This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

One step forward two steps back.

    Despite the optimistic development I noted in my last post, Our local trail system, the KRVT, has been struggling with a dilemma the  past couple of years.  Part of the system was finished on both the west and east end with no route to connect the two parts in the middle of the city.  Obviously there is a lot of real estate to consider and a bit of controversy.  There is a side street which intersects with the west leg and seems a perfect candidate.  Most of it could be made a bike boulevard with a side path added at the west end where there is more auto traffic.   A sign could be installed to direct cyclists to another safe route to the shops and restaurants downtown. That would have provided a straight one mile connection that avoided all the congestion and traffic downtown. 
Whoever is in charge thought it better to take a route they believed would bring cyclists into the retail area.    They made a grand announcement and had a ribbon cutting to celebrate it's completion so I thought I should take an honest look at the accomplishment.  

The new connection begins by crossing Westnedge Ave,  
to access an off street, expanded sidewalk/trail 
where I immediately waited to cross Business Loop I-94 to continue  the "sidewalk/trail"
which winds around between some parking lots and 
crosses the southbound leg of Westnedge called Park St.
After crossing Park St. the "trail" winds again
 around some parking lots and between two office buildings.
before reaching a "crossing" in the middle of the block at Rose St
where we can wait in a median between streams of traffic.
From there it winds between the Museum and Community College campuses 
into the attractively landscaped sidewalk behind
before going back to the street  which leads the trail 
through the middle of the local festival site, 
which makes the trail unusable during an event.
From there we wait to ride back across Business Loop I-94
to reach another protected lane 
adjacent to Business Loop I-94,
across a rail crossing and past Bell's Brewery 
to turn further south on another protected bike lane
and leading to a route 
which squeezes between several parking lots
across another rail siding
between ware houses before
finally reaching the other east ward trail head.
Of course you notice all the retail exposure this accomplished.  There were two bars.
As a somewhat experienced cycle tourist, I have learned to depend upon marked routes and trails to help navigate strange communities safely.  This trail system is part of a network advertised and promoted to guide cyclists safely across the state from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron.  After riding the new connection exposing the "better" part of Kalamazoo authorities wanted to showcase, I wonder how this made sense to anybody.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

It's like the bureaucratic seas parting!

      One of the dubious benefits of being a legendary eccentric bicycling around a Midwestern town, is the opportunity to shape the future, or at least attend and witness other people do real things of substance.   Sometimes I wonder why anybody even shares these events with me, but they do.  One of the privileges for which I was volunteered is the Citizen's Advisory Committee to the Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study (KATS).  (The longer the title the less meaningful the position)  The committee doesn't do a whole lot except comment on the work and proposals of KATS.
      This time around they have hit a home run or scored a bike polo goal or something.  They have finished several years of study and developed a non-motorized solution to our problems.  Found on their website,is an extensive document which outlines a detailed revision of the city streets including their best choices for non-motorized accommodations.  There are pages and pages of details but the most impressive part is the executive summary which explains the methodology and process by which they reached their conclusions.
The city map they produced demonstrates the pervasive extent of their research and designs.   Notable is the network of cycling facilities they propose.   What I find encouraging is the number of "bike boulevards"  compared to the limited number of "protected bike lanes" proposed.  I feel that "protected bike lanes" produce more problems than protection, at least the ones I have seen and used.
    It would be very simple to dismiss this whole project as a bureaucratic pie-in-the-sky meant to patronize the cycling community.  I have developed a truly cynical attitude towards most proposals I have seen, but this dog has real financial teeth.  KATS, the producer of the plan, is the gatekeeper for all the Federal funds which are siphoned into the community.  The State has adopted a "Complete Streets" policy which requires any jurisdiction to consider non-motorized needs when developing and funding any roadway project. With this document, the cities, county or townships will have an easy reference to improve non-motorized facilities and the need to follow those recommendations before applying for Federal funding which makes up 1/3 of the financing for transportation projects.
    I haven't seen or heard of a project like this in any other area and it certainly deserves a serious review by anybody interested in developing transportation.

Friday, November 10, 2017

What to do on rainy days.

      A recent post on Facebook asked for advice when riding in the rain.  It was quite a thread and elicited a lot of suggestions that are downright foreign to most American cyclists.   Throughout were warnings to shower and change clothes, get wet, carry a backpack and all sorts of variations on equipping yourself  while riding a bike.  Suggesting fenders came across as a big surprise and there was no response at all when I told them I'd never felt the need to change clothes or shower at work during 45 years of commuting in 7 different municipalities spread throughout the Midwest and south (So much for experience qualifying advice). One participant in the thread suggested a rack and panniers rather than a back pack! What? Use the machine to carry things!?!  
     One very experienced racer expressed surprise that there was special equipment for commuting and transportation.   So fenders and racks are "specialized" equipment, but Strava subscriptions and electronic shifters are standard when people don't race. 
    At the core of all this is a less specialized bike.  I think everybody should have a versatile useful bike.  After all they would ride more often, for more reasons, and enjoy it more, wouldn't they? They might have to compromise their Strava scores but who cares?  Happy is a nice goal.  I could be contorted atop a dangerously light bike for hours, if somebody paid me millions of Lire.  Hell, I'd take drugs for that, or stick somebody's poop up  my butt.
    It would be revolutionary to purchase a bike that is not only practical and durable, but one that is reasonably fast as well.
You might go over the top and expect it to be comfortable,
ditch the obligatory "drop bars" to discover a greater variety of positions,
find a bike that's nice to look at
and carries your stuff to work too.
That would totally confound the spandex hamsters.  
Oh, and when it rains, wear a jacket or poncho.  Whatever suits you.
Photos by Zolton Cohen

Monday, October 2, 2017

An event that rivals the advent of disc brakes.

Outside Magazine has produced a list of new products found at the Interbike show this year which, they promise, will comprise the FUTURE of cycling.  It was not even an interesting list of products and better represent the past than the future.
There is the Cento10 Air road bike.  Remarkable for having clearance for tires up to 32 mm wide, it is revolutionary to anyone who has been cycling less than 10 years.  It does have some sort of elastomer crap in the seat tube that is supposed to enhance "vertical compliance" by a few millimeters, whatever that means.
Smith Sunglasses now use magnets to attach to the interchangeable lenses. (WTF!!!)
Pivot Mach 5.5 will only be offered in one lot of 300 bikes and
 are unremarkable except for the paint job.
The 3T Strada will be revolutionary in offering a 1x11 drivetrain 
and clearance for wider tires, like all the new bikes.
The Focus Project Y will eliminate any pretense and include electric assist and battery pack built into the downtube.  No more game playing, mechanical doping is available right off the showroom floor.
The rest of the revolutionary 11 products comprising the "future of cycling" are;
Oakley has a new helmet,
Ortlieb makes a backpack,
Burley makes a trailer,
Thule "invented" a hydration pack,
there is a more expensive inner tube for the "tubeless" tires,
and a bike rack for your car, after all 
riding back to your car is the future of cycling.

I haven't been so excited since disc brakes were introduced.