If you are like many other people coming out of a COVID-19 lockdown, you are wanting to enjoy the warmer weather on a bicycle. Riding a bike is a way to get outside while being socially distant, get exercise, run errands to the grocery store, pick up take-out food, and commute to work, without the expense of operation and parking of a car or risky public transportation. In many cities including Chicago space is being reclaimed on streets with pop-up cycleways making safer cycling infrastructure. But unless you already have a bike or acted a month ago, you have probably found it difficult to purchase a new bike today that costs under $1000. The shortage also includes kids bikes and some bike components like tires and tubes. Why is there a short supply at this time?
To have the best possible experience on your bike you need accessories. Some are essential for safety, like a helmet or lights, some will help you keep your bike working smoothly, such as an air pump and tire repair kit, and others will increase your comfort and convenience if you have the budget and do enough riding to justify the expense.
How to prioritize accessories?
If you are getting ready to outfit a new bike, or have a bike you have taken out of storage that has not been ridden in a while, there are a lot of accessories available to purchase so what criteria should you use to begin the selection process?
If you are new to cycling and shopping for your first bike as an adult you may wonder why a bike from a major brand in specialty retail sold at a bike shop or online is so expensive. To get you from point A to B a new bike will cost you a lot less than a new car, but it may seem that $400 or more is still a lot to pay to own two wheels. To get a handle on the costs it helps to know a little about the current state of bicycle manufacturing:
Image you have a superpower traveling around the streets of Chicago—flying down the streets, feeling the breeze on your face, watching the pavement rush past underneath, while making all the traffic lights, and not breaking a sweat. If you are a food delivery person during this time of COVID-19, imagine experiencing all these benefits AND tripling the number of deliveries you can do in a day and your income? All of this is possible on an ebike.
Electric bikes (ebikes) have been popular in Europe for over 10 years, but they are now growing in popularity in the United States. They have traditional bicycle components like wheels, chain, saddle, and a handlebar but they also have a motor, battery and display that provides a boost, also called pedal assist. This assist can be a huge benefit then trying to haul goods, go long distances, or travel at a faster pace.
Wednesday, April 22, 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of Earth Day. Every year billions of people all over the world call for action to protect the environment on this global day of observance. Due to COVID-19 this year’s call to action is not marked by gatherings, rallies, or group bike rides, but the sentiment still applies.
With a stay at home order in affect and less fossil fuel vehicles on the road, scientists have reported a significant reduction in air pollution in the last month. If we could only figure out a way to sustain this trend when our lives return to normal!
One way is to expand cycling as the preferred mode for everyday transportation. Cities where residents bike, walk, and use public transportation have significantly lower CO2 transport emissions than those that rely on private vehicles even when factoring in the footprint of a bike’s manufacture and maintenance.
Last fall Troy Henikoff and his daughter made the trip from Evanston to Toronto where she was going to begin her first year of college—on a bicycle built for two! To even think of undertaking such a trip on a bike indicates they are a “cycling” family AND they are not afraid of a challenge. At the April 21 Evanston Bicycle Club virtual meeting they reported that the trip was a success, after they overcame a few unplanned challenges along the way.
Today we feature a guest post from Barbara Miller reprising her excellent collection of cycling resources originally published in the Evanston Bicycle Club newsletter of Feb. 2020.
The sun is shining. Grass is greening up. Buds on shrubs and trees are swelling. Spring bulbs are blooming. And we’re being asked to behave like we’re in the middle of the polar vortex and hunker down indoors. Bummer.
Rather than choosing to ride this we may have to "ride" this
Those of us lucky enough to have a trainer can pedal a bit indoors, which provides exercise but not much inspiration; it may only serve to remind us that we’re “in here” alone rather than “out there” with friends where we’d rather be.
There is an episode of the old television series Bonanza where Ben Cartwright and his sons travel to another town to sell cattle where events there perpetuate “alternative facts.” They arrive in town without cash due to a robbery, so the locals think they're destitute. Hoss is tricked into drinking a high alcohol beverage and causes a disturbance so he must be a worthless drunk. The deception culminates when Ben is lured to a barn, knocked unconscious, and hung by a rope to look like suicide.
For everyone to get along on the road there are a series of rules of the road that apply to both motorists and cyclists. Examples of rules include riding on the right side of the road, passing on the left, signaling intentions, obeying traffic signals, and yielding to pedestrians in cross walks. But there is also etiquette not codified in law that we do to help each other out. Examples are providing directions when someone asks and offering to assist if someone has a mechanical problem. With the advent of COVID-19 and our way of life changing there is some new cycling etiquette that we can adopt that will not only help each other out but may save lives:
Did you know that a bicycle is about 6 feet long? This means by riding a bike and keeping a few feet away in front, behind, and beside you, you can easily meet the current public health guidance of keeping a 6 feet distance from others to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Of course, while on a bike, besides the 6-foot distance to be safe it is good to continue to use regular cycling best practices of obeying traffic laws, being alert and being predictable.
Sharon Kaminecki and others comment on adventures in bicycling and other stories