Tag Archives: biking

Nothing Says Spring Like Taking Out the Bike

City Biking Explained

Yesterday we rented a truck to deliver furniture to friends around town. We noticed some new street markings for bicycles that we hadn’t seen before. The meaning was not obvious. We had no idea what we were supposed to do. Today I found a couple of videos on the City of Minneapolis website explaining what these markings mean.

This first video explains bike lane markings. The second video explains bike boulevards (that’s what we came across in uptown.)

For those of us who haven’t done a lot of inner-city, heavy-traffic riding, the City is also offering a series of guided biking tours which will not only help you understand how to ride on city streets, but also provide a tour of various neighborhoods. There are tours for adults and for families.

And you won’t want to miss the free classes teaching you how to tune up your bike for the summer riding season.

Need a Bike But Can’t Afford One?

Check out Cycles for Change (formerly Sibley Bike Depot). Cycles for Change refurbishes used bikes and sells them at extremely affordable prices. You can talk to a bicycle mechanic for free and you can even earn a free bike in exchange for volunteer work.

One thing I LOVE about Cycles for Change is their sensitivity to the needs of women and youth. Ladies, have you ever walked into a bike shop and felt you entered a male-only club with a secret language? Cycles for Change works hard to create a safe space where women and girls — and transgendered persons — can feel comfortable coming to learn and work on bikes. They have set aside Tuesday work nights exclusively for women and transgender people (though women and transpeople are ALWAYS free to use the space on other nights).

I learned about Cycles for Change because they donate bikes to a group with which I volunteer. Low-income people encounter many problems with transportation, particularly in a city like ours with relatively poor public transportation offered at a very high cost. (I say poor because bus services are frequently cut back, service to suburbs is dismal, and the legislature regularly cuts funds from Metro Transit.)

A bike brings freedom. Biking and busing combined can bring greater access to jobs. Donating a bike to a low-income person can be life-changing.

Need a Bike Only Occasionally?

My pen pal for the past 25 years is coming to visit me from Australia. I’m thrilled! I can’t wait to show her my city. Biking is a great way to do that but she’s only here for a week so where can I get her a bike. Enter Nice Rides, the Twin Cities bike share program.

I’ve got a couple of options to pay for her to bike while she’s here. We can do a day-by-day subscription for $6 a day. If she’s here for 7 days, it’s cheaper to get a 30-day subscription for $30. In order to avoid a trip fee, we need to plan our bike trip so that we can check the bike in (and out again) every 30 minutes. I think this is rather ideal for a sight-seeing trip. For example, I know there is a Nice Ride park by the MIA and that’s about a 20 minute ride (for me) from my house. We can pick up a bike for her outside The Birchwood Cafe, only 6 blocks from my house. We can take the Greenway bike trail most of the way there. And if I’m too tired to bike back home after a long day at the art museum, we can walk to Lake St and put my bike on the front of a bus for the trip home. Her bike is stowed at the MIA lot – no need to return it to the Birchwood.

Highest CO2 Emissions in History Sets the Stage for More Biking

The transportation mini-challenge doesn’t start until August, but when I saw that CLIF BAR had created a nifty biking challenge, I thought this was as good a time as any to commit to more biking for both the health benefits and CO2 reduction.

I have to admit, I was spurred to action when I saw the International Energy Agency  report that 2010 had the highest CO2 emissions in history. “At current rates, the 2° temperature increase that most experts consider the threshold of unmanageable climate change, will be considered a floor for potential future temperatures, rather than the ceiling.” That’s grim news from Greenbiz.

So what’s the challenge? To use your bike for any trip you take within a 2 mile radius of  your home.

Why 2 miles?

Forty percent of all urban travel is within 2 miles of home and yet 90% of the time people get in a car to make that trip! That puts tons of carbon into the atmosphere, exacerbating the problem of climate change. CLIF BAR hopes their challenge will inspire people to avoid 100,000 car trips.

Sign up to take the 2 Mile Challenge!

Last weekend I biked to book group, biked to an exercise class in Highland Park (almost but didn’t quite make it up the hill), and biked to the coop where I signed up for the ZAP program. (The ZAP program offers an incentive for members to visit the co-op on bicycle.)

That’s a great start for me. I’m looking forward to racking up more points for Team 350 this weekend. Maybe a bike ride to PRIDE.

Just in Time for Bike to Work Day!

According to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC), May is National Bike Month, and THIS WEEK is Bike to Work Week (May 16–20) and TOMORROW is Bike to Work Day (Friday, May 20). I’m going to be working from home tomorrow so no commuting for me, but my husband is at this very minute biking to an evening committee meeting.

Get Back Into Biking – It’s Still Fun!

The website Bike to Work says that the yearly cost of owning and operating a vehicle is about $9,000 a year, while the cost of maintaining a bicycle can be as little as $120 a year. I don’t think I’ve ever spent near $120 a year on a bike, unless I was replacing a stolen bike (which I’ve had to do several times). I’m sure I’ve spent $9,000 a year on some of my cars. Living with only one car really has saved us a lot of  money.

But if you haven’t been on a bike in a while, it’s not so easy to just decide to ride… at least not for a couple in their 50s with sedentary desk jobs. We wanted to do more biking but we needed to make some changes first:

  • Get a bike that is comfortable. JUST DO IT. Why add to the difficulty by trying to make due with an ill-fitting old bike that you don’t like. If it’s at all possible, find one that fits properly. Check out Craigslist if you can’t buy new. That’s where I found my bike. On the other hand, my husband’s used bike was so squeaky he felt he was being gawked at. He never felt good about riding. We caved and bought him a lovely new bike with a comfy big seat. Now he’s happy to ride.
  • Don’t fight traffic until you’re confident and ready for it. We bike around the neighborhood on mostly unused roads, taking up all the space we want. In our community, we’re lucky to have great bike paths nearby, as well as the Midtown Greenway. Lots of communities are creating bikeways. Check out what’s available in your community with the bike map database.
  • Enjoy the scenery. I love to  leisurely check out gardens around the neighborhood. My husband likes to leisurely check out me – so he rides behind me. This is all very good 🙂
  • Make trips rewarding. We bike to the coop, and then get a ginger brew to take home as a treat.

So what’s going to get you off the sofa and onto a bike this week?