Posts Tagged ‘Bike’

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on Changing Gears During SafeTrack: Folding Bikes Can Ease Your Commuting Woes

by Stephanie Tsao

Has WMATA’s latest surge stirred your last wits? If you’re like me, you may have let a few packed trains go by before you found one with enough breathing room.

As the weather improves, I have watched cyclists zipping past with growing interest. Those Capital Bikeshare stands are tempting, but I never seem to remember my helmet. Thanks to SafeTrack, I decided to try out a few folding bicycles.

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Depending on the brand, folding bikes average between $200-$1,500 for beginner bikes. The draw is that they can fold to fit in a trunk or under a desk, making them an affordable commuter option with less burden.

Before I tried, I was dubious. You see, folding bikes are smaller than your average bike, and my initial concern about them is how stable they feel when ridden. I have been biking for three years on a road bike, which have skinny tires and curved handlebars to ride smoothly on roads.

In comparison, folding bikes have comparatively short and straight handlebars and small tires, which led me to believe that the frame would result in a rocky ride. To my surprise, they can ride pretty smoothly and handle up to 20-mile rides.

Testing different brands

I tested three different brands of folding bikes.

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Brompton

The London-made Brompton bikes are known by the biking community as the “Rolls Royce” of folding bikes because they fold in three quick steps. A base model with two speeds and no added accessories can weigh 23 lbs and cost about $1,350.

For the price, you pay for the ability to fold in a matter of minutes and the convenience that the bike has mini wheels allowing you to roll the bike along after it’s folded like a piece of luggage.

Brompton bikes are comparatively expensive because they are designed for commuting. The bike is small enough to roll onto the metro, allowing you to duck out of a sudden summer shower. Moreover, you can stow it in your office with less worry of your bike getting stolen.

Tern

Tern, based in Taipei, Taiwan, builds three types of bikes: ones for adventures, touring, and city riding. For the lower price, you get a heavier bike. A basic model for urban riding can weigh 26-27 lbs, a bit more than the Brompton bikes, but the costs start out around $700. Also, the bikes do not come with the convenient small wheels like Brompton bikes do.

One advantage of Tern is that they also make racing models. A gentleman in his 50s told me he completed the 40-mile New York “Five Boro” Tour on a Tern! One of Tern’s lightest bikes for commuting weighs about 21 lbs.

Dahon

The last brand I tried was a Dahon, which is named after Dr. David Hon, a Japanese aerospace physicist who started designing folding bikes after he witnessed the world’s oil crisis in the 1970s. He became interested in other modes of transportation that were less reliant on petroleum.

Some base models are priced as low as $250-$400, but can weigh heavier than other brands. Some models are 27 lbs or more. The models take longer to fold, given their weight.

Other options on the market

Citizen Bike

I never got a chance to try Citizen Bike because they are sold only online. Certain models start as low as $200, but their bikes are on the heavier end, ranging between 26 lbs and 33 lbs. The bike models are named after major international cities such as Seoul and Barcelona, and they are able to fold up within 30 seconds.

Where to test and buy folding bikes in the DC metro area

20160702_143507Not all bike shops sell folding bikes, but those stores with catering to urban cycling tend to. I suggest calling or checking your local bike shop’s website to see if they sell any of the aforementioned brands.

I purchased my folding bike at [email protected] in Fairfax County. Closer to Washington DC, Revolution Cycles and Bicycle Space are just a few stores in the District that sell folding bikes.

Bike commuting isn’t for everyone. Nevertheless, as the SafeTrack repairs continue through next spring, keep folding bikes in mind. They may just bring the surge of energy you need to get to work with a sigh of relief.

Stephanie Tsao is a journalist by day and likes to cycle, garden and write in her spare time. The views expressed in this post are hers alone and not that of her employer.

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Washington D.C.’s Annual “Car Free Days” are coming up soon, so it’s time to start planning!

D.C. is one of the best cities in the world to get around without a car, especially in an age where more and more young adults are postponing their drivers’ licenses and ditching their cars. Some say living car-free is just the latest millenial trend, but I think it’s something more. The car-free lifestyle is a grassroots, citizen-inspired movement – a new way to live sustainably. And with D.C.’s accessible public transportation system, miles of bike lanes, and 38% of households in the city already enjoying a carless lifestyle, it looks like living car free is here to stay.

Luckily, even if you do own a car, you still have a chance to get involved with this movement: pledge to be car free for an entire weekend, September 20-22.  But how can you get around without a car? Let’s start with the obvious:

Take Public Transportation

The DC metro is arguably one of the best underground inner-city rail systems, and the buses aren’t half-bad, either. Bring a book, or start up a conversation with a stranger, and it could turn into a fun experience as well! You can take public transportation to go out of the city as well; take the train to Baltimore, or have an adventure on the Appalachian Trail, like EcoWomen blogger Dawn Bickett.

Bike

Personally, I’d rather be flying on my bike than stuck on the metro (or in a car during rush hour, for that matter). There are many venues to access a bicycle if you don’t own one. Capital Bike Share has hundreds of stations set up all throughout the city for rent. Or, if you want to go on a longer ride, it might end up being cheaper to rent a bike, which you can do at Bike and Roll, Big Wheel Bikes, and others. You may find that purchasing your own bike is well worth the investment, especially if you buy a nice used one on Craigslist.

With 11 miles of bicycle lanes, and many more miles of trails, DC is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country, so give it a shot!

Walk

During college, it wasn’t uncommon to traverse upwards of 5 miles a day on foot – students walked to get absolutely everywhere! However, the culture of walking tends to evaporate after graduation. If you live in the city, chances are it’s easier to walk around than to take a car in many areas. Either way, think about your next trip: if it’s only one or two miles, try walking instead.

(Bonus: walking is an easy way to get some extra exercise.)

Run

Ok, bear with me here. Some people run their daily commutes to work, and love it (you can learn how in our previous blog post). I wouldn’t suggest running to the Governor’s Ball, but you might try taking a running tour; if you’re walking from the Lincoln Memorial to the Jefferson, why not run? You’ll get there in half the time!

Rollerblade or Scooter

If you’re going to roll from place to place, why not have some fun with it? Whenever I see rollerbladers pushing along on the bike trails, they might get a couple weird stares, but I think the onlookers are secretly jealous. Rollerblading and scootering brings me back to my youth – and it looks like a pretty good workout, too!

Hitch a Ride, Carpool, or Zip Car

If you simply must go somewhere that is completely inaccessible without a car on the weekend of September 22 (Virgin Mobile Feefest, anyone?!), feel free to hitch a ride with a friend, or rent a zip car. The whole point of the car-free pledge is to show that you don’t need to own a car to get around.

Committing to a car-free lifestyle for an entire weekend can be difficult for those that are not used to it. So start planning now! And don’t forget to fill out the car free pledge. With so many different options for mobility, the whole district is at your toetips.

How are you planning to spend your car free weekend? Let us know in the comments!

posted by | on , , , , , , | Comments Off on Making Strides: A DC EcoWomen Bicycle Journey

This post was written by DC EcoWomen Board Member Lina Khan, who overcame her fear of biking in roads in honor of National Bike to Work Day

Little By Little


The first time I biked on roads was in my last summer of college in Kirksville, Missouri.

Most students went home for the summer, including my sister. She let me borrow her bike. Since it was a college town in summer, there weren’t many cars on the road, so biking to my campus job or to my friends’ apartment was pretty fun. I could catch a breeze on a hot day – and cut my traveling time in half. After I scraped my bare toes on a brick wall, I just made sure to wear shoes.

But when the summer ended, so did biking. Earlier that year, I bought a bike of my own for $2 at a bike auction – but it was heavy and not easy to carry over stairs or curbs. I decided not to take it with me when I moved away in the fall.

It took me another 3 years before I bought another bike. By then I was living and working in Washington, DC and found Craigslist fairly useful. I finally found a bike with a 15” frame (just like my old one). And this bike was a hybrid – a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike – so it was lighter. I metro’d to Alexandria and paid $150 for it, even after bargaining.

I liked this bike because the pink and blue colors reminded me of a wild berry poptart.

After I brought it home (also on the metro), I promptly put it away in the shed. The first time I went for a real ride on it was a few weeks later. I felt more comfortable with the idea of using it on the streets of DC.

But then my boyfriend suggested we bike to an Indian restaurant for an anniversary dinner (I know, how totally young and creative) in Adams Morgan, about a 10-minute bike ride from home.

We biked through crowded streets and crossed busy intersections, but the autumn air felt nice, and I liked how bright my borrowed bike lights were. But then we rounded a tight winding section of road between parked and moving cars, and I was terrified of running into one or getting grazed.

My boyfriend (I’ll call him Calvin) sped up, and I couldn’t catch up at the speed I had settled on. I got frustrated and pulled over, he doubled back. I said I hated this, we got back on and continued until we finally made it to the restaurant.

For most of it I was thinking how much I’d rather metro or take a bus home—it meant less danger or vigilance. In the end, we walked home with our bikes. Calvin noted, after some self-reflection, that it took him months to work up to biking on busy roads with cars. Also it was nighttime. Also I’m a scared-y cat. I didn’t bike again for a long time.

Fast-forwarding another 2 ½ years to this week, my now husband Calvin offered to ride with me to work so I could write this blog. By I now have my own bike lights and have biked in my new neighborhood to get to the post office before it closed on a Saturday (so five minutes before lunch time because the post office didn’t really want to be open). By this time, I’ve also biked to another restaurant (Thai) and various other places taking trails and side roads, so theoretically I’m more familiar with the whole thing. But I still didn’t know how to use the gears—I kept forgetting. Also I still don’t like riding it.

Anyway, Tuesday morning my tires needed to be pumped (they weren’t as firm as overstuffed couch cushions) and I couldn’t use my bike pump because an old roommate’s boyfriend had run over it with his car. Luckily Calvin had one. So if you’re keeping a tally for bike parts, that’s bike lights, bike pump, and should also include sturdy bike lock, and if it’s a relatively nice bike, tire screws that can only be removed by a special wrench.** We biked from Hyattsville into DC, taking less busy roads that Calvin mapped ahead of time. He took my bike around for a bit and concluded that the short gear on right slowed the bike down, while the longer gear eased it up, and that it was the opposite on the left. When I was on it I tried it out, and started to say he was wrong until I realized I was using the left side.

After a few minutes of riding uphill, my legs got tired and I noticed a sign for Brookland metro station. I was also running late for work. Good thing I’d had breakfast and a full night’s sleep, otherwise I would have felt hopeless. But I still wanted to bike to Brookland instead.

We did.

Calvin noted that I needed to raise my seat up higher, so that my pedaling would cover more ground and I wouldn’t need to work my legs so much. I like being able to put my feet on the ground for emergency stopping, so this will take getting used to.

Since, to be honest, I’m happiest metroing into work, I will give it another try on a weekend, when trains and buses run less frequently. But I still remember how to use my gearshifts, and I breezed by quite a few cars on Tuesday without almost no fear (maybe just a little). So I’d say little by little I’ve made strides. Although it has taken me 5 years to get to where I am, I promise I won’t quit.

**I’m not sure my bike warranted one, but I was living in Takoma at that time and there were 2 bike shops on the same street that promised nice people and interesting equipment.

Did you participate in Bike to Work Month or Day? Tell us your story!

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By Kate Seitz

Hi fellow EcoWomen. I’m Kate, a mid-twenty’s Midwestern transplant to DC and self-proclaimed
environmental enthusiast, perpetually on the lookout for new ways to “green” my routine. My kitchen
cupboards are exploding with glass jars that previously held jam, pickles, you name it. Can’t get enough
of ‘em, and continually find new ways to re-use ‘em. I think I may be allergic to wasting food and throwing
recyclables in a non-recycling bin. I’ve dabbled in the creations of homemade, organic face wash, face
scrub, and hand soap. I persistently scour the web and chat with like-minded individuals about ways to
reduce consumption and make a positive impact on our natural world. I’ll be sharing my successes and
inevitable failures (my first batch of hand soap resembled a giant booger…still workin’ on that…) here,
as I continue to put my lifestyle under the magnifying glass and discover ways to incorporate eco-friendly
practices into daily life. Hopefully, a DIY idea will strike your fancy, or I’ll succeed in intriguing you with the
wonders of bike commuting (see below). Read on, and stay tuned…

Each and every day, we make choices about how to transport ourselves from point A to point B. Which
mode of transportation we select is something we can all zero in on to reduce the stress that we as
human beings exert on the natural world. My own “ah ha” moment hit me after living in DC for a few
years. The commute from my first DC residence to work was relatively painless. I biked three-quarters
of a mile to the nearest Metro stop. The Metro was about a 15 minute ride, after which I’d exit at my stop
downtown and walk one block to work. Thirty minutes door to door. Boom.

Here’s the thing. DC summers make any Metro commute a little more interesting, and by interesting, I
mean sweaty and uncomfortable. I’m talkin’ daily summer Metro rides where each passenger is sweatier
the last, and what seems like every other Metro car has a busted air conditioning unit. On more than
one occasion during my summer Metro rides, beads of sweat literally trickled from this dude’s…OK OK,
I’ll stop there. Point is, Metro commutes in the DC summer heat and humidity does not a happy person
make. This unfortunate reality aside, I always had the thought in the back of my mind: could I make it to
and from work in one piece on a bicycle? And if I could, how much of a positive impact would this change
lend, both on my own lifestyle and on the environment?

It wasn’t until my husband and I moved into our second and current DC residence that I took the
possibility of becoming a bike commuter seriously. Our place is off of the Metro grid, and while the
Metrobus does stop right outside of our house, well, don’t get me started on the woes of the Metrobus.
After our move, I planned out my bike route, got my ride tuned up, and purchased several articles
of clothing that may or may not blind anyone who looks my way (but hey, at least they decrease the
chances of a clueless driver nonchalantly running me off the road). Despite my preparations, my worries
as a cycling novice loomed. What if I get honked at? What if I go the wrong way on a one way? What are
those hand signals again? As I prepared for my first official bike commute and nervously pondered these
questions, my husband offered to spend his morning off to accompany me on my first ride to work (can
you say “swoon”?). Not only did I make it all in one piece, but I did the trek home all by my grown-up self
(ta da!). And thus began my love affair with bike commuting.

I now bike every day to work, rain or shine, 10 miles roundtrip, and would not have it any other way. I
suppress the temptation to yell out “see ya, suckers!” as I (safety) make my way right on passed the
inevitable traffic jam. What I love most is that I spend 15 minutes of my 25 minute commute on the Capital
Crescent Trail. Have you been on the CCT on the weekend? Ya, not the same. Don’t get me wrong…it
is a great trail regardless, and I love to see so many people out and about on the weekends. But the trail
on an early weekday morning is so calming. Peaceful. The other cyclists are friendly, almost neighborly.
Many nod their heads to say good morning. And I once got a thumbs up…how’s that for a start to your
workday?

My bike commute is the perfect start to my day. I look forward to getting on my bike each morning and

pedaling to work, passing the serene Potomac on my right, no cars in sight. It gets my heart pumping.
I consciously draw in deep breaths of fresh morning air. I’m on my own schedule, free of worries about
Metro breakdowns and traffic pile up. Plus, I’ve tapped into the environmental advantages of cycling,
which include avoiding gas and electricity consumptive modes of transportation. If only I had discovered
this joy years ago…

May 18th is the Washington DC Bike to Work Day. No better time to discover this delightful means of
transportation than when you’re sharing the streets with thousands of fellow cyclists! So get out there!

Yours in greening,

Kate Seitz

posted by | on , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Environmental Community Activism Grows with Earth Day Approaching

By Kate Seitz


With Earth Day just around the corner, activists and volunteers are finalizing plans and gathering support for events intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the natural environment. This time of year is flush with trash cleanup efforts, gardening seminars, tree plantings, and composting demonstrations taking place across the globe. Whether or not you are a recycling novice or have already incorporated numerous “green living” strategies into your daily life, there are a plethora of opportunities to engage in environmental community activism.

This Earth Day, I will be busy fundraising for Climate Ride, a 300 mile 5 day bicycling journey that aims to raise awareness about climate change, sustainability, and bike advocacy. Climate Ride participants have the option to participate in the NYC to DC trek, which takes place in the spring, or the Eureka to San Francisco, California ride in the fall.   I have chosen to participate in the California ride, but have made ties with riders participating on the local ride this spring. A few colleagues that participated in the NYC to DC ride a year ago spoke volumes about how wonderfully rewarding the entire experience is: raising money for charities dedicated to climate change and sustainability solutions, biking en masse through NYC as onlookers stare curiously, peddling on through the countryside in three neighboring states, and finally, reaching the finish line at the steps of the Capitol building amidst a throng of supporters and climate change activists. Climate Ride is a challenging yet rewarding adventure that benefits a multitude of eco-minded charities.

Whether you plan to participate in an eco-seminar, teach others about the benefits of buying local produce, or trade in an old, inefficient refrigerator for an ENERGY STAR model®, the options to celebrate the environment and its protection are limitless. In what ways do you participate in environmental community activism?