03
Jun 2012
by don

Real data from my solar panels and electric car

My topic for today’s post might appear to be at odds with the main subject of our blog, which is how we can use bikes of various shapes and electrical enhancements to address practical transportation needs. However, if you’re patient enough to read (or skip directly) to the punch line, you’ll see how this relates.

We bought our electric car (a Nissan Leaf, which I described here) exactly one year ago, and we bought a fairly large solar panel array two years ago, so I now have enough data on each to draw some conclusions about their costs and benefits. As I look at the data, there are no huge surprises, but having this data in hand helps me understand how these might fit into our nation’s energy future. I hope my observations will be helpful to you too!

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22
Apr 2012
by don

Shawn’s Electric Yuba Mundo

 

The author giving his touring bike a break

Today’s article comes from a guest contributor, Shawn McCarty of Venice, Florida. Shawn is an avid cyclist who has completed bike tours through various parts of the United States and Europe. His blog (aworldspinning.com) has some nice photos of his European adventure. And his custom electric cargo bike is amazing!

If you have biking facts, photos, or a story you think our readers would enjoy, let us know. We’re interested in presenting a variety of topics and points of view as we build our biking community.

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22
Apr 2012
by mark

Computer Lab by Bike

Hardware Co-op at Earth Day

Today I got to combine a couple of my interests: cargo cycling and e-waste
recycling. Almost five years ago I helped found Richmond, Indiana’s Hardware
Co-op
. The Hardware Co-op is a re-use and
recycling program for e-waste. The project has operated at a fairly small scale
until the last year, when we’ve been attracting more donors and volunteers.
Today the project had our first event presence– a booth at the local Earth Day
celebration.

Our booth consisted of a thin-client demo lab, which showed
how some systems from the Windows-98 era can be made to perform at modern
speeds. It works by sending most processing to a server, like the old mainframe
systems with “dumb terminals”.

Using the Bikes-at-Work trailer seen the background of the photo above, I
carried over 3 desktop systems, a laptop, a 32 inch display and some other
supplies. While our booth was effectively two blocks from a parking lot, I
was able to roll the trailer through the door and right up to our booth. Had I
carried the equipment by car, several trips back and forth to the car would
have been required to get all the equipment inside.

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09
Apr 2012
by mark

A weekend of family biking firsts

On Saturday morning my 4 year-old got to take her first ride on the back of
our Xtracycle, using stoker bars instead of a kid seat. She loved it.
That was no suprise, but I enjoyed it more than I thought as well.

Xtracycle stoker bar kit

I expected it to feel more loosey-goosey without the constraint of the
seat, but it actually felt more stable and easier to ride. I’m guessing
that’s due to three factors: First, the weight of the seat has been
subtracted, and replaced with some rather light handlebars. Second, her
weight had dropped about 6 inches, lowering our center of gravity.
Third, I expect her ability to lean side-to-side more may have
contributed to a more natural feel. We’ll continue to use a kid-seat for
her on our electric Yuba Mundo, but I expect we’ll use the stoker bars
for most trips on the Xtracycle now.

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02
Apr 2012
by mark

Biking with kids: crashing and learning

Untitled

Yesterday I wrote about my 4 year old’s success with her first cross-town bike trip. I closed with a promise to tell the story of her ride with an unfortunate ending the day before.

Here’s that story, with more thoughts on kids and bike crashes.

We had ridden about 1.5 miles uneventfully through Richmond to
drop off a package at the Post Office. A Cardinal Greenway trailhead is
practically behind the Post Office, so we proceeded to ride
up to Springwood Lake Park. Heading home, she had ridden just over 4 miles
when she was suddenly thrown over the handlebars in a tangle of body and
bike.

It seemed like the safest of conditions: She was on a flat stretch of paved
trail, with no one else close to her (except for me
following her). I soon found there had been a singular rock on the
trail– a golf ball-sized stone that had a similar color to the
pavement. She impacted the front of her helmet. I think she would have had
no injury at all, except she had recently bumped and bruised her
forehead on a fall while she was running. This time the helmet
pressed against the bruise and made it hurt.

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01
Apr 2012
by mark

First cross-town bike ride, 4 years old

Last Sunday my daughter rode her own bike across town to church for the first time. She recently turned four, and made the 3 mile trip on her bike with 12 inch wheels. It was her idea to try that day, and she was indeed ready.

With plenty of practice already with shorter trips and riding on trails, we made the trip together on the city sidewalks, stopping at all the alleys and streets to check for traffic, and wait for dad’s signal to go.

She handled the trip well in terms of behavior and skills. We averaged about a 4 miles per hour on the sidewalk, so the trip took 45 minutes– about twenty minutes “extra” for the experience.

Sections of the sidewalk were frustrating for me with the frequent stopping, but other times there would be a long block without driveways crossing to check out. In those moments, it was like a little stretch of private bike trail through the city. (I don’t recall passing any pedestrians at all on the trip…).

While this trip went well, our ride the day before had an unfortunate ending. I’ll write more about that tomorrow. (See one more ride photo after the jump)

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31
Mar 2012
by mark

An evening of biking with the children

biking home at Sunset

I’m blessed that both my young children enjoy bicycling. My four year old daughter now rides her own bike on 3 to 4 mile trips on sidewalks and trails. The 10-month old simply enjoys the experience… and the naps.

My daughter’s behavior is mysteriously good on her bike outings. Just as video games can foster addiction by providing a series of small successes, I think sidewalk-biking is also working to build confidence and self-esteem. At each block or alley, she successfully stops, checks traffic, and waits for the signal to go- she’s “cleared a level”. There’s also encouragement for good hill climbing and careful braking when going down hill.

On this day, we found ourselves returning home at dusk with a large red sun on the horizon. and captured the photos above and below.

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30
Mar 2012
by larry

Costs and Planning for a Car-Lite Family of Four

No Virtue Required: Car-Lite Family Transportation Is Less Expensive, Faster, and More Flexible than Car-Encumbered Transportation

In his recent post, my co-blogger Don writes about “the virtue in choosing the right [transportation] tool for the job”. I realized that my own family makes regular use of five, count ‘em FIVE transportation options: walking; bicycling; busing; driving various CarShare and rental vehicles; and (in dwindling amounts) driving my wife’s tiny red Mini. Yesterday epitomized our highly flexible family transportation: we criss-crossed Ithaca together and separately and then at the end of the day we all landed together on our couch like the opening sequence of a Simpson’s episode.

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19
Mar 2012
by mark

Solving the casserole-by-bike problem

I had this large dish of fresh pasta to deliver to a friend. How to carry it to a bike? It’s not a good match for a bungee treatment. The plastic lid would collapse and the aluminum pan would get distorted. It needs to stay flat so it’s not spilled. Yuba’s Bread Basket works great for this kind of load.

I had first tried a regular milk crate on a different bike, but the milk crate was too small. Other solutions to the casserole-by-bike problem could have included using an oversided milk crate as seen here:

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18
Mar 2012
by mark

First week with a Bobike Mini: two kids on a longtail cargo bike

Everything is normal.

Our son is now old enough to sit up on a bike. With our first child,
we had one bike that was able to carry children, a bakfiets. Now we
have a choice between a Big Dummy, and Yuba Mundo as well as the
bakfiets
.

Considering that the older child now weighs 40 pounds, I was
particularly interested to try out riding two children on the electric
Yuba Mundo. The assist increases the range and reduces the effort.

My wife reports that the new setup is notably easier. She has taken the
bakfiets before with both kids– to drop off the 4-year old at day care.
On the electric Yuba Mundo, she reported that the same trip was
definitely easier, and took about the same amount time as a car.

Our challenge to address with the BoBike Mini will be napping. On the
bakfiets, we used Sleep Dog to rest a napping head on.

We are considering buying a headrest for the BoBike Mini. However, as
the Rideabye Baby post on
Totcycle points out, the little sleeper can still miss the headrest by
nodding off to the side.

Are there other solutions we should be considering?

One compatibility note: the foot rests of the BoBike Mini bumped into our Bread Basket accessory, so we had to choose one or the other. It has not turned out to be such a big deal to switch between them. The BoBike has a quick release that leaves only a small collar on the bike. When I wanted to deliver a big pan of fresh pasta to a friend, it took just a few minutes to remove the BoBike seat, and tighten the four bolts that hold the Bread Basket on.

Some more photos from the week follow.

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