Archive for March, 2012
Saturday, March 31st, 2012
Spring is officially here! And that means more hours of daylight to enjoy the extensive bike trails and lanes throughout the Twin Cities. Whether you’ve been riding your bicycle throughout the winter or you haven’t been on a bicycle since grade school, you might be thinking about investing in a new ride (or new-to-you, at least).
Many new and veteran bicyclists opt for a used bike, whether it’s for economic reasons or a matter of personal taste. Not sure where to start and what to look for when buying used? Bike Walk Move asked Brent Fuqua (above), co-owner of Recovery Bike Shop in Northeast Minneapolis, for his best tips on buying a used bike this season.
When is the best time to shop for a used bike?
Any time is good, but spring is the best time. At Recovery Bike Shop, we build bikes all winter so that early in the spring we have a lot of bikes built and a greater selection. The further into the season we get, the greater the chance of our inventory being picked over, even though we find and build replacements as fast as we can. Expert tip: Start looking for a used bike early in the spring to get the best selection.
What questions should a potential buyer ask when looking for a used bike?
What’s been done to the bike to restore it? What repairs have been made? Has it been in a wreck? Other questions, such as where did they get it, and how long have they had it, can also be relevant. But the current state of repair that it is in – its current road-worthiness – is the most important factor. Expert tip: Ask the right questions before you buy.
What mechanical components should people assess when buying used?
Just about anything that moves should be examined or questioned. Derailleurs, brakes, cables and housing should be fresh and not corroded, and tires are also very important. Expert tip: Examine the components carefully before buying—make sure they’re new and/or rust-free.
What about cosmetic details? It comes with the territory that there may be some rust or scratches, but are there scenarios where people should think twice about buying if they see those things?
While a few “character” marks are usually to be expected on a used bike, excessive appearance of rust is never good because if you can see it on the outside, it’s likely on the inside, too. Paint missing around the joints in the front of the bike can also be a sign of it having been in a crash. Expert tip: Look for those cosmetic “warning signs” when searching for a used bike.
Is there a cut-off point for the age of a used bike?
Not really; some bikes were bought and never ridden. The above attention to wear and rust should cover the bases. However, one detail to remember about older bikes is that the older the bike, the heavier the steel used to build it, so there is a practicality and functionality issue that can come into play for the everyday rider. By the 70s and the 80s they were working with lighter-weight, stronger steel. Expert tip: Look for bikes built after the late 70s—they’ll be lighter and easier to haul around town.
Are there certain components you’d recommend replacing after buying a used bike, such as the tires or the seat?
If you are buying from an individual, anything that needs to be replaced can be a point of negotiation. It also depends on the amount of trouble you want to go through after the point of purchase. Things need to be replaced when they need to be replaced, so as a consumer, attention to those details will help you make the right decision. At our shops we automatically replace all of those components. Our bikes tend to run a little higher than the same model on Craigs List (typically 20-30 percent more), but the customer is buying a warranted bike and the peace of mind that they won’t have to deal with replacements right away. Some people that are selling bikes out of their garage are offering sort of an intermediate used bike buying experience, in that they fix the bikes up without a storefront. Expert tip: Negotiate everything if buying from an individual—whereas bike shops will typically offer warranties on used bikes.
So in the end there are a few different used bike buying experiences. You just have to pick which one is right for you, oftentimes based on how much tinkering you are willing to do, or how much money you want to spend after the point of purchase.
Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
We’re starting a new series on the Bike Walk Move blog this week: Featured Routes. The idea? To give you a better idea of the vast network of on-street bike lanes and off-street trails around Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
To kick things off, we’re taking a closer look at the on-street bike lanes on Blaisdell and 1st Avenues in south Minneapolis. These new bike lanes were unveiled late last summer and provide easy routes for cyclists between south Minneapolis and near downtown. These routes also connect with two of the more prominent east/west bicycle routes in south Minneapolis: The Midtown Greenway and Riverlake Greenway. Lets take a peek:
The 1st Ave. bike lane (running north) starts at 40th St. in the Kingfield neighborhood (right across from Martin Luther King, Jr. Park) and runs north through the Lyndale and Whittier neighborhoods all the way to 15th St. near downtown Minneapolis. Cyclists can continue straight into downtown on Marquette Avenue or turn on bike lanes running east/west from Loring Park behind the Convention Center to 11th Avenue S.
The Blaisdell Ave. bike lane starts at 15th St. near downtown (La Salle Avenue heading out of downtown becomes Blaisdell after the intersection at Franklin) and runs south through the Whittier, Lyndale and Kingfield neighborhoods to 40th St. and the Riverlake Greenway in south Minneapolis.
Despite a few high-traffic areas around Lake St. and Franklin Ave., these routes give cyclists convenient alternatives to busy streets like Nicollet and Lyndale Avenues.
- On-street bicycle lanes. Portions of the route heading north on 1st Avenue South includes “buffered bike lanes”, where cyclists are separated from the travel lane for cars by a striped area (see below). The southbound lanes on Blaisdell Avenue include, at the Lake Street crossing, green paint to indicate an area where bicycles lanes and cars turning right need to be aware of each other.
- Helpful signage. A number of signs direct cyclists to other nearby trails, including the Midtown Greeway and Riverlake Greenway.
- More room for cyclists. The routes on 1st Ave. and Blaisdell feature wider bike lanes and enhanced “sharrow” markings where bike lanes are not feasible. Beginning in downtown Minneapolis, cyclists will find enhanced sharrows on LaSalle Ave. South, and as LaSalle becomes Blaisdell, wider bike lanes than were there previously. On parts of 1st Ave. an entire travel lane (for cars) has been removed to make room for bike lanes and to allow parking.
- Midtown Greenway. Just north of Lake St. there is easy access to the Midtown Greenway, which connects cyclists to Uptown and St. Louis Park to the west and the Seward and Longfellow neighborhoods near the Mississippi River to the east (as well as the bike path along the river).
- Riverlake Greenway. On 40th St., the bike lanes on 1st Ave and Blaisdell Ave. connect with the Riverlake Greenway, which connects cyclists with Lake Harriet to the west and the Mississippi River and the River Road Trail to the east. To get a first-hand view of the Greenway, check out this short video.
- 15th Ave. Bike Lane. This connection point, at the start (or end) of each route connects cyclists with Loring Park to the west and downtown locations to the east, including bike lanes along Portland and Park Avenues and 11th Avenue north, all connecting to the Mississippi River path in downtown Minneapolis. The 11th Avenue bike lanes also connect to the Hiawatha LRT bike trail (which currently has a detour for Central Corridor Construction)
Landmarks and notable businesses along routes:
- Eat Street area (1st Ave. and 26th St.). A number of great restaurant options here including the bike-friendly Bad Waitress, Black Forest Inn and Spyhouse Coffee right down the street.
- Blaisdell YMCA. (Blaisdell Ave. and 34th St.) This YMCA has been a south Minneapolis staple for years (although it recently got a nice makeover in 2010)
- Park Nicollet Clinic (Franklin Ave. and Blaisdell Ave.) and Whittier Clinic (Blaisdell Ave. and 28th St.). Shorter trips make up most trips people take & are great to do by bike—visiting your physician along these routes is easy.
- U.S. Post Office (1st Ave. and 31st St.). Drop off your mail—or send a small package—with a quick stop at this location.
- Minneapolis Institute of Arts (1st Ave. and 24th St.). A Minneapolis institution—literally—is just a stone’s throw away from both routes on 24th St. in south Minneapolis.
- Dining hot spots (various spots). A number of watering holes and restaurants live just between the routes on Nicollet including Blackbird Café (Nicollet Ave. and 38th St.), Pat’s Tap (Nicollet Ave. and 35th St.), and Harry Singh’s Caribbean Restaurant (Nicollet Ave. and 27th St.). Might make for a nice “progressive dinner” on bike some warm, summer evening.
- Pilgrim Lutheran Church (39th St. and 1st. Ave.). Beautiful church right at the start of the 1st. Ave. route in the Kingfield neighborhood. This church was built when streetcar lines served Minneapolis, so it has limited car parking. A great reason to try bicycling to church! There are several other churches along the route, including Plymouth Congregational Church, at LaSalle and Franklin Avenues.
- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center (40th St. and 1st. Ave). With 20,000-plus square feet, this rec center is a prime gathering spot along the route for families and kids. Right next door is the Reed Sweatt Family Tennis Center, a public tennis facility with 11 indoor courts.
- Kingfield Farmers Market. The market is a few blocks south of 40th on Nicollet Avenue and is close to a number of local shops and restaurants, including Anodyne Coffee Shop. There are many bikes there on Sunday mornings. The market opens May 20 this year.
Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
Note: The following is an excerpt from a blog post written by Steve Clark-Bicycling and Walking Program Manager with Bike Walk Twin Cities, originally appearing on the Bike Walk Twin Cities Web site (www.bikewalktwincities.org).
More and more I am becoming a run commuter.
Blame it on my dad, who grew up on a farm, and ridiculed any form of exercise that wasn’t productive. Want to build some muscles? “Chop some wood,” he’d say. Take a walk? “Sure, let’s see if we can get ourselves a rabbit.” Running around in circles didn’t really make sense to him. And my bike touring trips, sans fishing rod, also seemed to him like a waste of time.
So perhaps it was inevitable that my love of bicycling became converted into bike-commuting. And now, the same thing is happening with running.
And I’ve decided running to work is indeed more fun than running around in circles. Having a purpose, knowing I have to go the full 8 miles to get to work, makes it feel different than just training for a race or something. I mean, it feels well, purposeful. Productive.
But because it’s so new to me, I’ve been getting new insights on these run commutes. Maybe they’re not quite on the scale of epiphanies, but I am seeing things a little bit differently; hence the reason for this blog. Here are four things that I now completely believe (at least while I’m running).
Make a clean break from the office
On a bike, I never hesitate to carry all kinds of things from the office home with me, and while they don’t weigh me down much physically, they do exert a weight on me emotionally. When I run to work or run home from work, it’s just my body, some clothing, a single door key tucked in a pocket, and perhaps some form of ID. But that’s it. No baggage from work to bring home, and no baggage from home to bring to work. It’s a clean break, allowing me to truly leave work at the office.
Perpetual motion = happiness
Here’s the thing I have discovered about running: You look sort of funny running in place. And while looking silly hasn’t really been something that has held me in check, it does seem like a waste of energy when you could be moving at least in some direction. So, if the light in front of me is red, I’ll take a right instead. Maybe I’ll go far enough so I can safely cross midblock (it’s only jaywalking if you’re between two signalized intersections); or maybe I’ll keep going till I get a green light to cross. It really doesn’t matter as long as I’m able to keep moving. There’s something really fun about being able to keep moving in a congested urban environment.
Traffic seems silly
No, I’m not saying I make better time as a run commuter than a motorist traveling the same distance. But as a runner, the amount of space devoted to moving lots of people traveling alone in large steel enclosed objects becomes pretty striking. And so much wasted time at intersections! Again, on two feet you really feel the freedom to keep moving; the machines we have built our cities around simply do not allow for such a thing.
We were born to run
This is a new concept to me, having been brought up to believe that running is an awful activity and that sooner or later people who run a lot are going to wind up needing surgery. But I started seeing things differently when I read Born to Run, by Christopher McDougal, and made the gradual switch to barefoot (or bareform) running. Now, at age 54, I don’t have any pain when I arrive at work after spending an hour running on pavement in shoes that provide virtually no cushioning! Had someone told me 20 years ago that I would be able to do such a thing (without pain) I would not have believed it. But don’t take my word for this. Read the book and see for yourself.
But clearly, it’s not for everyone….
Theoretically, running for transportation is within the reach of more people than driving a car. And of course it’s cheaper than taking transit or even using a bicycle. But theories don’t always translate into reality. So, consider run commuting if at least 4 of the 5 things below are true for you:
1) Bicycling sometimes seems too easy and walking would take too long (i.e., you live between one mile and ten miles from where you need to be);
2) There is a shower (or at least a sink and faucet) waiting for you at both ends of your journey, and dry clothes you can change into;
3) You have gradually built up to being able to run comfortably the distance that you need to go;
4) Once at work, you have other means to get to any meetings that might take you out of the office (transit, Nice Ride, Hour Car, office bike fleet, etc.);
5) You wanna try something really different but you can’t find your roller skates, and you’ve forgotten how to skip.
The following is a post written by Hilary Reeves, communications director, Bike Walk Twin Cities, that originally ran in the Downtown Journal. Now that Nice Ride bikes are tucked away for the winter, consider using the bus for your quick trips to lunch, meetings, doctor’s appointments, or shopping. Using Metro Transit is an ideal way
The following is a post written by Bri Whitcraft, Special Projects Coordinator, Bike Walk Twin Cities. It all started with a video as inspiration and a Tweet as declaration. (My mom thought it was a joke.) Map & Route From my home in South Minneapolis, I biked to St. Paul to borrow the trailer from
The following is a post written by Hilary Reeves, communications director, Bike Walk Twin Cities, that originally ran in the Southwest Journal. Practical, affordable and surprisingly rewarding, winter bicycling has become increasingly popular in Minneapolis, recently named one of the top five cities in the nation for winter bicycle commuting by MetaEfficient. That’s amazing when