Tuesday, March 15

Year of the Longtails: Bikenomics

We're counting days now. I'm trying to pin down the final components and cost. It will be soon. I will be insufferable in my Xtracycle love pronouncements. Just prepare yourself.

There will be photos. There will be sickly sweet love poems about my bike. I'll be riding more, thinking less. I may miss work as my commutes extend beyond the office.

For now I am going with the basics. The Cannonball X 1.0 will consist of the FreeRadical ClassicCargo extension w/FreeLoader bags, a new front fork and disc brakes front and rear, and drop bars with the SRAM shift/brake levers from my Giant (RIP). In the future I can (will) add a better saddle (maybe a Brooks!), WideLoaders and the KickBack (kickstand).

I'll make my own StokerBar and seat for the kids and I saw an awesome improv adaptation for rooftop racks for the longer wheelbase bikes while perusing the Xtracycle gallery which will save money because we won't have to buy new rooftop racks.

Mandy's going to go with the Kona Ute (Cute on a Ute). Other than an extra u-lock and a pump she'll be set. We'll add lights and a basket as soon as we can afford them, and I'll make it kid friendly so Lily and/or Boone can ride (on both bikes) but otherwise we'll be set to face higher gas prices, social calamity and new family adventures in bikepacking, bike supported cragging and hardcore bike commuting.

Tonight I blazed home on the OBS. I needed to return some library books and pick up a hold so I rocketed over to the library in Olde Town. Then after dinner we needed butter for our dessert of homemade strawberry shortcake so I was back out again to the grocery store. My total mileage for the day was 23.6 miles. That's not a ton, but its a lot for non-recreational riding. And that was 23.6 miles I did not drive a car. There is the distinct possibility that March 2011 will be my highest mileage month ever. It's the 15th and I have ridden almost 250 miles already.

At a rough estimate of $0.50/mi. to own and operate a motor vehicle I have saved $125 this month easy. I don't participate in or contribute to congestion. I don't have to worry about parking there is one more space every day that I ride. I have only put gas in a tank twice in 2011 that I can remember and I am not contributing to pollution or resource depletion with the same intensity as I have in the past. I can't think of a single negative externality that results from my riding. Of course a die-hard moto-fascist would give you a laundry list.

I came across a phrase in a book recently. The author stated we have entered the "Era of Limits." This concept goes along with Kunstler's idea that the 21st Century will be less about going places and more about staying where you are. And it echoes musician Ben Sollee's sentiment that going by bike is a beautiful limitation.

Elly Blue of Grist has started a series of articles entitled: How Bicycling Will Save the Economy (If We Let It).

In the first installment she talked about the "bicycle economy" and the generalities of bikenomics. One thing I really liked from the first article was this statement:

Bicycle parking is the indicator species of this new economy, with a business's enthusiasm for its two-wheeled clientele being easy to gauge by the quantity of bike racks out front.

And I totally agree. I've found myself, over the past year, sizing up bike racks, sheltered areas where I could lock up a bike and the bicycle friendliness of business, offices and public spaces in general. I can tell what areas of the Denver Metro are truly bicycle friendly. And I find it disturbing that many bike shops don't have bike racks within walking distance of their stores. What kind of bike shop doesn't cater to cyclists?

In Ms. Blue's second piece in the series she makes a bold suggestion, but a valid one, that instead of building more roads we could take the funds for a single mile of freeway in an urban area and fund thousands of miles of high-end bicycle infrastructure. And why not? We all know building more roads only increases traffic and congestion. Why not try a solution that might actually work, instead of beating that poor old dead horse for another year?

I know I am going to continue creating as many positive bicycle externalities as possible in the coming year. How 'bout you?

I'll leave you with one last thought. Elly Blue tweeted after a live Twitter chat on bikenomics today:

My secret mission with #bikenomics isn't to berate you into giving up your car, it's to make you want more than what car-centrism gives us.

I think I can wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment here on the edge of the pavement.

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