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Biking

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Umbra’s second helpings: Keeping your skirt out of your bike chain

Photo by Bastien Vaucher.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of our Ask Umbra advice column, and to celebrate, we’re pulling one particularly poignant question or tidbit of eco-advice out of the archives each week. Today, a question from a bicyclist in Berkeley:

"My skirt gets caught in the bicycle chain ... Do you know any wonderful manufacturers out there who can solve my problem?"

Read on to see Umbra’s answer. Plus: She shares a website that’ll show you how to make your own “skirt guard.” And don’t you go anywhere, fellas: It works for kilts and coat tails, too.

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SUV with built-in stationary bike: It’s like biking to work, except stupid as hell

Oh sure, biking to work helps you keep toned leg muscles, like a good trophy wife. But it also reduces carbon emissions, and everyone knows that saving the environment is for poor people. No, what you need is a chauffeured Cadillac SUV with a built-in stationary bike, so you can do your morning exercise while James ferries you to the office. (Ha ha, just kidding! Like you go to an office. You can pedal while James ferries your husband to the office, and then takes you back home so you can direct the rest of the staff.)

Read more: Biking, Living

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Get your ass on that bike!

Photo by Richard Masoner/ Cyclelicious.

Today, America kicks off National Bike Month, our annual homage to two-wheeled travel. Here in Seattle, Grist’s hometown, every month can seem like bike month: Hearty souls ride in weather when full scuba gear is requisite. But today brought sunshine, and cyclists swarmed the streets, swerving through traffic, towing kiddie trailers through downtown rush hour, and generally acting like they owned the place.

It was great to see so many people out riding. I was also afraid I was going to see someone die. So for the sake of a safe and successful Bike Month, Grist is offering up a challenge to would-be bike commuters everywhere -- and a few suggestions on how to get started.

Get your ass on that bike!

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Awesome ‘bike hugging’ dog guards and rides his owner’s bike

Apparently this adorable bike-guarding dog lives in Nanning, China, where he's known as Li Li the Bike Hugging Dog.

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A low-cost way to improve public transit: Add joy

Happy No-Pants Day! (Photo by James Calder.)

When it comes to transit, even the best of us have a bad attitude. In my own case, I ride the commuter train because it’s the lesser of evils: Driving to work sucks, and the train sucks a bit less. Among those with stronger environmental devotions, transit can be an obligation: We ride the bus or train because it’s the right thing to do, not because we enjoy it.

It doesn’t have to be that way, argues urban planner Darrin Nordahl. His potent new e-book, Making Transit Fun!, has all the enthusiasm for buses, trains, and bike lanes that its title’s exclamation point implies. Can transit incorporate art? Yes! How about playground equipment? You bet. Even … sex? Oh yeah, baby.

The automobile industry has employed the best designers and marketers (and even Posh Spice) to make driving cars cool, sexy, exhilarating -- and piss on transit options like biking. “Here is where we transit advocates need to take a lesson from Corporate America,” Nordahl writes. “You cannot get sufficient numbers of people to buy a product or service if it doesn’t excite them.”

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Biker uses GPS to turn city into an Etch-a-Sketch

Michael J. Wallace may start his bike rides in Baltimore, but he ends them on the moon, on a basketball court, or in the mouth of a dragon. He uses the streets of the city as a canvas, sketching out surprisingly detailed images by recording his progress with his phone's GPS and a tracking program.

Read more: Biking, Cities

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Bike lanes make drivers less likely to be jerks, says study

A study of driving habits found that one in six motorists in Baltimore passed cyclists at an illegal distance, making them eligible to be shot to death under “stand your ground” laws, assuming we could somehow combine the laws of Maryland and Florida.

Read more: Biking, Cities

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Against all odds, Los Angeles is getting a bikeshare

Photo by Colin Gordon.

Los Angeles! Despite your reputation as the most car-dependent city west of, uh, anything, you're totally trying to get in on the green transportation revolution, and we love it!

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced over the weekend that the City of Cars will soon have a permanent bikeshare program. And if there were ever a city that should be bike-friendly, it's L.A. If people in Minneapolis can bike through the winter, the good people of Los Angeles can bike through their year-round climate of balmy beauty. (Seriously, you can do it, guys! We're rooting for you!)

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Share and share a bike: A fresh way to find a rental cycle

No guarantee that the bike you rent will be this stylin', unfortunately. (Photo by Velovotee.)

Forget riding your friend’s handlebars as he blindly navigates a crowded city street -- unless you’re into that sort of thing. Thanks to a new peer-to-peer bike-sharing website called Spinlister, you may soon be able to rent a bike almost anywhere.

The brainchild of co-founders Will Dennis and Jeff Noh, a pair of 20-somethings living in New York City, Spinlister is like peer-to-per car-sharing services such as RelayRides, only for bikes. Bike owners snap photos of their two-wheeled trophies and post them to Spinlister’s online marketplace, along with the type of bike, the price per day, and the pick-up location. For those in search of a rental, it’s as simple as punching in their location, selecting the ride they want, making an online payment/reservation via credit card, and coordinating a meet-up time with the bike owner.

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