You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2009.

The future is here!  Brief article on Wired’s Gadget Lab Blog.

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You can now go and vote for NBBB is The Baltimore Sun‘s MOBBIES (and thanks to whomever nominated us!), under the MISFITS category and BEST OVERALL category!  You can vote everyday, in each category.

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And while you’re at it, you can vote for Johnny (Pragmatik) in the PERSONAL BLOG section!

Mark your calendars for Sunday, November 8th, at 1pm for the Tour du/de Greater Homewood, being held this year as a memorial to Mr. Jack Yates, who was their board member and friend.  Mr. Yates’ family will be joining us.

Stay tuned for details and a call for volunteers (!).

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(My former set-up. I used to run the smaller light at the left seat-stay, and even jerry-rigged to the back of my rack.)

It’s been said in several places on the byke innernetz that if your LEDs are a few years old, you might want to replace them. Why? LEDs last nearly forever, no? Because the technology is getting cheaper, brighter, more efficient, more durable and easier to mount!

These are Giant lights that I had on my (crashed) Giant bike. The larger one ran me nearly $30, and the small one was about $10 I think in 2006. The big one was bright enough to do the job fairly well, but it ate batteries like I drink coffee — as they said in Lost in Translation, “with much intensity!”  The smaller one died pretty quickly, too.  Both fell off the bike several times.  In fact, that larger one was actually stolen from ElRo (click here to see image of baby in her tummy) since mine fell off in traffic and got destroyed.  When I crashed that bike in April, someone who got to the scene handed me my pump and this smaller damned light.  I can vouch for its durability — it fell off a few times and took quite a big roll a couple of those.

When I got my new bike this summer, I wanted to get new lights, too.  My five LED headlight was Okay for being seen, but it went dim in a few hours and had a very narrow beam.  I wanted some improvement in that area, too.  The light I had was about $25 in 2006 also.  There were some very awesome lights out since then, and I was excited to try some out.

Planet Bike all the way.  Not only are they brighter and easier to mount.  They also were cheaper, and they haven’t fallen off yet.  I should really get around to posting something about my cheap/simple light set-up.  Maybe next week.  Stay tuned!

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Some friends of NBBB have won Best of Baltimore awards!

For Best Bike Shop, Baltimore Bicycle Works! While I can’t speak for anyone but myself, I am not surprised. Ever since the first time I went into this cool little shop off of the Jones Falls Trail, I’ve never wanted to go anywhere else for my bike needs.  The staff is super nice.  The selection of bikes and accessories are geared toward more than just roadies/MTBers/MUPers/hipsters/commuters/etc.  They love all cyclists there.  And while I generally do my own maintenance, I’ve heard nothing but glowing reviews in that department.

Also Mr. Nate Evans has won The Best Use of Taxpayer Funds award!  If you haven’t noticed all the new ways that Baltimore City is working to make our town a better place to bike, come out from under that rock, pump up your tires, and take a ride to 417 Fayette Street to thank Nate.

Congratulations to Brent, Josh, Lindsey, Meredith, Nate and Tommy (in alphabetical order)!

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If you’re an MTA rider, you might have noticed the new bus pads going in along the #61 route heading South (Roland-University-St. Paul).  There are orange barrels and construction equipment everywhere.

And there are holes.  BIG holes.  This is in addition to the terrible road surface that makes me avoid St. Paul Street between 33rd Street and North Avenue like the proverbial plague (I opt for Maryland Avenue in this case).

At University Parkway and Roland Avenue, there is a tub hole (graduated from a pot hole) and a huge linear crack running parallel to the lane, right in the middle of a Sharrow, where we’re supposed to ride before the bike lane kicks in — when the cars are still honking at each other because 4 in 10 drivers at that intersection at rush hour are on their phones (yes, I count sometimes when I’m waiting for the bus).  This crack is big enough to throw you off of a mountain bike, so 700c/650b riders should really watch out.  That’s a really hard spot to take the lane, too, since traffic is supposed to be merging.
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Continue along one of the first (the first?) bike lanes in Baltimore heading South on University Parkway, and you’ll meet a hole large enough to throw a motorcycle (?) right in the bike lane at University Parkway and Keswick road.  This is past that stone wall on the left, when most cars and buses are riding half-way into the bike lane already, and there’s construction equipment parked in the parking lane.  Stopping and/or taking the busy lane might be necessary.

The bus pads have been finished for over a week, and no one’s come to fix these holes, some of which are big enough to be hazards for autos.  The one at Roland and University makes the bus slow down!  And this is a very heavy bike traffic route (for our city), so BE CAREFUL!

Also, right as you pass 40th Street on University Parkway, there is a linear crack where the bus pad and street meet that’s been there for years, and at least one NBBB person almost ate it on there one day a few months ago.  This is the part of University approaching the bridge, between the two sets of bike lanes, when you really have to just take the lane no matter how bad the traffic is.  I have personally almost gotten flattened by a Volvo there when the Sharrows were new two years ago and before I just decided that manners were less important than not getting flattend and started just claiming the lane when I need to.

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The folks over at Bike Hacks have a funny post about different “types” of bike commuters.  Read on!  At the risk of sounding like a pig, I’ve seen a lot of “cleavage gals” around town with universities back in session.  Being a married man, I try to look elsewhere (even sitting on the  bus, where’s I’m not likely to hit anything).  I think that people probably don’t realize they’re bent over so much. One that’s missing from the list, though: The Ultra Fred.  You know ‘em.  Might have been ‘em.  I have, especially on my mega zip-tied previous steed.  I’ve seen a lot of Grasshopper folks, riding with their knees up and legs spread.

I also noticed this morning that there seems to be a correlation between seat height and safety gear in Baltimore these days.  On one hand, I see folks trying to get up hills with their seats like three inches too low who are rocking a helmet, vest, gloves, leg clips, lights galore, etc.  All that thought put into cycling, and their knees must be crying all the way home.  On the other hand, there are folks who look like they just bought a bike at REI, didn’t bother with lights, helmets, adjustments and just decided to ride.  While it’s certainly awesome any time that someone decides to start riding a bike for transportation, riding a bike that’s poorly adjusted is questionable enough on its own.  But when you do it at night with no lights or reflectors or anything, that’s just bad judgment (assuming that no one wants to get hurt).

I don’t have a point.  I just had a red-eye.

danleg0909From your friends at NBBB.  Today we salute firemen, cabinet makers, AmeriCorps, activitsts, cafe’ workers, folks in higher ed, bike mechanics, government workers, and workers of every sort and variety.  Nothing happens without work, and work doesn’t happen without you.

I’m not sure if this is an appropriate first post, but I think this might be of interest just because of the pure randomness of it.

I am currently an adjunct  professor at the University of Baltimore teaching ARTS101 to a class of freshmen.  The main goals of the class are to expose students to the world of art, share different perspectives on the purpose and value of art, how art impacts society (and Baltimore City specifically), etc.  My objective is to help students develop their own personal opinions of art through experiential education and interaction with the Baltimore art scene.

What does this have to do with cycling?  Well, during my first official class we had a discussion to address the question, “What is Art?”  I encouraged the students to share their own personal definitions of art with the class, which was a lot more fun than should have been allowed.   I followed with a little visual game I like to call, “Is it art?” where I display a slide of a relatively  famous piece of work and ask the students to interpret it without providing background.  The first piece they analyzed was Damien Hirst’s “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” which is perfect because of its high “WTF” factor.

… I still haven’t related this to cycling, but I promise it is!

In searching for some fun articles about Hirst for my students, I found this oddity.  Yes, that it a Trek Madone covered in butterfly wings… REAL butterfly wings.  Hirst designed this bike for Lance Armstrong, which will be auctioned off this October to raise funds for Livestrong.  As you probably guessed, animal rights activists are *THRILLED* about this bike!  I’m sure that the decorated bike sparkles and shimmers in the sunlight, evoking a kind of happiness that induces the puking of rainbows… until one gets a closer look and realizes that it’s practically a butterfly mausoleum on wheels.  OH, THE HORROR!

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Here’s more on the Livestrong/Trek design project, “STAGES,” which is actually pretty cool despite the sacrifice of hundreds of helpless butterflies.  Enjoy!

I’m planning some new bike routes for the Bolton Hill, Reservoir Hill & Lake Avenue area.  Essentially, these routes will be signed with distance and destination markers with limited pavement markings along (relatively) low volume, low speed roads connecting gaps in the Baltimore’s bike network.

Eutaw route will follow Eutaw Pl northbound from State Center/MLK to Druid Hill Park.  The southbound route will be Madison/Swan from the Jones Falls Trail to Bloom where it dog-legs left back to Eutaw.

The Lake Avenue route will begin where the bike lanes end on Kelly Ave just west of Mt. Washington and direct bike traffic east to Falls, dog-leg left onto Bellemore to Roland, dog-leg left again onto Lake all the way to Chinquapin with a spur to Belvedere Square off Linton via the footbridge over Northern Pkwy.

The development of these routes is based on their identity in the bike master plan, current use by cyclists and areas where bikes and cars can conceivably “share the road”.  While Eutaw may not be for the faint of heart, there’s Park which is quieter.  Some prefer Lake Ave over Bellemore when climbing out of the valley, which is all good.  Bellemore doesn’t necessarily have the road width, but it has far less traffic.  Some avoid Lake altogether, but it does have a wider shoulder toward the west and traffic calming in the east.

If biking in Baltimore is to be normalized, we need to decrease “riding in the shadows” and OBEY TRAFFIC LAWS.  Any feedback is encouraged and appreciated!  And thanks to everyone who came to the Harford Rd meeting!!!!

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