Why Everyone Will Ride a Bicycle by 2030

This is a guest post by David Veibl. David is a contributing writer for Cruiserbikes.com too, a source for the best cruiser bikes online.

Let’s begin this post with a little disclaimer.  No one – not even Sylvia Browne – knows exactly what the future holds.  While any psychic couldn’t give you next week’s lottery numbers, s/he could still give you a detailed pattern analysis that would tell you the numbers most likely to show up in next week’s drawing.  That’s what we humans do.  We predict.  We have all kinds of tools that help us see what the future holds.  There are even entire industries dedicated to predicting the future – the weather and climate industry, the stock market, and urban planning, to name a few.

Look at Portland.  In 1996, Portland’s urban planners predicted that bicycling would become more widespread in the following decades.  At that time, the Portland Bureau of Transportation reported an average of 3,257 daily bicyclists.  Since then, the number has jumped by 560% with an average of 18,257 daily bicyclists in 2011!  Portland’s predictions came true, and it looks like the number of bicyclists will only increase in the years to come.  If the numbers continue to rise consistently, Portland will see at least 102,240 cyclists on the road in 2030!  Luckily, the city is prepared for such a situation.  A couple years ago, they rolled out the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030, a plan that accommodates the increasing number of cyclists with a new bikeway facility design, a stronger bicycle transportation system, larger bicycle parking areas, and so much more.  It’s expected to be complete by 2030.

More people are riding bikes now than ever 

If there’s anything past statistics tell us, it’s that the number of cyclists will continue to climb dramatically year after year.  The increasing number of cyclists on the road could be due to soaring gas prices, concern for the environment, or the need to stay healthy and in shape.  Whatever the reason, bikes are becoming more and more popular.  In fact, the National Bicycle Dealers Association reported that 19.8 million bicycles were sold in the U.S. in 2010, while the Bureau of Transportation reported only 4.6 million cars sold that same year.  BMW sales are dwindling while Schwinn cruisers are selling like hotcakes!

Portland isn’t the only city to prepare for the growth in bicycle commuting

Major cities like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, as well as countless small towns across the country, are installing more bike lanes, increasing funding for bicycle facilities, and encouraging their residents to travel by bicycle.  Now, since New York installed more than 200 miles of bike lanes in 2009, 1 out of every 24 vehicles on city streets is a bicycle.

 Possible reasons behind the bicycle phenomenon

With the economy the way it is now, it’s hardly a surprise that more and more people have taken up bicycling.  The economy might not be the only reason, though.  If the economy miraculously improves in the next decade or two, it’s highly unlikely that people would ditch their bikes for cars.  By then, the habit of riding a bicycle for short trips would probably be so ingrained that people wouldn’t even hear of driving to the bank on a warm sunny day.  People would get so used to seeing cyclists everywhere that they wouldn’t think twice about buying a new bicycle and joining everyone else in the bike lane on their way to work.

Also, by 2030, communities everywhere will have expanded so much that it would be rare to have to travel to the next town to pick up a gallon of milk.  With everything available nearby, people living in urban, suburban, and some rural areas would hardly have to travel more than 5 miles to get something.  Almost every road would probably have a bike lane, so it would be far easier and safer to travel by bicycle.  People are far more environmentally conscious now than ever, and with scientists constantly finding new information about the environment every day, we’re paying closer attention to reducing our carbon footprint.

Do you think that, when 2030 rolls around, bicycles will be the main mode of transportation?  Why or why not?

A Little Heat Training

A biking buddy I haven’t ridden with for awhile contacted me the other day. He’s been off the bike lately, and wants to get back into it. He suggested we do a few Veloway laps after work. While I knew it would be a hot ride, I readily agreed.

John juggles his young sons, his 29-inch mountain bike and his road bike with his other obligations. He’s ridden rides of decent length before, and last year even did a guest post here about riding the Atlas 4000 kickoff ride under hot conditions.

But he says he’s slowed down quite a bit, and just wanted to turn the cranks in the heat to build up some tolerance for the temperatures he’ll face when he tackles organized rides again next month.

I had my concerns driving home this afternoon. The forecast had called for highs in the 100s most days of this week, and the car thermometer showed 107 at around 3 p.m. After getting my stuff together and setting off to meet John at our agreed-upon ride time of 4:30, I saw that it had dipped — to 106 (41C). One of the official weather stations in Austin recorded a record 109 today. My wife was none too pleased that I was heading out in such conditions.

She forgets, though, that just last weekend she played golf in temperatures almost as high, and had a great round. I slathered on the sunscreen, put lots of ice in the water bottle, and headed out.

The Veloway wasn’t completely deserted, but I saw only a few other bikers rounding the track. While I waited for John, I made sure the bike was parked in the shade, so it wouldn’t be a hot seat when I climbed back on for our laps.

Any shade is good shade.

We set off at an easy pace. John said he’d been averaging about 12 mph lately, and wanted to see if keeping up with me posed any special problems. He monitored his heart rate as we rode, and noted with satisfaction that it was at a reasonable level.

The Veloway is a 3.1-mile circuit, and John said three laps would be plenty for him. Coupled with my ride from home and back again, I would clock about 15 miles. In this weather, I figured that was just right.

The heat wasn’t too bad. Really. Some breeze would have been nice, though. Since we weren’t doing intervals or anything stupid like that, I thought the ride was just the kind of easy day I could always use. I noticed that John was pushing a bit to keep even with me, and once, when I kicked it into high gear, he lagged behind for about half a lap.

John catches and passes me.

After three laps, we pulled into the canopy that offers some shade at the head of the track.  Sweat glistened off both of us, but otherwise, we were fine. That is, until John suggested it was time to head to the parking lot so he could get his bike back on the car rack. I set off to see if any water was left in the coolers at the parking lot entrance (nope), and when I got there, I looked back to see John still under the canopy, staring straight ahead.

“Take the picture already, so I can go refill my water bottle!” The Noob with the borrowed bike.

My average speed for the trip, including the run between the house and the track, was 14.7 mph, just a tad slower than I usually do. If John was adding 2 mph to his typical speeds, and on a day like today, that could really stress him. He’ll be fine if he keeps up his riding this summer, but today was a good reminder to take it easy in extreme conditions. I wonder how some other acquaintances of mine did. They planned a 60-miler late this afternoon!

A New Ride (Temporarily)

Went out Saturday morning for my ride. Even got an early (for me) 7:30 a.m. start. Lubed the new chain, clipped on the computer, put in the water bottles, and got on. But on my first attempt to shift, even before I’d left the driveway — SPRONG! — the shift cable broke where it joins the right side shifter.

See that cable that’s parked under the right handlebar? The one that just ends? Yeah, that’s it. (Click to make the photo bigger.)

Son of a!@#$%^&*! This is the second time this has happened to me. The first was in the fall of 2010. And I know what it means — it means I’ll be buying a new shifter. Trouble is, they’re expensive, and after some unexpected costs this month, we find ourselves with too much month at the end of the money. I’ll have to hold off on the purchase for 10-14 more days.

But what good is being in a bike club if it doesn’t have members with spare bikes? A couple of emails later, my friend Rick agreed to let me use his 10-year-old titanium bike. He’s riding his new carbon fiber Cervelo, and is even faster than he used to be. And he used to be fast.

I picked up the bike Saturday afternoon, and rode it around the block to see what kind of changes I’d have to make to get it right for me.

Right off the bat, a pretty major one. My bike is 56 cm. Rick, who is a big, tall guy, rides what appears to be a 61 cm bike. My feet reached the pedals, but just barely.

I lowered the seat all the way, and moved it up as far as it would go. It’s still a bit big, but I can ride it with a modicum of comfort now.

I skipped the club ride Sunday. They were going to do the Dam Loop — one of my least favorite Austin bike routes — and it was going to be hot!! today. Because I was on a new bike, I opted to do the Saturday morning route I would have done yesterday. If my shifter hadn’t broken.

Riding a familiar route on an unfamiliar bike makes the experience seem brand new. The bike is an Airborne, titanium frame as I’ve said, all Ultegra, nice Easton EA 90 wheels with Michelin Krylion tires, and a triple crankset with a 53-tooth big ring. The model is the Zeppelin, of all things. Airborne apparently got out of the road bike business, because their website features mountain bikes and such, with their cross bike model the closest thing to a road bike. As Rick once told me, “Back in 2002, this was state of the art.”

The Airborne Zeppelin.

I think I’ll like my experience with the triple. My average speed for today’s 29.5-mile ride was 15.3 mph. (Just an estimate, since the bike is not equipped with a computer. I know the route distance, and noted my start and end times on my watch — then deducted time stopped at lights to get my total on-bike time.) Anyhoo, it did get me up some hills with a minimum of fuss.

That average speed compares nicely with my recent speeds on that route. In fact, it’s a smidgen faster than most. I’m looking forward to riding this bike over the next two weeks. I’ll post an update on riding a triple titanium later, after I’ve gotten a few more rides under my belt.

Stravacide

While I’m busy overcoming the cycling blahs (see previous post), I learned of a case where a really enthusiastic cyclist went out to beat a record for a segment on Strava — and lost his life when he collided with a car.

You’re probably aware of Strava — the GPS-based training aid that’s gaining in popularity by the day. I mentioned it here earlier this year. The main attraction of Strava seems to be its ability to divide a ride into segments. If you post the segments publicly, others can see your time for that segment and try to beat it.

Users have even coined a name for it, as noted on the Competitive Cyclist website:

  • Stravacide, [strah-veh-sahyd]
  • noun
  • To ride significantly harder during training than originally planned (e.g. on a climb or a defined stretch of road) in order to increase one’s ranking on the Strava Leaderboard for a specific segment.

Now, the family of the deceased cyclist, one Kim Flint, Jr., is suing Strava, claiming its general negligence led to the wrongful death of Flint. The complaint alleges that Strava breached its “duty of care” by failing to warn cyclists that the road on that segment was “not suited for racing” and “unreasonably dangerous;” for failing to take measures to ensure that KOM (King of the Mountain) challenges take place on safe courses; and for encouraging dangerous behavior. The suit, which seeks damages in excess of $25,000, contends that if Strava had done those things, Flint would not have died as he did.

Hey, I just report the facts. I’ll let you figure out whether the plaintiffs have a leg to stand on, or if this suit will be thrown out of court as frivolous. All I know is that, while I don’t use Strava myself, I do have several segments on my routes where I do keep track of my times — or, more often, my top speed. I don’t need Strava for that, and I don’t need a third party looking out for me to make sure my record-breaking attempts are done under pristine conditions.  I don’t need Strava to kill myself; I’m perfectly capable of doing that on my own.

Of course, I’m also perfectly capable of judging conditions for myself, and determining whether I’m comfortable challenging my best on a given day, or waiting until the wind, for the road surface, or debris, or reflected light, or whatever changes until I am comfortable.

Strava didn’t make Flint ride that day.

The Biking Blahs

I suppose it happens to all of us. There are days you get on the bike, and just aren’t motivated. In my case, that’s been the story for the last few rides.

I’m not sure what’s triggered this round of blahs. I seem to get them every year, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Friday after work, I did my usual 20-miler through the neighborhood. I know the hot weather got me there. It was 98 degrees (37C), and I didn’t want to push it, because I knew I’d be out Saturday morning.

But Saturday morning’s ride, for almost 28 miles, didn’t go much better. I kept pedaling, but had no oomph. Toward the end of the ride, my chain started skipping. I didn’t bother about it (bad sign).

On Sunday’s club ride, the group was heading out to Fitzhugh Road, usually a favorite of mine. They opted to tack on some extra distance, and bring the Fitzhugh total to the mid 50s. The usual turnaround spot gives 46 miles. I and the other B riders turn around earlier, for a 32-miler. But the rolling hills on Fitzhugh make it a tough 32.

Three miles into the ride, going up a nice hill in a semi-rural residential area, my chain started skipping again. But this time it was so bad, I could barely make it to the top. I stopped to check it out. Turning the barrel adjuster on the rear derailleur in all the way helped. At least, I could shift while putting power to the pedals and have no chain skip. I started off in pursuit of the group.

But by now, they were so far ahead of me, they weren’t to be seen. I decided to do the 32-mile route on my own.

It was an anticlimax. I had no one else to feed off, so my average speed was down. I passed several clubbers halfway along Fitzhugh Road, where they were watching one of their compadres fix a flat. Ten minutes later, they caught and passed me, and sailed on ahead. That was demoralizing.

Back at Starbuck’s, I enjoyed a smoothie while I waited for some of the group to show up. No one did. The longer route today meant they would be out on a road longer than usual. I headed home.

Today it was the strong southeast wind that got me. At one point, descending an easy hill at about 30 mph, a crosswind gust hit me and nearly knocked me off the bike. That got my attention, but made me cautious for the rest of the ride. My average speed for several days of riding is in the low 14s, which is okay, but not the mid-15s that I’ve been doing lately.

Hm. Have I been pushing too hard to be averaging in the 15s? That’s not an extraordinary speed. In fact, it used to be my old average. I can’t believe it’s a case of over training, since I ride only four days a week, so I’ve got three rest days. Could be lack of sleep, I suppose. I go to bed around midnight, and I’m up at 6 a.m. But I’ve always kept those hours, and seem to get along fine on six hours of sleep.

How about you? Do the biking blahs get you from time to time? If so, what do you do about them? If my past is any indication, I’ll snap out of the blahs in a few more days. But in the meantime, biking has lost its attraction for me.

Getting My Gear Together

Guest poster Don Blount deals with an issue that affects many of us from time to time…

I usually keep my biking gear in the same places.

Bike in garage.

Seasonal clothes in a closet and out of season items in a storage bench.

Helmet and a few other items such as my Garmin, spare tube and C02 cartridge, plastic bag for my phone, sunglasses and a pouch with key and money on the shelf of a bookcase in my home office. (I use the space that is available and that my wife does not object to me using.)

Of course this makes riding easy. Either the night before a ride I gather what I need and place them in an easily accessible place, such as my kitchen, or the day of a ride I can get what I need quickly and head out the door.

No rummaging, no searching, all aggravation free.

That is except when my system gets changed.

My mother-in-law was coming to visit for a week and would be staying in the home office, which has a day bed. So I moved my gear and other items out of that room and into my bedroom. It made sense, this way I would not need to go into my office during her stay.

And then the next morning I readied for a ride. Kitted up, prepared the bike and then went looking for the rest of my gear – sunglasses, a pouch with key and money, baggie for phone, baggie with spare tube and C02. And could not find them.

Tick, tick, tick. If I did not get out by a certain time I would miss my morning exercise window. After all, this was a workday and I could not just ride later.

I looked all over the bedroom as I was certain I had placed them in there. My wife looked as well and she could not find them. She even offered to go back into the home office and look to see if I had left them there. But we opted not to do that since her mother was still asleep.

Five minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes. Tick, tick, tick, slam.

The window had closed.

So I put my bike away.

I put away my helmet and gloves.

And I unkitted, if that is a word, and then I glanced beneath my wife’s dresser and saw a box that I had moved there the night before. Atop but toward the back of the box were the things I had been looking for. I thought for sure I had looked there. My wife looked there too. They were about two feet from the bed but you had to get down on your hands and knees to see them there. I looked under the bed, I looked under a bench but I had not gotten down to look on top and toward the back of the box.

Oh well.

Now, all of my riding gear is together in a corner of my bedroom. So the next time I plan to ride, I will be able to gather it all, without rummaging or searching and all aggravation free.

It Takes More Than Water

Summer temperatures are here in Texas now. Austin got its first 100-degree day (38C) this week, although thankfully, we’re way behind last year’s ridiculous 90 days of 100 degrees or more.

So I’ve been making sure I have plenty of water while out on my rides. But the advent of the really hot temperatures reminds me that water alone isn’t enough. If I needed a stark reminder of that fact, all I had to do was take note of this news item:

SAN ANTONIO, June 12 (UPI) – A 30-year-old man who fell ill during an endurance boat race in Texas has died, authorities said.

Brad Ellis, who had become ill Sunday during the Texas Water Safari race on the San Marcos and Guadalupe rivers, was the first participant to die in the event’s 50-year history, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

Ellis died of hyponatremia, or low sodium, said Allen Spelce, president of the Texas Water Safari.

“It goes against logic,” Spelce said. “You think, ‘Drink water, drink water,’ but you’re expelling all of that sodium, through sweat and using the bathroom, and not getting the replacements.”

I plead guilty. I get by just fine with two bottles of water for rides of 30 miles or less. Part of the reason I bonked last weekend is that I was just drinking water and not replenishing my electrolytes on a ride about an hour longer than I’ve been doing lately. It’s time to start carrying some kind of electrolyte replacement again.

I’ve never been picky about what I use. Often, in the middle of a ride, I’ll stop at a convenience store and pick up a bottle of G2 — the low-sugar Gatorade. I have used Nuun in the past, and like it, although I know people who don’t care for the fizzy tablets you add to your water.

Most sports drinks have a variety of electrolytes — sodium, potassium, chloride and more — it appears that sodium is the one to be most concerned about. The Mayo Clinic’s website says sodium is important to the body, because it “helps maintain normal blood pressure, supports the work of your nerves and muscles, and regulates your body’s fluid balance.” If the sodium level drops too much, extra water enters your cells and swells them. It can even cause you brain cells to swell, and since the brain’s ability to enlarge is restricted by the skull, swollen brain cells could trigger more dangerous symptoms.

In lieu of a sports drink, you could munch on something salty. I’ve always liked a Payday candy bar. The peanuts that surround the nougat center of a Payday contain plenty of salt. A small bag of pretzels would work just as well.

The main thing to be aware of, though, is that water isn’t enough. The Mayo Clinic says you should only drink as much fluid as you lose through sweat during exercise. That would be about 34 ounces — or one liter — of water an hour. That’s about two water bottles. Uh oh — I usually drink only one bottle per hour. So hyponatremia wouldn’t seem to be a particular worry for me. I need to boost my fluid intake, and now that it’s really hot outside, make sure I replenish my sodium, too.

Just use the common sense guidelines you’ve been following since starting to cycle, and you’ll be fine.