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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

In a couple of days, I’ll be flying out to the left coast again in order to join the Ride from Seattle to Vancouver plus Party (RSVP), which is put on by the Cascade Bike Club. Last year, I did their Seattle to Portland (STP) ride, and this time, Steve and I decided to mix things up a bit and do their other large ride along the coast.

Got my bib number!

As per my previous STP, I’ll be using the Brompton, and so it was time to make sure it was ready.

First order of business: replacing the Ti rack with a half rack. The hope is that it will make the fold a bit more compact, given that I’ll never use the full size rack. I got a very inexpensive half rack from eBay.

It is aluminum, rather than titanium, but given the fact that it is basically a mounting point for two EZ wheels, and the fender, it doesn’t have to be very strong. Here is a comparison of the two racks. You can see that the half rack is much shorter.

I managed to switch racks without removing the rear wheel, which was a clear win. The only tricky bit was drilling a new hole in the fender without puncturing the tire.

You can see that the new rack is not nicely triangulated like the Ti rack. We’ll see how it holds up.

One other concern that I had was that the fender protrudes much farther to the rear than the rack, but it turns out that this isn’t an issue while folding the bike.

The other thing that I did was to replace one of my aftermarket EZ wheels with a new pair from NOV designs.

Also, hydration. For a while I had misplaced my Randi Jo Fab bartender bag, so I pulled out a monkii cage that I had bought a while ago. This version has a Brompton specific mount that fits well on the stem.

The bottle cage clips into the mount, and when you want a drink, you remove the bottle while it is still attached to the cage.

I used this for a couple of training rides, and while it worked well, I found that I preferred the older setup with the soft bag. Happily I found my bartender bag yesterday, and so that is what I’ll be using on RSVP. BTW if anyone wants the monkii cage for cheap, let me know.

I noticed that Sam had a similar beverage bag on his bike when we met at the DAS ghost bike refurbishment. His is made in Montréal by Atwater Atelier.

I’ll be flying into Vancouver with the Brompton in its usual hard case. I’ll be taking a bus down to Seattle, and so for that leg of the trip, I’ll use a soft case. My bag of choice is the one by Radical Designs. It has a shoulder strap that will be handy.

Here is the bag folded up.

The storage bag has saddle bag loops and is designed to be carried on the bike, although in actuality, it will be in my backpack which will be hauled to the midpoint (Bellingham) and to the finish in Vancouver).

So, Seattle to Vancouver, about 302 km, over two days with 1940 m of climbing. This on insufficient training. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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There is a rail trail from Brantford to Port Dover that I have always wanted to explore. Today I finally bit the bullet and drove down to Brantford. In truth, there is a rail trail from Dundas to Brantford as well, but given the constraints of time and my level of fitness, I thought that the 100 km round trip from Brantford to Port Dover would be perfect.

The question is where in Brantford to start. Using Google Maps, I found a place labeled as a trailhead, and so I decided to park at the Lions Arena which was a few blocks from the alleged trailhead. As it turns out, it was not the ideal starting point, as I will point out later in this post.

Here is the rather non descript trailhead at the end of Graham Avenue.

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After a short section of trail that paralleled Veterans Memorial Parkway (basically a sidewalk) I see the first sign that I’m on the right track.

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After a section of paved track through the outskirts of town, the trail turned to a well groomed gravel trail.

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Once I reach Burtch Rd, I realize that I’ve been on the LE&N trail,

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Photo below looking back to the north.

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and that at this point it is parallel and in close proximity to the TH&B trail, and so I switch over to the TH&B trail, which is paved. (photo looking south)

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At about 15 km, I see that the trail reverts to gravel. This is the point there I’m crossing into Norfolk County.

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This section of trail through Norfolk County changes names several times, which reflects the fact that the trail is maintained by local municipalities. This section just south of the county line is called the Waterford Heritage Trail.

The trail is still very well groomed. This is a typical section of about the worst you will see.

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As I approach the town of Waterford, there is a section of asphalt again.

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There have been many signs indicating the distance to the Waterford Black Bridge, which marks about the halfway point to Port Dover.

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Nice views of the Waterford Ponds from the bridge.

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South of Waterford, the name of the trail becomes the Norfolk Sunrise trail.

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The trail becomes paved again as you approach the town of Simcoe. There is a bit of a trick crossing Queensway East. You take the trail down to the right where there is an underpass. There is a Tim’s near this intersection if you are in need of refreshment.

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Once past the underpass, you take the trail up to the left.

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South of Simcoe, you come upon this intersection where you are directed to the left to go to Port Dover.

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When you cross this road, the trail now becomes the Lynn Valley Trail.

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The Lynn Valley Trail was especially well groomed gravel.

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Several wooden rail bridges along the way.

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At this point you have to go along a short section of Lynn Valley Rd.

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After 0.4 km, you can rejoin the trail off to the right.

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This port a john at Blueline Rd. provides a bit of relief just short of Port Dover. (or is that too much information).

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Here is where the Lynn Valley trail ends in Port Dover. No apparent services at this end.

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Nominal picture of Lake Erie.  Exactly 50 km logged so far.

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There is a large Tim’s in town, but feel it is always better to support the local businesses. I was happy with the ice cream at Willie’s although I don’t appear to happy in this photo.

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I’ve been advised to try the perch at the Erie Beach Hotel the next time.

Heading back, here is another shot of the Waterford Bridge (meaning that I’m about 75% done).

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Crossing into Brant county, we have blessed asphalt again.

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Mt Pleasant would have made a nice alternative starting point. It is only a few kilometres south of Brantford, and this community park was only about 100m from the trail, and it had a washroom and parking.

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At this point I elected to continue north on the TH&B trail, rather than the way I came.

This map explains the difference between the two routes into town.

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The red arrow shows where I started and I followed the green solid and dotted lines to the south, which was the LE&N trail. On the way back, I took the TH&B trail. Annoyingly, Google Maps does not show it as a continuous line out of town, but it actually continues south beyond the yellow arrow, and merges with the LE&N trail at Burtch Rd. I used the TH&B trail into town. It ends at Colbrone St W.

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Next time I’m going to park in the shopping centre with the Sobey’s which is just across the street from the end of the paved trail. This makes much more sense than how I started this morning.

A few more observations about the trail:

  • Over 90% of the trail is shaded from both the sun and wind. This means you don’t get a lot of views, but what you do see is mostly farmland.
  • I was impressed with the condition of the trail. It is totally doable on a road bike, although bikes with really skinny tires would not be ideal. There are only a few patches of loose gravel, and all of these were associated with where the trail crosses roads.
  • Once again, I would suggest parking at the shopping centre at the intersection of Veteran’s Memorial Parkway and Colborne St. which is near the northern end of the TH&B trail. It is paved all the way to the Norfolk County line, unlike the LN&E trail.
  • The entire trail is basically dead flat.

 

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Given that I was on the left coast, I managed to clear a day to head on over to Vancouver Island to visit Naked Bicycles. More precisely, I went over to Quadra Island, which is an island off the coast of Vancouver Island. I wonder if Quadra residents consider Vancouver Islanders as mainlanders?

Starting from Vancouver, two ferry rides and a drive later, you encounter these signs deep in the woods at the end of a road.

Here is builder Sam Whittingham, of WHPSC and NAHBS fame.

He took over this workshop from his dad, who was a cabinet maker.

The space is 99% given over to bike production. Here are some of his NAHBS awards piled up near the ceiling.

Tucked away in a corner, some of his racing awards, including traces of the fact that he was the world’s fastest cyclist for over a decade.

Near the center of the room: his latest build, a steel framed bike for a larger rider.

A frame welding fixture, and Ti main triangle visible to the right.

Lots of interesting stuff hung from the rafters. Here is a Ti mountain bike with belt drive and Jones bars.

A full suspension art bike with wood rims and seatpost, back from the days when Sam says he was still showing off at NAHBS.

Back in a corner, I find the cargobike that Sam used to pioneer the concept of a 20″ rear wheeled longtail cargobike. This showbike is the basis for the Xtracycle Edgerunner, and all other longtails that have gone the small rear wheel route, including my Haul a Day.

A whole wall of Naked bikes.

Sam and I have a chat about bike fit. Tip: if you are going to visit him for a bike fitting, bring your regular saddle, shoes, shorts, etc.

If you have more time that I had, then you can also arrange to go for a ride. There were some nice looking MTB trails literally meters away from the front door of the shop.

It was great to see Sam again. I don’t think we had crossed paths in Battle Mountain since about 2011 or so.

My visit was a little shorter than intended due to a three hour delay for the ferry going over to Nanaimo. If I had even more time, I would have also tried to squeeze in a trip to Gabriola Island to visit Varna Innovations as well.

As a side note, here is a picture of me in line waiting for the ferry during that delay. Fortunately, I had saved an emergency Stroopwafel (served to me as snack on a recent United Airlines flight).

What made part of the long wait fun was that I noticed a couple of interesting looking bikes mounted off the back of a car a few vehicles ahead of me.

It turns out that the owner was an avid cyclist, Morgan, who reviews bicycles for Radavist. These fat tired tourers were evolved versions of the bikes he described here. Lots of details to geek out about, including Swift Industries bags, prototype welded construction Porcelain Rocket frame bags, and bottle holders from RandiJoFab.

Here is the under bag support for the Swift Industries saddle bag.

I didn’t know that Honjo made wide fenders.

It was a pleasure talking to both Morgan and Stephanie. They were enroute to cycling on Cortes Island, with kid in tow in a one wheeled trailer of Danny MacAskill fame. If you want to run into Morgan himself, he is often on the Friday morning rides for coffee in the Vancouver area.

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The Banff Legacy Trail is a trail that goes from the end of the Bow Valley Parkway, through the Banff townsite, to the eastern border of the park. It also extends further east outside the park to Canmore. Today we rented a couple of bikes to do the round trip from Banff to Canmore.

Here is where the eastern section of the trail starts, just off Banff Ave.

Certainly can’t complain about the scenery.

Midori is excited about her e-bike.

Here we are at a rest stop/picnic area about halfway to Canmore. FYI there are restrooms here.

My rental is a bit lighter than my usual ride.

The trail ends here at the park boundary, but keeps on going an additional 4.5 km to Canmore.

The end of the trail at the Alberta information centre.

Lots of families getting ready to ride the trail.

This guy looks ready to do it on his Big Wheel.

Dad gives a little assist.

More beautiful scenery on the way back to Banff.

Once back in town, the easiest way to get back to downtown is along Banff Ave. You can see some very faded sharrows.

Work crews have been working the past few days to put in new ones that are much more visible.

The round trip was about 45 km. Very pleasant.

I decided to supplement the ride by going along Vermilion Lakes Rd to the western section of the trail.

Once again, you can’t complain about the scenery.

The road ends after about 5 km, and the Legacy trail further for about another 2 km.

There are two wildlife gates to separate the section of trail that is on the highway side of the fence.

Right along the highway here.

The trail ends at the off ramp for Hwy 1A, AKA the Bow Valley Parkway. Cyclists fitter than I can continue onwards to Lake Louise and beyond.

Not exactly sure how I picked up so much lube from the chain. Thanks to Backtrax for the rental.

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Every Friday evening when the weather is decent, a group of cyclists in the Lansing area meet up at either the Peanut Barrel or the Lansing Bike Coop to go for a group ride and a casual dinner.

My introduction to this group was through good friend and former Michigan neighbour Tim Potter who runs MSU Bikes.

Here is his pretty vintage French bike outside the Peanut Barrel.

and of course we start the evening with a little beer. This one called M-43, a hazy IPA brewed locally in Williamston.

We were joined by Dave, and here is a group picture of us in front of the shark AKA Lex Luthor’s house.

Then a brief ride though the old part of MSU campus to the Breslin centre where we were going to meet up with the rest of the group.

this used to be Morrill Hall, now a disguised parking garage
This is the protected bike parking in that garage, operating at less than 50% capacity.
The construction site for a bunker like addition to the Music building.

The full complement of LBP folks at Breslin.

Brian had this beautiful 650B randoneuring bike by Lyons.

Off we go.

Hitting the river trail
along the river trail

Construction!

Another shot of Brian and his Lyons

Passing through REO Town. This is a part of south Lansing that I had never biked through. It is named after the REO car company that Olds founded after he left Oldsmobile. This store was just down the street from the original factory site. The correct pronunciation is “Rio town”, as opposed to the initials in a certain seventies band.

Coming upon a fabric art show. I liked this piece of felted wool.

Leaving the gallery for dinner.

Dinner with new found friends.

Regretfully, time to leave.

This crew comes prepared with lights.

Thanks to Tim for introducing me to this group. It was also great to touch base with Jeff after 15 years or so. Great to meet Brian, Dave, Gary and the rest of the crew. If you’re in the Lansing area and want a nice social ride with good folks and no spandex in sight, I recommend the Lansing Bike Party.

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This weekend I took a trip to Windsor to take part in Bike the Bridge. This is an annual event where people are allowed to bike across the Ambassador Bridge. This year, the ride started and ended in Windsor.

I took VIA Rail to Windsor and took a few notes on bike infra on the ride to my hotel.

I was pleased to see some bike lanes, although you can see in this picture that they suffer the same connectivity issues as in Toronto.

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I do like the sewer grates that are cycle friendly.

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A brief interlude with beer.

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This morning, biking down to the river from the hotel, I see that the Bruce Ave. bike lane seems to disappear in October.

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No, I’m wrong, it is just moved to the other side of the street.

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Riding along the Riverfront Trail, I meet Louis and his wife. It turns out that Louis has done several rides with Tour de Afrique.

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He also kindly insisted that we stop so that he could take this shot of me with the bridge.

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I arrived at Assumption Park at about 8:15.

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Of course, with such a large number of bikes, there are always some interesting rides to check out. Here is a Pedego e-bike with really low step over.

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I like this integral cup holder.

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The sun comes out a bit to illuminate the bridge. Note the all important port a potties provided for us today.

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Time to line up.

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No wait, we are told to line up on the street.

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And off we go.

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Approaching the bridge.

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We get waved onto the bridge past the toll booths.

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Several of the people I talked to were excited by the fact that the new bridge is under construction, and that it will have a multi-use trail so that cyclists can cross at any time. I did not realize that the current bridge was slated to be torn down. You can get a sense of the deterioration of the bridge from this shot of the railing for pedestrians.

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Up we go.

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I was interested that the border was not marked on the bridge mid span, perhaps because it was privately owned.

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One of the ride marshalls reminds us to take it easy on the downhill.

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Approaching customs.

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We actually stop short of the customs booths to save us some trouble. The riders area all regrouped before recrossing the bridge.

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I take the opportunity to introduce myself to Tom, the only other Bromptonaut on today’s ride. He has a handpainted helmet that reflects the fact that he used to live in Pasadena.

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Off we go again.

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Maybe this direction is a bit steeper. Also note the traffic in the other direction.

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Dad provides a little boost.

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This direction is not as scenic.

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Thanks to these bridge workers for laying down rubber mats over the expansion joints.

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Waved through customs.

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Down Huron Church.

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They regroup us once again before the Riverfront Trail.

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I’m told this wood is a temporary measure to keep bits of the bridge from falling down.

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I’m liking this LMB logo since it includes a folding bike and a recumbent.

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I have a pleasant chat with Henry. I had admired his  vintage Centurion touring bike with chromed lugs as he flashed by me on the way down the bridge.

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Off we go along the Riverfront Trail.

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Henry and Tom.  It turns out that they know each other. Maybe everyone on this ride knows each other?

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Some riders that went along Riverside Dr merge with us.

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This section had a well marked bi directional bike lane.

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Regroup at a light where the trail ends so that we can cross to the other side of Riverside Dr.

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This is as far north as we got.

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Riding through nice residential neighbourhoods. At this point, we had a group of marshals at the front and we were allowed to pick up the pace a bit.

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Ottawa St.

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Little Italy.

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This is the front of the lead group.

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This woman asked me about how tough it was riding a folding bike up the bridge. I said that it was no more difficult that riding her single speed Schwinn Varsity. She told me that it was originally her grandmother’s bike, that it would last forever, and that she thought bikes these days seemed disposable to her.

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Turning back onto Huron Church.

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Arriving back at the park. Lunch is calling!

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The food line was very efficient. For those wondering about timing, the ride started at about 9, and the lead group was back at the park at about 10:45.

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Lunch (a BLT wrap) was very tasty, but too small!

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One last picture of another volunteer. I liked his vintage Cannondale Panniers which were in immaculate shape.

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It was a very enjoyable ride. A bit of a trek for a relatively short bike ride, but it was a unique experience, and I met lots of friendly people. Next time I’m in the area, I’m determined to ride on the Detroit side, perhaps with Slow Roll, or one of Henry’s rides on Thursday nights.

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One of the things that I noticed during my brief stay in Seattle was a number of colourful dockless bike share bikes scattered all around the University district, particularly around entrance points to the Burke Gilman trail. There are currently three companies that have provided 10,000 bikes as part of a pilot program. Several articles about these bikes appeared in the Monday edition of the Seattle times.

This article compares the three bike share systems, and the reliability of the bikes. Several things of note:

  • each bike was ridden an average of 0.86 times a day.
  • about 68% of the bikes were rideable.
  • The Limebike system has introduced e-bikes, which have their own issues.
  • brake cable cutting by vandals has been an issue.

SDOT is considering expanding the program to 20,000 bikes and making it permanent, while at the same time imposing higher fees on the vendors to fund things like more bike parking.

At the same time, the city parks board is also considering amendments to allow the e-bikes to be on trails such as the Burke Gilman. In practice, I already saw several of the Lime e-bikes parking or abandoned on the trail.

What do the bikes look like? Here is one of the Ofo bikes.

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Apparently they weigh 42 lbs and have solid rubber tires.

Here is one of the Limebike e-bikes.

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This article in WIRED discusses some of the issues that have arisen as part of this pilot, as well as some of the controversies about dockless bike share in general. It will be interesting to see how this all settles out.

Personally, I think that the system that I saw in Tokyo was a happy medium between docked and dockless. The bikes are still dropped off at stations, but the stations are wifi hotspots so that you can park the bike within a certain range, rather than counting on having an open slot in a docking station. In particular, I can’t get my head around how the Lime e-bikes are going to be recharged if they can be left anywhere in the city.

For the moment, dockless bikeshare appears to be dead in Toronto as I see fewer and fewer of their orange bikes around the U of T campus where they were first deployed.

On a side note, they have ghost bikes in Seattle as well; this one is at 16th Ave and 65th St.

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