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A Great Cycling Advocate

Cycling Advocates, Great Cyclist Advocate, Cycling Advocate

The Bike GPS mourns the loss of Robin Williams, a fierce cycling advocate and an avid cyclist himself.

The Bike GPS mourns the death of one of cycling’s greatest advocates, Robin Williams. While Williams may have been better known as the most gifted comedian of our day, he was also a fierce advocate for the sport of cycling and a regular on his bike on the roads of Marin. If Jay Leno is the car guy, Robin Williams was the bike guy. The man owned hundreds of bicycles.

As Conan O’Brien shared on his late-night show, when he was going through that rough patch on “The Tonight Show,” Robin Williams had a bike delivered to his home. It wasn’t an ordinary bike. It was a crazy, colorful bike. And, as Conan said, that’s exactly the kind of thing Robin would do. As we’ve come to learn, biking made Robin feel good. It cheered him up. It relaxed him. Biking was how he found peace in his lifetime.

The Bike GPS salutes Robin Williams, one of the greatest champions for the sport of cycling and an avid cyclist himself for his many contributions to our sport. We thank him for supporting local bike shops. We thank him for offering money to keep the doors of local bike shops open. We thank him for his friendships with those in the cycling community. The world of cycling has lost a wonderful and most unique voice for our sport. We had the chance to briefly meet him once in Beverly Hills at Bouchon. His bicycle was perched next to his table.

Tough Winter for Citi Bike

Citi Bike, Bike Share NYC, NYC Bike Share Program

Citi Bike endured a tough winter in New York City. Will they be able to bounce back?

New York City’s Citi Bike share program endured a brutal winter. According to a “New York Times” article entitled “New York Today: Biking Through the Snow,” folks in New York City only took about 7,500 trips a day via Citi Bike in the month of February. That’s not very much for a city as big as New York! These 7,500 trips a day for this past February compare to approximately 40,000 trips a day on nicer days from last summer and fall. That’s a major difference, wouldn’t you say?

According to the article in “The New York Times,” “The bad weather has also made it harder for the system’s operators to deliver bikes to stations that need them. And riders have noticed. A watchdog blog, bikeshareNYC, reported on Monday that 60 of the city’s 330 bike-share stations — nearly 20 percent — had no bikes at all. At one station on Ninth Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen, bikeshareNYC says, the racks were empty for most of last week. The city says it is aware of the problems and is working to fix them.”

We wonder what kind of shape a lot of the Citi Bikes are in after such a brutal winter. How many of these bicycles have been taken out of commission? How many are rusted beyond repair? Do you think that Citi Bike is going to go under or do you think the bike share program will bounce back this summer? Let us know your thoughts by posting a Comment below! We look forward to hearing from you.

The Freakonomics of Bike Theft

Bike Theft, Bicycle Theft, Biking Theft

Brian, the Founder of The Bike GPS, with the “Freakonomics” guys, world-renowned economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner.

In 2005, our friend Stephen Dubner posed this question on the “Freakonomics” blog: “It’s hard to imagine Lojack for bikes — the cost of a car is what makes Lojack worthwhile — but it’s also hard to imagine that there aren’t some creative solutions to the problem. Feel free to post them below.” Enter the SpyLamp2. Hidden inside a red, rear reflector is GPS/GSM technology to track down your stolen bicycle.  In many way, it’s similar to the Lojack for cars.

Sometimes folks ask us, “Aren’t you worried that bike thieves will catch on to the fact that hidden inside the reflector is a tracking device?” No, we’re not. Because by the time these bike thieves catch on, many of them will have already been caught. They’ll be more reluctant to steal bikes. They’ll worry about tracking devices hidden inside other parts of the bicycle. And hopefully by then, we’ll have already saturated the market and curbed rising bike theft!

Bike theft is a major problem around the world and particularly in America. For every bike that is purchased, a bike is stolen. To reiterate, that statistic is 1:1. 1:1! Do you want to be the victim of a bike theft or would you rather purchase the Spylamp2 to catch the thief who tried to get away with your valuable personal property? We have a feeling we know the answer to this one. So buy a Spylamp2 today! Is it worth purchasing if your bike only costs $80? No, because the Spylamp2 costs more than that. Some salesmen we are, huh? Is it worth purchasing if your bike costs more than $300? You bet!

Have a question about the Spylamp2? Ask us a question by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you. And, on a personal note, check out the NBC TV show the Founder of The Bike GPS, Brian, did with the “Freakonomics” guys a couple years ago. We think you’ll find it pretty cool!

Biking with Bush

Biking with George Bush, Cycling with Bush, Cycling with George Bush

Former President Bush is an avid cyclist.

There’s a cool piece up on “CNN” entitled “Biking with Bush: Former President opens up about veterans, Jeb 2016.” Apparently, a lot can be discussed on long bike rides. But we at The Bike GPS of course always knew this. President Bush apparently does a rugged 100-mile bike ride around his Crawford ranch — a ranch that consists of 1,600 acres. That’s a whole lot of acres! We’ve written about President Bush previously with respect to his bike rides with veterans of our armed forces. Say what you will about President Bush but few former presidents are as supportive of our American military veterans.

According to the piece on biking with Bush, “When Bush pushed off for the first leg of the journey with 16 veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he wanted you to notice something. Despite their missing limbs, these wounded warriors were once again kicking butt and taking names. The stone stairs, ravines, and gullies pushed the riders and they pushed back. But the former President says this ‘is not a macho contest, this is a celebration honoring people who fought for their country.’ ‘This is a festival, and it is a moment for others to see people who have been severely wounded say ‘I’m overcoming the consequence of my decision to volunteer,” Bush said in an interview with CNN’s ‘The Lead with Jake Tapper.’”

We love that former President Bush is helping former veterans and giving them a voice through cycling. It’s absolutely wonderful.  President Bush is also quick to point out that he calls PTSD PTS because many folks will point out that it’s fixable in time rather than a chronic disorder. He — and many believe — that with the right treatment, our veterans can overcome post-traumatic stress. We’d sure like to think so!

Cycling in Groups

Cycling in Sequence, Biking in Groups, Group Biking

Hat tip to Henry of the MDRCC for this great data on cycling in groups!

Cycling in groups can pay off big time. When a Volvo follows closely behind a big truck, that Volvo doesn’t have to use as much gas to maintain speed. It’s the laws of physics, right? Well, we’ve long known that if you drag right behind another cyclist, you save energy. In fact, we’ve heard that the energy savings can be as high as 30%. But, as cyclist in the Marina Del Rey Cycle Club points out, much of this had not been quantified until relatively recently — when a study published last year by scientists in Belgium, Holland, and Switzerland came out. These folks apparently used mathematical modeling of the fluid dynamics around pacelines.

According to the summary, as outlined by the MDRCC cyclist, the lead rider gets a 3% boost from the riders behind him or her. Now that’s pretty cool. Who knew it was helping them, too? Maybe they should appreciate it more! When four riders are riding closely, the second rider in the sequence saves 18% energy, while the third rider in sequence saves 24%, and the fourth rider saves 27%. Very interesting! It really pays to go last. So next time you fall behind, just say that you’re smarter, that you’re using mathematical modeling and all. In a six person tandem, the second and third riders get the exact same benefit as in a four-person sequence but the riders behind them get the biggest benefit with savings of 30%, 33%, and 32%!

Oh — but perhaps the coolest finding is that riding behind someone who is big pays dividends. It creates a wake effect. Having a big person ride behind you, too, also is beneficial. So if you see a guy riding 5th in line with a big person ahead of him and a big person behind him, know that this cyclist is a smarty pants.

Hat tip to the Marina Del Rey Cycle Club — and Henry in particular — for this great information on cycling in groups! No wonder they don’t let you drag in Ironman races and such.

City Cycling

Biking in Cities, City Biking, Biking in Groups

Studies indicate that city cycling is safer when you ride with a group. A “CNN” piece draws attention to this.

“CNN” recently put a piece out entitled “City cycling: Road to fitness, or accident waiting to happen?” written by Lesley Evans Ogden that we wrote a bit about a while back, but it’s such a good piece that we figured we’d further explore some points made. According to the piece (and this is something we’ve long known but it’s always nice to see it confirmed by data), cycling is safer in numbers. Safety improves in cities with respect to bicycle accidents as the total number of cyclists increases. This correlation has been studied in Denmark, Australia, the Netherlands, 14 additional European nations, and 68 cities in California. Who knew there were so many cities in California?

According to the “CNN” piece on city cycling, “‘It is likely that causation runs in both directions: safer cycling encourages more cycling, and more cycling encourages greater safety,’ writes John Pucher, Professor of Urban Planning at Rutgers University, in his recent book ‘City Cycling.’ Motorist behavior probably contributes to this phenomenon. In places like Copenhagen — where four out of five individuals have access to a bicycle — most drivers are also cyclists, and so are accustomed to sharing public space with bicycles.” We at The Bike GPS happen to agree that the causation runs in both directions.

Have you found it safer to bike with a group as compared to biking on your own? We sure have. We always feel much safer knowing there are other cyclists riding alongside us in cities. Let us know your thoughts on riding with a group in cities vs. riding solo. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

Citi Bike in Debt

Citi Bike, NYC Bikeshare Program, NYC Bikeshare

Citi Bike is in debt big time right now. Will the bikeshare program be bailed out?

New York City’s Citi Bike is apparently drowning in debt. With all the publicity surrounding the launch of the Citi Bike program in New York City last spring, it’s difficult to imagine that the bikeshare program would be drowning in debt just some months later. With so much snow hitting New York City this winter, maybe it’s not a surprise to you after all. Because snow certainly isn’t good for Citi Bike. We have a feeling a number of bike rental shops are rejoicing because Citi Bike has really infringed on their marketshare. The snowy winter may in fact have been a blessing in disguise for the mom and pop stores. While certainly it hurt their business too in the short term, it may just save their business in the longterm.

According to an editorial on how Citi Bike is in debt in “Motherboard,” “What happens when you spend an extreme amount of money and public goodwill launching the world’s largest shared commuting experiment and it goes belly-up, financially speaking, less than a year later? We’re about to find out.” Yikes! Can you imagine Citi Bike going belly up? Citi Bike is a signature of former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure. And relations with new NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and the former MONY have clearly been frosty as evidenced by de Blasio not acknowledging Bloomberg in his inauguration speech.

Do you think this is a personal vendetta for de Blasio? Do you think that he’ll end up bailing out Citi Bike? Why do you think that he hasn’t done it yet? We’re curious to hear your thoughts on why Citi Bike is in debt and just how they’ll get out of this mounting quicksand.

Cycling Hit and Runs

There is a petition going around Los Angeles in the hope of addressing a growing problem — cyclists are getting hit by cars and drivers are fleeing the scene of the accident. 20,000 hit and runs happen annually in the City of Los Angeles. It’s truly an alarming number and of these 20,000 hit and runs, 150 are fatal or severe, and folks who are biking or walking account for 75% of these severe injuries and deaths.

Biking Hit and Runs, LA Cycling, LA Biking

Let’s do something to curb cycling hit and runs.

According to the petition on cycling hit and runs, “While other crime rates in the City of L.A. have fallen over the past several decades, hit-and-runs have held steady or increased. If you are hit and severely injured or killed while walking or biking, there’s a greater than 1 in 5 chance that the driver will not stop. In February 2013, a motorist hit Damian Kevitt while he was biking through Griffith Park in L.A., pinned him down, and then dragged him several hundred feet, leading to severe and near-fatal injuries. Hit-and-run victims are often more severely injured or killed during the act of fleeing than from the initial collision. Stopping after a collision saves lives.”

And drivers choose to “run” because they’re likely to get away with the crime! Drunk drivers, in particular, face much lower risk if they leave the scene of the accident, get sober, and turn themselves in should they be identified in the press. And if they do get caught, they often get a slap on the wrist. As stated in the petition, “Los Angeles is at the center of a larger statewide problem that needs to be addressed throughout California. The chance of someone being penalized for a hit-and-run crime, even if the perpetrator is caught, is so low that it is often worth the risk.” Let’s do something about this so that cycling can be safer for all.

South Carolina Cycling

SC Cycling, Biking in South Carolina, Biking in SC, South Carolina Cycling Community

The South Carolina cycling community won a fight against a moronic representative this week.

The South Carolina cycling community has cause for celebration today. A ludicrous bill brought by Greenville, South Carolina representative Wendy Nanney proposed that youth be banned from riding bicycles on numerous public roads. Can you imagine? Youth aren’t aloud to bike in the street on a number of public roads? Where are they supposed to learn to bike, a seminal life experience? Are they banned from potty-training too? The proposed bill would have also required all cyclists (well, apparently not youth cyclists since they’re banned!) to obtain a $5 permit from the Department of Transportation to rid on these public roads.

A $5 permit for a cyclist to ride on public roads? Can you imagine? Why on earth should cyclists have to deal with the aggravation of having to obtain this lame permit? Why make something that is environmentally conscious, healthy, and good for the state of South Carolina more difficult to do? Does this make any sense whatsoever? Not to us! We think that Represenative Nanney needs to spend her time more effectively. Perhaps she’s available to nanny some kids? We’d like her voted out of office.

According to an article on South Carolina cycling in “WLTX,” “‘After the overwhelming response from the cycling community, I have decided to drop the Bike Bill,’ Nanney wrote this morning. ‘The goal of this bill was to address the safety issues that occur when mixing cars and bikes and also to keep the flow of traffic moving. The bill has begun a good conversation and I hope we can come up with some good solutions. Thank you to the many of you who have expressed a willingness to discuss this further and help find a solution. Once again, the bike bill has been dropped.’” We should hope so! Nanney later claimed that she knew all along that the bill wouldn’t pass. She just wanted to create a dialogue. Uh huh. Nice spin, Nanney.

Ohio Cycling

Biking in Ohio, Ohio Biking, Bicycling in Ohio

We support the implementation of a ‘three foot rule’ in Ohio to protect cyclists.

An avid cyclist, Joseph Giampapa, was killed while riding his bike on Saturday in Miami County, Ohio. A resident of Dublin, Ohio, Giampapa was an experienced rider and biking on open, highly visible road at the time of his death. The driver of the car that hit him did stop and call 911, but Giampapa was pronounced dead at the scene when help did arrive. At the time of the accident, Giampapa was partaking in a 200-mile bike ride with a bike club known as the Ohio Randonneurs.

Giampapa’s family has released this statement, as reported by “NBC4i” in an article on the Ohio cycling tragedy: “The family and friends of Joseph Giampapa want to thank the community for their outpouring of love and concern. We are grieving horribly over this avoidable loss. We hope that from this senseless tragedy, there will be an increased awareness of and respect for cyclists who share the road with motorists. The Ohio Bike Federation has been trying to pass a ‘three-foot biking law’ through the legislature. We urge the community to support this important measure. Please keep our dear Joe – and all other cyclists who have lost their lives -in your thoughts.”

Well said indeed. May the family’s message about sharing the road with drivers and cyclists get out and may the ‘three-foot biking law,’ which is going to be implemented in California very soon, be put on the books in Ohio. We and the entire cycling community mourn for the loss of this avid cyclist. It’s high time to make our roads safer for all.