Charlotte’s got a lot (of bikes)

If you follow my Instagram stories, you’ll know that there was a crazy girl in Charlotte NC this weekend raving about dockless bike shares into her phone to the bemused confusion of passers by.

Yeah… I nerded out pretty hard.

But you have to understand, I want so badly to support Bike shares. I want them to work. But I also have spent 3 years ignoring them because you have to know your way around a place enough to know where to find a station. And then walk from that station to your actual destination. And often, despite meticulous and careful planning, that conflicts with desire paths and feasibility of enticing unfamiliar users to take one for a test run.

Enter the concept of dockless Bike shares, where you literally can’t escape the siren song of a bike on every corner.

I was heading out of my hotel to meet a friend for lunch yesterday with the assumption I would just walk the half mile to the restaurant. But after passing 9 of these citrusy themed lime bikes in just 2 blocks, I surrendered to the promise of “free first ride”, downloaded the app and was rolling within seconds.

If you don’t see a bike immediately, the app has a map of nearby available bikes. To unlock a bike you just scan the QR code in the app and the rear wheel mechanism unlocks with a cheerful beep. After your first ride you can add a credit card and subsequent rides are just $1.

To end your ride, you just slide the red button down on the back brake until you hear another happy chirping tone.

The bikes have generator lights so you can ride them at night as well.

Apparently Furman in Greenville has a fleet of orange Spin bikes running on the same model, and personally I would love to see these downtown. I’m sure a lot of people would find it annoying to have bright clunky bikes on every corner, but it’s basically my personal dream come true.

Not to mention we also sighted a pub cycle last night, which is another magical invention combining the best of things in this world.

Also impressive: Charlotte’s cycling infrastructure, including the pedestrian/bike friendly trolley side path. I wish I’d had more time to explore or join one of the many community group rides!

This bit was new to me. The car traffic was quite light on the weekend, so I took the lane and turned instead of taking the time to figure this technique out.

Bikes + coffee = weekend made. Be sure to check out the Crispy Crepe if you get the chance 👌

And yeah, I know there are downsides to dockless bike shares. Despite the tracking devices the bikes could still be stolen, people could abuse the system, crotchety people will complain about the “perils” of one of the safest modes of transportation. But you know what? I finally tried a bike share. And it was the highlight of my weekend, despite the fact I was in Charlotte for a wedding (let’s not mention this to the bride). So don’t rain on my parade of green and yellow limebikes.

Charlotte’s got a lot (of bikes)

So this happened

I’ve been working with APTA and Voices for Public Transit to write a piece about the impact of public transit on my life, and today it finally got published! Huge thanks to everyone who read it and gave feedback, I’m thrilled to get the chance to share my story in this format.

The article links back to this blog, bringing to the forefront of my mind that ever present guilt of not writing more frequent posts. I construct a post in my head on just about every ride; the creative juices flow, and then dissipate by the time I get to a keyboard. Other times I write half of a rough draft of a post, decide it sounded better in my head, or that I’m rambling too much, and never publish it.

So I’m going to try to put more content out there, and try to deal with not being 100% satisfied with each line. Starting now. As in, right now. Hello, ‘publish’ button. I’m not afraid of you…

 

 

 

So this happened

(Bike) Storage wars

It took a full 6 weeks after moving in, but I finally got my bikes hung!

The front of my house has this kind of odd bonus room called a “keeping room” where the original porch was enclosed, and I knew it would be the perfect area for storing bikes. After years of apartment living and leaning the bikes against walls (which promptly scuffed said walls into oblivion), I could finally do something more functional!

A friend cut three 1×5 boards from some old door frames he had, and I screwed each one in at all 4 corners with an impact driver (after drilling guide holes or the wood will go splitsville). Then I drilled guide holes for the hooks with a larger drill bit and twisted the hooks in using all the upper body strength a cyclist can muster (which, relatively speaking, is not a lot).

I was originally going to hang two on the left and two on the right, but a) the paneling was more secure to drill into than the drywall on the left, which is doable if you’re better than me at finding studs, and b) I didn’t want to get tangled up in spokes whenever I went to retrieve a bike. So my road bike is hanging on the left with my commuter in front of it (it’s constantly in and out and usually has panniers on the back so it would be annoying to hang anyway). A guest bike that we won’t have to pull out too often is hanging behind A’s bike.

Next will be helmet and accessory storage, hopefully that won’t take another 6 weeks 🙂

(Bike) Storage wars

Bike to the eclipse

School is back in session as of this Tuesday(!) and in all the excitement, I had failed to make plans for the eclipse. Thankfully, I was hosting a warm showers guest this weekend who came to Greenville especially for the eclipse, and he helped me decide to ride about 30 miles to gain an extra 30 seconds of totality viewing, on the exact totality center line near Central, SC. I’m so glad that I did!

 

It was a dam good ride.

 

 

 

Even in 90+ degrees and long rolling hills, the promise of getting to the center line of totality kept me motivated.

 

 

I stopped several times along the way to peek at the disappearing sun through my glasses. It was fun to see everyone doing the same on the side of the road as I went through the countryside.

 

 

 

I arrived in Central and found Stephen (my warm showers guest) with just over 20 minutes to spare before totality. The light was noticeably different and shadows had a strange sharpened/blurry quality to them.

 

 

 

Through the shadow of a nearby tree, the crescent slivers were visible in the minutes before totality hit.

 

 

And then it was 2:38! The temperature dropped, the sky darkened, Venus came out, the clouds stayed out of our way, it was simply incredible… and iphone pictures do absolutely zero justice to the whole thing.

 

 

I did a weird laugh-cry the whole time and ruined any video we took. We got photos just afterward as the sun was coming back out and we were still dazed and lightheaded.

 

 

Did I mention Stephen came down from NYC and rode around 75 miles on Monday on a folding bike? Major kudos to this guy.

 

We were worried about the traffic on the way home, but it wasn’t too bad (though noticeably heavier than it typically would be). I was glad to have my Abus helmet with integrated light in addition to my regular rear light for some extra visibility on the road.

 

 

 

I had planned to ride the Forgione for this trip, but since I left from work at noon and was in a rush in the morning, I rode out on my Bianchi commuter instead.

Lesson learned once again: the night before, pump your tires, fill your bottles, charge your lights, lay out whatever clothes/accessories you need.. you’ll be ready to roll in the morning with no problem.

 

Bike to the eclipse