Are Bicycles replacing Cars on our Roads?

Posted by on Feb 25, 2014 in Bicycle, Bikes, biking | 0 comments

Not so very many years ago, sidewalks and roads were filled with children on their bikes, riding their way to school. Those of us old enough to remember those days remember the pride we took in our bikes, making sure that they were clean and that our precious bells were in tip-top ringing condition. Gradually, those bikes, which were also used by commuters and people running errands, were replaced by buses and cars. The scene changed from one of kids careening about on their bikes to those same children simply standing by the street corner, waiting for a bus. Commuters, too, changed their mode of transportation. Today, however, we are wondering if we are seeing another shift, one that leads us back to the two-wheeled wonders powered by whatever we ate for breakfast.

Government Agendas

government agendas

When little Jane pedaled fiercely down the road to make it to school on time just fifty years ago, she never dreamed that one day, one day in her lifetime, the United States government would be spending millions of dollars to try to encourage children to do exactly what she was doing—riding her bike to school. Even so, it is true. As part of the Federal Highway Department Safe Routes to School program, the federal government is spending millions of dollars both to provide safe routes for kids to bike or walk to school and to encourage kids to get out and use those routes. The return to two-wheels isn’t limited to kids in school. Biking seems to be a growing trend across many walks of life.

Biking Cities

roadside bike

Roadside bike rack at University of Minneapolis

Whether they are doing it for the commuting crowd, students, tourists, or people headed to the mall, many cities across the U.S. and around the world are making it more convenient than ever to leave the four-wheeled vehicles at home and start pedaling the two-wheeled ones. While biking lanes are rather common, a number of cities have gone the extra mile when it comes to accommodating bikes.

  • Fort Mason, CA. A stretch of road in this community certainly encourages bikers. The parking areas have been replaced with a bike lane, complete with cement barricades, ensuring no one mistakenly parks his vehicle in the new bike lane.
  • Japan. Not surprisingly, Japan is a mecca for cyclists, something that never really went away with the car trend. Many cities rent bikes to tourists, and some even have multi-level parking garages dedicated solely to bicycles.
  • Munich. This city offers a fascinating public transportation system, one that contains varying levels of propelling options, with cheaper rates for those that are more environmentally friendly. Renting a bike, for example, would likely cost considerably less than riding the bus with the city’s Mo-Bility system.
  • Minneapolis. Some sources point to Minneapolis as the top city for biking in the U.S. This city has gone the extra mile in increasing on-street cycling lanes and bicycle routes for tourists as well as locals.

With such an emphasis on biking, perhaps our grandchildren will laugh when they hear of all the traffic jams, school bus rides, and commuter buses of today. They’ll be busy pedaling away, protecting our earth while exercising their muscles.

Chris Turberville-Tully enjoys spending time with his wife and sons outdoors, whether biking, taking a run on the beach or an evening drive (yes, he drives a car!) through the countryside. When not enjoying the great outdoors and fresh air, Chris spends his time writing for HR Owen or traveling abroad for business. To date Chris has visited over 80 countries and has no plans to stop just yet. Follow Chris’ travels on G+.

Image credits: 1, 2

Read More

Beyond The Training Wheels – What Your Child Needs To Know About Bicycle Safety

Posted by on Feb 9, 2014 in Bicycle, Bikes, biking, Cycling | 0 comments

A bike offers so much to a child. It promotes exploratory play; it’s a mode of transportation; it encourages independence; it develops balance; and so much more. Hence, it’s no wonder that kids, boys and girls, just love bicycles. But teaching them how to drive their bikes properly can be a challenge. They will fall and they will get scratches and bruises. Yet they will try and try because, to them, nothing is more rewarding than the day when their training wheels are removed. Still, before these are taken out and before you allow your child to drive longer distances on his own, you must explain to him what his responsibilities are as a biker so that he’ll remain safer on public roads.

bicycling

o He must have proper training. Some kids are not very good bike riders. They know how to drive straight, but they don’t know how to turn or stop when needed. Without the right biking skills, your child becomes a danger to himself and to others. Hence, assess your child’s driving abilities first.

o He must use the right equipment. Accidents on the road can happen. In order to improve your kid’s safety while on the road, see to it that he has the recommended equipment. A helmet is essential, and this must be worn each time your child rides. Knee and elbow pads can also protect him in case he falls.

o He must not ride his bike at night. Kids are independent, and your son might try to ride his bike to go to a friend’s house at night. But bicycling when it’s dark outside is very dangerous. A child is small; thus, it will be harder for other drivers to see him. Streets are also more deserted at night, and this makes your child vulnerable to attackers.

For older kids who are already allowed to bike at night, they must be required to wear the proper gear. Moreover, they must utilize items that will help in increasing their visibility while biking, such as LED lights that can be attached to bicycles and also reflective vests. Nevertheless, parents must not allow their children to go out at night especially since many accidents that involve bikers often happen between 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. These are also the times when drunk drivers are on the road.

o He must be aware of traffic rules. Bob M. Cohen & Associates believe that bicyclists have the same rights as other motorists. Because of this, cyclists, young and old, are also subject to the same traffic rules that govern all drivers. Therefore, before allowing your kid to drive his bike on public roads, he must understand traffic regulations and he must know how to put them into practice. To illustrate, a young driver must be able to identify and follow all traffic signals or lights, and he must obey all road regulations in order to stay safe.

o He must realize that riding a bike is a responsibility. A child who is old enough to drive a bike on his own must also comprehend that bicycling is not play, particularly if he is out on public roads. Hence, he must not participate in bike races or other recreational activities that might threaten people’s safety. He has a responsibility to himself and to other motorists. He must also understand that accidents do happen; and, when they do, the effects could be devastating not only to himself, but to other victims too.

Citations:
Featured images:

Claire Taylor is a freelance writer and a mom. Her articles are often about road safety and automobile maintenance.

Read More

Motorcycle Madness: The Best Bikes For Your Ride

Posted by on Feb 6, 2014 in Bicycle, Bikes, Cycling | 0 comments

It takes time to discover which motorbike is best for you. When deciding on a vehicle, models are usually simultaneously similar and starkly different and your choice will usually depend on which features you will use most. While some concept cars aim to be more unique and specialised, these are mere distant dreams. Bikes are customisable in that they can be tailored to individuals and what they look for when they go riding. Are you looking for comfort? Speed? Aesthetics? Off-road capabilities? With so many different types of bikes on the market, it can be tough knowing which is best for you. Here’s a breakdown to make your choice easier.

Cruiser

The Cruiser is a favourite among many, the most famous model being the Harley-Davidson. Harvey Davidson’s are retro and evocative of old motorcycles from the 1930s. The riding position tends to be feet forward and hands up with the spine straight and erect or leaning back slightly. This is claimed to be more comfortable for long rides, but many will dispute this and it all depends on what you’re comfortable with. They typically don’t have a windscreen which means you’ll get a full blast of air if you’re riding fast down a highway. Cruisers are mostly designed with cruising in mind, thus the name, which means riding around town almost leisurely. They are relatively heavy and their handling suffers from the design, making them unsuitable for high speeds and racing.

Sports Bikes

Made for speed, these are the types of bikes you want to have if you ever find yourself at a red light with a young, cocky and smug rider revving his engine in the lane next to yours. While you’d be wise to avoid street races, it’s still nice to know that you’d win. These bikes are great for racing at your local race track, or taking on cruises with tight bends. Their handling is superior to most other bikes and they are generally very pleasing to look at. These might be too powerful for beginners, so consider this option carefully before you commit as they might be too much to handle.

Dirt Bike

If you have access to off-road trails and want to bask in the glory that is off-road biking, then you can’t go wrong with a dirt bike. Dirt bikes are designed exclusively for off-road riding. The suspensions are specially designed so that you can take jumps at high speeds. Naturally, you’re sitting higher than on normal bikes for greater comfort when you’re jumping over obstacles. These bikes are light, fast and dangerous. While they provide for a great recreational activity, beginners should have in depth instruction before setting off on their own.

Dual-Sports bikes

Combining on-road and off-road riding, this bike tries to build a bridge between the two types. They are designed to be used as standard bikes on highways and paved roads, as well as being taken to a dirt track. The flaw, it is generally agreed, is that a jack of all trades is a master of none. By this I mean that, while it can accomplish both tasks, it does neither of them particularly well. This will vary from model to model, but generally, they aren’t as good as the dedicated on or off-road bike. That doesn’t mean they’re worthless, it just means you’ll have to regularly take part in both types of riding to fully appreciate the dual-sports bikes. If you just do one or the other, I’d recommend you stick with either the sports or the dirt bike.

Featured images:

Adrian Rodriguez is a freelance writer with a passion for motorcycles. He recommends that you finance your ride instead of paying it all off in one go.

Read More

The 8 Greenest Cities In The UK

Posted by on Feb 1, 2014 in Bicycle, Bikes, biking, Cycling, Environment | 0 comments

If you are preparing to either purchase your first home or move to a new location, you undoubtedly have a list of priorities for your home that include great schools, fantastic job opportunities and a safe neighborhood. Hopefully, a city’s green rating is also on the short list when it comes to choosing the best place for you and your family to reside. After all, a city that fails to have a green outlook fails to plan for the future. Thankfully, many cities in the United Kingdom, aware of environmental issues, are taking measures to preserve the environment for generations to come.

Are you ready for our list of eight cities that are doing it right?

Newcastle

While this city’s roots date back to the Roman era, their green initiatives are certainly not behind the times. Since 1995, Newcastle has been the host of an annual Green Festival, celebrating the protection of natural resources. The city does not limit its green activities to a festival; rather, in their 2012 Newcastle City Deal, they established a goal to become a low carbon Pioneer City, reducing carbon output by 34% by the year 2020. Newcastle’s plans include the installation of hundreds of charging points for electric cars, and they are well on their way to becoming the electric car capital of the country. The city’s “green” and “blue” gym initiatives are creative ways to help people stay fit while interacting with the local environment. This is truly a city of the future.

Leicester

It is no accident that Leicester makes our list. After all, it was officially named Britain’s first “Environment City.” Leicester’s environmental fame does not end there; the city was one of only twelve local projects from around the world chosen to be honored at the international Earth Summit in 1992. The city features a labyrinth of walking and bicycle paths, some of which go through its award-winning park featuring an abundance of wildlife. The city’s football club boasts an organically-fertilized field, and the recycling program is top-notch. Leicester’s crowning glory is the Eco House, which features a home with the most environmentally-friendly technology, a large organic garden and a store that sells environmentally-friendly merchandise.

Brighton and Hove

This beautiful seaside city offers a park within a minute’s walk from anywhere in the city. Six of these parks (one being a former gravel pit) boast the coveted green flag award, demonstrating the community’s dedication to reclaiming wasted locations for the environment. Additionally, the city is actively pursuing status with the United Nations as a Biosphere Reserve. This lofty goal sets Brighton and Hove apart as one of the leading green cities, not just in the UK, but around the world. The city is divided into charming villages and presents a beautiful place to call home as well as an excellent green travel destination.

Bristol

With a 4.7% growth in the green economy for the year 2012 and ambitious goals toward becoming a low-carbon community, Bristol won the European Green Capital Award for the year 2015. Of course, Bristol is no newcomer to the green scene. Its annual Big Green Week attracted green ideas, art, entertainment and 50,000 visitors from around the UK in 2013. The green aspect of Bristol’s business sector is seeing significant growth, and the city has made great strides toward finding sustainable transportation solutions. All these add up to make Bristol a truly green UK city.

London

The capital city makes the list in spite of its massive population. The reason lies in the great strides London has made to become more environmentally friendly, strategies that include improving the large city’s air quality, greening the city with parks, and dealing with waste more effectively. Many of the strategies stem from the mayor’s 2009 goal of making London one of the greenest cities in the world. From transportation emissions to building energy usage, London has set out to tackle some huge problems, and she is doing a fantastic job.

Leeds

This city is on board with the Green Deal program and has become the largest partner in the deal, negotiating £100 million to fund energy saving remodeling in homes and businesses across the city. Additionally, the city has established 90,000 plus green jobs and a commitment to continue transitioning to a low carbon economy.

Cardiff

Cardiff’s What Matters 2010:2020 focuses on key goals for the city during that 10-year period. The primary concern is the health of the people of Cardiff, and second is a safe and clean environment. Cardiff is putting its feet to the ground with initiatives and has a website boasting at least twenty different campaigns to keep the city green. These campaigns range from dog cleanup to fly-tipping prevention.

Edinburgh

Scotland’s beautiful green city of Edinburgh makes the list thanks to its progressive 2020 goals. The city plans to reduce carbon emissions by 40%, depend on renewable energy for 40% of its energy needs and promote low-carbon transportation city-wide. Its lofty goals have promoted sustainable housing standards, an increased focus on public transportation and stricter standards for waste and recycling.

Your new town’s commitment to green inititives can make a huge difference in lifestyle. Is there a recycling program? How about an environmentally-friendly public transportation system? Are there renewable energy options? All of these affect quality of life.

Siemans developed a Green City Index that tracks environmental performance, research projects, specific eco-friendly buildings (and more) for cities around the world. It is a tool that can help you decide where to look for your next home.

After all, when green considerations are included on your list of prerequisites, you are planning for the future — and not only for this generation, but for those who follow.

Featured images:

Chris Turberville-Tully, a board member and writer for ESA-ServicedApartments.co.uk, enjoys traveling around the world. Thus far, Chris has traveled to eighty countries enjoying the sites, sounds and smells of other cultures, tasty cuisine and stunning views. Follow Chris on Google+.

Read More

The Best Cycling Gear For Winter

Posted by on Nov 6, 2013 in Bicycle, Cycling | 0 comments

If you’re a keen cyclist, you don’t want to let the changing seasons keep you from you passion, but it can’t be denied that the British Winter months are not exactly comfortable to ride in. Thankfully however, no matter how cold it might be outside, there are ways to circumvent the icy skids, the dreaded frozen knees, the chapped lips and the frostbitten toes, chief amongst them, using the right gears and wearing the right clobber.

Gear

Though there are bikes built specifically for winter usage, there’s no need to buy a whole new rig just so you can  continue riding through winter. Below we’ve listed a few essentials that no winter rider should be without.

Let there be light – During the winter months it gets darker much earlier so chances are, even if you don’t like riding at night, if you want to continue riding throughout the winter, you’re going to need to adapt to the darkness.

The right tyres – The one thing you might need to swap out on your rig are your tyres. During winter you’re going to need much better traction as riding on snow or ice with tyres not built to handle it can be incredibly dangerous. A pair of studded tyres with a wide tread pattern will not only help you stay on your line when things get a little wobbly, but will also keep snow and mud from being picked up by the tyres.

Bags – A good, high visibility bag or rucksack in which to store your gear or clothing will be especially necessary if you choose to ride your bike into work during the winter. Specially manufactured ‘garment bags’ will allow you to store any work clothes without fear of creasing or wrinkling and are supportive enough to provide safe passage for laptops, tablets, phones or any potentially valuable paper work.

Pedal assist – Whilst you might (rightly) look down on the e-peddling brigade, a motor enhanced bicycle could really help if you ever get stuck in a perilous situation or your legs freeze up in the middle of a ride. You don’t have to use the motor just because it’s there, in fact there are models that kick in automatically when you stop peddling. It might look ever so slightly ridiculous but it could save your bacon if you ever find yourself in a spot of bother.

Mount system – Again a device that could really help if you ever get stuck in the snow in the middle of nowhere, these are system that allow cyclists to attach their phones and other accessories to the handlebars of their bikes. Cycling clobber has very little in the way of pockets and if you fall, your phone could be broken on impact. With a mount system, your phone should remain intact after a heavy crash of collision and if you’re ever in need of emergency assistance you’ll be glad you ‘made this call’ (pun very much intended).

Clobber

Cycling garments have come a long way since the PVC shorts and knackered trainers of old, with an entire industry built around producing clothing that keeps cyclists warm, without sacrificing form, function or aesthetic value. Wether you’re using your bike on the daily commute to the office or to let off some steam over the weekend, we advise all winter cyclists to use at least one of each of the items below.

Outer layers – Cycling jackets have been designed with cyclists in mind to keep heat in whilst also being breathable and weather resistant. For the winter months you might want to consider a thermo jersey or something similar to really help insulate you against the elements. For those on a budget however we recommend the ‘dHb’ Windslam Roubaix, which is not only affordable but incredibly lightweight and effective as well as being high visibility, which means is perfect for those who enjoy cycling at night.

Body– Always make sure you’re wearing a base layer, as it will not only keep you insulated but will lift the sweat away from your skin, keeping you (mostly) dry. Base layers will also be designed with fabrics that will prevent chafing (no small mercy for those of you out there with particularly sensitive nipples) and trap in warm air, providing you with comfort and security without restricting your movements. We recommend this Nike Pro ‘Hyperwarm Shield’ as it is not only comfortable and stylish but also incredibly cost effective.

Legs – Though you might be able to get away without wearing cycling tights throughout the rest of the year, during winter there is really no excuse. Cycling tights are designed much like base layers, to insulate whilst providing adequate ‘breathing room’ and keeping you dry and comfortable. These tights from dHb are incredibly flexible and have a close fit that will really appeal to cyclists who value comfort over style but still don’t want to get caught looking like an extra in a pantomime.

Hands – Good gloves are an absolute necessity as you need your hands to remain flexible to operate the brakes and the gears. We recommend ‘gore-tex’ gloves, which are fully waterproof and have a ware, inner fleecing that is as breathable and flexible as it is comfortable.

Feet – Over-socks are really helpful, especially if you’re going to be cycling in areas with deep snow where frostbite could be a serious issue. These ‘DeFeet’ Slipstream over-socks are cheap and cheerful but also incredibly snug.

Face – Before going out for a winter ride it’s suggested that you apply a thin layer of vaseline to any exposed, vulnerable areas of your face to avoid unpleasant chapping. For male cyclists a beard is always a good bet but we understand not all men feel comfortable with facial fuzz. Sunglasses are also a necessity as you really don’t want the cold wind ripping into your eyes when you’re ploughing down a mountain at 40 miles an hour. Specialist biking glasses built with high impact resistance such as the ‘XYZ Optics’ are available for more expert riders but for less experienced hobbyist, that pair you got from the pier last Summer for a fiver should do just fine. As far as the helmet goes, there is no reason why the helmet you have been using all year round shouldn’t be just as effective in winter.

This article was written by CJ. CJ is an avid cyclist and can be spotted out on his beloved Kalkhoff come rain, snow or shine! He blogs on behalf of www.50cycles.com  and loves nothing more than getting to take the new models for a spin!

Read More

How To Prepare For A Bike Riding Event?

Posted by on Oct 21, 2013 in Bicycle, biking, Cycling | 0 comments

So you signed up to that all important charity bike ride event a few months ago and the event date is getting closer and closer. All the good intentions of sticking to your training regime slowly crept out the window and now it is just one month until the big day, to ensure that you successfully complete the bike ride, preparing for the event is essential.

Here are some top tips to consider when preparing the cycling challenge:

Bicycle

What is more important than having a bicycle that is fit and ready for the big day. You should regularly get your bicycle checked over, this will ensure that it is safe to use on the road. It is especially important to get it checked over before a big bike ride. Checking the brakes, tyres and chain is absolutely essential.

It is possible to check these things yourself; however you may be liable to miss some things. Taking it to a bike repair expert will give you the confidence that your bicycle is ready for the big event.

Adding some last minute accessories to your bicycle is also equally important. Ensure you have a bottle cage so you can successfully carry water with you during the bike ride – the last thing you want is to be dehydrated during the bike ride event.

Kit

Wearing appropriate clothing for the bike ride event is absolutely essential. If you are wearing clothes that are not suitable for cycling, you may find that you will be slowed down or you may be putting yourself at risk of an accident happening.

You do not need to spend a fortune purchasing a cycling kit as there are many budget shops available.

As part of your kit, you may want to purchase a saddle pack – in this you can include any essentials that may be required during the bike ride. Some essentials may include a spare inner tube, multi-tool including Allen keys, a small pump and tyre levers. This will mean that you will be prepared for any punctures or bike incidents.

Food

An essential part of your preparation should be focusing on what you eat and drink. This does not just concern the day of the bike ride, but in the days before the cycle.

What you eat and drink in the day will play a huge part of how you perform and feel out on the road on event day. Breakfast remains the most important meal of the day, particularly if you are going to be spending the majority of the day on a bicycle.

When cycling, try not to leave too long between eating as when you become hungry, you will lack energy and it may encourage you to go on a food binge when you have finished cycling – this is not good.

Drink plenty of water in short and regular spurts – do not try and drink lots at once as it may make you feel bloated and uncomfortable.

Preparation is an essential part to succeeding on your bike ride. If you do not take the time to prepare then you may struggle to complete the ride or be injured whilst doing so.

Featured images:

 License: Creative Commons image source 

Falco designs and manufacture cycle shelters for businesses and events all over the world. You can view the fantastic range of cycle parking solutions on their website.

Read More