Monthly Archives: June 2011

It’s All You Guys

Hey Everyone. Thanks for making this bike month the best its ever been. I was browsing the site stats recently when I came across something really cool. Check it out:

(Click on the picture to make it bigger)

This May was our biggest Bike Month ever! With over 2700 views we blew the other years out of the water. So thank you everyone. Thank you to the people that wrote the posts and worked on the site. Thanks to the readers who visited our site day after day. You have made it all worth it.

Written by Chris Belsole

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Montreal Bike Scene

For a city that shares a name with the mountain that is right in the middle of it, and which commonly has temperatures around -40F in the winter, you might not think that Montreal would be a very bike-commute friendly city.    But you would be wrong. I recently took an overnight trip to Montreal (just over 3 hours from Albany if you drive really fast!) and saw more bike commuters than I’ve ever seen in a North American city.   Every few blocks or so each major roadway has dedicated bike lanes that are physically separated from the auto traffic making it easy to get virtually anywhere in the city by bike:
Montreal Bike Lane

Don’t have your bike?   Nowhere safe to park it when you get where you are going?   Not to worry, because Bixi Bikes have you covered.   Every few corners you can find a rack of public bicycles that you can subscribe to, or just put your credit card in the machine and get 24 hours of unlimited in and out privileges for 5 bucks:
Bike Bike Checkout

I wouldn’t want to ride cross country on one of these thing but they are really made for commuting.   All bikes have front and back fenders, a nexus 3 speed enclosed rear hub, and an easy to adjust saddle.    A shimano front hub dynamo powers front and rear blinky lights and most bikes have a rack on the front that accommodates a backpack or a briefcase.
Bikes on the Rack

I saw MANY commuters in business wear making their way around town.    If you’ve got your mobile device handy the bixi website tells you where the nearest racks are and lets you know how many bikes/spots are available.

While it was a unique joy for me to drive into a new city for business and be able to grab a public bike off a rack right outside my hotel for a quick pre-breakfast ride,  I think the most stunning thing about my ride in Montreal was that I was an actual member of real traffic flow in a vibrant city.    There are so many cyclists on the road that one has to use the same care in merging, signaling, and general traffic management as one would when driving on a busy highway.   As sometimes happens when I drive, I once had a minor annoyance that the cyclist in front of me waiting to go straight at a red light was holding me up from making a right hand turn, but then I reminded myself that this is the kind of bicycle commute problem that I’d love to have in Albany.

A recent New York Times article (Before Bike-Share Effort Starts, Concerns Are Raised About How It Will Work ) talked about New York City’s plan to add a service like Bixi Bike.  Could something like this work in Albany?   Hey, if Montrealers can get up Mt. Royal in their business suits, I think our state workers should be willing to tackle State St.

Written by JP Shipherd

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Cyclists Need to Pay Attention Too

A more generalized version of the following appeared in the “Letters to the Editor” in the Times Union on June 4, 2011.

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On May 18, bicycle riders in Albany commemorated the national “Ride of Silence” by riding to the various “ghost bikes” in the city. These white bicycles and the ride commemorate those cyclists killed in traffic.

One rider reported to me that on her way to this ride, the front wheel of her bicycle was struck by an aggressive driver at the ever-challenging Allen-Madison-Western intersection. She said another car driver attempted to chase down the offending motorist. While neither she nor her bicycle was harmed, the reality is that — regardless of fault — the bicycle rider always suffers most in any bicycle-motor vehicle collision.

My observations are twofold: that drivers in the city of Albany are generally considerate of cyclists but that many cyclists are somewhat casual in their approach to traffic laws and safety. The messages I hope to deliver are that cyclists need to be alert, careful and mindful of the law and that vehicle operators need to give a little consideration when near bicyclists.

My observation not shared with the general readership of the Times Union is that I frequently observe the following cycling offenses while riding and driving in the area:

- Riding the wrong way on a one-way street
Riding on the left into traffic
– Not even pausing at red lights
– Not yielding to pedestrians in “zebra stripe” crossings
– Not even pausing at stop signs
Riding on the sidewalk and frequently in an unsafe manner (e.g., too fast, dodging in and out of pedestrians)

The message need be that we, as riders, are responsible for setting the example to both cyclists and motor vehicle operators and, when on a bicycle, gently cautioning our fellow cyclists when we observe them behaving in an unconstructive fashion.

Written by Lorenz Worden

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Camping: Thompsons Lake

After we made it to camp and we relaxed a bit, everyone helped me set up my tent and get all my stuff in order. The last member of our party (Ken) finally made it up around 8, and it turned out he had left late so there wasn’t a chance that he would have passed me on my journey up the hill. We spent the rest of the night relaxing and eating the best lasagna on earth. Dinner was an awesome affair it had good food with great people and very interesting conversation.  Since I seemed to have past an invisible test, now that I made it up to Thompsons Lake everyone wants to take an even bigger trip, with a sag car. Thankfully, if we do go on that trip it will be later in the summer and I can work on longer rides.

When darkness fell we had a great fire, and continued the conversation sitting around the fire keeping warm. Everyone stayed up pretty late, except for me. I was beat, I headed to bed early, so I have no idea how the rest of the night went.

The next morning everyone was up early rising with the sun. Everyone was so quiet and peaceful that morning. We made pancakes with blueberries, and had fruit salad to start the day off. Breakfast was a happy event, everyone talking and laughing having fun. We spent the rest of the morning soaking up the sun,  just relaxing. After lunch everyone went on a ride down the trails that are around the campsite and into Thatcher Park. Everyone was gone for around 3 hours, and I guess there was a flat tire involved. I was still sore from the climb the prior day so I happily stayed behind.

Another couple of people joined us for dinner and smores that night around the campfire. John even came up with a jolly song about our trip:

We are a family…

Toni, Ken, Claire, Bert and Me…

We ride in Albany…

To Thompsons Lake and Schenectady…

Sunday was the day we were leaving so the object of breakfast was to use up the food we have left. We had reservation to meet at Indian Ladder Farms for Brunch at 12:30, so we had plenty of time. Once camp was broke down and everything put away, the people who rode up had the great pleasure of riding down. Let me say that I am pretty sure that was the fastest I had ever rode on my bicycle. It was slightly scary, but a lot of fun. The climb was almost worth the decent down the hills. I was really glad that I didn’t know how fast I was going. The Brunch at Indian Ladder Farms was awesome and it was sad that it was the last meet up before everyone headed home.

Overall, the camping trip was awesome. Everyone had a great time, and it was so worth the climb on our bikes up to Thompsons Lake. I would so do it again, which says a lot since the climb up there took my forever.

Written by Toni Cameron

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Camping: The Hill to Thompsons Lake

This weekend was the ABC camping trip to Thompsons Lake. It was a Friday to Sunday affair, but today I am just going to focus on the ride up to the campsite.

Disclaimer: I am a commuter; I like to ride to places. I am not the type of person who can just go out and ride big loops, just to ride. I ride to the library or Hudson River Coffee house, and sometimes even to my work when I am feeling energetic. I hate hills. I avoid going down State Street like no tomorrow, and when I am leading a ride with ABC you know I won’t take you up a hill if I can help it. I am also a slow rider; someone who isn’t in a rush and likes to enjoy the ride.

Now, that you know where I am coming from you can imagine the terror that filled me when everyone wanted to ride up to Thompsons Lake. It involves not just hill, but what I would call a small mountain. There was no way around it; I was going to have to ride up Thatcher Park Road. My only other choice was to drive up, and while there were people who did drive up to go camping with us, I just couldn’t do it. Therefore, I had to make it up the mountain on my pretty little bike.

For courage I bought some gloves so my hands wouldn’t hurt as bad and a new jersey that I thought I looked cute in. Going on this ride with me was Claire, aka Mom, and without her I don’t think I would have made it. Google maps says it takes 2 hours by bike to make it up to Thompsons lake. Maybe for someone who like hills, not for someone like me. So we left early, like 3 o-clock, since I knew it was going to take me forever. Ken who still had to leave was going to leave at five, and I knew I might not make it before dark if I left at five.

So off we went, heading towards the small mountain in the distance. We passed through Voorheesville, and we hit a small hill, which to me was torture. My goal was to make it up without walking. I did that, but I did have to stop. All that was running around in my head was “that really wasn’t even a big hill.” It was just a small one to get my blood going. It took some time, but then we were there at the bottom of Thatcher Park Road. We were standing there talking so I could rest and try to get my courage up.

To be completely honest standing at the bottom, I didn’t think I could make it up that hill. I had seen others go up it, and I really thought that they were crazy. It just wasn’t on my to-do list or even can-do list. Yet, I made it that far and had to keep going. Off we went. I knew that this was going to be hard. At the very beginning there was a jogger heading up the hill and I tried to keep up with him. I kept my pace, and then he took two steps in front of me leaving me behind. Claire passed me and kept pace with the jogger. Seeing her go up the hill was inspiring.  I thought maybe I could do this.

My eyes stayed on her backpack as I slowly climbed. Finally I had to stop and take a breath along with some water. Then back on my bike I went. I focused on each telephone pole and mail box. Bit by bit I made it along. When I needed to stop, I stopped. I didn’t get discouraged or feel rushed. I had friends above me on the mountain and Ken below me who hadn’t left yet. My goal was to not get passed by him. Finally, I saw Claire waiting for me next to a turn off to make sure that I went the right way. I stopped and relaxed for a moment while she spoke on the phone to Bert and John who were already at the campsite. I really needed that moment of just standing there. It kept me on my feet. That break did turn into a pit stop as I waited for my heart to stop pounding. Then off we went again heading towards the park and the lookout.

Getting to the lookout where I could see the starting point was awesome. I felt like I could do almost anything. Staring out over Albany, and knowing that I got up there by bicycle was something that everyone who rides should experience. I understood why people would ride up that freaking hill, and that they weren’t crazy; just really really smart. The rest of the ride to the campsite was awesome. I was tired but filled with joy. Bert and John rode out to meet us, the laughing and talking really kept me going. We had to stop to take photos at the sign to the Thompson’s Lake and I believe that part of me was in shock. I couldn’t believe that I actually made it up there on my bicycle.

It was awesome, and I thank everyone who has helped me get to that point. Especially, Claire who would tell me stories as we rode so I had something to think about besides how far we still had to go.

Written by Toni Cameron

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