Archive for April, 2012
Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
The following is a post from Mee Cheng from Bike Walk Twin Cities.
Last winter, I took a free 5-week Basic Maintenance course taught by Micah Thompson, who works at Cycles for Change bike shop in Saint Paul. The course was offered through Experimental Community Education of the Twin Cities (EXCO). Thanks to Micah, I now know how my bicycle works and how to maintain it.
A bicycle is a relatively simple mechanical device – but it’s also important to have it adjusted correctly. If you are unsure of something or identify problems during any of the steps below, take the bike to a local bike shop or visit a local bike coop, where you can get expert advice and free do-it-yourself bike repair support.
Here are seven things you can do yourself to get your bike ready to ride again—with thanks to Jason Tanzman of Cycles for Change and Steve Clark of Bike Walk Twin Cities for their contributions:
1 - Tubes and tires. Inspect the tires, looking for any dry rot, cracking, or cuts. Inflate the tires to the recommended inflation pressure and see if they hold air. (Note: “Presta” valves require an adapter if you’re trying to use a gas station air hose.)
2 - Wheels. With the wheels in the bike, make sure that they are not loose; they should not move around in the frame. If your bike has them, check the quick release levers on both wheels to make sure they’re tight and in their “locked” position.
3 - Chain. If the chain is very dirty or muddy, take a rag and clean the chain thoroughly by running the chain through the rag while pedaling backwards. If the chain is dry or rusty, apply a chain lubricant to the chain. If the chain is so rusted it won’t move, you will need to replace the chain.
4 - Brakes. Try squeezing the brakes and feel whether they respond well. Try moving the bike forward and seeing if the wheels stop. If the brakes feel spongy or are non-responsive, your brakes will need further adjustment. Squeeze the brake levers and see how much room there is between the lever and the handlebars. Can you fit your thumb in between without the lever hitting it? If not, it’s time to tighten the cables. A simple counter-clockwise twist of the barrel adjustment bolt will often do the trick.
5 - Gears/Shifting. Standing next to the bike, have a friend hold the rear wheel off the ground while you turn the pedals and shift through all the different gears. The main thing is to make sure that the derailleurs shift relatively well and don’t throw the chain off of the gears.
6 - Cranks. Hold and wiggle both crank arms, checking for any looseness.
7- Test Ride. Carefully, ride the bicycle in a parking lot or side street area with little or no traffic. Gently but with increasing force, test the brakes, shifters, steering, etc., to make sure everything works properly before leaving the area. Make sure to wear your bike helmet!
Tuesday, April 17th, 2012
Bike share is hardly a new or novel concept these days. From Paris to Montreal to Mexico City to Washington, DC, bike share programs are popping up all over the world in an attempt to provide healthy options to those seeking a different way to get around.
Here in Minnesota, we’ve been fortunate to have one of the more well-respected, unique and successful bike share program right under our noses: Nice Ride. For the last two years, Nice Ride (and the many organizations who have sponsored Nice Ride, including Bike Walk Twin Cities and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota) have provided a new means of transportation for hundreds of thousands of Twin Cities residents—from North Minneapolis to St. Paul. Nice Ride has changed the way people get to work. It has changed the way people think about bicycling. And, it’s even changed the way tourists think about getting around town.
And, they’re not even close to done yet.
So, we thought we’d sit down with Ellen Apel, marketing manager at Nice Ride and see what exciting things Nice Ride has in store for 2012 and how and why the bike share program has had such an impact on the Twin Cities.
You had an incredible year in 2011—more than 217,000 rides and more than 3,500 one-year subscriptions. What will be Nice Ride’s primary focus and goals heading into the 2012 bicycling season?
Nice Ride wants to get more people on more bikes taking more rides to great places in the Twin Cities! We have a busy event schedule that will encourage ridership, and we will also reach a broader audience with expansion into downtown St. Paul and focus on under-served communities.
We are excited that this summer we can include downtown St. Paul in the Nice Ride community. With help from a great network of funders including State of Minnesota, Central Corridor Funders Collaborative and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, we plan to add 25+ stations to downtown St. Paul.
Additional funding has also been received from the National Park Service to place stations in the Mississippi River Area. The placement of these stations will take place in 2012-2013, with stations in 2012 placed in downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis. In 2013, these stations will stretch from Webber Park in North Minneapolis, south to Fort Snelling and eastward past downtown St. Paul.
With sponsorship support from Target, we are also focusing more effort on outreach to under-served communities with our Nice Rides with Your Neighborhood program (here’s a list from last year’s program). In partnership with non-profit organizations, we hope to provide education and hands-on experience to under-served communities in the Nice Ride area. We also plan to give away 600 one-year memberships in these communities.
You’ve mentioned that Nice Ride will be expanding into downtown St. Paul in 2012. Can you talk a little about why you made the decision to station bikes downtown St. Paul? And, based on your experience in Minneapolis, who do you think might use the downtown Saint Paul bikes the most? People going to lunch? Capitol staffers headed downtown for meetings?
Similar to downtown Minneapolis, downtown St. Paul has a thriving business district, exceptional places to visit, and areas of high-density residential housing. Combine these components and you have a great place for bike share. Bike share is a great option for commuters who travel short distances, enjoy active lunch breaks and those who travel within downtown to business meetings and conferences. There will be several stations at Capitol locations, downtown proper, Lowertown and along the river to provide a convenient grid for getting around downtown St. Paul.
You’ve also said you’re planning to add stations along the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. Which exact locations are you targeting—and how did you land on those spots?
In conjunction with the National Park Service (NPS), Nice Ride determined station locations using criteria used in previous planning. Taking into account areas that have the most traffic and use along with determining popular destinations, Nice Ride targeted placement of stations in Northeast Minneapolis at Broadway, North Loop Minneapolis near the Cedar Lake Trail, and at the Stone Arch Bridge and Gold Medal Park in Minneapolis. NPS will also provide the bulk of funding for stations along the Mississippi in St. Paul.
Now that you’re a few years in, what are the most popular routes you’re seeing Nice Ride subscribers using on a regular basis? And, based on those routes, what destinations do you believe riders are traveling to on the Nice Ride bicycles?
The IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis continues to be the Nice Ride station with the highest usage. We interpret that most of these riders are commuting for work, coming from neighborhoods throughout Minneapolis. The most popular route in the system was on the University of Minnesota campus between Kolthoff Hall and the Social Sciences building, a route traveling across the Washington Ave Biking and Pedestrian Bridge. After placement of a station near Lake Calhoun, we saw a great upswing in riders at that station. Downtown Minneapolis riders also report traveling to St. Anthony Main frequently. While most of our one-year subscribers report they use the system for commuting, we also experienced about 40,000 24-hour subscribers that seemingly use the system to get to places like the Convention Center, Walker Art Museum, and the chain of lakes.
Historically, Nice Ride has seen a higher percentage of women riders than the overall cyclist mix in the Twin Cities (which tends to skew toward more men cyclists). Why do you think that is?
Women are smarter? Nice Ride Minnesota bikes are very rugged and sturdy and along with the “no maintenance, easy to use” perks, provide stability when riding city streets and great lights when riding after dark. As Nice Ride becomes a consistent fixture in the Twin Cities landscape, perhaps women feel more familiar and comfortable using the system without having to worry about carrying a lock and the ability to utilize Nice Ride as a one-way transportation option.
What patterns do you see in terms of usage during key times of the day (morning/evening commutes, lunch time, weekend afternoons)? And, what does that say about how people are using the Nice Rice bicycles?
The Nice Ride Street Crew works to re-balance bikes and maintain the system from 6 a.m. – 1 a.m. every day. Rush hour, morning and evening, are always busy times for this crew as commuters travel to and from work, but it’s tricky to try and predict other times when the system will blow up. Glorious summer days around the lakes are always busy, and bike sharing to special events (U2 at TCF Bank Stadium!) are very popular too. Somewhat dependent on weather, rainy, cold days often cause a drop off of usage.
Before Nice Ride began, naysayers thought that Nice Ride bicycles would be quickly stolen. The reality has been far, far different. What number of Nice Ride bicycles have been lost or stolen in the last two years? Why do people treat the bicycles so well, in your opinion?
We are grateful to the Twin Cities that they have shown such respect for the Nice Ride system. In 2010, two bikes were reported “lost”, however both bikes were recovered in 2011. 2011 saw no “lost” bikes. The security and conditions of use are great deterrents towards theft. And because of the unique design and look of the bike, resale opportunities are limited.
Last question: How do you think Nice Ride has impacted the overall bicycle culture here in Minneapolis and St. Paul? Do you think it’s had a lasting impact on people who might not have been cycling as much a few years ago?
Frequently we receive stories telling us of people using Nice Ride after a biking hiatus since childhood. We’ve received stories of people engaged with immigrant populations who use the system to teach communities to ride who have never been on a bike. We’ve received stories from people who have had one too many bikes stolen that now exclusively use the Nice Ride system. Many stories from out-of-town visitors praise Nice Ride and include wishes for the same kind of system in their hometown. Even stories from people who own multiple bikes sing Nice Ride praises for being available in a pinch and handy if their own bike happens to go in the shop.
All these stories tell us that Nice Ride makes biking more accessible to residents and visitors of the Twin Cities. We feel confident that Nice Ride has contributed to the Twin Cities’ nationally recognized bike-friendly status and are proud to be part of the effort to make biking and bike share more visible in the United States. We are also proud to be unique among other bike-shares and have a substantial presence in under-served communities. We are working to bring a healthy, active, fun transportation option to all communities and are happy to be represented throughout the Twin Cities.
Tuesday, April 10th, 2012
Recently, Bike Walk Move sat down with Charles Youel to chat about the growing popularity of pairing cycling with artistic expression. The founder of ARTCRANK, Charles, is certainly an expert on the topic.
In 2006, Charles was talking with fellow designers about their mutual love of bicycling. From that conversation he went on to coordinate the very first ARTCRANK show in April 2007 in Minneapolis. He wasn’t sure what to expect but had planned on 50 to100 people showing up to check out bicycling-focused posters by 35 or 36 local artists. A few minutes after the show opened, he stepped out to grab a bite to eat with his wife. When he returned to One on One Bike Shop, the show’s host that year, there were over 500 people checking out the art. At that point, he thought, “This idea might work.”
From there, ARTCRANK has grown into an international bike poster show with shows in nine cities (Minneapolis, Denver, St. Louis, Portland, San Francisco, Des Moines, Bend, Las Vegas, and London).
Here are some highlights from our conversation with Charles:
What values does ARTCRANK stand for?
ARTCRANK uses creativity to change how people look at and think about bicycles and to grow the cycling community. Every ARTCRANK show features posters created by local artists from the host city. Admission is free, and posters are priced to make it possible for everyone take home at least one.
In every city, we select a Cause Partner. These are local, national, or international organizations that are using bicycles to make a positive impact in communities. Not only does ARTCRANK connect communities with local artists, it helps raise money and awareness for our Cause Partners. Some of the groups we’ve partnered with include: People for Bikes, LIVESTRONG, International Mountain Biking Association, Bikes to Rwanda, Full Cycle Bike Shop, St. Louis Bicycle Works, Des Moines Bike Collective, and The Otesha Project UK.
How did ARTCRANK grow? How and why did you decide to essentially franchise the project?
I still have creative oversight over the project but we have a local partner in each city. Those people know the scene –they know the good venues and the creative community. The local partners can be on the ground for us and establish partnerships with sponsors that make sense for their community. It’s a long list of good people that we’ve partnered with including: SF Chrome, Widmer Brothers, Clif Bar & Company , and Neenah Paper.
What are the results you’ve seen so far and your expectations for the future?
Our shows continue to grow in every city. In 2012 we’re adding three new cities to the rotation: Austin, Texas, in February; Los Angeles in May or June; and New York City in July. I expect our shows to keep growing and the market to thrive. Bikes are the world’s most fun and accessible way to get around and posters are the world’s most fun and accessible art form –and ARTCRANK brings them together!
ARTCRANK has a strong community building, collaborative aspect. What’s it like working with so many different partners?
ARTCRANK is really good at introducing the cycling community to local artists and finding connections between the groups that are new or unexpected. It’s always great to see how much talent and inspiration our partners have in common.
We have work from 35 to 40 local artists but we try to keep it a mix of returning and new artists. Adam Turman has been at the Minneapolis show all five years. We’ve also worked a lot with Scott Shore. We almost always sell out of the 600 posters produced for each show.
Off the top of your head, can you share a story where something didn’t go as planned at a show?
Originally we had very few guidelines for artist submissions. At the first show in San Francisco, an artist printed each poster on a different color paper. When someone wanted to buy the poster, our people had to dig through 30 posters to find something that the person liked. It was confusing, as people wanted exactly what was displayed. Now we have guidelines about paper, size, and specifically note that the posters for sale have to match the on-the-wall example.
What’s the future for ARTCRANK? What do you see in 3 to 5 years?
I really see us growing overseas. I think we’ll have success in any city that supports cycling and creative experiences. I have my eyes on Tokyo, Amsterdam, Paris, Moscow, Prague, and possibly some cities in Africa. In the U.S., I’d like to see us in Atlanta and Chicago – and on the East Coast in cities like Boston.
For me, personally, I’m working on coming to terms with delegation. I’m learning to let go and encourage other people to put their own creative spin on ARTCRANK. Local partners are continually teaching me how to put on a better event and each time I’m blown away by their ideas.
On a more personal note, what are your favorite bike routes in the Twin Cities?
Ironically, as ARTCRANK grows, the less time I get to spend on my bike each year. When I do get out for a ride in the Twin Cities, I like to ride along the river. The bluffs in Saint Paul are one of my favorite places to cycle past. I grew up in St. Louis, so the river is a prominent feature in my life. It’s also hard to beat riding over the Stone Arch Bridge at night. For mountain biking, I like to visit Theodore Wirth Park. I also really enjoy biking in traffic. The first time I biked to work in rush-hour traffic it was terrifying – and then it became fun! It gets your heart pumping and adrenaline rushes through your body. It’s a great way to start and end a day.
ARTCRANK MSP will hold its annual poster sale on April 14, 2012 . Bike Walk Move will also be co-hosting a family pre-party event with Clockwork Active Media Systems from 3-5 p.m. at Clockwork’s offices in Northeast Minneapolis. Learn more at www.artcrank.com.
Note: All photos courtesy of ARTCRANK
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