Bicycles in American Cities

I constantly wonder what is the reason for US cities not making any greater progress in introducing bicycles as a normal and regular mode of transport – whether for commuting to work and school or for just pleasure.  Many US cities where I have lived make great attempts — YES, I call them attempts — at getting biking in their infrastructure.  Moving from the US East Coast to Phoenix in the mid-1990s I was pleasantly surprised to see bike lanes on many streets in the city.  That was a huge improvement over where I came from…but, was that enough to get people on their bikes?   I would say NO!  I biked to work every morning, but I hardly saw anyone else on the streets… Why was that the case?

Well, I think there were many reasons, here is a list of what I observed:

  • Lack of places to park your bicycle 
  • Not enough contiguous bike lanes across the city
  • City culture 
  • Employeers attitudes and support

So, now let's talk about these…

How often have you found suitable places to park your bicycle even in the most bike friendly cities in the US?  I would say rarely.  Austin, TX, Phoenix, AZ, … the story is relatively simple.  If you bike into the city, you have to look for a street sign so you can lock your bike to it!  

How do you park in the city Take a look at this photo from a New York web site…perfect example…!

In many cases even when there are bike lanes in the city, they often end abruptly and leave you to "fight" for your way with the cars and trucks on the road.  Tough situation…but is it unavoidable?  Not really.  But it needs commitment from the local governments to ensure biking is truly part of the growth strategy.

There are quite a few more reasons why bicycles will continue to be a marginal strategy for managed growth in the US cities.  I certainly hope that changes — and I think that will happen when the US cities start getting gridlocked for real.  Bicycles are affordable, great form of exercise, convenient – they can get to many places and of course they allow for MUCH greater density of people moving around.

What do you think?



Bike Rack – Need a Solution

My next project (outside of developing this Web site and blog) is to update my bike carrier.  Over the years I have gone through multiple options when transporting bikes (primarily mountain bikes) – of course starting with the venerable trunk mounted bike rack.  This worked for a while – when bikes were with simpler geometry and when I had to transport one or two (at most) bikes.  

Since then I have had experience with a bunch of other bike rack options.  Here are my previous postings on those experiences:  Here I had a review of bike rack options;  Then I looked at one of the newer racks with reviews on-line — did not find it very helpful

Then I decided that it was time to invest in a multi-bike solution for my station wagon — I picked up the modules to be able to mount 3 bikes on the roof of my car.  Thule had the solution including locking mechanism. 

Now however, I need to decide on new approach.  My wagon is getting old and I need to use the family SUV for the longer trips.  So the next project is now in full blown investigation stage:  How do I acquire a hitch for the SUV and if possible reuse the Thule bike carrier rails — specifically Thule Sidearm 594XT if matched together with a hitch mounted carrier….?

Thule Sidearm   

I will write the next progress report as I determine the solution that is possible — ideally, I do not want to buy yet another set of carriers if I can reuse the three I have.  If not, here we go Craigslist smiley


Bike Ride: Veliko Tqrnovo – Arbanasi

Earlier in the Summer, I was in Bulgaria and was able to go over yet another interesting bike ride option — for all of you who enjoy mountain climbs and leafy roads — this is the one!  The track is approximately 8-km long but certainly can put you to a good exercise given the climbs you will have to do on the way to Arbanasi.

Here is a map of the road between the to points of interest:

Why would I recommend this particular ride?  Because you will get to experience some great sites as well as of course get some good exercise.   Take a look at the photos here (below) from Veliko Tarnovo (Tsarevets) and from Arbanasi:

Veliko Tarnovo  tzarevetz

winding road to Arbanasi



Bicycle Parking in Japan

Well folks, bicycle parking in Japan is undergoing huge upgrade and change leveraging innovations in robotics, and information systems.

Traditionally, the bicycles we all know, use / ride to various destinations in a city, are parked on the street tied up to some secure point on a building or sidewalk.  In the better cases one could use a bicycle parking area (like the photos below):

Bike Park    Parking Lot for Bicycles in Japan

As you can imagine – these approaches to parking are well used and easy to deploy (i.e. low cost to deploy).  But land in the city is a premium – hence new companies are innovating to create new approaches for storing the bkes by just looking at new modes of how to approach the problem.

The latest approaches are robotic storage system that stores bikes underground in a completely auomated system.  

Here is the link to a big articles with photos…A great new system….