I had to be in to work really early today, and temperatures dropped into the mid-30s overnight. That means it's time to start breaking out the real winter commuting gear. I was still dressed pretty lightly, but this is the first time this season I've needed a stocking cap.
The early commute also gave me the perfect opportunity to do a totally dark ride with the Light & Motion Vis 360 (shown left) that I'm testing out for BikeCommuters.com. At an advertized 115 Lumens, I was figuring that this light would end up being most useful as a "to be seen" light, but it actually casts a really good beam that's totally suitable for night-time riding at speeds of 15 MPH or so. The fact that it's helmet-mounted makes it good for Pothole Patrol. The side markers are brilliant and eye-catching, and the rear light is suitably luminous as well. I expect a full review to be done in the next week or so.
To test it, I took it out with a few other headlights I own, and took pictures of beam patterns. Its competition:
- A Bell Orion I found on the roadside back in early 2009, loaded with a pair of fresh CR2032 batteries. This embodies the ubiquitous cheapo front headlight from discount stores. It's usually helmet mounted. I made a handlebar mount for it when I found it (missing the helmet mount)
- Blackburn Flea
- NiteRider Evolution Halogen (15W Bulb)
And the beam shot from the Vis 360. This was the darkest spot I could find at my apartment complex this morning, far from the best place to do this sort of thing, but gives you a good idea of the beam pattern. I can say it's not nearly as bright as my halogen, but it knocks the socks off of my Blackburn Flea. It had better, for the price!
And off topic, we're finally getting settled in at our new apartment. We had a lot of help moving, but the tedious process of organizing and unpacking has seemingly only just begun. Oh, and the Brown Recluse spider infestation that we were dealing with at our old place won't likely be a problem for much longer, even if some of them did move with us. I found this friendly guy on our first day at the new apartment. It's a Wolf Spider (Hogna carolinensis, specifically) sitting atop a 50-cent piece (Diameter: roughly 1.2")
I really like large spiders such as Silk Spiders, Orb Weavers, Wolf Spiders, Tarantulas and Nursery Web Spiders. They are typically very gentle, but eat most smaller spiders and any other bugs nearby. I'm pretty sure the days are numbered for any Recluses that happened to stow away in our belongings.
PP Neighbors elicited the help of Transportation Alternatives to organize the rally, which coincided with a small protest against the lane by a group of local residents. The resident group has been emboldened by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz's opposition to the lane, which was built in June, on the grounds that it makes PPW more dangerous for pedestrians. Yet initial data compiled separately by Park Slope Neighbors and the Department of Transportation contradict that assertion. Ultimately, opponents want to see the bike lane erased and the street returned to 100% motor vehicle traffic, and some appear to be distorting the safety issue to further their cause.
As I've written in earlier posts, the PPW bike lane is an essential improvement in bike safety. Prior to the lane's construction there was no way for cyclists to safely travel from Grand Army Plaza to 15th Street, particularly during rush hours when the prime thoroughfares in the area, PPW, 7th and 8th Avenues turn into virtual NHRA drag strips with drivers speeding to work. Riding those streets in the morning was suicidal.
The bike lane now provides a safe and dare I say enjoyable way to commute on two wheels. Extreme speeding, once a regular phenomenon, has noticeably fallen since the road was narrowed to two lanes.
And, per my own informal observation, this morning's safe-cycling turnout dwarfed that of the opponents. Following 30 minutes of enthusiastic rallying on the plaza cyclists rode calmly along the bike lane, passing the nay-sayers and local news camera crews.
On my way to the event, however, I was yelled at by one opponent of the lane as I rode across a pedestrian crossing - said lady let me know at full voice, while she was apparently being interviewed by a newsman, that I should stop at the crossing. But the flashing light at the crossing is yellow, not red, and the lady was not crossing but standing fast in the parking median, eyes to the camera.
I'll be back into the usual swing of things shortly.
In the US, there's a 68% chance you're charging that "green" plug-in electric/hybrid with fire and smoke. Dumbasses. Source.
Randy pointed out to me that 100% of traditional vehicles are petroleum-powered.
Of course, some traditional vehicles with small, efficient engines use less fuel than certain hybrids do. As always, gas-powered vehicles can be used frugally by combining trips, choosing closer destinations, car-pooling and walking or bicycling for trips when feasible. Cars themselves aren't the enemy. Sprawl, gluttony and excess are.
In short, he's looking for 3 things:
- Use a really sturdy chain and lock (not a cable) to secure your frame to a large, immovable object.
- Make sure both wheels are secured to the frame or to the immovable object with more than just the axle nuts or QR skewers.
- Make sure the seat is properly secured (again, with something more than the seatpost collar)
Hal's comment on quiet streets generally being safer is generally spot-on, but you could be asking for trouble if your lock-up spot is too secluded and you frequently lock up there for long periods of time. He also discusses the fact that locks only buy you time. As a security guy, I would say that it's more complicated than that, but not by much.
- If someone really wants YOUR bike (because it's the most expensive one they came across, because they hate you, or because it's the only bike around), then locks only buy you time.
- If someone just wants something easy to steal (including individual bike wheels, seats, etc) and yours is locked up better than the others in the area, thieves will usually choose the easier target.
I'd still like to know where Hybridzilla ended up. I checked all the pawn shops, all the online places and the local newspaper want ads. I like to think it found its way to someone that appreciates and rides it much as I did. It was purpose-built for getting around reliably.
Derek Howell - Frozen
Cascade - Escape
This time of year, I'm really glad that I kept track of years past and what kinds of clothing worked particularly well at given temperatures below 50 degrees. This morning, I rode in my work pants, a synthetic shirt, some light gloves and a hoodie. Truth told, it was still a little warm. I opened the zipper on the hoodie and kept my speed down to compensate. I used the hood under my helmet for ear coverage, but I think a headband and a light windbreaker would have been a better call. Duly noted in the log.
Utility cycling is all about finding your own groove.
The Crystal Method: Busy Child
64-Bit - The Arrival