Peace, love, music and wisdom, and in the words of Lao-Tzu, "Give up haste and activity. Close your mouth. Only then will you comprehend the spirit of Tao. Jim z bike blogger - July 28, 2004, celebrating today the beginning of my 51st year of injury free bicycling.
Bike Trailers and well hung panniers make bicycling cargo about ten times easier than most folks would imagine. Bicycling your errands is a gift of automatic personal and mental aerobic fitness. It's not necessary at all to wear a backpack, bikes of all types can be outfitted with large capacity rear panniers (saddlebags) or trailers gives a bike better stability and so your cargo capacity can easily match that of a mid-size car. Bicycles are also politically, environmentally, and peacefully correct. You've heard of hyper cars - try a hyper bike, super-light and outfitted well for these purposes. You can buy 10 or 20 of these hi-tech dream bikes for the cash cost of a Civic Hybrid. Yet your savings in insurance, health care, gasoline, tickets/towing/fender-benders and other non-advertised costs of car ownership, including car fanaticism, er financing, not to mention embarrassments of road rage, tragedies of road kill, breakdown repairs, crash repairs, advertising ad nauseum, make these simple truths also very affordable. A low stress lifestyle of quietly and slowly plying car free or car restricted streets, paying perhaps a bit more than the corporate big box retailers charge because you shop locally, it all adds up quickly to huge cash and stress savings. What if biking proves to be twice as easy and ten times as thrifty as you think it is, and driving ten times as difficult and costly as it seems in the "solitary auto" ads? There is much truth to my life experience, bicycling into a better, sweeter, quieter, and more fragrant and relaxed life than can ever be had by a drive-thru experience.
Peace, love, music and wisdom, and in the words of Lao-Tzu, "Give up haste and activity. Close your mouth. Only then will you comprehend the spirit of Tao. Jim z bike blogger - July 28, 2004, celebrating today the beginning of my 51st year of injury free bicycling.
A very major traffic accident factor is drivers who yield when no one expects them to, because they want to be "NICE," or get a closer look at someone or their vehicle going by... too bad the driver behind them has no clue what's going on and ends up rear-ending the nice driver, or slamming that driver into a vehicle he was "just being nice" enough to unexpectedly yield to. A critically important way to avoid accidents is to behave predictably and FOLLOW the rules of right of way, detailed on pgs. 19 and 20 of the 2003 California Drivers Handbook, available free in several languages at or through the DMV. Driving too slow, something I notice myself doing now a bit much 'cause I'm so used to going at bicycle speeds, is also a serious problem as it invites road rage incidents and angers drivers who generally are in a huge rush to get to the upcoming red light and slam on the brakes. It remains unfortunately true that most drivers couldn't care less how much gas they burn, what with it still today in the US costing less than what bottled water goes for by the gallon. Passing on the right, though legal in car-crazed California and illegal in more normal states, is not in my opinion a great idea, one never knows what reason a vehicle is going too slow, they may be thinking of pulling over or doing some other task while driving, like tuning in a Gong Show episode on the in-dash TV they just got installed by the not-so-Good Guys. The primary auto accessories. I'd want are sanity and predictability. Or at least that's what I need, never mind what I want! In this world there are only two tragedies.
One is not getting what one wants, the other is getting it. ----- Oscar Wilde
My decision to leave my car in the garage and start bicycling everywhere has made impulse buying and conspicuous consumption unnecessary -- or at least unlikely -- as there is a happy limit to how much cargo a bike can carry. (Never mind that I bought a bike trailer last year. Even without it, I often load up my bike with four full sacks of groceries in about the same time it takes to load a car or SUV with the same.) The bottom line is, even the fanciest bike will quickly pay for itself in saved healthcare costs and saved impulse-buying expenses. True, I sometimes have to ask the guy or gal at the grocery store to help hold open each of the oversize waterproof saddlebags, as it's tricky to drop something as large as two grocery sacks in. This means that I occasionally have to talk to strangers -- something that fewer and fewer people do. If you are strapped into a gas-burning auto, it is rather difficult to carry on a conversation (other than by symbolic gestures) when the stereo in the car next to you is designed to rattle windows for a 3-block radius. Have you ever noticed that people enclosed in cars are told never to trust those also in cars around them -- to "drive defensively" and expect the worst from every other driver? Whereas the opposite occurs in public transit or on a bike, one HAS to trust those around one. Smiles and conversation with strangers is what it's all about, and this is a reassuring fact, an opening and educating experience of sharing. Being enclosed in a car is a closing, competing, and fearing experience as sickening as the fumes from the tailpipe - and remember even the fanciest new car has an air intake near the tailpipe of the car in front of yours. Studies have shown SUV buyers are among the most fearful as well as selfish of drivers. Detroit's marketing psychology caters to the "at war with the world" mentality, just look at the HUMMER options. (Also look at the HUMMER's repair history. It has one of the highest warranty repair/recall records ever in the history of four wheeled vehicles, according to the Wall Street Journal.) The very concept of the private automobile has eroded trust and civility -- just one of the myriad hidden costs of cars. And sociologists have reported that cities that have maintained their streetcar systems have sharply lower rates of road rage. A famous car free city in Morocco boasts Arab and Jews living happily as neighbors together. Cars have never penetrated its streets, too narrow since medieval times to "welcome" the private gas powered vehicle.
Getting around town hauling 2-6,000 pounds of steel, plastic, chrome, glass and a fuel tank with you wherever you go is becoming an endangered pastime. It really is not necessary to take a 4,000-lb station wagon to the Post Office to pick up a four-ounce package of Styrofoam peanuts. A single down payment on a car will likely cover a year's public transit fares and rental car costs. So why not support the struggling public transit sector instead of subsidizing Oil Wars and Detroit? A single busted power car window these days can cost as much to fix as it costs to buy a great bike; expect to spend $350 to get a quality new bike really worth riding - BUT PLEASE PARENTS OUT THERE - DONT SPEND THAT $350 BOYCOTTING LOCAL BIKE DEALERS BY BUYING AT BIG CHAINS LIKE COSTCO OR SEARS. The fancy looking bikes from Asia featured in such stores are really junk bikes with no support and no future, no parts to be had and no shop willing to work on such bikes. The kid with a heavy steel bike stranded with his or her shiny junk will regret the day they begged you to buy it. Whereas, new bikes Berkeley California Police Officers are getting these days are $350 bikes, too, it's all you need to spend to get a great bike, with at least front shocks, just don't waste that money ignoring local bike specialty shops and buyin' at Wal-Mart or Costco. I used to own as many as four cars at one time, paying separate insurance, taxes, maintenance, body repair, engine repair, storage, tolls, gas, cleaning, tickets, towing and assorted other bills on each one. Finally by way of an auction, I was down to just one ultra-safe and quiet 1994 Lincoln Continental. But one day, some dumb van rammed my parked Lincoln hard enough to decommission the transmission and do about $3,000 in damage to the bumper and grille. The repairs took a month and my insurance didn't cover a loaner car, so I took to bicycling everywhere. And some strange and positive things began to happen. Most notably, my health took a great leap forward (a bit of a miracle when, at the age of 50, you are taught to expect only decline and decay). By doing everything I used to do by car on a bike, I was suddenly smiling more, building muscle mass, and getting clearer thinking going -- just with a little exercise on a terrific modern, ultra-light, full-suspension bike. As a lover of life and of the outdoors, I'm anxious to share a message of health, joy and healing available to anyone with the courage to find out just how beautiful, quiet, and fragrant the world can be from the saddle of a modern bicycle. I have 50 year's life experience riding a bike, and believe me, bike technology has changed dramatically in that time. The money I've saved from not keeping up multiple cars is being plowed into some of the most advanced, safe, and beautiful magic-carpet bicycles the world has ever seen. My bikes feature such things as fully automatic lighting (motion detectors turn on, and off, three separate lights on each of my bikes. See www.outdoorcreations.com
Here's some tasty bicycling treats from my feet - I hope y'all enjoy a slice of my life, and maybe you should also realize I'm managing to pay for top quality modern high performance bicycles with my savings on cars, tickets, and gasoline!!!). I remember a particularly productive and beautiful clear clean cool summer day I spent rounding up merchandise from an assortment of North Oakland Merchants as one of the more fun and remarkable days of the year. I first stopped to drop mail at the new TEMESCAL POST OFFICE, Then on to PIEDMONT LUMBER YARD, then to MORAN SUPPLY, both on 40th St. near Broadway. As I headed toward San Pablo Avenue, under MacArthur Bart, a handsome young man named Brian called out to me to admire my vehicle and we chatted a bit. I went on to RUBENSTIEN PLUMBING SUPPLY on San Pablo Avenue. Then to the bustling and impressive SUPERIOR MARBLE CENTER, also on San Pablo, where I bought several hundred dollars’ worth of exquisite inlaid marble. Then I headed a few blocks east and stopped at the wonderful and trendy MAMA BUZZ café on Telegraph. Then a visit to OAKBAY CHIROPRACTIC at 39th and Telegraph, for a session with Jan Corwin, the first chiropractor ever approved to work on US Olympic Athletes. And on to BANK OF THE WEST at 49th and Telegraph, a nice relaxed and professional branch with friendly face to face tellers and good service. A refreshing drink at the KINGFISH on Claremont avenue, then a quick ride through the CLAREMONT Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) - on the adjacent TEMESCAL CREEK BIKE TRAIL the City of Oakland has created, which weaves along the creek and by the Frog Creek park and playground. This trail also illustrates a little understood maxim that I live by, which is, "The Fastest Way through the DMV - is on a bicycle." The amazing part of this story is, I did all this in less than four hours, and off a bicycle outfitted with saddlebags (aka panniers) large enough I have no need of wearing a backpack. What a fine day shopping Oakland, and the admiration I have for my own feet’s ability to do this all, with no need for me to buy or burn gasoline, is not small. It seems to me it would not occur to most people such a level of productivity and achievement could be possible with a bike, but I am using a high-tech well accessorized bike to do this all, fearlessly. Please see blog; “Faith in People”, to understand this fearless comment. Those unfortunates hooked to their SUV keys may never understand the level of freedom, fresh air, exercise, and accomplishment I’m enjoying, patronizing the merchants of my own community instead of cursing the gridlock and check stand lines at COSTCO. It’s my prayer that when I say I have figured out the fastest way through the DMV – and any gas station – is on a bicycle, that folks will begin to understand how to live well in Oakland. It’s also my prayer that somehow, someway, someday the bike lane striping that was funded and voted in for Telegraph Avenue half a decade ago, will produce the bike lanes it was intended to. Bicyclists on Telegraph have quadrupled in this time. Peace and Love – Jim Doherty
One of the interesting advantages of bicycling is the ability to interface with, and talk to, strangers. Those who have descended the path of mistrust of all strangers at all times are of course much more comfortable in a car - and of course would NEVER pick up ANY sort of hitchhikers or casual carpoolers. But one of the curious ways bicycling keeps me smiling is the my joyful knowledge that even when I leave a high value bicycle loaded with pricey accessories and even the "small is beautiful" amount of cargo I can credibly impulse buy, UNLOCKED AND UNATTENDED in public, it is almost invariably and happily waiting for me unhampered with when I return. Many folks will pounce on the word almost, but I myself am quite surprised at the EXTENT of the truth in what I just wrote. I don't care to provide details much, (bragging about one's luck may compromise it) but bicycling has done a lot more for me than just build physical and mental health, it has contributed tremendously to my faith in people. And in an era of exponential paranoia, it is important to notice there is no shortage of people who are gems
I cannot overstate the importance of the most basic fact of bicycling, which is: The single most effective way for an individual in the USA today to experience near total freedom from corporate rule and globalization, is to live close to where you need to be and live car free. If you can possibly figure out how to use a bicycle to run your errands, you will experience a level of personal freedom, independence, and physical and mental stamina the likes of which you may never have known in your entire adult life.
East Bay Bicycling Coalition's (ebbc.org) February '03 newsletter introduces a fella named Joe Breeze of Alameda, who's marketing European style bicycles all outfitted affordably and practically, with the menu of accessories needed to handily and safely jump on a bike, run errands, and live Car Free! His BREEZER bikes, most of which include hub alternators to sustainably and automatically provide head and taillights, are on sale at Berkeley, California's Missing Link Bike Shop (On Shattuck next to McDonald's at University). Several of the Breezer Bikes are specifically designed for ELDERS WHO MAY FIND IT DIFFICULT TO CLIMB OVER A HIGH BAR/FRAME TOP TUBE - there are now many brands of bikes available that are as easy to mount as a scooter. And remember gas or electric powered scooters trash the environment with noise, fumes, toxic waste batteries as well as denying you precious exercise. If you are unfortunate enough to live in Berkeley's earthquake slide and fire zone known as the hills, electric assist could prove necessary. (Of course one of the keys to success in living car free is residing close to where you need to work or be; other keys include taxicabs, buses outfitted with bike racks, and the new CITY CARSHARE program, with PODs at Gaia Building, Rockridge, and Berkeley Way civic center parking lot. BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit, subway) plays a big role too. RECOGNIZE that A SINGLE CAR PAYMENT or CAR DOWN (THE DRAIN) PAYMENT will likely cover a year's public transit fares and rental car costs. AND YOU'LL BE SUPPORTING THE STRUGGLING PUBLIC TRANSIT SECTOR instead of subsidizing Oil Wars and Detroit.) Getting around town with 2-6000lbs of Steel, plastic, chrome, glass and a fuel tank with you wherever you go is becoming an endangered pastime. It really is not necessary to take a 4,000lb station wagon to the Post Office to pick up a four ounce package of Styrofoam peanuts. Bicycling is a win, win, win: You win independence from fossil fuel, you win improved health, stamina, and clearer thinking from improved circulation and fewer fumes (note bicyclists actually enjoy much cleaner air outside the cars around them than the insidious fumes trapped inside every car; see California Air Resources Board study, INDOOR CAR AIR), and you win at saving our, and our kid's own futures by combatting global warming! I recognize biking is an acquired taste, like coffee. Hardly anyone feels right about drinking coffee the first time, it's spat back out! Don't expect to fall in love with bicycling on your first ride, it takes a bit of time to get used to how much fun it is, how much safer it can be to be doing 10mph in fresh air rather than 0mpg in gridlock fumes....and mastering the gyroscopic reality of bicycle inertia staying upright by the laws of physics when rolling, It takes some time and experience to recognize how well biking can actually work, and of course to rebuild the stamina and strength your body has lost to the brake and accelerator pedals. MOST BIKE TRIPS I MAKE IN BERKELEY TAKE ABOUT AS MUCH TIME AS MOST FOLKS HAVE TO ALLOW FOR FINDING PARKING AFTER DRIVING TO A DESTINATION IN BERKELEY. Within one season you'll be enjoying biking so much it won't take hardly any coaxing to realize with a bit of waterproof and or insulating clothing, bicycling in cold or wet weather is really no problem either, exercise will tend to keep you warm no matter what! I find it's easier to be too warm than too cold! What follows now is my fundamental bicycle life story, explaining in part how I became such a staunch advocate of bicycling. In October of 1999, a particularly ugly auto accident hurled me into becoming car-free. I used to own as many as four cars at one time, for various reasons, paying separate insurance, taxes, maintenance, body repair, engine repair, storage, tolls, gas, cleaning, tickets, towing and assorted other bills on each one. Finally by way of an auction where I got half the money I’d hoped to from the sale of my next to last car, I was down to just the 1994 ultra-safe and quiet little Lincoln Continental I still, at this writing, am unfortunate enough to own. But just a few days after I sold my next to last car for what seemed a horribly unfair to me price, my only remaining car was trashed while it was legally and carefully parked behind some dumb van that used the half-car length of space I left between the vehicles to build up enough speed to ram my spiffy new-looking Lincoln hard enough to sever the PARK pin in its transmission and of course do about $3000 in damage to the bumper and grille. I got to watch in horror as the driver at fault sped away, playing hit and run. Neither I nor three other witnesses were able to get a license plate number but I did have good insurance for my car, which proceeded to be very badly mis-repaired by two different shops - one for the engine work, and another for the body work of course. The shop had been highly recommended by a now defunct consumer rating organization called Value-Star, but one of the more sensationally bad things they did was to lose track of where they had even put my car, a week after I made and kept an appointment to drop it off. IT TOOK THEM AN ENTIRE CALENDAR MONTH to badly mis-repair the vehicle, with me making no fewer than seven round trips out of town to this now out of business auto, and auto body, repair facility. The jolt came from suddenly finding myself trying to live car-free in that month; my insurance didn’t cover any loaner car of any type for this inept repair procedure, SO I TOOK TO BICYCLING EVERYWHERE THAT MONTH. And some strange and positive things began to happen, such as, my health level took a great leap forward, which is always a bit of a miracle when like me at the age of 50, you are taught to expect to decline and decay. Frankly looking back on all this four years later, I realize I happily escaped having a sedentary lifestyle made possible by a car, become my method of aging grouchily and sourly. By doing everything I used to do by car, on a bike equipped for running errands, that I was suddenly smiling more, building muscle mass, getting clearer thinking going, just with a little exercise on a terrific modern, ultralight full-suspension bike. As a lover of life and of the outdoors, I’m anxious to share a message of health, joy and healing available to anyone with the courage to find out just how beautiful and quiet and fragrant the world can be - from the saddle of a modern bicycle. I have 50 year’s life experience riding a bike, and believe me, bike technology has changed dramatically in that time. I’ve changed dramatically, too. I used to live the conventional American life, taking maybe an average of 3,000 pounds of steel, oil, gasoline and furniture around with me almost wherever I went. After all, this is the Amerikan way of death, the notion you must have a gas tank to carry with you wherever you go. At this writing, I do still own and operate such a beast, known as a car, but I am looking forward to the day I get rid of it - and all the insurance, taxes, licenses, maintenance and gridlock costs it comes with - as slowly over the years I have got rid of one car after another, and have always been glad I did. Meanwhile, the money I’ve saved from not keeping up the damned expense of multiple cars is being plowed into some of the most advanced, safe, and beautiful magic carpets, known as bicycles, Northern California has ever seen. My bikes feature such things as fully automatic lighting (motion detectors turn on, and auto-off chips turn off, three separate lights on each of my bikes. These bikes also sport a handlebar stereo which I plug into a solar panel on my garage roof, so there’s no need of changing batteries (although of course even rechargeable batteries will eventually wear out.) It tinkles out tunes from either cd’s or tapes, as an early warning signal that I’m approaching, and these dandy Panasonic Walkman type stereos have proven to be a MAJOR plus for safety. Cats and Dogs, not to mention inattentive jaywalkers who figure they don’t need to look when they cross a street, assuming there’s no such thing as a quiet bicycle approaching at 30 mph - well you can see how important it is to make SOME modest little noise (the Walkman I’m referring to work from a mere pair of AA batteries, so we’re not talking serious noise pollution here.) Perhaps here in terms of safety I should try and overcome a primary misconception folks have about bicycling, that it’s too dangerous, and that’s why they’d prefer to continue killing each other and the planet with tailpipes and wars for oil. I HAVE BEEN SERIOUSLY INJURED IN MY TRAVELS, BUT ONLY WHEN USING A SET OF CAR KEYS. My inoperable spinal injury was a direct result of my FIRST carjacking incident, where I was run over by my own car. I was carjacked a second time in the summer of 2002, by some horrible kids who knocked me unconscious for the sole and express purpose of getting my car keys from me. They had to ask me where the car was parked as I was coming to bleeding on the floor. I ask you dear reader, how did my car contribute to my safety? I have had certainly dozens of mishaps in my 50 years of bicycling, but not one of them came even close to producing the life-threatening injuries my possession of a set of car keys produced. Cars, and our American obsession with them, reinforced by an avalanche of advertising exploiting every human weakness as being solvable by buying a car, continue to take a ghastly toll upon each of us and our planet. My guess is the average American 20-something has been exposed to 50,000 televised automobile advertisements; and probably easily another 50,000 billboard/print ads - by the time they reach their "automotive age.
True silence...is to the spirit, what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment." William Penn 1644-1718
The Current Rage in auto entertainment systems is flooding our catastrophic health care system with a new avalanche of casualties as those watching the Gong Show Reruns on their in-dash or on-dash or on-laptop DVDs & while attempting to DRIVE. A generation of sound-and noise induced HOH (Hard of Hearing) and Deaf individuals has also stressed the health care system and produced the pathetic statistic that more US Firefighters die on the way to a fire than in battling the flames themselves. Actually any normal hearing driver (thumping eardrums of the whole neighborhood with the overkill boom boxes that have become the overkill ordinary) is at total risk of not hearing an approaching fire truck. Also "sideshow" type kicker and thumper cars also set off car alarms, the vibration is so deliberately intense by design. And of course there was the push for tailpipe whistles as human rights in Oakland lately and made for some noise at city council meetings, all right. I suspect the operator of a car engaged in this ritual of vibration is unlikely to hear the tick-tick-tick of an approaching bicyclist's sprocket, but then I'm the guy who's devised the Bike Stereo based on Sony's superb palm sized cassette player/recorder with integrated mini stereo speakers playing the kick-butt 20-somethings tunes that keep me pumpin' the pedals and warning cats and dogs and folks I'm around. Maybe as a near deaf individual, this is largely my defense, that others can hear me approaching on my usual hi-performing bicycle, from my mere two AA battery Walkman, better than I can hear them. SKATERS AND SKATEBOARDERS BEWARE; The quiet nylon wheels on new boards and axles put any boarder at far greater risk with collisions to peds, bikers, and cars more likely few can hear the whiz of ya comin' over the din of traffic. THIS GOES TOO FOR THE NEW ELECTRIC SCOOTERS. WILMA CHAN'S CRACKDOWN ON GAS SCOOTERS, also known as a -FINES FOR KIDS PROGRAM, THAT IS. SO NOW THE INDUSTRY IS SUPPLYING QUIET AND THEREFORE WILDLY HAZARDOUS RENDITIONS OF THESE "No Exercise Allowed" toys from hell, kids flying around with NO warning sounds is worse than kids flying around sounding like a leaf blower. DRIVERS PLEASE BE AWARE: IF YOUR CAR DRIVING BY, OPEN WINDOWED WITH YOUR KICKERS AND THUMPERS PUMMELING OUT, WELL IF YOU SEE NEIGHBOR'S WINDOWS SHATTER AND COLLAPSE FROM THE SOUND AS YOU GO BY, WELL THIS IS AN EARLY WARNING SIGNAL THAT YOU ARE MAKING A LITTLE TOO MUCH NEIGHBORHOOD NOISE. TO QUOTE CHRIS ROCK, TURN THAT SHIT OFF. JIMZ WORDS OF WIZDUMB FOR TWO TODAY IN A TUTU, TOO
Weekdays are for burning modest to not so modest amounts of petroleum in order to get "to work." Please realize it does not matter if you have a job or a family; if you don't, you'll be required to act like you do to conform to the schedules of those that do. How much fuel you will need depends a lot on how well you match your housing to your job, and whether you think burning gasoline is "fun" or not. Also, if you have no idea what crimes against the natural world you are committing by burning gasoline, it will help your definition of "fun." What weekends are for is to burn huge quantities of gas AND kerosene as you fly from home and rent a car to access other endangered natural places reeling from the impacts of fossil fuel burning. At least this is how it goes in the US of A today. Anyone who stays at home and modestly reads or enjoys the nature photography of talented, skilled, well-equipped, distinguished photographers, are deemed "spoil sports" or idiots, or even worse, meditators. Spiritual development can occur primarily in quiet, serene contexts, and this has little to do with fossil-fool tour packages and travel plans. I was part of an eighty person bicycle tour of Berkeley, California's residential architectural oddities a month or two ago. It was an utterly remarkable feeling to be part of a "tour" where that many individuals can roll up to a neighborhood, even an individual house, remark on its features, and enjoy it’s amazing landscaping, and then leave without having made scarcely a sound nor a scrap of tailpipe pollution, nor disturbing the neighborhood one whit. This would hardly be true had we been piling in and out of that basic workhorse beast of tourism, the rotten, worst available technology, that snorting, screeching, idling diesel bus. The funniest part was the 40 of us that had to curse and drop the bikes directly to the ground since U.S. bike shops think kickstands are a luxury or idiocy. Personally, I think it's idiotic to have to dump a bike directly on the ground and then have to bend completely over to pick it up from the dirt, simply because kickstands are at best difficult to rig in a country that is sure that bikes are only for recreation or racing, not transportation. Watch for the next Bike Blog on how to keep a bike stable and upright without a kickstand! An improvised, featherweight and fabulous rig of my own, that is applicable to most any bike. You can mount the bike without having to lift your leg over the top tube, when this set-up is engaged. I've devised a custom "flickstand" for three different bike frames to date. But for tonight I want to confess I've become quite romantic about my bikes; it's embarrassing. A bike shop sold me a Specialized bike-lock called the "Wedlock," billed by its maker as "Better than a prenuptial agreement." And I will admit to being in love with my bikes, especially the Cannondale Jekyll 3000SL, which is my favorite of the entire polyamorous fleet. I cannot hide my affection for that Jekyll. That downhill mountain racer is not quite faithful, and will run away with the slightest imperceptible grade. Like a mischievous child, this bike has been caught running away too too many times. But I'm so in love with it I have to check and see if I'm developing a belly full of little bikes once in a while. Bungee cords, tire tubes and plastics! Here's another pointer to help keep urban bikers safe and sighted. Bungee cords, widely and wildly used by both bicyclists and motorcyclists to secure cargo on whatever rig you can, are THE leading source of eye injuries in the US today. Lost control of one of these elastic hazards can mean a jagged chuck of metal flying right into one's face, with tragic results if an eye is struck. Cheap bungees from overseas are now the primary culprit, safety tips were added by the industry and many cords are so equipped now, but often the tip is lost in the course of using the cord, and you can bet a factory somewhere is still pumping out cords with steel hooks lacking them to this day. "Vacuum caps" sold at auto supply parts counters, secured with epoxy adhesive can safety the tips. Still, the best bet is the new cords made in America with oversize rigid but far less dangerous *plastic* hooks which if well-made will also have a v style length adjusting channel or track for the bungee to adjust its tension by trimming its length. Any good hardware should have the new style which almost certainly evolved from personal injury suits against the rusty steel hook design. Plastic coatings on the steel ones often crumble off at the tip creating a heinous hazard. New cords are inexpensive items and when you think of it a fantastic deal in that by carrying nothing more than a good bungee or two, a bicyclists can and do increase their "carrying capacity" radically. Best wishes for badass urban bikers kicking butt, from the bike blogger. [Editor's note: When the author was asked about used bike inner tubes as an alternative to bungee cords, here is what the Bike Warrior Pacifist had to say: ] Old bike tires can be the resort of the desperate; between powder and rubber toxins, the time needed to tie and untie knots, you come to understand the popularity of bungees pretty quick. Remember rubber now is manufactured from petroleum. On the subject of plastics, which the Bike Blogger knows is a hot topic at Culture Change because of the new Campaign Against the Plastics Plague, here is food for thought: The nice thing about stopping cars and gas burning it seems one would stop or slow the production of all the plastic by-products produced by refining gasoline. Plastic crapola is so cheap, because we use so much gas and refiners need to dream up things to sell as plastic leftovers from refining. To quote Lily Tomlin, "Let's Make a Deal, in one game show alone, uses more plastic than the entire country of India has ever seen." The bottom line being, use less gas and you will generate less plastic. See Plastic Oceans
By James D
Make-it-home-safe MANTRA: When dealing with traffic, it's better to be patient than to become a patient; AND - A Sailboat is to a Polluting Cruise Ship what a bicycle is to a smokin' Hummer. I know bikes are beautiful but I’M not backing off until bikes are bountiful and bikers have greater strength in numbers.