Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

The extended family met up in Banff, and today we rented some bikes to take a spin around the Banff golf course: a lightly travelled paved loop.  We started on the 200 block of Bear Street, which was billed as a woonerff.


In reality, they removed some parking spaces and made some patios and bike parking, but the car through traffic didn’t seem to pay much attention to the fact that they didn’t have the right of way all the time. On the plus side, there were three bike rental companies on this short block.


Here is our group getting staged.


and we’re off, headed to a multi use trail along the Bow river.


Along the river.


Pausing for a group photo on the new pedestrian/bike bridge which is just a little ways from the old crossing.


Passing a horse drawn carriage.


Regrouping after a pause at the foot of Bow Falls.


Between us, we had rented three of these Fiori tandems, which are made by Norco.


The golf course loop is a peaceful ride through beautiful scenery.


lunch break by the river


and we’re off again.


My nephew always wants to be in the lead.


Unfortunately, Dad’s stance on his tandem didn’t afford him a great view of scenery.


Mom was my stoker for most of the ride.


Just before the end, I switched stokers to younger daughter, and there was a noticeable uptick in speed.


Pausing at the top of the climb by Bow Falls.


And back across the river.


Banff seems to be trying to promote cycling, There are certainly a few really nice pieces of infrastructure such as the bridge, as well as the path between Banff and Canmore. In the town itself, most of the bike routes had wayfinding signage and sharrows. The main safety enhancement is that the speed limit in town has been lowered to 30 kph, and by the way the traffic was moving, it seemed to be enforced.


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This past weekend, I was able to make a return visit to G&O Family Cyclery, Seattle’s specialist cargo bike and family bike dealer. Since my visit two years ago. the shop burned to the ground, and was finally back up in a new place about a block north of the old location.

The new store is significantly more spacious than the prior location.


In the front window, I could see the newly updated model of the Xtracycle Edgerunner, and a Reise and Muller cargobike that I didn’t recognize.

Once again, stepping inside, I’m in cargo bike heaven, with lots to gawk at. The red Bullitt with the custom wood box was being picked up by an excited customer.


Here is a customer’s Family Tandem, just like ours, but with lots of nice additions, like a BionX motor, rear moose rack for a Burley Piccolo, double legged kickstand, a sprung Brooks saddle, and grip king pedals.


A tern folder with the integrated Bosch e-assist, in front of a variety of Reise and Muller e-bikes.


The latest version of the Yuba Spicy Curry, which I was told had a much better  e-assist than earlier versions.


The frame mount for a front basket on the new Xtracycle Swoop.


A Yuba stride bike with a front basket and very cute colour scheme.


Carsick Design sling bags with a custom logo.


The pièce de résistance: a Butcher and Bicycles tilting trike. I absolutely had to try it.


Co-owner Davey Oil was very gracious and explained a couple of things about it before I took it for a test ride. This pictures shows the only time during my visit where he didn’t have a smile on his face.


Riding the tilting trike was fascinating. I was advised that at low speed, it steers like a normal trike, where the tilting feature is almost irrelevant, but above about 15 miles an hour is where it makes a transition to the feel of a two wheeler. In truth, with my unfamiliarity with the combination of the tilting, the Bosch e-assist, and the NuVinci transmission, riding it was like ten minutes of full sensory overload. While I never got a chance to be fully comfortable with the starting, on a short downhill stretch I got the feel of the tilting, where it steered just as stably as a (two wheeled) bakfiets. Davey said that aside from its superior high speed stability, it was a bike particularly suited to parents with children with developmental difficulties, where the ease of loading passengers with the opening front panel was a big factor in its favour.

Davey was very kind letting me pick his brain about the cargo bike scene in Seattle. I noted the fact that e-assist seemed to be a much bigger part of their inventory, and he emphasized that for Seattle, not only was e-assist very helpful, but high speed stability was equally important for all the downhills. I neglected to take pictures of the one lonely Haul a Day on the shop floor, but he pointed out that it was the model with the heavy duty frame (“Haula Abdul”), and that they had a custom component spec that was much more suited to local conditions. Much of the feedback to Bike Friday in developing the heavy duty model came from G&O.

He also pointed out some of the features of the new Xtracycle Swoop, in particular the thru axle front fork that makes it much more stiff, as well as eliminating the possibility of front wheel ejection while using the disk brake.

The other bike that he spent some time discussing was the Reise and Muller Load which is the darker blue bike in the first picture. He said that the combination of the stiff frame and dual suspension was a revelation, and that the resulting high speed stability made it an ideal bike for Seattle’s hills, despite its somewhat limited cargo capacity.

Once again, I’d say that Seattleites are very fortunate to have a shop like G&O that not only has a comprehensive selection of cargo bikes, but even more importantly has the expertise to advise customers on the very best bike/trike for their needs.

Side note: on my way to and from the shop, I was able to check out the newly painted 92nd St bike lane, and I liked the fact that it had green paint at every cross street.



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I am truly blessed to have these two fine fellows as friends. Tim Potter (left) is the director of the MSU bike project, long time bike advocate, and webmaster for the Ride of Silence. http://www.rideofsilence.org/main.php His brother Jeff is also a life long cyclist and blogger at http://www.outyourbackdoor.com/DSC00441

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Cycle Hamilton  is a relatively new cycling advocacy group. They were running a Cycle Advocacy Week, and I figured that a ride they ran today would be the perfect opportunity to check out some of the bike infrastructure  and to get a bit of a feel about what was going on in my hometown. Given that it’s been 40 years since I’ve actually lived there, I knew that a lot had changed.

We gathered at City Hall. Kudos to them; this is the first bike related event that I’ve ever been to where more people showed up than were “going” on Facebook. There was a mix, everyone from a bike dad with son to a bunch of roadies in Lycra.


Johanna (co-founder of Cycle Hamilton) gives us the scoop on the ride before we start. She says that today’s ride focuses on the fact that a popular route up the escarpment, Sydenham Rd, is due for some infrastructure improvements, but that bike lanes are not included in the plan, even though this route is on the Cycling Master Plan.


And off we go. Look, a bidirectional bike lane!


Parking buffered bike lane on Charlton.


Note the wayfinding signs.


Entering a section of trail that goes along the northern border of Chedoke golf course.


Stop to regroup.


Here we go.


The lead group.


The rail trail.  Very nice and wide.



Threading through the Mac campus.


and down towards Dundas along Cootes Dr.




Pulling up to the Shed Brewery.


A brief stop to figure out who was going to brave the hill. It turns out that pretty much everyone was going to do it.


Here we go.


Not steep yet.


OK, time for the granny gear.


People arriving.


Proof that I made it. Thanks to Mark for taking the photo.


The historical marker talks about how this is called Clara’s Climb, after Clara Hughes.


These folks rode Sobi bikeshare bikes.


Group shot.


That’s Dave, chair of Cycle Hamilton, in the centre.


The ride down was quick, and then it was time for beer. The Shawn & Ed Brewing company was kind enough to let us bring bikes in. I hauled a heavy lock up that hill for nothing!


A good turnout. I was told that the building used to be a firehall, and then a curling rink, and now a beautifully retrofitted brewery.


It was great to talk to these guys about what was going on bike wise in Hamilton. We argued over who had the more dysfunctional city council. Of course, I could always pull out the Rob Ford card. Their main issue with the bike lanes is that they don’t form a continuous network. Sounds familiar.


The fellow on the right Mark Chamberlain, runs a ride called Bike for Mike that raises funds to provide underprivileged youth with bikes. They have a multi pronged approach to getting young people on bikes, including having them earn their bikes by pledging to bike to school, etc. They are taking the long view on encouraging the next generation of bike riders and potential bike advocates.  I can’t remember the exact date of the next ride, but I believe that it is going to be the first Sunday in May.

A few pictures of infra on my way back downtown. We biked by this sign on the way out.


I like this bollard shielded bump out for pedestrian safety and traffic calming.


The bike lane on Herkimer which is the one way complement to Charlton. These bike lanes just went in this year just went in this year.


Thanks to Cycle Hamilton for running this event!


Update: Don’s much better pictures on facebook.

Update #2: my ride report from Bike for Mike 2017.

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Biking in Oslo

I’ve made a quick trip to Oslo on business, and after arriving in the city before 7 am, it was time to check out what it’s like to bike around early Sunday morning. I elected to buy a season subscription to the bike share system (299 NOK is about $50 CDN), rather than renting on a day by day basis from local shop Viking Biking. Here is the bike station nearest my hotel.


After a quick launch of their app, it prompts me to take a specific bike by number. Each ride can span up to three hours which is very generous. The season runs from April to November.

Here is the bike. It has a Nexus 3 spd hub, and also 24″ Schwalbe Big Apple tires. As bike share bikes go, this one is pretty light. I can boost up the front wheel to mount curbs pretty easily on this one.


This is typical of one of the official bike lanes downtown. Note the wayfinding signs. At the same time, parts of the marked bike routes did not have obvious bike lane markings, and were more akin to the bikeways that you would find in Vancouver.  Biking this early in the morning with limited car traffic was a pleasure.


One of the pages that I visited about biking in Oslo (apparently not this one) noted that the Akeselva river was a good route to follow. It has a beautiful multuse trail along parts of its length, but just because it’s along a river doesn’t mean that it’s flat. Fortunately I rode it in the downstream direction. This is a picture of a steep section: note the fairly substantial waferfall.


A little further down, another waterfall.


Another bridge, this time encouraging the practice of putting padlocks on it.


Right beside this point, I note a huge forest of bike racks, and some swanky buildings. Turns out it is the Oslo National Academy of the Arts.

Early in the morning, people are fishing down at the waterfront.


Lots of bike parking near the ferries.


I eventually make my way westward around the harbour to a swanky new neighbourhood called Tjuvholmen. Here is a waterfront promenade with cafes that haven’t opened yet. (note that it was not possible to find a cafe open before 9 on a Sunday morning, although I did ride by a bakery earlier in the ride).


Going as far as I could, I ended up just a little past the Astrup Fearnley Museum, and then water.


Lo and behold, I’m beside an outdoor bathing area, and there were already two hardy souls in the water around 8 am. I did check the water and it was surprisingly warm. I regret not bringing a swimsuit.


At this point, I do a quick check with the cycling app to see where the nearest station is. You can see that Google maps thinks I’m in the water.


Turns out that the nearest station is right beside the Nobel Peace Prize museum.


All you do to return a bike is lift up the front wheel slightly and engage a bracket just above the fork. You can take any open slot.


and now the app tells you that you’ve returned the bike.


To check one out again, you click “unlock bike” on a page associated with the nearest bike station.


Here is the prompt page that tells you which bike to take.


Now off further to the west along this bidirectional bike path to check out the Bygdøy neighbourhood which has a cluster of museums.


The huge amount of foot traffic is coming from that cruise ship.


I hope this is Norwegian for “share the road”


On my way to the Norwegian Folklore Museum, I’m directed onto this gravel path that is a nice green break from the city streets.


Eventually I got to some museums to see stuff like this:


I will note that the nearest bike station to the maritime museum is still a brisk 20 minute walk away, which is a bit disappointing, given that they are promoting biking in this area. In this respect, short term renters might be better opting for a rental bike with a bike lock, like these from Viking Biking, but bike share is cheaper on a per day basis for more than two days.


I saw these signs posted in the neighbourhood that seem to argue against further expansion of bike infrastructure in this corner of the city. (It turns out that the bike lanes appear to have been approved over some local opposition).


By now it’s mid afternoon, and when I get back to the same promenade that I shot earlier this morning, it looks like this:


and now people are having trouble finding open slots to park at the bike share station as well


and later that evening, I see the truck used to redistribute bikes.


Overall, it’s been a fun first day, made better of course by biking. The bikeshare system works well, although I wish that I could park anywhere (like Glasgow). Perhaps the best solution would have been to have a cheap cable lock so that you can park away from a bike share station for sub three hour periods. That would have given me a bit more flexibility moving around today.

The other thing I can recommend is the Oslo Pass. It gives you free admission to many museums, and free use of public transit as well. Very easy to get your money’s work in either a 24 or 48 hour period.

Update: a few more shots around town.

Here is a bike lane with speed bumps. I couldn’t help noticing that many cyclists avoided them by riding on the sidewalk.


Contraflow lane, Oslo style.


I really like the realism of the bike part of this sculpture.


Bike counter. Unfortunately, the display was multiplexed so you can’t see the numbers in this photo.


Dapper sells clothing, Brooks, and haircuts. Unfortunately, their bike shop around the corner was closed at the time.


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Was in Hamilton this weekend, and I noticed some changes on Locke St since our last visit to the neighbourhood. Firstly, I see that Steam Whistle Brewery bike repair stations have made it to the Hammer.

Also, it seems that the bikeshare system is a hit, and I noticed some nice enhancements at this station. I like the fact that the advertising on the rack and sign is hyperlocal.


Also, it looks like wayfinding has been added as part of a 100 in 1 day project. This should be done in Toronto.



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I’ve been in Glasgow for a few days, and the bikeshare system has allowed me to explore a bit more of the city that I could have on foot.

First step: getting a bike. I noted that Tammy Thorne had reported some issues with the bikeshare system on the Dandyblog, so I prepared by loading the Nextbike app. Here is one of the bikeshare stations.


If you have the app, you can scan the QR code on the bike and it will let you know if it is available for rental. This seemed to work better than manually keying in the number on the phone or the keyboard on the bike. The app responds by giving you the combination to the lock.


and we’re off. Here is the bike on one of the pedestrian and bike bridges across the Clyde. It is a chunky bike with a Shimano 3 spd Nexus hub, but it strikes me as being less heavy than our bikeshare bikes in Toronto.


There are some nice paths along the north side of the river. In some sections, there are separate paths for pedestrians and cyclists. Here it is multiuse.


To get around some buildings, the path sometimes becomes a glorified sidewalk.


Approaching the Transport Museum, which was designed by the late Zaha Hadid.


The museum holds a sample of everything on wheels, plus some models of ships. I’m going to concentrate on the bikes.


Unfortunately, many of the bikes were suspended on a round track that was hung from the ceiling.



You could use a touchscreen display to get descriptions and pictures of each bike, but it wasn’t the same as being close up to them. I guess the advantage is that you can provide text in different languages, and that you could provide more text than on a static display, but it was a little disappointing none the less. Here are a Moulton and Raleigh 20 on the track.


A USS recumbent dating from the 30’s.


A display of trikes, with a Windcheetah in the foreground.


A vintage tandem trike on the same display. The front person has the option of not pedaling, and just using the footrests.


A view out the front of the building, with a huge wall of cars to the right. The same complaint applies to the cars: you can’t see them very well.


From another angle.


A special edition Raleigh chopper that was released for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. It didn’t sell very well. Perhaps the really heavy mag wheels had something to do with it.


A display of touring bikes. You could object to the fact that 2 out of five were not human powered, but one of the two motorbikes was used by Ewen McGregor, so I guess that’s OK.


This is allegedly a model of the first working bike in the world. Made in Scotland, naturally.


Finally, the thing that I really wanted to see was the replicas of Graeme Obree’s bikes.


One had the original narrow bars meant to be under the rider’s chest, and the other featured the extended superman position. Both positions were banned by the UCI.

Here is a shot of the narrow bars, with my hand barely in front of them, to get a sense of just how narrow these are.


Overall, I was underwhelmed by the Obree display as the replicas were rather crude, with no attempt to show the ultra narrow Q factor or the special cranks that the real bike had.


Nevertheless, it was a fun visit, doubly so because I got there by bike. Here I am biking back as the weather turned rainy.


These wayfinding signs were helpful, with timings given for both cyclists and pedestrians.


It was often difficult to tell if a given sidewalk was part of a bike route. It was more clear where the pavement was a special colour, such as red which seemed to indicate multiuse.


Elsewhere, blue signage was helpful.


When you return a rental bike, you just pull up to a bike station, lock the bike and then indicate the return on the app. One thing is that if you are on a roaming data plan, it would be inadvisable to keep the app running for the whole time that you have the bike. If you turn off the app after you check the bike out, it is helpful to note the combination beforehand, especially if you plan to lock up the bike during your rental period. I got into the habit on taking a screen cap as soon as I rented a bike.

When you return the bike, relaunch the app and it will figure out where you are.


Note that this screen is also providing you with the lock combination. Press return, and then you can select the actual location where you are doing the return. You will be rewarded by this screen.


The app also lets you review your rentals to make sure all your returns were successful.


On our second day in Glasgow, the weather was much better and it was great to see so many people out and about on the two main pedestrian streets downtown: Buchanan and Sauciehall.



A cool non US model Cannondale with small wheels and a kid seat.


This is Mitchell St, which runs parallel to Buchanan but one short block west. This street seemed to be used for loading into the backs of buildings that fronted on Buchanan.


The pedestrianization of a good deal of downtown has transformed these streets into a big, outdoor shopping mall. There was definitely a huge amount of foot traffic, but I’m not sure that this would be the best model for revitalization. I would hope that the second floors and above of the buildings would be given over to offices and such so that employment as well as retail activity could anchor downtown.

More Glaswegians enjoying the sun. You might wonder about the slogan posted in many places: “People Make Glasgow”.  Well I must say that everyone we’ve met in Glasgow has been very friendly!


Some flaggers in the Merchant City district, practicing for a street festival that starts tomorrow. This section of the city had pavers put down in 2011, and it gives this area a distinct character, along with all the old buildings with their impressive stonework.


and here are two Dutch bikes belonging to the owners of a very cool jewelry shop, with one of them trying to get out of the picture.


All in all, an enjoyable visit, but all too brief. I also went by a special bike shop, but I’ll write that up in a separate post.




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