Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Flashback: Vintage Warnock, 1977

By Angela Connolly, 1st State Bikes Secretary

From out of the attic, many treasures emerge - most often in the form of family photographs. Though yellow and aged with time, these precious mementos can bring back powerful and happy memories. When Frankie's Mom recently sent him a collection of family photographs, there was one in particular that captured a unique perspective. In this shot, carefully restored by Melissa Schweitzer, 10 year old Frankie poses on his Schwinn Orange Krate Sting Ray bicycle, and the photo captures an image of a confident, happy boy who seemed to know, almost instinctively, that riding a bicycle would take him to great places.

In spite of his love for bicycling, this precious image appears to be the only one that exists of Frankie at that age on a bicycle. The boy in the photo looks out at us, smiling, his back straight and his posture perfect,  his right foot positioned on the pedal, ready to push off.  Although smiling, he poses almost impatiently, as though he cannot wait to set off on an adventure. Perhaps that is why few photos of Frankie as a child on a bicycle exist - he simply couldn't stay still long enough for the camera to capture a shot! Knowing Frankie as well as I do, upon seeing the picture, I wondered - did the child in that photo somehow know how significant bicycling would be to him?

Frankie's first tour from NJ to Vermont, at
the Bear Mountain Circle (Rt.6) NY, 1985
Frankie's love of cycling started in early childhood. From his hometown of Radburn, NJ, he explored nearby neighborhoods, riding his bike for hours, near his home as well as in the surrounding areas. He rode to school, to town, and everywhere else that he could. When he took on a paper route, his territory widened. The bike became a way to earn some money. And as he grew older, stronger, and more confident, new opportunities came along, and new friends who would introduce him to the world of club riding and long distance touring. As a teenager, mentors taught him how to ride safely and how to channel his strength into speed. Although a happy period in his life, it was at this time that Frankie recognized that less than perfect conditions existed for cyclists, dangerous conditions that threatened their safety. Wanting to make a difference, in his early twenties, Frankie became involved in bicycle Advocacy, which has turned into a lifelong passion that he is devoted to. As he learned more about bicycles and how they work, he also became a proficient mechanic, able to maintain and repair his bicycles. He has mentored and advised countless friends, teaching them to ride safely, sharing his enthusiasm with them. And through the years, the little boy on the Orange Krate has become a man who chooses to ride a bicycle instead of driving a car, a man who has, to date, logged almost 200,000 miles on the many different bicycles that he has owned throughout his life.

Throughout his childhood, Frankie had several bikes. But the Schwinn Orange Krate Sting Ray was his favorite. So we thought it would be fun to re-create the photo that was taken 36 years ago, to celebrate Frankie's lifelong love of cycling. His cycling adventures are now comprised of commuting to work daily, long distance touring with his friends at the White Clay Bicycle Club, volunteering at the Newark Bike Project, advocating, maintaining this Blog, and continuing to mentor and advise friends new to cycling. And like the boy who smiles out at us at age 10, the grown-up Frankie continues to look forward to the adventures that await him.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Monty Python - Bicycle Repair Man!

A little humor for the holiday season, submitted by Angela Connolly .... enjoy.

DO: Urban Bike Project gets new home in Wilmington

Cross-posted from Delaware Online

After searching for a new home for six months, the Urban Bike Project is moving into new space in a historic city-owned building that once housed Wilmington’s police horses.

The 6,440-square-foot location at 1500 N. Walnut St. will give the group more space and greater visibility in the community, while not straying far from its 3-year-old home off North Market near East 19th and Race streets, leaders said.

“The building we’re currently in didn’t pass inspection, and it’s slated for demolition. We started looking in the spring of this year when we learned we’d need to move,” Executive Director Laura Wilburn said.

The opportunity to lease the Walnut Street building came out of discussions with the city, which had last leased the space to the now-inactive Urban Environmental Center, said Michael Leventry, a planner for the city and co-chair of the group Bike Wilmington.

“We’re excited about having a much larger space, so that we can have more flexibility in how we use the space and in how many people we are able to serve,” Wilburn said. The fenced-in property also offers “lots of possibilities for programming and events that utilize the outdoor space, once the weather gets nice.”

The Urban Bike Project began six years ago and now serves roughly 500 people a year, providing educational programming and mechanical assistance to city residents and youth.  [Full article ...]

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Must see video: The Walkable (and Bikeable) City

(YouTube) How do we solve the problem of the suburbs? Urbanist Jeff Speck shows how we can free ourselves from dependence on the car -- which he calls "a gas-belching, time-wasting, life-threatening prosthetic device" -- by making our cities more walkable and more pleasant for more people.

Poster's note: Unfortunately, not much progress in Delaware as suburban sprawl continues unabated. Though many developments now have sidewalks, these are usually paths to nowhere, or are too far away from basic services to replace car trips. There is no requirement to connect anything. Sporadic and/or non-standard bicycle facilities also fall short, and in most cases, still require the use of arterial highways to reach meaningful destinations. No matter how many webinars, seminars, summits, bike-walk plans, etc we have in our tiny state, there is little on the ground to show for it. Land use planning is toothless, with weak policies that are easily trampled by development corporations whose only goal is to build high volume, high dollar, automobile dependent tract housing.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

How to properly install and use a bicycle helmet mirror

As some of you may know, I believe using a rear view mirror greatly enhances road safety - especially in this day of distracted and aggressive driving. This particular model by "Take A Look" out of Greeley Colorado is, IMO, the clear favorite where quality and durability are concerned. They are made from stainless steel and brass, and can be ordered direct at (800) 832-2453. Avoid those made out of plastic - they aren't as stable, and don't really last.

If you choose not to wear a helmet, there is no need to order the adapter kit mentioned below. Even easier, the mirror can just be mounted on a pair of glasses.

From IceBike.org -- Cycling mirrors are one of those subjects that bring on arguments almost as intense as the "Helmet Wars" found on any cycling discussion on the Internet. They come around once every 6 months or so, and usually leave a lot of acrimony hanging in the ether. Roadies think they are too sexy to use mirrors, mountain bikers don't need them and break them too often anyway, but bicycle commuters and recumbent riders seem to gravitate toward mirrors sooner or later.

So if you are not disposed to reading the ranting of a mirror advocate it is time to click another link and surf to some area of agreement. This page is for mirror users or those investigating various types of mirrors in anticipation of a purchase. [Continue reading...]

Above: The author's personal favorite is the "Take a Look" stainless steel and brass mirror mounted inside the helmet. A flexible plastic adapter kit is available for the purpose, and can be custom shaped to fit the curvature of the helmet's interior.

A closer look at the adapter without the mirror attached. The mirror can be removed at any time, i.e. if the helmet will be tossed around, thrown in a bag, etc.

Above: A view from the side. Mount the adapter so that the mirror itself is about .75" to 1" from the forward edge of the helmet.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Our transportation future, in two scenarios

By Angie Schmitt, Streetsblog -- How will Americans get around in the year 2030? A recent report from the RAND Corporation lays out two “plausible futures” developed though a “scenario analysis” and vetted by outside experts. While RAND takes a decidedly agnostic stance toward the implications of each scenario, the choice that emerges is still pretty stark.

In the first scenario, oil prices continue to climb until 2030 and greenhouse gas emissions are tightly regulated, as a result of the recognition of the harm caused by global warming. Zoning laws have been reformed to promote walkable urban and suburban communities. Transit use has increased substantially. Road pricing is widely used to limit congestion and generate revenue for transportation projects. Vehicle efficiency standards have been tightened, and most drivers use electric vehicles. This is the scenario researchers at RAND call, rather dourly, “No Free Lunch.”

In the second scenario, “Fueled and Freewheeling,” oil prices are relatively low in 2030 due to increasingly advanced extraction methods. Americans’ relationship to energy is much like it was in the 1980s and 1990s. We’ll own more vehicles overall and drive more miles. Suburbanization will continue. Roads are in bad shape because no revenues are raised to repair them. Congestion is worse. This scenario represents the future if little action is taken to counter the effects of global warming.  [continued...]

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Kids are paying the price for reckless land use

From KFVS-12 -- Children across the globe can't run as far or as fast as their parents did at their age, according to new research.

In a one-mile footrace, a kid today would finish a minute and a half behind a typical child from 1975, said study lead author Grant Tomkinson, a senior lecturer in the University of South Australia's School of Health Sciences.

"We all live in an environment that's toxic for exercise, and our children are paying the price," Tomkinson said.

Children today are about 15 percent less aerobically fit than their parents were as youngsters, Tomkinson and his colleagues discovered. In the United States it's even worse -- kids' heart endurance fell an average 6 percent in each of the three decades from 1970 to 2000.

These levels of fitness in childhood will more than likely result in worse health in adulthood, Tomkinson said. Kids will have weaker hearts and thinner bones, and an overall lower quality of life.  [keep reading ...]

Poster's note: Check out my favorite book on this topic, "The Geography of Nowhere".

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Gas Fired Power Plant Proposed For UD's STAR Campus

A proposed 279 MW gas fired power plant at the University of Delaware's STAR Campus in Newark would impact our health and the air we breath as bicyclists, and active Delawareans in general. Jamie Magee, a lifelong Newark resident and founding member of the Newark Bike Project, had this to say about the findings:

As someone who played outside daily in the 70s and 80s close enough to smell the Chrysler plant on some days, I feel a little insulted when supporters say the TDC project will be "better than Chrysler." Chrysler's problematic past is not one of the options right now. But to the extent that this comparison is made every week in editorials, I'm glad to finally see the following very factual rebuttal of that claim. Sadly, TDC's own projections of one of the worst pollutants, NOx, will in fact be HIGHER than that of Chrysler...

It has been found recently that vocal supporters of this project - most of whom it appears live outside of Newark - have been lying about source emissions as compared to the former Chrysler plant. Citizens and advocates are also dismayed given what we know about climate change, and the role fossil fueled power plants have in it. The University of Delaware tells us that STAR will be a center of innovation, including alternative energy and environmental sustainability "setting the stage for the campus as a vibrant healthy community by design". How a gas fired power plant with multiple smokestacks and visible fumes fits into this equation is not clear.

It's worth noting that Delaware City, adjacent to a refinery, is a noted cancer hot spot in the State. NOx, a pollutant with known negative human health effects, will be among the emissions from the power plant. The news has been kept very tightly under wraps by the City of Newark, the company proposing the power plant and the University of Delaware. City officials kept details of this proposed project private and have been in secret communications with Data Centers LLC, the West Chester, PA company behind the project, for over a year. View the timeline HERE.

Also gleaned from UD's STAR website:

An improved rail system will provide convenient, "green" transportation to the site for our clinical, academic, government, and business partners up and down the Eastern Seaboard in years to come.

As an earlier investigation showed, there appears to be no interest in bicycling as a form of "green transportation" on the campus. Plug-in cars are still largely dependent on fossil fuels as their ultimate source of power, and does nothing to address numerous socio-economic problems related to car dependency. Sadly, if you choose to ride your bike to work at Bloom Energy, or take it on the train to the Campus, there isn't even a bike rack to safely lock your bike. Maybe this will change in the future through the work of advocates, but it shouldn't have to be this way. Bicycle facilities, including bike lanes and pathways, should be on the drawing board well before actual construction.

Let's put a stop to STAR becoming industrial park instead of the Science, Technology, & Advanced Research center it was supposed to be. Let's help UD live up to its own mission of sustainability. Please Sign the petition today, and forward this link on to others!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Urban Bike Project Moves to a New Location

View Larger Map

Cross-posted from their website

The Urban Bike Project is pleased to announce that they have entered into an agreement with the City of Wilmington to occupy 1500 North Walnut Street, a building on the National Register of Historic Places that once served as the City’s horse stables. Their current location is slated for demolition and they have been looking for a new home for about six months.

See the press release for more information.

An open house event and fundraiser is slated for January 10, 2014. Details and further information to come.

Please see important information about what services will and will not be offered by the Urban Bike Project while they move to the new space. 

Poster's note: What fantastic news this is! Newark Bike Project is also in the hunt for Shop 4.0. Hopefully, it won't be too long before both Projects find a permanent home.

Up and coming Urban Bike Project 2.0

Urban Bike Project 1.0 - where it all began (not including Brian's house ;-)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Senator Carper's Response to the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act

Long time White Clay Bicycle Club member Joe Lazorick wrote to Senator Tom Carper in response to a recent action alert. Here's what he had to say:

Dear Mr. Lazorick:

Thank you for contacting me to express your support for the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this important matter.

I currently ride a bike once or twice a week for exercise and I wholeheartedly agree with you on the importance of maintaining dedicated funding for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. I have been a strong supporter of legislation such as the Safe Routes to School Act and amendments to the MAP-21 Transportation Bill that preserve dedicated funding for non-motorized safety and infrastructure.

In 2011, I joined eleven of my Senate colleagues in sponsoring legislation aimed at improving roadways to make them safer and to encourage Americans to walk or bike to their destinations. The Complete Streets Act of 2011 would have encouraged federal, state, and regional agencies that received federal transportation funding to fully consider incorporating pedestrian and bicycle safety measures when roads were being built or modernized. Unfortunately, this legislation did not receive a vote in the full Senate before the 112th Congress adjourned.

As you know, on November 14, 2013, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced S.1708, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act. This legislation would require the Department of Transportation to set separate regulations for motorized and non-motorized safety. The bill would also allow states to set their own safety targets and implementation methods. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Should I have the opportunity to vote on this legislation before the full Senate, I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind.

Thank you again for contacting my office. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about other matters of importance to you.

With best personal regards, I am


Tom Carper
United States Senator

Poster's note: We are very thankful for Joe and others like him who respond to these important action alerts, and take the time to write our Congressional leaders.

Senator Tom, center, is presented with LAB's National Leadership Award at the 2011 National Bike Summit. Go HERE for a complete recap.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Economic Benefits of Bicycling

Enjoy a wonderful series of infographics on the economic benefits of bicycling, brought to you by the League of American Bicyclists. Just click HERE to get started!

Here is a link to the Alliance for Biking and Walking, and a report highlighting the impact that the bicycle industry and bicycle tourism can have on state and local economies. It discusses the cost effectiveness of investments, points out the benefits of bike facilities for business districts and neighborhoods, and identifies the cost savings associated with a mode shift from car to bicycle. The evidence demonstrates that investments in bicycling infrastructure make good economic sense as a cost-effective way to enhance shopping districts and communities, generate tourism and support business.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Polly Sierer sworn in as Mayor of Newark

Polly Sierer has won a controversial Newark Mayoral election. We extend our congratulations to her. It is our sincere hope that she will work with citizens and advocates for a better, more bicycle-friendly Newark. Following is the letter that we will send to Polly, welcoming her to her new position.

Honorable Polly Sierer
Mayor, City of Newark, Delaware


On behalf of Delaware Bikes, I would like to congratulate you as you begin serving the City of Newark as Mayor.  I would also like to offer our assistance to you, in the sincere hope that together we can continue to encourage Newark's efforts towards a truly bicycle friendly city. As advocates, we know that no one can accomplish goals alone. We need cooperation and good will among everyone who cares about bicycling in Newark - Advocates, the Newark Bicycle Committee, the Newark Bike Project, the Delaware Trail Spinners, and of course our citizens. And at the helm, we need a bicycle friendly Mayor, one that will be concerned enough, and brave enough, to share our vision, and make positive changes happen. Newark proper currently enjoys a nearly 5% bicycle modeshare (higher on Main Street), making bicycling a serious part of the transportation system. To put that number in perspective, if you were to convert it to cars on Main Street, that would have serious impact on an already existing congestion problem.

We encourage you to think creatively in terms of reducing congestion downtown, not encouraging more of it as some candidates suggested. For example, if the City surveyed motorists parking on Main Street, they would find a large percentage that live within walking or biking distance. Converting just some of these trips would have a very positive impact on our quality of life downtown. The City should repair its apparently damaged relationship with the University of Delaware, and work jointly to offer serious car-free or car-lite incentives to students who live within a mile of Main Street. Car sharing services could also be offered.

By helping to improve the existing infrastructure, which favors motorized traffic, and creating new facilities, we can encourage more citizens to walk and ride their bikes, lessening their dependence on cars. Our citizens will be  healthier, happier, and economically more sound. Traffic will be more manageable, both on Main Street, and the streets that surround it. It is our hope that the policies you support as Mayor will help to continue to create a more walkable, bikeable Newark, and that the legacy you leave will be one that you can be proud of. We hope that you will consider meeting with us, at your convenience, to discuss our concerns, as well as our ideas to help make Newark truly bicycle friendly.

Angela Connolly
Secretary, Delaware Bikes

Poster's note:  Clearly, bicycling is a significant part of the transportation system in Newark. Yet, for all but one candidate, making Main Street more car-friendly appeared a much more important issue.

Can one's cycling persona influence driver behavior?

By Angela Connolly -- I love riding my 1972 Raleigh Humber, a classic English 3-speed cruiser. I found the bike for a bargain price on eBay. I had fallen in love with one like it that had been donated to the Newark Bike Project, the community's local bicycle cooperative where I am a volunteer. I loved the idea of something so close to England, a country that I love, one that I have visited many times. "Lady Louise", named after my good friend in England, is dark green, and well worn, the original decals mostly intact. When the bike arrived, it was in dire need of some TLC to restore it to its original beauty. I was lucky to have Frank Warnock, a Newark Bike Project lead mechanic and three-speed enthusiast, to help with this task. He carefully rebuilt the Humber, restoring both the performance and beauty of this special bike. To complete the bike's vintage feel, we mounted a wicker market basket to the handlebars, and a vintage green Swiss Army style bag, popular during the '70's, hangs from the rear of the bike's original Brooks leather saddle. I put some 1970's buttons on the army bag, depicting cultural icons of the 70's, including the famous "happy face" symbol and a peace sign. The brass bell gives a soft, friendly sound when I ding it. It now looks as though it has traveled through time, directly from the '70's, a time that I enjoyed as a happy teenager. Although I lived in the Bronx, NY, and never owned a bike as a child, I had friends who taught me to ride, shared their own bikes with me, and Raleigh bikes were a popular favorite back then.

Known as the "Aristocrat of Bicycles", the Humber was built to give the English population who chose not to drive cars an affordable, reliable means of transportation. Available in both men's and lady's models, the Humber is solidly built and heavy. I can cruise along at a steady, comfortable pace. I ride this bicycle only in the immediate area, within a radius of about 10 miles or so, and mostly on side streets. Although the Humber is far from the English villages that it was meant to cruise through, it seems content to travel through the housing developments and local streets that surround my house.

On a recent lovely Fall day, I rode to nearby Main Street in Newark. Riding the Humber is bicycling at its most very basic, purest form for me - no biking shoes, no clips, no Lycra required. On very local trips, I do not even wear my helmet, although I agree with helmet usage, and would not ride my road bike without one. Dressed in leggings, a long sweater, plaid shawl, and leather boots, I set out for a nice leisurely ride. Just me, the bike, and the pleasant clicking noises that the Sturmey Archer internal hub produces as we roll along.

This outing was no different to others that I have taken on Lady Louise. The first thing I always notice while on the Humber is the reaction I get from people, both walking, and in their cars. The cars give me room, waiting patiently behind me as I go across intersections. Drivers smile at me, and wave as they pass me carefully, giving me lots of room to go safely. Pedestrians I meet are a joy, also. Slowly biking my way up the hill through one of the developments, an older lady called out "You lookin' good, Sista". Everyone that I meet along the way, it seems, reacts positively to me. At my destination, parked on Main Street, people admire the bike, ask questions about it, many telling me that it reminds them of a bike that they had, long ago.

The author, taking the mighty Hares Corner on Miss Fuji.
I have different experiences when riding my road bike. Miss Fuji, as I call her, is a sleek ride, all blue, silver and attitude, and very fast. Crouched in the road cycling position, I look the part of the fully kitted out Lycra cyclist, from my helmet, all the way down to my Shimano shoes that I clip into my pedals with. Although I am by no means a very fast cyclist, I look and feel more powerful, and confident. Perhaps this is conveyed to those that I pass, because it creates a totally different riding experience. When on the Fuji, I ride too quickly by people who are walking to exchange greetings, so there's no friendly interaction. I struggle to get up the hills as quickly as I can, because being clipped in, I have to maintain a reasonable speed, or lose my balance and fall over. Cars, expecting me to go faster, and getting angry when I don't, crowd me, they honk, yell, and sometimes send rude gestures my way.  Generally, where I am given plenty of room riding the sharrows on Main Street when on the Humber, this isn't always the case when I am on the Fuji.

Those are my experiences, at opposite ends of the cycling spectrum. And I wonder if other cyclists, ladies or gentlemen, have experienced the same. Can the way we dress for cycling, and the bikes we ride, really influence how drivers treat us?  While I enjoy both types of cycling, and each of the bikes and the rides that I take on them are very special to me, I think that the persona that I present on the Humber somehow brings to mind a slower, more gentle way of riding. It is one that can remind us of a kinder, safer past, long before the current existence of heavier traffic, aggressive and distracted driving, drivers using cell phones and texting while driving. When I am riding Lady Louise, I like to think that I am in that safer world, even if only for a short time.

In between? The author's Crossroads Cruz, a Hybrid featuring a Sturmey Archer
8-speed hub, might just be the perfect medium.

Poster's note:
Personal testimony, and at least one study - supports the claim that drivers pass helmeted cyclists more closely than unhelmeted cyclists (because unhelmeted cyclists seem more vulnerable), and so helmeted cyclists are more likely to get hit. Read about it on BicycleSafe.com. Delaware Bikes' position is simple - it should be an adult's personal decision whether or not to wear a helmet

Monday, December 2, 2013

NPR: Commuting Aboard The L.A. Bike Trains

From National Public Radio -- One of the largest obstacles in getting people to bike to work is their fear of getting hit by a car. A new grass-roots project in Los Angeles is helping folks navigate the ins and outs of traffic.

It's 6:45 a.m. and Barbara Insua is busy packing a bag. She will ride seven miles from her home in Pasadena to NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, where she works as a graphic designer. She only started doing this ride a few months ago.

"It was kind of daunting," she says, "because seven miles to the lab - I didn't know how to do it. I'm not an avid cyclist."

Enter - an organization that arranges commutes by bike in groups. Each Bike Train route has an experienced conductor who serves as a guide. Insua especially likes that these volunteer conductors offer new riders door-to-door service from their homes to the train.

"He came and picked me up from my house," Insua says. "[He] went out of his way to get me to bike for two or three weeks. Then I was conditioned. Then I was brainwashed."  [full story]