Safety Khakis - specially made for bike commuters!

here’s a cool new product from San Francisco that was unveiled at Interbike this week — the Bike to Work Pants by Cordarounds.

They’re just a regular pair of khakis, but with hidden, reflective powers.

From their website:

“Using fabrics like Illuminite Teflon and 3M Scotchlite we’ve bought reflectivity to regular trousers. They line the inner pantcuffs and rear pockets, allowing you to deploy added protection and reflection as you pedal off.”

I could see these being very popular in Portland. It’s neat to see non-bike-specific companies recognize and innovate for the growing market of urban bike commuters.

More at

Bike 2 Work Pants from Cordarounds on Vimeo.

Wired Magazine: As America Implodes, The Bike Industry Booms

LAS VEGAS--It's never been a better time to be in the bicycle business, what with global warming, childhood obesity and a failing economy.

The nation may be wracked by collapsing banks, foreclosed houses and a tanking economy, but there's no sign anything's amiss here at Interbike, the bike industry's annual trade show. In fact, it's party time as a perfect storm of eco-conscious consumerism, health-conscious lifestyles and wallet-sapping gas prices conspires to get people out of cars and onto bikes -- especially electric ones. "The gas prices are the best thing that ever happened to cycling," says Kevin Menard, whose year-old custom bike business, Traitor Cycles, is thriving. "I hope they go up even more."

The gargantuan trade show, and the crowd filling it, has never been bigger, organizers boast. A record 23,000 people and 750 exhibitors fill several acres of the Sands Convention Center, further proof that all is well in the bike biz..."You can feel the collective buzz," a smiling Tim Blumenthal, executive director of the bicycle advocacy group Bikes Belong, says from the middle of the bustling show floor. "It's a really, really heady time for us. This show feels very optimistic and that bucks the general economic trends. There doesn't seem to be many businesses that are thriving, but the bike business is doing very well."

Cycling enjoyed a "huge spike" in interest in June when gas topped four bucks a gallon, Blumenthal says. Much of the bike industry has enjoyed double digit growth since then. Some manufacturers have seen 50 percent growth in the last quarter, and dealers can’t keep up with demand. The service sector ("tubes and lube" in industry jargon) also is booming as old bikes are hauled out of sheds and garages and dragged into shops for tune-ups and tires. A growing number of people are ditching cars in favor of bikes for commuting to work or running to the supermarket, Blumenthal says. "Cycling for recreation in America has always been big," he says. "Now we're starting to see cycling for transport." (Read more.)

Become a Motivated Bike Commuter Again!

If you have some other method of transportation, the occasional temptation is there to eschew the bike for a day, a week, or even for the entire winter. Bike commuting can seem old or boring if you’ve been doing it a while.  Here are some tips for staying motivated.

   1. Ride a different bike. Swap bikes with a friend or co-worker you trust or switch one of your other bikes out as your commuter bike.
   2. Try multi-mode commuting. Over winter, I switch to a bike/transit commute which allows me to choose how far I want to ride depending on where I choose to get on and off. You can also drive part-way or drive in, then ride home. Ride back to work and drive home the next day.
   3. If you have a geared bike, try a “one gear” commute. Over a few days, use trial and error to find the one gear combination that works best for your commute.
   4. Pick up and throw away one road hazard per day: nails, screws, tacks, and big chunks of debris.  Don’t neglect your traffic awareness, but try to make a point to get one piece of potentially harmful debris off the road.
   5. Find some new routes. Talk to fellow cyclists or just go exploring on one of your recreational rides. Not seeing the same scenery every single day can keep things interesting.
   6. Recruit some friends. It’s a lot easier to keep riding if you have a buddy to talk to and at least share the misery of a chilly morning or baleful headwind.
   7. Take some pictures. You can use your camera phone, an inexpensive digital point-and-shoot or even a disposable camera! If you see something interesting, there’s no harm in taking a break to enjoy it and capture it to admire and share later.
   8. Reward yourself. For every week of car-free commuting, do something as a small reward. You might need to get your significant other to sign-off on this. ;)
   9. Greet anyone and everyone that you pass. One of the great things about riding a bike is that you’re out in the open. Say hi to joggers, dog-walkers, and even pedestrians hogging the multi-use path by walking three abreast… not that it ever happens…
  10. Mix up your commute a bit with small errands that you can run on the way home or to work.

Getting out of the “boring commute” rut is often as simple as changing something small on occasion. What are you doing to keep yourself motivated? Tell us in the comments.

Take Action Now to Support Safe Routes to School in the Federal Transportation Bill

Congress will soon be taking up the new transportation bill, and this is a critical opportunity to sustain and expand funding for Safe Routes to School. Please sign your organization onto a letter to Congress that urges the inclusion of health performance outcomes in the next transportation bill. Currently, the U.S. federal government spends approximately $60 billion/year on transportation infrastructure. This outlay is dwarfed by the costs to our country resulting from the negative health impacts of transportation. Americans spend:

•$76 billion a year on health care costs related to physical inactivity, partly because many individuals cannot safely walk, bicycle, or access public transit;

• $164 billion a year on health care costs associated with traffic injuries and deaths; and

• Between $40 and $64 billion a year on health care costs associated with asthma and other health conditions related to high rates of air pollution.

If we work together, we can ask Congress to ensure that the next transportation bill recognizes these problems and sets a strong goal to reverse these negative outcomes of our current transportation system. This will provide a strong foundation for increased funding and supportive policies for safe routes to school, smart growth, safer communities for bicycling and walking, and complete streets. Please review the letter and follow the sign-on instructions at: The deadline for organizational signatures is October 31, 2008.

Speed Vest!

Cycling Trash Talkers Outed!

In their most recent email newsletter to members, the League of American Bicyclists shared a new educational campaign aimed at fighting back against statements that discriminate against bicycles.a

On their web page, Who’s Trash Talking Bikes?, the League has a list of recent anti-bike statements by politicians and pundits. For each one they include sections titled: “What he/she said”; “What’s the issue”; “What are the facts”; “What he/she could have said”; and “What you can do.”

Here’s how they deal with some recent trash talk from U.S. Senator Jim DeMint from South Carolina (I’ve included the links as they appear on the League’s site):

What he said:
“We must stop wasteful earmarks for bike paths and museums that divert critical funding away from priority roads and bridges,” DeMint said in a September 8 statement addressing a shortfall in highway funding.

U.S. Senator Jim DeMint,
trash talker.

What’s the issue:
The Highway Trust Fund, funded from gas taxes and “spent” by state Department’s of Transportation, is running out of money and needs an $8 billion infusion of cash, according to the US Department of Transportation. Senator DeMint is apparently blaming the shortfall on wasteful bike path projects.

What are the facts:
It’s true that the law approving the spending of the highway trust fund has a lot of Congressional earmarks for “high priority projects” – a total of $15 billion in the 2005 SAFETEA-LU legislation. However, bike paths account for less than five percent of those earmarks, and most of them haven’t even been started yet.

A much more immediate reason for the funding crisis is the dramatic fall in motor vehicle miles traveled (and thus gallons of gasoline bought) in recent months due to rising gas prices. Ironically, of course, bicycle use is soaring because of those same high gas prices, meaning that we actually need more bike facilities, not less.

In August 2007, after the Minneapolis bridge collapse, Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters made similarly unfortunate comments for which she has subsequently apologized. Bicycling and walking are critical components of our transportation system.

What he could have said:
We must stop wasteful earmarks and get transportation funding into the hands of local decision-makers to start solving some of our traffic, energy, environmental and health challenges by getting more people bicycling, walking and taking transit. We also need to change the funding process so that we reward ourselves for reducing the number of motor vehicle miles traveled.

What You Can Do
If you are from South Carolina, drop a line to your Senator and let him know that bicycling and bike paths are pretty important to you. Let him know that while earmarks are generally undesirable, the only reason most of the bike-related projects are even requested in the first place is because state Departments of Transportation still stubbornly refuse to implement them willingly.

If you aren’t from South Carolina, you can still drop him a note, or you can write your own members of Congress and let them know how much you disagree with Senator DeMint’s attack on bike paths – that way we might just discourage them from making this mistake in the first place.

Bike Messenger Video from 1992

Why not in America? A lack of infrastructure — not sprawl — hinders the adoption of bicycles.

Keep Dry!

In the wake of the tropical storms, we’ve had a lot of rain in the past week. My cycling shoes have gotten so wet that they don’t get a chance to dry out before it’s time to leave for work in the morning. Here are some tips for keeping your footwear dry in monsoon season.

It makes sense that the easiest way to keep your footwear dry is to not let it get sopping wet in the first place. On wet roads, fenders work wonders at reducing the amount of water that gets splashed onto your feet from the road. If it’s raining, however, you’re going to get your feet wet. Fenders will potentially lessen it a bit.

Once your shoes are wet, though, the most obvious choice is to use the clothes dryer. Cycling shoes with cleats can damage the inside of a dryer, though, and shoes bouncing around in the dryer not only make a lot of noise, but it can harm the shoes as well as making them “Kick” the door of the dryer open, stopping the cycle before they’re dry. One way to take care of this is to use a rack inside your dryer (some new dryers come with a shoe-drying rack that fits inside) or simply untie the laces, tie a knot in the very end of the laces, and allow them to hang with the knot keeping them suspended against the dryer door. This is how I do it at home. Alternatively, twine or a re-purposed metal clothes hanger can be used to hang your shoes on the inside of the dryer door. This way, your shoes don’t make a lot of noise. Be careful with racing shoes that are made of stiff plastic or carbon fiber. Excess heat can damage them.

Newsprint, wadded up and stuffed into the shoes is another suggestion I’ve seen “kicked around” lately. If you get the newspaper and never seem to come up with a good creative use for the newsprint after you’ve read it, now’s your chance to re-purpose it. If your shoes are quite damp, you may need to remove the old newspaper and repeat the process a few times. I don’t subscribe to a newspaper, so I haven’t been able to try this theory myself.

The last suggestion I got from several friends of mine was to use a good pair of cycling sandals. These clipless cleat-ready sandals, when worn with wool socks often remain comfy year round, even in the cold season. There isn’t a lot of material to get soaked. Sandals dry quickly. Wool socks do as well, but also retain much of their insulating value even when wet.

One trick I use occasionally at the office is to place my wet socks and/or shoes on top of my computer monitor after I’m sure they won’t drip water into the sensitive electronics within. The heat from my computer monitor isn’t too extreme, but over the course of my entire work day, it’s often warm enough to dry out a few articles of soggy clothing.

Got more cool ways to keep your toes dry? Drop us a line in the comments!

Via Commute by Bike

VA 23rd in USA Bicycle Ranking

The League of American Bicyclists has recently expanded its efforts in building a Bicycle Friendly America with its Bicycle Friendly State Program. The two part program recognizes states that promote cycling through legislation, policies, programs, and by creating new places to ride, educating motorists and cyclists, and encouraging people to bike for transportation and recreation.

The first part of the program has been to create an annual ranking of all 50 states. The ranking was based on 74 questions across 6 categories, and looks at all Virginia is doing for bicycling and bicyclists. Virginia has finished 23 overall. In each of the 6 categories your state ranked:

8-tied in Legislation
19-tied in Policies & Programs
25-tied in Infrastructure
29 in Education & Encouragement
14-tied in Evaluation & Planning
34-tied in Enforcement

For a full listing of all 50 states visit

Less Sunlight, More Bike Lights

September’s officially here, and many recreational cyclists are hanging their bikes up for the season as the evening daylight gets shorter and shorter. Those who commute by bike, however, still have quite a bit of good riding weather ahead. You just need to be seen, and be safe.

Year-round, one of the most fatal flaws of a cyclist is to ride in the various “no zones” and blind spots of automobile traffic. As ours are among the smallest vehicles on the road, it’s easy for a small blind spot to encumber us entirely. These blind spots include the 3-4 feet next to parked cars (the “Door Prize Zone”), next to the rear passenger-side fender, and almost anywhere along the driver’s side of the car unless you’re near the front fender. Additionally, the A-Pillar (the metal between the front windshield and the side front window) can block you from the view of the driver as well, particularly when you’re approaching cross-traffic.

Reflective material on your bicycle and clothing adds a key visual stimulus in low-light conditions. The more reflective material that’s facing the motorist, the further away you’ll be when you catch their eye. This applies mostly to the rear and sides of your bicycle and body, but having plenty of reflective material visible from the front is a great idea as well. You never know when someone will turn across your path. It goes without saying that a full set of DOT-Approved reflectors fore, aft, and on the wheels is highly recommended.

Active lighting is a must when it comes to riding before sunrise or after sundown. Lately, LED technology has gotten relatively inexpensive and the performance is getting to be quite good. While flashing light is an attention-getter, it can also be distracting and make it difficult to judge how far away you are. By the same token, commodity halogen bicycle headlights are easy for a motorist to glance over. It’s up to each individual cyclist to determine what they need, but in general, you’re either buying a headlight to see with, or buying a headlight to be seen. LED Vs. HID Vs. Halogen is practically a Holy War among cyclists who ride at night. All have benefits. Tail lights most commonly come in one form: The “Blinky”. This can be an array from one to more than a dozen LEDs with several flashing modes and a steady mode. They either mount with belt clips or under the seat. There are only a few exceptions to the rear tail light rule. Again, flashing lights can make it difficult for the motorist to tell how close you really are.

My current setup is a low-power (and long-lasting) halogen flood light, a more focused and bright halogen spot headlight, and two tail lights: one in flashing mode and one in steady mode. My bicycle has some reflective tape on it and DOT reflectors all around except on the clipless pedals, but many of my accessories also have reflective piping. I finish it off with an inexpensive construction worker reflective vest.

What are you doing to cope with the lack of sunlight as the days get shorter?

New Cargo Bike Cooperateive in British Columbia

In Vancouver, BC, a group of individuals have purchased a cargo bike, store it at a netural location, and take turns using it when they need it. GENIUS - Let's start a cargo bike coop in C-ville!
Read all about it.