Saturday, November 21

Alternate Versions of Transportation

I just saw a piece on TV about the Wuppertal, Germany Schwebebahn, a suspended monorail that is over 100 years old.

It seems like a good model for the US. The trail can be suspended directly over existing roads and stay within the existing right-of-way.

And besides being a good idea, it is a visually impressive solution to the car as well.

The US needs more transportation options and something like this would add a lot of character to a city.

Wednesday, November 18

Slacker

As I was driving in this morning...

...I saw a 12-ish year old kid riding his bike to school in shorts. All of his exposed skin was rosy red.

I should have been riding, the roads are dry and clear. I saw street sweepers the day after the big snow. They keep the roads in good shape around here for sure.

I'm such a slacker...

Tuesday, November 10

Only in Colorado

This morning the temperature was about 30-35 on my ride in. I pulled up to a stop light next to another cyclist at Alameda and C-470.

The other cyclist said: "Some chilly days are comin'."

Now, for the record, I don't think 30-35 is necessarily chilly, but most people I know do. I had to chuckle.

Friday, November 6

Truly Carless

Ok, I think I am going to make a goal. I am going to go carless until the end of the year.

By carless I mean that I will not do anything that necessitates our family to use a second car. With a two year old and a six year old it would be hard to go COMPLETELY carless unless we condensed our lives considerably.

And the reality is that most of my trips, other than my commute involve other members of the family. I rarely go anywhere by myself theses days. There is the occasional quick trip to the store, but otherwise I mostly ride my bike or travel with Mandy and the kids.

So I guess we're doing pretty good already. I just think I can do a little better.

Transportation Thoughts

I speculate that the reason I am fascinated by transportation and transportation planning is because I have experienced different transportation environments in my life, actually extremes, and have experienced the major problems associated with the built transportation environment.

I grew up in rural Eastern Kentucky between stints in rural Southwestern Ohio, Nashville, TN and Dayton, OH.

The rural areas were characterized by two lane roads, few amenities and no options for public transit. There was no such thing as rush hour in those areas.

The urban areas were typical cities, piled with amenities within walking distance, criss-crossed with mass transit, pedestrian and cycling options and buried under gridlock during rush hours.

My philosophies on living, working and playing have evolved over the years and I think I finally have a pretty good idea of what the perfect locale would be for me. Its funny, I can see either extreme being fantastic if all three elements can come together. If I can live and work in close proximity near the fringe of an urban area I think I can satisfactorily balance living, working and playing.

Where we live now approaches transportation nirvana for me. I am still a bit disappointed with my commuting options, but they are tenfold better than the options I had living in the rural areas of Kentucky and Ohio.

If we lived on the other side of Green Mountain, anywhere between Green Mountain and South Table Mountain, my commute would be a no brainer. I could ride my bike to work in less than 20 minutes and maybe even walk depending on where we were located.

So I see how things are much improved here. I still see where small improvements could be made. I wish there were more dedicated bike paths to get one around the Denver Metro area, but still, there are hundreds of miles of paths. The holes are frustrating...

I enjoy having been able to visualize a place where I could meet my goals of being able to use alternate methods of transportation to get by on a daily basis. I think I always struggled with that and its no longer a struggle.

LATER

This is a good article: http://www.planning.org/planning/2009/nov/trafficcalming.htm

You'll have to sign in to see it.

Also, check out this article from Outside's Oct. 2009 issue.

One thing that always seems to get left out of the "You can bicycle commute" articles and lists is:

Find co-workers who already commute and glean what you can from them.


I think this is phenomenal advice (especially considering the source, ME!) because those that already ride in your community and to your place of work will best know the most pertinent issues you'll face in trying to get going with a new bicycle commute.

Best example I can think of is that when I started riding in Colorado I was unfamiliar with goat heads. We just didn't have them in the East. A co-worker showed me what they were, what I needed to do to properly fix the affected tire and how to avoid getting them in the first place.

Thanks to having him as a resource I was able to go from getting upwards of 7 goatheads in one ride to none in almost a year.

Co-workers will know the best places to clean up, store bike and gear, best routes to and from work, tie-ins with public transportation and any other location specific issues. I think that should become a standard list item in those sorts of articles and blog blurbs.

EVEN LATER

Some stats since I have started back riding to work:

In the past 19 work days I have ridden 14. Four of those I opted not to ride due to snow or ice and today I didn't feel well when I left for work so I drove.

I hope I can start using the bike or my own two feet to get to the store when I need to go, to Cub Scouts and other places. We're actually doing really well with one car right now. Of course the winter hasn't settled fully upon us.

Thursday, November 5

Transportation Quote

We feel invincible in our machines.

But then we’re rendered powerless by traffic.

It’s the intersection of those emotions that causes friction.

--Area Man, Freakonomic blog comments

Wednesday, November 4

Bikes



Since the snow last week I have been riding my Cannonball but I have been seriously lagging getting to and from work. Yesterday it took me a full 55 minutes to get to work.

So last night when I got home I decided I would ride my Giant today. Wow, its like night and day.

To put them into motor vehicle terms...riding the Cannondale is like driving a 1972 Chevy Suburban loaded down with Boy Scouts. It'll climb the hills, it'll get you where you're going. But it won't do it fast.

Riding the Giant is like...well, I don't know, because I've never driven an I-talian sports car, but that's how I imagine it must feel. I can FLY on the Giant. Of course I am still slow compared to other cyclists out on the road, but I do a much better job of keeping up on the Giant and I'm definitely not the slowest thing on the road like when I ride the Cannonball.

If I could race myself, I am sure the me on the Giant would win...

Monday, November 2

Winter Commuting



I know it is technically still autumn but today had the feel. The leaves are mostly gone and there is crud on the road. While the sun lit a clear blue dawn sky, the air was still cold and quite damp for the area.

The time change came at a great time though. I am now on early shift so I have to be ready to work at 7:30. I went out just after 6am this morning and the sky was already light. But I know as this month wears on I will lose my morning light and be riding in in the dark.

Bummer was that my headlight went dead long before I got to work. I hope it was just because the kids have been playing with it and leaving it on for hours on end and not because it sucks batteries dry in less than an hour...