London and Boris Bikes

After leaving Norwich, I traveled to London. While walking around, I was about to see the much touted Boris Bikes.

Their name is from Boris Johnson, the mayor of London who helped launch the program in 2010.There are approximately 5,000 bicycles and 315 docking stations.

Boris Bikes

Boris Bikes

Boris Bike Kiosk

Boris Bike Kiosk

As I observed, you have to have guts riding in London. It is not a pleasant space to travel. There are cars, there are double decker buses and lots of pedestrians. Plus there is not real infrastructure.There is a plan and current conditions report issued by the City of London from the Mayor’s Office. While it covered all types of travel in London there is a section about bikes (Sec 2.12 and Sec 11). In 2010 it was also the year of the bicycle in London.
Ultimately the report outlines:
1. There is about 500,000 people in London on an average day (7.5 million inhabitants) that cycle.
2. That has grown about 5% from 2008 to 2009
3. The number of people entering London by bike has doubled since 2001Their goal is a 5% mode share of all trips in London to be by bike. So how do we go from plan to reality?They are trying by: Introducing the cycle hire (Boris Bike), introducing bicycle superhighways (i.e. bicycle priority routes where the infrastructure is designed for bicycles to travel quickly from A to B).Ultimately, I don’t know if London will get there…we will see!

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Reflections on Norwich Ctd.

Woodbastwick Route

Woodbastwick Route

While in Norwich we traveled to the Norwich countryside by bicycle.
Experiencing cycling in England was interesting to say the least. As it stands, England on whole only about 1% of trips is by bicycle. Compared to Netherlands and Denmark, which is at around 20%, England has a fair amount of work to do.
Traveling in England by bike, bicycle infrastructure is England is spotty at best. Building a network within the confines of small, narrow roads envisioned during medieval times. Unlike the US, streets are not designed with minimum requirements (i.e. 11′ travel lanes in the US).

Traveling in Traffic

Traveling in Traffic

What that means is there isn’t a lot of cycle lanes or cyclepaths. More normally, there will be a small spot of bicycle lane and then poooof it disappears. In most cases, people travel with traffic close to the sidewalk. Because of this, it is scary to travel by bicycle…yet people still bike.

 

 

 

 

Maybe because this is at the end of the road…

Woodfordes Norfolk Ales

Woodfordes Norfolk Ales

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Reflections on Norwich

Keep Calm and Carry On

Keep Calm and Carry On

The British came up with the great slogan of Keep Calm and Carry On and it is an apt way to describe cycling in the UK. For the most part is it very like America in that there is very little infrastructure dedicated to cycling, there is a fair amount of cyclists still present on the roads. With narrow roads and lots of cars, there is a delicate interplay between cars, buses, and lorries weaving around parked cars, moving cyclists, constrictions for pedestrian crossings and other moving vehicles.

Ben Cycling

Typical English Weather

In Norwich, I was given the chance to use Nem’s bike, which was a Specialized Vita Sport.

specialized-vita-sport-2010

Specialized Vita Sport

For the most part, urban cycling in Norwich is very similar to riding in any city or town. You do have to be defensive and aware of your surroundings. There are a few streets that are re-engineered for bicycles. They are mainly entering the city center and are your standard raised sections to prevent vehicle traffic from entering or exiting (depending on where you are going) and/or paint.

Norwich Street Treatment

Norwich Street Treatment

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Dreaming of sleep!

Flying Across the Sky

Flying Across the Sky

Flying has always been a leap of faith for me. Regardless of how far or how long, it always crosses my mind how much has to go right to achieve lift. However after that moment of hesitation, I remember why I enjoy flying. In one way or another we are always chasing the sun. Gliding across the night sky unattached to the realities of being on land. Untethered to reality. It is a chance to ask the big questions, think of a new reality. Figure out a way to put it in a new way.

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I guess after landing in London, I head to Norwich. I really enjoyed having my bike in Norwich during my study abroad experience in 2005. It made the whole city much easier to navigate. I’m going to have to see if I can borrow another bike. In a lot of ways Norwich is like Eugene. The inner core is only a few miles across and there are about 200,000 people. There are distinct neighborhoods and the University is an important part of the fabric and feeling of the city. However, it has a very dense downtown and it has a ring roads which is different from Eugene.

I am looking forward to going to the Fat Cat which was our local pub.

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Leg 1

So I’m sitting in the Rogue Brewery place at the Portland Airport. Somehow I tend to end up here. Last time, I flew out later so I had a beer. This time I had breakfast.

Rogue

Rogue

So just to re-cap:

Flight Info:

Wednesday June 15 —

Leaving: Portland 6:35 AM; Arriving: New York City-Kennedy 2:55 PM

Leaving: New York City: Kennedy 6:40 PM; Arriving: London-Heathrow 7:05 AM, June 16th

I’ll be available for e-mail and I’ll be blogging.

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Cardboard Bike Helmet Better than Plastic?

I saw this article on Gizmodo and took the link from Wired. I don’t really think about my helmet too much. I probably use it 90% of the time. I don’t personally dislike wearing my helmet, but it is a necessary evil. Both peer pressure and the idea that I might trip over or walk into something keeps it so I wear my helmet. I am excited to ride in the streets of Amsterdam with no helmet.

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Cardboard Bike Helmet Better than Plastic?

Kranium is a bike helmet that is made from the same cardboard used for the boxes you find at the supermarket. This material, along with some clever construction, turns out to be a lot better at absorbing impact than the more usual polystyrene-filled lids.

Anirudha Surabhi’s design absorbs four times more impact energy that the polystyrene equivalent…

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Musings: The real cost of transporation?

So I read to Andrew Sullivan’s column on the Daily Beast and one of the many subjects that came up was how much commuting sucked away your soul.Which in reality it does suck to sit in traffic. Based on that subject it spawned another topic of how much time the average American wastes in traffic. It is about 1.5 to 2.25 hours, in your car, siting, waiting and idling along.

Of course that then spawned another topic of how much it costs to work to afford a bicycle. I know kind of non sequitur, but it takes about 15 hours of work to purchase a $350 bike. So I guess about 15 days of sitting in traffic…which isn’t too bad.

But then the subject goes into the classic debate about why American’s don’t ride their bikes more. Here: http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/05/the-cost-of-your-commute-ctd.html Here: http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/06/the-cost.html and here: http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/06/the-cost-of-your-commute-ctd.html and here: http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/06/the-cos.html and finally here: http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/06/the-cost-of-your-commute-ctd-1.html

The typical excuses of it is too hot, hilly or I have kids or too much to lug around came up. Of course the opposite was stated, I made the change, I made the choice and excreta, excreta, excreta.

I’m not quite sure how I stand on the issue. I like the idea of giving people options to travel in different modes and I like the idea that once people get all of the information they can make an informed choice. Regardless though, it was nice reading both sides of the story as it unfolded on Andrew Sullivan’s website. Also the picture in the last link was pretty cool. The family made the choice to move from the burbs which meant an increase in housing cost, but a decrease in transportation + a whole lot less time in traffic!

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