Our Ride With The New Director Of MassBike

When our Founder went to the sending off party for then Director of MassBike David Watson at Ride Studio Cafe, he did not expect to meet David's replacement, but that is exactly what happened. There behind the Ride Studio Cafe bar handing out drinks and chatting up the revelers stood the new Director of MassBike, Richard Fries. Our Founder being the mingler he is and possessing the desire to see Brockton and the Greater Brockton Area become a cycling mecca, took that opportunity to engage the new Director. During their conversation our Founder passed Richard his business card and asked him to come ride Brockton with him so that the new Director could understand the riding conditions Brockton cyclist face daily. A few weeks passed and then finally our Founder received an email from Richard asking to take that ride. Understandably our Founder was excited and emails flew back and forth trying to determine when their schedules were in alignment to hold the ride. Finally April 22nd was decided to be the day the ride was to take place. 

As April 22nd approached our Founder reached out to Brockton city officials and local cyclist to gather up people to join the ride and share their experiences riding Brockton with the new Director. The route selected was a small tour of Brockton taking the group through all the neighborhoods of the city for a good holistic understanding of riding conditions. The route included hills, highly trafficked roads, and rough riding conditions due to a lack of street maintenance. As the group rode Richard interacted with all participants, getting to know each one to understand their experience riding Brockton and what their desires were about improving cycling in the city. Our Founder and Richard discussed the issues of speeding, a lack for respect for cyclist on the road, and just the general all over attitude within the city and the Greater Brockton Area that bicycle do not belong on the roads. It was no surprise to our Founder after the ride Richard praised Brockton for being a city that could become a cycling hot spot. 

At the conclusion of the ride and arrival at 70 School St, Richard spoke with the Director and Assistant Director of the Old Colony Planning Council expressing his belief Brockton has the right stuff to be a bicycle city. From there we headed to Elvera's Cafe for some lunch and coffee and to speak further about Brockton's potential. The conversation was exciting and encouraging. Richard expressed his believe in Brockton and his amazement in the city. He spoke on how he could see high quality bicycle infrastructure could be implemented within the city due to its very wide roads and its urban density. He spoke further about ways he was looking to move MassBike forward and increase it available funding to advocate for more bicycle infrastructure and bicycle friendly policy throughout the Commonwealth. We then ended our lunch meeting back at the offices of the Old Colony Planning Council where he expressed his desire to form a South Shore chapter of MassBike. Our Founder suggested strongly that the seat of this new chapter reside in Brockton, and he feels Richard agreed. From there everyone said their good byes and off we all went.

Since this initial meeting our Founder has followed up with Richard expressing his desire to move the process of making Brockton a cycling mecca forward. We can say here with confidence that our Founder is going to be pushing for this South Shore chapter of MassBike to be established and for its seat of operation to be located in Brockton. This is only the beginning folks, its going to be an awesome ride. 


Bicycle Master Plan: Why we need one in the Greater Brockton Area


As many people that ride around Brockton and her suburbs might experience daily, there is a serious lack of adequate bicycle infrastructure. Part of the reason for this lack of bicycle infrastructure has to do with available funding, the other part has to do with the lack of a truly comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan for the area. For those that might not know what a bicycle master plan is, it is a document that guides local and Commonwealth government on how to go about developing bicycle infrastructure in a given area. Without a bicycle master plan for Brockton and her suburbs, no one knows where and how to start developing bicycle lanes and other bicycle related amenities. In order for the Greater Brockton Area to develop better cycling infrastructure,  we need our own Bicycle Master Plan. 

Now as you can see from the map above, some work has already been done by the Old Colony Planning Council in the way of measuring bicycle Level of Service on key roads in Brockton and other towns in their planning region. We are just using the Brockton map here due to it being the biggest city in the area. What you can gather from the map, Brockton, along with other towns in the region do not have very good bicycle Level of Service due to their lack of bicycle infrastructure. One of the first orders of business the cycling community should partake in, is forming bicycle advisory committees in their towns to raise awareness of the need for bicycle infrastructure.  

How do you form these bicycle committees you ask, simply contact your local Town or City officials and explain to them you would like to start a bicycle advisory committee. Our suggestion as to which department you should try first is your Town or City's Planning Department. If no Planning Department exist, or the Planning Department expresses no interest, then we recommend you speak to your City Council or Board of Selectmen concerning the matter. If these Town or City officials still express no interest, then I would recommend you speak with your Commonwealth Official from your district and contact Velo Urbano along with MassBike (your Commonwealth Bicycle Coalition) so that they and we may contact officials in your Town and City concerning establishing a bicycle advisory committee. 

If Town or City Officials question the need for a Bicycle Master Plan in your community, simply explain to them the benefits to having bicycle related infrastructure. Having bicycle related infrastructure will promote the safety and welfare of cyclist in the community. Bicycle infrastructure will spur more cycling in your Town or City, and cyclist tend to spend more than drivers at local businesses. Traveling by bicycle saves not only the cyclist money by not having to fuel a car or pay for parking, but it also saves the Town, City, and the Commonwealth money due to less wear and tear on Town, City, and Commonwealth roads. Bicycle transportation is also good for the environment and the health of the community. It is also the purview of the Commonwealth to see a mode shift of about 2% from automobile travel to bicycle transportation as was laid out by then Secretary of Transportation for the Commonwealth Richard Davey and the Deval Patrick administration, and is now supported by the new Baker administration.

Once the Town or City is on board with forming Bicycle Advisory Committees, the Committees should meet to discuss the over all vision of the Bicycle Master Plan. Once a vision for the plan has been determined, the committee should start selecting which roads should be apart of the Bicycle Master Plan and what cycling amenities they would like to see. Theses Bicycle Advisory Committees should determine if they want the bicycle transportation network to be more for recreational cycling purposes, cycling for transportation, or both. After deciding the purpose of the bicycle network, a selection process pertaining to which roads should be used in the Bicycle Master Plan should be developed. Roads could be selected based on their directness to certain destination in the Town or City, on volume of traffic, or the scenic nature of the road selected to be apart of the bicycle network. The Bicycle Advisory Committees should ask their Town or City for the necessary traffic data to help make these determination. If the Town or City does not have this data, it can be obtained through your Regional Planning Agency. 

After all the data has been gathered, roads selected, and cycling amenities determined, it is time for your Town or City to start drafting the language for the Bicycle Master Plan. Depending on the size of your Town or City, the breadth of your bicycle network, and available funding, it can take a few months to a year to complete the Bicycle Master Plan. Once the plan is completed, it will go out for public review and comment which is good for the document. By allowing the public to speak on what they like and do not about the Bicycle Master Plan will help craft a better plan for your community. 

Once the Bicycle Master Plan has been completed, public feed back heard and worked into the document, then the plan can be finalized and its implementation should embarked upon. It is paramount that the bicycle advisory committee continue to meet to make sure the plan gets rolled out by the City or Town and that plan as conceived is carried out. 

Only after recommendations from the Bicycle Master Plan have been implemented will your Town or City  see improvements for cyclist and see bicycle ridership grow. We encourage anyone reviewing this blog that might have questions to please reach out to us and we will answer them to the best of our ability or put you in contact with someone that can. We look forward to seeing bicycle committees form in the Greater Brockton Area and attending their meetings. 

Winter Riding: What you need to keep cycling all winter long

So you have been riding all Spring, Summer, and Fall. The weather is growing colder and you are considering hanging up the bike for that long winter hibernation - Do not hang up the bike because winter is coming. For some folks like our founder, just because the mercury takes a dive does not mean he is done riding for the year. Remember this motto people. There is no such thing as bad riding weather, just bad riding gear. Velo Urbano is now going to lay down for you what you need to make winter riding enjoyable. 

We all remember the saying, might even tell people we love the same phrase when it is cold out, and that is to layer up when you go out to stay warm. This statement especially rings true for how you should dress for a winter ride. There are a number of items you want to acquire to help you stay warm on the bike. First you want to purchase a good base layer top and even base layer bottoms if you are more on the cold side. Then you want to get yourself a good mid-layer winter cycling jersey and winter cycling tights. You also want to purchase a nice winter cycling jacket along with some winter cycling gloves, shoe covers, and something to keep your head and face warm. Additional items like air activated hand, feet, and body warmers can be purchased and used with your winter cycling kit to help you stay even toaster.

A good set of base layers goes a long way to helping you stay warm. What is a base layer you might ask? Well base layers are kind of like thermals we remember our parents putting on us as kids, except thinner. With new high-tech base layers, especially those specified for cycling, will help keep you warm on the bike by wicking away moister from your body and some models will even have wind blocking panels in them. Base layers come in a variety of different colors, but we recommend black since darker colors retain heat better. There are many base layer makers out there and a number of them produce other bicycle related products. Our founder and a few other members prefer base layers produced Craft. Craft makes a number of base layers that can meet any riding conditions. Our founder uses Craft's Active Crewneck Long Sleeve base layer and it is plenty warm for his riding needs, but as we stated, Craft makes a lot of different base layers and offers some that are far warmer than the one our founder uses.  

Craft Active Long Sleeve Base Layer - Courtesy http://shop.craftsports.us

A good mid to heavy weight long sleeve cycling jersey can make what might be a very cold ride into an enjoyable experience. You want to make sure the jersey has a high collar to keep the wind off your neck and a brushed wooly interior that will help the jersey trap additional heat making you feel even cozier. Now there will be days when it might be windy and their are jerseys out there that have wind blocking panels, that way the wind does not cut through you. 

Road Holland Edam Wool Cycling Jersey. Courtesy Roadholland.com

Cycling tights are another important item in your winter gear arsenal. Our founder prefers bib tights, but your normal winter cycling tights will do. You want a cycling tight or bib tight that has a brushed wooly interior and wind blocking panels on the front. We also recommend you get tights or bib tights that have a chamois pad for your riding comfort.  Depending on the tight or bib tight, some may have ankles that zip open allowing for easier foot entry through the bottom of the tight, while others will have you simply push your foot through the bottom of the leg. Most high quality tights or bib tights will have this zip ankle and our recommendation is that you purchase tights or bib tights with this type of ankle. If you happen to ride when it snows or rains out, there are tights or bib tights that are water resistant. 

Craft Bib Tights. Courtesy http://shop.craftsports.us

An obvious piece of the winter wear arsenal is a jacket, but not just any jacket, cycling specific jackets are different than other types of winter sport jackets. Cycling jackets are constructed in a way that is conducive to a cycling position. Cycling jackets have articulated arms allowing for easier movement and a longer back to keep your lower back covered as you bend over to reach the bars. You want a jacket that is water resistant or proof, but keep in mind water proof jackets do not wick away moister like water resistant jackets. You want a jacket that has a high collar to keep the cold air off your neck and pockets on the back to store your lose items like a cell phone and wallet. You want a jacket that has reflective details to make you more visible to moving cars. There are also cycling jackets that have wind proof panels, which will keep the wind from cutting through your jacket keeping you warmer. I founder is very found of jackets by Rapha and Castelli because of the quality construction and materials along with their stylish looks. 

Rapha Pro Team Jacket: Courtesy Rapha.com

Depending how cold it is will determine what kind of gloves you will need. When the temperature is above 50 degrees, a nice full-fingered gloved that is wind proof will be enough to keep you hands warm. When the temperature drops into the 40s and lower is when you need to start wearing an insulated glove. Now there are many insulated gloves on the market, but you get what you pay for like anything you buy. If you decide to go for the inexpensive glove, it will keep you warm, but the glove will be bulkier leaving you will less dexterity. If you decide to go with a more expensive glove, it will keep you warm and it will provided you with far easier movement of your fingers. There are even different styles of gloves out there on the market. Some will be just like your normal winter looking insulated glove. Other types of cycling gloves will look like mitts or like lobster claws. Our founder uses the lobster type gloves produced Pearl Izumi. Our founder likes Lobster gloves because they provide the warmth of a mitten, but gives you the ability to move you fingers some what independently. 

Pearl Izumi P.R.O  Softshell Lobster Gloves: Courtesy Shop.PearlIzumi.com

Shoe covers are another important element needed in you winter riding wardrobe. There is nothing worse than having cold feet on a winters ride - Shoe covers will help keep your toes warm for those long winter rides. How shoe covers work is that they are kind of like a sock that you pull on over your shoes to provided a wind and water barrier. They are held in place with a hook and loop fastener and usually have a wooly interior for added warmth. There are many brands of shoe covers out on the market, some designed for road bike shoes and other designed for mountain biking shoes. Just like gloves, you get what you pay for. The more expensive the shoe covers, then thinner the shoe cover will be without sacrificing warmth and water resistance. Our founder uses Pearl Izumi P.R.O Barrie WxB shoe covers, he likes these covers in particular because they are wind and water proof, providing great foul winter weather riding protection. 

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier WxB Shoe Covers: Courtesy Shop.PearlIzumi.com

Now we are going to talk about protecting your face and head from the cold. We all know that protecting your face and covering your head can make a big difference in keeping you warm, this is no different on the bike. There are a number of ways to keep your face and head warm. Lets talk about keeping your face warm first. The standard go to when it comes to protecting your face from the cold in the cycling world is the balaclava. What is a balaclava you ask? It is basically a ski mask. The balaclava is nice because it not only does it covers your face, but it also keeps your head warm too. If you are only looking to carry around one piece of gear in order to keep your head and face warm, then a balaclava is for you. 

Gore Bike Ware Balaclava: Courtesy Gore Bike Ware 

The other option for keeping your face warm, but does not protect your head from the cold is the winter buff or collar as is it is called. The winter buff or collar is kind of like a scarf, but of course there is no need to tie it because it shaped like a tube you pull over your head. When it is warm, you can pull it down off your face and leave it around your neck. When it gets a bit colder and you desire to keep your face warm, you can pull it up over your mouth and nose. Our founder prefers this type of face protection over the balaclava since it is easy to pull down off your face once the temperatures rise on the ride, something not so easily done with a balaclava. 

Airhole Patriot Facemask: Courtesy Saltypeaks.com

Nothing is nicer and looks better than a good winter cycling cap, or just a cycling cap in general. Our founder and a lot of our members enjoy wearing winter cycling caps over balaclavas and cyclist skull caps for a simple reason, the visor that a cycling cap provides. On those clear sunny winter days, the sun can be blinding. While you can always wear sun glasses, those that cannot because of their need for corrective lenses, the visor on a cycling cap is a godsend. Just like a balaclava, a winter cycling cap protects the ears from the cold and wind, but unlike a balaclava, the winter cycling cap comes in many colors and styles. The winter cycling cap is usually made out of wool or some other installed man made material and has a flap of material that covers the ears and the upper back of your neck. These caps come in all different price ranges and produced by many different companies. We recommend you check out the caps produced by Rapha and Walz Caps. 

Another addition to your cold weather riding kit that you might not have considered or known about are chemical toe and feet warmers. These little things can make a big difference on the ride, enabling your feet to withstand temperatures that might have caused them to go numb had you not had warmers in your shoes. Toe and feet warmers are air activated, so pull them out of their sealed plastic sleeve well before your ride. We recommend that you pull out the warmers at least 30min before you put your shoes on. The toe warmers should last anywhere from 3 to 6 or more hours depending on their manufacturer, so if theres a chance you might be out longer than the warmers will last, bring an additional pack. It should be noted that toe or feet warmers cannot be worn sock less and if done so might result in a burn. 

Now that we have taken you through a list of things you need to keep warm on a winters ride we hope you do not call it quits due to winter's cold. There are a lot of benefits to winter riding. The scenery of a winters ride is beautiful, the roads are usually less crowded, and that hot coffee taken at a cafe while on that ride taste just so much better. Plus there is also the bragging rights of being able to tell people that you ride no matter what the temperature. We hope that you will keep riding all winter long and that you will be joining us for those winter rides. 

Bike Commuting: What you need to know to make it a success

So you've been reading our blog, getting our tweets, liking our Facebook page, getting your ride on, and now you are considering the next big thing - you want to ride your bike to work. We know you are nervous about the idea of riding to work because you have all these practical concerns. You are thinking do I wear my work clothes on the ride, or should I change once I get there? Do I need a backpack? How about showing? And what do I do about my morning cup of coffee and breakfast? Do not worry. We have all the answers to your questions to make your ride to work a success!

Lets talk about the gear you will need for your commute to work. Before you start riding to work, take your bike to your local bike shop and have it tuned up. The last thing you want to happen to you when you are biking to work is some kind of mechanical failure when time is precious and you need to get to the job. We also recommend that you have your local bike shop install some urban tires that are capable of tire pressures of 90psi or higher. The reason for this recommendation is that tire capable of reaching such high pressures roll faster and are easier for you to push, requiring less pedal effort on your part to maintain a higher rate of speed. Remember, the pressure can always be reduced if you want greater comfort on the bike provided by a lower pressure tire. We also suggest that you get tires that have high puncture resistance, because who likes a flat. If you do happen to ride in snowy condition during the winter months, we recommend you change out your tires and fit your bike with winter tires that have metal spikes on them to keep you from sliding on ice. If you happen to ride a road bike as your commuter, you might need to invest in a cyclocross, hybrid, or mountain bike as your winter bike since a road bike will not have the tire clearance for these wider winter tires. 

Clothing is one of the most important elements when you bike to work, because it will determine your comfort given the weather conditions you might be riding in on a given day. The uttermost deciding factor you should consider as to what you will wear during your commute is how comfortable are you in it. If this be standard shorts and a t-shirt or a full on cycling jersey and shorts, go with it. Our founder wears urban cycling shorts, which are shorts that are reinforced in areas that see a lot of abrasion during rides, have a bit of stretch to them, and usually fall just below the knee. Along with these urban cycling shorts, he normally wears a comfortable t-shirt. This clothing combination is his usual go to garbs during the late spring, summer, and early fall months. When the weather turns chilly to cold, our founder starts wearing winter specific cycling gear and gloves to keep him warm during those late fall to early spring rides.

If the weather happens to call for rain or snow, then a nice cycling rain jacket will do you right, since it will repel water keeping you dry. If you already have a rain/snow jacket you like, by all means use that. Just note however, a cycling specific jacket is constructed in a way that keeps your lower back from getting wet as you lean over reaching for the handle bars and uses materials that still transfer sweat from your skin to the surface of the jacket keeping you dry. Cyclist rain pants are another good addition to your foul weather wardrobe. Cycling rain pants just like the jacket will keep you dry from the rain and breath so that you do not become a total sweaty mess on the way to work. Cycling specific rain pants are also designed in a way that the leg tapers at the ankle so that your pants do not get caught in the chain rings. 

                Cyclist Jersey from Road Holland

                Cyclist Jersey from Road Holland

Sticking with the theme of rain and snow, how should you protect yourself from wheel spray as you ride through wet conditions? Fenders will do the job. Some bikes already come with fenders, especially chic urban city bikes, but most bikes do not. That said, adding fenders is not a very difficult thing to do. There are many types of fenders out there, and just as many methods they use to attach to your bike. Some fenders will bolt on behind the break caliper and to specific holes situated on your bike, others will utilize clips and other securing devices. Depending on the type of bike you have and its frame material, I recommend you speak with your local bike shop to determine which style of fender is right for you. 

Now lets talk about the method you should use to carry your belonging to work. Our founder and some of our members use a backpack, others use a messenger bag to transport their work clothes, lunch, and other whatnots. You could also equip your bicycle with a bike rack and panniers, these items will allow you to carry a load while riding, but not on your person. There are advantages to each one of these methods of carrying stuff while you ride.

Lets first start with the backpack. According to our founder, when he is carrying a load on his bike, he likes to use a backpack. He likes the fact the backpack distributes the load more evenly across his back and shoulders allowing him to carry greater loads with less stress on his body. A standard backpack will do for your bike commute, but cycling specific backpacks come with things like reflective details, are water resistant or proof, and have straps and shoulder padding conducive to a cycling position and for stabilizing a load against your body to keep the pack from shifting around when you take corners. 

Messenger bags are an alternative to backpacks, but theres not a whole lot of difference in our opinion. Just like the backpack, the messenger bag will be carried on your back - The main difference between the two is the messenger bag only has one strap carrying the load and is slung over one shoulder. This one strap being slug over the shoulder might be a little uncomfortable for some, since one shoulder is carrying the brunt of the bags load. That said, the messenger bag does provide for easier access to your bags contents. Unlike the backpack, the messenger bag can be slid around from back to front without having to take the bag off to access what is inside - a backpack will require you to take the pack off to enter the bags compartments. Just as in the case with the backpack, a cycling specific messenger bag comes with reflective details, is water resistant or proof, and has features like stabilization straps on the bag to help keep the bag from shifting when you take a turn. 

Messenger Bag on the left. Cyclist specific backpack on the right. Both bags are produced by Chrome Ind. 

Now lets talk about bike racks and panniers. A bike rack is a simple device that attaches to you bike via bolts positioned on the bike designed to have a bike rack attached to them. You can utilize a bike rack to carry many types of things, but will require some type of bungee cord or rope to hold the load in place. An alternative to a bungee cord or rope to secure a load to your bike rack, is to attach pannier bags to them. Panniers are a style of bag designed specifically to be used on a bike rack. Panniers allow you to carry a larger load than you could in a backpack or messenger bag since the bike is bearing the weight of the load you are carrying. Since the bike is bearing the weight of what you are carrying in your panniers, a common mistake made by many cyclist is that they overload their pannier bags making their bikes needlessly heavier and this should be avoided. 

Bicycle with a back bike rack with panniers attached 

Now lets discuss the big question everyone usually has before they start biking to work, and that is what do I do about showering. For some folks this is not a big issue, they just shower the night before or the morning of their ride to work and have no issues. For others, just like our founder, he does not like to arrive to work sweaty. We recommend locating a gym near your workplace and join up so that you have access to their locker room and showers. Maybe you could even negotiate a reduced rate to only use the shower and locker room facilities. Our founder works in Downtown Brockton and has a membership to the Old Colony YMCA. AT the Y he has a locker he stores his cycling gear in along with his toiletries and showers to use. If there are no local gyms near your work, check around to see if you workplace has showers on site. You might be surprised to find out in fact you company does have showers, but you have never heard about them because you have never needed them. If you happen to work at a manufacturing job, there is a good chance your company might have showers on site. 

Now what to do about caring breakfast and lunch. For some folks eating before the ride is the best option in the morning , for others, they like to eat after the ride since a ride can build quite the appetite. If you do not want to carry food in your pack, we suggest that you store food at your workplace. If you would rather carry food every day, then we suggest a few ways to carry your breakfast and lunch. If you plan to carry hot coffee or tea, we recommend a vacuum bottle to keep your hot liquid warm until you reach your destination. Make sure this bottle has two caps, both screw on, one closing off the bottle opening and the other going over the first top screwing closed. This type of vacuum bottle will make sure you have a nice warm beverage once you get to work, which will be especially appreciated during those winter months, and the dual cap system will keep the liquid in the bottle rather than spilling out into your bag. Plastic containers are your friends. We recommend some type of plastic container to store you food in for the ride and prefer the kind that screws closed or fastens to keep the contents from spilling. Then bagging you food container in a plastic bag or freezer storage bag will provide further protection against spillage. 

     Vacuum Bottle  

Now for our last topic and one of the most important, where and how to store your bicycle while you are at work. We suggest that you first engage your employer and see if they are willing to let you store your bicycle indoors. If you employer is willing to allow you to store you bicycle indoors,  then determine with the help of your employer a safe and suitable place to store you bicycle during the work day. If you employer does not allow you to store you bicycle indoors, or simply does not have the room, we recommend you pick a location that has a lot of foot traffic and can easily be view by many people. If a bike rack is available outside that you can lock your bike to, and is visible to a lot of people, then we recommend you lock your bike there. If the bike rack is not visible to a lot of people or there is no bike rack located near your workplace, then we suggest you lock your bike to a sturdy non-moveable object that will not be in the way of pedestrians or likely to get hit by a car. 

                         How to lock up. Courtesy: Los Angeles Police Department

Lets talk about the type of lock you will need to keep your bicycle secure. There are many different types of locks out there in the market. Lets first start with cable locks. Cable locks come in many different variations. Some cable locks have no lock on them and require you have some type of pad lock or other locking device with you, others have a locking system built in. Cable locks are usually the cheapest type of locking device out there, but they are also one of the easiest types of lock for bike thieves to over come. Our recommendation is that you only use a cable lock in conjunction with another type of locking devices that is harder to break. 

U-locks are a great lock to have due to their sturdy construction and difficulty to break. The issue with U-locks is their inflexibility and the limited space within the lock to wrap it around your bike and the non-movable object you are locking to. One should be mindful and never lock your bike with a U-lock and have the lock touching or laying on the ground. Having a U-lock touching or laying on the ground leaves it open to hammering attacks. Also, you should fill as much of the interior space of the U-lock as possible, that way there will be very little room for a thieve to insert a bar of some sort allowing him/her to leverage attack your U-Lock. We recommend that you use a U-lock in combination with a cable lock. Having these two different locks working together gives you the added security and is a big deterrent to would be thieves since they will have to overcome two locks. 

Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain Lock

Chain locks are our favorite type of locks, especially those large and heavy types of chain locks like the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit pictured above. These locks give you the flexible features of a cable lock, but are far harder to break and they are just as tough if not stronger than a U-Lock. The issue with chain locks is their weight - Chain locks can be very heavy. That said, if Velo Urbano had to recommend any type of lock, we would recommend a heavy chain lock. 

Now that we have given you the run down on what you need to know to make your bike to work a success, get out there and ride. Start out slow, one day a week and then add a day as you feel more confident. Do not feel pressured to ride to work everyday or every week because you have decided to do it and bought all the gear needed to do it. Biking to work should be fun, not a chore. We look forward to seeing you on the road and riding with you if given the chance. 

Bike Trains: All aboard!

Some of you may be wondering after reading the title, what is a bike train, others might be assuming these are real passenger trains that allow bikes on. So let me break down for you what a bike train is. Bike trains are a group of bike commuters that meet up along different points of a defined route to achieve greater safety by riding in packs. Bike train usually have a leader which most bike train organizations call the conductor (sticking with the train theme), and this conductor leads the group along a route looking out for the other cyclist and making sure the group arrives at their stated time points to pick up other riders on schedule. There are many examples of bike trains throughout the Commonwealth and Nation, one example would be the bicycle convoys Boston Bikes talks about on their website and another example would be the bike trains written about a few issues back in Bicycling magazine that take place in Los Angeles California.  

Bike trains are usually formed in the communities they are in due to a need for greater cyclist safety. This desire for greater cyclist safety is what prompted the creator of Los Angeles' bike train network to develop her website and launch her cycling initiatives. The reasons she mentioned for starting the network are pretty much the reason people here in Brockton and her suburbs state to be the reasons they do not bike to work. The issues being the concern about riding in traffic, safety,  which streets are more conducive to cycling, how do I get from point A to B by bicycle, and what equipment do I need and what should I bring with me to make my bike commute a success. 

These issues here in Brockton and her suburbs are no different than those in Los Angeles, which means Brockton and her suburbs should have a bike train network and there is no reason it cannot be as successful as they are in Boston and Los Angeles. Now that I have made this statement, you are probably wondering along which roads and through which towns would these bike trains operate. If you follow the link below, you will view Velo Urbano's proposed bike train network : https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=z74_sxby72As.kVwh_UWPu0kM

My reasons for choosing the routes that you see in the map are due to those routes having lower traffic volumes in some cases, others having nice wide shoulders one could ride their bikes in, and another being that the selected path made the most sense in that particular town the route would travel through. The way these bike trains would work is that a group of people would form a bike train, time points would be set for the stops posted on the map, and people would jump on to the train as it rode by their location along the route. There could be one large single bike train group that would travel a particular bike train route, or their could be multiple groups traveling a particular route at different times of the day. This bike train network could also augment an individuals commuting mode. Lets say a person needed to take the train into Boston, however, this person does not live near a commuter rail station, this individual could link up with one of the bike train routes that goes by a commuter rail station. By utilizing the bike train network, this individual would be able to ride in comfort knowing he/she is safer due to riding in a group and would be saving money by not having to park his/her vehicle at the train station.

Bike trains are not just for the adult commuter. A special form of bike train geared towards school children, both High School and younger could be established to give students a fun alternative to walking or being driven to school. The benefits of having a school bike train is that it gets kids out riding their bikes giving them some exercise all a while helping alleviate the traffic congestion a lot of schools experience during the morning and afternoon child pick up periods. Now I understand parents reading this might be shocked at the idea of letting their children ride their bikes to school out of the concern for safety. However, safety is what bike trains are all about and bikes trains that have children in them tend to have a higher degree of safety built into them as they should be. The common practice with bike trains that have children in them, is that they not only have one train conductor, but they usually have two to three conductors. Bike trains with children in have one conductor leading the group and another conductor riding at the end of the group making sure the kids remain safe while riding and helping fix any mechanical problems they might have.  When a bike train involving kids has a third conductor, this is just one more additional person out there making sure the kids remain safe and that above all, the kids are having a great time riding their bikes to school.

Brockton and her suburbs need to have a good and effective bike train network people can utilize to get to work or school and back. Having a comprehensive bike train network will not only keep people that bike to work and school safe, but encourage people to commute to work by bike. Having more cyclist out on the roads will also be a boon for those that travel by other modes of transport, as it will help reduce car traffic since there will be less cars on the road, and help speed up travel times for those drivers and transit users since there will be less car traffic reducing travel speeds and causing delays. Lets also not forget the benefits to the local economy having more cyclist out on the road will bring due to an effective bike train network. Having more bike commuters out on the road will also bring local business more money since cyclist tend to spend more money at local establishments than automobile drivers. Have a bike train network will not only benefit those that choose to bike to work, but those that choose to travel to work by other means and to those business owners that these bike commuters will frequent. 

Panaracer RiBMo PT - A Review

Hello people. As we told you in one of our early August tweets, one of our members purchased  Panaracer's RiBMo PT tires for his CX bike and we can now report back his experience on them. His main reason for the tire purchase was that he wanted more puncture resistance than his normal CX tires were providing him for off dirt urban riding. Two of his main requirements when he was considering a tire was its availability in 700X35 mm size and its ability to be inflated above 80psi. Given those two requirements, he decided to go with the Panaracer RiBMo PT. 

His usually daily rides take him through the city of Brockton, Easton, West Bridgewater and Bridgewater, so this leaves our member with some pretty rough roads he must travel on. He was happy to report back to us that he never once experienced a flat throughout the month of August, where he was experiencing a flat weekly when he was riding on his normal CX tires. He went on to say that these tires rolled much faster than his normal CX tires. Of course this faster tire experience is due to the high psi and smooth tread leading to lower rolling resistance. Mounting the tires was not difficult, but they did not mount with ease. Our member did express that the tires looked far bigger than a normal 700X35mm tire, but we cannot confirm this since we did not measure them ourselves and have a much higher center line than other tires he has ridden. We guess this higher center area of the tire tread is to help reduce the contact area of the tire to the road, leading to less rolling resistance making the tire travel faster with reduced effort. 

In all, our member told us he would purchase these tires again and has been very happy with the their performance thus far. His only gripe is that the tire looks larger than the usually 700X35mm tire, but they fit with no issue on his CX bike. He would recommend these tires to anyone looking for a fast rolling tire for urban riding that would like to reduce their likelihood of flats. 

Protect Bike Lanes And The Need For Them In Brockton


For those of you that read our previous blog entry: Up & Coming Downtown Means Better Urban Cycling In Brockton, you can probably tell we are pretty gung ho about the future of Downtown Brockton and Brockton in general. As Brockton rises and we here at Velo Urbano wish to see it become a cycling mecca, we got to thinking on what Brockton needs to do to achieve this status. After some thought, we came up with a number of needed bicycle infrastructure investments, but there is one in particular we would like to talk about today - protected bike lanes. For the folks not familiar with protected bike lanes their concept is simple, they are a bike only lane with a width of 5' or greater utilizing a barrier of some sort to keep motorized vehicles out of the lane to eliminate conflict between bicycles and cars. An example of a protected bike can be viewed in the picture above. The picture above shows the Prospect Park protected bike lane in Brooklyn NY which utilizes parked cars as the physical barrier keeping cyclist safe from moving vehicles. 

With protected bike lanes on key routes throughout Brockton, the most timid of cyclist will be encouraged to ride due to the feeling of safety these specialized bike lanes provide. According to researched reviewed by City Lab, an online publication that speaks on city related issues, they found in their research review that cities which installed protected bike lanes saw ridership gains of  21 to 171% along the corridor in which the new protected bike lanes were installed, and 10% of those riders were new riders. 

Protected bike lanes, bike lanes in general, and other bicycle related infrastructure have been shown to be of economic benefit to the business in proximity to these investments. According to research conducted by the national bicycle advocacy group People For Bikes, it found in Portland Oregon that cyclist spent 24% more per month on average than those that traveled by car with similar findings in Toronto Canada and New Zealand. The reason for the higher per month average spending by those that traveled by bicycle rather than car is due to the fact that people that traveled by bike made more frequent visits than those that visited a local business by automobile during the same month. 

Protect bike lanes are also great for real estate investments too. It was found in the publication Protected Bike Lanes Mean Business: How 21st Century Transportation Networks Help New Urban Economies Boom, that for every quarter mile a home was near a bicycle trail in Minneapolis and St. Paul MN, its value increased by $510. Similar findings were also discovered in the state of Indiana. Homes that were located near Indiana's Monon Bike Trail sell for 11% more than homes further away from this trail. Available data also shows that community members value the investment a city makes in protected bike lanes. For example, 83% of residents located near Washing D.C.'s 15th Street protected bike lanes said the protected bike lanes was a valuable benefit to their neighborhood. 

Having protected bike lanes can also attract companies to setup shop in Brockton. As venture capital and knowledge base businesses increasingly seek to move into urban areas, they are ever increasingly looking at cities that have invested in things like cycling related infrastructure. According to interviews conducted by People For Bikes in their research for Protected Bike Lanes Mean Business: How 21st Century Transportation Networks Help New Urban Economies Boom, the companies interviewed stated protected bike lanes and bicycle related transportation investments were a big factor in choosing where to locate their organizations. These companies explained investment in bicycle related facilities were also key to attracting a highly skilled workforce as this workforce is increasing deciding were to live and work base on the availability of these type of facilities. As more workers demand these type of bicycle related assets be present in a city before they move there, it is key Brockton invest in this type of bicycle transportation facilities to ensure it has the right stuff to attract this type of highly skilled workforce and the companies that employ them.  

If Brockton were to invest in bicycle related transportation infrastructure like protected bike lanes, it could see the ridership gains along with the benefits to real estate and the business sector as was presented in the data findings mention here today. Velo Urbano believe in Brockton and its abilities to do the things we spoke about in this blog entry, because it makes sense to do them and we see the city being open to investments in bicycle related infrastructure. With a little gumption we believe Brockton can develop into this cyclist mecca we here at Velo Urbano would like to see it become. We encourage all reading this blog entry to reach out to their city councilors and ask them to have Brockton invest in bicycle related facilities like bike lanes and protected bike lanes. These investments will only make the city better, its people richer, and a great place to call home. 

Anderson, Michael  & Hall, Mary Lauran. Protected Bike Lanes Mean Business: How 21st Century Transportation Networks Help New Urban Economies Boom. Retrieved from https://www.deldot.gov/information/community_programs_and_services/bike/pdf/2014/Protected_Bike_Lanes.pdf

Clifton, Kelly J , Morrissey, Sara, & Ritter, Chloe. Business Cycles: Catering To The BIcycle Market, TR New 280. Retrieved from http://kellyjclifton.com/Research/EconImpactsofBicycling/TRN_280_CliftonMorrissey&Ritter_pp26-32.pdf

Up & Coming Downtown Means Better Urban Cycling In Brockton

For those that follow us on Twitter, you might be in the know that we were at the Downtown Brockton Economic Development Bus Tour. For those of you that do not follow us on Twiter, well, we were there. What we saw while on the tour was inspiring and exciting. The new Station Lofts at the corner of Lincoln and Montello look awesome and the recently completed Brophy and Phillips building at 88 Lincoln was so fantastic to be in, we wished we had an office there. With all this new development completed and others going up, such as the case with the new Trinity building across from W.B. Mason, this has us at Velo Urbano dreaming of the Downtown that is to come here in Brockton. 

Some of you might be wondering why we care about all the new development going on Downtown, and the answer to your question is simple, a better and denser Downtown means better urban cycling in Brockton. As Downtown grows and becomes even denser than it already is, more people will be living Downtown and more businesses will be flocking there to meet the needs of this growing population of residents. With density, comes shorter distances one must travel for goods and services. For these short trips, especially those trips five miles or less, the bicycle really shines as a mode of transportation. With trip distances five miles or less, the bicycle used as transportation is just as fast as the personal automobile and public transportation, and faster when city streets are experiencing their peak congestion periods.

As  Downtown rises, Velo Urbano can see the possibility of being able to cycling to a local cafe for a morning cup, peak into that new boutique to see what wares they are peddling, or cycling to a new yoga studio that was just opened by entrepreneurial  Brocktonian that always dreamed of having his/her own studio. Then we you couple all this new development with all the different transportation options you have Downtown, like the Brockton Area Transit Authority and the MBTA Commuter Rail, Downtown has what it takes to become the cycling mecca of the South Shore. Think about folks, we too here in Brockton could build a cycling city just like Boston has, or even better, create the Portland Oregon of the East Coast. 

Velo Urbano see the vision of the new Downtown others see, but we think this vision can be taken a step further. We believe a denser Downtown with more residents has the potential to become a urban cycling hotspot and a place were the bicycle could become the preferred mode of transportation. Velo Urbano looks forward to seeing the rise of Downtown and hopes to play a part in making it a great destination, a great place of employment, and the chic place to live in Brockton and the South Shore. 


Ksyrium Equipe S - A Review

Hey group members and those that follow our riding adventures. As we told you, one of our members upgraded his wheelset from Mavic Aksium to Mavic Ksyrium Equipe S and we would fill you in on his experience, well here is what our member had to say about his new wheels. He stated that he has been enjoying the ride they provide him immensely, but hasn't noticed much of a difference in ride quality over his old wheelset. Of course this can be contributed to the high quality of wheels Mavic makes at all price points. He then went on to explain the wheels accelerated with ease and spun smoothly as would be expected of a Mavic wheelset. The Ksyriums has no trouble handling urban riding and took on potholes and road debris without losing their trueness. On climbs they didn't seem to offer any weight savings, but of course added no additional weight to the bike. On descents the new wheelset held their line and cornered like a champ. Aesthetically the wheels complimented the look of his ride, giving his bike a pro look like you would find on the grand tours. When all is said and done, he is happy with the new wheels but wished he had spent the coin for the Ksyrium Elite S. 

So there you have it. When purchasing a new wheelset, try to go at least two levels up from where you are to gain noticeable difference in ride quality and experience. Velo Urbano thanks our member for his review of Mavic's Ksyrium Equipe S. Remember folks, keep checking our blog page to hear product reviews, ride experiences, and how cycling amenities can be improve in Brockton and her suburbs. Enjoy the ride!