Saturday, July 9, 2011

Wanna do a couple lanes?

In a March posting I mentioned that I would like to see some scholarly economic research put into the cost/benefit of improving bicycling infrastructure. This week Nancy Folbre, writing for a NY Times blog titled Economix, endorsed the economic benefits of cycle infrastructure in a post titled The Bicycle Dividend. She made good points and linked to several great sources, including a 2007 paper that explores the concept more fully. I am not an economist; in fact, I still get confused when I buy something and the cashier counts back up to the amount I paid with, while he places my change in my hand. But I have firm intuition about the economic benefits of cycling. Replacing even a small number of automobile trips with a mode of transport like cycling--one that requires no fuel, very little space on the roads, requires less parking space, and actually promotes healthy levels of exercise--is a net benefit to society even after having controlled for the costs of that infrastructure. Support funding for cycling infrastructure and the world will be a better place.

Right here in Pittsburgh, there are several cycling groups doing good work to encourage folks to get into the saddle. One of those groups is the Pittsburgh Trail Advocacy Group, who will be kicking off a new skills area in North Park on Sunday. If you have even a passing interest in mountain biking, this will be a great way to check out what the locals are doing in our area's parks.

As for me, I have been getting in some rides on the mountain bike and logging my usual commuting miles. Riding back and forth to the workplace can grow tiresome however, and even I can not maintain Pee Wee Herman's Big Adventure grin every time throw a leg over my bicycle on my way to work. Sometimes it takes switching things up a bit to get a quick jolt of motivation. Following this logic, I ususally change something around about twice a year on my daily ride. Often its the stem/handlebar combination that I switch up, but sometimes, I'll put on a different saddle, or pedals, or rack, you get the idea. Anyway, this week I put on a bullmoose bar. Now I can imagine that there might only be one other person out there who is genuinely interested in the component swapping of a 30 year old handlebar onto a 25 year old bicycle, so for the other three people reading, I do apologize. The thing is is that I love this setup for commuting. I've tried several drop bars, anatomic drops, flat bars, riser bars, mustache bars, old man Albatross bars, and maybe even one or two that I am forgetting now, but I can say with certainty that after putting the bullmoose bars on this week, I have smiled a lot more when heading to work in the morning. In the rare event that you happen to be interested in putting some of these bars on your bicycle, I believe you can get a brand new, shiny version of the original straight from Mr. Peterson at Rivendell.   

Please ignore the condition of my living room in these photos (yes, my family and I permanently reside in a 1950s era fallout shelter).

Some time ago, I asked for visual examples of the single track in your area, and then recently Pedro got in touch with an email and some images that had absolutely nothing to do with my request. Anyway, that dude is a real gunslinger with a camera so I'm going to include some of his handiwork here:

Looks like fun. Pics from his correspondence might be used for the advertising efforts of the companies WTB, Bicycle Coffee, and Mikes Bikes, so keep those places in mind, next time you need to buy some new crap.

Well, from narrow dirt threads through nature's playground all the way to wide asphalt cycling paths through the urban jungle, there seems to be plenty of reasons to get fired up about bikes these days. Find one reason and put a smile on your face this weekend. Peace.


  1. sweet tricks. thanks for the handlebar update - you knew I was wondering.

  2. No problem, you know I'm always looking out for you. But I've already called you Z-the-12lb kid on this joint, so now I guess I gotta switch up to Mr. Kleber.