Category Archives: Urban cycling

Automated bike parking


I’ll not live long enough to see a robotic underground parking garage for bicycles in my hometown, Fort Worth.
But this idea from Japan might provide a solution for denser cities, such as New York, where the new bike-share system has drawn complaints from pedestrians who say the bike-docking stations take up too much space on sidewalks.

underground-bike-parking-e1355931779342

In Tokyo, one of the most crowded cities on the planet, bicycle commuters frequently have trouble finding a place to park their bikes during the morning rush hour.
The construction company Giken came up with underground parking garages that can each store up to 200 bicycles, fetched from the surface by robotic arms and taken below street level out of the weather and safe from thieves.
Called Eco Cycle, the system issues membership cards to users and microchips mounted on the bicycles’ forks.
Check out the video on how the system works.

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Dissolute behavior on a bike


“The bicycle riders drank much wine, and were burned and browned by the sun. They did not take the race seriously except among themselves.”
— Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises, 1926

This is getting to be a habit. And it has to stop.
The past three weekends
have involved bicycling and the support of local enterprises that produce adult beverages.

Deep Ellum Brewing Co., Dallas

Deep Ellum Brewing Co., Dallas

This dissolute behavior began on Saturday, Aug. 17, when I and a couple of neighbors on Fort Worth’s near south side met some other cyclists at a nearby bakery and rode to a relatively new microbrewery, Martin House, to sample its wares.
The drill at Martin House Brewing Co., as at other microbreweries I’ve visited, is $10 for a glass with the brewery’s logo and three pours of whatever is on tap.
It’s not a good idea, however, to drink the full complement and then get back onto a bike, especially when the temperature is hovering around 100 degrees. So says my wife.
The next weekend included a family wedding in Fort Worth on Aug. 24. Part of the program of festivities that day was a tour of Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co., where the bridegroom works, on the near south side.
At the rehearsal dinner the night before, I had met a young urban planner from the groom’s side of the family who had come from Milwaukee to attend the wedding.
Copper pot still, Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co., Fort Worth, 2013

Copper pot still, Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co., Fort Worth, 2013

He happened to be a cyclist and wondered about the possibility of a bike ride the next morning. Easily arranged, I said. I picked him up at his downtown hotel, brought him to our house, put him on one of my touring bikes, and off we went on an 18-mile ramble around Fort Worth, which ended at the Firestone & Robertson Distillery.
Firestone & Robertson currently produces a blend of whiskeys gathered from throughout the United States and marketed with the brand name TX.
The distillery is also making its own bourbon, aging in barrels on racks in a gallery above the distillery’s ground floor. The first batches of bourbon will have to mellow for another 18 months or so before bottling and distribution.
We, of course, got to sample the blended whiskey already on the market. Very, very nice! But perhaps not good preparation for the wedding and the open-bar reception that evening.
Barrels of aging bourbon at Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co., Fort Worth

Barrels of aging bourbon at Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co., Fort Worth

The third, and latest, sampling of locally made adult beverages was on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend in Dallas.
Some Dallas-area cyclists whom a neighbor and I had met during our visit to the Martin House Brewery had invited us to come to Dallas to take in a coffee shop and a couple of microbreweries.
So we rode the Trinity Railway Express to Dallas, along with our bikes, hooked up in downtown Dallas with our new cycling friends and set off, first to the artsy Oak Cliff neighborhood in south Dallas for some coffee at Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters, a local hangout.
A barista makes a latte at Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters, Dallas

A barista makes a latte at Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters, Dallas

Fortified with strong java, we set out to sample another type of brew at the Deep Ellum Brewing Co., just north of downtown Dallas, and then onto the Community Beer Co., a short ride from Victory Station at the American Airlines Center, where we caught the train back to Fort Worth.
It was an altogether pleasing bit of urban cycling, although Dallas is not yet as bike-friendly as Fort Worth. Dallas has a very good mass transit system and Fort Worth an excellent network of bike trails, a bike-sharing program and designated bike lanes on city streets.
It’s too bad that the two cities, about 30 miles apart, cannot have both in equal measure.
Thus ended the cycle of dissolute weekends. It won’t happen again this weekend. I promise. I’m getting too old for this stuff.

Art exhibit at Community Beer Co., Dallas

Art exhibit at Community Beer Co., Dallas

My bike on the bridge between Oak Cliff and downtown Dallas, 2013

My bike on the bridge between Oak Cliff and downtown Dallas, 2013

Fellow cyclists Jeff Sailer, center, and Scott Nishimura, right,  at Oak Cliff Coffee roasters

Fellow cyclists Jeff Sailer, center, and Scott Nishimura, right, at Oak Cliff Coffee roasters

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Le Tour de Fort Worth


One of the cool new fixtures of a Fort Worth summer is the Tour de Fort Worth, a daily series of bicycle rides led by the city’s bike-riding mayor, Betsy Price, to coincide with the Tour de France.
Tour de Fort Worth logoOn Sunday, as Briton Chris Froome was heading for Paris and a victory lap on the Champs Elysees as the winner of the 100th edition of the Tour de France, about 150 cyclists were tooling through Fort Worth’s west side neighborhoods and along the Trinity Trails in the finale of the third annual Tour de Fort Worth.

With Mayor Betsy Price at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, July 13, 2013

With Mayor Betsy Price at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, July 13

Mayor Price, an avid cyclist for a quarter-century, had for years been marking the Tour de France by riding daily with her husband, Tom, during the three weeks of le Tour.
In 2011, as mayor-elect, Price invited local cyclists to ride along with her and the event was dubbed the Tour de Fort Worth.
“The Tour de Fort Worth is Mayor Betsy Price’s celebration of the Tour de France that gives seasoned cyclists a chance to experience different parts of the city from the best seat around — a bicycle seat,” said the city’s website.
The finale of this year’s Tour de Fort Worth began and ended at Central Market, where all participants got a free mimosa and fruit crepe.
I rode on several days during all three Tours de Fort Worth, including four times this year.
The highlight for me was a fast-paced ride at the 1,805-acre Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base on the city’s west side.
Riding in the Tour de Fort Worth. Photo by Steve Reisman

Riding in the Tour de Fort Worth. Photo by Steve Reisman

Most of that ride was along the flight line, past lines of military aircraft, and along the 1,200-foot runway, which is long enough to handle the largest military lanes and a Boeing 747 with a Space Shuttle piggy-backed to its fuselage.
The Space Shuttle Endeavor stopped at the base Dec. 11, 2008, as it was being ferried atop a 747 from Edwards Air Force Base in California back to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida.
Nearly 200 riders registered for this year’s Tour de Fort Worth and logged a total of 11,000 miles. Many other cyclists, slackers like me, rode in the rides without registering or logging miles. So the total collective mileage was probably considerably higher.
Group shot of Tour de Fort Worth riders at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, July 13

Group shot of Tour de Fort Worth riders at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, July 13

Riding in Sunday's finale of the Tour de Fort Worth

Riding in Sunday’s finale of the Tour de Fort Worth

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Chaos on two wheels?


Bill Cunningham, the octogenarian who chronicles New York’s ever-changing fashion scene by riding around the city on his bike to snap photos for his New York Times column “On the Street,” had some words in his latest video on the city’s new bike-share program.

Bill Cunningham at work

Bill Cunningham at work

“It’s absolutely wonderful. There are bikes everywhere. And it’s perfect for the New Yorkers who have always been totally impatient. When they walk on the sidewalk, they don’t stop for anyone, and it’s really hilarious to watch them come around the corner when two of them meet face to face and neither one will stop …
“Now they’re all on bikes, so it’s all gonna happen on bikes. …
“What I love is to see them all on wheels on the way to work in the morning, in their business suits and the women in their office clothes, many of them in sport clothes that they change to office clothes.
“But it has a very humorous, and a very practical effect. And for New Yorkers, who haven’t got the patience to wait one second for anyone to get out of their way. I mean it’s wonderful. …”
Chaos on two wheels?

New Yorkers checking out the new bike-share system. Photo by Bill Cunninghtam, The New York Times

New Yorkers checking out the new bike-share system. Photo by Bill Cunninghtam, The New York Times

http://nyti.ms/11uzWtK

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‘Mike bikes’ take to the streets


After five years of planning, hundreds of public meetings, a delay caused by Hurricane Sandy and a last-minute flurry of complaints about the size and location of the docking stations, New York City’s bike-sharing program began operation today.
citibikeMayor Michael Bloomberg and the city’s transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, launched the system Monday morning with a news conference beside a bike station near City Hall.
Roughly 6,000 bicycles are now available for public use at more than 300 bike docking stations in Manhattan south of Central Park and in some neighborhoods of Brooklyn. The system already has sold 13,000 annual memberships.
The installation of the bike docking stations over the past few weeks prompted a spate of complaints about their placement in historic neighborhoods and the amount of sidewalk space they occupy.

Photo by New York bicycling and photography friend Sean Park of a docking station near City Hall

Photo by New York bicycling and photography friend Sean Park of a docking station near City Hall

That followed early grumbling about the hundreds of miles of bike lanes — put in by the Bloomberg administration over the past five years — interfering with motor vehicles.
But Bloomberg has called the public meetings in advance of implementing the bike lanes and the bike-share program “the most extensive outreach effort ever done for a transportation project.”
If the bike-share program succeeds, some expect that the bicycles will be called “Mike bikes” or “Bloomberg bikes,” as bikes on the London bike-share system are called “Boris bikes” for London Mayor Boris Johnson.
Launch of New York’s bike-share system was expected to occur last summer, but it was delayed first by computer software problems and then on Oct. 30 by Hurricane Sandy, which flooded the facility at the Brooklyn Navy Yard where the bikes were being stored.
New Yorker cover on bike-share systemThe delays meant that my hometown, Fort Worth, was able to beat New York in starting a bike-share program. Fort Worth’s system was launched on April 22, Earth Day, with about 300 bikes and 28 docking stations.
By this summer, New York expects to have 10,000 bikes available for rental, which would make it the largest such program in the United States and one of the biggest in the world.
By then, the bike-share network is expected to cover the Upper East and Upper West Sides; Park Slope, Cobble Hill and Crown Heights in Brooklyn; and Long Island City and Sunnyside in Queens.

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This crazy Texas weather


This Texas spring of 2013 is downright perplexing.
During Wednesday evening’s
ride with our bicycling mayor, Betsy Price, on one of her “rolling town halls,” and later with the Fort Worth Night Riders, we wore T-shirts, short-sleeved jerseys and Hawaiian shirts. The temperature was in the 80s, as was fitting for May 1 in Texas.

Bicycling Mayor Betsy Price ready to lead Wednesday night's "rolling town hall' ride

Bicycling Mayor Betsy Price ready to lead Wednesday night’s “rolling town hall’ ride

Today, during a 26-mile bike ride with a neighbor, the temp was in the 40s, and the stiff northerly wind felt like it had come straight from the Arctic Circle. I wore three layers of winter wear and still felt chilly.
For Thursday night and Friday morning, the National Weather Service in Fort Worth forecasts northwesterly winds of 20 to 30 mph, gusting to 40 mph, and the prospect of freezing temperatures on the northwestern edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.
A couple weeks ago, in mid-April, when the temperature was pushing toward 90, we discovered that our 33-year-old air-conditioning system was kaput. Nary a breath of cool air emanated from the ducts.
Now, with a new system installed and up and running as of Wednesday evening, we haven’t even had a chance to try it out.
“The weather of Texas is remarkable for its versatility and suddenness,” a wag once said. “Oftenest told on this subject is the one about the farmer who started to town in a wagon drawn by an ox team. On the way, one of the oxen froze to death and, while he was skinning it, the other died of sunstroke.”
That pretty much sums up the past few days.

weather-in-texas

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Getting oriented on the Trinity Trails


A cityscape can look strangely different from a bicycle trail.
Familiar landmarks and thoroughfares,
viewed from behind the wheel of a car, afford a quick fix on a location. But from a bicycle saddle, riding along a trail, those landmarks and thoroughfares take on a different, disorienting perspective, and it’s sometimes difficult to figure out where you are.
Trinity Trails logoBut that problem is being remedied along Fort Worth’s Trinity Trails network, thanks to new signage being put in place by the Tarrant Regional Water District, which oversees the Clear and West forks of the Trinity River in Tarrant County.
Twenty-six new trail map signs that say “You are here” provide information on nearby amenities such as water fountains, restrooms, fishing piers and canoe launches. They also include mile markers so trail users can easily determine how far they are from certain destinations.

My bike at the trailhead at Southwest Boulevard

My bike at the trailhead at Southwest Boulevard

Identification signs are also being placed on 26 bridges that cross over the Trinity Trails, allowing trail users to know at a glance where they are in the city.
The Tarrant Regional Water District maintains the 27-mile Fort Worth Floodway as the local sponsor for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It has built and maintains more than 40 miles of biking and walking trails and numerous trailheads that provide such amenities as restrooms, water fountains and parking areas.
I’ve been riding the Trinity Trails for more than two decades, and it took a while before I always knew where I was in the city. Now, it will be much easier for newcomers, especially for those who come from out of town to ride our trails.
More information on the Trinity Trails is available at http://www.trwd.com/recreation.

Welcome to the Trinity Trails

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