Car Less Ohio

Promoting the bicycling lifestyle in The Buckeye State

Monthly Archives: November 2008

Bike Route Signage System Expanded in Xenia

Greene County Parks maintenance personnel recently installed new signs within the City of Xenia to assist trail users with finding their way to the next trail and provide distances to destinations throughout the Miami Valley.

Read the full story in this article from WHIO-TV.

I personally had the pleasure of using that area’s bike route system while on a bike trip through Xenia this past August. It is definitely the most bike-friendly part of the state that I’ve been in, and one of the most bike-friendly areas that I’ve seen in the country.

Columbus named "Future Best City" by Bicycling Magazine

Recently, Bicycling Magazine named Columbus, Ohio one of its “Future Best Cities” in its annual ranking of US cities for bicycle-friendliness. Call it an “honorable mention” or “most improved award,” it’s a good sign that the efforts of our capital city are having some positive effect. From their web site:

What happens when you cross a citywide fitness initiative, Commit to be Fit, with an environmentally friendly “green pact” signed by the mayor? A sudden interest in bikes. Columbus is working on its first bike master plan since 1993, and every indication is that it’s going to be a whopper. Mayor Michael Coleman has already pledged $50 million for bike and pedestrian transportation and has linked the bike plan with the city’s 2012 bicentennial by naming it the Bicentennial Bikeways Plan. 

Mysterious Things

Since I did not ride home on Tuesday (combination of cold, wet, and lure of wings and beer), I drove in Thursday and rode the bike trail home. If you ride quite a bit, you notice and witness some weird things. Last night was one of those nights. First, as I’m riding, I hear something running in the brush next to me. It was a deer that decided it was time to cross the path, right in front of me. Well, I’m sure it was as startled as me, because wet disc brakes, are not quiet and the screeching echoed through the valley. This was actually the third or fourth time I almost hit a deer this fall. Sadly, I did not get a photo of that. Secondly, I stopped to take some photos by the Akron Compost Facility, and I notice this flame shooting out of a pipe; some kind of gas burn off I suspect; weird, but cool! I had just never seen it before, and I ride past there all the time. Finally, as I got home, I have a hill to ride up. Well, there were cars behind me, so I got as close to the curb as I could, but there was a few inches of fresh snow, so I couldn’t get over all the way. The cars just stayed behind me, and when I made the turn in, the driver’s window must have been down, because I heard him say, “What the hell is that?” I could only assume he was wondering about my bike and why I was riding in a snowstorm.

My Snow Bike

Here are a couple of shots of the bike I put together for winter commuting; click on the photos to open the full-sized image in a new window.

It’s based on a Diamondback Zetec Comp mountain bike that I originally bought back in early 2001. Since I’ll mostly be using this bike on the road or bike paths, the suspension fork is not really necessary, but it’s the only fork I had around to use.

Features and components that make it a build more suited to winter riding are:

  • Aluminum frame – no rusting!
  • Studded tires – They work great on snow and ice, but like any knobby tire, they can be noisy and slow on smooth pavement.
  • Disc brakes – I’m a big fan of disc brakes anyway, but they are good on a snow bike, since they provide better stopping power when wet. The downside of cantilever or linear-pull brakes is that they provide a “pinch point” for snow and ice to collect and potentially lock up your wheels.
  • Singlespeed – Simple and quiet, and less to break. Who wants to be stuck on the side of the road making adjustments any time of the year, but especially when it’s below freezing?

For the single speed drive train, I used a Surly Singleator chain tensioner and a bunch of generic plastic cassette spacers to convert my 9-speed rear hub. I’m using a 44-tooth chainring up front, and a 20-tooth cog. That gives me the gearing that I think will be best for road riding in winter conditions; not quite as high a gear as my singlespeed road bike (42×16), but much higher gearing than you’d typically see on a singlespeed mountain bike used for actual off-road riding (e.g. 32×18).

I’m using Crank Brothers Mallet pedals. All of their models have a cleat retention system that continues working well in mud and snow; the Mallet has a large platform that will be good if I want to use them as regular platform pedals with non-cycling shoes, such as warm winter boots.

The handlebar is called the Space Bar, from a company called Origin. It’s got an ergonomic bend to give your hands a more comfortable position, while keeping them at the same distance from your body, so you don’t have to change the length of your stem if you swap this handlebar onto your current bike. I’m trying this bar out, and am not sure if I’m sold on it yet. The one downside I see so far is that with all of the bends, it doesn’t leave you room to mount accessories, such as lights, bells, etc. (notice I used a stem-mounted computer). I tried using this bar on a geared bike previously, and it was a tight squeeze trying to get the grips, brake levers, and shifters all to fit, so it’s ideal for use on a singlespeed, where you only have to worry about your grips and brake levers.

Speaking of the computer, I used the CatEye Micro Wireless, again just because it was a spare one that I happened to have around. I’ve used this computer for a couple of years, and it’s worked flawlessly. When I set it up on this bike, it worked great in the garage, but when I was out on the road, the transmitter conked out on me (and the battery is relatively fresh). I’m guessing the cold air affected it; maybe if I move the magnet and transmitter up higher on the fork leg, I’ll have better luck.

One addition that I need to find is a front fender that can mount in the steerer tube of the front fork. Notice I’m using a seatpost-mounted rear fender. This kind of fender does not provide as good of protection from the muck as a full-coverage fender, but for a winter bike, full-coverage fenders might be a problem, as they’d provide another place for snow and ice to build up.

11-18-2008 Commute

As promised yesterday, here are a few pictures from Tuesday’s commute. Enjoy!

Snow on the Bike Path

Snow on the Bike Path by you.

Thanks and so long, Greg Bachman

Greg Bachman was appointed as Summit County Engineer in 2003, and ran unopposed for re-election in 2004. As an avid cyclist, he did his best to consider the needs of bicyclists as part of his County Engineer duties, such as making sure that several recent road improvement projects included widening of the shoulders. He also led group rides at different locations around the county throughout this past summer.

He was defeated in this month’s election by Democrat Alan Brubaker. Was it mainly due to the current anti-Republican backlash, or is there more to the story? Please comment on this post if you have any insight. Either way, we appreciate the efforts of Greg Bachman to promote cycling in Summit County, and hope that his work will serve as a platform for continued improvements in the county, as well as the state.

Alan Brubaker has a campaign web site, and his Position Statement page lists “Added emphasis on pedestrian and bicycle facilities” as a main bullet point. The Platform page lists “County Improvements,” and every one of the bullet points there makes some mention of cycling, walking, and/or “multi-model” transportation. So it looks like at least from a promise standpoint, Mr. Brubaker will continue the good pro-cycling work of Mr. Bachman.

It's Snowing!

Alright, so Monday was not the horrendous multiple feet of snow that it could have been, but it did snow enough to make a interesting ride. If you haven’t commuted in cold temperatures, it’s a bit of trial and error when it comes to clothing. You have to be warm enough to stop at lights and on downhills not to freeze, but if you dress too warm, you sweat like a pig while pedaling. I rarely get it right, but I do make it tolerable. I am a huge fan of wool as a base layer. Synthetics are good also, but they tend to get a little smelly. My latest commuting wear has been, Helmet(Duh), wool cycling cap over a balaclava, wool jersey, wool long sleeve, soft shell jacket or rain jacket, cycling shorts, insulated tights, waterproof pants, wool hiking socks, waterproof hiking boots. I run platform pedals and boots, I don’t slip and slide when I go in somewhere, plus it’s just easier and more comfortable.

The ride on Monday was little chilly, the temps were around 36 degrees and it was pretty wet out. The first part of my ride is about 3-3.5 miles of road, then I hop on the Towpath trail. Like I said, the road was wet and no ice. The Towpath was still warm enough that the snow was not sticking, so it was pretty sloppy. I got off at 3:00 pm so the ride home was much of the same, but a little more snow on the surrounding grassy areas. I was a good ride to test out my clothing and winter commuting set up.  Stay tuned for my Tuesday report,  It was an adventure!

"Sharrows" on Akron streets

According to this article in the Akron Beacon Journal on Oct. 28, new symbols painted on the streets are causing confusion among drivers. That’s exactly the point, many people think, as confusion leads to discussion, and discussion leads to awareness. Throw your helmet into the fray in the comments section at the bottom of the article. The current opinions run the usual gamut, from “Way to go!” from the pro-cycling crowd, to some who think it was a good idea but maybe not worth the $30,000 price tag, to the usual “Why don’t they ride on the sidewalks?” from the anti-cycling crowd. What do you think?

Ohio Ride Share / Ohio Bike Buddies

OhioRideShare is a cooperative service offered by the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS), the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments (Eastgate), and the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA). It gives residents from 13 counties in Northeast Ohio the ability to identify potential carpool partners quickly and securely. Registering with OhioRideshare is free and gives you the power to conduct searches for potential carpool partners online.

OhioBikeBuddies is a feature within OhioRideShare available to commuters in the NOACA 5-county area (Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, and Medina) that will help you find a partner to share your bike ride to work.

Election Day

Hopefully everyone has voted today, I know I did. It was a nice morning for a ride. I was happy to see so many people voting. I haven’t had this experience since 1992, when I turned 18. What if Ross Perot would have won? We’ll never know! Good luck to the canidates!