Oct 12, 2011

Call to Action! BikeCalgary AGM October 13th

Hey Folks!

Calgary's biggest and bestest bike advocacy group - Bike Calgary - is holding its AGM tomorrow (October 13) and everyone with an interest in commuter/utility cycling is invited.  Elections will be held for a new Board of Directors as well as a few surprises.

You do not need to have any experience to be on the BoD - just a desire to see more and better bicycle infrastructure in Calgary and a willingness to volunteer some of your spare time in that pursuit.

IMO - we in Calgary are in a very unique and exciting position with regards to bicycling - a new bike friendly Mayor, a newly passed comprehensive bike strategy, new bike lanes popping up, and plenty of media coverage of all of these exciting developments. 

Now is the time to devote some of your energy to pushing the bicycle agenda forward - get involved!  Come to the AGM, meet other bicycle people, and find out what your city's bike advocacy group has planned for the coming year.

See you there?

Oct 7, 2011

New 10 St NW Bikelanes - Traffic Chaos or Hot Air?

A cyclist heading south on 10 St NW new bikelane. Photo Credit - Calgary Herald

The City of Calgary sprung a surprise on everyone this week with the installation of a pilot project bike lane on 10 St NW, running from 5 Ave NW all the way up to Confederation Park and beyond. 

With this new project, they have instantly created one of the best bike routes in the city because it actually connects to something - the downtown core to the central NW via the Kensington/Sunnyside neighbourhoods and passing right beside SAIT/ACAD.  People who live in this area now have a safe, connected route where none existed before.  Thank you City of Calgary!

On the flipside, the City has also created an awful lot of animosity and negative press by the way this project happened - essentially out of thin air, with no warning, and no consultations with communities along its route.  As I understand it, 10 St NW was slated to be repaved this fall and this route has been "on the books" for close to a decade.  If the new bike lanes were painted now it would save a lot of money because the roadway would not need to be repaved next spring. 

Fair enough.

But some notice would have been a good idea to help educate motorists and journalists on the full scope of the project.  Instead, local reporting seemed to focus on the "traffic snarls" and chaos with no mention of the full scope of the project and the reasoning behind it.  The city should have sent out information to the media on how this was being implemented so the story would be less about bikes vs. cars and more about the creation of a neccessay cycle link and implementation of the Comprehensive Cycling Strategy which was passed in the spring.  Let's remember that 59% of Calgarians also said they would cycle more if they felt safer.

The reality is that traffic has not actually been horribly affected - but based on the news stories in local papers you'd think that people were having to get out of their cars and push them down 10 St NW.  Even The Mayor is not impressed. 

Funny thing though, there have been exactly ZERO traffic reports on the snarls and chaos on 10 St NW since the lanes went in - no radio mentions, no mentions on Twitter using the #yyctraffic hashtag - nothing but crickets...

So, here is my advice to the City - please, please, please get a communication strategy sorted with regards to upcoming cycle infrastructure installations - press releases to media detailing the full scope and schedule of projects would be a good start. 

Oct 3, 2011

Coming to BikeBike in 2012 -Touring Bikes and Accessories

One of the founding missions of BikeBike is to provide everyday transportation options for our customers and, to date, those everyday options offered by us have been primarily city bikes - which is to say, a more sit-up style and posture on the bike characterized by the classic "dutch" style bike. 

201 Salsa Vaya 3, the ultimate road tourer?
However, if you live a good distance from your place of work, or need to bring more stuff with you, or want just one bike to use for both commuting to work, recreational/charity rides, and grand fondos on the weekends, you may want a different bike - perhaps something more efficient than a pure city bike but still comfortable - and this is where touring bikes are an perfect option.

"But it looks like a road racing bike".  Well, perhaps so to the untrained eye but there are a few significant differences between a performance road bicycle (think Lance Armstrong and lycra) and a road touring bicycle.  Here are a couple key differences -

1. Touring bikes tend to have much higher handlebars relative to the height of the saddle - meaning, you can sit up taller on a touring bike offering all day comfort.
2. The wheelbase of a touring bike is longer than a racing bike allowing for use of wide tires and fenders, but most importantly, a long wheel base can help the bike have a more stable manner, especially when loaded with panniers/gear/work stuff/groceries.
3. Touring bikes place an emphasis on durability, serviceability, and flexibilty over lightweight, stiffness, and performance found on road bikes used in racing.

Brodie Elan, to work during the week, across Canada in the summer!
 Wikipedia  has some good background on touring bikes and the different types of touring that people do.

"A touring bicycle is a bicycle designed or modified to handle bicycle touring. To make the bikes sufficiently robust, comfortable and capable of carrying heavy loads, special features may include a long wheelbase (for ride comfort and to avoid pedal-to-luggage conflicts), frame materials that favor flexibility over rigidity (for ride comfort), heavy duty wheels (for load capacity), and multiple mounting points (for luggage racks, fenders, and bottle cages)".

Morning at Ghost Lake, getting set to ride back to Calgary
Our initial product offering is as follows, with expected deliveries early in 2012 -

Bicycles - Brodie's amazingly comfortable Elan, Argus, and Circuit and Salsa's Vaya, Fargo, and Casseroll - oh yes, we cannot forget about Brompton folding bikes!
Racks - Salsa, Old Man Mountain, Surly
Panniers - Ortlieb, Arkel, and Brooks England
(other products too)

A word about frame materials - the general consensus is that the best material for touring bikes is steel due to its very comfotable ride qualities, affordability, durability, and serviceability.  Steel is one of the best materials for making a bicycle frame because it dampens vibration better than aluminum, it is relatively inexpensive to buy, it has an incredibly long fatigue life, and it is repairable in the event of breakage.  We have chosen to offer only steel touring bikes this season - with Brodie, Salsa, and Brompton all having long heritage of using steel for many of its bikes.

A quick mention about touring on a Brompton - click this for a sweet little video showing Russ Roca and his gal touring on Bromptons and this for a report from one of the folks at Clever Cycle in Portland.  I would also mention a British fellow who came through the shop this past summer riding across Canada on a Brompton M6R!

We cannot wait for 2012 and all the cool new products coming to the shop!  Whether you are touring to the supermarket, out to Banff, or around the world, make sure you come check out Southern Alberta's best selection of touring bikes and accessories.

If you need more information on anything mentioned give us a call or send us an email - we'd love to chat.