Friday, July 23, 2010

I am a segregationist...

Lets get this out and in the open right now. I am a segregationist. Not in the racial sense, but in the transportational sense.

Some time ago while having what I thought was a friendly exchange of ideas and thoughts with a bike blogger in another city concerning cycling infrastructure. He retorted to my last response with, "You are a vehicular segregationist, this conversation is over!" Vehicular Segregationist? I sat and thought about that statement for sometime and throughout the next couple of days I pondered that statement and I finally came to the conclusion, that if what I wanted in the long run was for more people to feel that there was infrastructure in place that made them feel safe enough to choose cycling over a car. Then yes. I am indeed a vehicular segregationist.

I guess I also should explain that the individual I was conversing with is what is commonly known as a "vehicular cyclist." What's that you ask? To put it in the most basic of terms, vehicular cyclists firmly believe that there is no need for separated cycling infrastructure in the form of bike lanes or paths. They proselytize that bicycles are vehicles and should be 'driven' like vehicles on the road. For a better understanding of who these people are and their thought process I recommend reading, Vehicular Cyclists - Cycling's Secret Sect by MIckael Coville-Andersen at Copenhagenize.

What incited this post are two recent videos I happened to watch back to back and they could not be more night and day. The first is providing information for correctly 'driving' your bike in traffic. As you're viewing it, take note of how hard these cyclists are working. Note also how stiff, harried, and just plain uncomfortable they appear. Do they look like they are enjoying their commute? Do they look any less stressed than your average automobile driver?

This second video is by Clarence Eckerson of StreetFilms and was filmed during the Vilo-City 2010 conference in Copenhagen. Do you notice any difference between these cyclists and those in the above video? Do they seem stressed or harried to you? After viewing both, I'll let you decide for yourself which is better suited for increasing bicycles as transportation.

Are you a vehicular cyclist or a vehicular segregationist? If you have the brains to do some research and can think on a logical basis and If you also think about what is best for majority and not just for yourself. Then maybe you, like me are perhaps a majority of segregationist with a little of vehicular cyclist thrown in.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I Bike Jax in The Big Apple

Bike Jax'r Beth Slater sent us this pic of her proudly sporting her I Bike Jax tee on a recent trip NYC.

Do you have pics of your travels while wearing your Bike Jax gear? We'd love to see and share them Send them our way and we'll post'em up.

Don't have any Bike Jax gear? It's easy to get.

For the Bike Jax Logo gear go HERE.

For "I Bike Jax" Gear THIS is where you'll Find it.

A wide variety of styles, colors and sizes to choose from.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cycle Chic: Jacksonville Beach Style

I Have to admit that throughout the three and half years of Bike Jax there is one section of town I have neglected. That being the area of town known as "The Beaches." While all of it is within and included as part of Jacksonville. The Beaches are three separate municipalities that are made up of Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach and Jacksonville Beach. All of which ironically could boast without any doubt or argument as the area of the city with the highest use of bicycles as transportation.

Why have I so rudely forsaken the beaches? Mostly because it's just a pain in the ass to get to and away from. For those of you that are unfamiliar with Jacksonville and its size. It is flipping huge and the largest city in the US for land mass. Just for some perspective, If Jacksonville were a country it would rank 176th out of 233 countries in land mass. Getting anywhere within Jax takes time. Taking a bus from Downtown is 2+ hours roundtrip. Driving while much quicker, at only about an hour roundtrip means traveling down Atlantic or Beach Blvds. Both of which will cause the most calm and subdued of drivers to gouge someones eyes out by the time they arrive at the beach or for the return trip home. Biking to the beach and back? Forget about it. Your only road option for cycling the 19 miles to the beach is Beach Blvd.. It is the only roadway to the beaches that has a bridge with cycling/pedestrian accessibility to cross the Intracoastal Waterway. And if driving on Beach Blvd. isn't a challenge enough for you, try doing it on a bike.

While all the above are valid reason for neglecting the beaches inclusion in Bike Jax. They really don't make up for my laziness and unwillingness to venture out to the beach and enjoy its bike culture.

This weekend I finally got off my ass and made the trip out to the beaches for the inaugural ride of Cycle Chic Sundays hosted by Katie of Cycle Chic Jacksonville. It was not only a bit of culture shock seeing so many bikes in use. It was like a euphoric male dream come true to see so many women on bikes wearing such a wide variety of styles and states of dress.

We met up at Champion Cycling on 3rd st. where I was shocked to not only find bike a shop open on a Sunday, but also packed to the gills with customers. I guess that explains why there are something like 8 bike shops within 2 miles of each other. Bicycles are big business at the beach. And despite my feelings of guilty for doing what I consider as the dumbest thing possible, (but is a necessary evil with Jacksonville's size and lack of planning) driving somewhere to ride a bike. Katie and the rest of the crew of Champion Cycling made me feel very welcome.

Jacksonville Beach should be the bench mark for area planners. They have done just about everything right to make the use of bicycles the best option for transport. The have narrow gridded streets with very low posted speeds (15 - 25 mph) which is heavily enforced. They divert the automobile traffic at certain intersections allowing only bikes and pedestrians to continue and they have very limited public parking which deter the use of cars. I wish the rest of Jacksonville would learn the lessons taught by Jax Beach. If you make the use of the automobile less desirable, people will choose other options in the form of bicycles, walking and mass-transit.

About 20 people showed up for the ride with about half being male. The ladies (thankfully) more than made up for the guys lack of chic. We rode and talked while getting better aquatinted for about an hour and then ended the ride at The Lemon Bar. That is where I got my second big culture shock of the day. Bike parking. It was available everywhere. Outside of the beaches you're very lucky if you can find a bike rack. But at the Lemon Bar alone they have 5 large racks packed full of bikes. I think there were somewhere around 200 bikes attached to just about anything that would hold still long enough to throw a lock around it. And that was just for this establishment. Each business I saw had some sort of bike parking available. What a freaking breath of fresh air it was to see.

There is one more thing I noticed about beaches biking. No culture of fear. I saw only one rider wearing lycra and a helmet. Not once did I get the stink eye or questioned because I wasn't wearing a helmet myself. The beaches with its laid-back lifestyle has it figured out. The only thing you need to ride a bike is a bike... and a place to put your beer.... and few pretty girls or guys to ride with. And that's all you need.

To see all the Beaches Style Cycle Chic goodness, Click HERE.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cycle Chic Jacksonville

In 2006 Mikael Colville-Anderson started a photoblog in his home city of Copenhagen, Denmark with the following simple line, "This is a photoblog about everyday life in Copenhagen and a tribute to the cyclists who populate this city." I don't think he had any idea of the worldwide phenomenon he was about to create with the launch of Copenhagen Cycling Chic. There are now close to 100 "Collaboraters & Copycats" from just about every country and major city listed on Copenhagen Cycling Chic site.

I would like you all to meet Katie who has joined the cycling chic revolution with the launch of Cycling Chic Jacksonville and is kicking things off this Sunday at 5pm with Cycling Chic Sundays.

I Had the opportunity to ask Katie a few questions about Cycling Chic Jacksonville and her plans for it.

Bike Jax: Who are you and why are you starting Cycling Chic Jacksonville?

Katie: Katie Barnes, 20-something young woman who adores bicycles and the people & culture surrounding velocipedes. I recently launched

While working at Champion Cycling in Jacksonville Beach over the past few months, I have seen our Tuesday road rides grow from 3 people to nearly 30. It's so exciting to watch people come together over a shared interest. I thought it was time to reach out to a different crowd... a crowd who

loves to ride bikes, but at a slower and more relaxed pace. When I started researching groups of beach cruiser riders, I came across Cycle Chic Sundays. Cycle Chic Sundays started at the beginning of this year with a group of friends in Southern California who wanted to cycle in style together. Inspired by the Cycle Chic movement, the goal is to "enjoy time with friends and make new ones while riding bikes and looking chic."

The pictures that Cycle Chic Sundays has posted on their blog are so refreshing. You instantly notice the vibrant clothes and patterns, and everyone looks full of youthful energy in their vintage dresses and sun hats. Many of the pictures show guys and gals goofing off and simply enjoying a Sunday afternoon on their favorite mode of transportation.

Bike Jax: What are you hoping to accomplish with Cycle Chic Jacksonville and will your focus be within the beaches area of town?

Katie: My hopes are to: a.) bring all sorts of people together b.) promote cycling and bring awareness to bicycles in Jacksonville c.) demonstrate that you don't have to wear spandex and use clipless pedals to to be considered a "cyclist."

Right now, our rides are at the beach. I would love to start a second Cycle Chic Sundays Jacksonville in the Urban Core. Any volunteers??

Bike Jax: Do you think Jax is ready for some style on bikes or are jorts and dirty tees going to reign as the standard?

Katie: If Jacksonville can support so many wonderful and chic boutiques and vintage stores, I think we can definitely support activities while being stylish. Besides, aren't "jorts" and ripped tees quite in vogue right now??

Bike Jax: Do the beaches tend to be more stylish when it comes to bike fashion than those in the urban core?

Katie: Not "more stylish"... perhaps just a different type of style. At the bike shop in Jacksonville Beach, I constantly have customers looking for unique accessories and custom painted bikes. From what I have seen on Bike Jax and Zombie Bikes, there are definitely some epic bikes in the urban core that are tricked out with accessories, components, and stellar paint jobs.

A big difference would be "cruisers" at the beach VS "fixies" in the urban core. Thus, accessories would be geared more toward those different types of bikes (for example, wicker baskets VS messenger bags).

As far as fashion goes, I shop at the beach and in town, and I know loads of beach dwellers who also enjoy shopping in town. With so many magazines, blogs, and other internet sites devoted to fashion, I believe no matter where you live, you have access to fashionable finds at friendly prices. At the beach you might see more women in dresses on bicycles simply because after a day on the beach, its easier to slip a dress over a bathing suit.

Bike Jax: Anything else you would like to add?

Katie: Any and all community support is greatly appreciated! Put on your Sunday best and join us at 5pm Sunday at Champion Cycling in Jacksonville Beach, 1303 N Third St.Stops include Lemon Bar, so bring i.d.

One thing is for sure, you will have a grand time!

Ideas for attire: * sun dress * twill shorts * ballet flats * flowy skirt

* plaid shorts * vintage * loafers * heels

* flat cap * fedora * Hawaiian shirt (this is Jax BEACH, afterall!)


Thanks Katie, If you would to join in on Cycling Chic Sundays meet:

Sunday July 18th 5pm

Champions Cycling

1303 N Third St, Jacksonville Beach

And if you missed the link above here again is the link to Cycle Chic Jacksonville. please add it your RSS feeds or bookmark it. It is long past time for Jacksonville to learn that they already own a closet full of cycling clothes.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Laura Street Improvement Not An Improvement For All.

The City of Jacksonville never fails to leave me wondering, "what the hell were they thinking?" Once again I ended up walking around muttering the above mentioned phrase to myself as I checked out the new roundabout that makes up the first phase of the Laura Street Improvements Plan.

The Roundabout's purpose is to slow down traffic while also keeping it flowing, but also providing a safer more friendly environment for pedestrians. But I don't think there is a single functioning brain within the COJ Planing Dept.

I think the COJ Planing Dept draw things up and go, "ohh that's pretty." There is no way that they stop and think about their designs usability for all users. The new roundabout is ringed with "cobblestones" for the road surface Which makes it almost unridable for cyclists in the best of conditions. The bricks being used for this road surface while called cobblestones are anything but. The picture above does not come close to showing just how bad the surface of this road is. Each individual brick contains a very sharp peak and valley and combined with each of surrounding brinks make a surface that will not allow a bicycle to stay in contact with that surface. In wet conditions, every two wheeled mode of transport that hits that very unstable surface at any speed is in serious risk of injury or worse. The funny thing is how bristled up the city leaders got when Jacksonville was awarded with top 3 worst cycling cities recently by Bicycling Magazine. Yet they continue do to thing like this and just keep adding on to a very long list of examples as to why.