By Jeffrey Stern
Our generation may be bonkers about the “van life”, but what about that bike life?
In this continually overcomplicated, technology saturated world that seems to grow by leaps and bounds with each passing day there is an urge to escape. Escape our screens, our over-connected lives and responsibilities and trade them in for the open road, adventures and explorations of the unknown.
Although the idea of trading in rocketing rent prices across the country for life lived out of the back your Subaru or foam mattress pad in the bed of your Toyota Tacoma sounds appealing, the question of sustainability is clearly evident. Although some people can, and will, it’s hard to imagine spending your whole life living that way.
Believe it or not, for vehicles driven approximately 15,000 miles a year, the average cost of ownership equal around $8,500 per year in 2017, or roughly $700 a month according to AAA. That doesn’t even take into account the initial purchase price, the rising fuel prices and the of course the fact that because everything in the world is getting more expensive that each oil change, or trip to the mechanic gets progressively more expensive (unless of course you know how to change your own oil, but we’re millennials, so that’s pretty much a lost art).
How about investing this saved money in your community? Laying down roots somewhere that feels like home, building a garden, taking pride in your home however big or small it might be. There are so many ways to travel using public transportation with your bike. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, the journey can really begin – and there’s no reason to not enjoy a route home that takes you off the beaten path.
Yes, this $700 per month is unlikely to cover the cost of mortgage to buy a house in most places in the country, but it is a stepping stone. Inevitability over time your car will try to suck the life out of you, not to mention all the cash you have.
Bikes do nothing but give back. They open your eyes to the world around you. New people, places and experiences by bike are without a doubt some of the best connections you can make. The simplest things can become so fascinating with a bike as an integral part of your life.
When have you ever met a bike touring group with road rage, in a hurry to get nowhere fast that won’t stand for anything in their way? I’ll answer that for you: never.
The van life has its perks, don’t get me wrong. Everything self-contained in a vehicle, with complete mobility to go off the grid. The thought is nice, for a time, but there is comfort in feeling settled. What sounds even nicer though, is ditching the car, embracing the beautiful things we already have around us (more is not always better) and riding our bikes more.
A happy medium may be a car share with a few friends. Imagine the money you’ll save, the relationships you’ll foster and freedom you will have; quite literally the best of both worlds. Van, bike and home, now that’s the kind of life I want to live.
One has to appreciate a good bike shop. Especially one that builds the community around itself. These days it’s a key to survival in this disrupted economy we live in. Luckyduck has been open since August of 2016, and successful enough that the owners are just starting to scale back from the 16-hour workdays it took to get going. Luckyduck brings bikes, food, beer and community to downtown Oakland. I’ve stopped in on several occasions for just those items.
For starters, the sandwiches are awesome. Living in the Beast known as East Bay, there’s a lot of great bakeries to spoil you, so Luckyduck starts with some awesome bread, from Firebrand. Everything after that is gravy. And if you’re up in the morning there’s breakfast as well. Sealing the deal is beer. Great beer from local breweries. Mostly local, delivered by the brewery. All California. Keep it local. ‘Nuff said.
Partners Jimmy Ryan And Aaron Wacks curate the shop. The food menu is tight. And so is the bike selection. Each bike is special. Some are bikes that they have come across as bike geeks. Some are on consignment as well. Everything from a vintage Colnago to a sweet 80’s Rockhopper converted for the streets and priced at $316. Or maybe you’re into the Kona Kilauea bikepacking bike or the Winters show frame.
The shop section is simple and tidy. A well-curated selection of accessories fulfills your most important needs. Helmets, bags from Inside Line, Ruth Works, and Road Runner. I hate the word “Artisinal” but there ya go. Everything in its right place, like Radiohead says.
In the end, it’s all about community. The Saturday ride is casual and the yoga classes will keep you limber. There’s bands, art on the walls, and friendly faces. Luckyduck is surely not the first bike shop to espouse this mission, but it does sum things up in a well-said fasion:
“Luckyduck grew from our desire to make riding a bike accessible to everyone. To us, this means expert bicycle service housed in the positive and relaxed vibes of our neighborhood coffee shop and cafe. No pretension or pressure. Just genuine human connection in the name of increasing bicycle ridership throughout the bay.”
Wow these people “Get it”
Tuesday to Saturday 8am to 7pm
My immediate response when I heard about dockless bike share was “More butts on bikes, great.“ Then I started to ask questions. “So what do you do with it when you’re done?” “I could just leave it anywhere?… that doesn’t sound like a good idea.”
Dockless bike sharing launched in the United States this year, but is it a good thing? As of August 2017, Seattle became the first city in the United States to try dockless bike share. In September, a dockless bike share launched in D.C.
This bike share program is referred to as the “Uber” of bike sharing. Here is the concept behind dockless: You download an app, it locates a bike near you, you unlock the wheel with the app, and you pay roughly $1.00 for 30 minutes of use (this can differ based on the bike share company), park it when you’re done, manually lock it. That’s it. Definitely sounds affordable and more convenient than finding a bike share docking station and hoping there is a bike available, or hoping that a station has a parking spot available for the bike you have rented and are done with.
If you look at China there are over 40 dockless bike share companies currently, with over 350,000 bikes and growing daily. But the problems that dockless bike shares have create have been reported multiple times. Bikes are left in the middle of sidewalks so that pedestrians cannot get to their destinations, which is especially a problem for senior citizens trying to walk with grocery carts, strollers and rascals. Bikes are being left basically everywhere – in huge bike piles, in trees, dumped in rivers, garbage cans – you name it and a dockless bike has probably been parked there in China.
So, how is Seattle doing with their new program? According to a recent Seattle Times report it’s going about the same as in China – dockless bikes are being parked irresponsibly.
And how about D.C.? You guessed it! In October, the Washington Post reported the same problems.
You will always have people who abuse programs or who don’t care to be responsible adults. But there is another problem this “Uber-style” bike share is causing. Not only is it creating another level of irresponsibility in busy cities, but it is not good for the commuter cycling community. Aggression on the streets towards cyclist continues to increase and having these bikes laying everywhere is just furthering that anger towards our community, further adding to the negativity anti-cyclists have.
Docks create a place where you have to put something away. People are lazy and I include myself in that category, I love convenience and when things are easy. If you give someone the opportunity to be lazy, the majority of the population is probably going to just leave that bike parked in the middle of a pedestrian sidewalk. It’s naive to think that people will park things appropriately. If we continue to grow this program in the United States, are we destined for the large-scale problem China is currently facing.
What do you think about dockless bike share? Does your city have a dockless bike program? Have you tried it? Have you seen the chaos of bikes in weird places? Let’s discuss below!
Not a shared bike fan. pic.twitter.com/FSlTKToSDD
— Shanghaiist.com (@shanghaiist) August 23, 2017
Slow Roll Chicago, an organization that uses bicycles as a vehicle for social change, is one of five finalists to potentially receive funding from Delta Emerging Leaders of the Delta Institute. The organization will be pitching the Slow Roll Chicago mobility model in front of an awesome crowd at the BOOST Live Crowdfunded Pitch Fest tomorrow, Tuesday, November 14, from 7-10pm at the Chop Shop & 1st Ward.
From Slow Roll Chicago:
We need YOUR help in order to win the BOOST award!
Please support our bicycle movement by purchasing tickets and attending the BOOST pitch fest event. All the proceeds from ticket sales will go toward funding two initiatives. With each ticket purchased, you get two votes to cast in the pitch fest competition. In other words, you get to decide who receives the funding! Free food and two beer tokens will be available. Please also share this email, encouraging your family, friends and colleagues to attend the event.
Join us tomorrow evening (Tuesday, November 14) from 7-10pm at the Chop Shop & 1st Ward and help support Slow Roll Chicago’s mission to transform lives and improve the condition of our communities, while building an equitable, diverse and inclusive bicycle culture in our City.
Thank you, let’s ride…
The Slow Roll Chicago Leadership Team
(Oboi, Jamal, Romina & Dan)
By Nick Legan
Who doesn’t like a midride stop for a tasty beverage? It’s an integral part of many bike rides, a highlight for some cyclists and the sole reason they ride for others. For fans of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, apple cider and well … bike riding, “coffeeneuring” may be your next favorite fall pastime.
Now in its seventh year, the “Chasing Mailboxes Coffeeneuring Challenge” is a celebration of caffeine, cycling and community. The challenge is simple. Between October 13 and November 19, get yourself, by bike, to seven different coffee spots on seven weekend days. Take a photo and document your time spent riding to and then enjoying a cup of joe. Go solo or form a team of fellow caffeine lovers. Submit your work for inclusion in the Challenge. While there are technically a few more rules, the point is to get out and enjoy two of the world’s greatest inventions: the bicycle and coffee.
Coffeeneuring is the brainchild of Mary Gersemalina of Washington, D.C., an avid randonneur and blogger at Chasing Mailboxes. In 2011, after a packed spring and summer of training and difficult, long rides, she was speaking with a fellow randonneur rider when the idea of a prize for easy rides to the coffee shop sprang up. Gersemalina thought to herself, “why not?” and set about building a framework for what became the Coffeeneuring Challenge on her blog.
The idea is to celebrate easy rides, slow life down a bit, to sip and spin the day away. As Gersemalina explains, “There are plentiful rules, but it boils down to riding your bike to have coffee. With such short rides, it’s not that similar to randonneuring but its framework is a nod to it.”
“The first year, in 2011, 12 people did the Challenge. Then it took off. Last year there were 250 finishers who successfully submitted all the necessary documentation,” Gersemalina explained. While initially, the majority of participants were randonneur riders who followed the Chasing Mailboxes blog, word of mouth has grown it to include casual cyclists. Some of them are now learning about randonneuring, but Gersemalina readily admits that “coffeeneuring is not a gateway drug to long-distance cycling.”
The emphasis is not on grueling rides but rather on sharing your caffeinated experiences with other like-minded cyclists. It is a wonderfully grassroots effort that is entirely participant driven and has transformed itself into an international online community of fellow coffeeneurs.
Social media has been instrumental in the organic growth of coffeeneuring. There is a very active Facebook group. Gersemalina adds that, “a lot of interaction happens on that group and through Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #coffeeneuring. It’s exciting to see the challenge unfold on the different platforms. It’s special to see how supportive everyone is of each other. People connect with each other through coffeeneuring. They can take their kids with them. Social media has allowed for the Challenge to happen every year and for cyclists to do it easily.”
Not all of the community is virtual or online. Gersemalina noted that the Washington Coffeeneurs did a meetup ride after the challenge was over to get to know each other better. She also mentioned that coffeeneuring enthusiasts have contacted her to meet up for a visit when they’re in Washington, D.C., (obviously to go for a cup of coffee). The Pittsburgh Coffeeneurs have built a large community around the concept, with shops hosting rides and providing coffee and donuts.
While the concept of coffeeneuring is straightforward, there are still a number of rules that are updated each year. When asked about the reason behind such a lengthy set of guidelines, Gersemalina mentioned that many see randonneuring as “bike riding with paperwork.” As something so important in her own life, she wanted to pay homage to it with her Challenge. The rules were also necessary in order to build a framework that would allow participants to share their experiences.
Each year Gersemalina seeks input from past and prospective coffeeneurs on potential changes to the rules. She says that many of the rule changes come from suggestions.
“One of the suggestions was to make it less consumer based. To give people that option, you can brew your own coffee in seven different places. Someone suggested opening your house as a coffee shop, inviting people over. It really is about getting together if you want. You can also have a solitary experience, but ultimately you’re sharing it in some way,” she said.
Then Gersemalina took a moment. After a short pause she continued, “I added rules to create a framework. It was necessary. Other rules are almost there to see what people will do with them. It’s like an experiment. People have different feelings about rules. Some take great pride in following rules, by the book. Others look at those rules and see room for interpretation or see why the rules should be flexible. Seeing that in their write-ups and their posts is really interesting.”
For those less interested in a regimented approach, fear not. Earlier this year Gersemalina created the Always Be Coffeeneuring Club. It’s a way to be a part of a community without the documentation. Joining will cost you five dollars and that gets you a fetching patch. According to the club page on Chasing Mailboxes, the Always Be Coffeeneuring Club is for “members that know no coffeeneuring season. All seasons are your oyster, or something like that. … Coffeeneuring is your lifestyle.”
All formalities aside, the idea of coffeeneuring is one that resonates with people. The Challenge is perhaps the least physically tasking cycling endeavor in recorded history. That’s the point: to slow down, take notice of life’s simple pleasures and to share that with other cyclists.
The resulting community is now an international one and that brings great joy to the creator of coffeeneuring. It isn’t just about a healthy caffeine buzz.
“We are creating a virtual neighborhood through this activity,” Gersemalina said. “Not only that, but in some communities we’re meeting up in real life. The focus isn’t on how far you can ride but on the overall experience. It’s a simple activity. It’s not about politics. It’s pure fun.”Tweet Print