Promoting the bicycling lifestyle in The Buckeye State
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Last Friday, May 20 was Bike To Work Day around the world. I happened to have the day off that day, so I decided to take a ride up to downtown Cleveland to check out the city’s official Bike To Work Day celebration.
I have ridden through and around the various roads and streets in the Cleveland area over the years, but I had never made the trip by bike from my home into the city. I did a quick check on Google Maps with Biking Directions the day before, and it did not seem nearly as long or as complicated as I expected.
I left home at 6:00am early in the morning. A thick fog covered the region, making visibility a little sketchy out on the roads, and requiring frequent wiping of my glasses, but otherwise, the weather was quite agreeable.
I stopped a few miles into the ride to meet a friend, and the two of us made our way into Cleveland from his house. Most of the route involved just following Miles Road west to Broadway Avenue, and then Broadway all the way into the city. I saw a few neighborhoods that I have never had the pleasure of visiting before, some of which were what some people might call a little “sketchy,” but at the 7:00-8:00am hour, they were nothing to worry about, even for a couple of middle-aged suburban white guys.
The fog burned off about halfway through the route, and the last few miles provided a new and spectacular view of the downtown Cleveland skyline. We arrived at the festivities, located near the Cleveland Bike Rack, the new bike commuter station, located just behind Quicken Loans Arena. The Bike Rack and event co-organizer ClevelandBikes had hoped to provided tours of the new facility, but the completion and opening were delayed. But, we were able to peek into the windows and see the rows of multi-level bike racks and rental lockers that will be available.
We enjoyed some coffee and snacks provided at the event, chatted with some other attendees, and checked out the other bikes. Then, we headed over to the Tremont neighborhood to get some breakfast at Grumpy’s Cafe. After enjoying some delicious pancakes, instead of re-tracing our original route back to downtown and home, we just dropped down to the end of W. 14th Street and hopped on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail through the Steelyard Commons shopping plaza. At the end of the plaza, we took the Jennings Road/Harvard Road connection to get back on the Towpath proper, until we jumped off the Towpath and onto Alexander Road, which led us back to our respective home neighborhoods.
The Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS) agency is holding public meetings in order to receive feedback on the draft Summit/Portage County bike users map. The map can be accessed here.
Two meetings in two locations are scheduled:
April 13, 2011, 6:30pm
Highland Square Branch Library
807 W. Market St.
Akron, OH 44303
April 27, 2011, 5:30pm
Kent Free Library
312 W. Main St.
Kent, OH 44240
Last year, the cycling community was abuzz with the news that Google had implemented the Biking Directions feature in Google Maps. Rather than try to re-hash the issue, I’ll just let you read this guest editorial written by Rob Allen for Bicycle Retailer & Industry News magazine:
I am proud to know the best way to get around my neighborhood, by bike. Not all these routes are obvious. If I were visiting your town, I’m sure you would lead me on the safest, most pleasant bike route, wherever we might go.
Fellow bike riders: We have valuable expertise. Google Maps has a new feature, providing directions by bike. This will be a very useful tool one day, after it has received our input. Google doesn’t have enough digital data to provide the best routes to use by bike. We need to use our extensive local bike knowledge to update their limited information.
When Google introduced Google bike earlier this year I tested it on three slightly obscure routes and it failed three times. A few weeks later I returned and found that one of the routes had been corrected!
Google bike is in “beta,” which means we can update it. We must!
Go to maps.google.com. Click on “get directions.” You will see a four-part menu bar providing auto, bus, pedestrian and bike icons. When you click on the bike icon and put in your departure and destination locations Google will provide a recommended bike route. If you think Google has this wrong, then you can correct it. You will see the notification that “bicycle directions are in beta.” At the bottom of that paragraph, click on the blue “here.” This will allow you to correct the bike route directions by following Google’s instructions. Here’s how it worked for me:
I updated two routes in my neighborhood. Very quickly I got two Google no-reply e-mails, acknowledging my input. A little later I got two more e-mails informing me that my updates were correct, confirming that Google would correct the Google maps site. These e-mails also promised a third pair of e-mails when the site was updated. About three months later I got the final e-mails confirming that the site had been updated. I checked to be sure and it was.
This is an easy process, though it take some time for Google to do the update.
Check it out. Correct it where needed.
Google bike will be a fantastic tool when it contains our collective industry knowledge.
Rob Allen is the territory manager for Northern California and Northern Nevada for Raleigh America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In summary, Google Maps Biking Directions may not be perfect yet, but it will only get better with the help of the experts, i.e. US! I’ve submitted a couple of corrections myself, and the process was pretty much the same as Rob described.
If you’re curious about the details, in one case I had mapped a route through some of the western suburbs of Cleveland, and Google Maps had route some portion of it on bridle trails in the Cleveland Metroparks. While the Cleveland Metroparks does have an extensive network of multi-purpose trails for biking and walking, bicycle are not permitted on the bridle trails. I told Google about this, and they updated their data to avoid this problem.
In another case, I was looking for the best way to get from Newton Falls to Ravenna, Ohio, and Google Maps directed me through the Ravenna Army Ammunition Plant, which is closed to the public. I got the e-mail notice that Google will be investigating this issue; however, if I pull up the same route again, it still has the incorrect route, so the data has not been corrected yet.
I just came across Stanridge Speed Bicycles, a custom frame-builder based in Columbus, Ohio. I’m not sure how long he’s been in business, but he stuff looks like the real deal. He specializes in road, track, ‘cross, and commuter bikes, all in steel, of course. Check him out at: www.stanridgespeed.com
Ever since I got my Surly Cross-Check a couple of years ago, I’ve been debating whether or not to put fenders on it. I don’t use it as a cyclocross racing bike; it’s more my “light and fast touring bike” or my “slow and comfortable road bike.” My mind was made up for me when I saw the new Civia Market 48 Fenders.
My Cross-Check came in the Misty Mountain Grey color that Surly made a couple of years ago, and it’s one of a couple of bikes that I have worked to maintain a consistent color scheme with as many of the components as possible. For this bike, I’ve used red, from the headset and spacers, bottle cages, and mini-pump, right down to the spoke nipples and brake pads. When I saw that the Civia Market 48 Fenders are available in Red, I knew it was a match made in heaven.
Civia is a relatively new brand in the bike business; their main focus is high-end commuting and utility bikes for the discerning transportation cyclist. Like Surly and Salsa, they are owned by mega-distributor Quality Bicycle Products, so by using these fenders on my Surly, I’m still keeping things “all in the family.”
The Market 48 Fenders are made of anodized aluminum, and have a nice long mud flap on both the front and rear, similar to the extended flaps on the Planet Bike Cascadia Fenders. The flaps are attached with two rivets each, to keep the flaps from twisting.
The front fender went on without much trouble, with a standard fork crown bracket made of sturdy stainless steel, just like all of the other mounting hardware.
The only real hitch in the installation process was the seatstay bridge support for the rear fender. Most fender makers give you a molded plastic piece that you slide along the length of the fender until you get it into the proper position. Civia provides this piece as a straight, flat hunk of metal. I guess the rationale was that a matching stainless steel bracket would look better with all of the other mounting hardware, but if it were pre-bent to match the shape of the fender, it would scratch the finish of the fender as you slide it into place.
So, the process of installing the rear fender involved these steps:
- Remove rear wheel.
- Remove both rear brake caliper arms to give yourself room to work.
- Bolt side fender struts in place to fender eyelets near rear dropouts.
- Bolt front end of fender to the chainstay bridge.
- Loosen side strut adjusting bolts to position fender height near seatstay bridge.
- Carefully eye up and mark the position needed for the seatstay bracket.
- Un-bolt side struts and front end and remove fender from bike.
- Carefully position the seatstay bracket where marked from Step 6, and carefully bend it to match the shape of the fender.
- Wrap the extra length on both sides of the bracket around to the underside of the fender, and clamp tightly into position with pliers.
- Bolt seatstay bracket to seatstay bridge.
- Bolt side fender struts in place to fender eyelets near rear dropouts.
- Bolt front end of fender to the chainstay bridge.
- Reinstall rear wheel.
- Re-attach rear brake arms.
- Loosen and re-tighten side strut adjusting bolts to center and further fine-tune the position of the fender.
In step 6, I used a piece of thick double-sided rubber tape to mark the bracket position, then just left the tape in place as I bent the bracket around the fender. This helps to fill any gaps left between the bracket and fender (due mainly to my imperfect metal-working skills), and prevent any future shifting and rattling in the bracket-fender interface.
All fender installations tend to have their tricky points that are impossible to anticipate until you’re knee-deep in the process. This bracket was an unexpected curveball even for a relatively experienced fender-installer such as myself. All of the mounting bolts and other hardware you should need are included with these fenders, although I ended up using two of my own spare bolts on the seat stay and chain stay bridges to find a more ideal length.
The “48″ in the name of the Civia Market 48 Fenders refers to their width, in millimeters. I’m not sure why they felt the need to include it in the name, since Civia doesn’t make any “Market” models in other sizes; maybe Civia plans to in the future, though. They are theoretically compatible with up to 700x40C tires. My Panaracer T-Serv Messenger 700x35C tires run a bit wider than the name indicates; more realistically like 700x38C. The Market 48 Fenders seem to have just enough, without any noticeable rubbing, at least in the workshop environment. I think a 700×40 might be pushing it almost too far. These tires are almost due for retirement, and I’ll probably be going with something a little narrower, like a 700×32, in the near future.
With Northeast Ohio under a foot or more of snow at the moment, I have not had a chance to give these fenders a true road test yet. But they appear to be a very solid, functional, and not to mention quite attractive addition to my Cross-Check’s red wardrobe. For those not into making their bike look like Santa’s sleigh, the Civia Market 48 Fenders also come in Black, Silver, and Gray. The suggested retail price is $55. If they don’t have them in stock, your favorite local bicycle shop should be able to order them for you.
Cleveland, Ohio-based bicycle frame builder Dan Polito made a big spash after winning the Best of Show award at the 2009 North American Handmade Bicycle Show. A new builder appears to be dipping their toes into the frame-building business. Rust Best Welding Company posted pictures on their blog of a prototype bike polo frame called the Marco Polo. The group also builds custom furniture; see more info and photos at: http://rustbeltwelding.wordpress.com
As the new fall semester gets underway, a new bike-sharing program also gets underway at Kent State University. The system is called Flashfleet, and is free to students and staff using their FLASHcard, the school’s campus ID. The bike stations are located at six locations throughout the campus, and also provide a lock and helmet with each bike. More information about the program can be found at: www.kent.edu/flashfleet
The Vineyard Community Church of Springdale, Ohio provides fee refurbished bicycles to members of the community through its Healing Center program. Some of the program volunteers were recently interviewed by Associated Press reporter Cliff Radel; the story can be found on the Dayton Daily News. Contact information for the church can be found on their web site at: www.cincyvineyard.com