Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Small Digression

Currently, I am back in Boston before I leave for Amsterdam on our bicycle trip later this evening. 

Yesterday I had the chance to walk around the city for a couple of hours and started to look more critically at the bicycle infrastructure and the way Boston bicyclers approach the task of navigating through the busy city.  It was immediately noticeable that not only were there more vehicles on the road moving at faster speeds, but the automobile driver's mentality is a lot different than drivers in Eugene.  From my experience living in Boston and the Northeast for a little over 6 years, I think the drivers here are a lot more aggressive and drive more offensively than drivers in the Pacific Northwest.  I think that I would almost go as far as saying that with the traffic volumes that they have at major downtown areas in Boston, like any big city, the drivers handle the traffic and decisions that they need to make at these intersections as good as drivers anywhere.  Usually, they make deliberate actions, not hesitating, which as a automobile driver is easy to anticipate and prevent accidents from happening.  Because I wasn't an avid bicycle rider when I lived here I cannot say that this aggressive driving style is as beneficial to riders, but I can say that the majority of riders and drivers are aware of each other.

There was a Boston Red Sox game yesterday and sitting at Crazy Doughs Pizza on Boylston street you see the city come alive.  People walking to Fenway stadium with their Red Sox gear on, but the thing that I like the most about a Red Sox game day, besides the Red Sox winning, is the Pedi Cab drivers.  The Pedi Cabs are 3-wheel bicycles (1 in the front and 2 in the rear) with a bench seat in the back.  The drivers are typically college students trying to earn some cash to pay off there college loans or just enough to buy a few beers on the weekend.  They can usually be seen on the streets in full glory when there is a major event happening in the city.  They wear bright neon shirts usually with some other outrageous article of clothing trying to entice pedestrians to take a ride.  The do not charge their clients a set fee, but ask for a small donation.  I don't believe that Pedi Cabs would be a viable option to incorporate in every city, but in certain cities, with highly compact and highly populous city centers they could supplement more traditional petroleum based options.  I'm excited to see if Amsterdam has any of these multi-person transportation options.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Change of Pace

Prior to moving to eugene or even applying to graduate school at UofO one of my good buddies was informing me of how excellent and proactive eugene was with biking in the city. His wife attended graduate school at UofO for a little over three years, so I figured he had a pretty good sense of the city. However, his type of bicycle expertise is with competitive bicycle riding because he used to race professionally. I wasn't quite sure if the bike riding that he was describing was of that highly competitive nature or of a more leisurely kind.

Later that year, I decided to attend the University of Oregon in the summer of 2010 and I started to believe that this might be the perfect opportunity to dust of the old cannondale and get it tuned up to take the road when I arrived in eugene.  I mean if eugene was the way Dan described it then this would be the perfect place to get into the sport/hobby biking.  As soon as I drove (yes, with a car, I couldn't bring all my stuff by bike to just wouldn't be safe!) into eugene I immediately noticed the beautiful September weather along with the abundance of bikers on the roads.  Now I understood why bike lanes where so necessary.  With this volume of bikers on the road it would not be very effective to share lane with automobiles......there where some bike lanes in Boston and I know that they are integrating more when they have the opportunity, but I always thought that the aggressive New England driving style, which translated to bicycle riders as well, was enough to safely navigate the city streets and interact harmoniously with automobiles.  I was wrong!  This bike lane thing was the real deal and seemed so much safer!

So, I moved all my stuff into my apartment and proceeded to get in the habit of riding my bicycle to and from school everyday.  Although I really do love riding public transportation and it was my main way of getting around for the past 6 years that I was living on the east coast, it was a refreshing change of pace to get back on my bicycle and breath some fresh air in the morning...... I think that when your directly engaged with your surroundings, whether it is riding a bike, walking, running, etc. the person is more aware of the inner workings of the place you live in.  There is enough time to notice the type of plant species, wildlife, and activities that are distinct to your neighborhood or route of travel......But, riding on that road bike, it was a little more uncomfortable than I remembered riding stretched forward in that air dynamic position.  Also, some of my classmates noticed that I was riding a nicer bike and they said, "Don't you know that Eugene has more stolen bicycles than New York city?".  I don't know that I believed them, but I took their word and soon came across an old Fuji cruiser bike in that paper that was my size, around 62cm, and had a much more enjoyable ride to it.

Over the course of this first year I continued to ride my bike to campus and around town everyday.  I started look at the way bicycles interacted with automobiles and street infrastructure in a new way 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Long overdue!

this first posting is long overdue, but the last few weeks of finals and moving all my stuff out of eugene for the summer really took it out of me. i am really going to catch up on these blog posts in the next couple of days.

so, where to begin? well, first to give a brief background of my personal bicycle experience before arriving in eugene for my first year of graduate school this year.

the majority of my interaction with bicycles as a major form of transportation was non-existent before moving to eugene.  during my childhood i always had a bike and don't get me wrong, i did know how to ride one, but the majority of my time was spent moving around on two feet.  during high school i was probably watching the tour de france or reading lance armstrong's biography and thought it would be a good idea to get a road bike.  a pretty ridiculous idea to purchase an expensive road bike, cannondale R400, having never really been involved in the biking sport, but i got it anyway.  and there it stayed hanging from a hook in my garage until i convinced myself to have it shipped out to boston during my sophomore summer (2006) of undergraduate school.  surprisingly i really started riding that thing to and from work right up until winter hit!  i even rode it for the first few weeks after the first snow fell, but after i crashed twice on my way to work one morning i decided to stow it until the sun came out again.  and i pretty much stowed that thing right up until i arrived in eugene this past school year (2010).

so, that is my bicycle experience pre-eugene so far.