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!

Zion – Biking in Utah

Zion – Biking Opportunity in Utah

For those of you who may be planning an interesting holiday trip and would like to experience on of the spectacular national parks to its raw fullest, and if you can handle the cold of winter, then you should consider a holiday trip (during the Christmas vacations) to Utah and the Zion National Park specifically.

Will it be cold ?   YES!!!

Will you have the park almost to yourself?  YES!!!

Will you have fun even if you do not get a chance to bike for long?  YES!

You can take a look at some snapshots from a trip we took to the park on a previous Christmas and decide for yourself.  We visited on Christmas day and were almost alone in the park…Yes, it was cold, did I mention that?

Utah-Zion-Park

Take a look at the beauty and and think of the miles and miles of road bike you can pedal here?

Or imagine going along the bike trails… Here are some additional links to leverage…

 

And then there are always more photos – I have said it many times and will repeat it here again – use photos to guide you – visual guidance is great, leverage it when you can.

Zion-sun-rays

Picture 1 of 10

 

Bicycles and Crazy Uses of Bicycles

Bicycles – Crazy Uses

Have you thought about the various uses of a bicycle…?  All of us think a mountain bike is a mountain bike, you have your trails or neighborhood pathways and you go for the exercise and the excitement of downhill rushing by you….a 29er screaming downhill at 30-40miles an hour…what a rush!

Then there are a few other uses of a bicycle – take a look below… Have you thought of any of them?  I bet not….or ?

Bicycles-Lorries-Beijing

Here are the pickup bicycles. Who said you cannot move 100-pounds of shrimp or chicken from the warehouse to the market 🙂

 

These bikes will certainly do the job well…

 

Bicycles-as-trucks-in-BeijingAnd then there are also the heavy weight moving machines.  These are almost pulling as much weight as a mid-size truck in the US.

Hey, at least they are not polluting and are on top of the energy efficiency list, right?

 

Did we see enough?  I bet not…

Beijing-Bike-Truck

 

Here is another contraption – a bike on the streets of Beijing

This baby can haul some stuff…You agree, right..?

 

 

Sleeping on a bike

Sleeping on your bike…anyone?  Why not – this bike especially…I am surprised there is no mattress on it

 

 

 

 

But seriously, it is obvious that bicycles continue to be a dominant force in China…

 

 

Urban Biking – Advances Across European Cities

Urban Biking

This is not a fad – there is plenty of evidence that bicycle usage in the cities across the US is growing.  There are plenty of different reasons for that – to name a few: more people are moving from the suburbs to live downtown or closer to downtown and their workplaces, gasoline – while the gas prices have been steadily falling, still it takes a chunk of money to just keep commuting to-and-from work….very importantly – biking is actually a great form of exercise and a method to keep people younger longer….!

Bicycle usage across various parts of the US are growing – I visit many cities each year and, yes, I do pay attention – you do tend to see significant number of bicycles going around.  Here is a chart which actually provides a lot of information

Infographic: San Francisco is the Most Bike-Friendly City in the U.S. | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

I was very proud and pleasantly surprised by San Francisco and Austin…..Great progress..

But – wait a minute – do not let this praise make you think that the cities in the US (even the ones listed on the infographic above) have made enough progress to allow for broad usage of bicycles.   To spell it simply – THEY HAVE NOT!

Now, let’s take a look at a relatively random sampling of european big and and small, modern and upcoming, etc cities.

Then recently I went on a complex customer facing tour in Europe, where I met with tons of customers, but those located usually in smaller citifies across Germany, Belgium, and France.   I was very surprised (in a positive way) to find tons of evidence of heavy bike usage – and once again thought as to how limited the same is in the US….

I went to Poing, Bavaria in Germany – the industrial company I visited had installed a covered parking for the employees that ride bicycles to work!

Urban-bike-parking

Then my trip continued to Bucharest, Romania — to my surprise there – again – big bike lanes to the main streets and people actually paying attention to them.

Now, why would Bucharest have a strong bike culture?  It does not – but in 2011 timeframe the local government decided to encourage the use of bicycles – and voila – the infrastructure was created.

Bicycle-infrastructure-in-Bucharest

Per Wikipedia, between 2008 and 2010, the local government built 122-km of bicycle lanes  – yes, indeed – I saw those and the staff at the JW Marriott in Bucharest also told me a similar story.    The sad part though was that I hardly saw a person using the lanes…;

 

The story continued in France, in multiple cities there was the Bicycles-in-France-Citiesstrong evidence of the bicycle lanes and in most places there were people taking advantage of the infrastructure.  All in all a positive development – why?  for the same reasons I started this article with – cost savings, health, and overall a more pleasant living environment!

I hope things continue to develop in a positive direction in the US as well

 

 

 

Good Bye to my Apple Watch

Earlier today I finally decided to resolve my situation with the Apple Watch.  Both yesterday and today were beautiful sunny days in Austin, Texas, with yesterday being surprisingly cool (vs. the weather forecast that called for 90-degree F).

Needless to say, the bikes were out (after fixing a flat I had not noticed on my way back from the trails three weeks ago) and my family and I hit the green belts on Barton Creek….a nice place to bike

We spent about 1 hour and 20 minutes riding – on both Saturday and Sunday – although Sunday was a more difficult day – due to the significantly higher temperatures.

Now, back to the Apple Watch situation – I had posted about my issues with the Watch in previous articles.  I like the Watch!  The idea is great and the industrial design / physical implementation is also impeccable.  Problem (at least per my experience) is the software.  I continue to find issues with how the watch measures exercise etc.  A week ago I upgraded to version 2 of the Apple Watch OS with the hope things will improve.  Since then I have been testing the exercise applications for elliptical trainer and for biking and in all cases the results are less than stellar – the Apple Watch continues to give incorrect readings from the sessions

Finally, today I went to one of the local Apple Stores and had a very positive experience with the Apple Store Staff.   Overall, the are usually very attentive and knowledgeable.  This time they went well above that.  I discussed the situation with the store manager – admittedly I had spoken with him about a month ago about the issues and was very offered a great service – I was able to return the watch and get a refund.   This is well beyond my expectations – Thank you Apple!  and Apple Store Staff!

As I stated earlier – I really like the idea Apple was targeting with the Watch and was very disappointed to have to return it but it did not work.   I will look forward to the next version – with the hope that things will be improved etc.   Till then – back to my bike and iPhone applications… Just as a reminder – in my opinion Runtastic Mountain Bike Pro is a good one, and so is Strava (as many bikers will attest).  I have not been able to use well Bike+ for some reason its user interface and features are not quite as well done as the other apps.  But I like to experiment – will continue testing them.

If you have questions about iPhone Apps for Biking – do not hesitate – let me know…will give you my experience and view point.

Apple Watch – 3+ Months Use Readout

Apple-Watch TestingWell I have been using my Apple Watch since early June.  I was very eager to get the watch – why, you would say..? Because it promised some nifty ways to encourage you to exercise and measure your achievements.

so I started the quest – run, bicycle, lift weights, run on the Elyptical trainer…and in the process I also used secondary instruments to measure the time, distance, calories spent.

I used apps on my iPhone which I mount on my mountain bike.  In the process I have used many different apps – you can find the postings on those on this blog.  Also used the computer part of the Elyptical trainer….

the results have been rather unsatisfactory – with respect to the Apple Watch…not a good sight.

Here are the reasons for my dissatisfaction:

  1. measured mountain bike session – well the watch app does not discern mountain bike from road bike…. The result, completely different results – 1 hour on the mountain bike is 800+ calories but according to the Apple Watch 500-600….
  2. running on the Elyptical trainer results in a closer measurements but still disconnected
  3. i did weights – for about 5 minutes of lifting – the Apple watch registered 1 calories spent…!  Really !?!?
  4. etc

i believe you get my drift… Very surprising that 3rd parties have developed apps for iPhone which are pretty accurate, while Apple’s own for the Watch are not that great…!

I hear new software is coming for the Watch – hope these updates will bring positive changes …!

 

Biking is a Great Exercise

Exercise-biking-mountain-bikeFor all of you who are trying to stay fit and take steps to burn calories, here is something to consider (if you have not done that already) – biking (road, cross-country, or mountain) is a great form of exercise.

What makes me say that – well, based on inputs from various practitioners as well as my own experience, biking is:

  • less stressful on your joints – running could be a problem for many of us, but biking provides for a much less stressful way to train
  • providing for a escape from a routine – I do not know your methods but just running or swimming laps in a pool is booooring! Riding on your bike gives you the opportunity to experience speed, new places, while still train your body
  • practical – while you exercise you could roll down to the corner store, coffee shop or run an errand.  Great !  You spent some calories, exercised and got some other tasks accomplished…

Given these aspects above – what are the various ways to add to the biking exercise to increase its impact and efficiency:

  1. Consider going off the asphalt / city street and hitting the trails and unpaved surfaces – i.e. dirt roads and/or trails in the park or out in the country side are the way to increase your energy spent and calories burnt.  As you move to a more varied terrain and hit the mountain biking trails your workout increases significantly.  I have noticed that the calories burnt in those conditions may increase in the range of 20-25%
  2. Don’t stop pedaling – yes, it is easy to cruise along, coast on the speed you gain either from going downhill or from the previous interval of pedaling.  But where is the fun in that?  and more importantly, you will burn much fewer calories.  So, even if you are going downhill keep pedaling – this will be especially easy to do if you are on a mountain bike…and even more so on a 29er.  As in the case of item 1 above you will add another 20% to your achieved spent calories by doing this.
  3. Leverage your bike for errands and getting around town: Think about it this way, are you going to meet a friend for a mourning cup of coffee and chat?  You do!  I know it.  OK, if so then why are you jumping in your vehicle?   I have a better idea – leverage your bicycle. I can speak from experience – I do this most Saturdays – get to the local coffee shop using my bike…meet friends and get the best of both;
  4. If you live in a hilly place of the country, you are in luck.  Hills are your friends.  If you recall from earlier in this posting, keeping pedaling is good.  Same must be said about hill – they add to your exercise and help you built stamina and strength;

All in all, hopefully I have given you some food for thought.  None of the items above should be any significant and big revelation for you.  They are common sense – it is just that we do not stop and think about them – so hopefully, my list will help you get motivated and urge you to jump on your bike!

Bikes vs Cars – Another Set of Comments

Several days ago (it seems much longer time ago as I was 14 hours ahead in Asia / time zone) I posted some comments on the very old debate of Cars vs Bikes, which comments were instigated by the release of the documentary with same name.  As I stated in the previous posting, the debate rages on…So might as well add some more data and references on the topic in case you stumble across this blog.

One of the observations I made is that bikes in general are good for the economy – as they save $$$ otherwise spent on fuel, reduce pollution, assist in exercise – thus increasing the productivity of the riders….And now we have additional research pointing to bicycle (and foot) traffic actually increasing economic activity (the fancy term for otherwise said “shopping”).   The research was done by the University of Denver graduate student Stephen Rijo – the study shows (please see page 75 through page 95) that after Denver implemented bike lanes and bike friendly infrastructure on Larimer street in the city in October 2011, in the three subsequent years, sales and tax revenue increased 40%+ each year (41% to 71%);   The study PDF is available here;  Here is one of the example graphs from the study – courtesy of the research

Denver-Bike-Friendly-Street-Sales-Increase

Larimer Street Economic Performance – Food & Beverage, Other, & Total Sales (Sum) Taxes (from Stephen Antonio Rijo, August 2015 University of Denver)

Interesting findings – right?  I firmly believe we can find further similar examples of how biking and bike culture in cities can boost economic activity besides contributing to a healthier population.