Friday, March 30, 2012

Bicycle route blues......wait, bonanza!

Well, blues and bonanza might not be the right words.  Riding the same route each day does start to get a little old, especially if your trying to write something about it each day.  Don't get me wrong, the river path is great and there's no traffic to deal with.  Mill St. also has it's pluses (mainly speed).  However, to relieve this problem I've taken up riding 4th St. from Washington St. to Galletti Way on my morning commute.

I know some people might not enjoy this route (East 4th St. does have a reputation), but it's really a pretty low stress street to ride on.  There is relatively little traffic and the speeds are lower than alternate routes like Mill St.

As for the lore of East 4th....for those of you not familiar.  There are a fair number of rough pseudo-industrial businesses, St. Vincents homeless shelter, and low budget "weekly" hotels if you head out along this route.  It has long had a reputation as a unpleasant area.  However, this is really changing even during the hard economic times.  There are new businesses popping up and old businesses pushing back against this image.  So I'd encourage you to venture out this way next time you need some real Reno culture.

Start out with a drink at the Lincoln Lounge, a throwback to prohibition drinking.  You can't see in from the outside, so no one knows your partaking in drinking debauchery.  Once your inside you'll be greeted with a plush velvet interior and a nice beer garden out back.

You will see some unique characters as you roll by St. Vincents, but their not really even going to interact with you.  Once you pass them stop in and check out the Reno Bike Project.

I'll post more on the rest of the ride next week.  Let's just say their are some good places to check out for food and beer.

I'm thinking we might just have to organize a 4th St. bike tour as summer rolls in!  Until then...explore a new route.  You never know just how interesting it might be.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Take a little time...make a great find!

A little bakery that is right in my neighborhood.  I never would have stopped if I was in a car, because I wouldn't have smelled fresh scones!  Today I took the time to stop and I wasn't disappointed.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sick ride!

On my leisurely ride home last evening I could see a bike helmet in the distance.  So of course, despite my best intentions to remain leisurely, I began to reel in the unknown rider.  I kept getting hung up at lights and the mystery rider kept hitting them all green.  When I finally did gain some ground I discovered a totally cool and rather unconventional ride.

Disk brakes, electric assist tricycle recumbent with custom racks!  The spry gal at the wheel was probably late 60's and definitely young at heart.  I hope I'm still riding and enjoying life when I get there.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Rethinking the automobile.

This one is a little long and involved so get some popcorn and settle in.  It does really show what preferential treatment of automobile centric design has done to our world.  Pay attention to some of the before and after shots.  It shows that cities really were beautiful places and the recent resurgence in designing cities people want to live in is just another example of looking back in history to move forward!

Bike path promise....Parks department delivers!

A few months ago the river path experienced some construction related to a utility project.  We got our own "closure" signs and even an official detour around the block (however poorly marked it was). 

This was followed with some really rough patches that I just assumed were shoddy workmanship.  I mean hey, it's just a bike path....why worry about making the patches smooth.

 I called the City of Reno Parks Department and gripped about the problem and was relieved when they told me it was just temporary and would be "finished" after the project was completed.  I've had good luck with the Parks Department lately (getting the river path lighting running) so I chilled and waited for the finished product.

As the winter progressed the patched degraded pretty quickly and I was starting to have my doubts....but today the final results are in and we've got about 100 ft of shiny new smooth bike path!!

 Now if only we could give the whole path this treatment!

Monday, March 19, 2012

When you hear it put this just makes sense!

Perhaps Reno needs a dose of this.  Making Reno cool again probably isn't going to involve building larger casinos.  If we want to see downtown revitalized maybe taking notes from Portland and Davis would make us a destination for a new type of tourism (and attract a few people to live in those casino / condo conversions)!

St. Patty's Day Shenanigans.

St. Patty's day fell on a Saturday this year.  I'm sure this opened the door for an early start to the festivities for more than a few people (with and without red hair).  A few phone calls and texts transpired by noon at my house and plans were made to gather a Shenanigans Pub over on Plumb and Virginia.  It's kind of a ritual for this group.  An Irish bar that is of course quite busy on this particular day but not in the maelstrom that occurs over on Wells Ave. or at Ceol.  Besides, they have one of the best corned beef and cabbage offerings in town.  Oh, and it's really easy to get there by bike on the back streets!

It was a little grey and cold when I left the house around 3pm, so I opted out of the normal attire for the day (Utilikilt of course).  I was feeling kind of unmotivated and the weather wasn't helping.  Needless to say when I arrived I managed to find a free parking pole to lock up to (Shenanigan's needs some bike parking).  Guinness was consumed and everything started to look a little more cheery!  People were definitely showing their Irish pride with loads of green, including one guy with a shaved head and green latex paint.

After a couple more rounds (including Grand Teton's The Pursuit of Hoppiness Imperial Red Ale) and a plate of corned beef, we decided to give up our corner table and make room for some of the standing room only folks.  A short ride later we ended up at the Zephyr which has undergone a change in ownership and a complete renovation.  Despite the bartender's "holier than thou" attitude, the drinks were good and the new motif (including a wall of embedded bottles) was cool.  We enjoyed a bit more home made corned beef before I decided to call it an early evening.  We exited to find a downright snow storm!  This of course made the ride home all the more memorable.  Hope your celebration was as fun.

Oh yeah, slightly tipsy guy taking cell phone pics in the've been warned!

Friday, March 16, 2012

How the Dutch do it.

This one is a bit long with some awesome Euro techno music....maybe if we build more biking facilities in the US Devo will make a resurgence!  Really, if you hate techno fast forward to about 1:30 minutes in.  The real point of the video is to show that the Dutch made a conscious choice to change their cities and driving habits 30 years ago. US cities are now sending planners, engineers, and government officials to the Netherlands on a regular basis to see how non-car centric cities work, and how they can help use these designs to create livable cities here in the US.

Now all we have to do is find out how to get a few of these ideas into Mayor Cashell's head!

From the Netherlands to America: Translating the World's Best Bikeway Designs from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Had to drive do you tolerate this!?

Yep, I had to drive today.  Work stuff required it.  I know that the highway is a mess so I avoided this route.  My alternative to to get through downtown Reno and then out to the East side of the airport.  How can everyone stand to drive like this.  People don't speed up to make the green lights....then punch it to run the yellow/red.  When you are stuck in a line of traffic at a red light and it finally turns green there are huge delays to get started because people aren't paying attention (I blame their phones).  All in all it took 2 minutes longer than my average ride time!

Now, I don't blow stop signs or run reds to accomplish this.  The real advantage is that when you're riding a bicycle you notice your surroundings a bit more.  Meaning I see the lights ahead and adjust my pace so I catch them green (when possible).  I also don't have a huge line of traffic to contend with so this plan isn't influenced by the idiots who are messing with their phones and not paying attention.  All in all, way lower stress level and you get exercise to boot. 

Let's just say if you have a choice and you're still driving, I'd say your literally wasting your time!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

$5 Gasoline....time to review some Dutch history!

Petty or Principle?

I snapped this picture out my office window yesterday.

If your not familiar with these guys, they're like an adjunct police officer.  Just private citizens that volunteer for the Reno Police Department (RPD) and kind of keep a presence felt in areas that the police don't feel they can patrol enough.  Apparently, they've expanded their duties because these guys were using a radar gun to clock traffic speeds.  Usually I see them in more suburban neighborhoods but none the less, yesterday they were outside my window. 

So don't get me wrong, these guys are great and providing a community service we desperately need with all the recent budget problems.....  They are however parked in a marked bike lane and they stayed there for about an hour.  I watched as three cyclist had to merge into 50 mph traffic to get around these guys.  Just not good planning and we certainly do not want RPD representatives showing the general public it's OK to park in bike lanes (unless it's an emergency).  

So what do you think?  Am I being petty or is it the principle of it that grinds on me.  I'm guessing a little of both, but they still shouldn't park there.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Food Trucks are Coming!

Now I'm not gonna say I told you so.....but I was blog lobbying (blobbying?) for this after a recent trip to Portland and now it's gonna be a reality!  Now keep in mind my whining resulted in nothing, but it looks like someone out there is thinking the same thing.  So less talk more info. 

So for the record, I think this is a good start.  However, I am out and about on more occasions than just the first Friday of each month.  I also tend to be out later than 9 pm.  To be clear, I am also often hungry after 9pm on days other than the first Friday of each month.  So come on people, someone with a vacant lot in downtown or midtown needs to kick off another set of dates and times for this so we can eat in Portlandia style!

Bike movie!

From Muscle Powered (text by Keven Joelle):

The Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association (TAMBA) and the Poedunks are presenting “Pedal-Driven: a bike-umentary”, a new documentary film from Howell at the Moon Productions. The screening will take place at Centric inside CommRow on Thursday, March 22 at 7pm. It will be preceded by a social hour starting at 6pm. Tickets are $10 and the proceeds will go to both organizations to promote sustainable trail building efforts in the area.

To be or not to be, that is the question.

A question that applies to "Bike Routes" apparently.  Specifically, I'm thinking about the bike route that is posted along Mill St., but this applies in general to the routes that are signed in Reno.  First up, I'm not actually certain what the definition of a "bike route" is...  I guess my assumption was that it involved a dedicated place for me to ride.  I mean otherwise why post the signs and direct a rider to use this particular route?

The "Bike Route" appears to terminate about 50 ft after the sign!

 Of course, I've ridden Mill St. (a designated Bike Route) more times than I can count and I know that there are definitely sections without designated bike lanes.  Moreover, it's not even a low traffic road that is conducive to cycling for most people.  So why is it a posted "Bike Route" (especially since the river path parallels this option)?

No "Bike Route" here....but hey at least if you get hit your right across from the Hospital!

Kind of a "Bike Route / Lane", but really it's for parking cars....  What a great use of a public street!

If you hang in there long enough a Bike Lane magically reappears!
I've come to the conclusion the a "Bike Route" must just be a prescribed route that gets you from point A to point B as directly as possible.  Especially since for my particular destination you could pick up the river path with a 1/2 block detour back in downtown Reno and get to the same location on the other side of town without risking your life for 4 miles!

Now it is 1 mile longer in terms of the length of the ride, but the lower stress level and safety make it a no brainer for most folks.  My biggest concern is if you didn't know the area, you'd never know the river path was there as an option (no posted signs) and the "Bike Route" designation that originally heads out from downtown Reno would lead you to believe you were taking the best option!

Fortunately, this route is under study for improvements (see the Mill/Terminal corridor study) and we may have a really nice route to ride on this stretch in the next few years.  If we're lucky, we might even be able to ride to the Airport without traffic trauma!  Until then be wary of the route and do a little homework before you head out the door for a ride in an unknown area!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday commute traffic....I win!

This was my traffic count from the house to down town Reno.....3 cars.  Is this a holiday I don't know about?  It even brazened me to ride Mill St. all the way to work.

Mill St. was actually kind of busy / backed up once I got East of Kietzke Lane.  I picked a guy on a motorcycle to pace with....and I beat him to Rock Blvd! 

You'd think they would catch you across the top of the airport.  It's a longer stretch with a 40-50 mph speed limit.  The catch is it takes the line of traffic so long to get moving that a bicycle is still your best bet!  Besides it's so fun to ride past a 1/8 mile of backed up traffic in the nice clear bike lane and time the light perfectly for that early morning break away!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

More beautiful bikes (and Riding in Reno's post #200!)

Fly by wire steering on this cargo beauty!

Split top tube elegance!

It might be fuzzy, but it's fuzzy with 36" wheels!

Practical cargo with step through elegance.  Note the integrated rim/cable lock.

The perfect every day rider and light cargo....complete with flask holder!

A Delorean at a bike show?  Yep, cause Delorean makes bikes!  Now you know.

Porter rack ruler, with fenders that really keep you dry!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Commuting swapout.

I like to ride to work pretty much every day.  Mostly the worse the conditions, the more I am sure I'm riding.  Last week however, I rode my regular commute plus another 6 miles to the dentist on an icy, fender packing, slush and snow day.  As if fighting this wasn't enough.....the bike lanes were boarder line unrideable in some areas and traffic wasn't really sharing the lane in a responsible manor.

So today, I have to make a return trip to the dentist for a filling (always remember to floss kids).  I have to admit I just wasn't feeling the love for the ride.  Stupid really, because it's a really nice sunny morning.  I knew however, I didn't want to not ride at I made the commuter compromise.  I threw the bike in the back of the truck and brought it along.

Now I can do the dentist thing and still ride home this evening.  I'll leave the truck at the office tonight and ride back in tomorrow.  This works out doubly well since I have some meetings after work tomorrow that are back to back and across town (making biking a time issue).

So remember, if you've been thinking of trying bicycle commuting you can ease into it by make only a one way trip and leaving the car overnight.  It will help ease you into the saddle and give you a kickstart on spring!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Psuedo-local bikes in the news.

Taken from the Modesto Bee.

Bike-crazy Davis spawns peddlers who pedal

As a brisk wind blew through Davis on Tuesday night, Alex Roth pedaled his bicycle-powered coffee roaster in a parking lot between the railroad tracks and an impound lot. Roth created the contraption: an old Schwinn, its wheels removed, with chains that turn a roasting drum.
While he pedaled, chaff from the cracking beans ignited and swirled like fireflies around his head. Train whistles wailed. The scent of roasting coffee filled the air.
"Sometimes I worry about finances," said Roth, 35, who grinds out a modest living as owner of the Pepper Peddler. "But when I first catch the aroma, it's so pleasant and enjoyable, the worries melt away."

The Pepper Peddler, which delivers coffee by bike to homes in Davis and will start delivery in Sacramento on Friday, is one of a growing number of pedal-powered businesses across the nation.
They include pedicabs, delivery companies and food vendors along with more unusual ventures, such as bike-drawn pole-dancers in New York City and companies that collect scraps for compost.
"We're seeing a rebirth of bicycles and bicycle businesses," said Ben Morris, 29, owner of the nation's largest pedicab business, Pedicab Outdoor, which has branches in San Francisco, Boston, New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
The simplicity of bike businesses to market and manage, combined with fuel savings and customers' desire to go green, are encouraging expansion and innovative uses for pedal power, he said.
"The options are endless," Morris said. "There are so many things you can do."
The local hotspot for bike-powered businesses is Davis in Yolo County, where thousands of cyclists crisscross the UC Davis campus each day.
The bicycle-obsessed college town – with its bike lanes, bike turn signals and bike crossings and tunnels – is home to the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame and was the first U.S. city to earn a platinum rating from the League of American Bicyclists in 2005.
Today, Davis residents can get around by pedicab, have their yardwork done by landscapers who pull trailers on bikes, and sip Roth's organic fair-trade coffee, delivered by bicycle to their doorsteps each week in reusable Mason jars.
Interested in moving to the town? Real estate agents peddle homes by bicycle.
Agents Leslie Tuel and Leslie Blevins – who call themselves Team Leslie and wear cycling jerseys emblazoned with their logo – keep a fleet of rainbow-colored cruiser bikes for clients to use.
"It seemed like the perfect idea in Davis," Tuel said.
Last weekend, Team Leslie showed a home listed at $1.2 million to UC Davis physician Erik Laurin, his wife, Sacha, an Australian cheesemaker, and their three children. All arrived on two wheels, the youngest wearing a green shark helmet.
As they oohed and ahhed over the hot tub, outdoor fireplace and climate-controlled wine storage, they said arriving by bike gave them a better sense of the neighborhood and appealed to their cycling sensibilities.
"We try to run errands by bike," Sacha Laurin said. "It's our family ritual to bike to the farmers market on Wednesdays."
Andrew Watters said he started his Davis Pedicab business last year, after his son was born. "I wanted to make the world a better place for him," he said.
Now he and his riders pedal college students from downtown bars to their apartment complexes, earning tips along the way. He wants to develop connections with mass transit.
"We're working on getting integrated into the town's culture," he said.
Roth said he started his business as a way to earn a living after graduate school. He hand-built his stationary coffee roaster and parked it in a carport behind a local bakery. The county health department didn't know what to make of him.
"I'm considered an open-air barbecue," he said.
Now Roth has about 150 home-delivery customers in Davis and also sells coffee to the Davis Food Co-op and several restaurants.
Friends come around on Tuesday nights to help him roast in exchange for coffee and pizza. They include Alex Tremeau-Bravard, a French biologist, and Rusi Gustafson, a kindergarten teacher who plays guitar and sings country songs as he pedals.
"We're basically human hamsters," Roth said.
On Friday, he'll take his bike on Amtrak's Capitol Corridor train and deliver coffee to Sacramento for the first time. He has two customers: one in Curtis Park and another near McKinley Park. He's hoping to expand.
Susan Handy, a UC Davis professor and expert on cycling behavior, said she is excited about the new breed of pedal-powered businesses, which are especially popular among 20-somethings and in urban areas from Boston to Portland.
"They are a lot of fun. They're cool and gimmicky" and may be an "indicator of the growing strength of the bicycle movement," she said. "How big they can ever get or how pervasive, I don't know," she said. The question, she said, is "do they have legs?"

Another reason to wear Levi's.

A new line for Levi's that focuses on bicycle riders.  Perhaps cycling really is catching on!?

NAHBS was awesome.

Ok, so the North America Handmade Bike Show was in Sacramento over the weekend.  I almost didn't go but pulled the trigger at the last second (mostly due to prodding by wifey).  Man am I glad we went.  The drive over to Sac is even easier than I remember....just a little over two hours and we were in the hotel. I'm lazy so we choose the one right across from the convention center.

So now it's about 8 pm in Sacramento on a Friday night.....fortunately, I had enough down time at work to locate some breweries, walking distance from the hotel.  We hit Rubicon brewing for a late dinner and beer.   The outdoor seating was great and they allow dogs, so we were set.  (Note: All road trips out of our house require the dog.)  With 6 house beers and 5 cask ales on tap we were off to a good start.  Most of the conversation at surrounding tables was disk brake this, custom lugged that, so I knew we were in the right place.

Blah, blah, want to see bikes.  There are a lot of them so I'll post like five-ten a day for a few days.  Here's the starting batch!

Yep, you should be first pic is a beer bike.  Note the dry ice...the beer was cold!

If you think the first one was overkill, how about a fat bike with a built in growler holder?

Cargo (or kids) with class!

Practical Beauty. 

Absolute flowing style!

Ok, that should get you started.  I'll try to post some more later.

Friday, March 2, 2012

North American Hand Made Bicycle Show is this weekend!

I posted this already last week, just to give you a heads up.....but here's your final reminder.  The show is this weekend and it is going to be awesome.  You can tell because just about every bike blogger in Reno and the Western US has it posted on their pages somewhere!  I'm heading over tonight, so I'll try and have some pics posted on Monday.

Let's hope I can keep my wallet in it's proper place....and not come back with even more accessories for the xtracycle!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Headwind hardships....and auto mods.

My commute home was character building yesterday.  Meaning it was straight into a 20 mph head wind out of the west.  Rather than take the river path (which is winding and longer), I opted to take the bull by the horns and head straight up Mill St.  Turns out it was totally worth it, just for this classic shot!

Due to my impressive speeds into the headwind (11 to 13 mph tops), I managed to miss the light at Kietzke Lane. This not so patient lady felt compelled to illegally pass me (rather closely) so she could make her right turn on the red.   I'm pretty sure some cyclists elbow might have been responsible for the original damage (and ghetto-tastic mod).  But heh, at least she must be using her mirrors!

Determined not to let this be the highlight of the commute, I extended my regular westward route (yep, into the headwind) to visit some friends at a house warming party for a brand new home owner.  I managed to get lost on my way there and added an extra mile into the wind!  I then recalled I have a bike based GPS sitting in front of me and with the quick entry of an address and some backtracking I ended my headwind battle with a nice glass of champagne and a shrimp cocktail.

Now that's a good commute story!