Saturday, December 29, 2007

Legislative attempts to require licensing of bicycles

I've emailed Paula Reeves, who was mentioned in the recent PI article on licensing bicycles, to ask which legislators have approached WSDOT to inquire about licensing.

No response yet.

But in the meantime, some casual Googling has turned up this nugget: House Bill 1975, which was introduced in the 2003-4 session, and apparently stalled. It would have required bicycles to be licensed in pretty much the same way as motor vehicles, and it would have limited the funding of state-sponsored bicycle improvement projects to the amount collected in licensing fees, less administrative costs.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Please comment: Should Bicyclists Be Licensed To Ride

Well, this sort of spoiled my holiday.

I'm worried about my blood pressure, so I haven't read the article yet, and God knows, I dread reading the Sound-Offs. But I have been lurking in the sewer that is PI's Sound-Offs for the past six months, trying to digest what the arguments are for anti-cycling policies. So I can pretty much guess what the article is about, and what the Sound-Offs will be.

But apart from the content of the article or the Sound-Offs, what strikes me is that there's a meanness in this world that makes people, when they are distressed, seek out and attack the weakest, rather than the cause of their distress. Our leaders did it when we invaded Iraq, and people in the Puget Sound area, chafing at growing traffic congestion, deteriorating infrastructure, and the taxes required to support it, are doing it when they turn on cyclists.

More after I read the article. But I encourage you all to respond, one way or another.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

My Fixie..

I think Ted might have me confused with someone else in that introduction, but I do indeed have a Peugeot PX10 fixie. It's actually a mid 80's Super Competition PX10, which has the odd combination of a french headset but standard BB.

I built it as a city bike that I could feel ok leaving locked up places. My mountain bike being far too glitzy and my road bike just feeling too.. well.. racy? I don't know, never been a fan of race bikes anyways, and I suppose the fixie itch had lingered too long without scratching.

I'm French. I grew up there as a kid, and my father was a full blooded, send the wine back it's crap, French man that shaped me despite his passing away when I was young. I remember in France we had a few Peugeots that we rode everywhere, and my father's was I'm fairly certain a white PX10. We actually moved those bikes to the states, but in my rebellious youth of mountain biking I didn't realize what I had and I think we ended up giving them away at a garage sale. Oh the folly of childhood.

Fast forward ten years and I spend a really rather obscene amount of money building this bike up from scratch. It pains me to say that in the end I poured about $600 into it. This was supposed to be the cheap city bike after all, but a few mistakes here and there (I didn't realize the BB was standard and ordered a Phil wood french BB at a pretty penny) and a general resistance towards having anything outright cheap on it made it pricey in the end.

Fixies are something else. At the same time insane and romantic. I remember soberly reading Sheldon Brown's page on the possible injuries that come from having no freewheel, the disasters of catching a shoelace, a pant leg, the loss of fingers while cleaning the chain.. Despite many many years on bikes doing crazy things I still give SuperVelo his proper respect. I still have a front brake, though challenge myself not to use it, I always roll up my pant leg, I stay in control on the hills.

Just before leaving for Costa Rica (where I am now, more on the bikes here in another post) I had the most tragic of accidents. I had ridden downtown to meet my girlfriend at Outdoor Research to gear up for the ski season. We then headed over in her car to Feathered Friends for their yearly fund raiser for the Avalanche Center and decided to just park at REI. Sadly, we both forgot about SuperVelo on the roof.

The damage was swift but non fatal. The bike was mounted standing up backwards so the seat stays took the damage. One took the brunt of it and bent a bit, but the bike still rides fine, I'm not even sure the wheel base is affected. It broke my heart, this bike more than any other was a real love of mine, it was as if my best friend just lost a leg, still my friend but not the same. My perfectionist side will always nag me to find a replacement frame, but I'll hold out for as long as I can.

There's something about vintage frames that is special, especially frames that in their day were some of the best. You can just imagine the lives they've lived, the races won and lost, smiles brought upon their owners. New bikes let you shape them into something new, but old bikes come with a character all their own.

Maybe SuperVelo just has a bit more of that now, a fuller life, a scar to show off to his buddies when he goes to the great bike yard in the sky.

Monday, December 17, 2007

My New Project (and a sobering personal aside)

I am fascinated by internal-geared rear hubs. I have been, ever since I took apart my best friend's brother's 3-speed rear hub when I was 11, and then couldn't put it back together. (Of course, the undersides of cars are very fascinating, too, so I didn't much mind having to dive for cover every time he came around. This was a survival skill in rough, scrapping West Albany.)

One of the things that saps my will to live in the winter is the amount of cleaning and maintenance required of conventional multigear drive trains -- what, with the exposed cassette and shifting mechanism, the coupled derailer and chain tensioner (a.k.a., "derailleur"), &c. And so I'm determined to get myself an internal-gear rear hub and build a bike around it. There are a few varieties, but Shimano makes a couple of 8-speed hubs, with drum and disc brake options.

One concern, however, is the range of gear ratios available. Although 8-speed hubs generally have around around 300% step-up in gear inches, it's still not quite as much as on a conventional multigear bike with a triple crank, and say, 12-26 cassette. And so I'm thinking of pairing the internal hub with a double crankset.

However, this leaves the question of how to take up the slack in the chain when it is on the smaller ring, which is the pretext for this thread I started in

Which brings me to the sobering personal aside. One of the respondents to the thread is Sheldon Brown. If you've searched for bike tech information on the web, you know that Sheldon is the bike mechanic in the U.S. He's tried virtually everything, and has documented it.

Anyway, in his responses, Sheldon mentions that he has multiple sclerosis, and it has progressed to the point that he can no longer ride a two-wheeler. I think that is unspeakably sad. And yet he carries on.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Got One

From Bicycle Northwest:
Evan Schmitt, a former member of Rad Racing NW youth racing program, parked the bike for a season in order to bring us a great film entitled One. The film was shot, produced, and narrated entirely by the sixteen year old over the course of the 2006 season.

The forty-minute video takes the viewer through a season of cycling focused on events in the Pacific Northwest. Some of the highlighted events are the Cascade Classic, Hood River Cycling Classic, Star Crossed Cyclocross, and the USGP of Cyclocross races. Schmitt also captures a few non-competitive events such as Freedom Sports Summer Camp for kids, held on Orcas Island, and some scenic singletrack riding outside of Roslyn, Washington.
(Read more...) .

I saw the trailer, and I was immediatley hooked. I bought the DVD. I'll pass it around when I get it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Welcome Nic Pottier

Please welcome Nic Pottier to our little blog. Nic is primarily a mountain biker -- pretty much a mountain anything. He rock-climbs, he back-country skis. He is also ex-Amazon, and a friggin' genius! And a photographer. And he's very tall.

Nic gave me my first (and so far only) opportunity to work on a Chris King hub, which is a thing of beauty, with special Chris King tools, which are also a thing of beauty. I am so fucking in love with Chris King that I want to marry them and have their baby.

Nic also built a beautiful fixie from a pristine 70's-vintage Peugot frame. (I bid against him for the frame on eBay. He won.) I hope he posts a picture of it. It's that classic Peugot metal-baby-blue that makes this more understandable.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Bat For Lashes Bike Video

Just saw this on RockTheBike, reminding me how much I love this video. My favorite things -- bikes and dressing up like furry animals.

Interesting (To Me, At Least) Rear Derailleur Problem

My problem (well, one of my problems) is summarized here. Have any of youse guys run into this? No joy from bikeforums' regular crew of know-it-alls. Next step is to go to Emerald City and ask the Great Oz himself.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Any hardware/EE people interested in this contest?

Google and Specialized are sponsoring a contest to come up with pedal-powered inventions. As of 11/28, it looks like there are only 12 entries.

I have an idea, but would need some help from someone more competent in electrical engineering. Any takers? evanspc at gmail...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Man Bike Love

And the obligatory bike blog post of the month:

A man caught trying to have sex with his bicycle has been sentenced to three years on probation.

This is the bicycle in question. And as you can see, it is

Is it hot in here, or is it just me?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Report From Oregon Handmade Bike Show

The actual show was in a tiny building and elbow to elbow with cycling fanatics. Lots to drool over. From what we saw at the show, touring bikes are back in a big way (or maybe they've just been hiding out in Oregon). Lots of cool custom racks and beefy touring frames. Vaughn and I ended up mostly ogling from afar (and actually, a lot of the fanatics had ridden up on bikes that we ogled outside), as it was nearly impossible to get into the booths to talk with the builders. But it was the journey that made it super fun… great weather and great riding around the cycling mecca that is Portland. I’m pretty sure the New York Times will be contacting Vaughn and his wonderful family for their next piece on Portland’s cycling lifestyle ;)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Monday, November 5, 2007

Master Bike Plan Approved

Seattle City Council approved the Master Bicycle Plan today.

The MBP document is a behemoth, but here are some highlights that would improve my life:

  • Install shared lane markings on 2nd Avenue and 4th Avenue to provide a north-south
    connection through Downtown Seattle (includes removing the existing bicycle lane
    on 2nd Avenue).
  • Make wayfinding and spot intersection improvements on the West Seattle Low
    Level Bridge.
  • Install bicycle lanes on Alaskan Way in Downtown Seattle (when Alaskan Way is
  • Install bicycle lanes on Delridge Way SW.
  • Install bicycle lanes, shared lane markings, and signs to improve the connections
    between Capitol Hill and the UW Campus.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Got Plans The Day After Thanksgiving?

From Aaron Goss:

Hot Stuff Cargo Bike Ride Buy Nothing Day: November 23rd, 2007 at 12:00 Noon
Meet at the Pike Place Pig. We leave by 12:30!

Meet at the Pike Place Pig

Our destination is Woodland Park (picnic shelter TBD)

Bring something hot to share. Bring cook stoves!

Look for Xtracycles, Trailers, Front Racks, Rear Racks, Panniers, Bakfiets, Porter Bikes, Messenger Bags, etc., however, this ride is for ANY KIND OF BIKE.

Cargo hauling is fun especially if you or your KIDS are cargo!

Aaron's Bicycle Repair has cargo bikes to loan! Please contact us to reserve a bike. (206) 938-9795

Saturday, November 3, 2007

West Seattle Cyclist Shot with BB Gun

Man, this is getting nuts!

Seattle PI reports:

A West Seattle bicyclist is recuperating after someone shot him with a BB gun late Thursday on his regular commute home in what appears to be a random attack.


The BB pellets hit Peter McKay, 46, with such impact that one penetrated his left lung, releasing air into his chest cavity, and the second just missed his aorta and spinal cord.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show

Wow! So who wants to go? I know somebody in Portland who likes bikes :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Next year, anyone?

Hoo, looks like fun: L'Eroica - Period cyclotouristic rally on gravel roads - Gaiole in Chianti, Italy
Maybe we should organize a Washington version on the Iron Horse Trail?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Seattle PI reports road rage incident against cyclist in Fremont

Seattle PI reported:

A road-rage incident involving a bicyclist and motorist rattled the Fremont neighborhood with yelling, a near hit and the rider striking a sport utility vehicle's window, Seattle police said. ...

It started around 1 p.m. Friday as a Seattle man in his late 30s was pedaling a bicycle northbound across the Fremont Bridge, when he heard honks and cries from a man driving a maroon 2006 Nissan Murano. ...

Once on North 35th Street, the bicyclist went eastbound, trying to reach Stone Way North. But the SUV driver slowed down "several times" and tried to hit the bicyclist and run him off the road, the report says. ...

The bicyclist and motorist turned onto Stone Way North and began heading north. The rider headed into the right lane. ...

(T)he SUV driver turned and headed toward the bicyclist "as if he was going to go straight and strike" him, the report says. ...

The driver, a Seattle resident in his early 40s, swerved his SUV at a 45-degree angle through the right lane, into the shoulder and near the curb. ...

The bicyclist, who was not injured, hit the Nissan's window with his hand and yelled. ...

A witness told police the driver made a "blatant swerve" at the bicyclist. She thought the motorist was "intentionally trying to strike or intimidate" him.

Yeah, I know...Sh*t happens, take it in stride, chill, take a pill, &c, &c. I don't know why these stories get me all puffed up and growling like a cat who's found a strange cat at his feed bowl.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Simple Pleasure

For some reason, I've always found the ride home to West Seattle very stressful. However, this week, my wife Carol has adjusted her commuting routine so that we get to ride home together. In the past, she'd ride to Kirkland, and then take the bus back to West Seattle; now she's started getting off the bus in downtown Seattle, meeting me at the Convention Center, and riding home with me.

Maybe it's knowing that I'll get to ride home with someone I've spent a lot of time riding with, maybe it's because there's no pressure to actually get home, but I find this part of the day very relaxing, and I've started looking forward to it.

The other day, we both worked late, and rode home in the dark. On the way, one of her co-workers, Sean Jensen-Grey (Oi, Phil, you remember Sean from Singingfish?) caught up to us with his girlfriend, and the four of us rode to West Seattle in the dark. Sean rides a fixed gear from W.S. to Kirkland and back. Sean is such a wild and intense person, I couldn't imagine him commuting any other way!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Two More Northwest Cyclists Killed By Right-Turning Trucks

Within the past 2 weeks, two Portland cyclists have been killed by motor vehicles making right-hand turns.

Add to this the death of Bryce Lewis crushed by a dump truck making a right-hand turn near the Eastlake bridge over the summer.

Critical Mass

Upcoming Critical Mass ride made Seattle PI's Big Blog today. Velocity opines:

My concern is that these rides also have the potential to (or actually do) piss off potential allies who could contribute to policy changes that actually make the roads safer and better for cyclists. Any club ride achieves the same goals listed in the Critical Mass website, except they do it without disrupting the lives of automobile commuters.

I am of two minds on this issue. I can certainly see Velocity's point, and when I'm commuting or on a group ride, I try to do everything I can to avoid pissing off drivers, and I encourage other cyclists to do the same.

But then, I also think, who am I to say that a large group of cyclists shouldn't gather and exercise their rights to the road (as long as they act lawfully)? Ultimately, everyone does something to piss somebody off. Tomorrow, I'll be at an anti-war march, an event that I'm sure will inconvenience a lot of people, and may alienate potential allies. Agree or disagree with the war, or cyclists' rights, there is something depressing about a world where people always limit their behavior to avoid inconveniencing others.

Aaron Goss lights up the night!

Was riding home last night with my wife, and at Jackson & 2nd, I saw Aaron Goss (my LBS owner) riding a bike that looked like it was laced with multi-colored tubes of light -- a rainbow on wheels! Gotta get a picture of that! Now, THAT would be hard to miss!

Here is one of Aaron's other creations.

And here is Aaron as a finalist in Park Tools Fastest Wrench in the West Contest.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Don't you want to be here right now?

S0metimes, a picture just makes you stop and wonder, why am I here instead of there? Oh, well, I shouldn't complain, I WAS there, or near enough...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The bear opposite the tag

Now there are wolves one pier to the east. Part of what makes the ride great--my thanks to the artist.

Hello world.

Bike to work to live to bike. I saw that painted on a bridge support while riding home to West Seattle from work. Couldn't have said it any better, so I'm ripping it off for the title of this blog. Thanks to whomever came up with the expression, and to whomever tagged that bridge support.

Not too far from the West Seattle bridge, I snapped this photo on a foggy summer morning. That's an eagle on the piling. Damn! Can't see this from a car!

Before I go, I'd like to give a nod to David Longdon, who's recently started a Seattle cycling blog in the Seattle PI.