Cycling News: 28 mph electric bike is not illegal!!!?

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A street-legal 28 mph pedal assist bike. It is all in how your read the law written by the best Congress Money Can Buy.

Outdoor Magazine says the new 28-mph Specialized Turbo pedal-assist bicycle is NOT illegal!

Note the words, “pedal-assist.”

Here’s the legal dodge: “This weekend, the Turbo goes on sale at Specialized dealers in the U.S. How’s that possible? No, they didn’t slow the bike down. They just took a closer look at the law, which states that e-bikes must have a motor of less than 750 watts and an unassisted speed of less than 20 mph. Because the Turbo is an electric pedal-assist bike, meaning you have to pedal to get any kick from the motor, the speed limit doesn’t apply. In fact, the only reason it tops out at 28 mph is to comply with European laws, which restrict e-bikes to 45 kph. Specialized installed a governor on the Turbo that automatically turns the motor off when it reaches this speed.”

Of course, the Turbo is exceeding one legal limit for most cyclists. ‘Cause you have to rob a bank to afford one: It has a $6,000 price tag.

But wait, there’s other pedal-assist companies. Stromer for example is coming out with a new pedal-assist bicycle that will also hit 28 mph. But the Swiss bike company is putting a sticker on the $3,500 bike saying it is only for off-road use, the Veggie Biker was told by Mike Wachler, at the Bicycle Sport Shop in Austin, TX.

stromer bike

The current Stromer will be joined by an “off-road” pedal assist electric bike this year. But if Specialized Turbo is correct, it too will be street legal.

Mike had Crash Clifford orient the Veggie Biker to the current Stromer pedal-assist and I took a few spins around the parking lot and down the street. It has four settings depending upon your impatience and how far you are going. It was so much more fun than my throttle-controlled Hebb electric bike.

Veggie Biking recommends you rent a bike you want to buy for a day’s ride. There is a huge difference in these bikes. And you have to expect to pay for what you really want.

BicycleTravel: Discovering Weird Austin

Austin may not have made the final cut behind Denver and Portland in REI’s Cycling Town Showdown, but the town remains a top destination for bicyclists looking for a long weekend escape.

The south shore of Lady Bird Lake, a portion of the Colorado River that is damed next to downtown, is lined with bicycle rental places. The Veggie Biker’s group chose Austin’s Bicycle Sport Shop to rent bikes. They have several models of pedal and electric bicycles. But they were out of electric bikes that first weekend in May because it was the Pecan Street Festival and all the electric bikes were rented. But it did seem everyone had a bike on Old Pecan Street, today famously known as 6th Street, the self-proclaimed center of live music in America.

Before you choose a weekend, you may wish to see which festival Austin is celebrating that week. The Veggie Biker’s never been there but what there were a lot of people gathered somewhere toasting something.

You can reserve a bike online at most bike shops. Bicycle Sport Shop charged $40 for the day; $52 for 24 hours. The paperwork was efficiently dispatched. Bikes were fitted to the riders. More importantly, the shop keeps the bikes in excellent repair. Everything is tight. The gears shift smoothly.

But that is not all the shop offers, the Veggie Biker learned.

The competition for the most bike-friendly city must have been close. Austin has a maze of bicycle trails along the river. There are bridges at regular intervals for those wanting to cross to the other shore of Lake Austin.

The lakes offers kayaks, paddle boards and even water bicycles. Just exploring around the lake gives one ideas for the next visit to the determinedly weirdest city in America.

Along with Austin drivers displaying a developing-respect for share-the-road, the city continues expanding its web of bike trails and lanes, plus its bike-friendly mass transit. The relatively new Capitol Metro currently has one route. It meant the Veggie Biker and company could ditch their car out in the “Silicon Valley” section of North Austin and ride to within two blocks of the Pecan Street Fest. At the end of the line on 4th Street, a quick change to the number 30 bus took us to the bike shop. A single-day pass covered train and bus.

The only real flaw in Austin’s mass transit development is the lack of a train from the airport to downtown. It is planned when the city gets money, rail workers tell you.

If the mass transit system does not always serve, the bike shop sure does. Coming back to the bicycles after choosing an Indian lunch from among the smorgasbord of ethnic food wagons, one of the tires on the three bikes was flat–like totally. A phone call to the bike shop and Steve Pierce was on the line saying, “Wait a minute. I’ll be right there.”

Yes, Austin has bicycle road service. In about 20 minutes, Steve was peeling off the tire and putting in a new tube. Minutes later, the bikes were rolling toward South Congress Avenue, directly south across the river from the Texas Capitol.

Exploring Old Austin, now “being gentrified by affluent couples with counter-culture leanings,” according to one citizen, made one realize, in Austin, you almost always ride in the shade of really large old trees.

The veggie biker and company returned the bikes to Bicycle Sport Shop. Mike Wachler offered the Veggie Biker the chance to ride a new Stromer pedal-assist elctric bike. That test ride is in an earlier post.

A walk back across Lady Bird Lake led to good bar-b-que and a train ride home.

The Austin Mini Makers Faire on Sunday, May 5 gave one a full sampler of people who help “Keep Austin Weird.” This exhibition is a collection of sustainable technologists, producers of solar collectors and rammed earth bricks; plus cutting edge technogeeks with 3-D printers and robots–and massive geegaw machinery that should work, but is not designed to make anything more than light and noise.

And everyone appeared to love bikes; and adapting bikes; and making bicycle clothing. The Lil’ Red BMX Solar tracker will keep your solar panel focused on the Sun because the inventor found the BMX bike frame served as a perfect, pre-fab pivot frame. A science teacher is building a steam-powered bicycle–well, at least it will look steam powered–with his students. And one of the “Fine Southern Gentlemen” carries his silk screen printer on a tricycle.

The highlight is the Bicycle Zoo of pedal-powered beasties that roam with glowing eyes and flapping wings. But that’s a separate post. Look for it!

Except for th drive back to the airport. Austin gives a visitor little reason to have a car–and several reasons not to. However, there are many sustainable ways to get around Austin, if not voted the most bike-friendly city, certainly it would be voted the weirdest biking town.

Bicycle News: Bicycle safety is a public health issue

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The number of white bicycles often placed at the site of bicycle deaths could be reduced with proper data collection by Public Health Offices.

Bicycle accidents are being made a public health issue in Boston, according to the Harvard Gazette Online.

The lack of adequate data is the biggest problem, a team of four students from the Harvard School of Public Health told city officials. The biggest problem they said is the lack of a data bank about the increased number of cyclists. What routes do they use? How many use the routes?

Currently, the data are scattered in the files of police, medical facilities, and other community organizations. The student team proposes using cameras to sample intersections so health officials can count the size of the health risk.

Sharrow?

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News tip from Kevin/Jody Co.

Anaheim just received a grant for for creating an additional 2.77 miles of sharrow bicycle lanes. This will be added onto 1.42 miles of existing sharrow bike lanes.

What’s SHARROW?

Below is a Q&A the Veggie Biker lifted straight off the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Authority web page. Short answer, it is where the city marks the street with the icon above to tell drivers you have to ride in the street because it is safer for you to do so.

There’s more news from the Happiest City on Earth. in a press announcement, it reported, “The City of Anaheim has recieved funding for 3.8 miles of Class II bike lanes and 4.2 miles of Class III sharrows along a continuous corridor totaling 8 miles. This route provides a vital link from West Anaheim to ARTIC (Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center) along the 4th District Bikeway Corridor.”

FAQ FOR SHARED ROADWAY MARKINGS

Q. I’ve seen these markings of a bike with two chevrons/arrows above it on the streets. What do they mean?

A. These are Shared Roadway Bicycle Markings which are intended to help bicyclists position themselves away from parked cars, to avoid being struck by suddenly opened car doors, and to alert other road users to expect bicyclists to occupy travel lanes. These markings will also be used in situations where it may not be obvious where bicyclists should be riding, such as at intersections with multiple turn lanes.

Q. But on some streets, bicyclists riding over this marking will take the entire lane. Aren’t they supposed to move to the right?

A. Not always. According to the California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 21202, bicyclists are to stay to the right except to pass other bicyclists or vehicles, to prepare to make a left turn, or when necessary to avoid conditions that make it unsafe to continue along the right, including fixed or moving objects, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel side by side.. Moving to the left in the lane to avoid car doors, for instance, even if it means taking the entire lane, is permitted by the CVC.

Q. Can’t bicyclists just look into parked cars as they ride and see if someone is about to open the door?

A. Bicyclists, like all road users, need to constantly scan the entire roadway for safety. Checking every car for a driver is difficult to do while paying attention to the road. Also, it is often impossible to see drivers due to large parked vehicles blocking the view of other parked vehicles, tinted windows, headrests, etc. Motorists should check their side view mirror or look back prior to opening their door. It is the driver’s responsibility should any collision occur (CVC Section 22517).

Q. If I see these markings in a lane, is the lane only for bikes?

A. No. This marking is used for travel lanes that are shared by bicyclists and motorists. Shared lanes are different than bike lanes which are set aside for bicyclists and are marked by a solid white line.

Q. So, if I don’t see these markings, then it’s not a shared lane and bicyclists aren’t supposed to be there?

A. No. Bicyclists can ride on any street in San Francisco except for limited access freeways with signs explicitly prohibiting them (such as I-280 or parts of US 101). Just as every street in San Francisco has a 25mph speed limit unless stated otherwise (even if there is no speed limit sign), bicyclists are allowed on every street regardless of whether there is a marking or sign for them, unless stated otherwise.

Q. Are these markings going to be on every street that does not have a bike lane?

A. No. These markings are used primarily on streets designated as part of the San Francisco Bicycle Route Network. As part of the San Francisco Bicycle Plan, the SFMTA plans to install about 4,000 markings throughout the City between 2005 and 2012 along approximately 85 miles of streets. Additional sharrows may be considered on a case by case basis.

Q. I never used to see these markings. Why are they being used now?

A. Prior to 2005, there was no official marking to use on streets with shared lanes. The SFMTA led an effort to study various markings and develop an official marking that was adopted by Caltrans in 2005, making California the first state to officially adopt a marking for shared lanes.

Q. What does it mean when these markings are painted on top of a green rectangle, such as on Market Street?

A. Green-backed Shared Roadway Bicycle Markings are being tested by the SFMTA to enhance driver awareness of bicyclists and assist bicyclists with positioning in situations where bicyclists must merge.

About £500 ($750) and you can build your kid a balance bike

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The Bicycle Academy in Britain want you to have the thrill of building your kid’s own balance bike, or strider bike without pedals for about $750. Or you can go on Craig’s list and get one for $45.

Here’s the sales pitch.

“Teaching a child to ride a bike is a really special experience, one that you’ll both remember forever. Now imagine how special it would be if you had made that bike… well now you can.

“We’re really excited to launch our Balance Bike Frame Building Courses, starting this July.

“Over the past few months we’ve been developing our very own 12″ wheel balance bike for kids. We’ve used lightweight steel tubing, narrow axles to give more clearance for the little rider’s legs, small diameter handlebars to make it easier for little ones to hold on, and adjustable saddle height and position so that the bike set-up can be changed as they grow. The bike has been designed to be easy and fun to ride, light enough for a 2 year old to handle and strong enough for an adult to ride (you won’t be able to resist!).

“The courses are held here at The Bicycle Academy over 2 days. You’ll build the TBA balance bike by hand, from start to finish, you’ll do it all. Even if you’ve never made anything before we’ll teach you everything you need to know, and coach you through the build.

“The bikes are suitable for kids of 2 years old and above, and weigh as little as 3.5kg when built up. The frame and forks will be made using light weight straight gauge seamless steel tubing with all the joins brazed by you. You’ll get to choose the colour of the bike, all components and even customise the stickers too.

“The course costs £400 + components (which range from ~£30 to ~£100) and we’re taking bookings now!

“Call us on 01373 473767 or email us at booking@thebicycleacademy.org”

My Commute: May is Swap Your Ride Month in The O.C., part of National Bicycling Month

Here's the geeky/cool "protect your pant leg from your chain ring" SWAG I got from OCTA's Bike Fair on Sunday.  Photo by Marcia Jeffredo

Here’s the geeky/cool “protect your pant leg from your chain ring” SWAG I got from OCTA’s Bike Fair on Sunday.
Photo by Marcia Jeffredo

By Marcia Jeffredo, Super Veggie Biker

May is OCTA Swap Your Ride Month. It’s all about encouraging more people to try bike commuting. I live in Chino and work over 30 miles away at Cypress College. That distance is a short ride for a cyclist on a carbon road bike, clipped in and wearing spandex in a paceline on the Santa Ana River Trail. That isn’t practical or possible for my commute though.

Soon I will start posting here and there about the different approaches I’ve taken for riding my bike part way to work.