Category Archives: Article

Pre-Trip Bike Maintenance Check Up from Adventure Cycling

PreambleAdventure Cycling’s Alex Strickland provided the following pre-ride tips for the upcoming “Bike Travel Weekend.” Even if your fall riding plans are a bit less ambitious, you might want to review these reminders. Adventure Cycling leads in with this: “Will you do us a favor and take a few minutes to check your bike before you leave for your Bike Travel Weekend & Bike Your Park Day ride? Here’s a quick checklist to help you stay safe.”

Jacques Tati et sa bicyclette, 1947 or ’49

Touring Basics – Your campground is reserved, your gear is laid out in an Instagram-friendly grid, and tomorrow’s the big day. Before you go, take 30 minutes for a quick run-through of your bike — the old “ounce of prevention” — to make sure your wheels are road-worthy before you strike out on an adventure.

Frame – Start with the frame and give it a good wipe down with a rag. Once the dirt and grime are gone, make a quick check for cracks, especially around the welds.

Tires – With the tires inflated, look for sharp debris or glass embedded in the tire, as well as any cuts that look like they go through the rubber and tire casing. Also check tread wear; if the top tread is starting to become square in shape (as opposed to rounded), or the casing is visible through the tread, it’s time to swap out for a new tire. If you’re running tubeless, adding a little fresh sealant is a good idea.

Wheels – Spin the wheels while straddling the bike and give them a quick spot check to make sure that they are round and true, and that there isn’t any excessive friction in the hubs. Also, give the spokes a quick squeeze to check for consistent tension.

Brakes – Check the pads (some rim brake pads have wear indicators) to ensure there’s enough material left. A quick visual inspection of the braking surface (rim or disc rotor) should uncover any issues there. Finally, check the lever feel and adjust cables or bleed hydraulic brakes if required.

Chain and Cassette – Chain and cassette wear can wreak havoc on your shifting and increase the chance of a broken chain. Looking at the cassette, focus on the teeth. If the cassette teeth come to a sharp point, the cassette should be replaced. As for the chain, you can use a chain checker tool to make sure that it isn’t stretched. If you don’t have one of these tools, you can look at how the chain lies over the front chainrings. If the chain doesn’t seat itself on the chainring properly, it’s probably ready to be replaced. A quick clean and lube of the chain is always a good idea.

Shifting – Run through the gears to make sure that the shifting is dialed in. Check cables and housing to make sure there isn’t any excessive friction or fraying.

Rack – Check for cracks and ensure mounting bolts are tight.

Bolts – Go over the bike from front to back, making sure all of the bolts are snug.

Take a Spin – The last step is to take the bike out of the garage and give it a quick spin around the block. Run through the gears, test the brakes, and listen for any creaks that might require further investigation.

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Filed under Bike Tech, Feature, maintenance

Update #2 on Champlain Canal Trail North from Waterford

Trail Grading – 9/8/20

Good news on the Champlain Canal Trail and Empire State Trail – grading has begun at Upper New Town road. Go to this post for a complete review. “Update on Champlain Canal Trail and the Empire State Trail North from Waterford.”

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Safe Streets – It Can Be Done

The Setting – This is about a recent street redesign in a residential area but one with major traffic arteries – Partridge St. and Woodlawn Ave.

In the specific location there is the Woodlawn Park Basketball Court, Albany Babe Ruth, National Little league, and Woodlawn Park Playground. The court is constantly in use. In non-COVID-19 baseball season, players and families pack the streets and grounds. Temporary signage goes out on game days to slow motor vehicle through traffic. Both Woodlawn and Partridge are “cut-through” streets connecting New Scotland Ave., Lake Ave. Main Ave., Western Ave., Washington Ave., and Central Ave.

Area Overview Prior to Redesign

Neckdown Looking South East at Glenwood

Close Up View

The Project – The City of Albany installed a “neck down” or “bulbout” mid-block to facilitate safe crossing at Glenwood St. From the National Association of City Transportation Officials, “Previous Studies on Effects of Bulbouts and Street Narrowing – The purpose of a bulbout (also known as a choker, curb bulb, neckdown, nub, or gateway) is reduction of the width of vehicle travel way at an intersection or a mid-block pedestrian crossing. Bulbouts shorten the street crossing distance for pedestrians, may slow vehicle speeds, and provide pedestrians and motorists with an improved view of one another, thereby reducing the risk of a motor vehicle–pedestrian collision.” [SOURCE: https://nacto.org/docs/usdg/effects_traffic_calming_on_ped_motorist_behavior_huang.pdf ]

Neckdown Looking North West at Glenwood from Partridge

Not only do the bulbouts narrow the pedestrian travel distance but also they provide a visible warning of their presence. Notably, the motor vehicle lane width is now 11 ft. From observation, this is more than adequate for cars passing through and would not hinder first-responder vehicles. This is a heavily traveled street. While the feature is new to people in cars, they definably are responsive to the new stop signs and narrowed road. As regular travelers become accustomed to the neckdown, speed and “pause-and-go” will increase. (Previously, there were no stop signs on Woodlawn at Glenwood.)

Plenty of Room – Brake Lights “On”

See more at http://www.streetfilms.org/mba-traffic-calming/#:~:text=The%20most%20effective%20traffic%20calming%20measures%20are%20those,sending%20the%20signal%20for%20drivers%20to%20slow%20down.

Why Not Elsewhere? – By comparison, Central Ave.’s curb-to-curb distance runs around 67 ft. With 2 7-ft. parking lanes, the motor vehicle travel lanes occupy 53 ft. or 12-13 ft. per lane. Wide enough? Can there be any question why this design determines the speed for people in cars vs. the posted (and theoretical) 30 MPH limit? One might guess that within a block on either side of the commercial district of Central Ave. from, say, King St. to Washington Ave. there are thousands of residents, many of whom will need to cross Central Ave. There are plenty of other opportunities within the city to “neck down” pedestrian crossings. It can be done!

Cruising Through

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Filed under City Review, Road Diet - Traffic Calming, safety

Love Thy Neighbor.

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Filed under Bike Tech, COVID-19

On the Trail – Ride Right ~ Pass Left

The clear trail message is “Ride and Walk Right – Pass Left.” This conflicts with conventional on- the road guidance with is, for pedestrians, “walk on the left side facing traffic” and, for people on bicycles, “ride on the right with traffic” where in both cases “traffic” means “motor vehicle traffic.” We frequently see both people walking and on bicycles flaunting this common sense rule at their own peril. While walking (jogging, running) facing traffic is wise in that one can “stop on a dime” and jump out of the way, riding facing traffic confuses people in cars and provides no means to “jump” out of the way. It is also illegal. This wrong-way-riding puts other people on bicycles at risk. It also risks making a collision a head-on one rather than a “rear-ender” or sideswipe.

With the apparent universal move to allow e-vehicles to ride in bicycle lanes and on multiuse paths, the need for a firm trail protocol is even more essential. In all cases, the faster traveler (joggers vs. walkers, inline skaters vs. joggers, bicycles vs. joggers, etc.) must yield to the slower.

Regrettably, if New York State Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, Empire State Trail, Parks and Trails New York, and New York State Parks and Recreation have any guidance on trail etiquette, it is well hidden. Accordingly, we have to rely on secondary sources for guidance.

Some of these are as follows:

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Filed under Capital Trails-New York, Comings and Goings, safety