Saturday, January 31, 2009

Kids Safety Workshop Recap

Today was the first of what is hoped to become a monthly event at the main branch Jacksonville Library. A kids safety and bike maintenance workshop. The workshop portion was put on by the gang at Zombie Co-Op. While Safe Kids handled the safety program which consisted of having the kids watch a 10 minute animation on how to ride in a safe manner followed with outfitting the kids with a new helmet.

The workshop had the Zombie gang teaching the different parts of a bike and then covered basic repair of how to change a tube and replace a slipped chain.

Judging how much the kids enjoyed the workshop this will hopefully become a regular feature at the library.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Zombies Wednesday Workshop and Movie

Don't forget about tonight is the Zombie Bike Co-Op Workshop. Got a loose screw? Wanna learn how to change a flat or adjust your brakes. Maybe even learn how build up your special ride.

The workshop is from 5:30 - 7:30 this evening. Stick around until 8:30 after the workshop for the outstanding documentary Bomb It.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Rethinking How We Build Our Roads.

A couple of weekends ago I found myself riding down Old St. Augustine Rd. on the bike lane that was recently (Over the last couple of years) installed from Phillips Hwy. (US1) to the Interstate 295 junction.

As I was riding down it, I was looking at how the land was used for the 5 1/2 mile stretch. It's your typical standard issue 5 lane road with bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides. The bike lanes are well marked and signed. But for some reason it feels inadequate.

What I was focusing my attention on was the sidewalks. I kept asking myself if I had ever seen anyone actually walking on the sidewalk. I had seen plenty of cyclist using the sidewalk. In fact I had seen more cyclists on the sidewalk than I had in the bike lanes. But I couldn't recall ever having seen anyone just walking along.

At some point I realized why I had seen no one walking anywhere along the sidewalks. Where the hell are they going to walk to? This portion of Old St. Augustine Rd. is all residential culdesac communities on both sides with shopping book-ending this stretch of road.

I talked with some friends a couple of days later that live in a neighborhood along this stretch of road. They all said they wouldn't ride in the bike lane because they didn't feel they had enough of a buffer from the 45 MPH traffic. They also said that they had tried taking a few walks on the sidewalk when it first went in. But again it was the buffer thing combined with the fact there is no where to walk too and that the sidewalk was too narrow to walk side-by-side with anyone else. Someone, they said, was always trailing and the lead person felt they had to do "that turn and walk shuffle thing that ones does in that situation to carry on a conversation."

After I had what I thought was a good explanation for the lack of sidewalk use. I wondered how much did that sidewalk cost in material and labor? And how could we put that portion of land to better use.

It is at the point where I stopped and took the top picture that I realized how we could put this road space to better use and create a safer environment for all users.

It seems like the simplest and most obvious thing in the world to me once I saw it. Simply move the curb to left hand edge of the bike lane and leave everything to the right at the same grade as the road.

We (the tax payers) save a small fortune from not having all the costs and added construction time associated with building the sidewalk. We also gain a true transportation corridor that both cyclist and pedestrian feel safer on that uses the same amount of land as the current bike lane and sidewalk combination. Both of which as of this writing gets little use for its intended purpose.

I know this isn't a practical solution for all roads. But it is for this one and the many miles of roads just like it in and around Jacksonville. How do we get engineers to get out on site before they start design and construction of a road project. And to really think about how not only each segment of road is going to be used but also how it will effect and enhance the quality of all modes of transportational use for the surrounding communities?

Let me hear from you. Which of these infrastructures would you feel the most safe on? Which of these do you think a mom will use go to shops for the first time? Which one would you as a parent feel safer letting you children ride on? Do you think this a practical solution to building a road with bike and pedestrian use in mind?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Craig's List Ad of the Day - The Bamboo Bike

While perusing my RSS feeds this evening, one of the posts on the St. Augustine Craig's List for Bicycles caught me eye. Seeing as I have fetish for Bamboo bikes how could I not get a little tingly about reading the title, Bamboo Beach Cruiser.

Well that's something you don't see often and is completely unique. Despite the asking price of $700 being a little beyond my current bike budget of $35.98. I was still compelled to email the lister and ask for more information and those additional pictures mentioned in the ad.

The Lister also answered a few questions I concerning the drive train and braking of the bike. "It is a single speed with hand operated rear brake drum (BJ note: Roller Brakes). It has a generator but the bulb and lens assembly are missing. As stated in ad there is a label with Bamboo Bike Company October 1999"

The lister is not the original owners so they little info on the history of the bike. They purchased the bike at St. Simons, GA. yard sale and guesses that those sellers were the original owners. I was unable to find any info about the Bamboo Bicycle Company on the net.

Click On Pictures For Larger View

After taking a closer look at the above images, I was a little disappointed to see that bike is really a steel frame wrapped in Bamboo. Only the top tube appears to be bamboo and by the looks of those wicker wrapped joints, I doubt it does anything structurally for the bike. However all the accessories, the fenders, chain guard, front basket and grips are indeed bamboo. Despite not being a true bamboo bike, If you're looking for something unique and unusual to add to your collection. You might want to take a closer look at this bike. Oh, the bike is located in Waycross, GA.

Now if you got some big bucks to drop and want a bamboo bike that is more of a work of art than daily ride. Check out Calfee Design's road and mountain bikes.

Also check out how Craig Calfee is teaching Ghanaian's to build and maintain their own bamboo cargo bikes.

Want try your hand at building your own Bamboo wonder? Instructables has you step by step how to.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Inaugural Bikes & Local Goodies

I'm not sure if you guys have heard anything about this or not. But apparently, this week our nation was witness to the swearing in of a new president. Some guy named Obama. (I think, Don't quote me on that). Heard he's a pretty rad guy however. Read that he is already spanking some Bush policies, so the dudes cool with me. Lets hope he gets all warm and fuzzy about bikes and trains.

Seems that during the inauguration the only way in was to bike or walk. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association set up a couple of bike valet stations and parked over 2000 bikes during the event. They happily report not one bike lost or misplaced. The only problem stemmed from a lone helmet that was misplaced and later found and reunited with its owner.

Images can be found on the WABA Flickr site here. Yet more images can found here.

I would also like to point you guys to a couple of new local features.

The first is a great new site called Jax Reader. Our next mayor, Tony A. (aka. Biggie Tea) over at The Urban Core is a co-creator of the site.

If you like to keep up with all the Jax blog goodness that's going on, Jax Reader is your one stop shop. It up dates continually when any of the local blogs do. Check it out and see how many great Jax sites you'll find that you didn't know thing about.

The second is Urban Jacksonville Weekly.

"A weekly radio show that discusses urban issues, art, development, blogs, media, etc in Jacksonville Florida."

This is just yet another great brain fart by Joey Marchy of Urban Jacksonville.

The show has only produced one episode thus far and has already generated a drinking game. Urban Jacksonville Weekly is going to be something special and a not-to-be missed addition to your blog/podcast list.

You can now also find Bike Jax on Twitter and Facebook if that's your thing.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Jacksonville's Cycling Future: Your Chance To Change It!

It was announced at the last B/PAC meeting that Jacksonville had been rejected for the status of "Bicycle Friendly City" by the League of American Bicyclists. At the announcement, I not so discretely chuckled only to receive a few dirty looks and the distain of some of the board members. Sure, I was in the wrong, but come on. How out of touch with reality do you have to be to harbor any thoughts that Jacksonville is in anyway a friendly place for cyclists? Just applying for the distinction is putting the cart way before horse in my not so very humble opinion. We have done very little here to improve or for matter enforce the laws already in place for the addition of cycling infrastructure.

Think I'm exaggerating about how bike unfriendly Jacksonville currently is? Ride a bike from Mandarin to Orange Park. Try Downtown to Arlington or from anywhere to the beaches. Take a trip around the city and look at any of the multiple and massive road improvement projects going on currently. Even though state law mandates "Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be given full consideration."**
How many of these projects in Jacksonville are actually adding bike ways or lanes? I have found only one, St. Augustine Rd. Not Main St., not St. Johns Bluff, not any of the many others. Who has oversight? Who and where is our watch dog that hold these projects accountable?

So yes, I chuckled and later after the meeting I laughed out loud at the thought of Jacksonville currently being thought of as a cycling friendly city. Will Jacksonville ever be a cycling friendly city? I have to believe it will, if simply because there are so many very committed people working hard everyday to make it happen. There also wouldn't be much of point to Bike Jax if I didn't fully believe in Jacksonville's cycling future.

So how do we go about making Jax a bike friendly city? That is the question isn't it. Unfortunately there is no single answer or silver bullet to solve this issue. It's going to take years of effort and a lot of hard work by people in every area of city, state, federal government and yes, you the cycling and non-cycling public to make the changes needed to make Jax more cycling friendly. You, the public are the most important part of the equation however. I'm not sure how many of you are aware of this, but you are the city, state and federal government. Those aforementioned entities are there to work for you. But they only work for you if you speak up and tell them what you want done.

The Plan:
The first thing needed for any cycling or transportation infrastructure is a plan. Most cities have a Master Plan that lay out how all transportation options (car, bus, bike, walk, train) would traverse the city and how each works with the other. That apparently is way to much effort and requires to much thought and dedication for our beloved city leaders. So we will just focus on the plan for cycling.

Jacksonville's bike future currently lies with what is known as the 2035 Plan. It details and prioritizes current and future cycling paths, bike lanes and greenways. Those of you who attended this B/PAC meeting already know just how ass backwards the current list of priorities are. For those of you who didn't attend that meeting, below is the bike ways listed in their respective priority. You will need to click on the images to enlarge enough to read.

Luckily for all of us this plan comes up for reevaluation every five years. And guess what the beginning of 2009 happens to be? That's right my fellow peddle happy hooligans, year five and time to let our voices be heard. It's time to let the powers that be that priority bike paths should move people from home to work and past your children's schools and those projects along lonely stretches road that benefit no one should be at the bottom of the list and not the top..

Over the next couple of weeks Public Workshops for the Long Range Transportation Plan will held around Jacksonville along with Clay, Nassau, and St. Johns Counties. These meetings are dealing exclusively with Envision 2035.

If you don't show up and speak up and the meetings only hear the voices of developers, their lawyers and engineers. What kind of future do you think bikes as transportation have in North Florida?

There is a meeting somewhere near you. Please make plans to attend and please let your voice be heard.

Northwest St. Johns County
Tuesday, Jan. 20, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Switzerland Point Middle School
777 Greenbriar Road

Wednesday, Jan. 21, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Ramona Boulevard Elementary
5540 Ramona Boulevard

Nassau County
Thursday, Jan. 22, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
David Yulee Room
FCCJ Nassau Center
76346 William Burgess Boulevard

Monday, Jan. 26, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Highlands Regional Library
1826 Dunn Avenue

St. Augustine
Tuesday, Jan. 27, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
The Meeting Room
Ponce de Leon Mall
2121 US 1 South

Wednesday, Jan. 28, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Regency Square Library
9900 Regency Square Boulevard

Clay County
Thursday, Jan. 29, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Fleming Island High School
Teacher Training Center
2233 Village Square Parkway

Southeast Duval County
Monday, Feb. 2, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
FCCJ Deerwood
9911 Old Baymeadows Road

Section 335.065, F.S., “Bicycle and pedestrian ways along state roads and transportation facilities”

(1)(a) Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be given full consideration in the planning and development of transportation facilities, including the incorporation of such ways into state, regional, and local transportation plans and programs. Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be established in conjunction with the construction, reconstruction, or other change of any state transportation facility, and special emphasis shall be given to projects in or within 1 mile of an urban area.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (a), bicycle and pedestrian ways are not required to be established:

1. Where their establishment would be contrary to public safety;

2. When the cost would be excessively disproportionate to the need or probable use;

3. Where other available means or factors indicate an absence of need.

(2) The department shall establish construction standards and a uniform system of signing for bicycle and pedestrian ways.

(3) The department, in cooperation with the Department of Environmental Protection, shall establish a statewide integrated system of bicycle and pedestrian ways in such a manner as to take full advantage of any such ways which are maintained by any governmental entity. For the purposes of this section, bicycle facilities may be established as part of or separate from the actual roadway and may utilize existing road rights-of-way or other rights-of-way or easements acquired for public use.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Bike Jax Logo

For the last few months I've had this concept for a Bike Jax logo. But having absolutely design skills what-so-ever, I turned to local graphics goddess Anna Berken.

She of course took my vision and created something that was way beyond my expectations.

You can expect see a lot more of the new logo in the near future.

Along with a huge thanks to Anna for everything she has done for Bike jax. I want to send a special congratulations for her Wins in the recent Florida Awards of Excellence in Media for Special Page Design and Graphic Design.

Way to rep the j-ville Anna.

Ghost Bike for Eddie Odom

Yesterday, Zombie Bikes Co-Op and Bike Jax with the help of Shek placed a Ghost Bike for Eddie Odom. Eddie lost his life December 28th at the intersection of 9th and Myrtle Ave.

It was reported that Eddie rode into the path of a Jacksonville Sheriff Officer that was en route to a call.

Shek attaching the memorial sign.

Our most heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Eddie Odom.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ghost Bike Vandalized UPDATED!

Last July Bike Jax & Zombie Bike Co-Op placed a Ghost bike for Chef Johnny Jones who lost his life while attempting to cross Beach Blvd. I received an email a couple of days ago from Cindy Jones, wife of Johnny letting me know that the Ghost bike had been vandalized.

Last night I received another email from a BIke Jax reader (Thanks Dee) with pictures of the vandalized bike.

When I placed and locked the bike. I used a very heavy chain and lock that went through the back wheel. Since the back wheel has been removed I 'm going to guess that the bike is now sitting there unsecured.

If you see anyone riding around on a solid white wheel. Call them out and let them know you where it came from.


With the help of Zombie Bikes Co-Op and the assistance of Shek, Bike Jax has replace the missing rear wheel and tire along with securing the bike with a new lock and chain.

Thanks to everyone that sent emails or posted comments here at Bike Jax. Also thanks to you to the outstanding friends, family and patrons of Cindy and Genesis Cafe for you concern about the vandalized bike and for their continued support and patronage of Genesis Cafe.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mr. Bush, Here's A Little Somthing To Remember Us.

At last our long national nightmare is drawing to a close. The "decider" is leaving office next week and he will now finally be able to concentrate all of his time doing what he did best while in office. Vacation.

Dubba, we are all very aware of how much you enjoy riding your mountain bike. But now that you're about to leave office and move into your new Dallas digs we thought we would get you a little something. I still can't believe that you are abandoning the ranch that proved to so many American's that you were indeed a god-fearing "real American" and to which you also spent so much of your time at while in office.

Now that you'll be living in the city you're not going have as much of a chance to get out on the trails like you once did. So, without further ado, it is my great pleasure on behave of the great citizens of United States to present you with this new bike so that you may experience a whole new style of riding. It is my sincere hope that every time you mount your new bike, that you will reflect on your time in office and gain a just a little understanding of what we (the citizens of the United States) had to endure from you for the last eight years.

Wait for it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

January Zombie Workshops & Films

I know this is some short notice. I really thought I had posted this one a while back. I had it already to go and for some reason just never hit the publish button. Sorry Cherri.

Zombie Bikes is now hosting bimonthly workshops and films on the 2nd and 4th wednesdays each month.

The workshops will cover a range of topics from changing a flat to adjusting your derailleur.
The Workshop starts at 5:30 pm and lasts until 7:30 pm.
After which a film will be shown.

Tonight's film is BMX Bandits staring Nicole Kidman.

Zombie Bikes is located at:
1520 N. Main St.

Kick'n It Suburban Style

Last weekend Bike Jax reader, commenter and suburban car-free living cyclist "Shek" invited me to see how the other half lives and join him to see the film Slumdog Millionaire.

He has described to me on numerous occasions the routes he takes on his bike to get to the places he needs to get to for work, shopping, recreation and relaxation. But never having traveled through the routes he describes any other way than from the drivers seat of my car. I accepted his invitation and left the comfort of the urban cores gridded streets to see what it was like to ride the culdesac hell that is suburbia.

Our ride seems pretty simple looking at the above map. Get from Shek's Apartment off the Southside Blvd. Service Rd. to Tinseltown Theater about 2.5 miles north on Southside Blvd.

However, to ride on Southside Blvd. is tantamount to turning an armadillo loose in a crowded bowling alley. You'll have trust me on this one, either way it's going to be ugly.

The only safe way was to take the long road around weaving our way through a mix of office parks, condos, and shopping centers.

Who says Jacksonville is flat?

Leaving the end of the service road for a short jaunt on the sidewalk to the redlight to cross Southside Blvd.

Sitting on AC Skinner Parkway to cross Southside Blvd. onto Deerwood Park Blvd.. Is it just me, or does Jacksonville have a massive amount of roads that suddenly change names without you ever making a turn? That is a sure sign of an excellent infrastructure master plan.

You have to sit at this light until a car pulls onto the sensors in the other lane since a bike is too light to trip it. Or your other option is to run it once the left turning cars clear the intersection. The Green cycle to cross this intersection was just enough time for us to reach the median. I don't have any idea how a pedestrian would ever make it across.

Pulling up to Gate Parkway. This is where we should have turned left. But Shek was taking me on slight detour to show me a path that was recently installed that runs behind his work place. Notice how we are controlling the the very narrow lane. Ride your bike like you would drive a car.

On the path (sidewalk) that takes you from the south side of J. Turner Butler (JTB) to the north side via an old feed tunnel. What's a feed tunnel? Back in the day all this land that make up Deerwood Park, Gate Parkway, Tinseltown and St. Johns Town Center was pastureland belonging to Skinners Dairy. (Boy, do I wish I had been a lot nicer to that Skinner girl back in school) When JTB was built, it sliced right through the middle of Skinners property. So they had to allow for passage of the dairy cows and feed tractors to get to and from each section of pasture. So they built tunnels under JTB. Several of which are still unused are sitting fenced up.

In the tunnel which brings you out into the Cosco and Best Buy shopping center.

Detour over and back on Gate Parkway for finally leg to Tinseltown.

Overall the ride to the theater and back was pleasant and uneventful. Traffic moves faster and is heavier in suburbia since there are only a few through roads with lots of feeder roads. There is very little bike infrastructure with bike lines only on the newest of roads. But what there is nicely done. The bottom line is you can live in suburbia car-free and not have to do without. Our ride was a lot more enjoyable for us than the drive was for many drivers along the way. We were constantly amused by some driver that was sitting at an intersection and upset because traffic was not moving the way that he/she would have preferred it. While we rode ride through all the congestion with not a worry in the world.

The film Slumdog Millionaire however was outstanding and worth riding a bike though any type of hell to see. And it's even more enjoyable when you see it with someone from Mumbai aka Bombay.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Your Going To Hell...

Sticker from International Safety Union for Cyclists. A spoof site

If you don't wear a helmet. At least that is what every US cycling organization would have you believe. The proselytizing for the utilization of the bicycle helmet by these organizations and certain individuals is as fanatical as anything you're likely to hear from any religious fundamentalist.

Let's take a look at the above photo from Alan Snel's blog in Tampa. In the post he is not happy that the hospital of the above billboard chose to not have the riders helmeted.

In the post Alan writes; "Here's a hospital, which theoretically is concerned about people's health, using bicyclists in an ad and they are not wearing helmets."

I on the other hand couldn't disagree more. Lets take a closer look at the image.

While Alan sees only the negative of this image. I see the many positives it voices. I see the exact image we should be using to sell people on bikes. We have two people on real utilitarian bikes complete with racks, fenders, chain guards and lights. We also have two people riding a bike in regular street clothes in an upright casual manner.

I also think that the statement about the hospital not being concerned with peoples heath is a bit of a misstatement. This picture promotes cycling as a fun and casual effort and therefore is promoting the reduction of Stress, Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure and Obesity just to name a few of the benefits of riding a bike.

If we are to get more people to ride a bike to work, school or even the store instead of driving their car. We have to remove the barriers and make cycling as convenient as driving. Riding a bike to the store in a slow and casual manor does not, and should not require the gearing up as if one is about take on the tour de france.

Each and every individual needs to weight their own risk to injury. As an avid mountain biker I wouldn't even consider throwing a leg over my bike without a helmet before hitting a trail. I know how high the risks are during that recreational sport. The same should go for road cyclists that ride at higher speeds.

But when I'm getting on Old Blue (my vintage Schwinn Collegiate) to run to the grocery store or out to meet friends for dinner. I have made the decision to leave the helmet at home. And you know what I have noticed from the first time I rode helmet-less several months ago and that continues to this very day? I learned that I get way more respect on the roads from passing motorists. I no longer have cars riding my ass honking their horns. I no longer have cars zooming by within inches by me. I no longer have bubba hanging out the window throwing whatever he has handy in his truck at me when he passes. Now that I have de-helmeted cars and trucks give me respect and courtesy when I am sharing the road with them. And the fact that I am treated better on the road makes me feel safer than any helmet ever will.

Let's leave the preaching to the various religious sects and let each individual decide for themselves whether to strap a helmet on or not.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Womens Ride II

It's that time of the month for the ladies. It's time for the 2nd Sunday Women's Ride.

From The Zombie site: "a lazy, winding ride full of awesome people, some sweet music, drinks and debauchery"

Guys are more than welcome join the ride as long they are willing to wear a skirt.

Ride starts at 2 pm at Raglands. 1023 Park Street.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Cycledelic Fixity Closes Up Shop

I'm going to let you guys in on a well kept secret that the owners and employees of bike shops don't want known. Owning or working in a bike shop will not make you wealthy. Think I'm pulling your leg? Ask yourself this, have you ever seen a bike shop owner driving around in Hummer? No, you haven't. And if you did, I hope you had the common decency to pulled them out of it and stomped the living crap out of them so the rest of us would never have to witness such a disturbing sight.

Now imagine how income limiting opening a speciality bike shop would be. It appears that our only fixed gear specialty shop, Cycldelic-Fixity has closed it's doors.

The Riverside building at the corner of Post and King is empty and the phone has been disconnected. Upon checking out Cycdelic's website it states that they are closed for "Vacation & Relocation". It also lists it's current address as "The Corner of Batcave & Wayne Manor".

I sent a few emails seeking more information but as of this post have had no replies. I truly hope this not the end of Brooklyn and Cycdelic-Fixity. Brooklyn and has family are some of the finest people you will ever cross paths with. If and when they do reopen, support them. These people are an asset to whatever community they are in.

Jacksonville Library Kids Bike Safety & Repair

Got Kids ages 6 - 12? Got kids with bikes? Got kids that need a bike helmet? Join the Jacksonville Public Library and Zombie Bikes Co-Op January 31st at the Main Branch Children's Department for a Bike Safety and Repair Clinic.

Free helmets provided by Jacksonville's Safe Kids. Space is limited 20 children and preregistration is required.

Date: January 31st
Location: Main Library - Children's Orientation
Time: 2 pm to 3 pm
Contact: Keith Hayes
Contact Number: 904.630.2417