Friday, May 28, 2010

I Want To Ride My Bicycle, I Want To Ride My Bike...

"...but I don't want to get killed doing it".

That from a Montgomery County employee who said he would love to have taken part in the Bike To Work day, but couldn't figure out what he felt would be a safe route from his home near NIH up to Rockville.

Someone's biking to work...

..and they're not alone. Here outside the Montgomery County Council Office Building it's not unusual to find one or two bikes parked for the workday. Will there be more in the future? Or are these hardy cyclists on their own? I left a note for our mystery riders, so we'll see...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bike to Eat

Before I gave up my car, I wondered about how my choice might affect my pocketbook. Could going carless (full disclosure: WTOP still provides me with a station vehicle)  save me money? Would that make an impression in my bottom line?

Here's a perhaps-unexpected way that biking to shop has saved me from impulse buying. When  you have to shop by bike, you think hard about just how much you want to haul back home. If you really want to lower the boom on your spending tendencies, pick a small bike bag. You learn pretty fast just how much fits in that thing.

I come back from a trip and I need groceries. I get on my Gazelle Medeo, a heavy (by American standards) Dutch-made bike. It's got shocks on the fork and the seat for a super comfy ride. (Take that, you potholes!)  And it features a nice built-in bike rack that lets me snap a pannier-style bike bag into place. One that can get my basics back home in fine shape.

So off I go after two weeks away, looking to fill the pantry back home. The fascinating thing is how this instantly changes what I pick up in the grocery store. Nothing like having a single bag to carry home to help you separate the "have to haves" from the "nice to haves".

It gets pretty simple:  you don't buy what you don't need when you have to fit it all in a bike bag and pedal back home.

DC Bike Lanes: WTOP reports

My colleague at WTOP, Adam Tuss reports on the continued "tweaking" of DC's newest bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue. Get the story here:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Morning: Meet Max Mobiel

Max is the Belgian promo tool designed to make bike commuting/parking/zipping through traffic, smoother for everyone. He's a busy guy. Check the number of bikes parked here. And this is just one snapshot.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Every day is Bike To Work Day in Belgium...

But not for everybody...while many people use bikes to get to work, or in combination with a trip to the train station to get to work, plenty drive. Today I head to Brussels, which has seen the kind of traffic troubles Washingtonians can identify with: longer commutes, same stubborn slow-down spots. More on that in future posts.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

In Belgium, bikes are seen as vehicles, not obstacles, on the roadways.

Bike parking on a median


I am in Belgium where bikes are king. Sure, the traffic in and around Brussels is a giant headache, and gridlock is more and more common, but in cities like Gent and Bruges, the bike is still king of the road.

You are more likely to get hit by a cyclist than a car. I've seen my share of close calls--and there's plenty of blame to go around. Cars speed through narrow streets crowded with pedestrians and cyclists. Cyclists weave in and out of traffic, gliding right alongside the trams that may or may not be aware of their presence, and they'll do it (the cyclists, I mean) with a full load of groceries and a toddler or two along for the ride (on specially adapted car seats...think a bike converted to 'minivan' status.)

But here I have been told by the police, the law is on the side of the cyclist and the pedestrian. Cars, given their ability to do the most damage, are under more of an obligation to obey the rules of the road. One officer put it this way: the pedestrian and the cyclists are the most vulnerable on the road, so therefore, have more leeway. Not that they are welcome do be scofflaws...cyclists can and will be ticketed for going the wrong way on a fietspad, or bikepath. They can also be pulled over for not having working lights at night. Yes, really. A white light up front, a red flasher or static light in the rear.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

"Just up the, really"

Resting between customers at the new "Social Safeway"

Fierce Pedi-cabber...

This pedi-cab Danny's hauling weighs 175 lbs --that's before  you hop in with your groceries.

Biking for Goodness' Sake..Notes

Check out the photos below. That's Wendie White in the pink pig-tails, decked out as Moto Crew Chief for a recent fundraiser to fight breast cancer. Wendie's job was to ride the route, sweeping back and forth to help direct walkers and keep an eye on safety and organization. And she did it with a smile. Like many of the walkers, she clearly was out to stick it to cancer, but demonstrated a sense of fun while working towards a cure. Hats off to Wendie and all the walkers. One of the cool things about riding a bike. Coming across good people doing good things.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Brown Bags and Bikes

Maybe you've seen the T-shirts "Ride Like a Girl". Do women in the transportation field plan/engineer/design differently?

Ever 'lose' your car in a parking lot? See what the residents of Ghent, Belgium face.

Here's one version of what WTOP aired @ bike safety

WTOP on Bikes: because that's how we roll...

Nice mention on my story on bike safety from the folks at Greater Greater Washington:

"WTOP on top of bike safety: I missed this a few weeks ago, but given the times we've mocked WTOP, it's worth seeing their excellent piece on cycle safety after Constance Holden was killed at 12th and NY Ave, NW. It quotes WABA bike safety coordinator Glenn Harrison on "windshield perspective" and quotes drivers and cyclists agreeing everyone needs to watch out for each other."

Thanks, guys.

My Dutch-made workhorse in park.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

One Less Car Key

I live in DC. I can walk to work. And at WTOP, we use reporter vehicles, so the question came up: do I really need a personal car?

I did the math. There was no car payment, but there was insurance, gas and parking fees. Money could be saved,  and in the current fiscal climate, that's always something to be considered.

While I thought about it, my '98 Plymouth Voyager made its own decision. When it went green on me. Very, very, green. As in anti-freeze-pooling-on-the-pavement-underneath-it green. It wasn't quite HAZMAT level crisis, but it wasn't good.

The parking space I used to have, for the car I used to own

My Late, Great, Bike Storage Unit