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365 days in the life of a bike in NYC…

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So this is pretty cool. A bike was left locked up on the street for 365 days in NYC and a photo was taken of it every day and turned into a time-lapse video…it’s only 51 seconds and worth watching.

Urban Simplicity.

Yes, there are not enough [sic]…

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I was in Amsterdam only once, and it was many years ago (egad, 25 to be exact). It was on my first and longest visit to Europe; I went with a friend with open-ended return tickets (is one still allowed to do this today?) and nothing but what we could carry on our backs. There were no iPhones, tablets, DSLR cameras, etc., etc. at the time. Just us, our clothes in our back packs, a few books, and 35mm cameras. Even then I was taken by not only the beauty of the city but also by the way most everyone got around on bikes. And I actually remember the day I took the above photo. It was an alley in the heart of the city (don’t ask me where) and as we passed I was taken by it’s tranquility.

Anyhow, I recently came across this story at Treehugger regarding this story in the NY Times which comments on how there are too many bikes in Amsterdam. It’s interesting in that the NY Times article appears in the very renaissance of bikes in its very city. The below video is in response to the NY Times article.

Urban Simplicity.

And now for something a little different…

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Okay. So you know by now that I like bicycles. A lot. I believe they are one of our most efficient machines, if not the most efficient. But, well..I don’t think I really want to leave the ground on one. Interestingly, the original plane at Kitty Hawk took flight using bicycle parts, and the Wright brothers were bicycle mechanics prior to building their plane. Anyhow, I recently came across this on Treehugger and thought it was interesting enough to share. Their actual site is located here, and their kickstarter page is located here. Take a look at the short video below. I’d be interested in hearing what others thought…could you take off on this thing?

Urban Simplicity.

Five (or nine) Quotes about Bicycles

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“Get a bicycle.  You will certainly not regret it, if you live.”
~ Mark Twain

 

“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.”
~ H.G. Wells 

“When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man’s convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man’s brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle.” 
~ Elizabeth West 
 
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”
~ Ernest Hemingway

“The journey of life is like a man riding a bicycle. We know he got on the bicycle and started to move. We know that at some point he will stop and get off. We know that if he stops moving and does not get off he will fall off.”
~ William G. Golding  

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammelled womanhood.”
~ Susan B. Anthony

“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”
~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

“I began to feel that myself plus the bicycle equaled myself plus the world, upon whose spinning wheel we must all learn to ride, or fall into the sluiceways of oblivion and despair. That which made me succeed with the bicycle was precisely what had gained me a measure of success in life — it was the hardihood of spirit that led me to begin, the persistence of will that held me to my task, and the patience that was willing to begin again when the last stroke had failed. And so I found high moral uses in the bicycle and can commend it as a teacher without pulpit or creed. She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life”.

~ Frances E. Willard 

“The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.”

~ Iris Murdoch

Urban Simplicity
More in the Five Quotes series. 

The Holstee Manifesto via Lifecycle…

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You may have seen this before (the Holstee Manifesto), or at least variations of it. Well, this is another one, this time put to video with music and bikes. While I do find the manifesto really inspiring, parts of it are not that practical (how, for example, could a single working mom quit her job simply because she doesn’t like it). Nonetheless, I do find it inspiring, and the video of people on bikes is pretty cool, too.

A Few Vintage Bicycle Adverts (just for fun)…

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Found these here.

Urban Simplicity.

Winter Riding Tip…

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Okay. So if you are an all-weather cyclist you likely already know this. I do have a tendency to state the obvious (or at least the known), and for that I apologize in advance. But I read somewhere years ago, and it’s something that I found out really works, is that if you lower the pressure on your tires (ever so slightly) you will get better traction in the snow. The theory behind this is that more tire will be touching the ground (or snow). You don’t want to deflate them so much that it is difficult to ride or dangerous…just a bit that it’s barely noticeable (air, I’ve also read, naturally compresses when it’s cold, thus the tires lose a little pressure on their own when the temps drop). Anyhow, I just thought I’d pass this on. I’d also be interested in hearing if other winter cyclists have tried this or have other tips.

Urban Simplicity.

Donkey Bike…

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While mindlessly flipping through web pages the other day I came across this bike. Odd looking, I thought. But practical. There’s something about it that I like. It’s called a Donkey Bike but for some reason it makes me think of my pugs…so ugly it’s attractive and lovable. Maybe that’s why I like it. Anyhow, to learn more about it, visit their site here.

Urban Simplicity.

Cargo Bikes…what’s old is new again

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If you’ve been to this blog before then you likely know that I have an interest in the history of the bicycle, particularly bicycles that are built to work and carry stuff (to read more about this click here). Anyhow, after reading this excellent article today in Momentum Magazine regarding the quiet rise of the cargo bike in America today, I couldn’t help but think of two things: (1) that cargo bikes really make the most sense, especially in an urban setting, and (2) that they have been around for quite a while. Anyhow, here’s a few vintage adverts..

Urban Simplicity.

A Few Things I saw While Riding a Bike Today

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Urban Simplicity.

Carmageddon!

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Ok, firstly…none of the above photos are from the small city in which I live (nor am I speaking of the video game with the same title as this post)…but we still have our share of traffic jams. I’ve been thinking about the amount of cars on the road a lot lately. Actually for recent years, but specifically in the last few months. There are so many angry drivers on the road and I can’t help but think it is simply because there are way too many cars in use. Think about it (if you are of a certain age)…when I was a kid families had a car…one single car. Some didn’t own any. My parents didn’t get a car until they were in their forties, when I was a mere lad of 12. We lived in the city and walked or took public transport. But today every person in a household who is above driving age seems to “need” their own car. How often, for example, do you see cars that are carrying more than the driver (and maybe one passenger)…not very often. I don’t anyway. Anyhow, this is what I was thinking about as I was on a bike at a busy intersection tonight watching all the cars pass by with only the driver in them, and then one of them honked at me to get off the road. But the best part was that it was raining lightly and I was content to straddle my bike in the drizzle and wait for the light to change (it has not rained in so long that it felt really good)…and then I was honked at. Sorry for the brief rant; I’ll get off my little soapbox now. If you find this topic interesting you may be interested in these articles: here, here, or here.

Urban Simplicity.

Lawn Surfing…or parking lot surfing, or road surfing, or…

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Okay, this takes the tiny house movement to a whole new level. That’s Alexander Main in the above photo in the midst of building his bicycle RV, which he now lives in. When he parks it at night he refers to it as “lawn surfing” (nice). Here’s a picture of the finished RV below.

While I am always trying to simplify and downsize I am not sure I am ready for this…but I am really interested in it. I’ve often thought that if I were homeless (and maybe I will be someday) I would want to own a bike for easy transport, but it would be even better if I had one of these mobile shelters (a tent on a trailer by Tony’s Trailers). They are inexpensive and could carry all your stuff. Anyhow, for examples of more deluxe options of mobile shelters (most of which are made by the people who occupy them) click here, here, here, here, or here.

To visit Alexander’s Bicycle RV website, click here; if you’d like to donate to or support his project, click here. Here’s a short video explaining his trailer.

Urban Simplicity.

The View from My Handlebars, the Lunatic Behind me, and a few Thoughts on Article 34

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So there I was at the corner of Allen and Franklin Streets waiting for the light to change so I could make a left hand turn. It was already balmy. I had a bucket of just-mixed raw bread dough on my front rack (pictured above), which I bake at work during the hot weather so I don’t have to heat up my teeny home kitchen (the ovens are on all day at work anyhow). And as I stood straddling my bike I was enjoying the balmy weather but–I have to admit–dreading going to work in a hot kitchen. I was sort of daydreaming, I suppose, and glanced down at the bucket of dough thinking I’ll refrigerate it when I get to work (the heat and humidity would make it rise too quickly, resulting in a young dough). It was a little after 8am and not many cars on the narrow street. I heard a car approach behind me so I held out my left arm, indicating to the driver that I was turning left. And that’s when I heard it, first the horn then the yelling.

HOONNK…HONNNK! GET OUTTA THE ROAD!

Startled at first, then I turned in disbelief..maybe, I thought, this was not directed at me. But I was wrong. So I pointed towards the corner and yelled back “I’m turning left”…only to be met with:

HONNNNK…HOOONNNK! GET OUTTA THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD!

The bumper to her car was just a few feet behind me, I have to say it made me a bit nervous. But here’s the best part:

The traffic light hadn’t even changed yet, if I was not in front of her she wouldn’t be going anywhere.

Now my blood pressure was beginning to rise, but I kept my composure. I calmly turned the bike around and went to her car window. The middle aged woman that was behind the wheel was like a caricature of a crazy-mad driver…there seemed to be spirals in her eyes and smoke coming from her nose and ears. I went directly to the window–didn’t raise my voice but I’m sure I had a “tone”–and told her that the bike that I was on was a street legal vehicle and had the same rights as her car, and that I was using hand signals, following the law, and had every right to be where I stood. For a second her eyes seemed to roll in back of her head, then she spat: “Get outta the road!” and then hit the gas (the light had changed). When she took off, making a left turn as well, her car nearly swiped me and if I didn’t remove my foot from her tire’s path it may have been ran over.

If I had a dollar for every time a person told me to get out of their way, get off the road, or on the sidewalk (pavements to my friends across the pond) I would be a “monetarily wealthy” person (and I purposely put quotes on monetarily wealthy because I believe there are many other ways to be wealthy than having buckets of cash).

Anyhow, and contrary to many motorists belief (and some bicyclists, I suppose), adults on bikes belong on the road and it is, in fact, illegal for an adult in New York State to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk. This got me thinking about other legalities and rights, and it didn’t take me long to find them. Here’s a couple snippets, to read the entire page on bicycle laws in New York State click here. And yes, I realize I’m likely preaching to the choir but I just had to vent. Thanks for listening. The italics and some of the bold lettering in the below quotes were placed by me.

§ 1231. Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates.

Every person riding a bicycle or skating or gliding on in-line skates upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this title, except as to special regulations in this article and except as to those provisions of this title which by their nature can have no application.

§ 1234. Riding on roadways, shoulders, bicycle or in-line skates lanes and bicycle or in-line skates paths.

(a) Upon all roadways, any bicycle or in-line skates shall be driven either on a usable bicycle or in-line skates lane or, if a usable bicycle or in-line skates lane has not been provided, near the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway or upon a usable right-hand shoulder in such a manner as to prevent undue interference with the flow of traffic except when preparing for a left turn or when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that would make it unsafe to continue along near the right-hand curb or edge. Conditions to be taken into consideration include, but are not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, in-line skates, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or traffic lanes too narrow for a bicycle or person on in-line skates and a vehicle to travel safely side-by-side within the lane.

Yes, I live a long way from Texas–where the above sign is designated–but I came across the sign recently (can’t remember where) and love it…and I wish there were some of these around NY State. It is, I think, good, really good to know your rights. But sometimes, such as when there is a lunatic in a large car directly behind you, it doesn’t make a difference. I’m sure if someone saw me immediately after my encounter I would have looked visibly shaken. I only had another city block to pedal before I arrived at work. As I pedaled a phrase from Mahatma Gandhi came to mind… 

Be the change you want to see.

And this is what I thought about when I turned into my place of work and could see that just a few hundred feet down the road the woman who needed me “outta her way” so badly was stopped at the very next traffic signal.


Urban Simplicity.

L’Arrotino (The Grinder Bike)

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This, I think, is really interesting. A work bicycle of yesterday being built again for today. I originally came across this at Bike Hugger, and apparently it is being built for Nella Cutlery by Winter Bicycles. I’m old enough to remember–when I was a little boy–the vegetable hucksters coming around (by truck not bike) and shouting their arrival with their distinctive call, and the egg man and milkman, too. And later, when I spent a brief period in the French Quarter of New Orleans during the mid-1980’s there was still a guy who would come around (again, by truck) and shouting his arrival and cooks and housewives would come out to have their knives sharpened on the back of his truck. Anyhow, I think this is pretty cool. Many of you know that I work as a professional cook, that’s all I’ve ever done. And some days when it gets crazy hot and busy I fantasize about doing something else…working for myself out of doors in the summer instead of facing a blazing stove. Well…Ahh, it’s good to have fantasies I suppose. I don’t know how easy it would be to support one’s self financially grinding knives on a bicycle, nor am I sure how many people would actually use the service. But if you’re ever in your house and hear someone yelling in the street…the knife man is here to sharpen your knives, l’uomo coltello è qui, el hombre cuchillo está aquí, l’homme couteau est ici…bring your knives and scissors out to be sharpened…it may just be me.


Urban Simplicity.

A View from My Handlebars (five photos of Delaware Park)

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Yesterday, after rushing around a hot kitchen and facing a stove for much of the day, I was happy to have the evening off with such wonderful weather. I was on the Mundo and  had to run a few errands so I took a shortcut (read, long-cut) through Delaware Park to make the ride a bit more enjoyable. Delaware Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and is part of the Olmsted Parks Conservancy. It is such a gem–an oasis–in the midst of the city. I can only hope that it’s what Mr. Olmsted had in mind when he originally designed it. The image directly below is not of the park proper, it’s Lincoln Pkwy which leads into the park. What a lovely ride. Anyhow, after doing my errands and on the way home I skirted the edge of the park and snapped the bottom photo…sunset overlooking the Black Rock section of Buffalo. It was hot yesterday and I was surprised how warm it still was as the sun was setting. And as I was pedaling and coasting home, admiring the beautiful sunset, a car slowed and someone yelled out the window for me to “get the f#%k outta the way.” I kept pedaling and coasting. And after my anger at this person dissipated all I could think was what a better mood he likely would have been in if he were pedaling and coasting on a bike on such a lovely evening. Anyhow, click any photo for a larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Food for Thought (a pro-bike post)

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I found these images at various locations with a simple Google search. As many of you know I’ve been car-lite for years and am recently car-free. It’s interesting that I’ve been without a car for nearly two months and I barely notice it (this winter will be the true test). And I realize that if you are reading this blog I am likely “preaching to the choir,” but I found these images interesting and thought I’d share. Peace.

Urban Simplicity.

An Army of One..a really little one

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I generally do not post things on this blog related to politics or the military (other than my posts regarding military bicycles), it’s just not what I want this blog to be about. But when I came across this photo today I couldn’t help myself (I found it at A Taste for Social Media). Has anyone seen this image before? I’d be interested to know if it is real or just Photoshopped…and if it is real, where it is and what the circumstances were. Peace.

Urban Simplicity.

Now This is Interesting (a brief story)

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Most who visit this blog know that I like bikes…a lot. I ride mainly for transportation, but also because I enjoy it. And some also know that I am not entirely car-free, but car-lite (I own one small late model pick up truck and a small fleet of bikes). Sometimes it seems silly that I still own the truck seeing I can get by without it, and given the true cost of car ownership. Today, for example, I took the truck to my mechanic for it’s annual inspection…it turns out I need to have hundreds of dollars of work done prior to inspection (surprise!). Anyhow, feeling somewhat down (disgruntled even) about the continual money pit of owning a car, I took my two dogs for a walk this evening and was contemplating what it would be like–and if I truly would be able–to be entirely car-free; as I walked I thought about selling the truck. And as I walked and my dogs stopped to pee on whatever vertical thing they could find, the above woman happened to pass me. As she passed I noticed her somewhat unique bike (it’s shaft driven; no chain) and asked her about it. It turns out Tanya was here in town from Vancouver to attend the Complete Streets Summit today and is helping to start up a SoBi bike share program. Excellent! She was also nice enough to agree to have her picture taken (thanks Tanya!). So…was this fate, that I’m walking around considering going car-free and I run into someone helping to do a bike share start up? Maybe, maybe not…then again maybe I’m just over-analyzing (which I tend to do). Whether I sell the truck or not it’s exciting news to have a bike share coming to Buffalo.

Urban Simplicity.

Sometimes it’s the Little Things…

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Here’s a brief story to explain this picture. At least six months ago a co-worker gave me two reflective dog collars knowing I had two dogs. Though it was a nice gesture I am still uncertain as to why she gave them to me. They were too small for the dogs so I put them in the back room of my house and they became absorbed in the vortex of other various items that seem to disappear there. Anyhow, over the weekend I was back there rearranging things and came across one. And not only did I notice that it had Velcro clips on it but when I picked it up it lit up (and I thought it was simply reflective). The Velcro is great for attaching to the rear rack of a bike. So, yup…you guessed it…two of my bikes are now sporting dog collars. So when I go into work tomorrow I have to remember to offer a belated thank you to this gift-giver. Sometimes it’s the little things that really make my day.

Urban Simplicity.

Good Friday Moon

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The moon is amazing tonight. I was out on my bike and couldn’t take my eyes off it as I pedaled and coasted. The above image I took from my backyard (not bad for a point-and-shoot camera), and the below image is the Liberty Building with a low lying moon to its right. And if you’ve ever wondered about why the date of Easter changes each year it is because of the moon cycle. Easter takes place on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox (sounds sort of Pagan to me). If you want to learn more follow some of these links. And it’s interesting–I think–that in the Christian calendar, tonight being a night of darkness it is also a night of such immense light; literally and metaphorically. It’s as if there is a large nightlight showing outside illuminating the earth. While I consider myself a practicing Christian, I also believe that all major religions walk a similar path. That being said, I also consider nearly everything in the Bible a metaphor–to help each of us to discover our own inner truth–and right now I cannot think of a more direct physical metaphor than that incredible moon shining in the darkness like a beacon of hope and newness.

Urban Simplicity.

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