Monday, April 28, 2008

Stolen and Recovered or How to Lock Your Bike.

The first email I read this morning was titled, "Stolen". It was from our very own Jennifer McChren who is Bike Jax's first Commuter Profile. The email read in part, "My red schwinn was stolen this weekend from the Springfield Garden. I left it up there for a minute, unlocked like a dummy."

Not a few minutes later as I was typing up an all points bulletin and digging up the pictures I had of her and the her bike to post here when I received yet another email from Jennifer titled, "Found!" It was spotted and recovered from a homeless guy in Hemming Plaza this morning. Huge thanks goes out to Philip for the recovery.

I am posting this not to show that Jennifer, as she states is a "dummy". She is anything but. It's merely to point out what everyone of us has been guilty of at one time or another. Leaving our bike unlocked "for only a second". Fess up, we all do it or have done it. We get comfortable with our surroundings and will enviably tell ourself, "it'll be ok, it's only for a second, I'll be right here".  Then you turn around the for briefest moment. And bang! Your sweet ride is gone. I've done it and I paid the price for it. (well, my insurance company did) The kicker was I wasn't ten feet from my bike the entire time. Now who do you think felt like the dummy. It only takes a second for you to get distracted and lose your bike.

So fellow Jax bikers let the lesson be learned. It may be ok this this time, and maybe even the next. But one of these times chances are good you're going to lose your bike. Lock it up. It only takes a second.

Coincidentally, I was emailed the link for the below video today. And I thought what perfect timing. It once again is from the fine folks at Street Films. The text from the video reads;
"Nearly five years ago, legendary bike mechanic Hal Ruzal and I walked the streets surrounding Bicycle Habitat and graded the bike locking ability of New Yorkers - producing many humorous and enlightening anecdotes. The resulting video aired frequently on bikeTV and at many festivals, and because of it - Hal is still frequently asked by complete strangers to judge their bike locking.

I always endeavored doing another, but as with most sequels you need a new wrinkle. This time we thought we’d give Hal some company and invited former Recycle a Bicycle mechanic Kerri Martin (and founder of The Bike Church in Asbury Park, NJ) to weigh in with her expertise. Once again, bikes on the streets of SoHo provide lots of fodder for laughs and lessons to learn.

We didn’t plan to but we walked the same loop and even used the same one-hour time frame. The results? The grades were a little better than five years ago. Sure, still some bad locking out there, but many more people are now sporting multiple locks and better strategies! Good news, maybe we made a difference after all…

Take a few minutes now and flip that frame over and write down the serial number. Now write it down again on a different piece of paper. Put one copy in your purse/wallet and the other where ever you keep your important papers. Get a camera and take a couple pictures of your steed.

If you are ever unfortunate enough to have your bike stolen. Don't hesitate to send the info here to Bike Jax. The email address is on the front page. The more eyes you have looking and the sooner you can get the word out the better your chances of a happy ending.

McCoy's Creek Path

I rode over to the farmers market on Beaver street to snag some yummy Tupelo honey on this fine Sunday. I normally just make the trip from Riverside along Stockton St. to Beaver and back the same way. Today I decided to head west on Beaver a couple more blocks and head back to Riverside on Kings St. instead.

When I reached McCoy's Creek I was pleasantly surprised to find this new path running along side of it.

While admittedly it is short with length of only 3/10 of a mile. It runs from Hollybrook Ave. on the west end to Nixon St. on the east. Why it is not longer is not apparent. It has plenty of room to be extended on both the east and west ends. I don't think the city has any plans to do that however. The east end which could have extended to at least Stockton loops back on its self signifying no further extension is planned.

You can see in the google map below just how much room there is on either side of the path for further development.

(Click on Image for Larger View)

Every once in while our city gets something right. The closure of the Smith St. bridge over McCoy's Creek was incorporated into the paths design and I have say is one the highlights of this very short but very well done path.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Taken The Slow Road

With summer approaching and gas prices rising. More people are making plans to just stay home instead of hitting the open road. There is and always has been another choice. Bike touring.

Bike Jax will is working on bringing you all the information you need to plan just such a trip. In the mean time I thought you might enjoy the exploits of Grant and Jen of Vancouver, BC. You will enjoy viewing their trip along the West Coast by bike from Vancouver to Mexico titled The Slow Coast.  The production values are great and how can anyone not enjoy a little storm trooper mojo.

This is episode 2 of the 10 part series.

Find the entire series here.

Burro Bags Moves Into Storefront

Jacksonville's favorite Messenger bag maker Burro Bags is setting up a shop in a Springfield storefront. Located in the same building that formally housed Inertia Records at 1520 N Main St. Burro now has the room it needs for manufacturing and displaying their custom made bags.

Matt Bort of Burro Bags (pictured above) tells me that they are still working on setting up store hours and will provide that information in the next couple of weeks on their site.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Freeway Bike Ride

Last week 10 cyclist in Los Angeles thought since LA's freeways are virtual parking lots during rush hour. That it would be just as safe riding the 405 and the 10 as it was the Pacific Coast Highway.

Other LA blogs have picked up on the video and LA.Metblog calls it, "equal parts stupid and awesome".
Opinions of the stunt have of course been mixed. My favorite response is on YouTube and asks the million dollar question. "LA is made for cars. Why are bicycles getting places faster?"

Lost Pics and a New Logo

I know I have been a little slack in posting of late. Some how last Saturday every picture on the blog got jacked and I have had to spend every moment of free time since rebuilding each and every post.

I had several emails questioning where the obligatory Earthday post was yesterday. Part of the answers lies above. The other part lies with the fact I was, and still am trying to evacuate the bitter taste of hypocrisy that was the Earthday Celebration at The Jacksonville Landing. I think Urban Jacksonville sums it up pretty well with "You might have also been snickering at the ironic-ness of people consuming armloads of promotional materials from companies like CSX and JEA that will probably end up in our landfills this week."

If you want to see and enjoy Earthday done right. Visit the event promoted in the Urban Jacksonville link above.

On a brighter note Bike Jax has a new logo. 
Tell me what you think. Like it? Hate it? Can you design something better? If you do like it. Would you purchase it on a shirt, hat or sticker? Send some feedback.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Visit Bike Jax & BPAC During Earthday

Stop by and say hello to The Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee (B/PAC) & Bike Jax this Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM at the Jacksonville Landing for the Earth Day & Ecology Fair.

From The Jax Landing site:
"There will be children’s games and activities, music, face painting, prizes, more than 100 booths of educational information and two stages of live entertainment. Children’s activities include craft projects with recycled and reused materials and live animal encounters. For the adults, learn what you can to help the environment."

More event info can also be found from JEA.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Girls On Bikes In Orlando - The Good & Bad News

So a few days ago I received the following video in an email. It features, two gals from Orlando, who share their love of bikes through words, music and pictures.

Today I learned that one of the ladies Jen Walen from the above video and another cyclist Rachel Harris were seriously injured after being stuck by a drunk driver in Downtown Orlando.

Whalen is an avid bicycle activist, alleycat champ and singer. In addition to leading the UCF bike club, she is an active member of Orlando Critical Mass. Check out her music on MySapce and enjoy such titles "Bitch stole my bianchi" and "The malpractice of DR SUV".

Whalen described the collision as sounding like a bomb went off. "I woke up in the road and heard Rachel screaming and when I looked over at her it looked like her face was covered in blood," she said. The motorist, identified as 24-year-old Amy Klutz, who struck Whalen and Harris was given several sobriety tests at the scene of the accident and later arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. Whalen suffered from a broken collar bone, four broken ribs, a fractured hip and various abrasions. Harris suffered from bruises on her head and severe abrasions.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Commuter Profile - Laurel Lee Welch

Our second profile is Laurel Lee, the much better looking half of a bike commuting couple. A native of Portland, OR. she is no novice to the cycling lifestyle. She commutes daily from her Springfield home between Douglas Anderson School of the Arts where she is currently teaching Economics. And her second job with Emergency Services & Homeless Coalition of Jacksonville, Inc. If that isn't enough, Laurel Lee also can be found playing her original music at local venues with her band Laurel Lee and the Escapees.

What do you use your bike for?

I bicycle for transportation and relaxation.

How often do you ride?

Five days a week

How long have you been commuting by bicycle?

Since I was a kid, but when I moved to Jacksonville I lapsed into car driving for a year, I’m glad to get back into a healthier habit.

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

I tell them that it feels good. By the time I get to work I’m in a better mood (I’m not a morning person), and by the time I get home, I’ve shaken the frustrations of the day out of me.

What could the City do to make biking better?

It would be best if the lanes were marked. Car drivers are under the impression that bicycles are not vehicles when there are no marking for bikes.

What reaction do you get from co-workers?

They give me a wide-eyed look like I was a pioneer or something.

What’s the best thing about commuting by bicycle?

My body looks and feels awesome.

Can you give a brief description of your route?

I take the river walk to Riverside for one job, and I take the Main Street Bridge and Kings Street, even a few blocks of Philip’s Highway (on the sidewalk) for the other job.

Where are your favorite places to bike in Jacksonville?

I do love the river walk on the North bank.

Least favorite?

The Westside has fewer paths and less to look at.

What do you like about biking in Jacksonville?

Nary a hill to be found.

And dislike

Car drivers can be quite dangerous when they swerve and swear as they pass.

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

I have the pass that is now not necessary, but I’m afraid I’m not strong enough to lift my bike fast enough for the rack. Luckily, right now I don’t need to go anywhere that the combination is necessary.

Do you commute in cycling or street clothing?

Mostly street clothing, then I changeclothes I bring with me at work. And if cycling clothing, how to handle the change to street? When I’m wearing bike clothing for the weather, I bring my day clothes in a plastic bag with me.

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

HELMET, and night light that’s good and bright.

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

No, but I support BPAC.

Favorite bike stories?

I love the reflector pants I bought recently. There’s a new bike collective in Springfield I’m hopeful about. Our neighbor is going to try to ride to work soon.
Scary bike stories?

Yes, my stupid U-lock got stuck on my bike frame because I was so short-sighted to let it swing from my handle bars. I was crossing Blanding and couldn’t turn my handle bars and crashed pretty hard. Fortunately, it was ten at night and I was wearing a helmet, so even though I hit my head I was able to get up and get out of the road and ride the 45 minutes home.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

CycleDelic Fixity Opens in Riverside

This past week saw the opening of a new bike shop in Riverside. Located at 1012 King St. (just South of Post St.) and despite it's name, CycleDelic Fixity is more than a specialty shop that focuses on fixed gear bikes.

As soon as you enter the shop you realize you are not at a typical Riverside bike shop. The tip off is the warm greeting with a welcoming smile from either owner Jeff Aka Brooklyn, his wife Beth or daughter Kayla. And if you are really lucky, you may just get the offer of a partially eaten sandwich from 2 year old Matthew.
Jeff & daughter Kayla

Another thing you'll notice once your inside of CycleDelic Fixity. They don't have racks and racks full of shiny new bikes. CycleDelic Fixity's thing is building custom bike set ups with your old bike frame. Or you can choose from an assortment of bikes Jeff has built up from classic road frames with all the newest components ready for you to ride out the door.

Don't need a bike built? Just want some cool bling for your style'n ride? Jeff has an full assortment all your part needs. Been jones'n for a sky blue custom wheel set? Jeff's your guy. Don't have a fixie? Don't know what a fixie is? That's ok you don't have to. CycleDelic Fixity will repair whatever ails any type of bike you may have, multi-geared or single speed.

Stop in and get your bike tuned up and help out a local charity. How is that possible you may ask. It's simple with CycleDelic Fixity 's $35 Charity Tune Up Special. Pay $25 for a complete tune up of your steed and make a check for $10 payable to Katie's Ride For Life, Tour de' Cure or the M.S. Society.

Click on Image for Larger View and to Print.

Whether you are looking for a classic commuter, hipster fixie or not even sure what you want in the way of a bike. Talk to Jeff and start building a bike with style and history.

Don't need a new bike or repairs right now. That's ok, drop by and welcome these guys to the neighborhood.

CycleDelic Fixity
1012 King St.

Commuter Life - Netherlands & Portland Style

I thought you might enjoy seeing a glimpse of commuter life in our (The US) bike city of Portland and a video showing part of the morning commute in the Netherlands.

The picture below from Bike Portland shows cyclists waiting at the Hawthorne draw bridge during their morning commute in Portland. I like that it's bikes as far as the eye can see. Ian Stude who along with the picture added this commentary.

"…the Hawthorne Bridge saw a huge traffic jam of cyclists today… When I came to a stop I was probably half way between the start of bridge (by the firestation on the east side) and the lift span. I snapped a quick photo of the long line of bikers and walkers in front of me [image below]. Within minutes…many more cyclists began to queue up behind me.

By the time the bridge finally came down, there was a line of cyclists at least 2 abreast stretching from the lift span all the way back to the firestation. It was awe-inspiring! I noticed several other people dismounting their bikes and looking at the long line of us with big grins on their faces… What a site, indeed. And just another day in BikeTown, USA.

The video is via Copenhagenize. It's just an average dad dropping the kids at school. It's a nice little video that shows the unhurried morning commute of the danes. I'm willing to bet that this bike thing is a contributing factor for why the Danes are classified as the happiest people in the world.

Take notice of not only the infrastructure. But that this appears not to be taken in an urban core setting. It looks to be in your standard European suburb. And now imagine what that line of cars that starts lining up around 1 pm everyday. Blocking the streets around your local school and neighborhood would look and feel like if they were on bikes instead.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Rate My Bike - Bike Porn for the Rest Of Us.

For some time now the fixie hipsters have had Fixed Gear Gallery to share their love. Now the guys over at Bike Commuters have set up a bike porn site for the rest of us, Rate My Bike. In the vain of the tried and true Rate My (Insert body Part Here) porn sites. The rest of us geared cyclists can now sit happily in a dark room and ogle others undersized wheel nuts or oversized racks. And if you just have to scratch that exhibitionist itch of yours. Upload a couple pictures of your bike and share some of the love.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Bike Jax is Feeling the Love

Bike Jax has had nothing but positive responses since it's start up. But this week Bike Jax is really feeling the love. Bike Jax has been given the blog nod of acceptance from Colony Jax and The Urban Core in posts today.

I can't relay how excited I am over up coming Bike Jax projects that I am dying to spill the beans about. But I'm going to stay mum until all the T's are crossed. I will say that even though opening day was missed. Pre-season kickoff will not be.

If Jacksonville is ever going to grow into the rich vibrant city it should be. It is going to have be the Urban Core that leads the way. We (the Urban Core) need to start stacking our city leadership from within our ranks. We have left leadership to suburbanites for far to long and we all know where that has gotten us. And I believe we are moving in that direction with all the work that is being done not only by the blogs named above but by every one of those that are listed on the left hand side of this blog.

I thank all of you for you support and am looking forward to Jacksonville's future.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Art Walk Bike Busts

Art Walk was off the hook yesterday. The re:Charge shows at Burrito Galley and Opaq where outstanding. The crowds were were unbelievably huge and a great thing to see downtown. There were however, at least a couple people that didn't have the best time at Art Walk.

Two cyclist were arrested. The first was riding within a large group and was stopped for not having lights. I was told later that the reason for the arrest was due more to the verbiage used towards the officer than the original offense. The second was well after the first had been taken away. She was arrested for pretty much the same thing after repeated chances to walk away.

If you are going to be riding downtown during Art Walk or any place else after dark. Please make sure you have lights on your bike. The law requires a white light in front and red flashing in the back. It's for your safety.

Now on to a more pressing topic. (ok, not really pressing. Just my views)

If you were anywhere downtown during Art Walk you had to notice that JSO was everywhere. It is something I have noticed increasingly over the last few months of Art Walk. I have very mixed feelings about this trend. I think it is good for JSO to have a presences. But in the numbers they are currently putting out during Art Walk I think would leave one to believe Art Walk and/or Downtown was extremely dangerous. It would be better to cut their numbers to a quarter of what they currently have and get the ambassadors back out and about during Art Walk. I don't see any of them walking the streets during Art Walk anymore and I think that would give anyone that may have reservations about being downtown after dark some comfort. While I don't drink and I have no reason to fear law enforcement. I still find it personally uncomfortable see JSO in roving bands of 10 or more. I'm sure if they had this kind of visibility in those areas of town that really need it. We wouldn't have to read about so many shootings.