Posts Tagged ‘biking’

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.

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on Biking to Work: It’s Quite Doable

by Catherine Plume

Bicycle commuting continues to grow in the DC area and according to a US Census report, 4.5 percent of DC residents commuted to work by bike in 2013. Only Portland, Oregon “out bikes” us with 5.9 percent of their commuters using pedal power to commute. Commuter biking is fun, hip, and undoubtedly the quickest way to get around town, but it’s not without its challenges. If you’re considering joining the ranks of the DC bicycle commuter brigade, here are a couple of resources and suggestions to make your commute safer and more efficient.

The Washington Area Bicycle Association (WABA) is a great resource for any DC cyclist, and their lobbying efforts and advocacy have contributed to the development of bike lanes across DC. While bike lanes undoubtedly add protection for cyclists, cycling in traffic – even in bike lanes – requires confidence and respect for other cyclists, pedestrians, and the ever present motorized vehicle. WABA offers adult education classes for city cycling, and they’ll teach you how to change a flat. They also have youth classes cycling education rides. As a WABA member, you’ll receive a 10 percent discount at many DC bike store. Support WABA – it is your DC Area cycling friend!

Cykel

If you’re in the market for a commuter bike, there are a few things to consider. Fatter tires and wheels can cope with potholes and curbs better than skinny tires, but they will slow you down. Hybrid bikes offer a great middle of the road option. Investing in flat resistant tires and/or tubes will cost you a bit more, but are well worth the investment. A bike with a chain guard will save your pants, tights, leggings and shoes from grease spinoff while a lower or no top tube will prevent (or at least minimize) your skirt or dress from blowing up as you ride. Reflectors and lights (front and back) are a must for cycling at night and a helmet is de rigueur ALWAYS. A basket, rear rack and water bottle cage are handy accessories that will make your ride more enjoyable and practical.

Capital BikeShare bikes are great for city cycling, and meet most of the criteria outlined above. Depending on where you live or work and the time of day, finding a bike or an empty docking station can be a challenge. While Capital Bikeshare kiosks provide extra time to find an open dock and a list of where bikes and docks can be found, it can be inconvenient.

Whether you’re bikesharing or riding your own bike, plot out your route before you set out. DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) provides an online bicycle map. Opt for a route that will keep you in bike lanes as much as possible. Stay alert! Do you really need those earbuds in your ears when you’re cycling? Use hand signals to indicate turning and stopping. Everyone – cyclists, pedestrians and motorists – will appreciate this! Let fellow cyclists know that you’re passing them with a friendly “on your left” as you come up behind them. While you’re at it, acknowledge other cyclists when you’re at a stoplight. Make a new friend.

Think about where you’re going to park your bike once you get to work. Does your office provide bicycle parking? Invest in good bicycle locks. Thieves LOVE cable locks as they can cut through them in a pinch. A good U-lock or the new foldable locks are expensive, but they’ll thwart the thieves!

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Looking fresh once you get to work can be a challenge, especially with DC’s hot and humid summers. See if your office has a locker room or a shower for cycling. Keep makeup, towels and work shoes at the office so you don’t have to transport them back and forth every day. Keep some grease remover, hand sanitizer, and a small first aid kit handy just in case. If you’re biking in a skirt or dress that keeps flying up, wrap a coin in the fabric at the front hem and fasten it with a rubber band. This weighted hem will fall between your legs as you cycle and minimize fly up.

Finally, be a safe and responsible cyclist. When that impromptu happy hour happens and you find yourself a bit tipsy, please don’t cycle. You can put your bike on a Metro or Circulator bus or ask your friendly bus driver to help you. (Thank him or her profusely!). Metro trains allows up to two bicycles per car during non-rush hour times. Folded bikes are allowed anytime.

Biking is a great way to get around town! Do it, and bike safely!

Catherine Plume is a long time DC bicycle commuter. She’s the blogger for the DC Recycler; www.DCRecycler.blogspot.com; Twitter: @DC_Recycler.

posted by | on , , , , , | Comments Off on Celebrate National Bike Month – The Case for Biking to Work

The following is a guest post by DC EcoWomen Board Member Alison Alford

May is the perfect month to ride a bike – it’s National Bike Month, and in Washington DC, Bike to Work Day is on Friday, May 17. The National Bike Challenge kicked off on May 1, with the goal of uniting 50,000 people to bike 10 million miles throughout America. Regardless of the reason, swapping out a trip in a car for a ride on a bike is always a great choice!

Why should we commute by bicycle? According to the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey“25 percent of all trips are made within a mile of the home, 40 percent of all trips are within two miles of the home, and 50 percent of the working population commutes five miles or less to work. Yet more than 82 percent of trips five miles or less are made by personal motor vehicle.”

The average vehicle emits nearly a pound of carbon dioxide (CO2) per every mile driven, and studies show that shorter car trips release more emissions than longer trips. By commuting to work by bicycle, or using a bike to complete errands, major sources of pollutants are kept out of the air.

Cycling also incorporates exercise in an otherwise sedentary commute, and provides the health benefits of adding a low-impact form of exercise into a daily routine.

More than half of 1 percent of American workers commute by bicycle. That may seem like a small number, but it is growing fast and the potential is huge. A survey completed by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics in 2000 found that 41.3 million Americans use a bicycle for transportation, and every year more commuters are opting out of driving to work and opting into cycling. The United States’ 70 largest cities have seen the largest percentage of growth in bikers, with a 63 percent growth in new bike commuters from 2000 to 2010.

Not only does commuting by bicycle save money by not having to rely on gas-powered vehicles, it is also a zero emission form of transportation that is easily accessible to people of all fitness and socio-economic levels. Bicycles cost far less than a car or truck, and other than a good helmet and periodic maintenance, bikes do not incur additional expenses after the initial purchase price.

Many communities are becoming more bike friendly. For example, Washington D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare program has over 1,800 bicycles available at 200 various stations around the D.C. metropolitan area. Many city buses and subway systems allow cyclists to bring their bike on-board, and organizations have the option to apply for bike commuting benefits for their employees. Associations and non-profits like the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and the League of American Bicyclists offer great on-bike courses to help cyclists become more confident while riding.

Regardless of your reason to bike, be sure to try it out this Friday, May 17 and join your fellow cyclists by celebrating Bike to Work Day!  It’s a fun way to get outside and try a new spin on your commute!

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Below is a post from Elizabeth Floyd.  Elizabeth has two degrees in European history, worked in theatrical costume design and wardrobe for many years, and now promotes sustainable modes of transportation as a Business Development Manager for Arlington Transportation Partners. She owns three bicycles but no car, and has started sewing clothing with reflective trim that are appropriate for both work and play. You can read more of her writing on her blog: Tin Lizzie Rides Again.

I recently attended the Behavior, Energy and Climate Change conference in Sacramento, CA. I also presented all the great work that Arlington Transportation Partners does with the Arlington county employers and property managers, as well as learning from all the sessions I attended. Although the conference focus was on energy and climate change, the best part was learning about basic behavior change strategies that can apply to anything – commutes, weight loss, even buying habits. I recognized every point in myself, as I thought about my transit from a car-less Metro rider to a car-less bicyclist.

There are some basic behavior change concepts that apply to everything – people do not change their habits based on facts and figures, but rather, on information they learn from friends, family, and respected role models. Once the motivation is there, however, individuals will only change their behavior if the barriers are removed, and there are prompts, often social, in place to encourage them to repeat the desired behavior and reframe their worldview. It sounds simple, right?  However, the reality is much harder, or we would all be perfect.

I was interested in bike riding when I lived in Manhattan for ten years, but despite knowing that it was healthy, inexpensive, and fun, there were several barriers in place. I did not know anyone who did it, so my only real reference point was the huge bike messenger and bike delivery population swarming around the city every day. Watching them made me nervous about bike safety, and honestly, it was not a lifestyle or look I was interested in emulating. Moreover, in my small apartment, where on earth would I keep a bike? I didn’t want to hang it from the ceiling – that did not match my décor!

Fast forward to moving into Arlington. My parents came to visit. My dad, who used to ride his bike to work every day, helped me find a decent beginner bike, installed fenders and lights, and made sure I had the proper tire pump. So that was not only the first lowered barrier, but I was learning from someone I trusted. I still didn’t know anyone who biked for transportation, and got used to coworkers at the job I had then teasing me for biking, but then I discovered that a local bike shop was having a “Ladies’ Night” event. That made a huge difference for me – I found a large group of women, some of whom were new like me, and many of whom were more experienced. Add in some fun women leading the talk, and encouraging us, and suddenly I’d found a group of role models I could emulate. Then, when I joined the ATP team, I went from being “the person in the office who bikes to work” to “one of many people who bike to work.”

Now I’ve completed the behavior change loop. I have reframed my worldview so that biking for transportation is completely normal, I have many friends and colleagues who do it, and it is encouraged by my workplace. It only proves what the presenters at the BECC said – it takes time to change behaviors.

Wait, that’s what we say here at ATP! We know it is not easy to change behaviors, but we are here to help with the process. We encourage businesses and properties to offer not just bicycle amenities, but many types of benefits to help remove barriers to non-car commuting.  And once everyone in an office or building observes biking, Metro, busing, and walking as easy, socially acceptable behaviors, it becomes easier to do it as well. So contact ATP now to find out how to remove barriers, add benefits, and begin to reframe your transit worldview.

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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?