Suburban Assault

Archive for the ‘Commuting’ Category

The Shift is Happening

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A Fellow Bike Commuter

I’ve been bike commuting for years. Riding to work is particularly challenging because of all the barriers—which include time (or the lack of it), Texas heat and heavy car traffic. The car traffic, especially around my office building at rush hour, is probably the biggest of those obstacles. There are no bike friendly routes in this area, so most folks don’t even bother.

You could imagine my surprise when I saw this bike parked outside of my building, yesterday. Finally, another person in my building is bike commuting. The shift is happening and the momentum—although really, really slow—is starting to move towards bicycling.

This starts to raise another question: why aren’t there any safe and secure bike parking facilities at my building? Even though I’ve always brought my bike inside, I’m upset with myself for not noticing before. Looks like I need to start a campaign to change that. I’ll be reaching out to the owners of IBP Business Park, to see if they can add proper bike parking racks in their existing buildings, and include them on future developments.

Written by dickdavid

October 25, 2016 at 4:49 am

Suburban Assault 2015 Recap – Where The Hell Have I Been?

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First let me say, Happy New Year. I hope your 2016 is full of good health, happiness and many good rides.

2016

When your year has been as busy as mine, all you have to do is blink and then it’s all over. Here is a quick recap of some of the highlights. As I’ve posted already, there were some big bike events for me this year, this included going to Cyclists in Suits, taking part in a trail cleanup day, my city was awarded a Bronze Bike Friendly Community Status and we hosted our annual Bike To Work Day Recharge Station. That was all before the summer.

In addition to helping out with Bike To Work Day, my son and I volunteered to help out at one of the stations at the Mesquite charity ride. It was nice to give back, after being supported on many Richardson Wild Rides.

Rest Your Bike

During the summer, we took our first family vacation in 5 years – a much needed break. This time, we went to New Orleans – close enough to drive, but far enough to feel like we went somewhere.

IMG_1979_sm

Once we were back much of my free time was spent actually riding and bike commuting. I even managed to get some challenging grocery rides in.

Heavy Load

All summer long, we were able to teach a few Adult Learn To Ride classes. Those are always rewarding.

Image ©Gene Moore

Image © Gene Moore

This fall, I taught a couple of Traffic Skills 101 classes in my own city. It was nice to keep that local. My advocacy group, BikeDFW, hosted a table at the Texas Bike and Beer Expo.

Texas Bike And Beer Expo 2015

This year’s Black Friday Ride got rained out. I’m still looking for a makeup date. We did have a great time at the Richardson Christmas Parade.

BFR - Richardson Christmas Parade Ride - 2015

It looks like I rode more this year, than I have in previous years. I reached a new goal of 2,400 miles (riding and walking).

2015 Ride Stats

Finally, to cap off my year, my wife talked me into getting a new SUV. Let me introduce you to my Kona Ute, Melba Davis.

SUV

The Invisible Cyclist

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Invisible Cyclist

No, I’m not talking about the class of cyclist who, for whatever the reason, HAS to ride their bikes, instead of choosing to ride bikes—those who I feel are usually under-represented by mainstream advocacy efforts. That’s a topic for another post.

Right now, I’m referencing the guy in the picture. I noticed him heading down a pretty major arterial road, while I was taking one of my early morning walks. I know it’s a bad shot, but can you tell what he might be doing poorly? He’s got lights. He’s wearing a helmet. Do you think he is riding safely?

Quite frankly, what he’s doing isn’t enough. As an League Cycling Instructor, I try to lead by example and strive to be the most visible that I can be on the road – at any time of the day. I wish others would do the same.

Let’s start with his lighting. He has head and tail lights, but they were less than substantial and other road users could barely see them. This cyclist seems to have a false sense of security, thinking his rear light is enough. I prefer lights that are much brighter – and in multiples if possible. Along with having good lights, I like to have retroreflective elements. Although retroreflective gear is only as good as their placement, and the lighting that shines on it, every little bit adds up to supplement even the worse tail lights. I have reflective material on my helmet, my ankles, my backpack and on my bike.

Let’s talk about his clothing. It’s been stated that high-vis colors aren’t as effective at night. I’ve noticed that the best time to use those colors is during the early morning or dusk hours. They are also good during inclement weather, when the color spectrum of your environment becomes a dull range of gray. High-vis clothing wouldn’t have helped him too much at this moment, but it also wouldn’t hurt.

Finally, let’s talk about his lane position. In my town, a cyclist has the right to take the full lane, as long as it’s less than 15 feet wide. I know there is a school-of-thought out there, where cyclist feel safer being closer to the curb. They feel it puts them in a better defensive position to get out of the way if danger comes from behind. The problem with taking this position, is that it forces the need to ride defensively. Riding next to the curb reduces the ability for other road users – coming from any direction – to see you from further away. Being a defensive rider, who is mindful of your surrounding is good. However, adding a better, more visible, posture on the road helps give other road users more time to react, which reduces the need for defense.

I also noticed several cars passing this guy in his lane. Being so close to the curb was an invitation for cars to share the lane while they overtook him. Taking the lane reduces this, forcing cars to leave your lane when passing.

Watch Out For Road Hazards

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Watch Out

 

I saw this on Alma Road in Plano, Texas, the city that neighbors mine. I’m not sure if this was painted by the city or by a concerned citizen, but it definitely caught my eye. Unfortunately, with it’s placement right next to the actual hazard, so it’s too late to do anything to avoid it.

Perhaps the city of Plano will fix this road soon, because it’s one of the best routes for cyclists into town.

Written by dickdavid

July 9, 2014 at 5:49 am

My Neighborhood Gets Safe Routes To School

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Lone Mongoose on Bike Rack

A few years back, my city was awarded federal funding through a Safe Routes to School grant from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) for two schools in Richardson: Richland Elementary and Yale Elementary. Yale Elementary happens to be part of my neighborhood.

Safe Routes To School In Richardson

It’s finally getting implemented and is scheduled to be complete next month. According to the SRTS plan (pdf), we will be getting:
• Barrier-free curb ramps
• Sidewalks (repairs and missing links)
• School crosswalk and signage upgrades
• Bike lanes
• Bike routes (I’m not sure what they mean by this)

They are already working on the sidewalks and barrier-free curb ramps in my neighborhood, Yale Park. It’ll also be nice to get the bike lanes, which will help calm the car traffic through the neighborhood streets, create more awareness for bicycling and encourage more people to ride. The new lanes through my neighborhood will start to connect the bike lanes in the Duck Creek neighborhood, just south of us, to the bike lanes on Collins Blvd, a few miles to the west. There will still be a gap on Collins.

ADA Corners

The original information about our Safe Routes To School grant had mentioned bike racks for the schools, but they aren’t on the current proposal (pdf). That either means there wasn’t enough funds or ‘Bike routes’ listed above is a typo, and we are still getting them.

I’m glad that I live in a city that works hard to get grants like this. This is a big win for Richardson and I hope to see more developments that improve safety and encourage more active transportation.

Written by dickdavid

April 4, 2014 at 5:12 am

My Ride Stats For The 2013 Riding Season

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RideStats2013

I don’t typically like to track how much I ride. It takes all the fun out of riding and turns it into a goal driven function.

That being said, it’s kind of interesting to see how much my riding has improved. Because I had taken part of the National Bike Challenge for the past two years, I’ve been using the service, Endomondo to record my riding. The cool thing about Endomondo is that it keeps my records to compare my current riding with how I did on previous years.

It looks like I rode more this year than last. The only difference is that I’ve done more ‘sport’ riding than before, while my commuting distance is about the same. The term ‘sport’ riding isn’t exactly accurate, and if you read this blog, you know it doesn’t really apply to me. Unfortunately, Endomondo has only two categories for cycling and ‘commuting’ is the other. If I did a ride that didn’t involve a destination or replacing a car ride, I would have to classify it as ‘sport’. This is something that could easily be fixed by adding a third category: ‘pleasure’ or ‘fun’.

Although I ride all year long, my heavy riding season only spans from April through September. During this time, which happen to have longer days, I ramp up my riding and bicycle commuting. This season I managed to bike ‘commute’ over 1,130 miles and ‘sport’ ride for another 410.  According to the Endomondo stats – based on my body type – I was able to burn over 90,000 calories and save 937 pounds of C02.

These stats may not seem too high for some folks, but for me, it’s an accomplishment that makes me proud. I hope to continue to improve my riding stats and increase my distance every year (Not that I really care. Right?).

Written by dickdavid

October 8, 2013 at 8:40 pm

No Shower Facility At Work

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After Ride Shower

In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I bike commute to work from time to time. One of my biggest hurtles in doing so in north Texas, is the heat and how much perspiration I generate. Since we don’t have a shower facility at my office, I’ve been searching for the best solution to remove the sweat and odor that I produce on my rides in. The last thing I need to be is offensive to my co-workers.

My typical solution is wet wipes. They’re a quick and easy fix to removing sweat and grime from a morning commute. However, I still felt like I wasn’t getting clean enough. I searched the web for a better solution, but there aren’t very many good options available.

As explained here“body odor mainly originates from the apocrine glands in the armpits, which release a thick, oily sweat rich in proteins and lipids which bacteria on the skin feed on.”

This season, I’ve added witch hazel, in a spray bottle, to my post-ride cleanup. According to Wikipedia, Witch hazel “is a plant extract (that) was widely used for medicinal purposes by American Indians and is a component of a variety of commercial healthcare products. It’s mainly used externally on sores, bruises, and swelling. Witch hazel hydrosol is used in skin care.” 

Unlike rubbing alcohol or water, I’ve discovered that witch hazel does a better job at removing the smelly waste of that natural bacteria – without drying your skin.

It’s not a perfect solution. I’m not a big fan of the smell of the witch hazel, so I put in a few drops of my wife’s tea tree essential oil to help freshen it up. I’m sure any well-scented oil would work just as well. Eventually, I might try a variation of this natural deodorant spray, and see if I can come up with a spray-on/wipe-off shower version.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with supplementing my wet wipes with the witch hazel spray. It’s not a true shower, but it’s a nice way to feel a bit fresher and smell a bit cleaner during the day.

I’d be interested in trying other post-ride cleanup solutions. If you have any suggestions, please comment here or send them my way.

Written by dickdavid

August 27, 2013 at 10:31 am

My Mirror Is Broken

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Broken Mirror

Well, it’s been just over a year since I got my bike mirror and it’s already broken. Other than this unexpected death, I was quite happy with this mirror. It was small and – as far as bike mirrors go – pretty discrete. The interesting thing is that I never realized how much I used it until my ride home yesterday. Although I did not use it for lane change scans, I did use it to gauge the amount of traffic behind me – which was apparently quite often.

I plan on replacing this with something built a little better. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

Written by dickdavid

July 24, 2013 at 5:23 am

My Crank Came Loose During My Commute To Work Last Week

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This Came Off Half Way To Work

I must admit, as an LCI, I have no excuse for this happening to me. One of the fundamental things that we teach our students is the importance of the ABC Quick Check. But, I got lazy – which got me into trouble.

Let me put some emphasis on the “C” in ABC Quick Check. “C” is for cranks, chain and cassette – essentially your bike’s drivetrain. Although not as important for safety, as “Air” and “Brakes”, the drivetrain is a very critical part of your bike’s ability to function. If you’re drivetrain isn’t working, you’re not going anywhere.

I had just finished a long ride the weekend before, where I had given the bike a complete check. Because of that, my lazy pre-commute inspection consisted of me squeezing my tires, then while rolling, spinning the pedals and doing a quick brake check.

Quite frankly, I’m not sure if I would have noticed the potential fail of my crank arm. Typically, when I perform the check on my cranks, chain and cassette, I’m just looking to see if the drivetrain rolls smoothly, not really ever torquing the crank more than a few pedal revolutions. This is usually done by hand and I would rarely pull the crank from side to side.

The signs were there from the start of my commute. As I pushed down on the left pedal, it made an incredible squeaking noise. I had recently installed my old pair of SPD clipless pedals for that previous weekend ride and I just figured that the pedal mechanism was in need of some lubrication.

As I reached the halfway point to my office (about 7.5 miles), I noticed that my left pedal was no longer squeaking. Within moments I felt it wobble. At first, I thought the pedal was coming loose off the crank, but when I looked down, I saw that it was the whole crank arm. I pulled over to inspect it and attempt a quick repair. I soon discovered that the bolt that held it in place required an 8mm allen wrench – something I don’t carry in my tool pouch.

My backup plan was to hobble to some nearby auto-repair garage and borrow the tool. That would have worked if it wasn’t so early in the morning, and all of the shops weren’t still closed.

The only thing I could do was push the crank onto the spindle as hard as I could and then thumb tighten the bolt. Because of that, I couldn’t really put any pressure onto that pedal. Fortunately, with my SPD clipless pedals, I was able to do most of the spinning with my right foot, while resting my left foot on the loose crank’s pedal. I had to stop every mile or so, to push the crank arm back on and re-tighten the bolt. Eventually, I made it to the office.

During my lunch break, my buddy ran me up to Home Depot, where I was able to purchase the correct tool. With that, I was able to repair the crank and get home problem-free. That day, I learned that I need to do a more thorough inspection of my bike before a long commute. A few moments before the ride can save you from bigger problems down the road – a lesson I’ll be sure to share with my students.

Cranky

Written by dickdavid

May 28, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Recap and Pics – Bike To Work Day – Bike Commuter Energizer Stations

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Richardson Station

Organizing a National Bike To Work Day, Bike Commuter Energizer Station is quite a challenge. Organizing 5 of them is nearly impossible without the right partners and volunteers. This being the second year, we’re still trying to figure everything out – but we’re getting better.

Let’s Start With Last Year:
Bike Friendly Richardson member Jenny Rilling, and myself decided that we needed to set up a rest stop for bike commuters in our town of Richardson. Because Jenny was a BikeDFW board member, we were able to partner with them, who in turn, connected us with a few sponsors, including Richardson Bike Mart the Dallas Area Rapid Transit folks. Richardson Bike Mart provided us a bike mechanic to help out with bicycle safety checks and DART gave us a place to set up at one of their local train stations. We managed to pull in a few other sponsors and had great success providing breakfast, beverages and swag for bike commuters coming through Richardson.

This Year:
With such great success with last year’s Richardson stop, BikeDFW (of which I am now a board member) wanted to set up multiple stations this year. Coincidentally, DART was also wanting to set up multiple Bike Commuter Energizer Station. I got an email from Dan Dickerson with DART asking if we were interested in partnering with them. Obviously, we did. Dan, using his connections, contacted several local cities in the Dallas area. Of that list, Plano, Garland, Dallas and Bike Friendly Richardson (representing Richardson) wanted to participate. BikeDFW was also working with Bike Friendly Oak Cliff, who also wanted to set up a Bike Commuter Energizer Station.

Dividing Up The Tasks And Organizing:
Because I was the initial contact for DART, I became the liaison between DART and  BikeDFW, and most of the organizing for this event was done via email. This being only the second event like this in our area, and the fact that I am organizationally-challenged, there were many challenges. Fortunately, Dan was very organized and I had a team of great support with BikeDFW. My friend Eliot, with Cycling Savvy DFW, even suggested that I set up a Google Doc spread sheet and share it with the team, which was a lifesaver.

The Art of Finding Sponsors:
Finding sponsors is one challenge. Asking them to give stuff to our event is another. My hat is off to people who need to do this on a regular basis. The lesson that I learned is that you have to get an early start. Plus, you need to communicate by phone or face-to-face. When asking by email, you’re most likely going to get overlooked.

Fortunately, we were able to manage getting local bike shop sponsors, including Plano Cycling and Fitness, Richardson Bike Mart (Richardson), Richardson Bike Mart (White Rock), Don Johle’s Bike World and Oak Cliff Bicycle Company to do the bicycle safety checks at each station.

Also, KIND Healthy Snacks, Clif Bars, Re-Geared, Cycling Savvy DFW, Generator Coffee House, Neuro Energy Drinks and Zang Triangle Apartments also helped out.

Volunteers:
This was yet another challenge. Although DART and the local cities were bringing out volunteers for each station, it was quite difficult to pull in BikeDFW volunteers. This was mostly because of scheduling issues (getting folks to take time off on a work day) or bicyclists wanting to actually ride to work on Bike To Work Day. Fortunately, some great folks stepped up to help run each station.

Special Thanks:
I plan on adding a complete list of volunteers and sponsors, as soon as I get all the information in. Until then, here are the ones at the top of my head:

SPONSORS:
Arthuro Garza (KIND), Clif Bars (Jeanine Romine), Kasey Smith (Neuro Energy Drinks), Rachel Spire (ReGeared), JimD (Generator Coffee House), Zang Triangle Apartments, Waco Moore and Eliot Landrum (Cycling Savvy DFW)

LOCAL BIKE SHOPS FOR SAFETY CHECKS:
Plano Cycling and Fitness (Plano), Richardson Bike Mart (Richardson), Don Johle’s Bike World (Garland), Richardson Bike Mart (Downtown Dallas), Oak Cliff Bike Company (Oak Cliff)

DART: EVENT CO-SPONSOR/ORGANIZER:
Dan Dickerson and his team of great volunteers from DART – Chris Walters, Steve Biba, Shaun Tooley, Jennifer Jones, Charylene Crayton, Jennifer Hall (and more).

CITY CO-SPONSORS:
Ann McGinnes and her team (City of Garland), Renee Jordan (City of Plano), Max Kalhammer, Kevin Lefebvre, Kimberly Mackey (City of Dallas)

VOLUNTEERS:
Jonathan Braddick, and his team (names to come) (Oak Cliff), Michael McNair (Garland), Jared Cook (Garland), Robert Cherry (Garland), Joshua McNeely (Richardson)

BIKEDFW: EVENT CO-SPONSOR/ORGANIZER:
Marc Mumby (Akard), Jenny Rilling (Richardson), Anita Mills (Oak Cliff), Michael Freiberger (Plano), Warren Casteel (Multi-Location Support)

Pics Of The Event (Richardson and Garland) See full set here:

Richardson Bike Mart At Richardson Station

Richardson

Commuters At Richardson Station

Richardson

Richardson Bike Mart At Richardson Station

Richardson

Garland Station

Garland

Don Johle's Bike World At Garland Station

Garland

Written by dickdavid

May 19, 2013 at 8:04 am