Category Archives: Cycling

A New Generation of Cargo Bikes: Hauling with Human Power in the 21st Century

Halloween ride from Menlo Park to Santa Cruz on my new Frances tourer, with Pass and Stow and Bruce Gordon racks- sure beats Highway 17!

The new Make Magazine is out on the streets, and with it, my article on cargo bicycles, entitled Cargo Bike Power: Car-Free Carrying Makes a Comeback.  In the course of my research, I interviewed innovators and relatively new entrants into the industry, like Josh Muir and Saul Griffith as well as legends of cargo bike applications and design like Erik Zo and Stephen Bilenky.

I was so impressed with Josh Muir’s Frances Cycles (I mean it’s hard not to pant and drool over the beautiful bikes on his website) that I ordered my own custom, all around touring bike, which arrived a couple of months ago.  I’ve done a couple of long rides on it, including from Santa Cruz to San Luis Obispo along the Big Sur Coast (below) and a Halloween ride from Menlo Park to Santa Cruz via the Ridge Trail (above).  It’s so nice to have a large front rack- perfect size for a medium pizza or 12 pack of beer!

I just love a bike that you can take on and off road, that is light enough for a pleasurable roadie rec ride, but is substantial enough that you don’t have to worry about breaking it if you hit a pothole.   If you’re going to own one bike, I’ve found that a touring bike is the most practical.  Of course, you’re not going to want to leave this on the street unattended for any length of time, so a beater bike is also essential if you are living car-free.

It was exciting to learn more about, and share the innovations going on in the bicycle industry.  It is likely that as the economy continues to slow, we will see more bicycle manufacturing return to the US, where labor isn’t as expensive as it once was.  The most exciting, high quality framebuilding is happening in small batches in backyards throughout the country.   From Josh Muir, the framebuilding artisan who takes a stylistic page out of the early years of bicycle building, to Saul Griffith, whose Onya Cycles attempts to replicate the abilities of a car, with CAD design and electrical assist, there is a noticeable level of new energy in designing personal mobility that does not rely on internal combustion.

Need a new bike?   Consider a cargo carrying variety!  Or simply modify your existing steed and bring out the inner hauling beast!  Need to move that mattress across town?  You haul not U-Haul!

Even heavy, bulky and awkward loads can be carried by bike! (2004, Haight St. SF)

The Bike Song

Go Mark Ronson!  This is one cool video :)

Fix Fell Demands Safe Streets as a Human Right

Hollywood Exporting Car Dependence

The other day, my mom’s neighbor saw me arriving by bike from Marin County (about 60 miles away), and told me how impressed she was with the ‘sacrifice’ I was making by not driving.   I thanked her, and said that actually I quite enjoy riding my bike, as well as the relaxing time I spend on the ferry and the train, and that I was impressed with the sacrifice she was making by sitting in gridlock on the freeway every day on the way to work.  She laughed, and said, “I guess that’s another way of looking at it.”

The mainstream ‘way of looking at it’ did not come about by accident.  It is very much a manufactured perspective that dictates transportation social norms.  Where do these norms come from?   You might have guessed from the title of this post.

The details of this manipulation are described in the excellent article by Tom Vanderbilt that appeared on Slate.com last Friday about the way Hollywood depicts people who don’t drive.   It would be hard to overemphasize the power that films have over people’s style and behavior- not only in this country, but all over the world.  This fantasy image marketing has very real impacts in the real world as people choose to drive- not because it’s practical- but because they think it will get them laid.

Whether it’s a case of displaying what screenwriters and producers see around them every day in LA, or something more sinister (think about who profits if we drive more) there are layers of meaning behind the stereotypes of people who are car free.

Too bad for Hollywood- they will have to play catch up.   Cause this movement isn’t waiting for some navel gazing producer to catch on to the fact that bikes are hot shit these days…..

New York Times: Our “Anti-Car Crusade”

Me and Four of SF's finest. Thank you NYT for picking the worst photo of me you could possibly find.

Our Arco protests received national coverage in the New York Times today.  Apart from being overly conciliatory to the station owner, who is really an aggressive and dangerous man, unfair in its portrayal of protesters shouting ‘where’s your bike?’ as being vitriolic (I think inviting- perhaps chiding- would have been more accurate),  quoting Rob Anderson saying basically that we hate disabled people who can’t ride a bike (the most desperate and manufactured line in the book), and saying that Streetsblog is ‘anti-car’ (I wish that they were), the piece was welcome national coverage of the blind spot that obscures our own car addiction when it comes to analysis of the reasons behind the Gulf spill.

One can always criticize media coverage- I gave Scott James numerous relevant facts and reasons for our position, which were not included.   But, at least there is discussion of this issue in the mainstream media- I mean when was the last time you heard about the ‘anti-car movement?’ from CBS, NBC, ABC, The Washington Post, or The New York Times?  We haven’t even had an article in the “Caronicle” (though they did publish some nice pics).

Join us this Friday and every Friday 5:30-7:30pm Divisadero and Fell Streets, San Francisco until we have safe passage for oil-free transport across the city.

SF Arco/BP Protests Week 4

Talking Surface Travel with KPFA

I was on KPFA’s Terra Verde show hosted by Adam Greenfield last Friday. talking about surface travel, the Arco/BP protests, and what regular people can do in the face of environmental collapse.  Listen here:

http://kpfa.org/archive/id/62134

If anyone finds out what the past tense of ‘dive’ is, please let me know ;)