond minimum design standards.
  • Collect data on walking and biking trips.
  • Set a mode share target for walking and bicycling.
  • Protect sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected (for example, snow removal)
  • Improve non-motorized facilities during maintenance projects.
Which frankly all sounds rather dull, but here's the important thing: LaHood, as Transportation Secretary, is essentially saying, "If you want federal DOT dollars, you better think more seriously about adding bike paths to the projects you propose."

The hope then is that communities adopt similar guidelines, and that these will be baked into new infrastructure proposals. It's a rather circuitous path--and comes far short of a mandate--but this is a crucial start. And when local city planners get with the program, they'll find a wealth of ideas out there--from bicycle highways to solar bike sheds to safer bike lanes.


Bike Sharing "Finally" Comes to Chicago

Mayor Daley announced at the Bike to Work Week Rally last week that Chicago is getting a bike share program come July. He's been talking about this for many years, so we're glad it's finally happening. Chicago is following Denver's lead and using the B-cycle bike-share program, which seems to have been quite popular there since it started in April with 500 bikes and over 18,000 rides so far.

In Chicago, riders will need to have a membership card to get a bike and lock (helmet not included). Cards are $10 for one day, or $35 for 30 days, $45 for 60 days, and $55 for 90 days. The first half-hour on the bike is free, and each additional half hour is $2.50. Bikes will be available for pickup at McCormick Place, Museum Campus, Buckingham Fountain, the Chicago Park District headquarters at 541 N. Fairbanks Ct., and two downtown locations to be announced. Drop-offs are at any B-station, Navy Pier, North Avenue beach, Millennium Park, and any Bike & Roll rental station.

Even though these prices appear pretty steep for renting a bike, other cities with the program have shown that most riders get a bike and return it to a station in less than 30 minutes and aren't charged anything. Some cities have lowered their prices after they get the stations set up and a network established. The higher prices are just to get the system in place and to cover the initial investment. Either way, these stations will be another gem in Chicago's great bicycle culture. It is also another example of how bike sharing is spreading across the country and cities that care about bikes are taking great steps at getting more people on them.

Biking Banned in Black Hawk Colorado

A small town in the US has banned cyclists on most of its streets, punishing anyone who gets caught with a $68 fine. Black Hawk in Colorado, which has a population of just above 100, is possibly the first town in the US to make cycling illegal after a change in civic law. The city council claims that it did for "health and safety" reasons since its focus on gambling has brought more auto traffic to the town.

Now, cycling is illegal in the narrow, 19-century streets of Black Hawk's historic district, and force cyclists to dismount and walk their bikes for the quarter mile through town where cars and trucks get a free pass drive at will. Does this actually accomplish the intended goal of "safety"? Maybe someone should send them a pamphlet about Complete Streets, which aims to design safe, efficient streets for all kinds of people and all kinds of transportation.

The curious decree has been introduced for "health and safety" reasons, said administrators of the former gold mining town, which in the 1990s decided to develop gambling to prevent the place vanishing altogether.
Michael Copp, Black Hawk's city manager, admitted there had not been any accidents to prompt the ban, just concern over potential collisions between motor vehicles and bicycles on 19th-century streets that were designed for horses and carriages.

"This ordinance is necessary for the preservation of health and safety and for the protection of public convenience and welfare.The rules will allow bicycle traffic that originates locally to continue to operate with City Manager authorization, while still assuring that such traffic can operate in a manner that is not incompatible with vehicular traffic."  Black Hawk website.

The danger here is the precedent.  It's not right or legal and we need to make sure it's addressed before it's spread any further. An outright ban on being able to ride a bicycle through a community is unheard of in any other community in the country. Black Hawk seems proud to be first. At this point the council has no intention of repealing the ban. They believe their actions are what's best for its citizens in Black Hawk, which are casinos and their patrons. Cyclists' lobbies are gearing up to challenge the law, which they say is illegal.

Trips By Bike Double Since 1990

16 years ago, the United States Department of Transportation set two goals:
1) Double the biking and walking mode share from 8% to 16%
2) Reduce the number of bicyclists and pedestrians killed or injured in traffic crashes by 10%

Last week, the USDOT released a report looking back at those goals. It found that bicycling and walking currently have a 12% mode share—just halfway towards the goal. However, because the total number of trips has been growing with the country’s population, bicycling saw a bigger increase that this number may suggest: from 1.7 billion trips in 1990 to 4 billion trips in 2009.

The USDOT report also found that the number of bicyclists killed decreased by 12% between 1994 and 2008. This sounds even better when you take into account the doubling of bicycle trips. Researchers have found that this happens routinely—the more people who ride bikes, the safer bicycling gets, because motorists are more aware of cyclists. It’s a documented phenomenon called “safety in numbers.”

The best part is that when bicycling gets safer, even more people ride bikes! It’s a convenient cycle for cycling. We still have a ways to go to reach the mode share and safety levels of bike-friendly countries like the Netherlands. Still, America’s cycling snowball has finally started to roll down the hill.

For a quick, easy-to-understand overview of trends in U.S. bicycle use and federal bike investments, read Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's Fast Lane blog post from June 16.

Tour De France Preview

I am going to try to not just write about the Tour de France for the next month, but it will be taking up most of my time. I love watching road races and Versus Channel has really helped the ease of viewing. I will still be watching live each morning on, but their recap shows each night make it pretty nice to see what I may miss when I have to do some work away from my computer.

Below is a pretty cool video that shows the stages in a 3D fly through. I am also listing my 12 riders to watch in this year's Tour. They are listed alphabetically:

Lance Armstrong
Alberto Contador
Cadel Evans
Robert Gesink
Levi Leipheimer
Denis Menchov
Michael Rogers
Samuel Sanchez
Andy Schleck
Frank Schleck
Christian Vande Velde
Bradley Wiggins

Alberto Contador is the man to beat for a second straight year, any one of these 12 could win the Tour de France this year. I will go further and say that the top three in Paris all figure among these 12 names. The Tour rarely produces a surprise result. These are the men who will worry excessively about the first few days of the race as far as Reims, where crosswinds in Holland and bad roads in Belgium will make it a nervous period for those with big intentions.

Do not miss the early days thinking everything will happen in the mountains. People like Contador, Michael Rogers and Bradley Wiggins will be happier when the Alps are reached and that they are still in contention, for some of the above names will not be after this very dangerous opening week. With only one time trial this year (with the exception of the usual short Prologue in Rotterdam, Holland) the route appears to favor the climbers.

This is not surprising, as the race celebrates 100 years of scaling the heights of France. The Pyrenees with the Col du Tourmalet the star of a tough last period of racing with a finish and a crossing included on the mountain, came into the race in 1910 to the cries of "assassins" and "murderers" from the riders. But without France's two famous mountain chains, the race would have died many years ago.

Lance Armstrong, in his 39th year, would not be starting his 13th Tour if he did not believe he could win it. He arrives with his new custom-assembled RadioShack team many of whom rode with him in 2009 as members of the often acrimonious Astana team, for whom Contador still races. If the great Texan who has suffered sickness and crashes this year before finishing second in the recent Tour of Switzerland, is to win for an eighth time, then he must get time on Contador before the mountains are encountered.

Contador, is the undisputed best climber in the World, but has not showed the great form necessary to win a third Tour de France and with the Schleck brothers, Australian Cadel Evans and perhaps Bradley Wiggins, all out to attack him when he's least expecting it, the Spaniard will assuredly have his hands full. Contador beat Andy Schleck by 4mins 11sec last year, with Armstrong far from content with third place a further 1min 13sec back. This year Andy has done nothing to inspire confidence in his fitness and it could be that his elder brother Frank, the winner of the Tour of Switzerland, will be the protected rider on the Saxo Bank team.

The first mountain stage comes after a week of racing in which 700 miles will have been covered, with a previously uncharted journey through the Jura hills to the Station des Rousses. The weather there can be very cold and wet and is followed the next day by the Alps proper as the field finishes atop the ski station of Avoriaz, near Morzine, where it has not been for 16 years. It was in the Juras where Armstrong abandoned the race in 1996 complaining of a heavy cold, and was later in the year diagnosed with cancer.

Once the Alps are over, it is through the heat of the far South as the link is made to the Pyrenees, where a finish on top of the Col du Tourmalet will be the highlight of four very hard days that will favor the great climbers. The only time trial follows for those with the strength left, near Bordeaux, where the heat can sap whatever power is left in the bronzed legs of the survivors. Levi Leipheimer could well show his strength here as he has done in the past. In 2007 he finished third overall after he won the final time trial over a similar distance in Angouleme, beating Evans by 51secs. He lost the Tour by a meager 31secs the next day in Paris.

American supporters will also be cheering the sprinters on the days they have a chance of victory. Tyler Farrar has developed into one of the fastest on the pro circuit and with five wins already this year, the Garmin-Transistions rider will be ready to win his first Tour stages. I am also looking forward to see Mark Cavendish win the green jersey and show the world why he is the best sprinter in the world.

Power Is In Pedals

I have a few cycling blogs and websites that I really enjoy and unfortunately one of my favorite online magazines is closing its doors. WorldWatch Institute is an online magazine that reports stories of environmental impacts and sustainability innovations. It goes out with a bang, by including an article on bicycle transport, by senior researcher Gary Gardner.

The WorldWatch piece reinforces my view, of cycling being one of the most efficient and responsible means for transportation: "A bicycle commuter who rides four miles to work, five days a week, avoids [...] about 2,000 pounds of CO2 emissions, each year." Or "... countries with the highest levels of cycling have the lowest levels of cycling fatalities." And this, "...some 700,000 car trips in Lyon, and 2,160,000 in Paris, are foregone each year because of bike-sharing."

Build it and They Will Come
Gary Gardner provides the sort of figures that we've heard here before: "In the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany in particular, a number of cities boast cycling rates of greater than 20 percent, and even 30 percent, of urban trips (compared with about 1 percent of trips in most U.S. and Australian cities)." But he unearths interesting connections too. Like how investing in bicycle infrastructure pays off. "In Portland, for example, where 4 percent of trips are made by bike, some $3.50 per resident is spent by the city on biking. By contrast, Amsterdam spends $39 per person to achieve its biking rate of 38 percent."

Rather than cull more of Gary's research here, readers can freely read the Power to the Pedals article online for themselves, and derive the benefit of his full analysis.

The Bicycle: Vehicle for a Small Planet
This is not an isolated review of cycling for WorldWatch.WorldWatch Paper #90: The Bicycle: Vehicle for a Small Planet, is also very illuminating. Although no longer in print it highlights the myriad benefits of the bicycle:

"Bicycles in Asia alone transport more people than do all the world's autos."
In 1987 China produced 41 million bicycles, but only 4,045 automobiles. Unfortunately we suspect that ratio no longer holds 20 plus years on.

For China to pave as much land per capita as has the United States [for automobile use] would mean giving up more than 40% of the country's cropland.

Bicycling uses 35 calories (of energy intensity) per passenger mile, compared to 1,860 calories for a single person driving a car. That's 53 time less energy required to cover the same distance.

"... a bicycle can increase a person's travel capacity (a combination of speed and payload) by at least five time over that of walking."

constructing a road for non-motorised vehicle (ie bicycles) in Ghana "would cost [...] roughly 8 percent of the cost of a conventional rural road."

"... 100 bicycles can be manufactured for the enrrgy and materials it takes to build a medium-sized car."

"Perhaps the greatest potential for change lie with the individual cyclist. pressing employers and local authorities to provide cycling facilities--and simply using bicycles whenever possible--can have great impact."

* Back issues of WorldWatch Magazine are still available in PDF formats.

Catching Up In Miami

Sorry for the lull in posts, but I was in a 2-day design charrette for the City of Miami and it was very time consuming, but was refreshing to work side by side with their bike coordinator and see the cool things that they have planned for the cyclists in Miami-Dade County. Good things are already there and even better things are on the horizon.

Miami appears to have the same issues with getting people to bike that most other places do. Believe it or not, 84% of Miami citizens feel that lack of facilities keeps them off their bikes and perceived safety is a close 2nd at 79%. Weather, presumably the heat and unpredictable rain showers, only affect 23% of people's decision to ride bikes or not. This survey data was also backed up by the responses to what they felt the city needs to do to get more people to bike and a whopping 82% felt that they needed more bikeways to get around in the city.

Miami is addressing many of the needs of its cyclists and have added tons of bike parking, potentially opening a few bike stations, added a bike sharing program, and are adding miles of bike lanes, sharrows, bike boulevards, bike boxes, etc. They also have a few PSA programs that are addressing conflicts between bikes and automobiles and make people aware that bikes have full rights of the road.

I attached the current Master Plan map to show how the city plans to create a connected network of bikeway facilities. It is progressive projects such as these that have helped move Miami and the state of Florida up the rankings of bike friendly places.

You can also CLICK HERE to view the entire Master Plan document and view other maps of future projects in the city.

15yr Study Finds Biking and Walking on the Increase

A 15-year report was just released by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration that shows a 25% increase in trips by bike and walking since 2001. The National Bicycling and Walking Study: 15-Year Status Report has been following the action since 1994, and the news is (mostly) good - in the U.S. we've reversed a trend of decreasing trips by biking and walking. And the Obama Administration spent $1.2 billion on bike and walk programs in 2009. That is, however, just 2% of the country's transportation budget going to improving infrastructure and conditions for pedestrians and cyclists. Imagine what could be done with a bike/ped budget rivaling that of a city such as Amsterdam?

The two major achievements of the last 15 years, according to the report:

1) A decrease in fatalities and 2) an increase in the overall number of trips taken by bike and on foot.

Since safety is one of the key reasons more people say they don't bike, I would say that the first finding is pretty huge. Here are some other statistics showing that biking tends to be safer (per million hours of activity) than riding in a car or on other motorized vehicles. It is also, as pointed out here in Grist, safer than doing nothing at all.

On the other hand, Rutgers has statistics quoted in this Freakanomics article that finds cyclists to be 12 times more likely to suffer a fatal crash than car drivers. Meanwhile, the same study found going by foot 23 times more dangerous than traveling by car. Now, balance those statistics against the Danish study that found non-cyclists to have a 39 percent higher mortality rate than cyclists.

What the 15-year report concludes is that pedestrian and bike fatalities have dropped 20.6 percent in the reporting period, surpassing the 10 percent improvement goal that the the Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration said they were aiming for. The number of people dying in bike crashes tends to hover between 700 and 800 each year, however, which is still high, while pedestrian deaths waver between 5,000 to about 6,500.

The second finding about the increase in number of trips by foot or bike, takes statistics from the 2009 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), walking trips accounted for 10.9 percent of all trips reported, while cycling accounted for 1 percent of all trips. Those numbers fall short of the goal of 15.8 percent of all trips NHTS was hoping to achieve by 2009. However, reported biking and walking trips reported still managed to jump 25% since 2001.

That translates to 42.5 billion walking trips in 2009, and 4 billion bicycle trips annually in the U.S.

Fabian Cancellara-Innocent or Guilty of Cheating-You Decide

There's an idea floating around of Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara using an electric motor at the classics. It seems to have originated at the rumor mills of il Italia and a couple of journalists, an ex-pro cyclist and a little known e-bike maker are in the thick of it. Meanwhile, Fabian tossed out a statement in the press calling hogwash to these claims. I am only writing about this topic this late, because I haven't felt that it was a legitimate issue, but after talking to several other riders and hearing them state that they believed the accusations, I felt that I had to do some online investigating. Here is what I have found out...

Below is a detailed explanation of how Cancellara was physically able to ride the way he did in the accused rides. This study was done by Cozy Beehive's blog.

I spent some time re-watching 2010 Paris Roubaix clips. My focus was upon the attack from Cancellara with 48k to go. To me, there were three segments to this attack

1) At 55K remaining, there were a lead group of 40 favorites at the front.They included Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), Filippo Pozzato (Katusha), Adam Hansen (HTC-Columbia), George Hincapie (BMC Racing Team), Leif Hoste (Omega Pharma-Lotto) etc.

2) In the next 2 or 3K, the group splintered. Leif Hoste, Björn Leukemans, Frederic Guesdon and Sébastien Hinault pushed to the front.

3) At 49 K to go, Fabian Cancellara surged ahead from the bunch to join the four leaders. In a few seconds, he took one sideways look behind him, saw that the title defender Boonen had decided not to mark him down. Riis, the team manager, radioed to him. "Go". Yup, it was a bad move from the Belgian champion. Fabian was then gone and the rest is history.

The jump Fabian put forth was strong and decisive. To most of us, watching the surge (see video below) may seem almost like, well, like he had a motor somewhere on the bike. How on earth can he pull away so quick, right? Well the Italians asked that hard question and came up with the answer - 'Oh mio dio, he has a motor on his bike!'

But regardless of whether he used a motor or not, can we dissect this attack and see its parts to get a perspective of what's happening? I think we could.

So I used a physics analysis software and some basic physics to get an idea of the speed and acceleration involved in this attack. This may seem pretty ghetto to some of you but perspective is what ultimately matters.


1) First, I downloaded the above video of the action from Youtube. I cut the video segment only to the points of interest, from 2:07 to 2:22 or so. I eventually a few hundred frames at 25 frames/second. I decided a timestep of about 0.03-0.04 seconds would be more than adequate to the capture the stages of the action.

2) I scaled the segment with a known dimension of some entity. That entity was going to be Cancellara's 58cm Specialized bike. I looked up its specs and found out that the wheelbase of the frame is pretty close to 100 cm or 1m. Good enough.

3) I imagined myself seated inside the TV helicopter, shining a path co-ordinate axis down at the action below, somewhere in the middle of the screen. I reckoned that the zoom and pan from the helicopter camera would create complexities, but luckily for me, there was not much. The cameraman in the helicopter had kept his focus remarkably steady on the racers, without much shaking and distraction. There was a bit, but I knew exactly where it was. Then I positioned the axis angle to be somewhat parallel to the direction of motion on the road.

4)I then stuck point mass trackers on Fabian, spectators and motorcycles. These trackers would give me position vs time information of the object as the cross-hairs of the camera sped past them.

I finally had distance vs time plots from objects to plug into MS Excel. Since velocity depends on the observer, and since the observer is in a moving state in a helicopter, any relative motion between the observer and the cyclists is either a surge or a deceleration.

Let's explore the stages of the attack:

A) At what speed was the peloton with favorites moving initially?

Here, helicopter camera was very focused on the action with little shaking. Hence, a spectator appearing and flying out of view may give an indication of the speed of the riders. The position time graph was a straight line. The data was exported in Excel and a "linest" operation on the data yielded a slope, as shown below.

25 mph is not hard to believe.

B) What was the speed of the lead group that surged away?

Here's another spectator! Let's catch him!! So we place a tracker on his bosom.

This is how fast he flies away from the camera. The slope tells me 29mph. Hence, the leaders broke off with an extra 4 mph relative to the peloton.

C) The attack : How fast can Fabian put a 5 second gap on others?

This pic shows a tracker placed on Fabian, and the graph shows his position changing wrt to the origin due to relative motion. This relative motion is the attack!

Fabian was to the right of camera's origin (purple axis) before he attacked. The camera was focused on the lead group and did not follow Cancellara when he attacked due to the "lag" in reaction time from the cameraman. The downward slope on this graph indicates Cancellara moving towards the negative left side of the origin with his surge. In a little over 4 seconds, the brunt of the attack came, when the slope of the graph dips further, indicating acceleration. The area of interest is limited to 12 seconds because the cameraman suddenly finds out what's happening and shifts his focus to Fabian. This is why the red line begins to curve back up again.

So I exported that graph into Excel, inverted the graph so I would get nice positive numbers. Then I cut the graph to the area of interest.

Presto! This shows us that Fabian puts in a 5" gap very quickly. But how quick is "quickly"?

...this gives us an idea of Fabian's relative speed from the camera focus. So what happens in this 5" gap that Fabian puts relative to peloton? In the first 2 seconds, he manages +1.6 mph. In the next half second or so, he increases that to +3.3 mph, which then bumps up to +6.5 mph until at the second before the camera catches up with Fabian, he's riding at an impressive +7.4mph.

Since I wrote before that camera's focus was traveling at 29mph, this means that the Fabian's respective speeds are 30.6 mph (49.2kph), 32.3 mph (52.3kph), 35.5 mph (57kph) and finally 36.4 mph (58.5kph). This corresponds to an acceleration of around 0.7-0.9 m/sec^2. Ordinary cars have an acceleration of 3-4 m/sec^2. Fabian musters close to 25% of a car's acceleration. Vroom!

D) A reality check :

I stuck a tracker on a passing motorcycle as it sped past Cancellara to "get out of the way". Perhaps it was Graham Watson in the back seat as the flashes of a camera went off. Nevertheless, I found it had a relative speed of +25mph from similar analysis. Adding this to Cancellara's speed of 29mph gives a roundabout motorcycle speed of 60mph (96kph). Its believable.

Also, if I were to plug in the speed I obtained and Cancellara's weight and cadence into Analytic Cycling's "Forces on Rider" calculator (with generic parameters), it gives me about 680 Watts of power. Still believable by STATIC riding standards.

But since I said that he's accelerating with 0.9m/s, given a weight total weight of 87kg (80 kg Fabian and 7 kg bike) and a final speed of 16m/s, we should really calculate his power output and crank torque in a dynamic situation. For the crucial 5 seconds of attack time, I calculate all those below.

I assume Fabian was on his 53-11 gear, which I'm sure he could easily pedal.

Onto the propulsive force required.

Work done then becomes :

So what is his power output to accelerate for those first 5 seconds?

Though not very relevant, also notice that this power output equates to a rough 5 sec power to weight ratio of 1200W /80kg = 15 which is nothing out of the ordinary based on a power to weight ratio chart for male cyclists (See Power to Weight Ratio).

Using a stopwatch, I figured Cancellara increased his RPM from his previous 100 to 110 RPM for his attack. The average torque required for this acceleration at the crank is then :

That value is within the realm of competitive cycling. Since I said this is an average, it would be the average of the "sine-curve" of torque on the y-axis and crank angle on the x axis. The crank torque is scaled down at the rear wheel by a factor of the gear ratio, calculated earlier, since it rotates faster.

For readers on both side of the Atlantic Ocean, I put this all together in one table with units :

My sanity check is over. The numbers are believable by DYNAMIC riding standards. Any doubt? Note that some data from the recent Tour of Flanders indicates that he put in 1450 Watts during the attack on the Muur. That number came after a very long day of riding. If he can manage that, he can surely manage 1200 Watts in the initial moments of his breakaway.
This is my two cents.


It is the first 5-10 seconds of an attack that is most crucial and most tricky. Attackers must be able to speed off from an already high pace, and the objective is to dig in to hell, gather the firepower and deliver the maximum blow without suicide.

It is the rapid rate at which Fabian Cancellara increases his speed that is mind boggling to see in the video, even though such speeds are pretty normal for him.

Don't get hung up on the numbers presented here, which is all approximate. But we know from historical data that Fabian is someone who can out-sprint the best by simply staying seated on his saddle, even after 230K of racing. The following is one of those spectacular moments of Tour de France history that will not erode away with time. Watch:

Miami Gets Bike Sharing!

Getting around Miami Beach just got a whole lot easier! The DECOBIKE City of Miami Beach Public Bicycle Rental and Sharing Program is the newest form of GREEN public transportation available to both residents & visitors. 


May access the Program via an online subscription for monthly memberships using a credit card or checking account. After accepting the User Agreement and submitting payment, subscribing members will receive their individualized DECOBIKE "BeachPASS." The BeachPASS allows members to check out and return bikes to any of the 100 solar-powered DecoStations throughout the City, which operate 24/7. Membership is restricted to adults, ages 18 years and older. Click here to sign up! 


May access the system with a major credit card. Simply approach any station, swipe your card and select a bike. You will also be required to accept the User Agreement as well as authorizing a deposit to ensure the bike's return (each bike is individually micro chipped and uniquely identifiable). Users must be 18 years of age or older.

Either way check out the site here, and look for these stations to start popping up now. Below is a map of the planned 100 stations that will share 1000 bikes for its users.

6 Ways to Boost Yor City's Bike Mojo

As I watch the President speak about the oil spill, all I can think about is how cycling has a role to play in making things better for our country's oil addiction. Here are 6 steps that cities can do to make cycling more friendly for all users.

1. Make it Work for Women.

Girls Rides Baby at Portland tweed ride photo

Researchers from John Pucher to the folks at the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals say the same thing - women are the indicator species for a well-functioning bicycle infrastructure. And here's what women want: cycle tracks - bike pathways that are physically separated from car and truck traffic. Unfortunately, cycle tracks are more expensive than simple painted bike lanes or sharrows, because they can involve breaking up sidewalks and planting physical barriers between the flow of car traffic and the cyclists. Another way to get women, especially women of all colors and younger women, out there is to sponsor more programs that emphasize the joy of biking.

2. Do That Bike Share Thing. Right Now.

Velib Pretty Cyclist in boots photo

Vélib in Paris is still the best example of a bike share that began a significant change in a city's cycling habits. Paris' iconic bike share program is now a firm part of the image of the city, and has been extended out to the suburbs. But you don't need to be Paris to have a successful bike share - Washington D.C. started almost pitifully small with its bike share program but managed to capture the imagination of locals, and now its share is also expanding to include outer areas of the city - plus D.C. has a spanking new bike lane smack dab in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue. Perhaps it's nothing more than serendipity, but a bike share is the most obvious way for a city to show its serious about attracting cycling. Cities strapped for cash can follow London's lead and get sponsored.

3. E-Bikes Are One Less Car. Support Them.


Cycling purists tend to metaphorically spit on the likes of the electric bike enthusiasts. "Cheaters" is the most common epithet thrown at e-bikers on the bike path. But as Portland has learned, once you have early adopters of cycling out on the streets, you need to tap that core of a city population that is interested in cycling, but concerned about safety and some of the other hurdles hindering biking. E-bikes have their issues, but they provide mobility to those not ready for their first century ride or road race, i.e. the rest of the potential cycling public. A solar canopy sponsored by someone like Sanyo and shared by e-bikes and electric cars is another good goodwill offering to "One Less Car, Too" e-bikers.

4. Have a Pedalpalooza.

Sprockettes Women Dancing with Bikes photo

Currently running in Portland is a seventeen day long progressive bike festival known as Pedalpalooza. A loose conglomeration of more than 250 events, Pedalpalooza or a similar set of events allow different types of riders to find their tribe. In Portland, that can be anything from tall-bike-riding cyclists jousting with padded sticks, to "pretty panty" riders showing off their underwear, to naked cycling enthusiasts painted up and baring it all, to local city entrepreneurs networking while taking a spin through the city. Events are key to Portland's bike-friendly camaraderie and they can help new cyclists get a feeling for the city streets in a slightly-safer atmosphere. And a city doesn't need to start big - one or a series of Cyclovia-style events will almost certainly bring out riders and pedestrians to take back the streets...if only for a few hours.

5. Slow and Steady Arrives Alive.

White Ghost Bike on a quiet street photo

What many road-raged car drivers don't seem to realize is that cyclists can make the streets safer for everyone. That's because those pesky people on bicycles are a very visceral way to calm traffic. And slow traffic is safer traffic - speed limits of 20 miles per hour inside a city's inner limits can reduce traffic fatalities to next to nil because drivers have time to stop before they hit a cyclist...or a child. Portland is pursuing lower speed limits on some of the streets where it will implement bike "boulevards" - those are shared bike and car paths with street markings called sharrows or painted lanes - in order to give new cyclists the additional perception of safety they crave.

6. Re-purpose a Little-Used Stadium as a Velodrome.

Racers in Velodrome photo

One problem Portland realizes it has but doesn't quite know how to fix is putting together diverse bike subcultures into a unified voice for urban cycling. Road-race style cyclists and speeding messengers definitely were the first to take to the streets and more or less make them safer for the rest of us to get out on our bikes, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for reversing the still-prevalent trend of giving over city streets to King Car. But using the morning rush hour to do a training ride doesn't jibe with a making the inner city bike lanes friendly for the multiple styles and speeds of the next wave of bikers.

While it isn't the only solution, re-making under-used city facilities into a space for a Velodrome for track-style bicycle racing is one way to boost the profile of sporty cycling at the same time that a city tries to foster good manners and civilized speeds on the streets of the inner city.

(April Streeter,

New York-Part 2

Other than biking through Central Park, down Broadway and Times Square, and amongst the fearless messenger and couriers, biking on the East River and Hudson River Bike Paths was a highlight of my trip.The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway is a 32-mile long walking and bicycling path around the island of Manhattan. I only had time to ride about 15-20 miles of the trails, but what I saw made me want to do it again on my next visit and hit new areas of the city.

I first hit the Hudson River side after rolling down through Times Square and Broadway and needed a way back up north to see Central Park. This trail skirted along the river and included several parks that engaged the river and provided breathtaking views across the river and back toward the city itself. The trail is used by cyclists of all types, rollerbladers, and runners/walkers. It also connected up to Riverside Park and after riding through parts of it,  I cut across to Harlem, even though the trail continued northward.

After riding through Central Park, I again rolled through Times Square and along several of their bike lanes to end up at Battery Park and the entrance to the East River Bike Path. This too had beautiful views across to Brooklyn and along the Esplanade. It also provided access to cross the Brooklyn Bridge and was being used by all types of passive and active recreation.

On my next trip to NYC, I want to go farther north on this trail and explore Brooklyn. The best thing was that as a visitor to this major city, I was able to get around the city with ease because of their extensive network of bike facilities. I was also able to travel great distances by riding on the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway trails and could see where using them as major arteries for north-south travel makes cycling one of the easiest ways to get around New York City.

Savannah's Ridin with Style

We made a weekend trip up to Savannah this weekend, to get away from things after my trip to New York. We went to Savannah a few years ago and remember that it was very walkable, but I looked at from a bike point of view on this trip. Needless to say I was very impressed.
Savannah is a prime example of where a culture of slow and controlled automobile driving provides a great place to walk and ride bikes. I say a culture of slow and controlled driving, because there were little or no prescribed elements that reinforced the driving habits. There were barely any speed limit signs, but you hardly saw anyone driving over 20. Most of its streets are one ways and don't have signalized intersections, but they are expected to yield and stop if pedestrians are crossing the road. There isn't a single bike lane in the whole town, but bikes are everywhere and treat the roads as if it were their own. It definitely is an example where design and common courtesy works.

The best thing for cyclists in Savannah is SCAD. SCAD provides the area with hundreds of young cyclists that use bikes for all of their typical trips around town. SCAD provides bike racks at all of their campus buildings and the city itself provides many bike racks on street and within the streetscape. The large amount of college cyclists, along with everyday commuters, creates the culture that makes cars constantly conscious of bikes being in their environment and makes them drive just a little bit more cautious. Cars have to be aware of people walking at every intersection, bikes riding all around them, horse drawn carriages being in front of them, and tour trolleys rolling around town. Slow and controlled is the only way that they can successfully drive through Savannah without conflicts.

Cyclists Are Fighting the New Bike Law

It is interesting that I leave NYC, a city that is pushing as hard as they can to add bike lanes to as many roads as possible, to come back home to a town/state that can't decide whether they want bikes to ride in bike lanes or if they should just get rid of bike lanes all together. I can't understand how all the statistics from other cities that invest in bike facilities that show that ridership and safety increase, doesn't prove that they are necessary and should be encouraged. I have copied the Orlando Sentinel's article describing the issues. 

I would encourage you to also click here, and see all of the comments that were left on the Sentinel's website. It is pretty entertaining to see car drivers, vehicular cyclists, spandex cyclists, commuters, etc, all arguing over who owns the road and which one is right. This kind of infighting just pushes the issue farther out and leads to laws being signed into place that help none of the people involved. The politicians see all of the parties involved as being one sided and unwilling to compromise on anything. The governor and other politicians are then put in the position of compromising for everyone and then everyone is pissed. God forbid that all the groups act like adults and look around and see where there is room for a little give and take.

Cyclists want right to ride in middle of road like cars, will fight bike-lane law

Edgewater Drive bike lane

Angry bicyclists are hoping to strike back and repeal a law taking effect in September that would force them to ride in bike lanes or hug the right side of the road.

They've even enlisted the help of state Sen. Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, himself an avid bicyclist and tri-athlete.

"I'm one of them. … I'm open to just about anything," Gardiner said, including filing a bill next year.

And the bikers might not stop with just the law.

Another possibility they are considering is doing away with bike lanes altogether. That could result in more bicyclists using the roads just like a car.

"Bike lanes might not be all that we thought they were cracked up to be," said Mighk Wilson, a smart-growth planner and bike advocate at MetroPlan Orlando.

Wilson said he thinks riding in the midst of traffic is safer than bike lanes or the side of the road because bicyclists are more visible to motorists. Bike lanes, he said, often run too close to parking spaces, making riders vulnerable to people who open their car doors without looking.

He also contends that drivers who are turning often fail to see bikers because they are too far off to the side.

Bicyclists are entitled to use the roads by law right now, but a 16-word addition to a state highway-safety bill passed by the Legislature in April essentially shunts them off to the side, unless there are potholes or other impediments. The law, which Gov. Charlie Crist signed last week, takes effect Sept. 1.

Conflicts between cyclists and motorists often come down to the number of bikers in the road.

It's usually not a big deal if one or two of them ride in the middle of the lane because motorists can pass pretty easily, Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Kim Montes said. Large groups of riders are a different matter, though, because long lines of cars can pile up behind them.

And that can lead to short tempers, with cars passing too close – by law they are supposed to give bikers three feet of clearance – and too fast.

Sgt. Barbara Jones of the Orlando Police Department said officers working traffic detail in the city routinely hear "from drivers fearing that a rider will get hurt. The complaints have included that riders are in the way of cars on roadways or blocking the flow of traffic when they do not have the right of way."

Montes said she supports bike lanes because "it defines for drivers and bicyclists where each is supposed to be. It's less confusing."

Bike lanes started showing up in Central Florida during the late 1990s. Now, there are 184 miles of bike lanes in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties, plus 74 miles of unmarked lanes and an additional 210 miles of road shoulders where a bike can be ridden.

Those counties, and many of the cities within them, have a policy of adding bike lanes, when possible, if a road is being repaved or a new one is being built.

During the past legislative session, Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R- Cape Coral, added the bike-lane language to the bill he sponsored at the request of a South Florida lawmaker who had been fielding complaints from motorists about large packs of riders they accuse of hogging State Road A1A.

He has said he cannot understand the fuss caused by the law because he thought cyclists liked bike lanes. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Wilson said he would like to launch a study looking at the effectiveness of bike lanes, specifically whether they lead to fewer accidents between motorists and cyclists. He doubts they are safer, and he would not miss the lanes if they were gone.

"It's not that you would take the width [of the road] away, just the stripes," said Wilson, who regularly commutes to work by bike.

Hal Downing, a cyclist and board member of Ride/Walk Central Florida, said he would settle for a return to the status quo where bikers are not, by law, relegated to the side but could use whatever portion of the road is best for them.

Montes said FHP will enforce whatever the law is. The key going forward, she said, is that motorists and cyclists both "need to give, physically and in their attitudes."

Dan Tracy can be reached at

Bike Walk Week Minneapolis

I thought I would post a little info about the Twin Cities to celebrate Bike Walk Week in Minneapolis this week, Minneapolis is currently America’s best city for biking. The city still trails Portland, Oregon in the percentage of commuters who bike to work (4.3 percent to 5.9 percent, respectively, according to the most recent American Community Survey), but Minneapolis has been gaining momentum. In the last 2 years, biking has gone up 29% and the city hasn't slowed down about pushing cycling and providing facilities to increase ridership.

Minneapolis is also launching the largest bike-share program in the country, building on a strong foundation of extensive bike trails and a thriving bicycling community.  They're also using federal funds to double the mileage of on-street bike lanes, build more road diets, introduce bicycle boulevards, and more. Have a look and see how Minneapolis has shot to the top of America's best bicycling cities. Bike Walk Week

World's Luckiest Bike Rider!

This bike rider hardly even notices how lucky he is, and continues to ride on as if nothing happened.

Tour de Brooklyn

Another great event that I was fortunate enough to be in NYC during the same time of, was this past Sunday's 6th Annual Tour de Brooklyn, one of New York's largest cycling events. More than 2,100 cyclists rode in this year's Tour de Brooklyn. It was a leisurely, family-friendly ride on 18 miles of Brooklyn streets that was police escorted and riders could preregister for $5 or pay $10 that day. This year's ride toured Greenpoint, Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, Cobble Hill, Red Hook and Williamsburg. This year's tour was themed "Creek-to-Canal" and will guide riders between Brooklyn's two most notorious waterways: Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek

Bicycling in the borough of Brooklyn is booming. The number of cyclists using Brooklyn's East River Bridges has soared by roughly 600% since 2000.
Unfortunately I don't think that I will be in town for the upcoming Tour de Queens or the NYC Century Bike Tour. Check out the NYC Bike Events page here for more information about upcoming rides.

Chicago Gets Artistic Bike Racks

Chicago cyclists soon will be getting a little culture with their theft deterrence if the City Council approves a plan to allow artists to design special racks for riders to lock up their bikes. The need for more racks has come about because of the city is removing parking meters and switching to pay-and-display boxes. This is going to cost bicycle riders thousands of parking spaces. They used to hitch their wheels to meters, and now they can’t. The city has 10,000 regular bike racks in the city, but with the ever increasing cycling population, they need to supplement the lost meter poles.

Neighborhood groups and chambers of commerce would pay for the racks and get a lot of say in picking the designs under a measure the council's Transportation Committee adopted today. Artist-designed bike racks have become a draw in places like Austin, Los Angeles, Louisville, and several other US cities. Louisville is up to 32 racks since a downtown association started commissioning them nine years ago.

It's doubtful the rack art will be as popular as Chicago's 1999 "Cows on Parade," but they could be a hit with Chicagoans and tourists.