Thursday, December 25, 2008

Brown Going Green

This is awesome. I saw it posted by Jonathan Maus (Editor), over at Bike Portland.

"Shipping giant United Parcel Service (UPS) will add a new weapon to its arsenal in the holiday shipping battle this year — bicycles.

Jeff Grant, the company’s workforce planning manager for the Oregon district (that includes Vancouver, WA), says UPS plans to hire 28 bike delivery employees this season. In the Portland metro area, Grant says eight riders will be hired.

I spoke with Grant via phone yesterday. He said the main impetus for the bike delivery program was to save money.

“For every three bikes we use for deliveries, we save an average of 17 gallons of fuel per day (compared to one truck). That’s about $50 in savings.” Across the entire district, Grant says for every three bikes used during the holiday season, UPS will save $38,000 in vehicle operation and upkeep costs.

UPS has purchased a fleet of mountain bikes outfitted with a 200 pound capacity trailer (with a cover for rain of course) and a set of lights. All bike delivery staff will be uniformed and helmets are required.

Before hitting the road, Grant says each rider will undergo a paid orientation and training session. The custom-tailored training will focus on operating the bicycle and trailer safely. “We realize the riders will be experienced already,” says Grant, “but have they ever pulled 200 pounds? Do they know the safe following distance in wet weather?”

According to Grant, he’ll ask delivery staff to deliver about 25-50 packages per day, compared to 150 stops a day for a normal “package car”.

Grant added an interesting historical note to this story: UPS started delivering by bike in Seattle (where they were founded) over 100 years ago. Today, the company once again uses bikes for deliveries up in Seattle and Grant said it went so well they’ve decided to expand the program.

UPS is looking to hire bike delivery people in Vancouver (WA), Portland, Salem, Corvallis, Eugene, and Medford. If you’re interested, call Maria Mason at (503) 978-7409 or email mariamason(at)ups(dot)com."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lighten Up: your bike and your wallet

Having them on my own bike, I can personally attest that Zero Gravity brakes are ridiculously light and have incredible stopping power. Sounds like a contradiction doesn't it? Light usually equals flexy right. Look at the price tag and you know theres gotta be something to it. Now enter Gravitas; a whole new yardstick for which to measure braking performance. They claim superior braking with an unholy 156g claimed weight (thats a pair) and an even more wicked price tag of $1200 a set! If you want to be the number two, you've got to be number one, and that aint cheap.

Noooooo, say it aint so Sparky, say it aint so!!!!!!!!!

"As a fellow Sparks drinker, I learned of some really sad news this morning. Soon I will not be waking up with an orange tongue after a night out in D.C. Maryland's Attorney General, Douglas F. Gansler, announced an agreement with MillerCoors that will result in the nationwide discontinuance of the country’s top-selling pre-mixed alcoholic energy drink, Sparks. As part of the agreement across 14 states, the mega brewer will not produce any caffeinated alcohol beverages in the future. Sparks future was in doubt when light was brought to the Attorneys General that the beverages were being marketed to an underage audience and used misleading health-related information to help sell more cans.
Today's settlement specifically addresses concerns about the marketing of Sparks. Although MillerCoors denied acting improperly, it agreed to make some major changes. These include:

*Stop using images that imply power (battery-themed +/- symbols on the can) and that appeal to underage youth to market the product.
*Not renewing its contract with William Ocean, a MillerCoors-sponsored air guitarist who back flips onto an opened can of Sparks at his shows.
*Immediately discontinue the Sparks website.
*Reformulate Sparks brand products without caffeine or other stimulants and agreed not to produce any other caffeinated alcohol beverages in the future.

A recent study found that college students who mix alcohol and energy drinks engage in increased heavy episodic drinking and have twice as many episodes of weekly drunkenness. College students who reported consuming alcohol mixed with energy drinks also had significantly higher prevalence of alcohol-related consequences, like sexual assault and injury.
If you're planning on switching to a Sparks alternative, think again. This past May, Anheuser-Busch announced they would stop producing alcoholic energy drinks, including Tilt and Bud Extra. With the elimination of Sparks from the market, nearly 85% of all alcoholic energy drinks that were available at the start of this year will no longer be sold."

Sparks party this weekend, anyone?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ben Around The World And I, I, I

I just found some bike parts. Cool new products available over at Bens Cycle.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pulp Fixion

I'd Tap That

Across the US, europe, wherever, it seems like cyclists have always had a fondness for good beer. Some more than others but it still seems to be a common thread among us, a universal language if you will. While out in Colorado this summer, I was fortunate enough to have more than my fair share of heady hops. Then I came back to 5%-by-volume-Alabama and thought the highlife was going to end on a sour note with Highlife, ugh. Maybe not. Look out your window to the north and you'll spot something beautiful. No not the Northstar, something much better, a gas station on Tennessee soil. It used to be pretty common for northern Alabamians to make a Sunday run down 431 to buy beer but then (and I still can't believe this ever passed in this ridiculously lame town) they passed a bill allowing Sunday alcohol sales. Fast forward to now. We can buy beer all day week long and if we make a thirty minute drive, we can buy pretty much anything we like. In particular, an array from New Belgium and now, the house brews from Oskar Blues. A lot of us already knew most of this but a lot didnt. This post was pretty much an excuse to say, go try some Ten-Fiddy Imperial Stout or Dale's Pale Ale and be particularly merry.

Americans Drove Less This Year

Wow, another ray of sunshine for Americans; Go home team! With gas at nearly $5 a gallon this year and the economy in peril, we finally got off our asses long enough to pull our heads out. Now what do we do?
WASHINGTON D.C. (BRAIN)—Americans drove more than 100 billion fewer miles between November 2007 and October 2008 than the same period a year earlier, said U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters, making it the largest continuous decline in American driving in history.

"As driving decreases and vehicle fuel efficiency continues to improve, the long term viability of the Highway Trust Fund grows weaker. The fact that the trend persists even as gas prices are dropping confirms that America's travel habits are fundamentally changing. The way we finance America's transportation network must also change to address this new reality, because banking on the gas tax is no longer a sustainable option," Peters said.

Peters said that Americans drove 3.5 percent less, or 8.9 billion fewer vehicle miles traveled (VMT), in October 2008 than October 2007, making it the sharpest decline of any October since 1971.

For the second month in a row, the data show the South Atlantic region—a bloc of eight states and Washington, D.C.—experienced the biggest decline of any region, 5 percent fewer VMT compared to the previous October. At 8.4 percent fewer VMT, Montana led the nation with the largest single-state decline that month. Utah and South Carolina followed with declines of 7.4 percent and 6.7 percent, respectively.

The Highway Trust Fund, the federal government's primary source for financing highway, bridge and transit projects, took in substantially less in Fiscal Year 2008 than in the previous year. As a result of the continued decline in VMT and the use of more fuel efficient cars, the Highway Trust Fund, which is primarily funded through federal gas tax receipts, collected $31 billion in revenue between October 2007 and September 2008—$3 billion less than it collected in Fiscal Year 2007, while federal transportation spending increased by $2 billion.

"This underscores the need to change our policy so American infrastructure is less dependent on the amount of gas American drivers consume," said Federal Highway administrator Tom Madison.

Lock Lock Boom

Check out this exploding bike lock as seen over at CNET News

"As an avid cyclist, my biggest concern about riding my bike in New York City isn't king-size potholes, wayward pedestrians, or even the hordes of aggressive cabbies itching to smash me into gray matter, but rather the constant fear of getting my bike stolen. I've been a victim of bike theft in the past, and it literally feels like the loss of a limb (not good), so I'm constantly researching new ways to deter thieves from snatching up my precious Surly Cross-Check. Whether it's making my bike ugly with stickers or carrying around extra locks in my bag, there's only so much you can do, because if a thief wants what you got, they're gonna get it no matter what.

(Credit: Mike Lambourn)
Michael Lambourn gives cyclists one more bullet in the barrel with his SmartLock design. It's a cable lock with colored liquid inside that explodes everywhere if the lock is cut. It's a clever idea, and one almost certainly hatched after a freak skunk accident, and I applaud Michael Lambourn for making an effort to make cycling safer for paranoid city dwellers like myself. The goal is to achieve peace of mind while your bike is locked up, and the SmartLock is definitely a step in the right direction. If this product is successful and helps get people out of their cars and onto the bike, then I'll get behind it 100 percent. I just have a few critiques to make in the meantime.

The colored liquid inside the lock will literally cover everything in close proximity to the bike, including poles, passersby, the bike itself, and the street surrounding it. Aside from the fact that this is a street cleaner's nightmare, Mike claims that the dye will identify the thief to the proper authorities. Quick question: has anyone alerted the authorities that anyone with paint on their clothes should immediately be thrown in jail for bike theft? What about innocent people walking by who get sprayed by this stuff? They're going to hate you, the lock, and your bike. And I bet legit painters definitely won't appreciate all the accusations that will inevitably be thrown their way.
The dye washes off! Can you really call it a stain if a cup of Tide, five quarters, and some elbow grease will make it disappear? Of course, Mike contests that "invisible Smartwater lingers on perpetrators and can be detected by ultraviolet scanners used by the police." Smartwater? Didn't I buy a bottle of that this morning? And a mysterious fluid that can only be identified by ultraviolet scanners? I think I've seen this episode of 20/20 before. Anyway, let's not get overzealous here and haul anyone with random stains on their pants to jail; New York would be empty within the week.
Finally, check out the video of someone cutting through the SmartLock with a pair of bolt cutters. I'm no locksmith, but maybe we should focus our efforts on a bike lock that can't be defeated by a tool that can be purchased from any hardware store across the United States? The fact that this lock "surrounded by a hardened steel casing, which is in turn encased in a DuPont Hytrel moulding" looks so flimsy that I could probably chew through it if I hadn't had breakfast doesn't exactly convince me to invest in the design."

Psssh, It Triggers The Traffic Loop Sensor...As I Suspected

Check out this article from WIRED

"Getting stuck at a red light that won't change sucks.

It's even worse when you're on a bicycle because you'll never see green until a car rolls up and trips the sensor. That's never seemed fair to Ed Richley, so he's invented a gadget that tricks red lights into turning green. "About 10 years ago, when I lived in California, a colleague told me about a particularly obstinate (light) on his commute, and asked me to build something to force a detection," Richley told What he's built is a gadget he calls a Traffic Loop Sensor Activator, and it does exactly what the name suggests — it trips the sensor that tells signal lights traffic is waiting. The bike commuter and engineer from Maryland has patented (.pdf) the device and is looking for someone to mass produce it. It doesn't look like much — in fact, it's pretty clunky, and the gram-conscious crowd will recoil in horror at its size — but Richley swears it works. Traffic loop sensors embedded in intersections are the bane of cyclists and motorcyclists everywhere because two-wheelers lack the mass needed to trigger the inductive sensors. A lot of cyclists resort to using magnets to do the job, but Richley says he hasn't seen any scientific evidence suggesting that actually works. So what makes his solution better? Like Ahab pursuing his white whale, Richley spent a decade lugging an oscilloscope to intersections, measuring the signal voltages to determine what kind of signal the loop sensors used. He discovered that they vary, "so I came up with a technique that scans for frequency and accommodates the pulsed mode of modern sensors," Richley told us. Push a button and Richley's gadget creates a brief, but strong, magnetic field that simulates the presence of a much larger conductor — say, the body of a car — and triggers the inductive sensor that lets the light know a vehicle is waiting. Richley says it works, and you can get more info about how here. But is it legal? “I've asked traffic departments about this and they universally think it's a great idea,” Richley says. He noted that in some states, including Maryland, the law prohibits “interfering” with traffic signals. So the question is, does his gadget interfere? Richley says it doesn't, and we're inclined to agree. It doesn't interfere, it, um, helps. And if radar detectors are generally legal… Besides, anyone who's been stuck at a red light for more than, say, two minutes knows the natural reaction is to just run it. We’d argue Richley's gadget promotes respect for the law. Richley notes that the problem he's solved is so ubiquitous that some states are exploring legislative solutions to what could be considered an engineering flaw. South Carolina passed a controversial law this year that allows drivers of motorcycles, mopeds and bikes to run any red after waiting two minutes or more. But in most states, all you can do at an endless red is wait. So far Richley's gadget is nothing more than a prototype. He's trying to line up partners to manufacture it, so it's anyone's guess how long it'll be before you can get one."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Fixie Kids, we do what we like

Something tells me this is what Brandon and the Orlando crew used to do in their spare time. Either way, it makes me very sad inside and a quite frankly, a little concerned for the future. Wow, they really rhymed "uni" with "do me"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Biker Fox The Movie

Hurry, before the fog rolls in, tell me, that do you like?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bike Porn

Some flickr finds. I saw these:

and then I:

thanx eric

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Snow Drifts And Hipsters Gifts, Fa La La La La

Most of us who ride tend to lust for all things bike. I'm pretty sure that anytime someone wants to get me something for Christmas, birthdays, whatever, their first thoughts shift towards bike stuff. For the record, ya can never go wrong with bike stuff. My question is this: What bike stuff do you want for Christmas this year? Maybe if you let me know, I can tell Santa and who knows... For some of you, it may be harder and harder for your loved ones to find things you dont have, that fit into their budgets, or stuff that nobody else has. So what shiny little trinkets do you want? Pictured below is a nice little bobble for the messenger who has everything. Messengers in Alabama, ha.

Words Don't Exist To Describe This Bike

In case you forgot, the Japanese are crazy! At first I hated this bike, now I'm more confused than a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest. The one thing I do know: that frame is the sex.

United Colours Of Miche'ton

wow, my titles get worse everyday. luckily these bad boys will help you get over it:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Alleycat Race To Support The Less Fortunate

Listen up, Nashville is having another race. We made it down to Bham once already so maybe a few others can make it up to Music City to support them.

"...there is going to be an Alleycat Race on the afternoon of Saturday December 13th. The race will involve riding to certain grocery stores and buying specified items. Racers should bring $10 to purchase groceries. At the end of the race your route will be verified by your reciepts. There will be an afterparty to follow. Details will be posted as they are worked out."

I will follow up when I know more.

Also... New Years Eve is coming up soon. A group may be going over to Atlanta for some of the festivities and some cycling shenanigans. If you're down holla back.