Bike Highways – Mega Cities Investing in Bicycle Infrastructure

Bike Highways

Over the last century or so, the world and its cities have spent trilions of dollars on automotive related highways.  The interstate highway system in the US or the autobahns in Germany are example of engineering greatness – creating efficient and very convenient (for cars and trucks) roadway system.

Now we have examples of significant investment going into biking infrastructure in big metro areas.

  • Paris: investing approximately $164M to build a 28-30 mile highway for bicycles;
  • Atlanta: pledging to invest $1B over the next 25 years into biking and walking infrastructure in order to make the city more liveable

The Paris plan is being described in the article by CityLab and per that article hopefully it will get completed.   From personal experience – Paris desperately needs the bicycles as the congestion in the city is pretty bad.  I remember spending hours stuck in traffic trying to leave the city on the way to near by towns and then come back in the evening…

Atlanta is no different — yes, it needs the plan and its results…Here is more on it

Well, check them out and encourage your local communities to do the same…

Beat Jet-lag – Shanghai to Bike Trail in 24 Hours

Beat Jet-lag

How to beat jet-lag?  Well folks I firmly believe that biking is a cure to it all – yes, to JET-LAG…at least…Last night I flew into Austin (landed at ABIA around 9:40pm) after a 10-day trip to China.  Mind you air travel has become easier over the years – a trip that used to take me 27-30 hours leaving home in Austin and getting to my destination in one of the major metro areas in China or doing the reverse, is now taking about 7-8 hours less.  The reasons for that are many – one of them are the increase in direct flights between various points in the US and China leveraging the new fuel efficient Boeing 787-Dreamliner.

Dallas-Boeing-Dreamliner-B787 The plane is able to move a large number of passengers very efficiently and with relatively good comfort even in the dreaded “Economy” class…

As a result, I left Shanghai Pudong airport on a late afternoon flight bound for DFW and by 4:30pm on that same Saturday (Oh, the wonders of time zones — I left Shanghai and landed in Dallas what it seems only a few minutes later vs. the actual 14 hour flight).   Even after American airlines managed to screw up my connecting flight to Austin due to the lack of a 3rd flight attendant, I was able to switch to another Austin bound flight at a later time and finally by 9:40pm landed in Austin.

My first action upon landing was to promise myself that Sunday morning will be taken by a bike ride on my Trek X-Caliber – the intent to beat jet lag as quickly as possible.

Barton-Creek-West-TrailAnd that is what I did – I was on the bike on the trail by 8am – probably should have come out earlier given the heat and humidity of Texas at this time of the year but better late then never I guess;   The trail seemed tougher than usual – why?  because after 10-days of hopping from city to city, business meetings and all, I was out of shape!

Nevertheless I huffed and I puffed but I made the 11-mile trek in 1-hour and 15 minutes and along the way as usual, saw tons of interesting blooming flowers and the countless number of cactus…. The trek is tiring but the beauty of Texas nature is well worth the effort.  After the urban jungle of Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Suzhou – the Texas single track trail is a welcome escape…. Here are some more photos from the ride this morning…

Beat Jet-Lag Texas-Biking-TrailsBeat Jet-Lag Texas-Trails-Flowers

 

 

Mountain Bike Deals Coming…

Mountain Bike Deals – New Models with Aggressive Pricing Coming

2017 may actually become the year when mountain bike deals come calling and …you do not have to sell one of your cars in order to get into a performance and feature rich mountain bike from a well recognized brand / bike designer.  If we use the recent announcement by Marin Bikes, which may be a precursor of what is to come in the 2017 model year, we may have a great, fun filled (read kid in a candy store) year of selecting competitively priced performance bikes

Marin-Bikes-Hawk-HillHere is what Marin Bikes just announced:

  • Pretty Good Pricing $1500, which gets you
  • The same frame as the Series 3 6061 alloy frame with light weight and added stiffness
  • This is similar frame to the hardtail Indian Fire Trail 7.8 – a $2419 but the new model also adds new capabilities – e.g. the rear air shock;
  • Additional info:  Wide-range 1×10-speed drivetrain with Shimano Deore Shadow Plus rear derailleur and 11-42t cassette; Deore shifter
  • The bike comes with double-wall alloy rims w/27mm inner width, wrapped in Schwalbe Hans Dampf 27.5” x 2.35” tires
  • The front fork is a 120mm travel air shock; and then as stated earlier you have the rear shock as well;
  • The only potential issue some of you may find is the use of 27-in wheels rather the 29er approach;

All in all a potential good sign for promising prices to come  – mountain bike deals are coming

 

Beijing – Running but not Biking

I have lived a large number of years in China and Beijing specifically.  Beijing is a huge metropolis with now very cosmopolitan population – as a result (I think) the city has largely moved away from using bikes to any significant degree.

Years ago, the streets of the city were clogged with bikes – as those provided the main means of transportation.  Today, everyone has jumped in a car or in the subway and the bikes are few and far in between on the city streets.

After a recent outing to the Beijing Olympic park though, I have some hopes that the situation may change.  Why do I say that?   Because both the city as well as its residents are starting to pay increasing attention to exercising and enjoying ecologically clean means of doing so.  The city is also spending large sums of money for maintaining the park and as a result I have hopes that they will start investing also in bicycle friendly streets and areas of the city.

Here are some photos from the Beijing Olympic park on a recent Sunday afternoon….

Beijing-Olympic-Park Olympic-park-Running

The park itself I can use also some paths for biking – there is certainly enough space based on the loading of runners I see – i.e.not that many, and given its large size can offer good opportunity for at least some exercise and learning to navigate a bike in the outdoors.

China-Beijing-Runners-World-Olympic-Park

Beijing-China-Olympic park

 

 

 

 

 

At any rate, I do think Beijing can benefit hugely from large usage of bicycles so any steps in encouraging that will be helping the city reduce pollution and congestion.

Texas Bike Trails in April – Continued

Last weekend I posted a bunch of photos from the great trails in Texas – if you like mountain biking, the spring in and around Austin, Texas is a great time to experience nature from the bike seat… You get to see great colors, may be even encounter some wild life on the trails.

This April has been wet – tons of rains in the area – resulted in greenery everywhere and of course tons of wild flowers.

As a result of the rains, the local creeks are also running wild – so you may need to be careful on some of the trails.  Lucky for me – by this Saturday the trails along Barton Creek (photos below) were almost dry with only some areas that were still under water – but easy to bike through on your bike.

I think the photos speak for themselves – April is a great time to go out and ride the trails.

Austin-Texas-Mountain-Bike Austin-Texas-Mountain-Bikes Texas Austin Mountain Bike Austin-Texas

 

Texas Mountain Bike Trails in April

Gallery

This gallery contains 6 photos.

This winter and spring have both been fairly unpredictable and actually not cold.  As a result both the trails and the actual biking conditions have been rather pleasant if not a bit muddy. Yesterday, we had the opportunity to hit … Continue reading

New Experiences on the Trail and New Bikes

New Experience and New Bikes

Well, the weather is getting better every week and as a result we can get more and more mountain bike ride time on the weekends.  The trails always bring some surprises and so they did this time around – I came across a Great Impressive Swirly Tree on the Barton Creek trail….

Trail Views

In the spirit of the new discoveries – I have come across also a new goal – new bike to go after.   The Following from Evil Bikes.  I started a page for these bikes – you can check it out here.  At any rate, more to experience…

Evil-Bikes Evil-Bikes

Two bikes definitely worth considering – and I am doing so seriously!

Mpow Seashell Bluetooth Headphones

There is the long standing question as to whether bikers should listed to audio while on the bikes.  The issue at hand is safety.  While you are biking you need to be well aware of the conditions and events around you.   Whether it is a car approaching you or animal or someone is asking you to stop – there are many examples why you need to have a pretty good hearing and focused attention while on your bicycle.

Runtastic Mountain Bike Having said that – it is also very pleasant to have the companionship of a good playlist while you are on the bike.   Multiple biking exercise tracking programs offer good integration with your audio player.   I use Runtastic Mountain Bike PRO, and it does provide for integrated access to your audio library and playlists.

You can see the front panel/dashboard of Runtastic and can see the icon (notes) for music player, which is interfaced to your Apple Application

So then the question becomes, if you are safe on your bike, what earphones should you use.  The regular wired earphones are fine but still you get to deal with the mess of wires

Bluetooth HeadphonesEnters the Bluetooth earphone set – nice alternative to wires.   Recently I tested the Mpow Seashell Bluetooth headphones.  The idea and the convenience they offer is good.

You get good and clear sound from the buds and can even make phone calls – you have an integrated remote control for the volume control and an integrated microphone.

Now, about the negative aspects of these headphones:

  • while the sound quality is OK, you are more than pre-occupied adjusting the microphone and the overall fit of the headphones in your ear.
  • Turns out – based on my experience – the headphones body that is suposed to fit in your ear, is actually too bulky and too heavy forcing constant adjustments and push
  • I believe one session with the headphones will make you see
  • The designers have strived to make the headphones very simple to use and this shows.  They are good – UNTIL it comes to vigorous exercise.   In that condition, the headphones naturally want to come out….As a result one has to constantly adjust the heardphones and push them snug into your ear canal.
  • Here is a video snippet covering the Mpow

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Well, you be the judge – but I will pass on this heaphones set.

Bicycle Riders Behavior on the Road

There is tons of writing on the web from bicycle riders who feel wronged by car drivers while on the various roads in cities.  While this may be a real situation – I have been on my mountain bike while a car had driven by with a passenger or the driver screaming for me to get off the road or at the least making gestures of various kinds …

Today, though I saw the opposite – while driving on one of the busy roads in Austin, a road bicycle rider decided to do a stupid thing.  The road I am talking about is a divided one (with a grassy median) and posted speed of 60miles per hour.   The road is busy and especially so at its various exits to street in the city.   On one of those exits, the rider I am talking about here stayed on the shoulder of the road for a long enough time to make me (and I think other drivers) think that he will be taking the exit.   Furthermore the exit was to a street which is also frequented by bicycle riders – I know – I ride there as well.

Then in the last minute without any signal he decided to swerve and dash for the main road – i.e. cross the exit lanes to get back on the main highway.   Fine, he wanted to be on the main highway and fine, he stayed too long on the exit lane, bud DUDE, signal!!!   That is one of the reasons you have arms and hands.  You would expect a car driver to signal that he/she is changing his mind and changing lanes… So should a bicycle – especially on a busy road!

But then again, may be he is one of the drivers who does the same maneuver in his car as well without signaling driving others to react with urgency….

Oh, well, hopefully not to many do this stupid action so all of us – bike riders and car drivers are safe on the road!

Happy biking!