Stranger things

Today marks day #360 of my ‘ride every day if 2017’ challenge (and yes, I see the flashing red light at the end of the tunnel!).

Some days I take a quick turn around the neighborhood to get the minimum required 1.0 mile in, but today on a whim I decided to venture out with the trailer to do some errands and post-Christmas shopping. The faintest hint of sunset was showing in the sky when I exited my last stop and heard a friendly “I hope you stay warm out there!” as I bungeed my bags onto my already rather full load.

I have to admit, at first I thought that this kind person had assumed that I was experiencing homelessness, and I found myself self consciously explaining that I live nearby and enjoy bike commuting.

As it turns out, the friendly voice belonged to Sandra, who used to bike commute regularly when she lived in Las Vegas and Massachusetts. I could tell it thrilled her to see someone bike commuting in a place like South Carolina, and we enjoyed swapping stories about our experiences and shared frustrations with the car-centric culture we live in.

I love the sense that every ride has the potential to build community and new connections. You just can’t say the same for driving!

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Stranger things

All I want for Christmas is you. And you. And you..

Under the guise of “a gift guide for the cyclist in your life”, here’s a list of stuff I would freaking love to get for Christmas IRL.

 

A recent visit to anthropologie might have started this whole post. It took all of my willpower to leave the store without this, and I don’t even have a Christmas tree to put it on.

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Tree in Transport ornament, Anthropologie, $16

My handmade doormat is quickly succumbing to the ravages of the real world now that I have a house. This would ease my pain:

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Bike Doormat, Uncommon Goods, $32

I asked for this and after getting rather soggy the other night in a non waterproof jacket, I’m extra excited to receive it:

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Women’s Odyssey Jacket, Showers Pass, $189

I *might* be addicted to panniers. This one takes the cake.

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Bergen Pannier in Mosaic, Po Campo, $115

 

Every bike commuter needs a small arsenal of these bad boys on hand to beat the winter weather:

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Buff Original Headwear in Nordic, Amazon, $17

Big fan of this local Greenville artist who makes adorable laser cut jewelry:

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Laser Cut Bicycle Ring, Etsy, $7

Only tools don’t carry tools.

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Acadia bicycle multi-tool, Etsy, $35

It’s a well established fact that you ride faster when wearing a jersey that looks this pretty.

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Women’s Stained Glass ES Jersey, Velocio, $169

I said that I didn’t need one of these, and then my plain wooden stand broke this morning. All by itself, I swear, I have no idea what happened.. Guess I need a gorgeous copper replacement.

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custom engraved Copper and Wood bike stand, Velo Valets in Greenville SC, $140

and for some reusable gift wrap:

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Bicycles Tote Bag, World Market, $4

All I want for Christmas is you. And you. And you..

People first

Shout out to whichever student gave me their stomach bug yesterday, because I’m using some of this sick day to catch up on great articles like this one and other bike-nerdy things.

The whole article is great and you should read the whole thing, but to sum up what we need to change about how we think about getting around our cities:

Everyone has their opinion on what causes congestion, many of which are conflicting. The causes are complex, but 75% of congestion is caused simply by there being too great a demand for our limited street space. Or, without the jargon: too many motor vehicles and too few people in them. To solve the problem, the report recommends that the mayor should prioritise the efficient use of our roads, saying that the “most space-efficient means of moving people – walking, cycling and public transport – should be prioritised over low-occupancy private transport.”

 

 

People first

Slap happy

I’m not super into Black Friday shopping, but I did notice that Slap Bag is having a promo and it’s something I happen to use daily on my commuter bike, so I thought I’d give them a mention. If you’re looking for a gift for a cyclist friend/family member, or need something simple and well made to keep essentials at hand on your commute, it’s pretty darn useful.

Such as, for transporting flowers..

But most days I stash my keys, sunglasses, headphones, or whatever else I might want to keep handy vs. lose somewhere in the bottom of my pannier.

 

… Turns out I tend to take pictures of it when it happens to be full of flowers.

 

Other favored features: they’re super durable, easy to open/close with one hand, fit on various handlebars/frames, washable, made by a startup out of Colorado, and they now come in multiple colors.

You can get 20% off of 1, 25% off of 2-3, or 30% off of 4 with code BF2017.

 

* This post is not sponsored content; I’m just a big fan of stuff that makes bike commuting that much more enjoyable!

Slap happy

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)