Monday, March 31, 2008

Driver Awareness Ads On JTA Buses

Drivers who find themselves stuck behind JTA buses in Jacksonville may just learn a something about bike safety for the next 10 weeks. North Florida Bike Club (NFBC) has placed signs on 10 buses to create awareness for the Three-Foot Law. Miriam Gallet of NFBC tells me that FDOT will most likely continue the ads for up to a year after the NFBC 10 weeks expire.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Bike Jax Commuter Profile #1

Bike Jax is starting a new feature to spotlight those of us that choose to commute to work by bike and those that chose to live car free. If you are one of those fine folks or know of someone that is. Please drop us an email with contact info.

Our first is the very lovely Jennifer McChren. She is a staple sight on her red vintage Schwinn in and around the urban core. Between her job at RADO (Riverside Area Development Organization) and her other commuinty projects such as The Community Garden. Chances are good you'll catch her spinning through just about any part of Riverside, Downtown and Springfield.

What do you use your bike for?

I live in Riverside and work in Riverside, and work on a community garden in Springfield. Very little of my life takes place outside Jacksonville’s urban core, so I use my bike for almost everything.

How often do you ride?

Every day. It’s rare, at this point, that I go a day without using my bike.

How long have you been commuting by bicycle?

I started biking to work in Manhattan when I lived in Brooklyn. It was fun to go over the Brooklyn Bridge everyday, but New York is so dense it was also stressful. Cars, pedestrians, other cyclists…especially the pedestrians on the Bridge pathway. Tourists. When I moved back to Jacksonville I wasn’t working for a while, but once I decided to stay I looked for (well, prayed for) a job I could commute to by foot or bike. In September I got the Americorps-funded job at RADO that I have currently. It’s a dream. I barely need to bike it’s so close to my home.

What would you say to convince someone who is considering commuting by bicycle to go for it?

You get to know your environment if you actually get out into it, and move at a more human pace through it. You’ll notice so much more, and become more connected to everything around you. It’s good exercise (well, not if your commute is as short as mine), and it’s a lot of fun. Gas prices help. But mostly I love the way it feels to ride a bike. It’s just your body and a very efficient machine. It’s beautiful.

What could the City do to make biking better?

Educate motorists about bicycle laws…you know what, forget that. The city needs to stick up, in a big way, for this transit mode. It’s the government’s job to make life more just for minorities, and this counts. We need more aggressive marking of bike lanes, we need MORE bike lanes. More bike racks. Bike racks need to be mandatory in new developments, they should be part of the DOT regs. Bicycle laws need to be part of driver education courses…they could do lots of things.

What reaction do you get from co-workers?

I think they’d bike to work if they lived a bit closer. We’re thinking of including a pair of bikes with each of our Green Street homes. The RADO crew is very bike friendly.

What’s the best thing about commuting by bicycle?

Increased understanding of my neighborhood, and a very unique view of the built environment.

Can you give a brief description of your route?

I typically bike up Herschel to Barrs, up to College and over to Stockton.

When I head from home to the Springfield Community Garden I usually go straight up Oak to Margaret to Park, and over the Lee Street overpass into downtown. Then I head up Broad Street to First, and over to Main. On the way back home, when I have more time, I ALWAYS take the riverwalk. It’s gorgeous.

Where are your favorite places to bike in Jacksonville? Least favorite?

Riverwalk. Southbank at night. Least favorite would be any sprawled out place with cars going too fast…most of the city I guess.

What do you like about biking in Jacksonville? And dislike?

I love biking around downtown. It feels like a city, but it’s so much emptier than New York. I think that’s usually seen as a bad thing, but I really like it for some reason. I like how the bike culture here is expanding and organizing. The motorists really need some work though.

Have you ever combined transit and biking or used a bus bike rack?

Yes. I actually photographed a wedding by taking my busted beach cruiser on the bus out to the beach. It was awesome. I would do it more, but I don’t have time. That’s usually the one thing that makes me use my car these days. Either I’m running short on time or I need to carry stuff to the garden.

What’s your favorite piece of cycling clothing?

I don’t wear anything special. I like my Crumpler messenger bag but it’s a bit too big.

Any bike gadget/gear cyclists should not go out without?

I believe a burro bag is becoming an essential accessory for any Jacksonville cyclist. I can’t wait to get one myself.

Are you a member of any cycling organizations/clubs? If so, which ones?


Favorite bike stories?

None come to mind.

Scary bike stories?

Whiskey and cycling do NOT mix. Just ask the pavement on the corner of Park and Forest, I think it still has a chunk of my left knee.

In Brooklyn I once mis-read a traffic situation and ended up swerving to miss a huge delivery truck. I turned and braked when I saw it, and ended up parallel to the yellow line (wheels on the line), looking up at this Hispanic driver who was obviously in shock and REALLY glad he didn’t hit me. I scrambled to get back on my way, thinking to myself, “It wasn’t that close. I didn’t just almost die. I thought quickly and did the exactly right thing…” Then an older cyclist passed me on the right and as he did turned to me and said, “Did you see your childhood?” That’s when I realized how close it was.

Anything else?

I’ve seen an uptick in cyclists the past month. Hooray for gas prices!

Nation Bike Summit Review

March began with the Nation Bike Summit in Washington DC. North Florida had only one representative attend. Miriam Gallet the General Director of the North Florida Bicycle Club. Bike Jax was lucky enough to have her supply us with a review of her time at the summit.

(Miriam is front row center)

National Bicycle Summit a Success
By Miriam S. Gallet
NFBC General Director

On March 4 -7, more than 500 bicyclists and industry leaders from 47 states landed in Washington, D.C. to attend the 2008 National Bicycle Summit hosted by the League of American Bicyclists in order to gain support from their elected officials in Capitol Hill. After devoting four days to learning about advocacy and how to lobby congress, hundreds of cyclists made their voices heard amid an intense election year consumed by fears of a failing economy, a housing crisis and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I was one of them and I’ve returned to Jacksonville extremely invigorated and encouraged.

A very special THANK YOU to the NFBC Board of Directors and the two other sponsors that made it possible for me to be a part of this outstanding event.

Immediately after arriving in D.C. March 4, I wasted no time in getting to know the president of the League of American Bicyclists, Andy Clark and the rest of his team along with numerous other officials from various bicycling organizations, delegates from other states and CEOs from some of the largest bicycle companies in the U.S.

During the four-day event, we networked among ourselves and then headed to Capitol Hill where we established strong alliances with congressional members and staffers. Jacksonville Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-FL), personally welcomed Florida Bicycle Association Executive Director Laura Hallman and myself and listened attentively as we explained the issues affecting bicyclists in Jacksonville. We urged her to join the Congressional Bike Caucus and support several resolutions.

The fact that we were able to meet and present our agenda to House and Senate members from 50 states, should be recognized as a big success. In some instances, the elected officials decided to immediately support our cause as was the case with Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

The highlight of the summit was the introduction of a historic resolution (H.R. 305) by Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), co-sponsored by Congressman James Oberstar (D-MN), calling on all members of Congress to support the creation of a national bicycling strategy. Also, the newly introduced Complete Streets Act of 2008 by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) gave all attendees a reason for celebration.

Numerous workshops enlightened and speakers entertained us, but House of Representative Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard (Nancy Pelosi’s Chief of Staff), received the strongest and loudest round of applause and cheers when he announced the creation of a bike sharing program at three different locations within Capitol Hill. The three bike stations, similar to those in Paris, will enable congressional members and their staff to use a fleet of bicycles to get around the Hill and other parts of the city.

At the end of the summit, determination prevailed over skepticism. We left Capitol Hill more committed and determined than ever to push the bicycling agenda at the national, state and city levels. And my biggest fear was not realized.  I did not crash my bicycle on the streets of D.C.  Instead, the concluding 15-mile summit ride around Capitol Hill and surrounding neighborhoods in 37° weather was an eye-opener.

This year is crucial for cycling. The next national transportation bill will be voted on next year and the issues affecting bicyclists must be included in the bill before it becomes law. Now, more than ever, we need every elected official to become a strong supporter of bicycling. We need them to publicly acknowledge our right to co-exist alongside motorist.

I suggest that the strength of cyclists in America will depend on our commitment to advocacy. I also submit to you that positive change will only be possible by our commitment to the sport and our continuous presence on the streets of Jacksonville and surrounding counties. It will sway seemingly daunting obstacles inside and outside city hall. Furthermore, our abeyance of all traffic laws is paramount to our success and our ability to earn the respect of all citizens. Happy riding!

Thank you Miriam for your report and your continued work and support of cycling advocacy.

For Your Friday Enjoyment

Here are a couple great videos from the folks over at New Belgium Brewers creators of Fat Tire Ale. Probably the most environmentally correct brewers in the world.

The weather is going to be spectacular this weekend get out and enjoy the ride.  Enjoy these videos to get you the right frame of mind.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Keeping It Simple - The OSO bike

For a bike on the other end of the scale from the Giant Twist (See Previous Post) check out the OSO bike. If your familiar with the mantra, "Keep it simple stupid". That is exactly what OSO has done. This bike looks to have decent components on a Steel frame. And taking a page out of Mr. Ford's book. You can order your own OSO in any color you want as long it's white.

The best thing about the bike? The price. $385. Check it out for yourself. If you have been looking for an affordable street bike for recreation or commuting. The OSO Bike may be just the bike for you.

From the OSO site:

"The osobike is a mix between a cruiser and a road bike. It is simple and easy to maintain like a cruiser, but fast like a road bike. It has only one speed, so you can spend your time riding instead of thinking about what gear you should be in. There are no cables because the brake is in the pedals (coaster brake). The design is simple and modern. The wheels are narrow and high pressure. All of these features lead to a low maintenance bike that is a pleasure to ride and to view. The Osobike-- fast like a road bike, low maintenance like a cruiser."

A True Hybrid - The Giant Twist Freedom DX Electric Bike

The Giant Twist Freedom DX works pretty much like a regular bike, except that a torque sensor monitors your pedaling and controls a 250-watt DC motor located in the front wheel. Power comes from two 26-volt lithium-ion batteries (range of up to 75 miles/120 kilometers).

The motor supplements your muscles and help you keep a steady pace; "pedal harder and the motor settles down, take a rest and it kicks into overdrive." There's a controller on the handlebar that allows you to switch between three modes, each with different ratios of emphasis of muscle vs. motor. The manufacturer, Giant, hopes that it will be popular in developing countries as a low-cost alternative to cars.


Cyclists Win Landmark Ruling vs. Florida DOT

MIAMI, FL (BRAIN)—Florida cyclists cheered the news on Tuesday that the State Department of Transportation is, according to a ruling of the First District Court of Appeals, unambiguously obligated “to establish bicycle and pedestrian ways in conjunction with the construction, reconstruction, or other change of any state transportation facilities.”

The ruling goes on to say that bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be established “unless the Department exercises its discretion not to establish [them],” according to one of three conditions described in the statutes, and that the “Department’s discretion is limited.”

The ruling arises out of a lawsuit brought by Palm Beach cyclist Bruce Rosenzweig, the Boca Raton Bicycle Club and the League of American Bicyclists, in response to the failure of the Florida DOT to follow the agency’s own policies and manuals in the reconstruction of State Route A1A in Palm Beach County.

“We are delighted that the Court has vindicated our position,” said Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists. “From this day forward, the Florida DOT has very limited discretion in determining when not to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians in roadway projects.”

The ruling also affirms the standing of individual cyclists and cycling clubs across the state to challenge the failure of the DOT to follow state statutes in upcoming roadway projects. However, on a technicality, the reconstruction of parts of State Route A1A will still go ahead without provision of bicycle lanes.

“We are discussing our options for appeal and legal clarification with our extraordinary legal team of Akerman Senterfitt and Silverman Cosgrove & Sammataro," Clarke said. “First, however, we are celebrating an important victory for the safety of cyclists in Florida and the nation.”

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New Bike Path Opens In St. Augustine

I was emailed the story of the opening of the bike trail from First Coast News WTLV (And what's up with their new logo? Could they make it look more like a religious organization?) from a reader of Bike Jax with the following comment. "I invite you to read all of the comments that were posted by the readers of the article."

I did. And now, I invite you to also do the same. I would also like you to notice the location of commentaries. Observe the the intellect of the responses from our region (with the exception of Melvin) as opposed to those from outside of it. It paints a pretty clear picture of the up hill battle cycling has in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas.

I would like to tell you more about the trail but I'm not sure that what I would tell you would be correct. I can't even tell you the length of said trail due to a typo in the original story. 

Here is what I gleaned from the story. It's either 3.2 or 33.2 miles long and is the first completed section of a planned 200 mile trail that will loop from St. Augustine to Palatka to Cape Canaveral and back to St. Augustine. The entire loop is planned to be complete by 2013.

Bike Boxes & Traffic School

Here are some of the things other communities are up to concerning cyclist.

In Portland, that haven of bicycle euphoria. After a series of fatal right hooks (drivers making right hand turns into cyclists) Portland responded not with the indignity that we as cyclist would be made to feel here in Jacksonville from our leaders and the public in general. Nope, the portland city leaders responded with Bike Boxes at 14 of the city's most dangerous intersections.  The boxes require that drivers stay back and ban right turns on red. While allowing the cyclist to take the lane at the intersection. Read More.

Bicycle Traffic School Debuts in Santa Cruz

Errant bicyclists, those who get ticketed for riding on the wrong side of the street or cruising through a stop sign, can now go to traffic school to avoid a hefty fine -- and pick up some safety pointers.

The Community Traffic Safety Coalition of Santa Cruz County has launched a program similar to the traffic schools motorists attend to prevent points from going on their record that allows cyclists to attend traffic school for $35. Attending the two-hour class allows bikers to escape paying a ticket, which can run $100 to $200. Read More

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Get Invloved! BPAC Meeting Today

If you want a more bike and pedestrian friendly Jacksonville. You need to get involved. Yes, I recently posted why marketing is better than advocacy below. But if you read it then you know I also stated the we have to continue the work of advocacy.

Tonight is the meeting of Jacksonville's BPAC (Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee)

From the MPO site:

"The Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee (B/PAC) includes citizens and agency representatives who wish to further bicycle and pedestrian facilities. Recent Federal legislation has increased the emphasis on providing alternative travel modes and many new bicycle and pedestrian facilities have been funded through the Federal Highway Administration’s Enhancement Funds administered by the Florida Department of Transportation. The B/PAC recommends facilities funding in short and long range transportation plans and also provides a forum to coordinate facilities, such as linking trails and greenways through multiple jurisdictions. The B/PAC meets the third Thursday of January, March, May, July, September and November at 5 p.m."

If you would like to get involved or just wish know what is going on in the planning. Please make the time to attend.

Meeting time: 5:00 PM


First Coast MPO
1022 Prudential Drive
Jacksonville, FL 32207

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Americans are Cash Strapped, and Driving Less

A CNN-Money article today highlights a growing trend in the US. With gas prices soaring americans are driving less. The article relays the results of a recent national CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Wednesday.

"For some time we've been trying to determine the breaking point for when gas prices take their toll on the consumer," said John Kilduff, an energy analyst at the trading firm MF Global. "It appears we've found that point."
Well, I think they found it.

"If gasoline hits an average $4.50 a gallon Americans say they will reduce the miles they drive significantly enough to affect their daily lives.

If gasoline hits an average of $8 a gallon, Americans said they would quit driving altogether.

What is your breaking point? What price on a gallon of gas will finally have you throwing you leg over a bike and/or riding the bus?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Advocacy is Good. Marketing is Better.

2008 has been declared as the year of the bike. And there may be some truth in that according to this article in Reuters.

Whether 2008 is the year of the bike or not. It is time to start re-thinking how we do advocacy. Yes, we should continue to teach kids how to ride and wear helmets. Yes, we should continue to have as much face to face as we can with local, state, and national leaders. But if we want real change. I mean change on a national level. A level that law makers can no longer ignore or ridicule on the floor of the Senate. We need only to take a page out of the auto makers, beer and tobacco companies play book. Slick and shiny ads.

People are sheep and if you convince them bikes are the new cool thing. They will ride bikes. If you sell them on the fact that they will look better and have more sex they will be lining up at local bike shops. The bike industry may finally be starting to figure this out.

The major bike manufactures (With the recent sale of Canondale. I think that leaves something like 3) along with smaller builders (Surly, Swobo etc.) custom frame builders and suppliers need to start working together and create an advertising co-op.

Here's an idea to help the newly formed co-op cover the cost of producing those commercials. Add $10 or so to the price of every bike and 50¢ to a dollar on parts, clothing and every thing bike related and set up a fund to produce those slick and shiny ads. The local shops could do the same. For example, here in Florida our airwaves are constantly bombarded by ads from the likes of "The Southeast (Insert auto maker here) Dealers". I for one would love to see those slick and shiny ads with a closing tag line of "visit your local Southeast cycling retailer".

Now here is were current advocacy thinking has gone wrong. They theory has always been that you need infrastructure before you can get the masses to ride. Nope. All wrong. Produce the slick and shiny ads and watch the dominos fall. The ads will get new people on bikes. Still others will be more resistant and will have to see the ads along with all the other new people on bikes before they get on the slick and shiny bike train. But get on they will. And guess what happens next?

The bitching starts. That's right, all those new slick and shiny people on the bikes will start bitching about the lack of bike lanes, paths, racks, showers and lockers. And guess what happens next? Yep, you got it. Government and corporations have no choice but to take action.
I personally am looking forward to the Trek Nascar Team.

Below are a few of the ads done by other much more bike friendly countries.

From England:

From Canada:

From Germany:

Ok, so I'm not sure if that's an ad or not. But, come on. Don't you want to buy a bike after viewing it?

This is a Dutch Cialis ad.

British Awareness Ad:

You can bet your lycra covered ass that if I get hit by a car and the driver tells me that they didn't see me because they were watching the moon walking bear. I'm stomping the crap out of them.

Here are several ads strung together. Not sure if they are Danish, German or both. Some you'll get. Some you won't.

And finally a truly American Ad:

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Google - Bike There was created to ask Google to help us make the world safer for bicyclists by adding bicycle routes to Google Maps. Please sign the petition.

Help show the Google Maps team that we really really want the ability to get bicycle route information via the main Google Maps interface. We can get driving directions for cars, we get can wonderful mass transit information, and now we want the ultimate in sustainability and self-reliance and exercise and healthy living - bicycle route information.

Riding Green In Miami

"March is Bicycle Month in Florida! Find out how Miami-Dade transit can make your daily commute cleaner and greener!
Your daily commute can be cleaner and greener with the help of Miami-Dade Transit -- and pedal power! Elementary school teacher Mike Fleming's morning commute, by bike, bus and rail, has lessons for all of us. Follow Mike's daily journey, and get the scoop on bike passes and bus routes."

The above can found on the Miami-Dade site for this Video. It follows elementary school teacher Mike Fleming's morning commute by bike.

The thing you'll notice about this video is how well all types of mass transit in Miami work together. And most importantly how well it works with biking. JTA could learn a lot from the folks down there. Actually, JTA could learn a lot from not only Miami, but any city that is capable of stop times under 30 minutes. Instead of its current 60 minutes or more depending on the stop.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bike Florida - The Only Way To Truly See Florida

If you are seeking a completely different and unique way of vacationing. Bike Florida may be just the thing for you. Here is the description from the Bike Florida Website.

"Bike Florida Inc. is a non-profit organization now 14 years old. Every year, Bike Florida hosts a weeklong bicycle camping adventure tour. The route varies, linking small towns with natural and historic landmarks along scenic country roads. The event is fully supported with assistance from local law enforcement agencies and safety signage, alerting motorists to “SHARE THE ROAD” with the 1000 cyclists on this weeklong adventure."

What truly makes a Bike Florida trip so great are the people you meet and ride with. It is an amazing assortment of the wacky, nerdy, slightly insane, and coolist folks you will ever encounter. I'm sure you will not only come away with a gaggle of new friends. But you will also have as many stories about the people you rode with, as of the sights where you rode.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Top Gear - London Transport Race

While I am not a car guy. I am hooked on a show called Top Gear on BBC. It is by far one of the most entertaining shows on the tube. In this episode the gang at Top Gear (which include 3 hosts and 1 always helmeted test driver know only as "The Stig") race across London during morning rush hour using four different types of transportaion.

I won't provide any spoilers here, but being as this is a bike blog. You can guess which mode of tranport I was pulling for. The episode is in the 3 videos below. Don't cheat watch all 3.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Burro Bags - Kick Ass Locally

I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to meet Chris & Matt, the guys behind Burro Bags. If you have been keeping up with things here at Bike Jax. You may have read in this previous post where I stated that "We have quite a few exciting projects starting to happen" here in Jacksonville.

Burro Bags is one those exciting projects. While they are just getting things going business wise. They have put a lot of thought into the design and manufacture of their bags. They offer a variety of sizes and styles and welcome custom orders. Each bag is designed, cut and sewn by hand and the quality and care that is taken really shows once you see the finished product.

One of the nice features of the Burro Bags is the front access pocket. I have been using messenger bags for many years now. And one of the most frustrating things is getting quick access to those little things. To get into most bags, you usually have to stop the bike and end up with the cover flap tucked under your chin while trying dig for what ever it is you need.

Burro Bags have placed a very convenient front pocket with a nice little side opening to keep those little things within easy reach while on the move.

Storage capacity is pretty impressive also. You'll never have worry about showing up empty handed with the ability to carry a 24 pack of your favorite adult beverage.

Burro also makes a super size insulated food delivery bag. It has three separate chambers for storage. You'll be glad to hear that you will start seeing these bags on the streets of Jacksonville very soon. That's right. These will be on the backs of messengers in Downtown, Riverside and Springfield. I'll save the juicy details of this for a later post.

I would also like to mention a couple of addition products Burro Bags offer. On the left above is a picture of their Reversible Tube Pad. On the right is this great little Hip Bag. Somethings don't really make sense until you see them in use. Which was the case (no pun intended) with the Hip Bag for me. That is until this very morning where I sat in a local coffee house and watched as someone rode up with one these. I was impressed with the ease of access the rider had to his U-Lock with the optional U-lock Holder. I also liked that the Hip Bag provided just enough space for carrying the little stuff you need for a simple outing.

One of the reasons given by Chris & Matt for creating Burro Bags was the cost of more popular messenger bags. They wanted a more original and affordable option for the local cyclist. With a starting price of $90 for a messenger bag. You'll find out what a bargain Burro Bags are once you get your hands on one.

There are a lot options available that allow you to customize your Burro Bag. Just one of the many is screen printing of your image as shown in the example above.

Tube Pads are $15
Hip Bags are $30-40 depending on accessories.
The U-Lock Holder is $8

You can find Burro Bags at Cycledelic-fixity in San Marco. And Anomaly in Five Points.

You can also contact them direct through Burro Bags blog or [email protected].

I am a firm believer in supporting local business. It really helps when that local business is providing a quality product at a reasonable price. Which just happens to be the case with the guys at Burro Bags. And as a side note: I would also like to see local bike shops step up in support and start carrying these bags.


Thought I would continue the warm and fuzzy from the weekend. Here is a great video I snagged over at JaxBlaspheme.

If this video doesn't make you want to get out and ride. I'm not sure what will. The rider is Mike Bentham a pro racer and trials rider out of Victoria BC, Canada.

It's bike month in Florida. Enjoy the ride.

Taken It All In

This beautiful Sunday afternoon I joined some friends for a picnic at Riverside Memorial Park. And we were far from alone. The park was full other like minded folks. While I was enjoying basking in the sun I did managed to grab a few shots of some the cyclists that were rolling through the park.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.